In February 2021 and again earlier in this month of May, more than 127 Civil Society Organisations joined in calling attention to the atrocity violence, lawlessness and bloodletting that have taken over all parts of Nigeria.
On those occasions, they called on the government at all levels to provide leadership in ensuring that the security and welfare of all Nigerians are preserved as enshrined in section 14 (2)(b) of the constitution. They also urged the Presidency to provide political and moral leadership for the security crisis and ensure governmental actions are humane in tandem with section 17 (2)© of the Constitution.
The responses from the government, particularly at the federal level, has left a lot to be desired. Since those positions were taken, the violence has continued. The responses from Southern governors, the governors of Kano, Katsina and Plateau, as well as the Presidency, have been neither sufficient nor adequate to stem the growing violence across the country. In particular, President Buhari remains indifferent to the growing toll of massacres, industrial-scale abductions and lawless abuse of Nigerians all over the country. This week alone over 130 people were massacred in two separate incidents in Benue and Plateau states, without drawing a response from the President. It continues to appear as if Mr Buhari is both indifferent to the suffering of Nigerians and unwilling to provide leadership in addressing it.
Today marks the fourth year of the National Day of Mourning by Civil Society Organisations. This year the activities of the National Day of Mourning 2021 will take place in every state of Nigeria, on social media and in the diaspora.
Today, again, we have to highlight some of the issues that have brought us here:
The incessant killing of security officers across the country (this happened today) and the clear absence of the political will or leadership from the president to bring an end to this deadly trend;
The surge in atrocities against women, children, learners, teachers and the most vulnerable. Schools and institutions of learning have been targeted for elimination and the government appears unable and unwilling to take urgent action in protecting these demographics.
Impunity thrives. The judiciary is vital to ending impunity but today makes it the 52nd day since courts all over Nigeria have been shut down by executive disobedience of court orders on judicial autonomy. While the courts remain shut, there can be no accountability for atrocity violence.
The armed forces are deployed in 36 states of Nigeria on internal security operations, thereby retrenching the constitutional role of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). This is a constitutional anomaly. The rise in fatalities from military operations shows that the military is over-stretched, poorly trained for this role and without proper rules of engagement for it. This cannot continue.
While these atrocities continue, the government, rather than enlist citizens in united opposition to it, seeks to divide the country with clear patterns of nepotism and persecution of civic actors and the independent media. Far from helping, these actions deepen the crisis in the country.
As Nigeria bleeds we have come together on this fourth National Day of Mourning to ask the president to take urgent steps to secure Nigeria by addressing these priority areas that we have identified above. There is no time to waste; the time to act is now.
Adapted from a statement by the Joint Action Civil Society Coalition/ Nigeria Mourns Secretariat.