BY Ebunoluwa Olafusi
A coalition of 68 civil society organisations (CSOs) says the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed Nigerians in its primary duty of ensuring the security and welfare of citizens.
In a joint statement released on Sunday, the CSOs said Nigeria is in dire straits as a result of criminal attacks and extra-judicial killings by state actors.
They said the federal government, through the minister of defence, has “callously abdicated its responsibility and called Nigerian citizens ‘cowards’ and urged Nigerians to defend themselves”.
The group said kidnapping for ransom has assumed “an industrial and deadly scale never witnessed on the African continent” and that children are no longer safe in schools while communities are now “pauperised by terrorists who extort huge ransoms while murdering their hostages”.
They also condemned the government’s “gross injustices” where peaceful protesters are threatened and attacked by security agencies while “criminal elements who murder, rape and kidnap Nigerians are granted amnesty and taxpayers’ money is used to pay terrorists”.
“The coalition, therefore, asks the federal government to provide political and moral leadership for the security crisis and ensure governmental actions are humane in tandem with section 17 (2) ( C ) of the constitution,” the statement read.
“The Nigeria Police Council established by section 153 of the Constitution is constituted by the President, IGP, Chair of Police Service Commission and the 36 state governors. The NPC should be called to meet regularly to address the crisis of insecurity.
“End impunity for abuse of power and sectionalism through his appointments by balancing the need for competence with the federal character principle.
“Amnesty for terrorists and abductors should stop. Huge ransom paid to criminal gangs is used to purchase arms and ammunition to attack communities. As security is technology-driven, the Government must acquire the necessary equipment to deal with the menace of terrorism, banditry and abduction.
“Take responsibility and end the persecution of the media and free speech both of which are foundations of a democratic state.
“Mobilize our rich Nigerian assets to address the insecurity situation across the country and seek international cooperation to ramp up security assets.
“Where the President fails to fulfill his constitutional duties as stated above, we demand he steps aside or the National Assembly initiates impeachment proceedings against him on grounds of gross misconduct as provided for in Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Noting that Nigeria is under-policed, they also asked that more security personnel should be employed, trained, and motivated to defend the country.
Some of the CSOs include Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Centre for Democratic Research and Training (CRDDERT); Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC); Media Rights Agenda (MRA); Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD); Nigerian Women Trust Fund; BudgiT Foundation; Femi Falana Chamber; HEDA Resource Centre and Actionaid.