The Concerned Nigerians group have expressed concern over the incidence of increasing insecurity in Nigeria, as they tasked the President Muhammadu Buhari led government to tackle insecurity, as well as address the teeming problems in the country. The group who made this call in a statement titled, “For A Future for Nigeria: We must Draw a Red Line on the Zambari Massacre”, also called government’s attention to its responsibility of providing security and assuring welfare of the people. The statement read: “We are responsible and patriotic Nigerians who have watched with serious concern the unfolding crisis threatening to engulf our nation. We are non-partisan individuals who believe in the union of our people through the maintenance of democratic order founded on the rule of law. “Our initiative grew out of the recent #EndSARS protests by Nigerian youths across the country, against widespread police brutality, endemic corruption and bad governance.
Our objective is to add our voices and call those in authority to reason and halt what appears to be a descent to anarchy. “We believe in the freedom of all Nigerians to exercise the rights guaranteed by our Constitution, including the right to life, dignity, personal liberty, freedom of speech, and right to freedom of association (which encompasses the right to participate in peaceful protests and in processions without harassment or intimidation from any person or authority) beyond these fundamental rights is the high constitutional duty and responsibility of all organs of government in Nigeria to act for the primary purpose of government being the security and welfare of the people (as set out in Section 14(2)(B) of the Constitution).
The prerequisite for exercising the rights of citizens rests fully on the existence of the security of lives and property of all Nigerians.” On the EndSARS protests, the statement read: “Despite the exacerbations of prevailing pains of anguish and anger precipitated by COVID-19 and attendant stagflation,the unfortunate manner in which the ground swell united EndSARS protest was ended with illegitimate use of force by government (some disillusioned as well as criminalpeople), has increased tension, fear, dismay, disillusion and despair for most Nigerians. This is further aggravated by the unlawful detention and blocking of bank accounts of innocent protesters; the unceasing attempt to delegitimize EndSARS, presenting it as a move to initiate regime change; and inconsistent, high handed treatment of the people by the Federal Government appointed Consultative Committee under the Chief of Staff to the president.
“In the effort to subdue freedom of Nigerians, the top agents of State havebeen insistent on not allowing any more protests, warning they will be treated as acts of treason rather than address the substantive issues that led to the protest. This is against the backdrop of concerns about an urgent and coordinated action by the states and federal governments to implement the minimum set of proposals by the youths, establish the basis for trust, allow for evident and speedy reform of the police, and more importantly, deal with the open takeover of a large part of thenation by well-organized outright lawlessness, intent on unleashing generalized violence on the citizens, threatening community as we know it.
This was brought to a head by the most barbaric slaughter of innocent Nigerians at Zabarmari, Borno State.” On the activities of Boko Haram and horroful experiences faced by people in Northern part of the country, the statement read: “Nigerians now live in a state of anomie, well outside our unsuccessful eleven-year old war against Boko Haram. Across the country, especially in the North, life has become extremely tenuous. People are killed daily, women are raped regularly, kidnapping is rife and many farmers cannot go to their farms. We are concerned that over the past five years, in particular, public safety and security have been in steady decline throughout the country. According to the Global Terrorism Index 2020, Nigeria is the third country most impacted by terrorism in the world today. Everyone is asking, where is the State?Underscoring the message of many notable Nigerians, the Sultan of Sokoto declared last week, that no one is safe anywhere in Nigeria.
The country is facing a real crisis of food insecurity. Millions of Nigerians are in desperate need of emergency humanitarian support. While condemning the incompetency of government to tackle insecurity, the groupurgedthe president to heed the voiceof the people, by sanctioning his Security Chiefs for failure. “What we see, like others, is incompetence in government demonstrated by a lack of ideas on how to tackle insecurity, a poor understanding of the situation and clear failure in the pursuit of government engagement to address these problems. The Zabarmari incident is a grave indictment of the government. At the minimum, what we should have seen is the honourable exit of the persons responsible for defense and security of our country.
“In spite of numerous calls on the president to sack his Service Chiefs, the president has persisted in his policy of guarantying them longevity in their positions. His message to Nigerians appears to be that he is not ready to sanction his Security Chiefs for failure. The president must therefore take responsibility for the failure as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces”, the statement read. The statement further read: “Having carefully observed and followed these unfolding events, the Zabarmari gruesome killings must be a redline for the country. The time for action is now. There is urgent need to halt our descent into further deterioration of the system, as the political space is heating up. We therefore with all sense of patriotism and love for a united, peaceful, secure, just and prosperous nation, call for the following urgent steps to be taken by all to whom it may concern: “The National Assembly should during the engagement with the office of the president, ensure that the office takes decisive action to improve the security situation in the countryas stipulated by our Grand Norm.
“In consonance with the widely accepted notion of devolution, the National Assembly should enact laws to facilitate State Governments take more responsibility for their security as they face increased insecurity. “The security chiefs in the country have collectively failed to provide security for Nigerians and there must be consequences for this failure and in any case, their tenure has expired. “Civil society groups and communities must come out and clearly show their legitimate concerns at the mounting insecurity and make it clear that they are unwilling to continue to Accept the current collapse of public safety.” On security mechanisms and sensitivity on the part of the president, the statement read: “State Governments and community leaders should quickly put in place legitimate mechanisms for better protectionof their people againstmass violence, banditry, kidnapping and other crimes; The president and the Presidency should demonstrate real leadership in the crisis we face as a nation, with the president showing empathy and compassion, using power of his voice to calm nerves, and urging all who speak for government to show sensibility to the feelings of the people and not denigrate as criminals’ objective critics of existential problems we all face; The Federal Government should unfreeze all accounts and free all persons detained on account of organizing the EndSARS protest, charging to court anyone it finds to have a case to answer for any crime.
“TheFederal Government should stop all acts evidencing dissonance in government, labelling innocent and legitimate activity as criminal, ridiculing government by misrepresenting facts, and labelling the reportage offacts as fake news.” The statement was Issued on the December 9, 2020 andsigned by A. B. Mahmoud, OON, SAN, SFNLI, Abubakar Sokoto Mohammed, Adeyemi Candide-Johnson, SAN, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kuka, Cmrd. Salisu Nuhu Mohammed, Dayo Olaide, Prof. Pat Utomi, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba,OON, SAN, among others.