By Sunday Oyinloye
Worried by the spate of killings and worsening state of insecurity in Nigeria, a coalition of Civil Society Originations at the weekend called on the Federal Government to account for the abducted, the missing and the dead in the Abuja-Kaduna train bombing even as it challenged Nigerians to rise and contend for the soul of the country from the hands of insurgents and “political miscreants”.
Besides, the coalition said government officials should stop lying about the security challenges facing Nigeria.
Addressing the media in Abuja, the representatives of over 50 CSOs and citizens groups in the country described as unacceptable the escalating attacks and wanton killing of thousands of Nigerians in different parts of the country.
In an address read on their behalf by the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, the CSOs noted that the security architecture of the country has totally collapsed stressing that some urgent steps should be taken to salvage the unfortunate situation Nigeria has found itself.
According to Auwal, terrorists in recent times have been attacking innocent Nigerian brazenly adding ” most recently in the past month being the bombing of the Abuja-Kaduna train and the Gidan train station; the brazen attack on the Kaduna Airport, the takeover of the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway by terrorist groups; the siege on nine communities in Giwa Local Government Area of Kaduna State which resulted in the loss of over 100 lives with an unspecified number of persons abducted from their homes, the increase attacks in South East, in particular, Imo State ,the attack on Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, the escalation of gang wars in Lagos and Ogun States, the killing of over 65 persons in Kebbi State, the attack on Kwali Area Council of the FCT and the abduction of a traditional ruler. The list appears endless.”
The CSOs condemned what they called the nonchalant attitude of the government in protecting Nigerians which they noted is evidenced by the unending fruitless statements stressing that this raises concerns about its commitment to ending this siege “that continually compromises our individual and collective security of Nigerians”
They said further “We are appalled that despite the continued assurance by the presidency and the nation’s security Chiefs that the country had technically defeated terrorists and the nation has become considerably safer, experience has shown in reality that it’s a different story.
“Nigerians are increasingly living in constant fear and are apprehensive of becoming victims of mass atrocities both in public and private spaces. They can no longer sleep at home in peace or travel without fear of being abducted or killed. Parents are choosing to keep their children away from schools for fear of them being abducted; no one feels safe”
The CSOs while commending the National Assembly for its proactive steps to summon the heads of the security agencies, however noted their timidity in assertively demanding that the presidency and the Service Chiefs be accountable, urging the National Assembly to be bolder in its oversight functions and demand accountability of the Executive and its agents.
They criticized the Federal Government for its inability to gauge the mood of the nation, when right after the Abuja-Kaduna train bombing, it focused its energy on mobilizing supporters for the World Cup qualifying match, shutting down government offices by 1pm on the day of the match and providing free buses to supporters with great fanfare, adding “worse still, they failed to honour our recently departed compatriots by a simple act of mandating players and official to wear black hand bands in their honour”.
The CSOs and citizens group while appreciating the media’s constraints in the face of continued repression of Press Freedom by the government and the financial constraints of conducting detailed investigations , said journalists owe Nigerians a duty timely truth of demanding accountability as the as the fourth realm of the government.
In their call to action read by the Executive Director of Global Rights, Abiodun Baiyewu, the CSOs demanded that government should take urgent and deliberate action to live up to its constitutional duty of ensuring the security and welfare of all Nigerians, review the nation’s security architecture and be more proactive in building the capacity of the intelligence agencies and also be more humane in its actions as mandated by the constitution.
They also want government to rescue those abducted in the Abuja- Kaduna train bombing and conduct an independent inquiry into the immediate and remote circumstances that enabled the terrorists to succeed in the evil act. And lastly, the CSOs want the government to take deliberate action “through responsible leadership in addressing the immediate and remote circumstances that are festering terrorism and other forms of mass atrocities across the country”.
Other speakers at the Press Conference, Edosa Oviawe of Nigeria Mourns, Lemmy Ughegbe of Make a Difference Initiative, Olaniyi Olumayowa of Cleen Foundation and Osasah Monday of African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development called on President Muhammadu Buhari to show true leadership by ensuring that terrorism become a thing of the past in Nigeria.
They said there cannot be any meaningful development where lives and properties are not secured.