A coalition of 48 civil society organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria has urged President Bola Tinubu to declare a state of emergency regarding the country’s security situation.
The appeal was made during a world press conference held in Abuja on Monday.
The Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa, speaking for the organisations, expressed deep concern over the escalating insecurity across the nation. He stressed the urgent need for the government to take concrete steps to curb this crisis.
Musa noted the diverse nature of the security challenges plaguing Nigeria, including terrorism in the north, banditry in the North West, farmer-herder conflicts in the Middle Belt, and secessionist struggles in the South East. The issues, he noted, have jeopardised the safety and wellbeing of Nigerians and have shown a worsening trend over the years.
“Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria under the auspices of the Civil Society Joint Action Group, Community of Practice Against Mass Atrocities, and, Nigeria Mourns, are deeply concerned by the deteriorating state of security across Nigeria and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and therefore call on the Nigerian government to take actionable steps to end the endemic insecurity, mitigate further attacks by kidnap syndicates and terrorist groups, and, account for persons missing in these attacks,” he said.
He recalled the promises of former President Muhammadu Buhari to address these issues, yet noted that the situation has only deteriorated.
According to Mr Musa, during Mr Buhari’s second term between 2019 and 2023, at least 24,316 Nigerians lost their lives while about 15,597 persons were abducted.
He provided alarming statistics: between President Tinubu’s inauguration in May 2023 and January 26, 2024, at least 2,423 people have been killed and about 1,872 abducted in mass atrocities-related incidents.
Musa also criticised the government’s failure to fulfil its constitutional duty of ensuring citizens’ security and welfare, as mandated by the Constitution of Nigeria.
In response to this dire situation, the coalition presented a 12-point action plan for President Tinubu’s administration to tackle the security crisis effectively. Key among these measures is the call to declare a state of emergency on kidnapping and terrorism.
Other speakers at the conference, including Ezenwa Nwagwu and Lois Auta, echoed these sentiments, stressing the government’s abandonment of its primary duty and the particular impact of insecurity on vulnerable groups such as the disabled.
“The government has abandoned us, they have abandoned their constitutional right, this is not a call of one civil society organisation alone. This has become a collective effort from all others, including the media.
“Let us look forward to a day like this where we will have all others including the security operatives in a single room and discuss the way out of this,” Nwagwu said.
The conference concluded with a minute of silence in honour of the victims of these security challenges. The coalition stands committed to amplifying the voices of citizens and holding the government accountable for ensuring safety and security in Nigeria.
Full Press Statement:
End Mass Atrocities, Secure Nigeria and Ensure Accountability for Victims
“The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government” (Section 14(2)(b) CFRN1999(as amended)
Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria under the auspices of the Civil Society Joint Action Group, Community of Practice Against Mass Atrocities, and, Nigeria Mourns, are deeply concerned by the deteriorating state of security across Nigeria and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and therefore call on the Nigerian government to take actionable steps to end the endemic insecurity, mitigate further attacks by kidnap syndicates and terrorist groups, and, account for persons missing in these attacks.
Over the past decade and a half, insecurity in Nigeria has spiralled due to a variety of violent phenomena, including but not limited to terrorist activities in the entire northern region of the country, terror pillages otherwise known as banditry in the North West, farmer-herder violence in the Middle Belt including the Benue Valley, secessionist struggles in the South East, piracy in the southern coast of the Country, inter-communal attacks, political violence, cult-gang violence and kidnapping. These forms of insecurity have jeopardised the security and wellbeing of Nigerians, and have progressively deteriorated over the years.
Endemic insecurity has persisted over the last three administrations. including that of President Buhari, who as a former military general, had gained public trust to run as president by promising to curb the then fledgling insecurity. Mass atrocities fatality tracking across the country by Nigeria Mourns reveals that in President Buhari’s second term alone (2019 to 2023). at least 24,816 Nigerians lost their lives, and at least 15,597 persons were abducted. This alarming trend has continued despite President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s assurance at the beginning of his presidency in May 2023 to tackle insecurity. It has now been 8 months since President Tinubu took his oath of office and yet, things have failed to improve. Our tracking shows at least 2,423 people have been killed in mass atrocities-related incidents and at least 1,872 persons were abducted since the beginning of President Tinubu’s administration till January 26, 2024. We are particularly concerned about the upsurge in abductions, noting that at least 230 incidents, in most of which multiple victims were involved, occurred within the first 2 weeks of January 2024 alone.
Several communities across the country, including the Federal Capital Territory, the seat of government itself, are under siege, with entire families and in some cases, communities taken hostage. Residents are being forced to flee due to repeated attacks by terrorists, kidnappers and other organised criminal groups. Kidnapping for ransom demands has become a disturbing norm, without appropriate response from the authorities.
For instance, this week,30 villagers were abducted in an attack on Tashar Nagule village of Batsari local government area of Katsina State. This comes on the heels of the abduction of 23 people in the Kawu community in the Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory on 11 January. Similarly, 50 people, including 36 women were abducted in an attack on the Magizawa community in Kaura Namoda Local Government Area of Zamfara state. Over 400 people were killed in repeated attacks on communities in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau state including the gruesome massacre of over 200 people in Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi communities in Mangu Local Government on the eve of Christmas in 2023.
Road ambushes have made interstate travel more perilous. Reported incidents such as the abduction of 30 passengers near Katari along the Kaduna-Abuja highway and the kidnapping of 45 passengers in Orokam on the Benue-Enugu route underscore the gravity of the situation. Even homes are no longer safe. Homes in rural communities in Northern Nigeria have for over a decade contended with terror pillages; and more recently, urban centres including the Federal Capital Territory have witnessed a surge in invasions in which citizens are being abducted for ransom even within the confines of their homes
Failed, by law enforcement, families are resorting to publicly crowdfund to pay ransoms without interference from the government. The reticence of government to this trend is an acquiescence to the payment of ransoms. We note that the same government was quick to freeze the bank accounts of donors and recipients of funding for #EndSARS, but failed to take concrete action to protect citizens against organised crime. We are equally dismayed by the willingness of some political leaders and politically exposed persons to publicly support ransom payments; and question their values and alliances. Their actions and utterances reflect a lack of faith in the system of which they are guardians, and their nonchalant attitude towards the potential consequences, including directly funding future attacks. We consider that their stance emboldens perpetrators and further erodes the trust of citizens in their government’s capacity and sincerity.
Obtaining an education has become a risky venture for learners, and teachers. and parents due to school abductions. Businesses are also suffering from the effects of this state of affairs. Farming communities are losing their resilience against perennial pillages, and traders can no longer ply roads safely. Foreigners no longer feel safe to visit and invest, and far too many resources that could have been invested in businesses are being paid out as ransoms and fortifying private security.
In case the government has failed to notice, the entire nation is slowly grinding to a halt due to insecurity.
We are concerned that the current administration has continued the legacy of failing to decisively deal with the atrocious onslaughts against citizens within the nation’s borders and that Nigerians who are being further impoverished by the escalating insecurity, now perpetually live in fear of being attacked, abducted or killed.
The government has continued to fail in its primary duty of ensuring the security and welfare of all citizens as mandated in Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution, and in its obligation to enforce and fulfil its citizens’ right to life, according to Section 33 of the Constitution.
We hereby call upon President Bola Tinubu as the lead agent of the government to urgently:
1. Fulfil its constitutional imperative of safeguarding the lives of all citizens;
2. Declare a state of emergency on kidnapping and other forms of terrorism;
3. Enhance the country’s security infrastructure by conducting an audit of the responsibility matrix within security agencies and departments of government, bolster their capabilities and deployment of technology to effectively address the evolving challenges of insecurity;
4. Promptly prosecute the 400 sponsors of terrorism arrested under the Buhari regime;
5. Uncover and prosecute those responsible for the misappropriation of the 5460 million earmarked for the provision of CCTV cameras in the Federal Capital Territory
6. Implement more decisive measures to promptly secure the release of all abducted victims
7. Create a register of victims of abductions and other forms of mass atrocities
8. Recognise and address the floundering economy, corruption and human rights violations exacerbating factors of Nigeria’s insecurity
9. Engage citizens on best practices for ending insecurity, including dis-incentivising the payment of ransoms.
10. Provide holistic psychosocial support for abduction survivors and their families.
11. Promptly investigate and decisively prosecute all individuals implicated in fuelling insecurity;
12. Investigate the financial flow of organised criminal groups and identify the sponsors and beneficiaries.
Our thoughts and prayers are with victims and the families who have to continually deal with the trauma of losing their loved ones to insecurity. We also stand in solidarity with those families who vigilantly await the return of their abducted loved ones. We call on the government to fulfil its primary duty of protecting lives, as mandated by Section 14 (2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended to guarantee its continued legitimacy.
As a coalition of organised civil society groups across Nigeria and as individual organisations. We pledge to continue to amplify the voices of citizens and demand accountability of the government on your behalf.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
1. African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD)
2. African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
3. African Initiative for Peacebuilding, Advocacy and Advancement (AfriPeace)
4. Almajiri Child Rights Initiative (ACRI)
5. Alliances for Africa
6. Amnesty International Nigeria (AIN)
7.Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP)
9. Cedar Seed Foundation
10. Centre for Community Excellence, Zamfara (CENCEX)
11. Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)
12. Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER)
13, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
14. Clean Technology Hub
15, Cleen Foundation
16. Community Outreach for Development and Welfare Advocacy (CODWA)
17. Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa(CAPPA)
18. CSO Accountability and Transparency Initiative(CATi)
19. Enough Is Enough (EiE)
20. Global Rights
21. International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA)Nigeria
22. Keen and Care Initiative (KCl)
23. MILID Foundation
24. Neighbourhood Environment Watch Foundation
25. Network of Women with Disabilities and Disabled People in Leadership Initiative
26. Nextier SPD
27.Nigeria Network of NGOs(NNNGO)
28. NULAI Nigeria
29. OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative (OAl)
30. Organisation for Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN)
31. Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN)
32. Partnership for Justice
33. Praxis Centre
34. Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education(CHRICED) 35. Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC)
36. Sesor Empowerment Foundation
37. Social Action Nigeria
38. Socio Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP)
39. Srarina Initiative for Peace, Justice and Development
40. Stephanie Peacebuilding and Development Foundation (SPADEV)
41. TAF AFRICA
42. Tap Initiative
44. The BenueWe Deserve Foundation (BenDeF)
45. The Kukah Centre
46. We The People
47. Women Advocate Research & Documentation Centre(WARDC)
48. Yiaga Africa
Source: Ledership Newspaper