Group asks FG to declare state of emergency on insecurity 

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By Angela Atabo

A coalition of 48 Civil Society Organisations (CSO), has called on the Federal Government to declare a  state of emergency on kidnapping, terrorism and other security challenges bedeviling the country.

Mr Auwal Rafsanjani, the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), a member of the coalition, stated this at a news conference with the theme “End Mass Atrocities, Secure Nigeria and Ensure Accountability for Victims”, on Monday in Abuja.

Rafsanjani said the coalition was deeply concerned about the deteriorating state of security across Nigeria, particularly in FCT, Abuja.

He called on the government to take actionable steps to end the endemic security challenge.

He said there was also a need to mitigate further attacks by kidnap syndicates and terrorist groups and account for persons missing in attacks.

“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 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,‘’ he said.

Rafsanjani  said that it  had been eight  months since President Bola Tinubu took over and yet, things were yet to improve.

He said the coalition’s tracking showed that at least 2,423 people had been killed in mass atrocities-related incidents and at least 1,872 persons abducted since the beginning of Tinubu’s administration on May 29.

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“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 two weeks of January 2024 alone.

“Several communities across the country, including the FCT which is 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 has become a disturbing norm, without appropriate response from the authorities,” he said.

Rafsanjani cited instances of attacks in  Tashar Nagule village of Batsarinin. Katsina, abduction of 23 people in Kawu community in Bwari, FCT.

Others were attacks on the Magizawa community in Kaura Namoda Local Government Area of Zamfara and the Mangu massacre in Plateau.

He said that road ambushes had made interstate travel more perilous and some political leaders and politically exposed persons publicly support ransom payments; a stance emboldening perpetuates.

He said there was a need for the government to keep to its primary obligation of ensuring the security and welfare of all citizens as mandated in Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution.

”It is also the government obligation to enforce and fulfill its citizens’ right to life, according to Section 33 of the Constitution,” he said.

Ms Lois Auta, the Founder and Executive Director of Cedar Seed Foundation, said following the concerns raised, the coalition called on Tinubu as the lead agent of government to fulfill the constitutional imperative of safeguarding the lives of citizens.

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Auta said there was a need to also enhance the country’s security infrastructure by conducting an audit of the responsibility matrix within security agencies and departments of government.

She equally stressed the need to bolster their capabilities and deployment of technology to effectively address the evolving security challenge.

“Promptly prosecute the 400 sponsors of terrorism arrested under the Buhari regime.

“Uncover and prosecute those responsible for the misappropriation of the 460 million dollars   earmarked for the provision of CCTV cameras in the Federal Capital Territory.

“Implement more decisive measures to promptly secure the release of all abducted victims and create a register of victims of abductions and other forms of mass atrocities.’’

Auta also stressed the need to recognise and address the floundering economy, corruption and human rights violations as   exacerbating factors of Nigeria’s insecurity.

She called on the government to engage citizens on best practices for ending insecurity, including disincentivising the payment of ransoms.

She added that it was imperative to provide holistic psychosocial support for abduction survivors and their families and promptly investigate and decisively prosecute all individuals implicated in fueling   insecurity.

She said the coalition believed that there was a need to investigate the financial flow of organised criminal groups and identify the sponsors and   beneficiaries.

The CSOs included: African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Yiaga Africa, Kukah Centre, Women Advocate Research & Documentation Centre (WARDC), Amnesty International Nigeria (AIN), among others.(NAN)

Edited by Dorcas Jonah/Ali Baba-Inuwa

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