In February, 2021 and again earlier in this month of May, over 127 Civil Society Organizations joined in calling attention to the atrocity violence, lawlessness and bloodletting that have taken over all parts of Nigeria.
On those occasions, we called on government at all levels to provide leadership in ensuring that the security and welfare of all Nigerians is preserved as enshrined in section 14 (2 )(b) of the constitution. We also urged the presidency 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.
Since we issued those positions, we have observed what appear to be responses from various levels of government. We note, in particular, the outcome of the meeting of the Southern governors in Asaba, Delta State, on 11 May, 2021 as well as the statements that have emanated from the governors of Kano, Katsina and Plateau States. We are not unaware of statements also from the presidency in response to the Southern governors.
These responses from government have been neither sufficient nor adequate to stem the growing violence across the country. In particular, President Buhari remains indifferent to the growing toll of massacres, industrial-scale abductions and lawless abuse of Nigerians all over the country. This week alone over 130 people were massacred in two separate incidents in Benue and Plateau states, without drawing a response from the president. It continues to appear as if the president is both indifferent to the suffering of Nigerians and unwilling to provide leadership in addressing it.
As citizens, we cannot sit by and watch this happen. In 2018, we got together a coalition of concerned citizens to commemorate the lives and sufferings of victims of violence in our country in the first National Day of Mourning. Since then, we have marked 28 May of every year as a National Day of Mourning to remember all those whom we have lost to atrocity violence and also show solidarity with their families and communities.
This year marks the fourth year of the National Day of Mourning. This year the activities of the National Day of Mourning 2021 will take place in every state of Nigeria, on social media and in the diaspora.
Today, again, we are pressed to highlight some of the issues that have brought us here:
The incessant killing of security officers across the country and the clear absence of political will or leadership from the president to bring an end to this deadly trend;
The surge in atrocities against women, children, learners, teachers and the most vulnerable. Schools and institutions of learning have been targeted for elimination and government appears unable and unwilling to take urgent action in protecting these demographics.
Impunity thrives. The judiciary is vital to ending impunity but today makes it the 52nd day since courts all over Nigeria have been shut down by executive disobedience of court orders on judicial autonomy. While the courts remain shut, there can be no accountability for atrocity violence.
The armed forces are deployed in 36 states of Nigeria on internal security operations, thereby retrenching the constitutional role of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). This is a constitutional anomaly. The rise in fatalities from military operations shows that the military is over-stretched, poorly trained for this role and without proper rules of engagement for it. This cannot continue.
While these atrocities continue, the government, rather than enlist citizens in united opposition to it, seeks to divide the country with clear patterns of nepotism and persecution of civic actors and the independent media. Far from helping, these actions deepen the crisis in the country.
As #Nigerianbleeds we have come together on this fourth National Day of Mourning to ask the president to take urgent steps to #securenigeria by addressing these priority areas that we have identified above. There is no time to waste; the time to act is now.
Joint Action Civil Society Coalition/ Nigeria Mourns Secretariat.