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PRESS STATEMENT FOR NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING

28th May, 2024
Lagos, Nigeria

For Immediate Release:

 

The 7th National Day of Mourning for Victims of Mass Atrocities Account for the Missing and the Dead, and Ensure Justice for Mass Atrocities

“The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government.”
(Section 14(2)(b) CFRN 1999 (as amended))

 

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, in commemoration of the 2024 National Day of Mourning and in assessing President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s first year in office, reiterate our call to the government to fulfill its constitutional duty of ensuring the security and well-being of all Nigerians, account for the missing and the dead, and ensure justice for the various forms of mass atrocities across the country. 

The National Day of Mourning and Remembrance for Victims of Mass Atrocities and Violent Killings is an annual citizen-led initiative to recognize and accord dignity to victims of mass atrocities as more than just numbers; as humans, citizens whose identities must not be forgotten, and to demand justice for them. The National Day of Mourning is further aimed at rekindling our sense of solidarity and nationhood by reminding us that we are in this together and that the office of the citizen is the most powerful office that can be occupied in Nigeria. 

The intractable insecurity in Nigeria has earned it a place as one of the most insecure countries in the world. Nigeria ranked 144th out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index in 2024, sandwiched between countries in active warfare, and 5th on the Global Conflict Index, ranking as being extremely vulnerable to conflict. Since the commemoration of the last National Day of Mourning #NDOM2023 on May 28th, 2023, and President Tinubu’s first year in office, our records show that at least 4416 people were killed and at least 4334 were abducted in incidents of mass atrocities across the country. These numbers do not account for the regular crimes of armed robbery and other forms of crimes within that range. These incidents of violence have reduced the citizens’ right to life and dignity guaranteed under Sections 33 and 34 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) to a mere inscription. The frequency of these atrocities has kept Nigerians in a state of perpetual fear and uncertainty and is impacting social cohesion, the economy, public health, and education across the country. 

While no region of the country has been spared in the past year, the North Central region has accounted for the highest number of fatalities from mass atrocities, with at least 1600 lives claimed in terror pillages, communal clashes, and herdsmen attacks. With at least 1,136 fatalities, mostly from terror-pillage attacks(banditry), the North West came in second. Particularly hard-hit were communities like Maradun Local Government in Zamfara State, which endured at least five separate incidents of terror pillages in 2023 in a series of attacks that claimed at least 118 lives. 

At least 904 people were killed in the North East in the past year. Boko Haram/ISWAP activities still account for the highest number of atrocious killings in the Northeast, particularly in Borno State, with pockets of incidents in Yobe and Adamawa states. We also noted an upsurge in insurgent group clashes. For example, at least 82 Boko Haram insurgents were killed in an inter-insurgent group clash in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State. 

The Southeast recorded the highest number of killings in the southern part of the country, with at least 344 people killed, and most of these killings occurred in Imo and Anambra states. As reported in previous years, most of the killings were due to successionist activities in the region. Cult gangs, communal clashes, and pockets of terror-bandit attacks continued to cost lives in the Southsouth region, where at least 272 people were killed. In the Southwest, at least 160 people were killed in cult clashes, herdsmen militia, attacks and other isolated attacks. 

We noted that the sustained trend of brazen killings, abductions, and pillages across the country reflects the impunitious confidence of armed groups whose acts of violence are rewarded with ransom payments, control over pillaged communities, and taxes extorted from communities in exchange for peace. We are perplexed that while the government successfully tracked and froze the bank accounts of #EndSARS protesters, it is unable to trace and quash kidnapping and ransom rings across the country using the same technology. 

In addition to attacks from armed groups, extrajudicial killings by state security actors have also continued, with at least 274 people extrajudicially killed by security personnel. We note, in particular, that 160 people were killed in two incidents of “accidental airstrikes” in Kaduna and Zamfara states, and that no one has been held accountable till date.

 

State security personnel have also continued to fall victim to the violence, with at least 262 security personnel killed on active duty across the country in the past year. These numbers include 110 military and 126 police officers. 

The unmitigated levels of insecurity across the nation have continued to impact not only the dead; all Nigerians suffer the manifested consequences of food insecurity and economic hardships resulting from hindrances imposed by perennial insecurity. We also note its continued effect on the nation’s educational sector. At least 406 of the abductees within the period were students. We note with particular sadness that Nigeria continues to boast of having the most out-of-school children in the world. 

As we commemorate this year’s National Day of Mourning (#NDOM2024), we amplify Nigerians’ demands that the government fulfill its constitutional obligation to ensure the security and well-being of every Nigerian. You have failed us, and we are deeply dissatisfied with the state of affairs in our nation! Nigerians deserve better! 

We further warn the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Bola Tinubu, the security service chiefs, and our representatives at the National Assembly that their continued failure to fulfil their constitutional duty will result in our passing a loud and consequential vote of no confidence in them. 

More specifically, we demand that the Nigerian government: 

  1. Fulfill its constitutional obligations under Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and ensure the security of Nigerians’ lives and property. 
  2. Address the gaping socioeconomic inequities that are exacerbating violent crimes across the country. In particular, the government should prioritize providing quality education for all, infrastructure for unserved communities, and opportunity leverages for the indigent and marginalized. 
  3. Acts humanely towards internally displaced persons across the country and communities affected by insecurity as stipulated in Section 17(2)(c) of the Constitution 
  4. Prioritize improving the welfare (including psychosocial support) of our gallant security assets who daily deal with the trauma of being on the frontlines. 
  5. Disincentivize the payment of ransoms by tracking the financial flow of ransoms and communal extortions to identify and bring to book terrorists and terror merchants currently pillaging Nigeria. 
  6.  Investigate, arrest, and prosecute all perpetrators of these violent crimes, including those perpetrated during the 2023 general elections. 

On this occasion of this year’s National Day of Mourning, we commiserate and stand in solidarity with all Nigerians who have lost loved ones and property to mass atrocities; we demand justice for the dead and displaced and the safe return of all abducted persons. 

As a coalition of organized civil society groups across Nigeria, we pledge to continue to amplify citizens’ voices and demand accountability from the government. 

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

 


Signed by: 

  1. 21st Century Community Empowerment for Youth and Women Initiative
  2. Abubakar Mohammed
  3. Accountability Lab
  4. ACE-Nigeria
  5. Enough Is Enough Nigeria
  6. African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
  7. African Law Foundation (AFRILAW)
  8. Alliances for Africa (AFA)
  9. Amnesty International Nigeria
  10. Baobab for Women’s Human Rights
    and 74 others

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