A Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the auspices of Nigeria Mourns, has called on the Federal Government to check the spate of violence and proliferation of arms, ahead of 2023 General Elections.
The coalition made the call at a news conference in Commemoration of the 2022 National Day of Mourning and Launch of the 2021 Mass Atrocities Report and Documentary championed by Global Rights on Friday in Abuja.
Ms Odinakaonye Lagi,Programme Director , Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI-Nigeria ) said that as Nigeria enters another pre-election year, projections for peace and security in Nigeria remains bleak.
“As already seen in the first few months of the year, the various threats of violence have become more intense, inflation and unemployment rose exponentially in 2021 further exacerbating their trajectory.
“Citizens ‘frustration and deepened mistrust have become more palpable.
“Impunity in its various forms, particularly, corruption ,state capture and disregard for the rule of law continue to jeopardise security across the country especially with very limited state resources and weak institutions .
“It is important to state that there are no silver bullets to ending Nigeria’s crisis of violence, there are also no quick fixes, the people and government of Nigeria will have to be deliberate and bravely commit to long term interventions to stem the tide,” she said.
Lagi said that the CSOs made some recommendations for stemming the tide which included strengthening Nigeria’s state institutions and governance structures, as well as investment in human development.
She added that there was need for efficacious resource governance in Nigeria by being forward thinking about the future and govern the resources accordingly.
She said that there was also need to reduce the proliferation of arms across the country as revealed by SBM intelligence report on `Small Arms, Mass Atrocities and Migration in Nigeria’.
She said that the report estimated that there were 6,145,000 arms in the possession of non-state actors in Nigeria ,while the nation’s security forces had only 586,600 firearms.
Lagi said that the nation’s porous land and sea borders have remained easy conduits for smuggling arms, thus the need to secure Nigeria’s borders and employ ungoverned spaces .
She stressed the need for disincentive to electoral violence because it would reduce the need for the importation and local manufacturing of arms which after elections were never mopped.
She also called for the protection of civic rights and freedom, respect for rule of law and an end to impunity.
Executive Director ,Global Rights , Abiodun Baiyewu, said that Nigeria currently vacillates between being a fragile state because of lack of institutional capacity to guarantee public safety and order due to some challenges .
Baiyewu said that these challenges include banditry ,extremist violence, farmer-herdsmen clashes ,secessionist agitations ,communal conflicts ,extra-judicial killings ,cult gang clashes ,political violence, mass abductions among others.
“As done in previous years ,our Mass Atrocities Causalities Tracking across Nigeria for 2021 measures the trajectories of the types of armed violence mentioned above through the lens of atrocious killings and abductions.
“The numbers for 2021 are exponentially higher than that of 2020,in 2021 our tracking double verified at least 6895 persons killed.
“On the least 6895 persons killed in 2021, 844 of them were state security officers and 6052 civilians,the nation tilted from 2,002 abductions occurring in 2020 to at least 5,663 in 2021.’’
According to Baiyewu, as a result of the forgoing issues ,Nigeria is grappling with colossal political and economic costs which has often nuanced and may be lost in transition.
Mr Auwal Rafsanjani,Executive Director ,Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) said that proactive measures needed to be put in place to prevent such atrocities from happening.
“Corruption has made it difficult for promotion of the rights of Nigerians and we all as Nigerians should not lose our lives.
“The government should address corruption, if you can not have security accountability the situation is bound to get out of hand.’’
Rafsanjani said that there was need to improve security accountability, create reforms ,end corruption and make sure mechanism for reporting atrocities were active.
This ,he said would contribute to the safety of Nigerians and stop impunity.
He said that there was need to also restore confidence back to Nigerians especially those who report wrongdoing so that it would not back fire at them . (NAN)