The minorities also demand intervention of National Conference.
Some minority ethnic groups in the northern part of Nigeria on Monday demanded urgent intervention to stop their oppression in the region.
The ethnic group under the aegis of Northern Minorities Rights Project, in a joint memoranda submitted by their representatives at the National Conference, alleged that the powerful elite in the region had systematically marginalized them over the years.
The 48-page document titled. “Joint Memorandum to National Conference by the Northern Minorities Rights Projects, Conference of Autochthonous Ethnic Communities Development Association and Middle Belt Dialogue,” is dated April 14, 2014.
They said the instability and insecurity of Nigeria today were deeply rooted in two major unresolved political and social issues.
First, according to them is “the systematic and institutionalized violation of the rights of the Minority Nationalities, Ethnic, Religious and Community groups,” and second is “the continuity and entrenchment of some unjust pre-colonial and colonial political structures, institutions and values in the present dispensation that hold some Nigerians in chains and servitude.”
The northern minorities said the creation of new states, geo-political zones and local government areas had not totally solved the problem of marginalization of the minorities and the taking away of their rights, but had compounded them in some instances.
They gave the following instances:
-There are states in which tens of groups of minority ethnic nationalities have been lumped together with powerful hegemonic groups which monopolize political and economic power. This includes Kaduna, Borno, Gombe, Bauchi, Niger, Kwara and Kebbi States. There have been consistent demands for creation of additional states in these states;
-There are states in which new hegemonic groups have emerged such as in Kwara, Benue and Kogi States;
-Some fairly large ethnic nationality groups have been balkanized into several small units and scattered in several states, such as the Karekare in Yobe, Jigawa and Bauchi States, the Gbagyi in Kaduna, Niger, Nasarawa and FCT, the Nupe in Niger and Kogi States, the Adara in four states and Bura in Borno and Adamawa States etc;
-Local Governments are supposed to be the tier of government that would address local and community issues. However, Local Governments have no legislative powers over issues of land tights, control of local resources, appointments of traditional authorities, control over finances etc. At the level of local governments where ethnic minorities can have a strong voice, the centralization of power by the states has robbed them of their rights of participation in governance;
-In some states, as in Kaduna, in the predominantly ethnic minority areas, the State Government has taken the Hausa/Fulani enclaves and made them into chiefdoms independent of the traditional authorities under whose territory they have settled. This goes down to districts where some districts are reserved exclusively for Hausa-Fulani, and in some cases, some Hausa-Fulani district heads resident in chiefdoms headed by non Hausa-Fulani are made subordinate to Hausa-Fulani chiefs in other chiefdoms. In some areas, some Hausa-Fulani chiefs are appointed to rule over other ethnic nationalities that constitute the overwhelming majority in the state; and
-The areas where the British imposed culturally different numerically minority groups to rule over indigenous populations have become areas of intense conflicts between indigenes and immigrant communities.
The ethnic minorities among other things demanded their protection insisting that constitutional definitions of citizenship and citizenship rights must be in accordance with the articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Minorities.
They said the UN Declaration of the Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples should be ratified and incorporated as schedules of the Nigerian Constitution, and thereafter mechanism for their enforcement should be codified in the laws of Nigeria.
They also suggested that restriction on building of churches in the Hausa-Fulani areas should be criminalized “as they are violation of fundamental human rights of Christians.”
“The National Conference must determine that Nigerians have the right to build places of worship in any place in Nigeria, Freedom of worship and freedom from discrimination on the basis of religion must be guaranteed and indeed should become part of the issues to be agreed for our continued existence as a country with diversities of religions and cultures,” they said.
They also demanded that majority groups must not impose their cultures, religions and customary practices on ethnic nationalities and adoption of such practices should be purely voluntary.
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