Dozens of youth on Wednesday gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja for a rally organised by a coalition of non-governmental and human right organisations against killings in Nigeria.
Member groups of the coalition include Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria, Bring Back Our Girls Movement, Global Rights, Our Mumu Don Do, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM), Concerned Nigerians, Reclaim Naija (CLP), BudgIT, and Emerging Political Leaders Summit.
Organised under the theme #EndMassacres, the rally was to protest recent killings across Nigeria in the past six months, particularly in the Middle Belt of Nigeria.
The rally also demanded that the Federal Government do more to ensure the security and welfare of Nigerians.
In its statement at the rally, the Global Right Group said the killings in the country have become worrisome, stating more than 5000 Nigerians have been killed in the first six months of 2018 alone.
”The spate of violent killings across Nigeria in the past six months, and indeed in the past three years have been worrisome. in the first six months of this year alone, more than 5000 Nigerians have been killed in violent attacks by persons or groups described in various places as ”armed pastoralists”, ” rustlers or bandits”.
Global Right Group noted that none of the culprits in the killings had been brought to book.
”In some cases, these perpetrators have decimated entire communities and few social infrastructure which these communities depend on, including schools hospitals and places of worship. In nearly all of these cases, there have been neither arrest nor diligent prosecution,” the group said.
”More troubling has been the lack of urgency and pro-activeness on the part of government to end killings, and bring perpetrators to book. While the killings have been particularly pronounced in the Middle Belt in Nigeria, no region of the country has been spared from the spate of insecurity and their frequency has escalated from month to month.”
Kadaria Ahmed, anchor of TV show “Straight Talk with Kadaria” on Channels TV, said at the rally, ” The responsibility rest with President Muhammad Buhari, he was elected and his primary duty is to protect lives and property.”
Hamzat Lawal of Connected Development (CODE), in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES at the venue, said citizens should not only hold Mr Buhari to account but also the states governors because of the security votes allocated to them monthly.
”Government has failed us, government has failed in their responsibilities to protect the lives and properties of its citizens, tax paying citizens, innocent citizens across the country.
”It is quite shameful that the Buhari-led federal government came out to start comparing figures of killings in the past administration and the present administration. We would not take it, enough is enough.”
The organisers had planned that the participants would march from the Unity Fountain in the Central Business District to the Presidential Villa in Asokoro, but they were frustrated by security operatives.
“It is really quite sad that as active citizens, today we want to march to the villa and we were stopped by the Nigerian Police,” Mr Lawal said.
”It is important that two days ago, the Police in Maiduguri protested on the street, shooting their guns on non-payment of allowances. Also, seven police officers were killed and their arms were taken away by hoodlums. This shows that even the Nigerian Police are victims of bad leaderships of our political representatives that were elected into offices.
“Again, it is a shame that the Nigerian Police came to stop our protest from entering the Villa. They all came with their tanks, ammunition, Ak-47 guns; all ready to protect this same leaders and open fire on citizens who are calling for justice.”
Mr Hamzat also urged citizens to hold their states governors accountable for security funds allocated to them.
The group demanded accountability in deployment of security resources across the country, and immediate sacking and replacement of the service chiefs for failing to deliver on their responsibilities.