Local and international bodies are mounting pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently look inwards and fashion out solutions to the challenges posed by the activities of the Boko Haram sect in the North-east of the country.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) described the recent massacre of defenseless students in Yobe state and the routine decimation of communities in Borno and Adamawa states as “un-acceptable”.
International rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) have also condemned the recent attacks in the region.
While warning that the NLC will not be an indifferent by-stander while Nigeria’s territory is being ceded away and scores of innocent lives and priceless property are being wasted on a daily basis, the body’s leadership disclosed that it is planning a mass protest against insecurity in the country.
The NLC, in a press statement signed by its President, Abdulwaheed Omar, said the massacre and routine decimation of communities in the states brought to the fore the gory reality of the new phase of war on terror.
“The attacks on Buni Yadi, Michika, Madagali and Shuwa, in Yobe, Adamawa and Borno States respectively were more audacious as the terror elements were said to have moved in murderous convoys of Hilux, chanting war songs in broad day light, killing, pillaging and daring any one to challenge them. Distress calls to our security forces were said to have elicited no reaction”, the statement pointed out.
“We at the Nigeria Labour Congress are shocked by this brazen and ferocious savagery and saddened by the seeming helplessness of our security forces. The earlier successes of the declaration of emergency seem to have petered away, giving room to despair”, the statement said.
“What could have been responsible for these painful reversals? Are the insurgents getting better organised, armed or funded? Have inter-agency and service rivalries worsened? Are security votes drying up or are they being mis-applied? Are our forces sufficiently and adequately armed and motivated?”, the NLC asked.
The labour union continued: “Where is our Air Force? What has happened to our satellites? What is the role of Cameroun in all this? Is 2015 part of this war? Who ordered the withdrawal of security forces before the attack on helpless students? Who and what prevented our troops from responding to distress calIs? Is this a prelude to the removal of opposition civilian governors?
“Accordingly, and consistent with our peace initiative last year christened Peace Summit, we shall mobilise our members to the streets to protest these massacres and the questionable responses of our security forces,” Omar declared.
Similarly, Ms Mausi Segun, Nigeria Researcher, HRW, in an electronic mail sent to newsmen yesterday urged the federal government to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Human Rights Watch calls on the Nigerian Government to urgently take steps to protect the lives of citizens in vulnerable communities in the North-east and to rescue the scores of girls taken captive by the insurgents in the past few weeks.
“These measures must be carried out in ways that do not further jeopardize the rights and safety of members of those communities.
Furthermore, all those most responsible for these horrific crimes must be brought to justice as soon as possible,” Segun said.
In another development, Mr. Onyekachi Ubani, Chairman of the Ikeja branch of the NBA, has urged the government to change its strategies in tackling the insurrection.
But, Minister of Information and supervising Minister of Defence, Mr. Labaran Maku, has called for more cooperation from the public in the fight against terrorism.
Maku made the call in Lagos at the 30th Memorial of the founder of The Punch newspapers, Chief James Aboderin, Saturday night at the Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
“To defeat insurgency is for every citizen to cooperate. For example, you ought to know the movement of people in your village and if you see suspicious movement you should communicate immediately to security agents.
“If you are in urban area and a stranger comes into your compound, maybe it’s a tenant, you need to find out what time he goes out and what time he comes in, who are those visiting him what he does for a living.
“All those questions have become very important today because if you keep quiet and do not cooperate, you will find out that everybody is the enemy of terrorists; nobody is immune. So, it is important for state governments particularly to coordinate public information gathering”, he said.
Meanwhile, Senate President David Mark, in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh, while reacting to the latest attacks on Michika in Adamawa and Maiduguri in Borno at the weekend, said the dimensions of the renewed attacks have gone beyond human comprehension.
“With cooperation and support of the citizenry, we can salvage the situation”, he assured.
In a related development, Mark has reiterated the call for death penalty against kidnappers, insisting that this is the only way to discourage the ugly trend in the country.
Speaking at St Mark’s Catholic Church, Abagana, in Anambra state, during the funeral church service of late James Emeka Iloenyosi, who died in the hands of kidnappers, Mark submitted that the perpetrators of the evil act do not deserve to live among normal human beings.
“It is a big challenge to all of us. Government is there to take responsibilities, but the community cannot absolve herself of basic responsibilities. These kidnappers live among us. It is therefore incumbent on community leaders to fish them out. Today, it is Chief Iloenyosi, who knows the next victim tomorrow”, he asked rhetorically.
“If a traditional ruler like Chief Iloenyosi is kidnapped and died in the hands of his abductors, then who is safe in this community? That is why everybody must vow to say enough is enough and no more to kidnapping in Anambra state”, he said.
However, the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) has assured Nigerians, especially those living in the troubled North-east states, that a lot was being done to guarantee peace in the area.
Chairman of the forum and governor of Niger state, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, in a statement, urged all stakeholders to continue to pray to God to end the scourge of the senseless killing of defenceless citizens.
The statement, signed by his spokesman, Danladi Ndayebo, in Minna, yesterday, urged the perpetrators of the dastardly acts to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue.
“The Forum deeply regrets this utterly heinous descent to new depths of terror by the perpetrators at a time when security agencies are doing their best to put an end to it,” the statement said.
The NSGF chairman urged members of Boko Haram to embrace dialogue, assuring them that “the surest way to resolve grievances is through dialogue and not violence”.