A Statement by The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) Condemning the Shameful Peace-making Mission by President Muhammadu Buhari; President and Commander in Chief of the Armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Mali When Half of Nigeria is On Fire due to Insecurity.
Insecurity could be said to be the greatest challenge facing the administration of President Buhari. Since the return to democracy in 1999, traditional security threats such as violent conflicts, militancy, armed robbery and kidnapping have assumed worrisome dimensions in Nigeria. Evolving threats such as insurgency and terrorism have further complicated the situation.
The internal situation in Nigeria calls for greater attention, as the country continues to suffer all manner of security challenges, ranging from wide-spread robbery to kidnapping, ethno-religious conflict, and now terrorism.
Just like other years since 2015, this year 2020 is not so different. Security wise, Nigeria is currently going through ups and down. From kidnappings to murders, suicide bombings, armed robbery, car snatching, terrorism, armed Fulani herdsmen attacks to the continued disappearance of Leah Sharibu, arrests and flouting of court orders, amongst others. This 2020 is a deodorizer of events.
No doubt, a country’s capabilities inform its role in international politics. Its ability to achieve its foreign policy objectives flows from how it assembles its variable capabilities. In a situation, where its foreign vision and assumed roles impact negatively on its domestic affairs, its foreign objectives must be re-examined and refocused.
“No one gives what he does not have,” and as such, the increasing outbreak of domestic violence in Nigeria should be the priority of President Buhari and not what is happening in the neighboring country. We, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria frowns at this shameful neglect of the duties of his office, hence the question “why go to make peace for your neighbor when your ow house is on fire?
In the face of the recent series of violence in the country occasioned by the militant Islamist group; Boko Haram, which has destabilised the North-East of Nigeria and the ravaging Armed Fulani Herdsmen, which has left many communities in the North Central and Southern Nigeria traumatized, news broke out that President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria will today embark on peace mission to Mali.
Mali, a country under the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) is rocked by protests against the incumbent President Keita, who has spent two out of the five years second term in office.
According to reports, a resistance group; M5 is insisting that the Constitutional Court must be dissolved, and the President should resign, before peace can return to the country.
Owing to that, Crisis had erupted after the court nullified results of 31 parliamentary seats in the polls held recently, awarding victory to some other contenders, which the resistance group said was at the instigation of President Keita.
Riots on July 10 had led to the killing of some protesters by security agents, causing the crisis to spiral out of control, hence the intervention by ECOWAS.
We are not against peace in Mali but are worried that he, “whose house is on fire does not chase rats”. This peace mission is coming within same week that Armed Fulani Herdsmen invaded and killed 21 villagers in Kagoro, in Kaura local government area council of the Christian dominated Southern Kaduna State.
More worrisome is that the President in a most reprehensible and primitive approach to a grave threat to our national security attempted to explain away the killings as reprisals, and then run off to Mali two days later to make peace. We doubt if any good can come out from such mission by someone whose house is rocked with high wave of crisis and violence.
More so, within this week, the media reported the summary execution of five aid workers by the Boko Haram terrorists and the President is more concerned with what is happening in the neighboring country other than his own country, we doubt if President Buhari understands why he is the President at all.
Just yesterday we issued a statement on how President Buhari has failed serially in his primary role and duty to keep the society intact and in peace as enshrined in section 14(2)(B) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended.
In that statement we highlighted that between January and July this year in Kaduna State alone, there have been over 63 attacks and kidnapping incidents, in which over 107 people have been killed, around 49 injured, and over 66 men, women and girls abducted for ransom. In addition, over 111 houses have been burnt, 32 entire villages destroyed and 20, 000 persons displaced.
These and many others are examples of an unstable Nigeria, wherein every part is on fire and the President is busy mediating and making peace in other countries.
OUR POSITION AND DEMANDS
We will continue to subject the federal government of President Muhammadu Buhari under heavy criticism in the face of the upsurge of violent attacks on innocent citizens. These outbreaks of violent conflict have become a major source of insecurity in Nigeria.
Undoubtedly, Nigeria’s role at the regional level is one that cannot be overemphasized, but at the domestic level, the country is increasingly being confronted by several domestic security challenges which impact negatively on its effectiveness in international affairs.
Considering the critical self-assigned role of the nation as giant of Africa and leader of the black race and the responsibilities that come along in the field of security policy of the continent and the sub-region and even because of national need, to protect the physical integrity of the Nigerian state there ought to be an alignment between objectives and policies.
The crisis of the militant Islamist group; Boko Haram is not yet over, and it would be a grave mistake for the president to disregard the continued importance of the conflict. Suicide attacks and kidnappings have been carried out by the group this year. At this time, President Buhari should not just focus on peacemaking in the neighboring country of Mali but invest in peace-building, reconstruction and rehabilitation and socio-economic development in Nigeria.
The Middle Belt region of Nigeria has faced prolonged violent unleashed on the predominantly Christian farmers by the mostly Muslim cattle herders. In recent times, the spate of these attacks has trickled down to the South.
At the core of the conflicts are disputes over access and rights to land and water resources and rapid desertification which has changed the grazing patterns of cattle. These clashes are not necessarily new, but since 2015, the disputes have become more frequent and violent.
The conflict now claims an estimated six times more than the Boko Haram crisis. The dispute is being politicised and is stirring ethnic and religious tensions, which is very dangerous in a deeply divided country like Nigeria. The president must sit down at home and find inclusive and creative ways of addressing and deescalating this complex conflict.
Nigeria being in a State of war deserves a full time President and not someone that is entrapped in the cocoons of the Presidential mansion and failing to engage the diverse national stakeholders on the best way out of the quagmire.
Again, We wonder why the President who is Fulani has refused to take steps to protect Nigerians who have being under bombardment and attacks from largely foreign Fulani herdsmen recruited by the Local Fulani herdsmen to unleash bloody violence against farm owners and villagers so as to occupy these lands for purposes of illegally grazing their cows instead of establishing ranches to observe the twenty first century compliant agricultural practices of animal husbandry.
These Fulani herdsmen who are exclusively Muslim have been on rampage, destroying and killing people in many states who almost all are Christians, claiming to be motivated by ethnic and religious cleansing. It now seems the only thriving and booming industry in the present administration is terrorism industry by herdsmen.
Once again, we reiterate that failure on the part of President Buhari to declare armed Fulani herdsmen as a terror group even with concrete evidence of all the bloody attacks traced to them and the mass killings they unleashed all over the country is in gross violation of several sections of the constitution including his oath of office by allowing tribal and religious sentiments to becloud his sense of judgment.
This explains why he unilaterally declared a peaceful group of agitators for self-determination such as the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra and the Religious group of Islamic Movement of Nigeria as terrorists’ groups for peacefully advancing and canvassing their democratic views.
For the umpteenth time, it has become incumbent on President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to confront armed Fulani herdsmen by clearly declaring them a terrorist group so the anti-terrorism law is applied fully to deal decisively with the killer Fulani herdsmen who have clearly declared war on Nigeria and Nigerians.
This is because, the constitution is clear in section 14 that the primary duty of government is security and welfare of the citizens of Nigeria and not in the ECOWAS region or neighbouring country. Buhari is the President of Nigeria and not that of ECOWAS and his primary duty is to his country first.
*COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO
*MISS. ZAINAB YUSUF
NATIONAL MEDIA AFFAIRS DIRECTOR.