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Nigeria Mourns: Civil society groups demand sack of all service chiefs
For failing to ensure the protection of lives and property of Nigerians, a coalition of civil society groups has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the nations service chiefs.
This was the consensus on Monday when all the CSOs gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja to observe a day of mourning for the victims of violent killings across the country.
Speakers after speakers lamented the wave of violent killings going on in almost all the parts of Nigeria, but the government appear not to care.
“The way we treat human lives will determine what kind of a society we ultimately will be,” says Oby Ezekwesili, former Minister of Education and co-convener of the Bring Back our Girls campaign group.
“Societies have not developed on the basis of what’s under their soil, societies have developed on the basis of their human beings. And if you don’t have respect for the human beings in your country, there is no way you are ever going to become a world class economy.”
Also speaking at the gathering, Jaiye Gaskiya, co-convener of the Say No campaign and also a presidential aspirant in the forth coming 2019 general election, says it was only right to set aside a day to mourn the many Nigerians who have lost their lives to several senseless killings across the country.
“It doesn’t matter whether it is a Christian or a Muslim that is killed, whether it is a Northerner or a Southerner, the most important thing is that a human being has been killed, and that human being is a Nigerian and that the killing took place in Nigeria,” Gaskiya said.
“We must remember and put a name to every life that has been lost so far. But also, today is the day that we draw a line in the sand and we say enough is enough!
“No Nigerian should be lost senselessly again. The reason why we have government at the federal, state and local level is to protect the lives of citizens.
“Today we are saying that the government has failed in protecting the lives of citizens, and we are reminding them of their obligation under the constitution to protecting lives and property of the citizens.”
For Maureen Kabrik, an activist and member of the BBOG group, the silence and inaction of the Buhari administration in the face of the killings across the country, is a proof that the government is siding with the killers.
“All the governors and service chiefs in this country are silent and they have sided with the killers of Nigerians,” Kabrik said.
“We have the government of President Muhammadu Buhari that has failed to protect the lives of the citizens and has also failed to sanction the irresponsible Inspector General of Police (Ibrahim Idris).
“All that we have is the IGP sending out his men to come and take over this Unity Fountain, but we must resist this government with everything that we have.
“I supported this administration. I voted for change, but I didn’t vote for change so I can come here and mourn the killings of my brothers and sisters. I voted for change so that the killings in the North East would stop, but today it has spread all over the country.”
The group unanimously called for the immediate sack of all the heads of the armed forces of the federation as well as IGP, the Director General of the Department of State Service (DSS), the National Security Adviser, The Minister of Interior, and the head of the defence intelligence agency.
“What do we want? Fire the service chiefs, period. When do we want it? Now,” says Chidi Odinkalu, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.
“The Service chiefs are the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of Air Staff, the IGP, the DG SSS, the Interior Minister, the NSA, all of them are service chiefs, and if they cannot protect Nigerians, let them go, let us get people who can protect us.
“This is the basic demand of Nigerian mourns and we must propagate it until the government complies.”
The National day of mourning was also marked in several states across Nigeria including Lagos, Osun, Cross River, Rivers, Imo, etc.
The Abuja event was attended by notable activists in Nigeria, among whom were Samson Itodo, co-convener of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run group; Deji Adeyanju, co-convener of the Our Mumu don do campaign; Osai Ojigho, Country Director of Amnesty International in Nigeria, and many others.
Also present at the event were celebrities such as Innocent Idibia, popularly known as 2face, his wife Annie Macaulay, and popular comedian, Francis Agoda, known better by his stage name, I Go Die.