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Stop killings or quit, leaders tell FG

A potpourri of political and societal leaders across the country on Wednesday met in Abuja, asking the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to stop the rising spate of killings across the country or quit.

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They made the demand at an extra ordinary summit themed, “State of the Nation: The Rising Spate of Killings Must Stop” organised by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Pan Niger Delta Forum.

The leaders also urged the government to reach a consensus on the issue of federalism and restructuring in Nigeria.

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The communiqué was jointly signed by Leader Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark; Convener Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Prof. Ango Abdullahi; Leader Afenifere Socio-Cultural Group, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, and President Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo.

They lamented that the general state of insecurity and incessant killing in Nigeria had escalated in recent times with several communities at the mercy of marauding killers.

According to them the affected communities perceived the government to be complacent with the killings that claimed over 3,500 lives in 2017 and even much more in 2018.

They noted that the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) had increased from 1.5m in 2015 to four currently.

They also said that Nigeria had degenerated from the 136th to 148th position on the corruption perception index out of the 180 countries surveyed in 2018.

“The summit observes with alarm the flagrant abuse and disrespect for the rule of law as well as the systematic violation of election processes. These infractions are steadily eroding public confidence in our hard earned democracy.

“In view of the foregoing problems we resolved that a visionary and dynamic leader must emerge to deal with our security challenge, security architecture of Nigeria must be revamped. It is necessary to ensure the removal of marauding killers from the communities they have occupied and return same to their rightful owners who now live in IDP camps,” the leaders said.

Speaking earlier, a former President Olusegun Obasanjo said that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari is incompetent and incapable of addressing the killings and poverty in the country.

He argued that the administration is confused and has got to the end of its tether while the nation is being left divisively and perilously to drift.

According to him, instead of proffering solutions, the government has been “wringing its hands and giving one unrighteous and unacceptable justification after the other”.

Obasanjo, who was represented by a former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, noted that President Buhari is, by his action and inaction, doing a lot of harm to the nation’s commonwealth and heritage.

The former President in his letter recalled the discussion he had with the elder statesman about the danger to the nation’s democracy when he hosted Prof. Ango Abdullahi in Abeokuta some weeks ago.

“The obvious indication is that the government is seemingly confused and has got to the end of its tether and the nation is being left divisively and perilously to drift. Earlier last week, I noted in a speech some undesirable elements being allowed and being introduced to our democracy by this administration. If these are not stopped, they could be the death knell of our democracy,” he said.

Obasanjo, however, expressed hope that in spite of the unfortunate situations created by the government, his consultations with people has given him hope.

He said, “People are not ready to give up in despair and leave their fate and their present and future in the hands of inept leadership for their lives to be ruined. I see common concern across the nation irrespective of tribe, religion, language and social standing that the situation should be retrieved and the nation should be saved.”

Chief Edwin Clark on his part said that Nigerians are living in poverty, corruption and inequity, adding that state governors who hitherto had no class had created one for themselves.

Also, a politician, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who is also the Chief of Staff to Senate President, Bukola Saraki, called for the retooling of the nation’s security infrastructure, which he said must be completely rebuilt on a new philosophy, structure and commitment to security as the prime function of the state.

Baba-Ahmed who recently resigned from the ruling APC, said there are compelling grounds for restructuring of the federal system in a manner that benefit all sections and interests in the nation.

“In this respect, the recent initiative of the Senate to initiate a review of the Constitution towards creating State Police should be supported as a matter of the highest national priority. The amendments on devolution of powers should also be revisited by the National and State Assemblies. Nigerians demand that their leaders must operate with requisite sensitivity to the challenges of our existence, and must put aside parochial and divisive sentiments in dealing with national issues,” he said.

A former Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko called for urgent action against the killings, warning that the situation may get out of hand, and that some victims believed they were been attacked in the grounds of their ethnicity, religion and class.

Also, a former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba who blamed reckless speeches by politicians for the killings, insisted that they laid the foundation for the program in Plateau State by creating enmity between the Hausa/Fulani and the indigenes.

He disagreed with the opinion that state police could address the bloodshed, noting that only Lagos State can afford to fund its police force.

“Is it a state that cannot pay teachers that would pay policemen? Do you know the cost of a gun? Only Lagos is ready to fund state police,” Abba said.

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