Herdsmen attacks: Northern coalition demands state of emergency

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The Coalition of Northern Groups has asked the Federal Government, to declare a state of emergency in Kaduna, Benue, Taraba and Plateau states until normalcy returns.

The coalition also urged the Federal Government to suspend all existing political structures in the affected states and replace them with sole administrators.

The spokesman for the coalition, Abdulazeez Suleiman, made this call at a media briefing in Abuja, on Tuesday.

Suleiman said while the coalition condemned the actions of all criminal gangs under any guise, it emphatically repudiated the vilification of one ethnic and religious group or the other for whatever reason.

He said, “In this light, we deem the targeting of the entire Fulani and by extension, Muslims, for vilification, systematic dehumanisation, profiling, alienation or any action that will render them object of attack and persecution, not only immoral and illegal, but also abhorrent to our sensibilities and ordinary decency and therefore unacceptable.”

On the call for the declaration of a state of emergency, the spokesman said, “We call on the Federal Government to declare state of emergency in the frontline states of Taraba, Kaduna, Benue and Zamfara and suspend the current political structures in those states and replace them with sole administrators until conditions improve.”

He said the coalition was aware that targeting of any ethnic or religious group and singling it out for any negative action for all intents and purposes, was against both national and international laws.

Such acts, he pointed out, usually served as a prelude to genocide and ethnic cleansing and “is, therefore, actionable under international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as international criminal law.”

The group noted that the Federal Government should take the blame for failing to act promptly when the crisis started.

It blamed the Federal Government’s slow response to skirmishes for the escalation of the conflict which is currently threatening national security.

Members of the coalition demanded that government must bring all the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to book no matter how highly placed.

To show commitment to enforcing the rule of law, the group suggested that government should publish the names of those killed during the course of the conflict, name and punish sponsors and perpetrators of the various acts of criminality.

The coalition also demanded that compensation be paid to victims of these crimes in all affected areas.

They also appealed to the Federal Government to take immediate steps to disband all militia and armed groups by every means necessary in order to ensure that non-state actors did not have the capacity to challenge the state in its constitutional duty of ensuring the safety of lives and property.

On the issue of state police, the group said, “We vehemently reject recent calls for the establishment of state police, which obviously is a recipe for disaster.

“The state police is just a licence for the state governors to formalise their militia and set them to hound opponents and assist in organising sham elections. We also view it as a ploy by the Federal Government to abdicate its responsibilities and thus must be resisted by all and sundry.”

The group’s spokesman also alleged that the crisis in North-Central geopolitical zone was the handiwork of enemies of the North.

He said, “If the mutual respect and peace which have evaded us throughout this country’s independent existence cannot be achieved at this point, we would all be left with no choice but to support the suggestion for the conduct of a referendum so that each component can peacefully decide its fate.”

Suleiman said rather than remaining bound in an inconvenient partnership punctured by mutual distrust at every point; and if all Nigerians would be happier living in smaller independent units, then government and all concerned should allow Nigerians go their separate ways.

 

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