|Coalition of Northern Groups in a meeting|
The Coalition of over 52 Northern Groups, on Sunday, called on residents of Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states, currently grappling with the unprovoked killings, to protect themselves against terrorists, who might want to attack or impose levies and taxes on them.
The body, which puts the number of northerners killed in the last four weeks at 500, also observed that there had been reports of upsurge in killings, abductions, maiming and exploitation by AK-47-wielding terrorists in the four states.
The National Coordinator, CNG, Balarabe Rufa’i, who stated these during a press conference after the meeting of the body to review the security situation in the North, said it was high time the citizens rose up to “defend themselves against aggressors.”
He stated, “The Coalition of Northern Groups has reviewed the resurgence of violent attacks across some northern states in recent days with deep concern.
“We are deeply disturbed by the despicable and irrepressible decimation and elimination of our people; the destruction of their livelihood; raping and exploitation of our women; and extortion of our poverty-stricken villages and towns by terrorists.
“In the last few days, armed bandits/terrorists across four northern states of Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina and Niger have killed scores of helpless and defenceless citizens in addition to multiple kidnappings and other forms of exploitation. Regrettably, these killings, abductions, maiming and exploitation have been going on incessantly with no respite in sight.
“The CNG has gathered shocking and frightening information that suggests that some of our villages are firmly under the control of bandits, where levies or taxes are imposed on our people, subjecting our poor people to further economic deprivation and devastation. The stories are condemnable and demoralising as over 500 innocent, defenceless and impoverished northerners were killed systematically in the last four weeks.”
Rufa’i added, “In view of the above happenings, the CNG observed that at all levels, particularly the Federal Government, has surrendered their rights and privileges to the bandits/terrorists as the bandits operate parallel in villages and communities in Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states where they impose taxes and levies on the villages and kill people at will.
“The and its functionaries lack the political will and determination to decisively deal with the problems once and for all.
“The security forces are grossly understaffed, ill-equipped and poorly motivated to confront the monstrous terrorists in an aggressive manner to eliminate them from their hideouts. It is also alleged that top security personnel are siphoning the little resources earmarked for the purpose of prosecuting the war.
“Therefore, the CNG calls on traditional rulers to stand with their people in this difficult and scary situation to confront the challenge for our collective survival.
“Communities must work together under the traditional institutions, religious leaders and community leaders to source an alternative method of preserving and protecting their lives, properties and communities as our security architecture proves incapacitated and or reluctant to decisively and resolutely deal with the problem.
“Unfortunately, the political leaders, who are supposed to protect our lives and properties, are busy with their politicking without showing an iota of sympathy and empathy for the plight of our people.
“The CNG, therefore, advocates concerted and strategic efforts to create an independent community-based security outfit that can be funded through community efforts, donations from wealthy individuals, friends and associates of the North, among others, to take the war against this eminent existential threat to the hideouts of the hardened criminals.”
The CNG added, “We reiterate our call to the traditional and religious leaders because of their proximity to the people and the trust they enjoy from our people that they must lead from the front by setting an example; they should create and manage a special trust fund to support the community-based outfit.
“Hence, our people must rise up in an organised manner and defend themselves from the systematic annihilation, plundering of their resources and extortion by their terrorist-enemies.”
The CNG also condemned as totally unacceptable the suspension of the Idon Mikiya programme of Vision FM and its subsidiary, Farin Wata TV, by the Federal Government, describing it as an affront to freedom of speech and expression as contained in Nigeria’s constitution.
“We call on the Federal Government, as a matter of urgency, to rescind this unpopular and dictatorial decision that has no place in democratic governance. It is important we remind the that it rode on the fundamental right of freedom of expression to capture power. It is, therefore, expected that the will reciprocate by championing the freedom of speech and expression for all Nigerians without fear or favour,” Rufa’i emphasized.