A pro-Democracy Non-governmental organisation – Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) has carpeted President Muhammadu Buhari’s silence on the widening spectre of armed kidnapping across Nigeria in his Independence Day National Broadcast just as the group criticised the President’s failure to use the occasion to unveil his government’s programme on comprehensive police reforms.
In a statement signed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA lamented that an auspicious occasion such as the 55th Independence Anniversary should have provided the opportunity for the Nigerian Government under the new dispensation to provide clear guidelines and evidence-based programme of police reforms given that armed kidnapping has proven to be one of the greatest national security threats after terrorism.
In the opinion of the Rights group the dare devilry manifest in the activities of armed hoodlums who perpetrate criminal kidnapping for ransoms goes far beyond just mere criminality but crosses the borderline of grave threats to the fundamental freedoms of Right to life and Freedom of movement enshrined in Chapter four of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended).
HURIWA also stated that the Independence Day Speech was deficient in the thematic area of youth employment which is the major cause of social breakdowns and the rise in those social vices that Mr President mentioned in passing such as indiscipline in schools and other institutions.
“The Independence Day Speech never mentioned the stark reality if imminent economic downturn created by the lack of growth in the last two quarters as recently reported by the hierarchy of the Central Bank of Nigeria “.
The Rights group faulted the President for keeping an undignified silence on the activities of armed Fulani Herdsmen who have unleashed a wave of mass slaughter and genocidal killings in the North Central States of Taraba, Plateau and Benue.
They have now moved up to the sophisticated criminal enterprise of armed kidnapping and abduction for ransom payments as clearly demonstrated by the recent high profile kidnapping by suspected armed Fulani marauders of the erstwhile Secretary to the Government of the Federation and one time Finance Minister of Nigeria Chief Olu Falae who also is one of the foremost leaders of the Yoruba Ethnic nationality in Nigeria.
HURIWA said: “While we appreciate the emphasis that Mr President placed on driving a national programme of aggressive but law-based anti-graft crusade to retrieve humongous amounts of public fund stolen by government officials and concealed in their onshore but mostly offshore bank accounts.
We are indeed disappointed that mention was never made throughout his Independence Day Speech by Mr President of the grave threats to Nigeria’s national security by the activities of armed kidnappers.
The President also didn’t find it sufficiently significant to even mention the incessant killings of villagers by suspected armed Fulani marauders in the middle belt of Nigeria and their recent incursions into the South West whereby a high profile Statesman was kidnapped and kept for almost a week not until the payment of N5 million ransom exchanged hands reportedly between the family of the ex-SGF and the Fulani kidnappers.
“Mr President must have been told that the Nigeria Police Force as currently constituted operates like urban boys scouts that are lacking in the 21st century intelligence guided law enforcement and crime prevention /fighting strategies which are why Kidnappers and other armed freelance hoodlums are having field day all across the geopolitical segments of Nigeria.
“As a former Military General Nigerians expect the President to be strong on crime prevention and the protection of lives and property of the citizenry and as the President Nigerians expect Mr President to abide by the Constitutional primary duty of protecting lives and property of the citizens”.
By Emmanuel Onwubiko