PRESS STATEMENT on the Second National Day of Mourning and Remembrance
The Joint Nigeria Civil Society Action calls on all Nigerians to join in activities to commemorate the second National Day of Mourning and Remembrance for all victims of violent killings across Nigeria. Our call comes at a time when virtually all states of our country have been beset by violent killings with impunity. Currently at the epicenter of these crises is the ongoing violent killings in Kaduna and Zamfara states, which are rapidly spiraling into a national catastrophe and are threatening the very fiber of our nationhood. Our recently concluded national and state elections were also not spared; and were marred by violence which resulted in the unfortunate killings of 626 Nigerians between the start off of campaigns and the announcement of results.
The National Day of Mourning and Remembrance is a citizens-led initiative to express solidarity, and demand accountability for the security and welfare of all Nigerians. The resolve for a National Day of Mourning was consequent to the resolutions reached at a meeting of more than a hundred civil society actors a year ago in Abuja, to undertake a National Day of Mourning as a symbolic action capable of registering citizens’ dissatisfaction with the state of our national security, since protests no longer seem to impact the conscience of our political elites. Among other objectives, it seeks to:
1. Stir the conscience of our political class into developing the political will to protect our commonwealth through accountable governance.
2. Express solidarity with grieving communities across the country as we acknowledge and accord dignity to every single Nigerian life that has been lost, or disrupted, due to violent crises.
3. Rekindle our sense of nationhood by reminding ourselves that we are in this together, and that the office of the citizen is the most powerful office that can be occupied in this country.
4. Assert, as citizens, an end in our docility to no longer condone the narratives that seek to divide us.
The National Day of Mourning and Remembrance is scheduled for Tuesday, May 28, 2019 and will be marked by a series of symbolic actions listed below:
Solemn Assemblies: as a sign of our collective mourning, citizens will perform mourning ceremonies at Unity Fountain, and other strategic locations in all states across the country. The mourning ceremonies include:
Call their names: Citizens will acknowledge, and as a sign of respect for those killed, call out the names of as many individual victims as we can; and call on the government to acknowledge the loss of these citizens as worthy of more than passing attention. Our citizens are more than numbers.
Laying of wreaths: In honour and memory of all citizens lost in violent killings across the country, wreaths will be laid around each state as represented at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, and at other strategic symbols of unity in various states.
Mourning Procession: a silent mourning procession will commence from the locations of the solemn assemblies, around strategic locations in the various states.
Black: We invite all Nigerians to wear black on May 28, or at least a black arm band, or black ribbons as a symbol of their solidarity.
Half-mast flags: We invite all corporate entities, and the government to fly their flags at half-mast for the entire day.
Silence: We invite all Nigerians to observe a minute of silence at noon on May 28. Where they cannot be part of a ceremony, to stand in front of their homes, businesses, cars and be silent for a minute. For markets, to stop all trading activities for 5 minutes while a bell rings. We request radio and TV stations to observe the silence and advocate for their audiences to do the same. We ask for groups and institutions to hold solemn assemblies at about 11:45 am and observe a minute silence at noon.
As citizens, we remind our government at every level that Section 14(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that the Security and Welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government, and therefore demand:
For an urgent review of the country’s security architecture
The immediate replacement of all service chiefs
The initiation of a government led process of documenting these deaths towards seeking accountability
The provision of social security for victims including disabled persons, orphans and other socially vulnerable citizens
Provision of better welfare services – including psychosocial support for our gallant security personnel.
As mentioned at the start of this statement, this is a citizens-driven movement that is entirely non-partisan and not skewed to any ethnic or religious leaning. In the spirit of national unity and patriotism, we therefore call on all Nigerians to their roles as occupants of the office of citizens and join in the commemoration of this event in their localities.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
For Joint Nigeria Civil Society Action Committee
Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Ph.D
For Coordinating Committee of the JN-CAC