The Joint Action Civil Society Coalition calls on all Nigerians to join in the commemoration of the third National Day of Mourning on May 28, 2020.
Our call comes as the country continues to experience an exponentially rise in violence, perpetrated by organized criminal groups with a monumental loss of lives, livelihoods, and property. For the most part, the destruction associated with this spiraling crisis of violence and mass killings has been grossly under-reported. Even with the suppression of information on these killings, it is quite clear that the toll of killings has risen dramatically in recent times. Between 2018 and now, we have recorded the deaths of at least seven thousand nine hundred and four (7,904) Nigerians to violent killings across the country; with the first quarter of 2020 alone making up about one thousand four hundred and sixteen (1,416) of these deaths. From Akwa-Ibom to Zamfara, Nigerians wake up daily to fresh news of mass atrocities which are barely acknowledged by the government and a vast majority of fellow citizens. This is an anomaly that must end.
• In parts of the North-East, Boko Haram continues to terrorize, killing thousands of Nigerians going about their livelihoods.
• In parts of the North-West, including Kajuru and Birnin-Gwari in Kaduna and much of Zamfara and Katsina States, and Taraba State in the North-Central, vast swathes of ungoverned territory have been taken over by rustlers, bandits and vigilantes whose preferred currency is blood.
• The southern states of the country have not been spared in the ongoing bloodletting, as at least 34 out of the 36 states have experienced at least 1 episode of violent killings within the first quarter of 2020 alone.
• Extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses by state security personnel have been on an alarming high, in nearly all the states where the Covid-19 lockdown measures were enforced.
There has been no accountability for these killings. The pervasive impunity and frequency of violent killings in Nigeria are of grave concern to citizens and all people who wish our country well. The chronic mass killings across Nigeria has become a blot on the collective conscience of our Nigerian humanity. As a country, we seem to have normalized the violent killings of our citizens. Reports have reduced human lives lost to mere numbers that are bandied and argued about without thought of properly accounting for them or according them dignity, by naming them. They have also given rise to mass displacement, creating civic, humanitarian, and food security crises. In turn and together, this situation now endangers the very existence and coexistence of Nigeria, as never since the civil war have we been this divided.
Nigeria’s 1999 constitution makes clear that the primary purpose of government is the safety, security, and welfare of all who live within its territory. Section 17(2)(c) of the same constitution commands that “governmental actions shall be humane”. While Nigerians are being killed our communities and livelihoods are laid to ruin, the government has shown itself unwilling or unable to confront these killings to put an end to them. By so doing, it has abdicated its constitutional duty to guarantee the safety, security, and wellbeing of all who live within Nigeria’s geographical boundaries. Our leaders have fueled the embers of mistrust ascribing their failure to protect lives and property to ill-founded narratives of ethnic, partisan, and religious mischief. Rather than demand accountability and responsible leadership, citizens have been incited to turn on one another; instead of acknowledging and being united by the fact that we are all victimized by all of these, citizens and communities seem to be in a race to prove who has suffered more from the killings.
Thus, as Nigerian citizens and members of organized civil society, we call on the Federal government to live up to its primary responsibility of protecting lives and property and promoting the welfare of all who live in Nigeria. We, therefore, demand from the executive and legislative arms of government, clear, measurable steps to:
1. End the impunity that has led to the spiral of the conflict in the regions by immediately ordering of a full investigation into the killings to fish out and bringing the perpetrators of the crisis to justice;
2. Ensure the provision of humanitarian aid and assistance to communities displaced by the crisis;
3. Take essential measures to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons across the region and their further inflow into the country; and,
4. Ensure an urgent accounting of the missing and dead, and an estimation of the loss incurred by individuals and impacted communities.
Furthermore, we call on all concerned Nigerians to join us as we organize towards a National Day of Mourning and Remembrance for all victims of violent killings across Nigeria scheduled for Thursday, May 28, 2020, to memorialize all whom we have lost and demand for government’s responsibility to its citizens, and justice for every victim of mass atrocities. The National Day of Mourning and Remembrance will be marked by a series of symbolic actions listed below:
1. Speak out on social media Demand accountability of government for the security and welfare of all Nigerians as enshrined in section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian constitution
and use the hashtags: #NotAtWar #NDOM20 #NDOM2020
2. Observe a moment of silence at 12pm (noon) on May 28
3. Use the NDOM Virtual T-shirt as your DP on Social Media
4. Read/list out the names of victims of mass atrocities in your states on social media and electronic media
5. Wear black and invite others to do the same. Please post your pictures online.
Abiodun Baiyewu Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Ph.D
For Coordinating Committee of the JN-CAC