Eminent Nigerians under the auspices of the Southern and Middle Belt Forum, yesterday, expressed outrage over the ongoing mass killings and sacking of communities by armed bandits suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
They urged every citizen to adopt the principle of self-defence in order to avoid being exterminated.
The resolution came after a four-hour marathon meeting held in Abuja by the leaders of the mainstream socio-cultural groups in the country.
The meeting had in attendance the representatives of Afenifere (South-West), Ohaneze Ndigbo (South-East), Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF, South-South) and the Middle Belt Forum (North-Central).
Personalities present at the meeting included the leader of PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark; Chief Ayo Adebanjo; National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Olu Falae; Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin; President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo; former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife; former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang and former Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko.
Others were Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (rtd) of the Middle Belt Forum; Maj-Gen. Zamani Lekwot; a former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, Senator Femi Okuronmu, Prof. Godwin Darah and Chief Broderick Bozimo, a former Minister of Police Affairs, amongst others.
At the end of the meeting, the leaders formally threw their weight behind a former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) who made a similar call last month.
In a communiqué read on their behalf by the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Nwodo, the group condemned in strong terms the “subtle harassments” visited on Danjuma over his call for Nigerians to defend themselves, stressing that self-defence was the right thing for every citizen in the face of failure and unwillingness of the state to protect them.
According to the leaders, the right to self-defence is guaranteed under the constitution of Nigeria and the United Nations Charter on Human Rights.
“The right to legitimate self-defence is a fundamental human right. It is a well-established norm in municipal and International Law that any group of people that faces an existential threat to its very survival has right to legitimate self-defence.
Section 33 of our 1999 Constitution accords the right to legitimate self-defence as a Constitutional right of all citizens.
“In the case of the Unites States of America, they have carried it to the extent that the right to self-defence and even pre-emptive self-defence, is a fundamental right of all Americans.
“Natural Law, Just War Theory, and International Law and Ethics, equally recognize the right of all peoples to defend themselves against violation of their lives and those of their families and communities. Article 51 of the United Nations Charter authorizes people whose existence is threatened to defend themselves. We, therefore, support General T. Y. Danjuma; he said the obvious.
“Indeed, two illustrious legal luminaries, Professors Itse Sagay and B. O. Nwabueze, have upheld General Danjuma’s assertion on purely legal grounds.
“The continuous spate of killing of innocent citizens of Nigeria, especially from the Middle Belt, is totally unacceptable. More disturbing is the ever increasing evidence that our Military and Police Forces are compromised in the manner they have conducted themselves by aiding and abetting the herdsmen.
“In the circumstance, we are left with no alternative than to call on Nigerians to employ self-defence as permissible in law when any citizen is faced with the risk of imminent death in the circumstances we find ourselves now. Nigerians must self-defend themselves now. We also call on the Police Service Commission to immediately deploy Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) to their places of origin for a more effective policing, while we await State Police,” the group said.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum also condemned the recent invasion of the Senate Chambers by some thugs and the stealing of the mace. They expressed shock that such an incident took place without the security being able to apprehend any of the thugs who took part in the operation.
“It is a disgrace to our nation that such a disgraceful thing would happen in our National Assembly and portray us to the whole world in bad light and we would pretend that nothing happened. We condemn what happened in the strongest terms and demand a proper investigation to identify the culprits and bring them to book,” they said.
The group also expressed shock over the recent payment of a whopping sum of $496 million to the United States Government for the purchase of Tucano Aircraft, describing it as a flagrant abuse of the constitution by the President.
“Section 80 (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution is very clear on how the President could spend Nigeria’s fund. The provision states; “No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.
“As it is, the President has violated the provision of the highest law in the land. Nigeria is a republic founded on rule of law, where each arm of government is bound to be guided by the dictates of the constitution, this flagrant violation and unapproved spending must be abated as well as sanctioned.
“We, therefore, call on the National Assembly to do the needful as well as call on the United States Government to return the money paid to its treasury as the money paid is not authorized.
“The unauthorized expenditure by the President came amidst non-fulfillment of legitimate promises to spend money in the Niger Delta, for instance, to ameliorate environmental degradation, even when Senators are expressing doubts on the transparency and honesty in the disbursement of social security funds. It was this kind of disregard for the Constitution that made Mr. President to approve $1 billion for military expenditure before approaching the National Assembly,” the group said.
On the alleged plans by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to create 30,000 additional polling units in the country, the group said such a move was suspicious coming too close to the next general elections.
“We stand opposed to any plan to introduce new polling units or voting points 10 months to elections for the following reasons: Such an exercise that was not done for over three years after the last elections and being introduced at this stage may just be an exercise in gerrymandering, a process of organizing political boundaries, voting areas or voting arrangements to give electoral numeric advantage to a political group.
“We ask INEC to conduct the 2019 elections on the basis of the existing polling units so that the exercise will be credible and the outcome acceptable,” the communiqué read.
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