A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Friday in Abuja mourned and honoured thousands of Nigerians who had lost their lives in different violent attacks across the country.
The group also demanded an end to the senseless killings going on in the country.
The procession which was tagged, “National Day of Mourning” was an initiative by citizens aimed to express solidarity and demand accountability for the security and welfare of all Nigerians.
The protesters were clad in black T-shirts with inscriptions such as: #NigeriaBleeds #StopTheKillings #EnoughIsEnough #NigerianLivesMatter and #NigeriaMourns.
The protesters in their number marched to the National Assembly and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to register their anger over how Nigerian government had no value for human lives.
Addressing the protesters, the Country Director, Global Rights, Biodun Baiyewu, accused the Nigerian government of dividing the citizens along ethnic and religious lines instead of finding a lasting solution to the killings in the country.
She said the incessant killing of Nigerians and security officers across the country should be blamed on bad leadership and absence of political will on the part of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Baiyewu said, “There is a surge in atrocities against women, children, learners, teachers and the most vulnerable. Schools and institutions of learning have been targeted for elimination and government appears to be unable and unwilling to take urgent actions to protect these demographics.
“The judiciary is vital to ending impunity but today makes it the 52nd day since courts all over Nigeria have been shut down by executive disobedience of court orders on judicial autonomy. While the courts remain shut, there can be no accountability for atrocity violence.
“The armed forces are deployed in 36 states of Nigeria on internal security operations, thereby retrenching the constitutional role of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). This is a constitutional anomaly. The rise in fatalities from military operations shows that the military is over-stretched, poorly trained for this role and without proper rules of engagement for it. This cannot continue.
“While these atrocities continue, the government, rather than enlist citizens in united opposition to it, seeks to divide the country with clear patterns of nepotism and persecution of civic actors and the independent media. Far from helping, these actions deepen the crisis in the country.”
The group called on governments at all levels to provide leadership and ensure that the security and welfare of all Nigerians are preserved as enshrined in Section 14 (2 )(b) of the constitution.
“Since we issued those positions, we have observed what appear to be responses from various levels of government. We note, in particular, the outcome of the meeting of the Southern Governors in Asaba, Delta State, on 11 May, 2021 as well as the statements that have emanated from the governors of Kano, Katsina and Plateau states. We are not unaware of statements also from the presidency in response to the Southern Governors.
“These responses from government have been neither sufficient nor adequate to stem the growing violence across the country. In particular, President Buhari remains indifferent to the growing toll of massacres, industrial scale abductions and lawless abuse of Nigerians all over the country.
“This week alone over 130 people were massacred in two separate incidents in Benue and Plateau states, without drawing a response from the president. It continues to appear as if the president is both indifferent to the suffering of Nigerians and unwilling to provide leadership in addressing it.
“As citizens, we cannot sit by and watch this happen. In 2018, we got together a coalition of concerned citizens to commemorate the lives and sufferings of victims of violence in our country in the first National Day of Mourning. Since then, we have marked 28 May of every year as a National Day of Mourning to remember all those whom we have lost to violence and also show solidarity with their families and communities,” Baiyewu stated.