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Declare state of emergency on insecurity, Archbishop Martins tells Buhari

By Adelowo Adebumiti (Lagos) and Matthew Ogune (Abuja)
29 May 2021   |   4:15 am
Worried by the incessant cases of kidnappings, killings and arson in the country, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, has urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on insecurity.

Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins

As CSOs Barricade NHRC, NASS Complex
Worried by the incessant cases of kidnappings, killings and arson in the country, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, has urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on insecurity.

According to him, such a move has become very necessary to save the country from the looming anarchy that has been staring Nigerians in the face.

This is as the Joint Action Civil Society Coalition, yesterday, barricaded the office of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly over government’s failure to arrest and prosecute those responsible for the killing of over 7000 Nigerians within three years.

In a statement, yesterday, by the Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu, the cleric, who would clock 62 years on Tuesday June 1, 2021, bemoaned the failure of government at all levels to decisively address the root causes of insecurity across the country.

He noted that efforts to rid the country of kidnappers and bandits should include constant dialogue between representatives of the security agencies and major stakeholders such as religious leaders, traditional rulers, leaders of ethnic groups, the civil society and political parties.

He called on the National Assembly to follow through the ongoing constitution amendment process so as to pave the way for the creation of state police and revalidation of Federal Character, saying these would certainly help in restoring peace and security all over the country.

He said: “It is obvious that insecurity, apart from corruption, has become the single most serious problem that is facing our country today. Many innocent persons are being kidnapped for ransom, many are being attacked in their homes and displaced with their properties destroyed and normal life disrupted daily.

Even policemen and their stations are being deliberately attacked with impunity. What this means is that the country is gradually drifting into a state of anarchy. This, no doubt, portends a grave danger for our collective wellbeing.

“This is no time to play the blame game or to play politics through sectoral efforts. There must be a collective effort through a robust consultation with all stakeholders. We all must come together to fight this hydra-headed monster of insecurity that is making life difficult for our people. So, we call upon the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on insecurity and roll out practical action plans with time frames within which the situation will be brought under control.”

Martins, while noting that insecurity being experienced all over the country was part of an age-long systemic problem with governance at the national level, also called for a review of the present political structure, which he said, places too much power on the centre while states continue to operate without adequate authority to chart the path for their development.

The cleric backed the recent call by some elder statesmen for the revalidation of the federal structure as envisioned by the founding fathers of Nigeria and articulated in the 1963 Constitution.

While commiserating with the Federal Government and families of the deceased military officers who lost their lives in the recent air mishap that also claimed the life of the late Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, the archbishop said the only way to honour the dead was to strive harder to overcome insecurity and make the country a better place for all citizens to live in.

He appealed to the various ethnic groups agitating for self-determination to embrace dialogue and shun violence so as not to exacerbate the insecurity in the land, thereby causing more hardship for the people.

He reminded political leaders that Nigerians were going through a lot of hardship occasioned by the economic downturn and called for various forms of interventions to help cushion the hardship.

On the rising cost of foodstuff in the market, he asked the government to seek new ways of bringing an end to the herders/farmers clashes, saying the problem was adversely affecting the planting and harvesting of agricultural products, especially in the southern parts of the country.

He also called on well-meaning Nigerians to be their brother’s keepers by extending hands of charity to the less privileged and the downtrodden in the country.

Speaking on behalf of the protesting CSOs, the Convener of Protest to Power Movement, Jaye Gaskiya, explained that the protest was organised to mourn and remember Nigerians who have lost their lives to insurgency, banditry and other atrocities in the country.

Gaskiya said: “For instance, in 2019, we lost about 2000 citizens. In 2020, the figure jumped to 5000, and in 2021 we have already lost 2000 people to mass atrocities. That is why we are insisting that something has to be done because this is a nation that is not at war.

“Loosing about 1000 people in a year is called a low intensity country. We are loosing 2000 to bandits and we are loosing them on a daily basis.

“The funny thing is that in the first four months of this year, we have lost 340 armed forces and security personnel to this menace in situations where they were confronting the insurgents. This cannot continue.”

In a statement signed by the CSOs, the groups recalled that they had in the past called on government at all levels to provide leadership by ensuring that the security and welfare of all Nigerians is preserved as enshrined in Section 14 (2 )(b) of the constitution.

They further urged the Presidency to ensure that governmental actions are humane in tandem with section 17 (2)(C) of the constitution as part of the efforts to end the security crisis in the country.