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North gets more punches over social media, EndSARS

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh,(Abuja), Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna), and Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos)
05 November 2020   |   3:40 am
More voices, yesterday, lashed out at the leaders of the northern region for the decision to restrict the social media, in addition to other controversial resolutions taken at its Monday Kaduna meeting.

Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman (second right) and other members at a press conference in Kaduna yesterday, over the outcome of the recent northern governors and traditional rulers’ meeting. PHOTO: SAXIONE AKHAINE

Northern group accuses leaders of confronting minor issues
• North subverting unity, say, Clark, Adebanjo, Nwodo, others
• Stop painting EndSARS protesters in dark colours
• PDP says it rejects moves to stifle social media

More voices, yesterday, lashed out at the leaders of the northern region for the decision to restrict the social media, in addition to other controversial resolutions taken at its Monday Kaduna meeting.

The meeting was attended by governors, lawmakers, traditional rulers, and other prominent citizens of the region.

The meeting condemned the EndSARS protest, saying it was meant to topple the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Also in attendance were the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, who led traditional rulers to the meeting; the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Senate President, Ministers of Information and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

However, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) joined the long list of voices from the North condemning the position of their leaders.

Addressing a press conference in Kaduna yesterday, the CNG spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, expressed disappointment with the positions the leaders took, saying they failed to live up to the expectation of the North by not addressing the core issues of development of the region and other security concerns, instead they are focusing on how to restrict social media, which is capable of hindering development.

Suleiman said: “Essentially, the agenda for the NGF meeting was grossly misplaced in the sense that it accorded more relevance to the #EndSARS and the social media failings which should by far not be the major focus of concern for the North at the moment.

“The CNG and indeed the vast majority of the cultured northerners are disappointed that such a meeting of northern governors and traditional leaders, elected representatives and top Federal Government officials from the North should find it more important to dwell on #EndSARS and social media and neglecting the more serious issues of security, youth restiveness, unemployment, poverty, dwindling fortunes of agriculture and general economic decline.”

He accused the leaders of lacking the requisite statesmanship to define the northern position with regards to the falsified reports around the fictitious attacks on Lekki protesters causing the nation international worries.

He accused the leaders of failing to discuss compensation for northerners attacked, assaulted, killed, displaced, and deprived in parts of the country, saying, “while hoping the northern governors and other leaders would rethink the apparent weak position adopted at the meeting and redeem their failure to articulate a more favourable northern position, the CNG wishes to express reservations regarding the two committees set up.”

MEANWHILE, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) yesterday accused northern leaders of sectionalising the country and subverting the unity of the country.

They called for the restructuring of the country before the 2023 General Elections.

SMBLF, in a statement signed by Chief E.K. Clark (South-South), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (South West), Chief John Nwodo (South East), and Dr. Pogu Bitrus (Middle Belt), said it was either all sections in the country lived together as equals under the same rules of engagement or explore other options as dignified human beings.

The statement read: “We are perplexed at the quality of humanity of any group meeting at this period of mourning not to have a word of compassion for those that were recklessly murdered by state forces and hired thugs during the protests. We reject the indecent approach to paint the peaceful protesters in dark colours. They made their demands clear and were orderly before the violent Nigerian State deployed armed soldiers and thugs in 911 lorries against them.”

They said it was wickedness to place “our power” above every other national interest by playing the “regime change” label on the peaceful protesters who were not armed like Boko Haram that the regime is chasing about with negotiations in the same spirit it has been cuddling and pampering killer herdsmen.”

SIMILARLY, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) declared on Wednesday that it rejected alleged moves by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its administration to regulate and strangulate social media in Nigeria.

It described the alleged move as unconstitutional, anti-people, and a suppressive design to disorganise Nigerians.

“The renewed frenzy to censor the social media is ostensibly targeted at muzzling outspoken Nigerians, particularly youths, media, and civil society organisations, from demanding for accountability and competence, as well as exposing the widespread corruption, unbridled treasury looting, barefaced injustice, human right abuses, constitutional violations and divisive actions of the APC administration”

The party in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiya, rejected claims that the regulation bill is targeted at checking fake news.

“This is because our nation already has enough implementable laws to counter the dissemination of fake news and punish offenders. It is clear that the APC administration is rather xenophobic of criticisms from citizens against its manifest atrocities that it seeks to surreptitiously reenact the obnoxious military decree 4 to suppress Nigerians,” the PDP said.

The party urged the APC administration to take steps to reassure Nigerians by ending corruption, treasury looting, abuse of human rights, nepotism, and lack of accountability.