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Northern elders berate CSOs for backing service chiefs

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Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEEPD) have berated some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) opposing its position that service chiefs be replaced due to worsening security situation in the country.

About 16 CSOs had last Saturday issued a statement in Lagos condemning the Northern elders for demanding the sack of the service chiefs. They accused the Northern elders of failing to acknowledge the efforts of the Nigerian military in the fight against insurgency and other forms of banditry across the nation over the past few months.

“Let’s not forget that Boko Haram terrorists are lurking around waiting to strike. If we lower our guard by acceding to the call of those who want the service chiefs removed, it may spell doom,” the CSOs were quoted as saying.

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But the Northern elders said the group’s defence of the service chiefs amid insecurity in the country was a confirmation that they lacked respect for the lives of citizens who had been killed and those at risk of being killed.

In a statement yesterday in Abuja, the National Coordinator of CNEEPD, Zana Goni, said the CSOs’ claim that removal of service chiefs would demoralise the armed forces showed that they knew little or nothing about the workings of the military, but were only out to promote the cause of their paymaster without taking into cognisance the consequence of their action on the citizenry.

The elders said: “As stakeholders in the Northern peace process and residents of the North, we know what we are saying. Those living in Lagos should, please, give us a chance, since they know little or nothing about the area.

“The Lagos-based CSOs, in the sponsored and warped write-up, described our group as ‘a fraction of the Northern elders,’ just as it claimed that our position that the service chiefs be replaced was an attempt at demoralising the nation’s armed forces and its leadership.

“For the record, the CNEEPD, which parades Nigerians of reputable standing like Zana Goni as national coordinator, does not need introduction. This is why the attempt by its traducers to interest their paymasters will fail.

“According to them, Nigeria is no longer a place where deceit, falsehood and mischief thrive, nor are the people any longer receptive of persons that trivialise issues of life and death.

“People all over the North and indeed the entire country are tired of the killings, CNEEPD is not an exception,” it added.

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