This week, Nigerians received news of the conviction by the High Court of Adamawa State five persons on charges of culpable homicide punishable with death for the killing of a pastoralist in Demsa Local Government Area of Adamawa. Given the facts of the case, it would appear that the security agencies were diligent in the task of investigation as well as in arresting and prosecuting the culprits. We applaud their assiduousness in this particular case, and affirm our support for the rule of law and the administration of justice.
However, we are reminded that in the first quarter of this year alone, more than 4000 Nigerians have been killed in violent attacks (including many women and children), by persons or groups described in various places as armed pastoralists, rustlers or bandits. In some cases, these perpetrators have decimated entire communities or laid to waste massive human settlements, including schools, hospitals and places of worship. In nearly all these cases, there have been neither arrest nor diligent prosecution.
Government has a duty to affirm in words and in deeds, its commitment to the equal value of every Nigerian life and to the equal protection of all Nigerians. Where it fails to do this, it encourages the perception that it is unwilling to protect every Nigerian and unable to hold equally accountable anyone who violates a Nigerian life. At the moment, it appears that the perception appears to exist that there is a lack of political will to apply to all suspected perpetrators, the same standards of diligence that has been demonstrated in this case in Adamawa State. As a result, large groups of armed and organised killers appear to be on prowl Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Nassarawa, Plateau, Taraba, and Zamfara States with no consequences for the challenge that they pose to the safety of our communities, the coexistence of our people and the stability of our country.
Nigeria Mourns therefore calls on government, particularly our security agencies to forthwith fulfil their constitutional obligation of ensuring the safety and security of all Nigerians, while respecting their human rights, by tracking down and ensuring the prosecution of every member of these murderous criminal groups. We also call on government to account for every missing and dead person from affected communities, rehabilitate destitute victims in IDP camps, and promote adherence to the rule of law for all.
Finally, since the current crop of security chiefs have from all indications proven their inability to guarantee our safety and end the cycle of impunity, we call on President Mohammad Buhari to ensure their immediate replacement with competent and diligent officers.
Abiodun Baiyewu Chiding Anselm Odinkalu, Ph.D
*For Coordinating Committee of the JN-CAC*