A coalition of over 500 women organisations, under the aegis of Womanifesto, on Tuesday, tabled a five-point demand for the government to swing into action and address the menace of killings in Nigeria.
The women, who were reacting to the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, in Ondo State by terrorists, which led to over 35 casualties, therefore gave the government about one-month ultimatum (July 5, 2022), to do something about their demands or face any consequence for the preservation of the lives of Nigerian citizens.
The Convener of Womanifesto and Executive Director of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, raised these issues in a statement on behalf of the 500 groups titled, “Womanifesto condemns the killing, gives Nigerian government four weeks ultimatum to address the incessant killings.”
Among the 500 groups included Action Aid Nigeria, Bring Back Our Girls, 100 Women Lobby Group, Yiaga Africa, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Christian Women in Nigerian Politics, International Federation of Women Lawyers, HEIR Women Development, Nigeria Labour Congress (Women Committee), Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative, Nigerian Women Trust Fund and Nigeria Association of Women Journalists.
Womanifesto quoted a report by Nigeria Security Tracker that “over 3,515 people have died as a result of violent attacks between January and June 2022, with 1,214 deaths in March, ranking higher than the 996 deaths recorded in January.”
The organisation cited another report that “at least 14,641 people have been killed across the six regions in Nigeria in the past three years, and in just the first five months of this year, about 3,173 have been killed and more than 2,293 abducted in similar circumstances.”
The statement reads, “In the immediate term, however, we demand the following actions by the Federal and Ondo State governments:
“Publish the identities of all the victims of the Owo tragedy including those that died as well as the injured.
“Demonstrate accountability and carry out a speedy investigation that is conclusive – leads to arrests, successful judicial prosecution, and sentencing of the killers.
“Make immediate contact, provide constant updates, and appropriate succour for all the families of victims of the tragedy by the Federal and Ondo State governments.
“Present as a matter of urgency, a state of national security status report to Nigerians in fulfillment of the constitutional duty of the President and the security agencies.
“Transparently communicate the performance of the security establishments in light of the huge budgetary provisions allocated annually to the counter-terrorism war.
“Unfortunately, the failure of the government to properly investigate or take tangible actions to ensure justice or deter future occurrences continues to exacerbate the crises. Since its insurgence in 2009, the herdsmen and banditry attacks have risen exponentially as the government has failed to demonstrate the capacity to address the insecurity plaguing the country.
“The Owo massacre in which citizens in their place of worship were killed, again raises the question of governance failure considering that our 1999 constitution asserts security and welfare of citizens as a primary responsibility of the government. The same constitution centralises the command and control of security establishments in the Federal Government through the President of Nigeria as Commander-In-Chief of the Nigeria Armed Forces.
“We, therefore, call on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the Federal Government, the Nigeria Police, and all other relevant federal law enforcement agencies to take immediate measures beyond condemning this barbaric act – to end the insecurity in the country.
“Womanifesto demands in the medium term, a comprehensive restructuring of Nigeria’s security architecture through a national conversation on a new constitution to replace the problematic 1999 constitution.
“Womanifesto finds the current fixation of Nigeria’s public officials and other politicians with the 2023 elections in a country which has many evident signs of being on the brink of collapse, an unconscionable, unkind, and cynical diversion of energy that should be focused on securing anxiety-numbed citizens.
“We are shocked that our political leaders are continuing to ignore and downplay the rising trend of daily killings of Nigerians in states across the country at a dangerous time like this and instead of giving priority to their personal quest for power. This is utterly condemnable.
“We want our President, Governors, and lawmakers across Nigeria to immediately cease from continuing to “major in the minors” and reprioritise the safety and security of citizens to the top of our national agenda. We demand that they focus on the existential threats bedeviling Nigeria and Nigerians now.
“Finally, we shall be monitoring the response of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal and Ondo State Governments to our demands. If by July 5, 2022, we do not see any strong signs of progress on our five demands, Nigerian women will take every step necessary to stand for the preservation of the lives of our citizens. We emphatically declare that Enough is Enough!.”