TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE NATIONAL CHAIRMAN OF THE YOUNG PROGRESSIVES PARTY, COMRADE EMMANUEL BISHOP AMAKIRI ON THE WAVE OF VIOLENCE IN THE COUNTRY.
OCTOBER 31, 2018.
USE TACT; NOT FORCE: TIME FOR A CHANGE OF APPROACH BY NIGERIAN SECURITY AGENCIES.
1. The recent wave of violence and needless killings in many parts of the country especially in Kaduna where over 38 people were killed in two villages in Sanga local government and most recently in Abuja caused by the violent confrontation between the military and the protesting members of the Shiites group calls for serious concern and urgent national intervention to prevent further escalation beyond the control of the Government.
2. Historically, the use of force to quell agitations in Nigeria has proven over time not to be the best option as such approach rather than promote peace has been found to create societal monsters that have come back to hunt us as a nation with very dire consequences. Ironically, like people with historical amnesia, we have failed to always remember our past and what has led us as a nation to where we are today in terms of the security challenges we are currently grappling with.
3. Sadly, similar situations in time past that could have been better handled have been discovered to be responsible for almost 70% of our major security challenges with about thirty thousand lives estimated to have been lost on account of same when the use of dialogue could have been fully explored. The nation today is fighting a war against insurgency in the North-East, managing the crisis of militancy in the Niger Delta, confronted with the challenge of insurrection in the South-East and already overwhelmed with the incessant herdsmen killings in the North-Central. With the Nigeria Police and Military already over stretched with several operations across the country, it is only a matter of time that the entire security apparatus will collapse for the reign of complete anarchy if urgent steps are not taken to swiftly rethink our approach.
4. The lack of tact on the part of past political leaders is the reason trillions of Naira have been spent overtime in addressing security challenges with more than half of the said amount finding its way into private pockets of corrupt security chiefs and political leaders when such colossal amounts could have been channelled to education and health to solve the huge infrastructural deficits that have led to the state of emergency being declared in one of the two critical sectors of the economy.
5. We condemn the use of excessive force against members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria during a peaceful protests turned violent in some parts of Abuja namely Zuba, Dei-Dei and Mararaba suburbs where some have been confirmed dead and scores injured. The practice of applying force during peaceful protests can only lead to more violence as recently witnessed when some soldiers were confirmed to have been injured and members of the Shiites group killed in the process. There is no where in the world that the use of force has been applied successfully to supress an ideology and the earlier the government wakes up to this reality, the better for us as a nation.
6. We implore the Nigerian government to fully embrace its own counsel to the Israeli Government as contained in a statement released on 18th of May, 2018 condemning the killing of 58 Palestinians. Part of the statement reads; “The Israeli Government must stop such use of excessive force against unarmed civilians, including children, and respect the basic human rights of Palestinians as well as international law”. It is hypocritical for the Nigerian Government to be so vociferous in condemning the use of excessive force against unarmed civilians in other countries yet responsible for unleashing hell on hers.
7. While we acknowledge the fact that it is within the fundamental rights of members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria popularly known as Shiites to protest peacefully, such protests however must be done within the ambits of the law and must not impede on the rights of other citizens. We condemn the action of violent confrontation with security agents and the use of stones and other harmful objects to attack same. It is foolhardy to engage in violent confrontation with armed security personnel as the aftermath can only be sorrow.
8. We appeal to the Nigerian Government to engage in peaceful dialogue with leaders of the Shiites group in order to reach a common ground in resolving the cause for their unending protests. Also, tact and not force should be applied in the handling of protests by aggrieved groups especially the on going protests by members of the Shiites group so as to stem the needless loss of lives.
9. Conclusively, the Young Progressives Party as a matter of national urgency call for an independent forensic investigation into the proximate and remote causes of the several violence that have erupted at different points in Kaduna and most recently in Abuja in an otherwise peaceful protests and all those found culpable should be brought to justice so as to redeem our fast fading image before the international community where we have built a shameful reputation as a nation without value for human lives.
10. Thank you.
Comrade Emmanuel Bishop Amakiri