A coalition of 44 civil society organizations, CSOs, have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to step aside or face impeachment by the National Assembly, if he can no longer ensure the security and welfare of the Nigerian people.
They made the demand at an emergency civil society joint action press briefing on the state of the nation in Abuja. According to the CSOs, Nigeria has become a catalogue of bloodletting under President Buhari's watch.
The civil society groups present at the event include: Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Centre for Democratic Research and Training (CRDDERT), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP), Zero-Corruption Coalition (ZCC), Partners on Electoral Reform, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), National Procurement Watch Platform, Praxis Center, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civil Education (CHRICED), Social Action, Community Action for Popular Participation,Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP) and Global Rights.
Others are Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), Tax Justice and Governance Platform, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, Women In Nigeria, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre(RULAAC), Women Advocate Research And Documentation Centre, Community Life Project, Nigerian Feminist Forum, Alliances for Africa, Spaces for Change, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, BudgiT Foundation, State of the Union (SOTU), Action International Nigeria, Femi Falana Chamber, HEDA Resource Centre, Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, Organization Community Civic Engagement (OCCEN), Say NO Campaign--Nigeria, Women In Media, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Sesor Empowerment Foundation, House of Justice, Molluma Medico-Legal Center, and Open Bar Initiative.
The groups lamented the Federal Government's abdication of its responsibility for security, through the Minister of Defence, Major-General Bashir Magashi (Rtd), who reportedly called Nigerian citizens 'cowards' and urged them to 'defend themselves' against bandits and other criminals. They stressed that such a comment was capable of frustrating the war against insurgency and banditry.
Reading out the text of the briefing on behalf of the coalition, Mr. Jaiye Gaskia, of United Action for Democracy, UAD, also proposed advised the federal authorities to seek international cooperation to ramp up Nigeria's security assets with a view towards addressing Nigeria's insecurity. The CSOs said: "Nigeria is in dire straits. All over the country, Nigerian citizens, including children, are killed daily by terrorists and criminals as well as in extra-judicial killings by state actors with the government doing little or nothing about it.
"The government, through the Minister of Defence, has instead callously abdicated its responsibility and called Nigerian citizens 'cowards' and urged Nigerians to 'defend themselves'.
"Kidnapping for ransom has assumed an industrial and deadly scale never witnessed on the African continent. Our children are no longer safe in schools and Nigerian citizens and communities are now pauperised by terrorists who extort huge ransoms while murdering their hostages.
"We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, what has now become the government's standard state policy of using taxpayers' money to pay terrorists thereby funding and encouraging terrorism and criminality. "President Buhari and his government have failed in their primary duty under Section 14 2(b) of the 1999 Constitution, which is ensuring the security and welfare of the Nigerian people. Instead, under their watch, Nigeria is now a catalogue of bloodletting.
"This government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to protect Nigerians as it remains its primary duty under Section 14 (2)b of the 1999 Constitution and we hold President Buhari solely responsible as the buck stops at his desk.
"As Civil Society organisations, we call on the President to take immediate steps to: Provide political and moral leadership in the security crisis and ensure governmental actions are humane in tandem with Section 17 (2) (C) of the Constitution;
"End impunity for abuse of power and sectionalism through his appointments by balancing the need for competence with the federal character principle. In this way, he will demonstrate that every part of Nigeria matters as sectional appointments appear to fuel sectional violence;
"Take responsibility and end the persecution of the media and free speech both of which are foundations of a democratic state.
"Mobilize our rich Nigerian assets to address the insecurity situation across the country and seek international cooperation to ramp up security assets.
"Where the President fails to fulfill his constitutional duties as stated above, we demand he step aside or the National Assembly initiates impeachment proceedings against him on grounds of gross misconduct as provided for in Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
"We remain hopeful as citizens of Nigeria and call on all Nigerians to keep hope alive as we bond together and build a nation where true peace and justice reign."