The Civil Liberties Organisation, Southeast Zone has watched with dismay the mindless killings, looting, destruction of public and private properties among other vices which the once peaceful EndSARS protests in the country has assumed.
For weeks, the peaceful protest embarked by Nigerian youths had gone well, sending serious signal to the government that it would no longer be business as usual.
Such protests which had assumed a movement also caught global attention to the extent that Nigerians in Diaspora, prominent world figures and the international community have shown solidarity with the development.
Such was the cheering support that had accompanied the ‘revolution’ until hoodlums infiltrated the protest and started wrecking havoc.
It would be recalled that the Civil Liberties Organisation , South East Zone had on 21stOctober 2020 issued a statement warning that the EndSARS protests and revelations pouring out from the movement should not be politicized or used to pursue any selfish ends and motives, including resort to violence. We took such position having seen from hindsight, the signs of what was to come.
The mindless shooting, injuring and killing of non-violent and non-arms bearing protesters at Lekki, Lagos state was like setting fire on an already leaking petroleum pipeline and it exploded like a volcanic eruption.
It is the use of maximum force on unarmed protesters that fueled the violent bent which the protest eventually took. Government should also be blamed squarely for trying to break into the ranks of the peaceful protesters and engineered the confusion.
The Buhari civilian administration through the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai has earned the notoriety as the worst ranked in democratic Nigeria where instruments of coercion are turned in full force on defenceless citizens and unarmed protesters.
State backed butchery and massacre of defenceless citizens, killings outside the law , mass murder and mass burials including killings by armed jihadists and Fulani herdsmen while government does little or nothing , turning deaf ears and blind eyes to cries of the citizens for justice have all risen to apogee under the Buhari presidency.
Such unwarranted killings without redress coupled with worst living standards for the common man in the midst of abundant resources, evokes the spirit of revenge, savagery and beastly manifestations and inclinations at any slightest provocation.
Fast track down to the southeast, many youths are angry, tired and restive. The Governors of the five southeast states have not shown true and effective leadership. The system is breeding anarchy, unemployment, joblessness and restlessness.
Government keeps on dishing out crumbs to the masses while acting as if they are doing the people favour by doing what they are elected to do in the first place. There is so much breeding of mediocrity in leadership, lethargy and disconnect between the government and the governed.
In Anambra State, government promised heaven and earth after banning Okada in the state but never fulfilled any.
The army of youths hitherto into the commercial cyclists business thrown out of job who could not secure immediate tricycle even on hire purchase bases have been roaming the streets with ‘red eye’.
The tricycle operators are frustrated with heavy tolls and multiple tickets leaving them dry and almost penniless after the day’s toils. Anambra state also parades the highest number of touts in the southeast with free reign of ‘revenue’ collectors brandishing ‘2x 2’ woods on any hesitant.
At this tense period, government just renewed the appointment of the unending transition chairmen in the 21 local government areas in the state having refused to conduct local government elections thereby denying the people grassroots participation and youth political grooming.
In Abia State, Governor Ikpeazu has trivialized governance that even now, owing of workers’ salaries remains an issue. To reclaim Aba with development projects has remained an illusion while the bulk of angry jobless youths who can overpower even the military still dominate the scene in the city.
In Ebonyi State, Umahi though credited with some legacy projects, rules Ebonyi with iron fist like Pharaoh amidst spiraling choking debts which his administration has allegedly accumulated for the state. He just woke up few days ago and banned ASUU and NASU in Ebonyi state university. He is also spreading poverty among the people with so many anti-people and inhuman policies that today; Ebonyi remains the poverty capital of the southeast with some of their youths unarguably the most vicious in the zone.
In Enugu state, some angry youths are disillusioned having being caught in the web of enu eru aka, ana eru aka. They are not in government while the private sector has not been favourable to them.
There is a widening gap between those in government and those outside while there is no serious government effort to contain the army of unemployed youths roaming the streets.
In Imo state, the judicially coronated governor has been engrossed with probing activities of the past governments in the state. Instead of hitting the ground running and keeping the youths out of yahoo yahoo bizness, it has been all motion and no actual movement.
Exploiting the ugly situation in the southeast, the self styled freedom fighter (self determination protagonist) while residing in the western country where the system is working, has succeeded in resetting the minds / brains of many angry youths in Igbo land.
With the use of deft mastery of oratory, propaganda and indoctrination, he has allegedly created many monsters in the society and they are ready to unleash mayhem, venom and fire just at the snap of a finger.
Their number one enemy now is the police and the institutions they represent while the entire society now bears the brunt of their actions.
The situation now poses a clear and present danger while more anarchy looms unless urgent steps are taken to avert the impending implosion even as counting of losses already incurred is ongoing.
We call on the political class to as a matter of immediacy change their strategy now while government must device means to not only change the mindset of the restive youths but get them busy, real busy.
Before the latest burning, looting and seizure of police armoury across different states and locations, there have been so many arms, small and light weapons circulating in wrong hands across southern Nigeria.
Now, with the sack of many police divisions and looting of their arms, another implosion of violent crimes and armed robbery becomes the looms.
No one is safe anymore and this is the time for government to show true leadership.
While we condemn in its entirety the resort to violence, looting and killings which the protest has taken, we call on the government to roll out both immediate and long term solutions towards addressing the malady.
While taking charge to stop further descent to anarchy and lawlessness, government must work out strategies to assuage frayed nerves knowing fully that injustice breeds rebellion.
The federal government must commence immediately the long expected holistic reforms in the Nigerian police.
Members of the Force killed in this moment of uprising should not be allowed to die in vain. The Force must also reinvent itself and commence a new process of confidence building that would restore the police –citizen relationship once more.
The fact remains that the security and welfare of the people remains the primary purpose of government. This constitutional provision has been observed with serious lip service over the years and the moment of reckoning is here.
We call for restraint on the part of the restive youths. It is time for healing and conscious efforts to rebuild the country. Justice must prevail both for the dead, the injured and those who lost valuables and government must rise to the responsibility.
Signed for The CLO Southeast Zone
Comrade Aloysius Attah