*decries international interference in current developments in Nigeria
By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
A coalition of 200 civil society organisations has condemned the wanton destruction of police stations and Government facilities and subsequent looting of their armouries in Lagos and other parts of the South.
It also frowned at the burning and looting of private and public infrastructure across the country.
To this end, the group has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, order the security forces to decisively restore law and order, expressing fears that any delayed action could take the country to a state of anarchy.
On the other hand, the coalition commended the peaceful #EndSARS protesters for their peaceful protests nationwide just as it with happiness that “for the interest of peace and unity of our country,they have decided to put the protests on hold to give room for negotiations.”
It tasked the federal government to ensure that it meets all the legitimate demands of the protesters.
The coalition, in a statement on Sunday, also tasked governors to immediately commence engagement of youths in town-hall meetings on peace in their various states.
The statement was signed by Dr Banjo Ayodele for Coalition of Human Rights Advocates (COHURA); Mrs Ngozi Okocha for Conference of Africa Mothers Forum (COAMOF); Dr Mrs Zainab Alkali for Justice and Equity Network (JUEGN) and Barr. Festus Igbokwe for Justice And people’s Network (JUPENE).
“We wish to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately restore law and order in Nigeria. We also urge all the governors to commence youths town-hall meetings across the entire state of federation,” it said,noting that:”Youths’ direct engagement is the best way to achieve peace.”
The group which noted that the group of youths burning and stealing both private and public places were no longer protesters as being claimed in some quarters but criminal elements, insisted that, “President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies should as a matter national emergency deal decisively with the hoodlums where necessary, to restore law and order before the situation in the country gets out of hand.
“We sincerely frown at the high level of lawlessness and criminality going on in the country today being carried out by some misguided and sponsored youths and hoodlums in the name of venting their anger against the government.
“This high level of killings, robbery, arson and destruction of private and government property by these hoodlums across the country is highly unacceptable by both local and international standards and should be condemned by all,” it said.
It read in parts: “We are therefore, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies to as a matter of national emergency deal decisively where necessary, to restore law and order before the situation in the country gets out of hand.
“We wish to state here that by our observation on the turn of events so far, we can emphatically say these group of youths burning and stealing both private and public places are no longer protesters but criminals. “How do we justify the wanton destruction of both private and public property in Lagos and other parts of the country? Is this part of the protest? Certainly not. This is a clear act of criminality that should not be tolerated.
“Many people have lost their lives just as many means of livelihood have been destroyed by these set of criminals! Security forces are now helpless as they don’t want to be seen as using excessive force on the criminals.
“As the situation keeps deteriorating on an hourly basis, we strongly believe that it is time to act decisively before we are plunged into a full anarchy.
“These criminals and their sponsors must be stopped, arrested and all the items stolen recovered as well as be made to face prosecution.
“We urge the President to see this as the time to demonstrate to Nigerians that he truly swore an oath to protect their lives.
“Criminals have hijacked the entire country and if nothing is done quickly, we will have ourselves to be blame.
“With the deliberate burning down of police stations and looting of their armouries in Lagos, Ogun, Aba, Nnewi and some other parts of the South, it has become clear that these people are common criminals who have been looking for means to weaken our security agencies.
“We urge the security agencies and our youths with goodwill to rise up and defend the country now.”
Wondering how the people claiming to be agitating for better welfare for security agencies will be killing policemen, burning and destroying private and government properties,it noted that their actions were nothing short of double standard.
“This clearly shows that these deviant youths are sponsored and are out for self-purposes and not fighting for the betterment of the youths of this country,” it said, adding:”Consequently, we are appealing to all Nigerian youths of repute to rise up and defend every government and private properties in their areas against any attacks by these criminals who are out to soil the name of the entire youths just for their self interests.”
“The question that should resonate in our minds is whether these criminals share their loot with all of us. We must rise up and defend our land. Nigeria belongs to all of us. If we don’t defend the land now, by the time looting is over, these criminals will come back to rob and kill us with the stolen guns from the security agencies.
While commending some foreign nations on their show of concerns to developments in the country, the coalition however, said it was “worried of some unnecessary international interference in our local issues when they don’t really have facts nor understand the issues.”
” While we appreciate and welcome international collaborations and solidarities, we enjoin them to do proper investigations before meddling into our issues. Anything outside this would be seen as their desperate efforts to instigate gullible youths against our constituted authorities.
“No country in the world will take the level of destructions as seen in the last few days in Nigeria without taking actions to restore law and order.
“Nigeria belongs to us and it is a sovereign state with all the laws to guide its citizens,” it said.