Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has announced plans to commence a region-wide protest against the escalation of killings and destruction of property in most Northern states of the country.
A statement signed by the CNG spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, and made available to the Daily Sun decried the spate of killing and destruction over the last three weeks in most Northern Nigerian states; a situation it said, had placed the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on the wrong side of public opinion and history.
The statement listed states where the spate of violence and bloodshed had been on the rise to include Katsina, Borno, Taraba, Sokoto, Kaduna, and Zamfara among several other Northern communities, even as it accused the President of being detached from reality.
Suleiman said the protest which would simultaneously hold in the capitals of all the remaining states of the North as from Saturday, June 20, would actually kick off on Tuesday, 16 June, from Katsina State, being the hotbed of banditry in the region.
He stated that in compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines, the protest would take the form of a controlled gathering at the palaces of respective heads of the traditional institutions or Houses of Assembly in the states, stressing that it shall not in any way involve mass street processions, pathway obstructions, denigration or tampering with symbols and or structures.
“The protest shall, however, require any citizen of a state who feels obliged, to voluntarily stick green leaves on their vehicles or places of business in solidarity as they go about their peaceful normal routines.
“Recognized participants shall be required to observe public health instructions by wearing face masks, in addition to a blue cloth wrist band for identification and avoidance of undue infiltration,” he stated.
Stressing that the progress, impact and government response to the first phase would be monitored and carefully assessed before deciding on the next line of action, he reiterated that the protests were absolutely meant to be a peaceful exercise of citizens’ constitutional rights, to draw attention of President Buhari and all levels of authority to the plight of the people of the North.
“We urge all participants and other sympathizers to conduct themselves in a peaceful and responsible manner throughout. We also urge governments and security outfits to respect the constitutional rights of citizens to express their opinions peacefully,” he submitted.
Among other demands, the group wants a total overhaul of the leadership of the nation’s security and public safety agencies, and the injection of higher levels of competence, integrity and accountability in the manner that the agencies would be able to deal with the current security challenges in the North.
“The sixth sense required for recognising the urgency of the situation appears to have deserted President Buhari, putting him on a different wavelength with the suffering public. As a result, at this time of national reckoning, the entire administration seems to be out of tune with much, if not all, of the rest of the Nigerian population, necessitating a general opinion shift so fast and deeply.
“The consequences of the events of the last few weeks have therefore grown politically, economically, and socially too great to be ignored by any genuine Northern stakeholder.The administration’s various attempts to reassert public confidence with repeated rhetoric of being on top of the situation, seems increasingly discordant as the violent attacks, killings, kidnaps and looting become more regular with calls to protest becoming overwhelmingly loud and widespread.
“Moved by the urgency of these public agitations for citizen action, the CNG has accepted to champion phased region-wide peaceful protests to identify with the estranged Northern population and to register the mounting public safety concerns with the authorities,” the statement read.