From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has drawn the attention of the Federal Government to the plight of original inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), stating that the majority of them live in penury.
CHRICED’s Executive Secretary, Ibrahim Zikirullahi, at a press briefing, yesterday in Abuja, to mark this year’s World Indigenous People Day, added they have been rendered stateless.
Zikirullahi argued that the refusal of the Federal Government to appoint an indigene of the FCT as a minister which would have given them a sense of belonging buttressed the fact that they have been relegated to the background.
According to him, FCT indigenes bring a lot to the table in terms of knowledge, cultural repositories and key strategies towards protecting the environment and mother earth.
He said: “The injustice initiated right from 1976 is what Buhari consolidated because one would have expected that the cry of the original inhabitants would have been taken seriously.
“The Aso Rock is built on people’s land. Somehow their fathers’ graves in their place.
“The same thing at the National Assembly complex, Federal Secretariat; these are people’s farmlands, ancestry homes, shrines where they worshipped their gods that were forcefully taken away from them without compensation.
“Each time they cry, they (Government) use police, military to chase them away and beat them.
“The victory of the people through the courts set up by the government, this administration has blatantly refused to obey those courts injunction.
“Even the judgement that indigenous people should be appointed into the Federal Executive Council, has not been obeyed.”
To mark World Indigenous Peoples Day, he said, they would be a national stakeholders dialogue “holding on Saturday, August 6, 2022.
“On Monday, August, 8, will be the Grand Rally of FCT Original Inhabitants at the Old Parade Ground Abuja, while the D-Day of the celebration will feature a Regional Conference, an exhibition and an awards dinner for Heroes and Heroines of the FCT Original Inhabitants struggle.”
He added: “As a Cohort of civil society organizations working to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, these activities are not being organized as an end in themselves.
“They all present peaceful, lawful and effective options to call on stakeholders in government to stand on the side of justice, fairness and inclusion.
“As we count down to the Day, therefore, our goal is to ensure the voices of FCT Original Inhabitants resonate in the global context of the struggle for the rights of indigenous peoples.
“Finally, in terms of what we can all do in our individual capacities to advance the cause of FCT OIs, there are many simple and effective steps.
“One of such steps, which we are currently taking as a Cohort is to record a less than one-minute video with a mobile phone, stating our support for FCT Original Inhabitants.”