From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), a human rights organisation, has identified a 16-point solution to the insecurity in the South East to include negotiations with the pro-Biafra groups, reversing of the proscription of IPOB, and the convocation of a national conference.
The group said that the proposed confab would determine whether Nigeria will continue peacefully and harmoniously as one or be peacefully divided autonomously or regionally or independently with six new republics, namely: “Kanuri Republic”, “Arewa Republic”, “Middle Belt Republic”, “Oduduwa Republic”, “Republic of Igbo” and “Niger Delta Republic” or “Republic of Biafra”.
Intersociety, in a statement signed by its Chairman Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi and its Head, Campaign and Publicity Chidimma Evangeline Udegbunam, a lawyer said that the federal and South East governments must genuinely enter into credible negotiations with IPOB and other pro-Biafra groups and decriminalize all their lawful activities especially those bordering on regionally and internationally recognised rights to self determination including ethnic identity, existence, development and freedom of worship and religion or freedom to hold religious beliefs without persecution or state terrorism.
The statement reads in part:
‘The Nigerian Government must end its sustained policy of political and economic exclusion and segregation against the South East region, its outposts and their populations and capture the Region and its outposts in the mainstream of the country’s social, economic, technological and political developments, projects and processes.
‘There shall be a National Dialogue/Constitutional Conference, to be attended by representatives of all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and other indigenous stakeholders. The reps to such National Dialogue/Constitutional Conference shall be drawn according to population size of every ethnic nationality, using the United Nations national and constituent population projections for the country.
‘The National Dialogue/Constitutional Conference shall address the concerns of Nigerians including the type of government (i.e. regionalism or federalism or confederacy and security arrangements such as decentralization of the military and policing forces), religious practices and freedoms and a new constitution to be put in place to replace the non inclusive and militarist 1999 Constitution.
‘The Nigerian Government must demilitarize the South East region and its key outposts including its named gateway neighbors by removing them from the military and police siege and withdrawing all the deployed military and police personnel on their roads, boundaries and other strategic locations.
‘The flooding of the region and its outposts with Fulani-Hausa Muslim military and police commanders must be reversed and all the top officers named above and similar others removed or transferred out of the region and its outposts. The percentage of Muslim senior military and policing officers to be posted to the region and its named outposts must be drastically reduced to 30% so as to allow the Christian indigenous officers to fill 70% of the total slots or positions and give the indigenous citizens of the region a true sense of security and safety.
‘All Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, clandestinely aided and brought by the military and the police of the Nigerian Government and permanently settled in farmlands, bushes and forests in the region and its key outposts must be moved out and relocated back to their northern bases and others where they were brought from.
‘The Nigerian Government must discontinue its clandestine policy of turning Southern and Middle Belt Nigeria into Sharia or Caliphate colony and respect the country’s pluralistic composition and secular status or its multi-cultural composition including non imposition of Islam as a state religion and respect for citizens’ freedom of religion and religious belief and freedom from discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity and religion, etc.
‘The Nigerian Government must frontally address and reverse the top security appointment imbalances especially flooding key military and policing formations in the South East region and its outposts with senior military and policing officers of Fulani-Hausa and South West Muslim backgrounds and revert back to Constitutional Sections 10, 14 (3), 42 and 217 (3) in balancing the appointments and postings.
‘Until the named top security posts’ imbalances are addressed and reversed, the South East governors must steer clear or stay away from raising a regional security outfit and allow same to be operated by non state actors with capacity of being more independent and effective. Instead, the South East governors, in consultation with critical indigenous stakeholders, shall send anti open grazing and odd hours grazing bills and get them passed into law by the Houses of Assembly of the South East region and possibly that of Delta State.’