Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Following the heated debate over the formation of the South-West security outfit, Amotekun, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has come out at the formation of the group, accusing the supporters of the security initiative of trying to dismember Nigeria with ethnic militias.
The CNG, in a strongly-worded two-page statement released to Vanguard on Saturday, lamented what the group regarded as an affront by the South-West governors on the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The statement, which was signed by the spokesman for CNG, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, questioned why the South-West leaders did not form any militia to fight for the return of democracy in 1999 but chose to do so under a democratic administration in place.
Suleiman stated that any attempt by the South-West leaders to raise any form of an army at the state or regional level would only provoke the North and other parts of the country to form their own and pursue their own agenda without minding the dire consequences.
The statement reads:
“While we do not dispute the right of the South-West to initiate the Amotekun as a necessary alternative to secure their safety in the face of government’s control lapses, we nevertheless understand the need for such measures to abide by due processes that conform with relevant laws of the land.
“In this regard, CNG recognizes the authority of the Federal Government to take steps to disband all militias and armed groups everywhere in Nigeria to ensure that no group has the capacity to challenge the State in its prerogative to maintain law and order and protect citizens’ lives and properties.
“The acceptable position remains that only legally constituted outfits and lawfully sanctioned organizations under the direct control of the Federal Government, as recognized by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, can be so organized, armed and fitted.
“Any extrajudicial arrangement by which regions set up state-sponsored armed militia groups may therefore not be tolerated as it only confirms suspicions of a wider agenda similar to that of IPOB, to cajole other parts of the country to submit to their ambition for political ascendancy.
“In particular, the idea of Amotekun on the claim of deteriorating national security at this point raises the question of why, if they are sincere, the South-West leaders fought so hard to secure the return of this same administration for another term, notwithstanding the security lapses that manifested long before the elections of 2019.
“If indeed the aim of the South-West leaders is to use Amotekun as a weapon to coarse the nation into ceding the presidency to them in future, CNG finds it pedestrian and tactless as brigandage will only jeopardize their chances the way IPOB did to South-East politics.
“On the contrary, any section of the country that is able to present a credible alternative shall certainly gain the support of Nigerians without the need for resorting to bluffing.
‘In the prevailing circumstances, the North is even more genuinely entitled to be angry at the rate its people are attacked, killed, towns and villages vandalized, innocent citizens including children abducted, and terrorized, families traumatized and communities displaced on a daily basis.
“All this while, the North has persevered in a dangerous security environment fuelled by outside interests that thrive on the supply of such deadly merchandise as hard drugs and other harmful substances and the proliferation of arms into the region.
“With the current level of anger, frustration and uncertainty that is fueling communal disharmony and mutual distrust, CNG believes that the North should as well take similar steps to arrange for the protection of the region and its people from these daily attacks and destructions.
“Thus, failure of the authorities to provide proof of its capacity to protect citizens in all parts of the North as minimum evidence that they are serious about their responsibilities would leave the people with no option than to resort to forming an Arewa Security Initiative to secure their people’s lives with the proposed code name “Shege ka Fasa.”
“Finally and for the avoidance of doubt, notwithstanding that Nigerians may not have quarrels with region taking measures to protect its people, they are at the same time unlikely to give in to calculated manipulation, coercion, intimidation, aggression or undue show of force in whatever guise.
“On its part, the North remains confident that it will not shy away from any process leading to any form of national reassessment that may arise now or in the future, in the context of a genuine dialogue without hidden agendas or preconditions.
“It will however not accept any proposal for a National Conference that fails to take all acceptable indices of our national demography into consideration; one that clearly aims at achieving dubious political goals; and one that would be clearly designed to weaken our region.”