News / Africa

Nigeria Group Meets Thursday Over States of Emergency

Nigerian soldiers are seen on the outskirts of Maiduguri in the north-eastern state of Borno in this May 13, 2013, file photo.
Nigerian soldiers are seen on the outskirts of Maiduguri in the north-eastern state of Borno in this May 13, 2013, file photo.
Peter Clottey
The Nigeria’s Northern Elders Forum (NEF) plans to meet Thursday to review a strategy toward the state of emergency recently declared in three northern states by President Goodluck Jonathan.

President Jonathan recently declared states of emergency in three northern states following an upsurge in violence carried out by the militant sect, Boko Haram.

Forum spokesman Ango Abdullahi says the government did not consult the northern elders before declaring the states of emergency, despite seeking the group’s help to resolve the country’s internal security crisis.

“The proclamation of the state of emergency came to us as a surprise because of the way it came about soon after a change of policy and strategy, which incorporated dialogue and reconciliation,” said Abdullahi. “We thought the proclamation was ill-advised and ill-timed because if really the government was serious about reconciliation and dialogue he won’t declare war on his on people.”

The elders have condemned the states of emergency as a declaration of war with residents of the country’s north. The government denies the accusation.

“There is no reason why President Jonathan will declare war on any part of this country,” said Doyin Okupe, senior adviser to President Jonathan. “If there is anything that has been declared, it is a war against the insurgents, the rebels and the terrorists that have engaged in mindless killings of Nigerians, bombings of religious places of worship and institutions and killings of security agents.”

Abdullahi says the elders will also meet with the forum’s legal team, which has been gathering evidence about the recent killing of civilians at Baga.

“They are working hard to ensure that our facts, evidence and so on, are sufficient on ground for us to be able to bring those that have been responsible for human rights violations, including criminal activities over this period,” said Abdullahi.

The NEF wants to file a complaint with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after accusing Nigeria’s government of human rights abuses.

Abdullahi says the government is to blame for the growing security crisis in parts of the country.

“I don’t think anybody can convince me that Boko Haram has killed more people than the Nigeria military and the police as at this point in time. Yes, the government is mandated to protect life and property, but in doing so the government must not be seen to be the one that is killing more people than the insurgents that they are trying to attack,” said Abdullahi.
Some human rights groups have accused the military of using excessive force. Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram-related violence has killed an estimated 3,000 people since 2009, a toll that includes killings by security forces. 

The government has denied security agents are to blame for the security crisis.
Clottey interview with Prof. Ango Abdullahi, spokesman for NEF
Clottey interview with Prof. Ango Abdullahi, spokesman for NEFi
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Comment Sorting
by: Richard Bagudu
May 30, 2013 7:33 PM
Boko Haram has murdered more than 3,000 Nigerians since 2009. They bomb churches, police stations, market and recreational places. They slaughter innocent Nigerians, young and old, male and female in cold blood. This group of clowns that describe itself as Northern Elders Forum looked on, made no meaningful efforts to stop this madness; and possibly encouraged the pogrom with their ignoble silence. The criminals declared war on Nigeria since 3 years now. The Forum had all this time to reign on the misguided children, brothers and followers of its members who have turned monsters thereby avoiding this belated state of emergency, but they chose to do nothing. Now, they complain about the state of emergency. Who do they think they are fooling?
However, I agree with the Forum on one point, namely: that the Federal Government has been too slow and indecisive in handling these terrorists and rebels. I refuse to believe that there are no intelligence implicating or linking some highly placed Nigerians with the criminal activities of Boko Haram. To believe that is to write-off the security agencies as good-for-nothing. I would hesitate to do so.
The state of emergency should have been declared years ago. And if you ask me, it should have been total, suspending the powers and functions of the so-called elected political office holders of the States affected because they have proved incapable of governing their own States and ensuring the safety of their own people. Did I hear you say that is the responsibility of the Federal Government? The Federal Government should do whatever it takes, within the limit of the law, to ensure the safety of Nigerians not only in the three States that have been made ungovernable by these terrorists, but in the country as a whole.

by: Nwabuisi ifeanyi from: awka
May 30, 2013 12:38 PM
Please help me to extend my message to this so called Nigeria’s Northern Elders Forum (NEF), that they are fool and have nothing to offer, that the worst to happen is separation wish i personally will be glad to witness

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