CSOs end conference in Abuja, urge citizens to stop blacklisting ethnic groups with criminal robes

The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations for Change and Good Governance has ended its one-day conference in Abuja, with a strong message to Nigerians to deist from blacklisting ethnic groups with criminal robes.

The conference tagged: “Appraising 100 Days of President Buhari on the saddle and building a nation where justice shall reign” was held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

A communiqué issued at the end of the conference examined the progress that has been made in the country since May 29, 2019 when Mr President was sworn in for a second term of four years.

The CSOs in the communique jointly signed by Bashir Alhaji Shehu, Chairman and Barr. Joyce Alobo, Secretary, said it was observed during the conference that Igbos are not drug peddlers are being erroneously held in some quarters.

Resolutions and observations made during the conference read below.

The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations for Change and Good Governance on Tuesday September 17, 2019 held a conference in Abuja on “Appraising 100 Days of President Buhari on the saddle and building a nation where justice shall reign”.

The event was to examine the progress that has been made in the country since May 29, 2019 when Mr President was sworn in for a second term of four years.
Conference was well attended by representatives of the member organizations of the coalition, resource persons, leaders of thought, influencers, statesmen and other stakeholders.

Participants, following speeches, a keynote address, lead paper presentation, and interventions by some stakeholders, discussed the issues raised at the gathering.

A former President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Ameh Ebute presented a paper on “THE CSO AS A BULWARK IN EXPOSING THE POLITICAL ELITES RESPONSIBLE FOR THE STATE OF INSECURITY IN
NIGERIA: A CURSORY LOOK AT THE BUHARI 100 DAYS IN OFFICE.” Three other notable Nigerian scholars also made presentations on various topics jointly agreed by the organizers of the conference.

The discourse interrogated the security challenges in the country, how these have affected President Muhammadu Buhari’s ability to focus on governance in the period under review, and how he has been able to make remarkable progress in spite of the difficulties caused by the security breaches contrived by the opposition. Participants dissected the nature of these threats and how the country can overcome them.

Participants welcomed the ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that upheld the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari, which was described as confirmation that Nigeria will continue along the path of reforms that Mr President is implementing.

In the course of the conference, participants observed as follow:

There is a difference between the ideal Nigerian and the stereotypes being painted about citizens at home and abroad. No region of the country should be criminalized and demonized on account of the failings of a minuscule fraction of its population. No ethnic group should be similarly treated. At such, using ethic colouration to describe any ethnic group is out of place; all herdsmen are not killers and not all herdsmen are Fulani.

Blanket criminalization of a religion or sect is also unacceptable even when criminal elements hide under their faith to commit evil. Boko Haram members are not Muslims and not every Nigerian from Borno State is a member of Boko Haram. The acts of terrorism they commit speak more to their dysfunctional existence than it speaks of their faith and ethnic background.

Igbo youth are not drug peddlers, scammers or dubious. Nigerians of Igbo ancestry excel in different fields of human endeavour. Those engaged in separatist-terrorism are not representative of the prevailing sentiments among patriotic Igbo, who are in the majority. The deviant behaviour of a few bad eggs should not be a basis to criminalize any ethnic group.

The xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa are unacceptable as they conflict with the concept of Africa for Africans.

Corruption is not only a root cause of underdevelopment in Nigeria but also a source of poverty leading to crime in the country. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has continued to expose cases of corruption by those that have failed to key into the anti-corruption drive of President Buhari. The successes of the EFCC are useful for convincing the international community that Nigeria is committed to stamping out graft.

Several international NGOs are exploiting the security challenges in the country to further foment trouble to the extent that some citizens have taken it upon themselves to demand their expulsion. International relations considerations are obstacles to the government’s ability to frontally tackles these organisations that have remained on Nigerian soil at great risk to citizens.

On the strength of the validation of his reelection by the Tribunal, President Buhari is now in a position to be decisive in dealing with those responsible for undermining security in the country since the can no longer claim witch-hunt because they are in the opposition.

Participants at the conference noted as follow:
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) remain designated as terrorist organisations and consequently proscribed; although some disgruntled politicians continue to support and finance these groups to cause problems for the country.

The military has continued to diligently discharge its responsibility by containing the excesses of violent and terrorist groups to keep the country safe and secure. . It achieved this even in the face daunting challenges that would have overwhelmed its contemporaries in other countries.

There is a growing risk from the weaponization of information for fake news, which poses a great risk to stability, inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations in the country. Fake news is being deployed by opposition figures that ordinarily lay claim to respectability and should have known better than to engage in the destructive practice. Fake news has helped to spread insecurity and hate across the country.

President Buhari has performed excellently in his first 100 days in office since he was sworn in for his second term in office. Of note is the improvement that has been made in the security situation.This has positively affected the economy as more Nigerians are now being empowered to contribute to the development of the country.

The Conference resolved to:
Call for an end to the stereotyping of Nigerians based on the action of a negligible portion of the population.

Call on Nigerians to display more patriotism on xenophobic attack on their compatriots in South Africa with a charge that the response from the country must be devoid of violence as opposed to the unnecessary reprisals carried out by persons who failed to realize that it is the interests of fellow Nigerians they hurt by such acts.

Warn the government of South Africa against complacency in the face of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians.

Urge Nigerians to unite against fake news and to rally round the military, the Police and other security agencies to fight insecurity without ethnic, political or religious connotations.

Salute the Service Chiefs, the Inspector General of Police and heads of other security agencies for bringing the various cases of politically masterminded killings, banditry and kidnappings to a halt within a record time. The Army should be particularly singled out for it remarkable efforts against terrorism and its relentless sacrifices while observing high level of human rights compliance in its operations and thereby making itself available for collaboration with citizens. The Chief of Defence Staff preformed laudably in this regards.

Commend the EFCC under the leadership of Mr. Ibrahim Magu with a demand that the agency double its efforts in ensuring sanity in every sphere of our national life. Other agencies in this crusade should also live above board and embrace inter-agency collaboration just as being witnessed in the security sector.

Support the demand for the expulsion of any and all entities that threaten the unity of Nigeria or undermine the country’s corporate integrity through support for terrorist groups.

Demand that proscription of IMN and IPOB should remain in place while the government should get other countries to globally recognise and accept the groups as terrorists.

Caution the opposition that there is a limit to sabotaging the country in the pursuit of power; the opposition shall be held accountable for any degradation in the improved security situation in the land and this shall come with consequence.

Commend President Buhari for his achievements in his first 100 days of his second tenure while appealing to him to sustain the tempo he has started with.

Support President Buhari to take any action necessary to permanently address the security challenges facing Nigeria.

This Communiqué from the conference is to be circulated to participants and stakeholders. It is also to be given the widest publication possible in addition to hand-delivering a copy to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The conference organisers expressed appreciation to all participants, resource persons and stakeholders for their robust contributions and dispassionate approach to examining the issues raised at in the course of the one day event.

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