Says rights group doesn’t wish President Buhari’s administration well
Challenges members to visit territories in Borno, others without security cover
By Joseph Erunke
The Coalition of Northern East Elders for Peace and Development (CNEEPD) has accused the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) of insensitivity to the plight of thousands of people in the region suffering the misfortune of worsening insecurity in the country.
According to the respected elders, only individuals and groups that were anti-people and anti-progress would attack those calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve the Service Chiefs of their appointments, in the face of violent attacks occasioned by heightened insurgency/terrorism in the North East, banditry/kidnapping in the North West/North Central and others crimes assailing the nation.
Recall that HURIWA had issued a statement wherein it attacked the Northern elders for calling for the replacement of the military heads, who have remained in office, despite the embarrassing precarious security situation in the country.
In a statement by its executive director, Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA had berated the elders’ coalition for insisting on an overhaul of the security architecture, because of the almost daily killings of men, women, and children in the region.
“We hereby call on Northern leaders and elders to stop the well oiled calculated and orchestrated campaign of calumny and desists from the beer parlour criticisms of the war on terror and return to their communities to show leadership by example to their wards and children.
“These members of the terror network seeking the destruction of modern-day constitutional democracy in Nigeria are children and wards of these community elders who are now transferring their misdirected anger at the service chiefs.
“What the Northern elders need to do with due respect, is to articulate a position paper on practical measures to be adopted by them to dissuade and discourage their kith and kin from enlisting into the terror groups that are waging the war of attrition against the Nigerian state and the people of Nigeria.
“What is needed now apart from a well equipped, motivated and battle prepared combatants which the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has endeavoured to institutionalised progressively and rapidly, is the component of community participation in waging the counter-terror measures to deal decisively with threats posed to the territorial integrity of Nigeria by armed terrorists and other desperate armed non-state actors,” the group said.
In its reaction, however, the CNEEPD berated the Onwubiko-led association, alleging that the group was paid to malign it. hard-earned reputation.
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Engr. Zana Goni, CNEEPD challenged HURIWA members and those it claimed were their sponsors to visit communities and territories in Borno and other North-East states without security protection.
While describing HURIWA’s attack as shameful, the Northern elders said the former’s statement showed that they were paid agents of those that did not wish President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration well.
To buttress their claim, the Northern elders invited the discerning public to take note of a statement by HURIWA a few days ago criticising President Buhari for not doing enough to check the spate of insecurity across the country.
They said it was pathetic that the rights’ group could be approbating and reprobating at the same time.
The CNEEPD reproduced the HURIWA’s attack on President Buhari, signed by Onwubiko and one other thus: “What the President does is to practise his deep-rooted nepotism and favouritism in appointments, whereby he prefers his fellow Fulani/Hausa northern Muslims to hold such strategic portfolios as heads of Department of States Services; Inspector General of Police, Comptroller Generals of Customs and Immigration; Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.
“The President has failed to use the opportunity of his reflection on the bloody attacks against Nigerians by a broad range of armed non-state actors, terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, armed Fulani herdsmen and cultists of the last twelve calendar months to tell Nigerians categorically of his pragmatic approach to solving the widespread insecurity and widening spectre of bloody attacks.
“Rather, he went round and round in a circus with no deliverables, playing on sophistry and deception”.
According to the Northern elders, the above position, when juxtaposed with the sorry attack on its patriotic call for Service Chiefs’ sack, gave HURIWA away as an unserious group that cares less about the security crisis besetting Nigeria.
“Our attention has been drawn to a rather insensitive and shameful statement by a group that goes by the acronym, HURIWA.
“Ordinarily, the Coalition of North East Elders for Peace and Development would not have dignified the group with a response, but for the need to remind the undiscerning public what characterises the aforementioned group.
“May we hasten to state that our consistent call on our dear and amiable President to sack Service Chiefs, has been borne out of patriotism and the need to restore public confidence.
“We remind the group led by one Emmanuel Onwubiko, that our position has continued to align with those of our respected Senators, members of the House of Representatives, as well as other concerned Nigerians, who are in the majority.
“We are, therefore, of the considered view that Onwubiko and his co-travellers may have lost touch with reality, or are being mischievous in their attack on our members”.
While wondering why any sane group will oppose the call for the appointment of new military heads, CNEEPD asked if HURIWA understood what career progression meant in the military circle.
“We challenge Onwubiko and his followers to appear before officers (both serving and retired), whose career growth has been affected by the continuous stay of the Service Chiefs, to make that argument.
“As respected elders concerned about the fact that our farmers can hardly access their farms, while the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) continues to grow, we will not buckle in our call for a new order in the security sector.
“We advise Onwubiko and his co-travellers to turn over a new leaf, embrace reality, so that posterity may not be harsh on them”.