The National Christian Elders Forum held an Emergency Meeting on Thursday 22nd October, 2020 following the attacks and destructions that climaxed the ENDSARS protests. NCEF waited for the President of Nigeria to deliver his speech to the country before commencing with the meeting.
REPORT OF THE MEETING
National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) wishes to express great sorrow at the recent events in the country which commenced with nationwide protests against the excesses of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and climaxed in the death of some of the unarmed protesters, security personnel, and mindless destruction of properties. All the lives lost are Nigerian and there was no need for any of them to have died. There is no justification for anyone seeking to tribalize or sectionalize the protests and looting that followed it. The protests are result of pent up fury and frustration against the injustice, imbalance, and dysfunctional system that Nigeria is operating in form of Government.
This is not the first time that we are witnessing a protest of this nature. In 2012, Nigerians protested in like manner at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park in Lagos against the drastic increase in the pump price of fuel. The protests ended peacefully because the President Goodluck Jonathan Administration handled the situation appropriately. The current situation was mishandled by the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari because the Army was released against unarmed protesters in Nigeria. Whoever authorized the deployment of troops to face the protesting youths should be court-martialed for murder.
It is curious that a Government that claimed it negotiated with terrorists and integrated them into the military could not negotiate with unarmed protesters but chose to shoot them. The double standard that is characteristic of the Buhari Administration is condemnable.
As the country mourns the death of the protesters, the security personnel, as well as other people who died as collateral damages, NCEF appeals to the youths to suspend any further public protest. The point has been made that though Nigerians are tolerant and patient, they are not docile. Any government that seeks to take Nigerians for granted does so at its own peril. NCEF appeals that the youths should remain calm and give room for credible negotiation to commence concerning the country. One point is clear, the Amalgamation contracted by Frederick Lugard in 1914 has run its course and expired.
It is time to re-negotiate Nigeria.
After deliberating on the unfortunate killings of protesters by the Army and security personnel by irate crowds in other parts of the country, the National Christian Elders Forum passed the following resolutions:
- That the time is ripe for Nigeria to be re-negotiated. The political imbalance in the country has produced nothing but sorrow, poverty, and death for Nigerians. The unjust and sectional political structure left behind by the British Colonialists is no longer sustainable. This is the time for the ethnic nationalities to sit together as the true owners of Nigeria and re-negotiate the country to prevent future calamities. The socio-cultural groups should commence arrangements for such negotiation without waiting for Government to initiate it. Their decisions should be handed over to their Legislators to implement.
- That Government should take advantage of the protests rejecting Police brutality to introduce State Police. This is the appropriate step under the circumstances to ensure adequate and effective security nationwide and henceforth localize any case of Police excesses to the States.
- That the failure of Government to declare State Police at this point should be interpreted to imply that a centrally controlled Police is desired by the Government in order to continue to provide State cover for marauding Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits and Boko Haram.
- That structures should be put in place to ensure that State Governors do not solely appoint the State Police Commissioners neither would they have the power to unilaterally remove them so that the State Police can be free to work professionally.
- That there must be full National Assembly Inquiry into the causes of death and destruction that trailed the peaceful ENDSARS protests. All the affected public officers including President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, and the Chief of Army Staff should all testify publicly at the Inquiry.
- That the Government must be fully investigated for the role played by Security Agents in deploying, transporting, and supervising vandals and thugs to attack the protesters.
- That the prison breaks and widespread arson should be diligently investigated as there are allegations of Government complicity to discredit the protest.
- That the 9th Assembly should stop acting as an appendage of the Executive arm of Government and for once, rise to fulfill its obligations to the country. Erring Government Officials must be held accountable for their actions.
- That Civil Liberties Organizations and affected individuals should engage in litigation over the unnecessary display of aggression by the Government against the peaceful protesters. The Nigerian Bar Association should render public service to Nigerians by arranging Lawyers to represent, pro bono, those who desire to utilize legal means to seek redress.
- That Federal Government must pay compensation to all those who were affected by the various attacks on the ENDSARS protesters while the State Governments should compensate all those whose businesses and means of livelihood were destroyed. If Government Officials had not mishandled the situation, there would have been no destruction.
- That President Muhammadu Buhari should seek to demonstrate more empathy and sensitivity to the unnecessary sufferings his government has inflicted on Nigerians. Even the speech of the President, delivered two days after the killings of unarmed protesters, was not humane.
- That Nigerians must henceforth mobilize massively to participate in politics and ensure that only competent nationalists are elected to govern the country. Youths should divert their energies to political mobilization and active participation in democratic process to ensure good governance in the country.
ON RENEGOTIATING NIGERIA
With respective to renegotiate Nigeria, this is necessary to prevent the country from sliding the Sudan way that resulted in two Sudans from one Sudan. This is because of racism perpetuated by the Arabs against the Negroes. Race has a rather complicated past; race has been used over the ages to categorize, praise, and penalize individuals or groups of supposed discrepancies.
“Although the skin tone and other physical characteristics have frequently redefined, the race has no generic foundation.” Nigeria has two races, the Negroes of the black race and the Negroids of the Arab descent. “This influential social structure has a profound effect on the lives of people as it is also used to create and sustain the dynamics of privilege and influence. Access to service and opportunity are also distributed along ethnic lines … migrants are racialized in many parts of the world as migrants. Jews are racialized for being Jews, and Muslims are racialized for being Muslims.” (Jamal Mneda “The Racial Healing” Pg 21.)
We need to add however that it is only in Nigeria in the whole of Africa that native Nigerians are being racialized for being natives.
National Christian Elders Forum urges all Nigerians to remain calm and prayerful. Nigeria is going through another phase of turmoil in its journey to nationhood. We have no doubt that we shall overcome these travails and birth a new nation where truth, justice, and fairness shall prevail.
NCEF condoles all the families that were bereaved during this crisis and prays that God shall comfort all those who lost loved ones. May their soul rest in peace.
For and on behalf of National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF)
24th October 2020