The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) is canvassing the establishment of Operation Shege ka Fasa in the North in response to the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun. ‘Shege ka Fasa’ means I dare you.
The coalition, which was the brain behind the 2018 quit notice to the Igbo living in the North,said yesterday that the North is even more genuinely entitled to be angry in view of the current high level of security challenge in that part of the country. It cited the incessant attacks on and killings of innocent citizens by gunmen,abductions, destruction of communities and terrorism.
Spokesman for the group, Abdulazeez Suleiman,said in a statement in Kaduna that the North has persevered in a dangerous security environment fuelled by outside interests that thrive on the supply of deadly merchandise including hard drugs and other harmful substances and the proliferation of arms in the region. The group wondered why the SouthWest had to wait until after the conclusion of the 2019 elections before coming up with Operation Amotekun. But it said the security outfit should function within the ambit of the law.
“We are convinced that there is indeed a justifiable reason for Nigerians to seek to take extra measures for self- protection and preservation in the prevailing circumstances,” it said. It added: “This need is necessitated by the apparent failure of the government to discharge its primary duty of protecting the lives and properties of all citizens. “Recall that in 2015, Nigerian voters trusted Buhari to lead our nation through and out of its limitations, into a future in which we will live secure lives and pursue livelihoods in a united Nigeria whose human and material resources will be protected by leaders.
“Regrettably, five years on, the story is that of poverty ravaging communities, hunger stalking millions of homes, inflation making life difficult, people losing jobs, businesses closing down, infrastructure decaying, young Nigerians losing hope, which are all drivers to the current security situation.
“Worth recalling also, is that long before the current deterioration, the government had been advised severally to take definite steps to end the conflict between farmers and the pastoral communities which it shunned. Instead government came up with various ambiguous policies in the form of Ruga, livestock transformation, etc that all ended in controversy, and were never implemented.
“At a point, the CNG and Northern Elders Forum were compelled to consider advising the pastoralists to return home to safety at which the presidency intervened by renewing the vow to protect all citizens’ rights to live and thrive anywhere in the country.
“Having evidently failed to do that, the ensuing level of fear and uncertainty pervading the country now sparks concerns that government’s willingness and the quality of coordination of efforts, management of resources and the capacities and integrity of the mechanisms charged with the nation’s security do not do justice to the magnitude of the problems, or address the sense of urgency in dealing with an escalating disaster.”
On the launching of Operation Amotekun by the SouthWest,the CNG said: “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 extra judicial 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 weapon to coerce 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.”
“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.”