811 views | Akanimo Sampson | June 6, 2021
Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), a civic group in Nigeria has taken on President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, in the llight of the situation in Eastern Nigeria.
At a meeting with officials of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) early last week, President Buhari, according to PLAC, spoke in anger against those he described as ”misbehaving” in certain parts of the country, apparently referring to separatist groups in the Eastern Nigeria.
The President in his remarks said: Am I not leading the country according to the Constitution? What do they want? So whoever wanted diversion or destruction of the system at this point, I think they will soon have the shock of their lives.
I think we have given them enough latitude. They have made their case. They just wanted to destroy the country. Because, what do they want? We are concentrating on infrastructure because no country or institution can develop without infrastructure.
Now for those of us who were unfortunately in the field for more than
30 months of the civil war, to see the carnage of how we killed
ourselves, at least a million people.
I think those who are misbehaving, you are either too young, they did not know what happened but for those of us who went through all these things… we can’t understand, so we will treat them in the language they understand. …so we are going to be very hard sooner than later…
For the group, President Buhari’s remarks came as a shock to many Nigerians who worry that the language and words used evoke very strong sentiments among the Igbo people who went through a harrowing, brutal civil war experience that led to the killing of more than three million people of the region.
According to PLAC, ”these memories have remained and manifested in what the people of the South-East believe is the unfair treatment they continue to receive from the Nigerian State.
”Indeed, the people of the South-East have repeatedly complained of marginalisation in proportions never before seen since Buhari came to power in 2015.
”They complain that Buhari’s government has embarked on policies that seek to further remove them from participation in national politics and economy.
”The President’s statement is also coming against the background of the recent statement and order given by the newly appointed Acting Inspector General of Police, Baba, for police personnel on operations to deal ruthlessly with criminal elements in the South-East.”
According to the Acting police chief,…Don’t sit down and even defend your formations, your places of work. Go out and look for them as they are looking for you and deal with them ruthlessly.”
No doubt, the security situation in the South-East has deteriorated in recent months, with public assets and infrastructure burnt and damaged.
Several police stations and offices of INEC in Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia and Akwa Ibom States have been attacked.
These criminal activities have been described as such by several individuals and organisations, with a call on persons responsible to desist from their condemnable acts.
Citizens and organisations have also condemned these destructive activities and called on security agencies to investigate and apprehend those responsible for them, in order to ensure that copycat criminals do not spread these anarchist activities across the country.
This call on security agencies to act, also insists that this must be within the remits of human rights and the rule of law.
In another development, the group said the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Constitution Review have swung into engagements with the public, holding public hearings across the geopolitical zones of the country.
The House Committee held zonal public hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 1 and 2 in centres in each of the six geopolitical zones.
Both chambers intend to hold separate National Public Hearings in Abuja, with the Senate hearing on June 3 and 4. The House is expected to follow soon after.
The Senate panel held zonal public hearings across the federation on May 26 and 27, which was attended by state governments, civil society organisations, trade unions, pressure groups, traditional rulers and other relevant stakeholders, who made presentations on the Constitution alteration bills before the committee.
”Calls for devolution of power and restructuring were recurring issues at the public hearings.
”Some governors and groups who spoke at the hearings, called for the establishment of state police, devolution of powers to state governments, creation of more states, local government autonomy, true federalism, among others.
”Some lawyers and observers have called for an overhaul of the Nigerian Constitution and the creation of a new one, as opposed to the amendment of the current document”, PLAC says.