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End Rivers Of Deaths

Posted: Mar 18, 2016 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Charles Iyare, Benin

The spate of killings and maiming going on in Rivers State is outrageous. Such killings have increased since the gubernatorial polls in the state, and my summation is that this is an indication of the high level of insecurity in the Rivers State. There is no gainsaying that the killings are politically motivated and have messed up the economic activities of indigenes in the state. A March 16, 2016 report credited to Independent newspaper has it that President Muhammadu Buhari, had said that ‘‘the killing of people over political differences was primitive, barbaric and unacceptable’’ and has vowed to deal with sponsors of violence in Rivers.

Also, another report in Premium Times on 14th of March, 2016 credited to the Senator representing Benue South Senatorial zone and former Senate President, Sen. David Mark, as saying: ‘‘over 500 people have been killed and 10 communities in Agatu LGA razed in what seemed like a “genocide”. It is sad that the President took so long to make any comment on the political killings in Rivers. This is just like the massacre of over five hundred people in Agatu community in Benue State allegedly by Fulani herdsmen. It should be noted that the lack of timely response to issues of violence that threaten national security can be seen as a breach of human right to life.

The security forces saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and properties should understand that it has the responsibility to give account of every single life lost in these killings. There is also the need for the security agents to forestall further violence and instill peace in the communities that have been affected. Part of achieving relative peace by the security agencies is to be proactive in addressing these cases of genocide in Nigeria. In recent times, a lot of muscles have been invested in accusations and counter accusations. The government of Rivers State should do more than cry foul and put the state machinery to work to help reduce tension, further killings and make the environment safe for citizens to go about their daily activities, knowing that it is empowered by law to protect lives and property of the people in Rivers.

I believe that these killings and unnecessary deaths are a wakeup call on the federal government to seek lasting solutions to youth restiveness. Mr. President can empower youths economically by engaging them on issues that will help build their understanding on the importance of peaceful coexistence, in a multi-ethnic society like ours. Rising rate of unemployment, poor education system, as well as social vices like cultism, kidnapping among others, should be reduced. Institutions should be strengthened and allowed to work. Security agents should be provided with adequate human resources and tools to combat crime anywhere in the country.

Politicians who use provocative utterances, inciting statements during campaign, supplying of weapons to cult groups to exterminate political opponents should understand that what-goes-round-comes- round. If the country or State of Rivers is made ungovernable as some would wish, it will also be made unlivable for anyone at any point in time. Government should take bold steps to apprehend every culprit in this matter, irrespective of how highly placed such a person is in the society. Citizens of Rivers State must join forces together with relevant security agencies to fight this common curse, fish the perpetrators out and declare anyone found wanting an enemy of the State.

There should be a synergy between Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the organized private sector, security operatives, religious and traditional council and other stakeholders in Nigeria. Our aim should be to contribute socially and economically to the growth of our country. Everyone should lend their voice to condemn these saboteurs who are bent on destroying our nation.

The current challenges of insurgency in the North East, the call for secession in the South East, pipeline vandalism, kidnapping and armed militant groups in the South-South, restiveness and agitations in the South West, portend anarchy for Nigeria. The federal government must make efforts to curb these surges of crime and violence around the country if we must survive as a Nation.  All government, both at Federal, State and local level must take measures that place public interests ahead of any individual interest, and without political patronage. In doing this, our common national interest will be preserved and protected.