Okodili Ndidi, Abuja
Northern elders again raised the alarm that the zone is now at the mercy of terrorists, bandits, and other criminal elements, following the abduction of 333 students at the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, in Katsina State.
The elders under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development said the attack is a further confirmation that the country’s security architecture is in dire need of a total overhaul.
The elders insisted that the Service Chiefs are no more in charge of the security situation in the zone and the entire country.
They stated that the abduction of the school children confirmed their position that the region is no longer safe for habitation.
The group pointed out that the continuous stay in office of the Service Chiefs whom they noted, “have been exhausted with nothing more to offer in security service, was emboldening the adversaries in their increasing dastardly actions against the country.”
In a statement Monday signed by the National Coordinator, Engr Zana Goni and National Women Leader, Hajiya Mario Bichi, respectively, the elders condemned the attack on the school children, saying the development which came few days after the decapitation of over 46 rice farmers in Zabarmari Village in Borno State, was disturbing.
They reiterated their earlier call on the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to seek foreign help, stating that any further delay by the President may lead to the extinction of the region following increasing mass killings of its people by the terrorists.
Besides, the Northern elders reiterated their call to the President to sack the Service Chiefs and reorganise the entire security architecture, adding that the firm positions of the two chambers of the National Assembly to this effect be respected by the President.
“The latest attack on Government Science Secondary School, Kankara,in Katsina State, where over 333 children are reportedly missing has further confirmed our position that our region is now at the mercy of terrorists, bandits, and other criminal elements.
“And as a result of this, we strongly believe that time has come for our president to bring in fresh hope and clear directions on how best the country will strategize to overcome the present insecurity situation in the country in general,” they said in the statement.
Noting that the attack on school children was callous and reprehensible, the group tasked the government to seek foreign help in addressing the nation’s security problem once and for all.
“At the boiling point we have found ourselves in today, we strongly believe that it will not be out of place to seek assistance in dealing with these threats from outside,” they added.
While extending their sympathies to the families of the victims, the elders said, “we would say in the strongest possible terms that there can be no justification for the deliberate targeting of innocent school children.
The elders called on authorities to ensure that those responsible for the action are brought to justice just as they tasked communities in the region to demand that schools be considered as places of safety.
They also called on those responsible to refrain from any attacks directed at or in the vicinity of schools and warned that the killing and maiming of children, as well as attacks on schools, teachers, and schoolchildren, are serious violations of international law.
Insisting that the Service Chiefs “have lost the support of human, nature, and spirit and also exhausted their energies, ideas and capacities hence can no longer turn around the country’s security for good”, the Northern elders charged the President to see reason with a majority of Nigerians who are of the view that the nation’s top security heads be relinquished of their positions and fresh hands and ideas injected for positive results in the security of the nation.
They reminded the President that in democracy, the voice of the majority prevails, saying the recent resolution of both chambers of the National Assembly that he replaces the services chiefs, was the view of the majority of Nigerians given that the parliament is a representation of the people.
“Our President was elected by Nigerians and the same Nigerians have spoken through their representatives in the National Assembly. Our president should listen to them by dropping the service chiefs, who have since reached retirement age in the military and appoint new ones with fresh ideas to do the job for which we elected him to do,” the statement read.
While insisting that the President listens to what they called “the voice of the people” by reorganizing the security architecture of the country, the elders said, “the time has come when the entire country expects new ideas, philosophy and method in the fight against insurgency in the country”.
Noting that the “President’s idea about insecurity has proved inadequate to deal with the threat to our lives and property”, the northern elders charged him to “urgently change tactics and personnel in order to win the war against rising threats to the lives of Nigerians.”