The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders (SMBLF), a coalition of pressure groups, says there are increased cases of killings and a rise in the cost of living in the country after the general election.
In a communique issued after a meeting with various stakeholders from the regions, on Wednesday, the coalition expressed concerns over the rising insecurity in the country, noting that agencies and state governors were not showing commitment to addressing the challenge.
“We express shock at the escalation of killings, pogroms, and total destruction of entire communities and means of livelihood in several targeted areas in select states since after the 2023 general election, mainly in Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Southern Kaduna, Kebbi, and various states of the South-east, where hundreds of armless citizens are being slaughtered daily,” the statement reads.
“Note with grave concern that the nation’s security agencies have continued to show unwillingness to decisively deal with the perpetrators of these monstrous acts, or rather, deliberately turned a blind eye to the atrocious occurrences, thereby exposing the country to a seeming state of war.
“It is shameful that non-state actors are allowed to openly tote dangerous weapons about and rampage the country unhindered.
“Condemn in unmistakable terms, the cavalier and totally nonchalant attitudes of the outgoing governors of some states over the collapse of security in certain parts of their states, which has continued to exacerbate the worrisome situation, and hope their successors will show greater commitment to the welfare of their citizens who are the victims of this sad situation.
“Further warns that the continuous abdication of government’s primary and abiding constitutional responsibility of safeguarding the lives and properties of its citizens is an irresistible signal to Nigerians to exercise their inalienable rights of self-defence, by all means.
“Again deplores the inhuman plight of thousands of indigenous people in the Middle Belt states driven out of their homes and have now become internally displaced persons (IDPs) for years as well as several other internally displaced persons in different parts of the country, left to live in conditions that impinge on their human rights as citizens of this country.
“Hence, calls on the federal government to, without any further delay, facilitate the return and reintegration of these Nigerians to their communities.”
ELECTION OUTCOME AND JUDICIARY
The group said the judiciary should be cautious as Nigerians were monitoring the election petition proceedings, adding that the outcome of the trial must be in line with the constitution.
“With regards to the 2023 general election, SMBLF commends Nigerian youths for their courage and astuteness in expressing their interest in the future of this country and calls on them not to become discouraged by some of the seeming outcomes,” the group added.
“Accordingly, calls on the youths of Nigeria to remain undeterred and emboldened to carry their foresight of building a new Nigeria to fruition, and to note that the struggle for the needed change has just begun.
“SMBLF strongly urges the nation’s judiciary to be aware that all Nigerians are watching with very keen interest the ongoing judicial processes at the presidential election petition tribunal as well as various election tribunals across the country.
“Further cautions the judicial arm, at all levels, to be mindful of the fact that the present process is a true test of our effort at building a country based on the rule of law and respect for our constitution.
“It is the expectation of Nigerians that the outcome of the processes will be a reflection of the provisions of the constitution of the country, which must be sacrosanct, and the rights of all affected parties upheld based on the provisions of the laws of Nigeria.
“SMBLF notes with serious concern, the continued snowballing level of indebtedness being incurred by the federal government, particularly the recent request for a $800 million World Bank loan, and calls on the federal government to rescind that request.
“Decries the rising cost of living in the country and the hyperinflation rate, confining a vast majority of ordinary Nigerians to a dire state of survival.
“Implores government at all levels to take urgent, practical steps to rejig the economy, check inflation and help improve citizens’ well-being and prospects.”
Signatories to the communique were Edwin Clark, an Ijaw national leader, Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, president-general, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Pogu Bitrus, national president, of Middle Belt Forum, and Emmanuel Essien, national chairman, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF).