By John Austin Unachukwu
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has urged the Federal Government to find new means of addressing insecurity in the country, asking the government to rise up to its responsibilities.
Its President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), made the call in an address during the association’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
He said: “In the last few months we have witnessed the terrible events in Taraba, Benue and several states that have caused loss of hundreds of human lives and property arising from heightened conflict between herders and farmers that have assumed a dangerous dimension threatening national security.
“To demonstrate our concern and to bring our knowledge and skills to bear in the search for solution to the herders/farmers conflict, I led the NBA on a fact-finding mission to Benue State early in February. In Zamfara State, we witnessed heightened banditry which is inexplicable in any modern state.
“Only on February 14, the nation was rudely awakened with the massacre of 41 persons in Birane village in Zurmi Local Government Area, representing a significant deterioration of the security situation and incessant killings in that part of the country.”
The NBA decried the killings, saying more needs to be done to secure the country.
“NBA condemns these killings very strongly and calls on the Federal Government to do all within its powers to address these security challenges and do more to secure lives and property in all parts of the country.
“We must not allow the country to creep into anarchy, which will be the consequence of massive loss of confidence in the ability of the state to protect its citizens. These killings are unacceptable and must be brought to an end,” Mahmoud said.
The association said it acknowledged the progress made in addressing the insecurity in the Northeast.
“The NBA, therefore, wishes to use this opportunity to condemn very strongly the abduction of these young girls and calls on the Federal Government of Nigeria to use all means within its powers to secure the safe return of these children to their parents and communities.
“We further call on the government to as a matter of urgency review the security of all schools, especially boarding schools for girls in the region and if necessary, suspend for the time being, the boarding system until the safety of all such schools can be fully guaranteed.’”
Mahmoud said the recent events represent perhaps one of the greatest failures of the Nigerian State – its failure to guarantee a safe learning environment to its most vulnerable segment of the population.
“It is even more tragic against the backdrop of the failure to secure the release of the more 100 Chibok girls still in captivity nearly four years since their abduction. The pain and agony of these parents can only be imagined.
“I want to, therefore, reiterate my call early that the Federal and State Governments should as a matter of urgency suspend the boarding system in the affected states of the Northeast region, especially for girls until the safety and security of the children can be guaranteed.
“We urge the government to do whatever is necessary including seeking appropriate international assistance to secure the release of these girls and reunite them with their families,” Mahmoud said.
Kwara State Governor Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed said the meeting came at a time of great national economic challenges, but flourishing prosperity in the state.
He said: “While these national challenges have stimulated renewed agitation for an amendment of our constitution, we prefer to focus on the endogenous opportunities available to us.
“As a result, we have not only achieved economic stability and guaranteed the entitlements of workers, we have also implemented radical revenue reforms that are today funding our rapid development programs.
“Having brought all inherited projects to fruition, our administration established the innovative Kwara State Infrastructure Development Fund (IF-K) to fund new medium and large scale infrastructure.
“For instance, we are constructing the Geri- Alimi Split Diamond Interchange in response to the rapid influx of people.
“This influx is due to our reputation for harmony, growing infrastructure and unique location as a gateway to the north and south.”
The governor said to reduce road accidents, improve safety and boost the night economy, the state introduced Light-Up Kwara (LUK), a solar street light project, powered through the Solar Farm tunnels across the metropolis.
“Through LUK, we are also taking the lead in stimulating a green economy in Kwara State as we prepare to extend the scheme across the state, including rural areas.
“In line with our commitment to expanding access to education, we are constructing campuses of the Kwara State University in Osi, Ekiti and Ilesha- Baruba, as well as a Post Graduate School, here in Ilorin.
“These projects and others too numerous to mention here are funded through IF-K under, which a cumulative N10billion has been disbursed so far.
“The projects cut across the road, education, energy and media sectors in the two years since IF-K’s establishment in 2016. IF-K, and the strides it has made possible, testify to our resourcefulness and determination to thrive despite current challenges in the national economy,” Ahmed said.