Governors query ECOWAS protocol on free movement over insecurity —

Governors query ECOWAS protocol on free movement over insecurity

Governor Kayode Fayemi

…Call for prosecution of bandits

…Caution against ethnicising crimes to avoid war

…Condemn fake news, abuse of social media

Kamarudeen Ogundele, Abuja

To stem rising cases of banditry, kidnapping, rape and other forms of insecurity in the country, the governors of the 36 States have demanded a review of the ECOWAS protocol on trans-human movement.

They also urged the Federal Government to prosecute bandits, if caught, irrespective of their ethnic or religious beliefs.

The Senate had on February 10 in a similar call asked the federal government to review the ECOWAS protocol which allows free movement of persons and goods across borders of West African nations to check trans-border banditry and illegal immigration.

Also, the governors cautioned Nigerians against ethnicising crimes, warning it could lead to a civil war. They cited the genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda as an example.

They canvassed these positions at their emergency security meeting held on Wednesday night under the banner of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) at the presidential villa in Abuja.

In a communiqué read by the NGF chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi to journalists, the governors expressed worry about porous borders, blaming it for the proliferation of firearms in the country.

Fayemi said: “We have received a number of calls from of our colleagues that these crimes are associated with the porous borders in the country,

“We are concerned about the importance of strengthening the ECOWAS trans-human border protocol in order to address the movement of cattle across borders.

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“We also believe that the porosity of our borders is responsible for the proliferation of light weapons and this has led to disagreement between farmers and herders in the violence we witnessed. Most of the people are seen to be carrying AK47 arms.”

Also, the governors agreed to donate portions of the Excess Crude Account, Natural Resource Development Fund and the Economic Stabilization Fund to providing the necessary equipment for the military and other security agencies.

The governors also proposed to establish synergy among security agencies and states security institutions like vigilance groups, civilian JTF, Amotekun and other local security arrangements in response to insecurity.

Fayemi said there was the need for the synergy so that they will not take laws into their hands, taking into account the fundamental human rights of those who may be innocent of crimes in their jurisdictions.

He added: “Governors are irrevocably committed to the protection of lives and property in our states and we are full of sympathy with those who have lost lives and property.

The governors forum has gone ahead to provide some financial support to victims of the conflicts experienced in Oyo and Ogun states where our delegation visited over the last week.

“Nigerian governors also are very clear that crime and criminality should be comprehensively prosecuted wherever they may occur without ethnic, religious or any other coloration.

“Governors are totally opposed to ethnic profiling of crime. Knowing what has transpired in other parts of the world, whether we are talking of the way youths were profile in Germany leading to the world war, or we talking of the way Tutsis were profiled leading to the genocide experienced in Rwanda, we do not believe that crimes are associated with particular ethnic group.

“And to that extent, we unreservedly condemn any attempt to profile any ethnic group on account of a particular crime.”

The governors also condemned the activities of fake news merchants and the abuse of social media. Fayemi said: “Governors are also totally opposed to the proliferation of fake news, and the abuse of social media.

“Many of us have seen those fake videos that have almost led to reprisals in other parts of the country and we want to implore both our mainstream media organizations as well as individuals to apply restraint in the way and manner issues relating to security of lives and property is reported.

“Our meeting also reviewed the challenges of resourcing for our military institutions. We welcome the appointment of new services chiefs and we are supportive of the work they promised to do. We hope a new security architecture will emerge from these new leadership.”

The governors said they were prepared to support the dedication of portions of the Excess Crude Account and the Natural Resource Development Fund and the Economic Stabilization Fund to providing the necessary equipment for the military and other security institutions to address immediately the impunity associated with all of the crimes and criminality that we have highlighted in this briefing.

“In this wise, we have also expressed our interest in strengthening our judicial system so that they can accelerate access to justice for victims of crime and criminality in the country,” the NGF chair added.

As an alternative to the banned open and night grazing of herders, Fayemi said the meeting reviewed the need for governors to strengthen the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).

He added: “It is the views of all the governors that the traditional approach to grazing is no longer sustainable and that modern approach to grazing and livestock management needs to be put in place.

“Governors feel strongly that the strengthening of the NLTP would be a good place to start this comprehensive revisiting of the livestock management arrangement.

“Governors also highlighted in the course of our meeting the importance of reviewing our forestry management and environmental laws because we feel very strongly that our forests have become the den of these criminals and bandits simply because they are not properly managed across the board.

“And to this end, it is the considered view of governors that the forestry management needs to be immediately reviewed in collaboration with the federal authorities so that these problems that we have encountered can be immediately addressed.”

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