In a bid to condemn the level of impunity and frequency of violent killings across the country in recent times, Nigerians Monday marked the ‘National Day of Mourning’.
Organised by the Joint Nigeria Crisis Action Committee (JN-CAC), the memorial was launched to mark the violent death of Nigerians in crisis riddled states.
Led by the co-coordinating committee of five — Chidi Odinkalu, Yemi Adamolekun, Abiodun Baiyewu, Ier Jonathan-Ichaver and Auwal Musa — the coalition said their mission was to reawaken the consciousness of Nigerians.
Part of activities to mark the day was the national mourning at Unity Fountain, Abuja, humanitarian convoy to sites of mass killings and displacement, opening a register for the dead, as well as international solidarity and advocacy.
At the Lagos protest, the peaceful protesters who came out dressed in black and totting placards, stopped at Allen Roundabout in Ikeja to observe a solemn minute of silence for the dead.
Some of the placards read: “Bring justice to the dead, bring the killers to justice”, “FG, act now! Stop the bloodshed”, “Enough of the killings”, “Life is sacred, protect it”, and “Let’s unite and make NIGERIA safe again”, among several others.
In a statement released by the coalition they said: “The level of impunity and frequency of violent killings in Nigeria in recent times is a source of grave concern to citizens and all people who wish our country well.
“The African Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS) estimates that over 60,000 persons were killed in Nigeria’s Middle Belt between 2001 and 2016.
“In the first 70 days of 2018, over 1,400 persons were killed violently across the country, an average of nearly 40 per state and the Federal Capital Territory.
“Extra-judicial killings of Nigerians in the hands of uniformed services are reported to be in the thousands annually.
“In parts of the North-east, Boko Haram continues to terrorise, killing thousands of Nigerians going about their daily livelihoods.
“In parts of the North-west, including Southern Kaduna, Birnin-Gwari in Kaduna and much of Zamfara State, vast swathes of ungoverned territory have been taken over by rustlers, bandits and vigilantes whose preferred currency is blood.
“The southern states of the country have not been spared in the ongoing bloodletting, as at least 34 out of the 36 states have experienced at least one episode of violent killings within the first quarter of 2018.”
In its demands, the group said: “As citizens and advocates, we demand that this dehumanisation of Nigerian lives must stop.
“We seek to stir the conscience of our political class into developing the political will to protect our commonwealth through accountable governance.
“Most importantly, to read the riot act that we as citizens have reached an end in our docility and will no longer tolerate the narratives that seek to divide us.”
Adding its voice to the cause to EiE, a coalition for social justice, also lamented that the frequency of violent killings in Nigeria has become a source of grave concern, adding that the government seems unconcerned about it.
The coalition said: “Why National Day of Mourning? In the first 70 days of 2018, nearly 40 persons were killed per state.
“Extrajudicial killings are increasing annually and the internal displacement of Nigerians has become an accepted norm. #NigeriaMourns.
“The National Day of Mourning and Remembrance is to honour the victims and remind the government of its duty.”
Meanwhile, some sceptics like Caramel Gbele said: “Something is not just adding up about this day of mourning. Isn’t the buck stopping on the president’s table anymore?
“Why can’t we be calling our President Buhari while mourning and be asking him to resign? Did I miss something?”