MASS KILLINGS: ENGAGE COMMUNITY, MULTINATIONAL APPROACH TO CONFLICT, GROUP URGES FG
PRESIDENT MOHAMMADU BUHARI has been urged to personally lead the peace resolution efforts based on bilateral and multinational approach to end needless killings and armed violence in many parts of the country. If the violence continues unchecked, Nigeria may slip into a killing field where the government and security agencies will become helpless.
The National Working Group on Peace and Conflict Prevention, an initiative of the Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) after its meeting at the weekend in Lagos said reports of violence and mind-boggling incidences of killings of people including children, the aged and the physically challenged have been grossly underreported owing to lack of access to the media and official censorship.
The meeting was attended by 30 representatives of ethnic, religious and community-based groups spread across the country.
The Working Group in a release after the national meeting said verifiable evidence from contacts in troubled communities indicate that an average of 100 people are killed every week in the Middle Belt hotspots. It said the government appears not to have an effective economic road map apart from expenditure on sophisticated arms and ammunition.
The report was signed by Mr Akinwale Kasali, Mallam Sulaiman Sanusi and Mr Digifa Noel Werinipre. The group said following the 18-month nation-wide peace building programme with the support of the Ford Foundation, it was able to attain an important status to receive prompt and adequate reports on the killings and wanton destruction of lives which assume dangerous proportion daily.
In April, the working group facilitated a meeting of representatives of community-based groups in the South and Middle belt attended by about 120 representatives.
It urged the Presidency and the National Assembly to create a non-military multi-national and bilateral mechanism for the quick resolution of the festering crisis. The working group said the Federal Government urgently needs to engage community and faith-based groups in troubled spots where violence continue to rage especially in the Middle Belt as part of the steps needed to put an end to incessant killings.
The group said apart from the constructive engagement of local groups, there is the need for a civil multinational mechanism to work out modalities towards bringing the crisis to an end.