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Press Release

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.

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The Journalists for Democratic Rights, JODER has again cautioned the Federal Government to beware of the prospect of a string of reprisal attacks following the incidence at Ile-Ife where scores of people died, the killings in Benue State and the ethnic violence in Enugu State.

JODER advised the Nigerian authorities to launch a massive campaign for Amnesty as barter for the retrieval of arms in the hands of non-state actors. It said proliferation of arms in Nigerian has been compounded by the conflict in the Maghreb region and the Middle belt, lack of firm institutional response, corruption and a weak immigration policy framework which has made Nigeria a country without borders.

The media rights group in a statement on Friday signed by Assistant Programme Officer, Akinwale Kasali raised the risk of some organized armed groups planning revenge attacks following the ethnic crises in the highlighted states.

JODER said it is in possession of a video clip urging vengeance, bloodletting and revenge. The media group alerted the authorities to another version of a video clip calling for violent reprisal which may be carried out unless the government nips it in the bud.  JODER said the new video released on Thursday is the second of such hate clip being circulated with intent to create a sense of siege that may spur ethnic uproar. The group said terrorist groups outside the country might take undue advantage of the clip to support violence in the name of faith.

“There are two dangerous video clips in circulation. The two of them are being circulated mostly in Northern parts of the country, in Chad and in Northern Cameroon calling on Muslims to rise up and revenge”, the statement signed by JODER’s Assistant Programme Officer, Mr. Akinwale Kasali said.

He said the video clips were sent to JODER by Northerners working with JODER on peace building across the country. He observed that since the March 07 crisis at Ile-Ife and the recent killings in Benue State, there has been uneasy tension and that the disputants are desperately waiting for an opportunity to renew the hostility. JODER stated that In one of the videos, clips of victims were used as propaganda tools. In the other video, it appears the people fanning the embers of revenge collected several pictures from unrelated violent incidences that happened across the world including the killings in Somalia and Rwanda to depict the Nigerian ethnic crisis.

”It said the clips are instigating a fresh wave of “anger and desperation” which may snowball into a major conflict in the country”, Kasali stated.

JODER said the Federal Government should act fast by probing the origin of the video so also halt another round of carnage. “The speech in the video is filled with hate and avarice. The objective is to stir killings, riots and violence. We do not know how these elements may wish to carry out these planned attacks, but it appears the threat of reprisal across the country is real.

”JODER also asked the Federal Government to intensify security patrol along the country’s highways so as to be able to stop the transportation of arms and dangerous weapons the riotous elements may wish to use in their plot to cause another ethnic uproar.


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Abuja- January 19, 2017

Foremost Nigerian media rights group, Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) has asked President Mohammadu Buhari to launch an intensive campaign aimed at mopping up arms in the hands of non-state actors across the country, especially in the Northern states. This is necessary to stem the tide of violence that threatens the country’s stability, the media group stated.
JODER also urged the President to create time to visit Southern Kaduna, saying such a step will boost the dwindling trust of the feuding parties in his government.

JODER called on President Buhari to impress on Northern leaders for an all embracing ethnic and religious conference to deal with the festering crisis in the region.

JODER whose officials recently paid visits to flashpoints in the North warned that the on-going blood-letting in Southern Kaduna has the potential of throwing the entire country into a faith and ethnic induced mayhem. The warming was contained in a letter addressed to President Buhari and signed by the group’s Executive Director, Mr Adewale Adeoye. The media group regretted that  the social media space is awashed with propaganda material on the Kaduna crisis capable of instigating spontaneous uprising in Africa’s most populous country. No fewer that 1,000 people may have been killed in the past few months that the crisis began.
JODER said the crisis in Kaduna state has led to an ‘arms rival’ and a ‘spiral rise’ in the competition by contenting parties to procure arms and ammunition in anticipation of current or future conflict. This comes in the absence of public trust in the mediation strategies of the authorities concerned. The group said its next conference billed for Kaduna will focus on the Southern Kaduna crisis.
JODER stated that access to arms and ammunition is a major inducement to the growing conflict in some Nigerian communities. With the crisis in the Magreb region, coupled with the increase in poverty and the rise of faith fundamentalism,   arms have become easier to access. We also observe the employment of mercenaries by contending parties in the prosecution of the conflict in Kaduna state. JODER described the Southern Kaduna crisis as a “festering old wound.”
One major solution is for the government to embark on a massive campaign to mop up arms in the hands of non-state actors, this should be backed by amnesty for those who hand over their arms in the first three weeks. The government should follow this task by encouraging people to hand over their illegally procured arms with barter for amnesty.

JODER stated in the letter “The Southern Kaduna crisis is just a metaphor for more crisis that may occur in the nearest future. The moral authority of the mediating parties is very weak. There is deep suspicion by all the parties that the government sponsored mediators will not be able to resolve the deep-seated problems. The most frightening aspect is the international dimension to the crisis. A party in the dispute has succeeded in luring foreign interests whose primary motive is the continuation of the crisis instead of assisting in looking for a peaceful solution.

JODER said it is obvious that the political authorities in Kaduna state do not enjoy the trust and confident of the disputants in the conflict which necessitates the need for a third party to intervene.

“The best that should happen is for all the state governors irrespective of political or religious affiliation, Christian and Muslim groups, civil society across the country to initiate a peace process that will bring together all the parties concerned for a peaceful resolution of the lingering feud. If this is not done on time, the possibility of chain solidarity reactions in Kaduna and outside Kaduna state is almost imminent.

JODER said the Kaduna unrest mirror the faultiness of Nigerian federalism, adding that the ruling party should be bold enough to restructure the country in a way that guarantees self-actualization.

“Nigeria is a plural society. For lasting peace, there must be justice. Every religion and culture should realize the need to coexist without one imposing its values on the other. Nigeria is facing a huge dilemma in the context of the national question which has for long remained unresolved.  This is compounded by corruption, ineptitude and the country’s economic meltdown which continue to fuel hunger, anger and desperation in young and hopeless people.”


JODER urged President Buhari and the ruling party to put together a Working Group of Experts drawn from ethnic, labour, religious groups from across the country and from the International Community to examine the reports of the past National Conferences, including the Henry Willink Commission of Inquiry of 1959. If the government is courageous enough to do this, peace is certain to return and threats to peaceful communities may likely subside.

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Speaking on the newly built Farm settlement primary school, Mr Adewale Adeoye, Executive Director of JODER said the building of the school was conceived by Ford Foundation under the Good Neighborliness Project. He said a Ford staff that lives in Ikorodu, Mrs Yemisi Akin Adeniyi had identified the school’s poor conditions after which she informed Ford Foundation. Adeoye said JODER’s role was a mere “footnote” adding that the whole credit should go to Ford Foundation and its affectionate staff. “JODER is grateful that FORD contacted us to oversee the building. The whole credit goes to Ford Foundation and her amazing staff.”

Poor Odogunyan community erupted in excitement yesterday as locals and dignitaries watch the opening of six classrooms and toilets at the Farm Settlement Primary School located in rural suburb of Lagos. The world standard classrooms, equipped with modern furniture, borehole and toilets were conceived and built by the Ford Foundation under the group’s Good Neighborliness project.

The project also included the building of an extensive fence on the two acre vast land on which the school was built.  The school has a population of 1000 pupils, from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds and by far the largest public primary school in the area. The pupils are from poor and vulnerable homes.
The primary was first built in 1978 specifically for wards of poor and rural parents who could hardly afford the benefit of modern primary schools. Even then, the learning conditions dwindled under the weight of years of authority neglect compounded later by dwindling fortunes of state resources. The Ford Foundation had asked the Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) to supervise the project.
The Secretary to the State Governor, Mr Tunji Bello who represented the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode said the growing population of pupils in public schools remains a major challenge to the state government describing the intervention ofFord Foundation as strategic. He said the people of Lagos will never forget the monumental contributions of Ford Foundation for ending the despair of the pupils.
The Representative of Ford Foundation, West Africa, Mr Innocent Chukwuma who spoke at the event said an official of Ford Foundation, Mrs Yemisi Akin Adeniyi identified the school based on the peculiar challenges faced by the pupils. He said the idea is to promote good neighborliness.
Chukwuma said the original concept of public schools was to provide a platform for rich and poor children to mingle so as not to create a generation gap and to broaden understanding among the various classes of children within the social and economic spectrum of the larger society.
He said that  pupils from poor and rich homes hardly have a meeting point which is partly responsible for a string of hate, discord and social inequalities that exist today. The rich children never meet children of the poor. They don’t know their fears and aspirations. The same children of the rich when they grow up end up ruling a society they hardly understand. The head girl of the school, Makanjuola Khadijat said “We are happy. We no longer need to clear faeces of hoodlums. Before now we were ashamed of ourselves and the school, but now we have pride and dignity.” The JODER Executive Director, Mr Adewale Adeoye said the Ford Foundation has left an indelible footprints in the hearts of future leaders and in the host community.
 Until the rebuilding of the historic school, the lack of fence opened gory opportunities for armed gangs and street urchins who have converted the space into a red light district. On one occasion, said Mr Oduwoye, the Ikorodu Local Government LG Secretary, said a sophisticated gun was found at the school, apparently abandoned the day before by suspected armed robbers. The pupils also needed to clear the faeces of intruders who take over the space on weekends and in the dead of the night.
The head teacher of the school Mr Adewale Olukoga said since the school was rebuilt by Ford Foundation, the enthusiasm to enroll in the school has tripled. “People ask us how do we do it. They ask us if we are now a private school. We are very grateful to the Ford Foundation for this great edifice,” an excited Olukoga said amidst pomp, pageantry and sounds of local drums and flute provided by locals.


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Grazing Reserves: JODER writes National Assembly, Calls for National Dialogue.

The National Assembly has been urged to initiate a national dialogue on grazing reserves being proposed by the Nigerian authorities.

In a letter delivered to the Senate President, Dr Olusola Saraki on Wednesday, JODER said the proposed grazing reserves in indigenous territories have the potential of throwing the country into turmoil by flaming up anger and outcries in affected communities.

“We observe that in all this, discussions about the grazing reserves have been on-going among Nigerian top policy makers including members of the National Assembly. The disturbing aspect is that nothing suggests that the communities that own the land matter.”

JODER stated that most of the recent conflicts across the country are fueled by dispute over land and natural resources. The proposed grazing reserve will do nothing except to compound the already tempestuous situation.

“We urge the Nigerian national assembly to see itself as being in the best possible position to initiate a national consultative dialogue on grazing reserves being proposed by some government officials and members of parliament. The idea of a grazing reserve in Nigeria needs deep reflection and wide consultation with communities that own the land. It is one of the most sensitive issues being proposed by some lawmakers with the potential of inflaming bigger conflict and rage across the country,” JODER said in the letter sent to the Senate President and signed by its Programme Officer, Mr Obafemi Kasali.

The media group said most comments on the Fulani herdsmen and land owners often fail to appreciate the root cause of the widespread conflict that has been associated with grazing in Nigeria, the latest being the killing of scores of indigenous people in Nimbo, Enugu State and Oke-Ako, Ekiti State.

The media group listed some of the major causes of the raging conflict as climate change leading to dwindling forests, plants and natural spring water, mass migration of nomads towards the South, many of them from outside the country,  crisis in the Maghreb region which has led to displacement of indigenous communities, deep feeling of insecurity by the herdsmen which prompt them to look for arms, free access to arms and a geometric increase in the number of arms in the hands of non-state actors owing to the armed conflict in the Magreb.

JODER said the Fulani nomads which population is about 20 million across the world, 7 million of which are in Nigeria, represents the biggest nomadic group in the world and that the pastoral Fulani see grazing as both  cultural and their heritage, a sense of preservation of ancient civilization and an economic art. The truth also is that many non-Nigerian nomads, especially from Mali and Niger Republics, have no respect for international borders owing to their close affinity with their fellow nationalities in Nigeria.

Long before the debate on the grazing reserves was mooted, in some communities, there have been arbitrary invasion by armed nomads. In some cases the invaders take over the land by force while in many cases grazing routes have long been held by share force of arms by many nomads leading perpetual conflict in many parts of the country.

JODER said Senators have been issuing conflicting signals on the Grazing Bill with some of them denying its outright existence even though the content of the bill has become a subject of comments and open debate by many Federal law makers. This only shows the lack of transparency and openness on the part of the National Assembly in the approach to the subject matter.

“The solution to grazing needs is not arbitrary seizure of land and converting them to grazing reserves. The authorities need a middle alternative that will allay the fears and aspirations of the parties which revolves around the critical issue of the emotional attachment to land ownership on the one hand and cattle grazing on the other.  JODER said the national dialogue should involve indigenous communities, especially the voiceless minority ethnic groups in the Middle Belt and the North whose ancestral land might be taken over by the relevant authorities.


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Media group condemns Biafra killings, siege on Ijaw communities.

The Federal Government has been urged to explore peace options as against outright killings in dealing with pro-Biafra protests and the newly formed Niger-Delta militants.

“The armed attacks of protesters, killings and destruction of communities in the name of fishing out enemies of the state is an old-fashioned government response that will only spur public hate against the authorities.”

JODER said the recent killings in Anambra and Delta during the peaceful demonstrations by Igbo self determination groups is against the basic principles of human rights.

The pro-media rights group said that though the security operatives have accused the protesters of attacking its members, there are no convincing evidence that any of the demonstrator was armed. The Federal Government should not repeat the past mistakes of its predecessors.

“Killing of unarmed protesters has never helped any democratic nation to develop. State sponsored violence will only promote public hate and disenchantment against the ruling authorities,” JODER Executive Director, Adewale Adeoye stated.

JODER also condemned the blanket attacks on Ijaw communities in the guise of looking for armed groups that have been attacking pipelines.

In the statement issued on Tuesday, the Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) said the Federal Government should show higher moral grounds by offering the olive branch instead of hoping to kill a wrong or right idea with bullets and armoured tanks.

JODER said killing of protesters demanding for greater autonomy has become a recurrent pattern associated with Nigerian leaders. Half a century after the idea of Biafra was muted, it has refused to go. This is a lesson that violent onslaught against the agitators has not and will not resolve the dilemma.

In the past, these killings have only spurred greater violence. When people realize their peaceful protests are futile, they are more likely to result into armed uprising.

JODER stated “At present we are informed that the ancient Ijaw Gbaramatu community is under siege with children and women being forced to flee their homes. We urge the authorities not to visit the perceived sins of a few on the largely innocent population.”

“The authorities should know that Nigeria is a fragile state, deeply fractured with institutions, including the security outfits strongly divided along ethnic or faith faultlines. The continuous killings of people from a section of the country will never win the hearts of victims and the ethnic groups they represent but will rather sow the seeds of discord that will defeat the objective of the government.”

JODER urged President Mohammadu Buhari to set up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to deal with the challenges instead of hoping to put an end to the uprising by using greater proportion of violence.

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Leaders of ethnic groups resident in the troubled Mile 12 area of Lagos state have been urged to sheath their swords and embrace peaceful coexistence.

The call came on the heels of a two day mayhem that left scores either dead or wounded. Most of the victims were women and hapless school pupils singled out for violent attacks.

The incidence led to the wanton destruction of properties and the killing of innocent Nigerians, mostly women and children in the clash said to be between alleged Hausa motorcyclists and Yoruba in the area.

In a joint statement under the auspices of Peoples Network for Ethnic Harmony, PENEH, the groups bemoan the unfortunate loss of human lives and properties, urging the disputants to respect the sanctity of human lives and stick to the principle of good neighborliness.

The statement was signed by leaders of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, Odua Nationalist Coalition, ONAC, The United Middle Belt Youth Congress, UMBYC, The Igbo Youth Alliance, (IYA) and Journalists for Democratic Rights, JODER.

The groups are also charge the security operatives to bring to book perpetrators of the heinous crimes.

“We are meeting the leaders of the various ethnic groups in the Mile 12 area. For the past 15 years, the area has enjoyed relative peace, until the latest incidence. We urge stakeholders to live in peace and harmony, and embrace dialogue in resolving their differences”. The groups said innocent and poor people are often the victims of violence and the killing and spread of hate are ill winds that will bring no on any good.

The group however urged warring factions to embrace peace and should not give the crisis any ethnic colouration to avoid further mayhem.



The statement was signed by leaders of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF

Odua Nationalist Coalition, ONAC

The United Middle Belt Youth Congress, UMBYC

Igbo Youth Alliance

Journalists for Democratic Rights, JODER

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