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15 Apr

“I was almost lynched here. My tag has been torn and phone confiscated... Trying to get my phone back” Ukachi- Amplified Radio

Nigerians came out on April 11 to exercise their franchise. Only a fortnight earlier they had made their choices for candidates in both the Presidential and National Assembly elections in a process that was largely acclaimed as credible and peaceful, except for a few instances where violence was recorded. Unlike the Presidential and National Assembly elections, the April 11 election was characterized by widespread thuggery and violence in polling units across the country.

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It's 8am, April 11, and the Youth Observatory and Social Media Analysis Centre is all set with over 20 young people glued to laptops and projector screens keenly monitoring reports from the over 530 observers deployed to 19 states out of the 29 states where Governorship and State Assembly elections are holding. The Amplified Radio crew is also set up to live broadcast incidents from the field observers and Amplified Radio's correspondents.

As reports trickle in, we learn about early arrival of INEC adhoc staff in some quarters, early start to accreditation in some polling units, and improved efficiency in the use of card readers. We also learn about wide spread snatching of ballot boxes and incidents of thugs harassing observers and destroying properties in states like Abia, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Rivers etc.

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In Ondo, there was confirmed eye witness report of political thugs “shooting sporadically into the air.” Citizen observer @AAMCOLagos tweets about an incident in Ibeju Lekki LG, Ibeju 1 ward “thugs have hijacked 8 ballot boxes. Also blocking off INEC officials with electoral materials”. In another report,  gunmen suspected to be political thugs “shot and killed Emeka Nworie, the Chairman of the Peoples Democratice Party in Ishielu LGA in Ebonyi State”

Rivers State which has been on red alert since the Presidential election during which many lives were lost to politically motivated killings also recorded widespread incidents of violence by thugs. The home of the Rivers State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Joeba West was reportedly set ablaze in Buguma.

An attack on one of Amplified Radio correspondents, Ukachi, was one of the incidents that we followed keenly. While heading to Emmanuel Anglican church in Obi-Akpor LGA, Ukachi was attacked by thugs who accused her of being an informant for APC. They confiscated the phone she was using to take photos and threatened to smash the phone. Ukachi pleaded with them to return the phone. The thugs eventually returned the phone to her after deleting her pictures and videos but warned she “may not be lucky next time.”  

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As Ukachi narrated the story to us, what struck her was the fact that the police officers present watched the incident unfold with arms folded, a trend that was corroborated by some observers in other polling units. Rather than intervene and protect Ukachi the female police officer reprimanded her; “why beautiful girl like you wan kill yourself?” (Why does a beautiful girl like you want to kill yourself?). Another observer called in from polling unit (PU) 012 in Bashiru Street, Anifowose ward, Ikeja Lagos State to report that security officials looked on as APC party supporters were canvassing for votes in the polling unit while intimidating non-party supporters.

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It is rather alarming to have voters, observers and media correspondent go to the polls with fear and apprehension over their safety. We must not allow political thugs define our electoral process. Security officials must recognize that their primary responsibility at the polling unit is to maintain peace and protect the lives of voters and Election Day workers. The presence of security officials in the polling units ought to reinforce voters’ sense of security as they exercise their franchise.

 

From the desk of YIAGA Youth Observatory and Social Media Analysis Center

 

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14 Apr


 (Press Statement by the IAMCHIBOK Coalition) 

On April 14th, 2014, 276 school girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, North East Nigeria. One year later 219 girls are still missing. Despite international outcry, the situation that surrounds the abductions of the girls has deteriorated to a deepening crisis in the North East of Nigeria. We strongly condemn the crimes against children, women and men, further abductions of persons, the use of girl children as suicide bombers, the onslaught of sexual slavery and sexual violence, the attacks on human life and dignity, the targeting of educational and religious institutions and the continued insecurity.

We are dismayed by the government’s failure to respond to the social and psychological crisis of parents and families of the abducted girls, many of whom have died in the last year. We ask for urgent attention to be paid to the millions of Nigerians impacted by the crisis most of whom are in need of protection and care.  We condemn the abuses against women and children in IDP camps which should be a haven of safety.

We further decry the failure of the Nigerian government to address the systemic issues underlying the crisis including the low level of development in Northern Nigeria which has created a fertile ground for extremism and social discontent. We note the urgent need to address the long term implications of the crises, including girl-child education, rehabilitation and reintegration of child soldiers and the impact of the insurgency on community stability, agriculture and food security.

We welcome efforts by the United Nations and the international community including the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC). We take note of various regional, continental and international efforts including the Paris Summit and other regional summits including the resolutions of the AUPSC, the United Nations Security Council, the larger UN body and various national legislative bodies. Lastly we hope for the immediate implementation of their resolutions to combat terrorism in the region.

OUR DEMANDS

We hereby call for the creation of a comprehensive, systematic ACTION PLAN FOR THE RESTORATION OF NORTHEASTERN NIGERIA to address the short and long term implications of the crisis, facilitate the rescue of the Chibok girls and other abducted persons, rehabilitate and reintegrate them, restore families and reconstruct communities while putting in place concrete measures to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again. We hereby make the following demands:

1)     RESPONSE AND RESCUE

We commend the establishment of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNTJF) and recommend that all necessary support be given to support its operations. MTNJF is a critical instrument for ensuring effective resolution to the occupation of cities, towns and villages and the rescue of the Chibok girls and other abducted persons. We urge the operationalisation of the the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis (ACIRC), the African Standby Force (ASF) and its Rapid Deployment Capability (RDC). We recommend the set up of a SPECIAL MISSION FOR THE SEARCH AND RESCUE OF ABDUCTED PERSONS under the MNJTF to ensure that all missing persons are found and rescued and restored to Nigerian soil, where necessary.

2)     REHABILITATION AND REINTEGRATION OF VICTIMS

We recommend the establishment of a SPECIAL TASK FORCE FOR THE REHABILITATION AND REINTEGRATION OF PERSONS as a joint operation of the National Emergency Management Agency, the National Human Rights 

 

Commission and other relevant Agencies. The Task Force will be charged with putting in place adequate support structures for the complete rehabilitation and reintegration of all victims, refugees and internally displaced persons. It will manage the Victim Supports Fund and can establish, among other programmes, a FAMILY TRACING AND REUNIFICATION PROGRAMME (FTR). We demand the comprehensive identification of victims’ bodies through DNA testing and the compensation for all families who have lost members in the crisis.  The immediate set up of HEALING CAMPS AND HEALING CENTRES for the holistic rehabilitation of persons who have suffered from abuse and trauma with qualified mental health practitioners and other relevant professionals must be a priority.

 

3)     RESTORATION OF COMMUNITIES

 

We demand documentation of the activities of the Victim Support Fund and drastic improvements in the situation of Internally Displaced Persons with systematic and time-bound actions to restore communities and rebuild livelihoods and the collapsed education system under a POST CONFLICT SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY LIVELIHOODS PROGRAMME.  We recommend the expansion of the SAFE SCHOOLS INITIATIVE to include interim schooling for IDP children and the restoration of the education system in all affected states. We recommend the creation of a CIVL-SOCIETY PRIVATE SECTOR COALITION to increase and mainstream civil society and private sector participation under the coordination of the National Human Rights Commission with support of development partners and the private sector.

 

4)     JUSTICE AND TRANSPARENCY

 

We call for the establishment of PUBLIC HEARINGS modeled after the process in Rwanda after the genocide, which will allow persons to tell their stories and have these stories documented as crimes against persons and communities. We recommend the establishment of a CIVILIAN COMPLAINTS REGISTER in which citizens can make complaints and document crimes under the National Human Rights Commission. We demand a SPECIAL INTERNATIONAL INQUIRY ON THE ROLE OF THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT IN PROTECTING CIVILIANS to investigate the role of the Nigerian government and cases in which it has neglected to protect its citizens during the years of Boko Haram insurgency and occupation.

 

5)     PREVENTION

 

We demand for the immediate set up of a comprehensive EARLY WARNING AND RESPONSE SYSTEM and support of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).  We urge for the immediate set up of a NATIONAL CHILD HELPLINE. We recommend the creation of a Local Government REGISTER OF CITIZENS and advocate for the strengthening of HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS within the country which would include support for the training of Armed Forces in Human Rights with strict adherence to international laws guiding military action and conduct with civilian populations. We recommend the set up of comprehensive governmental and non-governmental programmes to support the development of children and youth and their social and economic inclusion and the establishment of counter-terrorism mechanisms within Nigeria, ECOWAS and the ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF CENTRAL AFRICAN STATES (ECCAS).

 

As members of civil society we commit ourselves to continued advocacy for the above demands while at the same time putting in place programmes and projects to assist in our own capacity. We offer the collective assistance and expertise of hundreds of civil society organizations around the world and thousands of individual volunteers who have selflessly advocated for the cause of the girls to work with the Nigerian government, the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS, the ECCAS  and all related international and national agencies and organizations to make the rescue of the Chibok Girls and other captives a reality while ensuring that what has taken place NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. We believe that these actions will lead us closer to the rescue of the Chibok girls and the restoration of peace and stability in North Eastern Nigeria. A nation is only strong when it protects its weak.

Signed:


R. Nanre Nafziger-Mayegun

Hafsat Abiola-Costello

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli

Professor Mojúbàolú Olufúnké Okome

Habiba Balogun

Dr. Nnenna Mba-Oduwusi

Steve Bisi Aborisade

Ngozi Obigwe

Samirah Farouk

Titilope Akosa

Ramaa Mosley

Pamela Braide

Adeola Awogbami

Amy Oyekunle

Fadekemi Akinfaderin-Agarau

Feyi Boroffice

Biola Alabi

Olayide Akanni

Victor Adejoh

Magaji Buba

Osayi Alile

For IAMCHIBOK COALITION

Contact: Nanre This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Skype: Rhoda.Nanre Phone: +234-8067167452

For breaking news out of Abuja, follow us on Twitter: @MetropoleMag

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