The presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, has expressed concern over reports that 700 Nigerian soldiers were killed in Baga by Boko Haram terrorists. The news reports also alleged that over 2,000 of the country’s soldiers are missing.
“Although the military and the Presidency have denied the reports, but the serial credibility challenges of the Buhari administration and the security team he leads as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces have created public distrust of any rebuttal by government. And that is gravely worrisome,” Ezekwesili said in a press statement on Monday.
She said, “The only way to ensure accuracy of the casualty that Nigeria is suffering as a result of counter-terrorism at this stage is to inaugurate a citizens-led independent investigation panel. Such an initiative would go a long way to eliminate the opaqueness of the counter-terrorism war and restore public confidence, as the case may be, in how the Buhari administration is prosecuting it.”
The ACPN presidential candidate also frowned at the consistent killings in Zamfara State recently, saying that the once most peaceful state of the North West region had been turned into a theatre of terrorism.
According to her, the security situation in the country shows a lack of effective leadership by President Muhammadu Buhari. “This is demonstrated in the very troubling inertia to decisively confront and end the frequent killings of our citizens; especially our soldiers on the frontline of battle.”
She added, “The killings have tragically earned Nigeria the designation of the 16th most dangerous country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index. Nigeria is also the 15th most fragile country in the 2018 Fragile States Index by the United States Fund for Peace.”
Ezekwesili stated that the constitutional mandate of the government to ensure the security of life and property of all Nigerians had been poorly handled, especially within the last decade.
“Tackling this will require commencing a security discourse and planning away from a narrow focus on military responses, to a more collective and participative conversation of the structure of the Nigerian state and our security architecture. Our ACPN administration would without fail prioritise this.”
“We would be responsive to current and immediate challenges by revising the current containment measures to ensure efficiency, include effective public communication on security issues without compromising genuine national security concerns. We would also bring citizens in as participants in their own security, through the establishment of local peace committees as part of the national security architecture,” she said.
The presidential candidate added, “Within days of being inaugurated into office, our ACPN administration would move swiftly to launch a coordinated response to all acts of violence in regions that are vulnerable to attacks from armed groups and concurrently commence a strong security sector reform for professionalism, accountability and results-focus.”