The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), and Voters Awareness Initiative (VAI), on Thursday urged the Federal Government to beef up security across the country.
Reacting to threats by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) to resume its attack in the region, the groups advised the government to take proactive measures to forestall this. In separate interviews, the groups warned that MEND should not be allowed to carry out its threats.
Mr. Onyekachi Ubani, Chairman, NBA, Ikeja branch, said that the threat of renewed campaign of violence by MEND should be taken seriously by the government.
“The security agencies should take the threat seriously. Security should be beefed up, but that alone should not be the focus of the government.
“What the government should be thinking of is how to address the challenge of security in Nigeria permanently,” he said.
Ubani said the agitation by various ethnic groups in Nigeria was a wake-up call for the government to urgently convene a sovereign national conference, where such grievances could be addressed.
He said: ”The only way to resolve Nigeria’s problem is to convene a sovereign national conference, where all groups, including MEND and the Boko Haram Sect, can come out and air their grievances. “As we speak, there are complaints of marginalisation by almost every group in Nigeria, which needs to be addressed for the sake of our collective entity.”
Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, Executive Director, SERAP, a human rights group, said proactive steps must be taken to avert another crisis in the Niger Delta region.
“What the Federal Government needs to do now is to take proactive steps, through intelligence gathering. Security agencies must act now before the crisis escalates.
“We should not pretend that they are just threats because that was how the Boko Haram violence started.’’
Mumuni urged the security operatives to closely monitor persons who have identified with MEND in the past, in order to nullify the threat.
In his contribution, Mr. Wale Ogunade, President, VAI, said that the failure of the government to effectively tackle Boko Haram was encouraging other groups to take to violence.
Ogunade said: ”The Federal Government needs to beef up security, not only in the Niger Delta, but all over Nigeria.
“The threat of violence by MEND and the ongoing reign of terror by Boko Haram in the north, is a very dangerous signal to this nation.”
He, however, advised politicians to unite in addressing the problem of insecurity, instead of politicising the issue.
“Rather than channel their energy towards how to provide peace in the country, some of our political leaders are busy scheming and planning for 2015.
“It is only when there is peace that there can be elections in 2015, and so, it is better for them to come together and find solutions to our problems.