By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The statement by the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), attacking Northern elders for calling for the replacement of the military heads, has drawn the ire of some North East Elders.
Under the aegis of Coalition of Northern East Elders for Peace and Development (CNEEPD), the elders lamented that HURIWA by that statement has show insensitivity to the plight of thousands of people in the region suffering the misfortune of worsening insecurity in the country.
CNEEPD said that only individuals and groups that were anti-people and anti-progress, would attack those calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve the Service Chiefs of their appointments, in the face of violent attacks occasioned by heightened insurgency/terrorism in the North East, banditry/kidnapping in the North West/North Central and others crimes assailing the nation.
Recall that HURIWA in a statement by it’s Executive Director, Emmanuel Onwubiko, had attacked the Northern elders for calling for the replacement of the military heads, who have remained in office, despite the daily killings of men, women and children in the region.
“We hereby call on Northern leaders and elders to stop the well oiled calculated and orchestrated campaign of calumny and desists from the beer parlour criticisms of the war on terror and return to their communities to show leadership by example to their wards and children,” HURIWA said in the statement.
HURIWA had also stated that members of the terror network are children and wards of these community elders who are now transferring their misdirected anger at the service chiefs.
CNEEPD in a reaction by its National Coordinator, Engr. Zana Gone, alleged that HURIWA was paid to malign its hard-earned reputation.
The elders challenged Onwubiko, his members and those it claimed were their sponsors to visit communities and territories in Borno and other North East states without security protection.
CNEEPD said HURIWA’s attack was not only shameful, but reveal the inconsistency of the group.
The elders noted that not long ago, HURIWA criticised President Buhari for not doing enough to check the spate of insecurity across the country.
The CNEEPD reproduced the HURIWA’s attack on President Buhari, signed by Onwubiko and one other thus: “What the President does is to practise his deep-rooted nepotism and favouritism in appointments, whereby he prefers his fellow Fulani/Hausa northern Muslims to hold such strategic portfolios as heads of Department of States Services; Inspector General of Police, Comptroller Generals of Customs and Immigration; Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.
“The President has failed to use the opportunity of his reflection on the bloody attacks against Nigerians by a broad range of armed non-state actors, terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, armed Fulani herdsmen and cultists of the last twelve calendar months to tell Nigerians categorically of his pragmatic approach to solving the widespread insecurity and widening spectre of bloody attacks.
“Rather, he went round and round in a circus with no deliverables, playing on sophistry and deception”.
The Northern elders said that with the above position, HURIWA has shown itself as an unserious group that cares less about the security crisis besetting Nigeria.
“Our attention has been drawn to a rather insensitive and shameful statement by a group that goes by the acronym, HURIWA.
“Ordinarily, the Coalition of North East Elders for Peace and Development would not have dignified the group with a response, but for the need to remind the undiscerning public what characterises the aforementioned group.
“May we hasten to state that our consistent call on our dear and amiable President to sack Service Chiefs, has been borne out of patriotism and the need to restore public confidence.
“We remind the group led by one Emmanuel Onwubiko, that our position has continued to align with those of our respected Senators, members of the House of Representatives, as well as other concerned Nigerians, who are in the majority.
“We are, therefore, of the considered view that Onwubiko and his co-travellers may have lost touch with reality, or are being mischievous in their attack on our members”.
While wondering why any sane group will oppose the call for appointment of new military heads, CNEEPD asked if HURIWA understood what career progression meant in military circle.
“We challenge Onwubiko and his followers to appear before officers (both serving and retired), whose career growth have been affected by the continuous stay of the Service Chiefs, to make that argument.
“As respected elders concerned about the fact that our farmers can hardly access their farms, while the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) continues to grow, we will not buckle in our call for a new order in the security sector.
“We advise Onwubiko and his co-travellers to turn over a new leaf, embrace reality, so that posterity may not be harsh on them.”