Womanifesto flays Owo massacre, charges Nigeria govt to address insecurity

Womanifesto Nigeria has condemned the attack on St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, on Sunday.

According to the group, the attack is evidence of the disregard for human life in Nigeria, which has to stop.

In a press statement on Wednesday, the group demanded immediate action from the Nigerian government to stop the killings.

The statement reads, “Women groups under the aegis of Womanifesto strongly condemn the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo in Ondo State, on June 5, 2022, which left dozens of people – men, women and young persons – dead and many others critically wounded. Our hearts go out to the families, friends and loved ones of all those affected by this vile and evil act. We also commiserate with the Catholic community and the entire people of Ondo.

“This cold-blooded massacre in St. Francis Catholic Church is yet another evidence of the blatant disregard for human life and the incessant murder of defenceless citizens by criminal gangs, who have been marauding unchecked across our country. As a result, thousands of people are widowed and children orphaned. It is reported that over 3,515 people have died as a result of violent attacks between January and June 2022, with 1,214 deaths in March, ranking higher than the 996 deaths recorded in January (Nigeria Security Tracker).”

Womanifesto, a national women’s dialogue comprising over 500 women organisations and individuals working across Nigeria to attain gender justice and equality, reportedly said, at least 14,641 people have been killed across Nigeria in the past three years, and in the first five months of this year, about 3,173 have been killed and more than 2,293 abducted in similar circumstances. 

“Unfortunately, the failure of the government to properly investigate or take tangible action to ensure justice or deter future occurrences continues to exacerbate the crisis. Since its insurgence in 2009, the attacks by herdsmen and terrorists have risen exponentially, as the government has failed to demonstrate the capacity to address the insecurity plaguing the country. 

“We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Government, the Nigeria police and all other relevant federal law enforcement agencies to take immediate measures beyond condemning this barbaric act – to end the insecurity in the country,” it added. 

For justice, the women’s group demands a comprehensive restructuring of Nigeria’s security architecture through a national conversation on a new constitution to replace the problematic 1999 Constitution.

The statement further read, “In the immediate term, however, we demand the following actions by the federal and Ondo governments: 

⦁ Publish the identities of all the victims of the Owo tragedy, including those that died and the injured. 

⦁ Demonstrate accountability and carry out a speedy conclusive investigation that leads to arrests, successful judicial prosecution and sentencing of the killers.  

⦁ Make immediate contact, provide constant updates and appropriate succour for all the families of victims of the tragedy by the federal and state governments. 

⦁ Present as a matter of urgency, a state of national security status report to Nigerians in fulfilment of the constitutional duty of the President and the security agencies 

⦁ Transparently communicate the performance of the security establishments in light of the huge budgetary provisions allocated annually to the counter-terrorism war. 

“Womanifesto finds the current fixation of Nigeria’s public officials and other politicians with the 2023 elections in a country that has many evident signs of being on the brink of collapse, and unconscionable, unkind and cynical diversion of energy that should be focused on securing anxiety-numbed citizens. This is utterly condemnable. 

“We want our President, governors and lawmakers across Nigeria to immediately cease from continuing to ‘major in the minors’ and reprioritise the safety and security of citizens to the top of our national agenda. We demand that they focus on the existential threats bedevilling Nigeria and Nigerians now.” 

“Finally, we shall be monitoring the response of President Muhammadu Buhari, and Ondo State government to our demands. If by July 5, 2022, we do not see any strong sign of progress on our five demands, Nigerian women will take every step necessary to stand for the preservation of the lives of our citizens. We emphatically declare that ‘enough is enough!’”

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