The Coalition of Southern and Middle Belt Youth Leaders Assembly, COSMBYLA, the umbrella body of all the youth groups in the South-East, South-South, South-West and Middle-Belt regions of the country has called on the Federal Government to support the initiatives of the Benue State government and governments of states in the South-West to localise security in their areas based on the peculiarity of the challenges confronting their people.
The coalition urged the president Muhammadu Buhari-led administrarion to grant the requests by Governor Samuel Ortom and his South-West counterparts to procure arms for the Benue Community Volunteer Guards, BCVG and the South-West security outfit, “Amotekun” to bolster security in their states.
The group commended the country’s conventional security agencies for the frantic efforts they are making to tackle insecurity in the country even to the extent of occasionally paying the supreme sacrifice, but observes that there is need for states to have localised security outfits to compliment the mainstream agencies in the task of securing lives and property, hence the need to allow them bear arms to function optimally and without much threat to their own lives.
COSMBYLA made these appeals in a statement jointly signed by its leaders and obtained by IDOMA VOICE on Thursday.
The statement jointly signed by Hon. Goodluck Ibem,
President General, Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), Terrence Kuanum,
Coordinator, Forum of Middle Belt Youth Presidents, Shittu Waheed, Coordinator, South West Youth Leaders Forum (SWYLF), Tito Zokumor, President, South South Youth Forum (SSYF), advised President Buhari not to listen to those who claim that the local security outfits would be used to intimidate political opponents, noting that those who are against the formation of BCVG and “Amotekun” should rather be suspected as part of the collaborators or allies of the perpetrators of heinous crimes in parts
of the country.
The statement reads below;
The Coalition observes that it won’t be altruistic to sacrifice human lives and properties of Nigerians on mere speculations that the security outfits may be used as objects of oppression in the hands of the state governors to molest and intimidate their political opponents and the electorate during electioneering period and pose a threat to the electoral process. It posits that human lives should be given more preeminence than mere fear by political desperados at a time that lives are being snuffed out of people on a daily basis without cause.
The Coalition of Southern and Middle Belt Youth Leaders Assembly also reminds relevant authorities that the fear that the Benue Community Volunteer Guards and the South-West version, “Amotekun” would misused arms at their disposal if allowed to bear weapons is unfounded, since they are fashioned to operate within the law, in collaboration with conventional security agencies for proper synergy, coordination and effective results.
The Coalition makes it clear that the local security outfits were a creation of the law in the various states where they are domiciled and calls on security agencies who were carried along in the formation, recruitment, training and unveiling of the BCVG and “Amotekun” to throw their weight behind the demand to arm the local security outfits for sustained security in Benue State and the South-West.
It enjoins states of the federation that are yet to establish local security outfits to take proactive steps towards having initiatives that would enhance local intelligence gathering and security so that the criminals chased from areas that have become hotbeds for them would not find anywhere in the country as a save haven for their nefarious activities.
The group empathizes with the millions of people who have been displaced due to attacks by herdsmen and other terrorist groups, especially in Benue state and stresses that granting approval for the local security outfits to bear weapons would help in preventing further humanitarian crisis occasioned by the dastardly acts of those merchants of death who the people have been made to believe that are foreigners. COSMBYLA wonders why those who have made Nigeria a killing field are said to be foreigners, yet are not seen as a people on a dangerous mission to subvert the territorial integrity of the country even as they usually annex parts of the sovereign nation and hoist their flags as a mark of victory.
It regrets that some people and groups are desperate to see that the BCVG and Amotekun are not allowed to carry arms for political reasons and calls on all those against moves to secure the people and their property to reflect on the importance of lives and property.
The body states unequivocally that denying the local security outfits arms and ammunition may be a stumbling stone to arresting the humanitarian crisis occasioned by herdsmen and terrorist groups which have killed and maimed hundreds of people, destroyed properties worth billions of naira and displaced millions of people including women, children and the elderly who are now living in difficult conditions in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs camps, a situation that clearly undermines their human rights.
The Coalition of Youth Groups laments that the activities of herdsmen and terrorists groups have crippled the economy of various states in the federation as investors are scared of coming to invest and those who have been here are running away from the country for fear of putting their monies where they are not sure of security and return on investments. It also notes with pains that even those who are not displaced are not any better than those in camps for internally displaced persons, IDPs as their means of livelihood have been utterly destroyed.
The Coalition of Southern and Middle Belt Youth Leaders Assembly reiterates its call for the arrest of the leadership of Miyetti Allah who have taken responsibility for the massive invasion and killing of people in Benue and some states in the South-West to at least, give a sense of justice to relations of victims of their callous acts. The group believes that a situation whereby the Miyetti Allah openly threatened to violently resist the law banning open grazing in Benue state by unleashing terror on Benue communities and made good the threat without being arrested is unacceptable. It also laments that the cattle breeders also vowed to resist attempts to regulate their operations in the South-West and they are keeping to their word by destroying lives and property in that part of the country and the entire Southern Nigeria.
The Coalition commends Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state and his counterparts in the South-West states for taking bold steps towards safeguarding the lives of their people and encourages them to remain resolute in their resolve to protect the lives and properties of people in their states.
The body pledges its support for the Benue State government and those of the South-West towards ensuring that they embrace ideas aimed at making the security and safety of their people a priority. It also calls on Nigerians to be unanimous in supporting the initiatives of the Benue state government and those of the South-West towards ensuring the protection of lives and property of the people as insecurity anywhere is insecurity everywhere.