The National Assembly should call off its recess and resume plenary immediately to address the ongoing killings and insecurity in Nigeria, a coalition of over 500 women organizations and activists under the aegis of Womanifesto, have said.
According to them, it was unimaginable that amidst the crisis, the National Assembly extended its holiday after a three-week Christmas and New Year recess, saying the action “reeks of nonchalance and lack of empathy by those elected to represent the interest of Nigerians.”
Womanifesto raised the concerns in a statement jointly signed by a former Minister of Education, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili; Executive Director of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi; Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND); Women Aid Collective (WACOL); Baobab for Women’s Human Rights; Amnesty International Nigeria; 100 Women Lobby Group (100WLG); Yiaga Africa and Women in Politics Forum (WiPF).
The activists cited Section 14(2b) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, which stipulated that the welfare and security of the citizens shall be the primary purpose of the government, even as the Constitution also guarantees the right to life, liberty, and personal security of every Nigerian citizen.
The statement said, “The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) reveals that over 380 people were kidnapped in Nigeria between December 1, 2023 and January 3, 2024. The number of reported kidnapped persons in Nigeria between June 2022 and July 2023 increased to 3,620, an analysis of data from SBM Intelligence reveals. Additionally, government statistics for Abuja show 40 kidnapping cases involving 236 victims between January 2021 and June 2023. We however believe that the exact number of people kidnapped in Nigeria in 2024 may be higher.
“In the midst of this crisis, Womanifesto finds it unimaginable that the National Assembly extended its holiday after a three-week Christmas and New Year recess. This action, we believe, reeks of nonchalance and lack of empathy by those elected to represent the interest of Nigerians. This action is grossly unacceptable to us. We demand that the National Assembly calls off this recess and resumes plenary immediately.
“The constant threat of violence and kidnapping has left many Nigerians feeling unsafe and vulnerable. Women and children are particularly at risk, with reports of kidnappings and sexual violence on the rise. This continued holiday is unacceptable and must be addressed urgently.
“While we applaud recent efforts by security agencies in rescuing some of the kidnapped victims, we demand that the government takes concrete steps to ensure the safety of its citizens. Our security forces must be anticipatory rather than reactionary. This includes increasing security measures, providing support to victims of violence, and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions. We also call on the national lawmakers to prioritize this issue and take swift action to address it.
“The people of Nigeria deserve to live in peace and security, and it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that this is the case. We urge the national lawmakers to take immediate action to address the insecurities and kidnappings in Nigeria.
“The safety and security of Nigerian citizens, especially women and children, which should be the top priority of the government, has been rigorously threatened for years and has now come to a climax where citizens are being kidnapped from their homes in broad daylight. Nigerians have felt the burnt of this crisis and have had to crowdfund ransoms payable to criminals. Despite this, victims of kidnappings are still being murdered by criminals, leaving the nation in a dire state of distress.”