CENCEX Mourns victims of banditry in Zamfara, charges govt for action

In a solemn assembly today, citizens, civil society members, and journalists gathered to mark the 7th National Day of Mourning and Remembrance for victims of violent killings across Nigeria. 

The event, filled with deep concern and grief, particularly focused on the ongoing crisis in Zamfara State and neighboring Northwest regions.

Mr Adamu Abubakar Kotorkoshi, Executive Director Center for Community Excellence (CENCEX)

Adamu Abubakar Kotorkoshi, Executive Director of the Centre for Community Excellence (CENCEX) and State Coordinator of the Human Rights Agenda Network (HRAN) in Zamfara State, addressed the gathering. He underscored the growing insecurity that has made Zamfara a center of violent killings, abductions, and human rights violations, posing a serious national security threat.

“The violence in Zamfara, which began as local land disputes between herders and farmers, has escalated into a significant national and regional security issue,” Kotorkoshi stated. “Armed bandits have advanced from basic attacks on farmlands to using sophisticated weapons to invade entire communities and institutions.”

Kotorkoshi highlighted the severe impact of armed banditry on the state’s agriculture, the primary source of livelihood. Farmers now have to pay levies to access and harvest their lands, creating a “government within a government” where bandits exert control and impose taxes. 

Additionally, rampant criminal activities have led to widespread internal displacement, violations of women’s rights, and various forms of sexual and gender-based violence.

The CSO emphasized the goals of the National Day of Mourning, which include urging political leaders to develop the political will to protect lives and properties, expressing solidarity with grieving communities, and reigniting a sense of nationhood. The conveners called on citizens to assert their rights and demand that the government fulfill its constitutional obligations to ensure security and welfare, as outlined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Team of CSOs’ Center for Community Excellence (CENCEX) and Human Rights Agenda Network (HRAN) at the National Mourning Day

They presented several demands to the Federal and Zamfara State governments, including:

– Ensuring the security of citizens’ lives and properties.

– Addressing socio-economic inequities that exacerbate violent crimes, focusing on providing quality education and infrastructure.

– Acting humanely towards internally displaced persons and affected communities.

Other demands included:

– Improving the welfare and psychosocial support for security personnel.

– Disincentivizing ransom payments by tracking financial flows and prosecuting terrorists.

– Investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of violent crimes, including those from the 2023 general elections.

In conclusion, Kotorkoshi reiterated the non-partisan and inclusive nature of the movement, urging all citizens to join in commemorating the event and to stand united against the threats to national security. The conference concluded with a call to action for all Nigerians to uphold the dignity of human life and work towards a peaceful and secure nation.

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