From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Concerned youths from the middle belt and the north under the umbrella of the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Roundtable Nigeria, otherwise known as “Generation NEXT” have petitioned the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) Embassies in Nigeria, raising concerns about rising insecurity in Nigeria which, they said, has led to destruction of communities, sources of livelihood and death of thousands of people.
They also drew the attention of the UK and US Governments to alleged ongoing human rights abuse in Nigeria, notably, religious freedom, human rights and freedom of expression, hence they humbly requested that town hall meeting be organized to discuss the matter.
Representative of the Association, Olasunmbo Ojomu, in the petition addressed to the Mary Beth Leonard and Catriona Laing, US Ambassador and British High Commissioner, respectively, said the town hall meeting will provide opportunity for the affected communities to share their shocking stories to the world.
He said: “We were shocked and disappointed when the US government removed Nigeria from the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC). The CPC designation in had obligated the Nigerian government to be accountable to the global community, but the ongoing violence, kidnappings and deaths in the Middle Belt and Northern Nigeria have been occurring for over 20 years and the global community seems to be silent about it.
“Boko Haram/ISWAP/Ansaru, along with fulani militants and andits have being joined by foreign-fighters to unleash terror on the people, devastating lives, farmlands and villages, majority of whom are Christians.
“Leah Sharibu and hundreds of other women, girls and boys are in captivity, while the government is unable or unwilling to do anything. Millions of people are displaced from their homes/communities and are living in IDP camps because of insecurity.
“Over 13 million children, primary to secondary, are afraid or unable to attend schools because of increasing attacks on school facilities. This disruption of education compounds Nigeria’s insecurity woes. Freedom of expression and human rights violations against individuals like Luka Binniyat, Rev Jonah Gangas and Nnamdi Kanu, who are wrongly accused and imprisoned, serve to silence opposition and criticism.
“EndSARS protest crackdown has lacked accountability and remains inconclusive, as Nigerian authorities continue to deny reports and have not ensured that those implicated in the abuses against protesters will ever be held accountable.”
The youths registered their discontent with Nigeria‘s blatant violation of religious freedom, human rights and freedom of expression, which fall under the UN Declaration of Human Rights which Nigeria is a signatory to, and must adhere to the international commitments, standards and policies.
They, however, queried US Department of State for the decision to delist Nigeria from a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), demanding that the decision be reversed, insisting that the decision encourages the government in its dereliction of duties to promote and protect religious freedom, human rights and freedom of expression.
“We, the youths of Nigeria are demoralized because we look up to your government as beacon of justice, equity and fairness to humanity. We believe that this might put the US and UK governments at risk of being held complicit with Nigeria.
“We, therefore, employ you to do the needful by urging your governments to reconsider their decision and take up the matter of religious freedom, human rights and freedom of expression in Nigeria. We want justice for all Nigerians.
“We would be pleased to engage directly with you and your officers, and we are proposing that you host a town hall meeting where we can provide you with reports and testimonies of these matters raised in this letter,” he added.