No fewer than 500 women groups under the aegis of Womanifesto have condemned the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo in Ondo State which led to the killing of many and have given the government four weeks to stop the killings in the country.
A statement issued by the co-convener, Womenifesto, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said their hearts go out to the families, friends and loved ones of all those affected by the vile and evil act.
“We also commiserate with the Catholic Community and the entire people of Ondo State.
“This cold-blooded massacre in St. Francis 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).
“The Owo massacre in which citizens in their place of worship were killed, again raises the question of governance failure considering that our 1999 Constitution asserts security and welfare of citizens as a primary responsibility of the government. The same constitution centralises the command and control of security establishments in the Federal Government through the President of Nigeria as Commander-In-Chief of the Nigeria Armed Forces.
“According to a report, at least 14, 641 people have been killed across the six regions in Nigeria in the past 3 years, and in just the first 5 months of this year, about 3173 have been killed and more than 2293 abducted in similar circumstances. Unfortunately, the failure of the government to properly investigate or take tangible actions to ensure justice or deter future occurrences continues to exacerbate the crises. Since its resurgence in 2009, the herdsmen and banditry attacks 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 Agency to take immediate measures beyond condemning this barbaric act- to end the insecurity in the country,” the group said.
Womanifesto demands in the medium term, a comprehensive restructure of Nigeria’s security architecture through a National Conversation on a new Constitution to replace the problematic 1999 Constitution.
“In the immediate term, however, we demand the following actions by the Federal and Ondo State Governments: Publish the identities of all the victims of the Owo tragedy including those that died as well as the injured.
“Demonstrate accountability and carry out a speedy investigation that is conclusive – 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 Ondo 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 which has many evident signs of being on the brink of collapse, an unconscionable, unkind, and cynical diversion of energy that should be focused on securing anxiety-numbed citizens. We are shocked that our political leaders are continuing to ignore and downplay the rising trend of daily killings of Nigerians in states across the country at a dangerous time like this and instead giving priority to their personal quest for power. This is utterly condemnable.
“We want our President, Governors, and lawmakers across Nigeria to immediately cease from continuing to ‘major in the minors’ and reprioritize the safety and security of citizens to the top of our national agenda. We demand that they focus on the existential threats bedeviling Nigeria and Nigerians now.”