Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The Nigerian Government Investigation Panel on the 2011 Election Violence on Monday submitted its report to President Goodluck Jonathan, warning that if the current social, economic and security situation in Nigeria are allowed to continue without addressing them it could “escalate to social revolution”.
The Committee, led by Sheikh Ahmed Lemu, said that for President Jonathan to fully implement all that is required to take Nigeria away from the circle of violence, he would step on toes.
But the Committee stated “to allay fears of the recent undemocratic process of impeachment by selfish politicians that might emerge while the President is taking steps for positive changes in the society, we also recommended that the constitution be amended in such a way that impeachable offences should be subject to judicial interpretation and the final verdict of impeachment should be given through referendum by the same electorate who voted for the President of their choice.”
He added that Nigerians of high integrity and moral probity in every State should be identified and assigned major responsibilities towards the implementation of positive changes in the country.
On the panel’s findings, Lemu said that “the first and probably the most important major cause (of the post-election crisis) is the failure on the part of the previous successive regimes to implement the recommendations of various committees, commissions and panels that had worked in our nation.
"That failure facilitated the widespread sense of impunity in the culprits and perpetrators of crimes and violence in the Nigerian society. We recommend to Your Excellency to order security agencies to fish out culprits of violence for prosecution.”
Lemu stated that “people indicted by the committees and commissions concerned should be prosecuted. These recommendations are based on what the panel observed from many victims of those previous disturbances who are nursing reprisals and have only been waiting for the slightest excuse to move into action, which some of them did during the 2011 election violence and civil disturbances
“The second major cause of the recent electoral violence was the existing widespread desire for change as a result of frustration and disappointment on many members of the general public regarding the inability of the successive past regimes to solve the problems of electricity failure nationwide, deplorable state of federal roads throughout the nation, bribery and corruption which have virtually been legitimized in all affairs of our nation."
He said with regards to the remedy on bribery and corruption, "We recommended that the Heads of the Three Arms of Government as well as other major stakeholders in Nigeria should come together and agree on the most effective way forward to avoid the impending catastrophe.
“Similarly, general insecurity of life and property in people’s houses and on the highways and kidnappings are fuel to the fire of public frustration and disappointment. The true state of affairs could escalate to social revolution if preventive measures are not taken in time. In fact, the current sporadic demonstrations in educational institutions and by labour unions are all considered to be signals of more serious negative events to come. This assertion could be verified for your Excellency by the security agencies.
“The next major cause of violence and disturbances is the manner in which political office holders have made their respective positions lucrative at the expense of the whole nation. The panel discovered that the remunerations and allowances of the members of the legislature, in particular, are considered by stakeholders who addressed us or wrote to us to be outrageous. It has turned politics in Nigeria to a do-or-die affair for which many politicians of all parties are seriously establishing private armies to execute.
"In that respect, easy access to drugs, serious general poverty at the grassroots level and youth unemployment, in particular, are providing many foot soldiers ready for recruitment at a cheap rate. The security agencies could verify this assertion also.
“Generally speaking, the basic cause of the violence in nearly all the communities concerned is political. Ethno-religious sentiments were brought into the issue through negative campaigns and rumour mongering by unscrupulous individuals to achieve their ulterior motives.
"Similarly, the zoning controversy, which started basically as an internal political affairs of the ruling party, ultimately changed the nature of the presidential election into ethno-religious contest in the country particularly in the Northern States."
The Committee, inaugurated on 11 May, 2011, noted that “for all the causes identified by the panel, the declining spirit of God consciousness and of accountability before God, very low moral standard as well as social indiscipline in the Nigerian society are all considered to be the major facilitating factors.
It said that in view of the development, "the panel recommended that basic education curriculum in Nigeria should henceforth contain - as a compulsory learning material for all the students - the moral values of God fearing and of accountability before God which are derived from the Islamic and Christian teachings as well as civic and cultural orientation in line with section 23 of the Nigeria Constitution.”
On the source of weapons used in the crisis, the Committee identified those used in the North as “largely knives, axes, cutlasses, clubs and similar objects.
"However, in the south south Akwa Ibom, there was a tide of illegal flow of sophisticated weapons into the state, which were used in the violence. We, therefore, recommend strict enforcement of all the laws and regulations concerning use and trafficking of illegal arms while negligence on the part of the security agencies should be severely sanctioned to act as a deterrent.”
Receiving the report, President Jonathan, who thanked members of the committee for accepting to serve even at the risk to their lives, said that “until government has the political will and courage to do what is right no matter how painful it will be, the culture of impunity will continue.”
President Jonathan pledged to fully implement the recommendations as “heavens will not fall” in the process of doing it.
-0- PANA MON/VAO 10Oct2011