KILLINGS IN BENUE, OTHER PLACES: GROUP DECLARES MAY 28, 2018 AS A NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING AND REMEMBRANCE


Worried by the incessant killings by terrorists in Benue and other Middle Belt states as well as other parts of Nigeria, a group known as nigeriamourns.org has declared Monday, May 28 as a national mourning and remembrance day in honour of thousands of people killed by Boko haram terrorists, Fulani jihadist terroror group as well as other perpetrators of violence, including military and SARS. The group, in a circular signed by its co-conveners, Abiodun Baiyewu – Teru and Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, a renowned human rights defender, have started massive mobilisation across the country towards the event.
The group stated that the pandemic rise in violent conflicts across Nigeria in the past decade, has become
more pronounced in the past 5 years, and has resulted in an unprecedented humanitarian crisis that is
spiralling out of control.
“The trajectory of these killings have taken a pandemic turn since the first quarter of this year, with no visible sign of abatement.
For example, in spite of gross underreporting, in Benue State alone, between 2013 and 2016, official
reports have estimated that 1,878 persons were killed, 222 disappeared and 750 grievously wounded.
This number included 526 women, 200 (38%) of whom were pregnant, and another 231 (44%) nursing
mothers. In the first quarter of 2018, at least 600 persons have been killed in the same state. In January
and February of 2018, the Benue State Emergency Management Agency, BSEMA, recorded 169,922
internally displaced persons. The killings affected 12 of the 23 local government areas in the state. More
than 10% of the population of Benue State have been directly affected by this crisis. Other states in the
Middle-Belt region and around the Benue Valley: Plateau, Taraba, Nassarawa, Adamawa, Kwara,
Kaduna and Kogi have also been impacted by this crisis and have recorded a combined number of
casualties almost equal to that of Benue state in the first quarter of 2018”, said the group,
.
“In addition to the on-going violence in the North-East region, the skirmishes in the South-South and
South East regions, The North-West and South-West regions are also contending with violent killings,
and kidnappings. The spread shows that these crises affect every Nigerian and that their continued
impunity will bear consequences that we all will be impacted by if we fail to act. The response of
stakeholders to these spate of violence will either catalyse action to ameliorate them, or lead to further
fragmentation of our already shaky nationhood.

“While it might appear that Nigerians have become totally desensitized to these killings and that we treat
the casualties simply as numbers, most of us are in fact traumatized and engulfed by a sense of
helplessness. In our collective despair, never have we felt more divided and insecure. It behoves upon
us therefore to unite in our grief and demand for our government to act responsibly to address these
killings, and put a stop to the impunity that has caused the violence to thrive. Hence our call for a
national day of mourning and remembrance”.

The  proposed activities for the National Day of Mourning and Remembrance include

a. Mourning at Unity Fountain, Abuja: That as a sign of our collective mourning, that we
perform mourning ceremonies at Unity Fountain between 7am – 7pm on May 28th, 2018.

b. Humanitarian convoy: A humanitarian convoy will take off from Unity Fountain in Abuja to
Makurdi, Benue State, the current epicenter of the crises, as a sign of our collective solidarity
with the individuals and communities caught up in the various crises.

c. Flying flags at half – mast: We invite all corporate entities, and the government to fly their
flags at half-mast for the entire day.

d. Call Their Name ceremonies: On the morning of the National Day of Remembrance, citizens
across each crisis impacted state will gather before their government house, or capital city
center square to call out the names of persons who had died in the conflicts to respect them as
persons and not just numbers.

e. Observation of Silence: We invite all Nigerians to observe a minute of silence at noon on May
28th. Radio and TV stations will be encouraged to support this action and advocate for their
audiences to do the same.

f. Solemn Assemblies: We call on all markets and institutions, including schools, to hold solemn
assemblies at about 11:45 am on May 28, to observe a minute silence at noon

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