The elders, under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development, stated this in a statement by its National Coordinator, Engr Zana Goni and National Women Leader, Hajiya Mario Bichi, respectively on Monday, while reacting to the abduction of scores of students from the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State on Friday by suspected bandits.
Northern elders have cried out over the spate of insecurity in the northern part of the country, insisting that the zone is no longer safe for habitation.
They also repeated calls that the service chiefs must be sacked.
According to them, the attack on the school is a further confirmation that the country’s security architecture is in dire need of a total overhaul.
They also insisted that the Service Chiefs are no more in charge of the security situation in the zone and the entire country.
The group also noted that the continuous stay in office of the Service Chiefs whom they noted, “have been exhausted with nothing more to offer in security service, was emboldening the adversaries in their increasing dastardly actions against the country.”
While condemning the attack on the school children, the group noted that the development, which came few days after the decapitation of over 46 rice farmers in Zabarmari Village in Borno State, was disturbing.
They reehoed their earlier call on President Muhammadu Buhari, to seek foreign help, adding that any further delay by the President may lead to the extinction of the region following increasing mass killings of its people by the terrorists.
They also added their voices to the call for the sack of the Service Chiefs and reorganisation of the entire security architecture, adding that the firm positions of the two chambers of the National Assembly to this effect be respected by the President.
The statement reads in part: “The latest attack on Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, in Katsina State, where over 333 children are reportedly missing has further confirmed our position that our region is now at the mercy of terrorists, bandits, and other criminal elements.
“And as a result of this, we strongly believe that time has come for our president to bring in fresh hope and clear directions on how best the country will strategize to overcome the present insecurity situation in the country in general.”
Noting that the attack on school children was callous and reprehensible, the group tasked the government to seek foreign help in addressing the nation’s security problem once and for all.
“At the boiling point we have found ourselves in today, we strongly believe that it will not be out of place to seek assistance in dealing with these threats from outside,” they added.
The group, which extended their sympathies to the families of the victims, further said: “We would say in the strongest possible terms that there can be no justification for the deliberate targeting of innocent school children.”
The elders called on authorities to ensure that those responsible for the action are brought to justice just as they tasked communities in the region to demand that schools be considered as places of safety.
Continuing, the elders called on those responsible to refrain from any attacks directed at or in the vicinity of schools and warned that the killing and maiming of children, as well as attacks on schools, teachers, and schoolchildren, are serious violations of international law.
On the call for the sacking of Service Chiefs, the group said they “have lost the support of human, nature, and spirit and also exhausted their energies, ideas and capacities hence can no longer turn around the country’s security for good.”
They further called on President Buhari to see reason with a majority of Nigerians who are of the view that the nation’s top security heads be relinquished of their positions and fresh hands and ideas injected for positive results in the security of the nation.
Reminding the President that in democracy, the voice of the majority prevails, they insisted that the recent resolution of both chambers of the National Assembly that he replaces the service chiefs, was the view of the majority of Nigerians given that the parliament is a representation of the people.
“Our President was elected by Nigerians and the same Nigerians have spoken through their representatives in the National Assembly. Our president should listen to them by dropping the service chiefs, who have since reached retirement age in the military and appoint new ones with fresh ideas to do the job for which we elected him to do,” the group said further.
“The time has come when the entire country expects new ideas, philosophy and method in the fight against insurgency in the country.
“The President’s idea about insecurity has proved inadequate to deal with the threat to our lives and property”, they group said, adding calling on President Buhari to “urgently change tactics and personnel in order to win the war against rising threats to the lives of Nigerians.”