The United States Consular General in Nigeria, Mr Jeffrey Hawkins, has condemned the killings of school children in Yobe State and the activities of Boko Haram sect in Borno, Adamawa and other northern states of Nigeria.
Hawkins, who allayed fear that the activities of the Islamic sect could jeopardise the peaceful conduct of the 2015 general election if not checked, disclosed that the US Government had given $15million in aid to the federal government to strengthen the electoral process,
The US Consular General made the submission yesterday in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital while fielding questions from journalists.
Commending the government’s efforts, particularly the deployment of military to the affected states, he expressed optimism that the elections will be peaceful if the stakeholders can eschew violence.
Mr Hawkins, who described free, fair and credible election as the necessary impetus of democracy, however cautioned politicians against engaging in violence in the June 21 governorship election in Ekiti State.
He said, “As a parent, I can’t imagine that school children could be killed in that manner. The US has listed Boko Haram as a terrorist group and we are not folding our arms as well. We are working not only with the government, but with Civil Society organizations on the need to sensitize the people and rid the country of terrors”.
Hawkins urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be thorough with Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections, saying the two polls are critical to the success of the 2015 polls.
According to him, the United States has demonstrated its desire to entrench democracy and good governance in Nigeria through the listing of the Boko Haram as a terrorist group and several other supports aimed at boosting the country’s economy.
UN Calls For Protection Of Civilians
The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, yesterday called on the Nigerian government to step up measures to protect the lives of civilians in the northern parts of the country.
Stating that it was increasingly alarmed at the humanitarian impact of continuing violence in north-eastern Nigeria, the UNHCR stressed the importance of protecting civilians.
The agency, in a press statement obtained from the spokesperson of the agency, Adrian Edwards, by our correspondent, further said that the newly arrived refugees interviewed by the staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Niger have spoken of atrocities on the islands and shores of Lake Chad in north-east Nigeria’s Borno State.
Edwards said: “One woman described corpses strewn through houses and floating in the water. She said people feared staying even to bury their dead or find missing relatives.
Reps Observe One-day Mourning Period
The House of Representatives has asked all arms of government to be jolted into taking action to end the incessant killings of innocent Nigerians by men of the Boko Haram sect, especially now that the target is women and innocent children.
In a terse speech to welcome back members to plenary after a two-week break, speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal announced a-one day mourning in memory of 59 students of Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State, who were killed by insurgents on February 25, 2014.
Describing the activities of terrorists in the north-east as callous and reprehensible in the speech entitled “One Killing Too Many”, Tambuwal stated that the government had now run out of excuses for its failure to protect innocent citizens, especially students, from the ugly situation of senseless killings Nigerians while calling on Nigerians to rise up and fight against terrorism.
The speaker said, “When innocent, harmless and defenceless women and children become the targets of these heartless murderous bandits; when the lives of sleeping children are so callously snuffed out, it becomes clear that these agents of terror have murdered sleep and they henceforth deserve none”.
“In my brief statement immediately after that attack, I warned that Nigeria is running out of excuses for our failure to live up to our responsibility to protect our citizens. Today I wish to amend that comment and declare that we have run out of excuses. We no longer have any excuse for our inability to protect our innocent defenceless children from gratuitous violence”.
“If a tragedy of the Buni Yadi magnitude does not bring us together as one nation, if the loss of our innocent children whose only offence was that they went to school to gain education and wisdom in preparation for a future of service to Nigeria and humanity does not unite us in grief, then we need to ask ourselves if we truly meet the basic spiritual requirements of nationhood.”
Meanwhile, the House has again adjourned plenary till next Tuesday in continuation of budget defence on the 2014 2014 budget by standing committees of the House. Recall that the House resumed yesterday from a two week break which was for 2014 budget defence. Many committees have not concluded the exercise, hence the extension of the break.