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‘How on earth will they send our children to die in the name of service?’

| July 4, 2012 More

•The protesting youth corps members at the NYSC headquarters, Abuja…yesterday

•NANS, activists kick
•NYSC: no going back

The posting of youth Corps members to volatile states in the North brings back the memories of those slain in the past by extremists, report Joseph Jibueze and Bukola Amusan, Abuja

The National Youth Service Corps Scheme (NYSC)  headquarters in Abuja had some unwanted guests yesterday. They were Corps members protesting their posting to states renowned for  violence in the North.

After the last presidential election won by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, violence broke out in the North and daimed the lives of some Corps members in Bauchi State. 

Tomisin Teide was one of them.  The 24-year-old was posted to Giade Local Government Area of Bauchi for his primary assignment after the orientation at Wailo Camp.

An indigene of Osun State,  he  was among the 200 other corps members recruited as electoral officers by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cover the 20 local government areas in the state. 

Teide and others ran to the police station in Giade to seek refuge as their lodge in Giade was attacked. The rioters attacked the station and overpowered the policemen on duty before setting the station on fire. They brought out Tomisin, a graduate of Computer Science from the University of Ilorin and about six other Corps members and killed them. 

Also killed was Seun Adewumi, who completed his degree in Political Science at the Olabisi Onabanjo University , Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State.

He was posted to Bauchi for the one-year mandatory service. Life was snuffed out of the 27-year-old graduate in the post-election violence in Giade.

Born in Lagos , Adewumi, a native of Imojo-Ekiti, in Oye Local Government Area of Ekiti State, was the only graduate out of his mother’s six children.

Seun, said a source, was butchered to death by rioters.

A fellow Corps member, who escaped, said:  “It was a war situation and all of us were just running at different directions. They were inflicting machete cuts on us. They hit me on the head, on the shoulder and back but I kept on running. But thank God, two men on Okada just emerged from nowhere and confronted my attackers. They pleaded with them to leave us alone but when they discovered that they were desperate to kill all of us, one of them just carried me and put me on the motorcycle and sped off. I was taken to a village far from the war zone.’’

Ukeoma Ikechukwu also died in the hands of the rioters. So did  Obinna Okpokiri. The 27-year-old was butchered and burnt. He reportedly run to the Corpers’ Lodge as the rampaging rioters targeted the Corps members. Okpokiri could have been in the United Kingdom (UK), where he earned his degree. He only returned home to do the mandatory  service. 

It was the fear of falling victims of violence that made Corps members to besiege the headquarters of the NYSC in Maitama District, Abuja yesterday.

The 2012 Batch B Corps members posted to Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Plateau, Katsina, Bauchi, Yobe blocked the NYSC main gate around noon.

Some parents, whose children were affected by the deployments, joined in the protest.

A mother of one of the affected Corps members, Mrs. Charity Omenai, said:  “How on earth will they send our children to die in the name of service? When even the Federal Government has failed in protecting lives and properties of those living there they want to send our children there to die. I won’t accept that and they must change the posting or we won’t leave here.”

One of the Corps members, a graduate of the University of Port Harcourt who pleaded for anonymity, said: “I am married with an eight month-old-baby. I applied with my marriage documents, yet I was posted to Taraba State and we are many from my school with similar issue. We have demonstrated and registered our anger in our school and we were asked to come here and complain. We have complained but they are yet to attend to us.”

The prevented cars from going in and out of the building in protest against being posted to areas they said were volatile.

Also yesterday, an Igbo cultural organisation, the Oganiru Ndigbo Foundation (Igboville) and the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) condemned the postings.

Igboville urged those posted there to reject it, saying it would hold the government accountable for any Igbo life lost. HURIWA said the government’s action was “unwise”.

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the National Youth Council (NYC), at a news conference yesterday, urged govrenment to stop the deployment of Corps members to volatile states. 

The Corps members, who converged on NYSC’s office as early as 8am, became angry when the NYSC Director-General, Brig-Gen. Nnamdi Okore Affia arrived the office around 11am and drove in without addressing them.

It took the combined efforts of the private security outfit at the premises and policemen to pacify the protesting NYSC members.

The protesters  accused the government  of being insensitive to their plights.

According to them, with the high rate of bombing in the North, it is unthinkable that the government would still post them to such areas.

But the management of the NYSC said that there is no going back on the postings.

NYSC’s Deputy Director, Publication, Mr Peter Atilola said all the affected Corps members had been directed to report at the orientation camps of the states they were posted to for the registration process.

Atilola added that adequate security had been provided in the various orientation camps in the country.

He said: “They are just wasting their time; there is nothing that we can do from here now. They still have to report at their various places of posting. It is after their registration that they can seek for redeployment. They cannot change their posting now.”

The NYSC Deputy Director, Mobilisation, Emmanuel Adewuyi, also urged the youths to first report at their orientation camps and apply formally for redeployment and promised that the matter would be attended to.

In Gombe, the NYSC said security has been beefed up at the camp, as some of the more than 2,050 Batch ‘B’ corps members begin to report in camp.

Mr Manesah Igyuse, the Gombe State Coordinator of the NYSC, yesterday said the state government was doing everything possible to ensure that those posted to the state for the orientation were secured.

“The military have been moved into the camp with their armoured tank and are combat ready. So, nobody will even attempt to come and attack it.

“More soldiers and policemen have also been drafted to boost security in the camp,” he said.

Tthe Batch ‘B’ Corps members started arriving in the camp for orientation  on Monday.

Igyuse assured them of adequate security, saying that as far as the state is concerned, they have no problem with their safety.

About 1,007 corps members participated in the Batch ‘B’ orientation.

In Enugu, Igboville urged Igbo Corps members to reject the postings to the North. 

Addressing reporters, its leader, Emeka Maduewesi and legal adviser/secretary, Dr. Gaius Ndukwe Onu, accused the Federal Government and the NYSC of being insensitive to the plight of the youths.

The group advised all Igbo Corps members posted to the North to forward their posting details to it through igbo.ville@yahoo.com.

It insisted that it was heartless for the authorities of the NYSC to mobilise youths and other Southern christians for primary assignments in the North.  

Maduewesi said: “We will hold the President and NYSC D-G responsible for any of them that loses his/her life to Boko Haram and religious extremists. The government must immediately re-deploy them to safer areas of the country or suspend the entire NYSC scheme.

“We are still mourning 11 Corps members killed in April (2011) as a result of the post-election crisis in Northern Nigeria as well as others who have lost their lives to the current upheaval in Yobe, Kaduna, Kano, Jos, Maiduguri, Gombe and other Northern states.     

“Thus we ask, how many more lives of our children must we sacrifice for the oneness of Nigeria? Sending more of our youths into the same dungeon is not only callous but highly insensitive to the esteemed value we place on our children many of whom have already been sacrificed to the Nigerian debacle.  

“We hereby put the Federal Government and NYSC on notice that we will not hesitate to use every resource available to us to bring them to account if any Igbo graduate is  harmed in the North. 

“Igbo graduates who boycott their posting to the North must be issued exemption letter by the NYSC on or before 10th of July 2012,” the group demanded.

 Reminding President Goodluck Jonathan of the enormous sacrifices, in blood, that Igbos made to bring about and sustain his presidency, the  group said that their reward would not be for him to conspire with those wishing to wipe off the Southerners’ educational advantage.

“We will view the President’s silence in this matter as an act of hostility against Ndigbo. We are by a copy of this letter to relevant international agencies putting them on notice about this new dimension of Igbo cleansing in Nigeria,” the group said.

HURIWA said following the glaring inability of the Federal Government to restore normalcy, law and order in the crises-prone Northeastern, it was wrong to send corps members there.

In a statement, its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Officer, Miss. Zainab Yusuf, said the inability of the Federal Government to arrest, prosecute and punish the armed hoodlums in parts of Bauchi, Yobe and Borno states who last year killed more than a dozen participants of the NYSC scheme makes it a crime against humanity for the government to deploy another set of graduates to the volatile states to be exposed to even more deadly violence following the escalation of terror in those areas.

HURIWA called on the government to either disband the NYSC scheme or to convert it to compulsory one year non-combat military service whereby the participants would only be restricted to work in military formations spread across the country.

It urged the Federal government to stop forthwith the deployment of young Nigerian university graduates for NYSC scheme to these troubled states in the North to save their lives from unwarranted attacks and bloody violence.

HURIWA asked the National Assembly’s Joint Constitution Review Committee to overhaul the legal framework establishing the NYSC to reflect current realities.

It wants a stop to what it said amounted to exposing the youth to unnecessary violence and terrorism. It would rather that the one year service scheme be turned into compulsory military scheme in fulfillment of section 220 (1) and (2) of the constitution as amended.

The section provides: “The Federation shall establish and maintain adequate facilities for carrying into effect any Act of the National Assembly providing for compulsory military training or military service for citizens of Nigeria.”

Section 220 (2) provides: “Until an Act of the National Assembly is made in that behalf, the President may maintain adequate facilities in any secondary or post-secondary educational institution in Nigeria for giving military training in any such institution which desires to have the training.           

 HURIWA added: “While we note that in recent years, some young graduates from the South who were deployed to the North for the compulsory one-year national service have lost their lives to the activities of political hoodlums and armed insurgents, the Federal Government has sadly failed to bring these perpetrators to face the consequences of their dastardly crime in the competent courts of law. 

“We are even more shocked that the same government that has failed to restore law and order in the volatile Northern states, has also decided to deploy thousands of young graduates mainly from the South to serve in these violence-prone states such as Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Bauchi, Kano, and Plateau. 

“We reject this unwise action by the Federal Government in its totality and we appeal to leaders of conscience in all segments of the society to publicly denounce this move to send out young, innocent, unarmed youth to be slaughtered by armed hoodlums.”

 

 

 

 

Category: Bauchi State News

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