Social Intervention Advocacy Foundation (SIAF), do write in condemnation of the recent deployment by the Kwara State Government, ordered by the Executive Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, against vulnerable aged women and widows, in the night hours of 2nd January, 2020.
Each New Year is usually heralded by the joyful welcome of the first babies of the year around the world, and the renewed vision of governments and public good-minded stakeholders to engender good health, education, nutrition, shelter, economic opportunities, social inclusion and social protection for every citizen in our society.
We are saddened to have started the new year in responding to the humanitarian concerns and calls of thousands of well-wishers from across Nigeria and around the world who expressed dismay and condemnation at the violent displacement of aged women beneficiaries from a charitable welfare centre, Ile Arugbo, (Home Of The Aged) on Iloffa Road, Ilorin, Kwara State.
The anguished voices and tears of aged vulnerable old women and widows bereft of the long-standing succour of their centre of social welfare support and relief, adjacent to the Kwara State Government Civil Service Clinic where so many were sponsored for health treatment and coverage, as a philanthropic initiative established and upheld for over 40 years, by the late philanthropist Senator Dr Olusola Saraki, 2nd Republic Senate Leader and Waziri of Ilorin, were heartbreaking.
While the late Senate Leader Dr Olusola Saraki was undoubtedly a politician of strength and note, his public social responsibility as the ennobled Waziri of Ilorin underpinned the vision of late Oloye’s philanthropic structured mission of empowering care and relief, as a social inclusion pioneer, was to inspire and encourage the political will of governments to listen to women, in adopting social inclusion and welfare for the vulnerable, to scale for the public good and greater wellbeing to meet the unmet needs of the population
Ile Arugbo was demolished, razed to rubble, in the dark and early hours of January 2nd, 2020, by a militia team of the Kwara State Government, deploying bulldozers, tear gas, and explosive live ammunition – demonstrating a callous omission and disregard for the basic health and public safety requirements of a notice of demolition – shortly after a revocation of land use resolution was apparently passed by the Kwara State House of Assembly.
Chemical weapons are typically categorized as blister, nerve, choking, blood and riot-control agents, and the effects of these weapons are felt immediately upon inhalation or skin contact. Examples of chemical weapons are mustard gas, sarin, chlorine, hydrogen cyanide and tear gas.
Tear gas, a lachrymator agent colloquially known as mace, is a chemical weapon that causes severe eye and respiratory pain, skin irritation, bleeding, and blindness. In the eye, it stimulates the nerves of the lacrimal gland to produce tears.
The 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons in war. The Protocol was drawn up and signed at a conference which was held in Geneva under the auspices of the League of Nations from 4 May to 17 June 1925, and it entered into force on 8 February 1928.
As the global development community are aware, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2118 was adopted unanimously on 27 September 2013, in regard to the Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons during the Syrian civil war. The voting summary reveals that 15 voted for; none voted against; and none abstained, at meeting no: 7038, on the date of 27th September 2013. As a result, Resolution 2118 was adopted.
It is thus saddening, unfortunate, and should rightly be regrettable, that agents of the Kwara State Government deployed chemical warfare and live munitions, as a form of unprovoked violence against vulnerable and aged women of all religions, who had come together peacefully for their new year prayers.
We call for condemnation and sanction of the use of chemical weapons and live ammunition in this forceful displacement of defenceless aged women, who were not even served a demolition notice.
Finally, we call the attention of the Federal Government, the Kwara State Government, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, the Kwara State House of Assembly and all concerned indigenes of Kwara State and good citizens of Nigeria to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, on women, peace, and security, which was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on 31 October 2000, after recalling resolutions 1261, 1265, 1296, and 1314. The resolution acknowledged the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and girls. In the adoption of Resolution 1325, to which Nigeria is a voting signatory, 15 voted for; None voted against; None abstained, at Meeting no: 4,213. The result of the resolution 1325 was unanimous adoption.
We cannot stand by and watch silently as a state governor exercises powers in abuse of office, irrespective of his personal vindictive vendetta, to denigrate, disrespect and demean the dignity and rights of aged citizens who should be revered and respected as mothers of the nation.
We only hope and pray that the New Year will bring sanity, sobriety, peace, safety and more positive news to humanity, to Kwara State, the State of Harmony, and to our country Nigeria.
Segun SEGA Awosanya