The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CCSOs) on Wednesday staged protests in the streets of Abuja to express their displeasure with what they described as the ‘continuous and illegal’ slaughter and exploitation of donkeys by foreign nationals resident in the country.
They said the “heinous act” has continued despite orders by the Federal Government and the National Assembly.
Speaking during the rally, leaders of the coalition, Barr. Emmanuel Onwudiwe and Comrade (Engr) Ogwuche Emmanuel, said: “You would recall that Muhammed Buhari GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Grand Commander of the Armed Forces, on the 21st of March, 2022, after a Federal Executive Council Meeting, issued a directive that foreigners are not permitted to directly go into the forest and engage in direct purchase and slaughter of Donkeys,” the statement said.
“This memorandum was duly forwarded to all the relevant stakeholders in the Agro Business, including the Ministry of Agriculture.
“Our dear President who has unmistakable good intentions for the growth and development of the federal republic of Nigeria, also caused a committee, under the chairmanship of Suleiman Audu, to be inaugurated with the specific mandate of enforcing the ban on foreigners from directly purchasing farm products from farm gates.
“It is therefore inexcusable that the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Mohamed Mahmood Abubakar has allegedly continued to give tacit approval to Chinese nationals to go into the forest and deal directly in these businesses against the direct orders of the President of the federal republic of Nigeria, and in flagrant disregard of our sovereignty.
“We have pictorial evidence of these Chinese Nationals directly and blatantly going into the farm gates to deal directly with these businesses against the directives of the president.
“A minister is an appointee of the president and the Interpretation Act is clear that he who appoints can suspend. It is therefore shocking that a Minister, an appointee of the President, can so brazenly go against direct orders of the President without attracting any severe consequences.
“The continued silence of the Presidency over this declaration of war against the directives of the president by an appointee of his is a threat to our democracy, sovereignty and rule of law.
“There is no doubt that more appointees seeing that no serious action is taken against recalcitrant Mahmood, will employ similar crude measures to demean the exalted office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in pursuit of selfish ends.
“This action of the minister also makes our sovereignty susceptible to foreign interference. Ladies and gentlemen, as patriotic Nigerians, who are abreast with the sad development in Angola during the 1970s when the then President of the country, Dr Agostinho Neto had no powers over the waters of Angola, have resolved resolutely to rally other patriotic Nigerians in ensuring that our sovereignty remains solemn and not desecrated.
“It is unthinkable that the President of a sovereign country like Angola would lose the right over the waters of his own independent country to the then Soviet Union which determined and issued licenses to companies that carried out fishing activities in the waters of Angola.
“This antecedent of aggressive invasion of the sovereignty of independent African countries by foreign interests has informed our decision to alert well-meaning Nigerians on the likely replication of the Angola situation on our country by China, in connivance with some unpatriotic elements in the Buhari administration.”
The CSOs also raised an alarm over the “actions of the quarantine which has continued to use its platform to secure the release of all arrested Chinese nationals during the implementation of the Presidential directives”.
The groups, therefore, urged relevant authorities to immediately commence a thorough investigation into the allegations that quarantine collected several millions of naira from Chinese nationals to secure their illegal release.
According to them, “donkey slaughter and exportation has no doubt become a juicy economic platform that is capable of injecting N60billion into the Nigerian economy by way of direct investment and is also capable of getting over 250,000 Nigerians direct and indirect employment. The economic potential of the sector can only be fully harnessed if the sector is well-regulated to serve Nigeria’s best interest. During this period when the country‘s economy is in a near meltdown, we expected the government of the day to take advantage of this economic-promising sector to make a strong case for the revitalization of our economy and also allow it to serve as a rallying point for the mitigation of the skyrocketing unemployment rate in the country”.
The protesters urged Nigerians to be vigilant and add their voices to this patriotic call to safeguard our hard-earned sovereignty and uphold the territorial integrity of Nigeria with jealousy.
The reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari got a boost on Thursday as over 300 leading civil society organizations declared their support for his second term in office.