Friday, 3 May 2013

DECLARATION ON GOVERNANCE AND SECURITY IN THE SOUTH EAST ZONE




“THE OWERRI DECLARATION”
____________________________________________

The South East Summit on Security and Governance drawing participants from civil society organizations, community based organizations, town unions, government agencies, religious bodies, academics, and the media was held at Owerri, Imo State from 23 to 24 April 2013, under the auspices of CLEEN Foundation, in collaboration with Nigeria Governors’ Forum and National Human Rights Commission. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and the Chairman of the Governing Council, National Human Rights Commission, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu; addressed the Summit.

The Summit:
Recognizing that security is a broad concept that covers physical protection and human well-being as individuals and communities, and that the level of security is defined by the quality of governance among other factors;

Noting that the South East Zone is facing a security crisis, to which governments in the zone must be more pro-active and responsive by addressing the needs of citizens and the growing poverty among the people;

Observing that State governments in Nigeria are faced with constitutional constraints that limit their control of the police and other security agencies.  Thus, in recent times, governments in the South East Zone have struggled to meet their primary responsibility to secure lives, livelihoods and the well being of the people of the Zone;

Further observing that this crisis of public security has led to increasing mistrust between people and public security institutions, leading to increasing communalization, commercialization and privatization of security in the Zone;

Recalling that many studies of the South East Zone have demonstrated that there is an increasing marginalization of women socially, economically, and politically, and rising victimization and violence against women even in homes contrary to Nigeria’s domestic laws and international obligations;

Further noting that there is a progressive de-industrialization and slow pace of new investments in the South East Zone due to the hostile business environment that exists in the Zone;

Acknowledging that the deteriorating security situation in many states of the South East Zone has deterred inflow of remittances, human capital, new investments, tourism and the economy built around cultural events such as traditional weddings, burials and annual diaspora homecoming;

Recognizing that there is growing displacement of people of South East origin and other Nigerians as a result of conflicts and government policies, such as the urban renewal programmes, in many parts of Nigeria;

Realizing that community governance institutions and structures in the South East Zone have been weakened, resulting in their inability to play any major role in governance and crime prevention; and

Further realizing the neglect of the South East Zone in the selection of focal states for development assistance, and the low presence of national civil society groups in the Zone;

Hereby issues the following declaration for the improvement of the quality of governance and security in the South East Zone of Nigeria:

1.      Election management bodies, the legislature, the judiciary and the anti-corruption agencies should live up to their constitutional mandate of conducting free and credible election, checking abuse of power, and fighting corruption.

2.      All governments in Nigeria, security agencies, and communities have a fundamental responsibility to adequately protect the people of South East Zone and indeed all Nigerians living outside their States of origin.

3.      Governments in the South East Zone should arrest the growing victimization and violence against women, and implement their obligations under Nigerian law and international standards, particularly regarding political participation and economic empowerment of women. Governments and Civil Society Organizations should engage traditional institutions to develop standards for the effective protection of women.

4.      Governments of the South East Zone should put in place sustainable programmes of youth development and empowerment that would dissuade the youths from involvement in crimes.

5.      Governments of the South East States should improve the business environment in the Zone by reducing the cost of doing business, including elimination of bottlenecks in land acquisition and multiple taxation, as well as protect the informal sector of the economy.

6.      Governments of the Southeast should improve the security environment and take measures to reassure indigenes of the zone visiting home and other Nigerians that their security is guaranteed. Entrepreneurs of South East origin are particularly encouraged to establish businesses in the Zone.

7.      Forced evictions without compensation and displacement and victimization resulting from conflicts constitute gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. The Summit declares that urban renewal programmes should be implemented according to international standards and with a human face, and that persons displaced by conflicts should be properly resettled and compensated.

8.      Government in the South East should promote the participation of citizens and citizen's groups in governance, particularly in local governance. Citizens should demand and claim their rights to participate in governance at all levels.

9.      Government should adequately provide for public security, particularly in terms of establishment of more police formations, deployment, equipping, and provision of welfare to police officers, as well as monitoring and supervision of the police officers.

10.  Development partners, National Planning Commission and National civil society groups have an obligation to ensure an even spread of development assistance and presence across the country. Therefore, they should increase their programmes in the South East Zone.

The following are signatories to this Declaration:
1.      CLEEN Foundation
2.      National Human Rights Commission
3.      Nigeria Governors’ Forum

4.      Women Initiative For Peace and Good Governance
5.      Centre For Human Development
6.      Development Education and Advocacy Resources for Africa Initiative
7.      Integrated Anti-Human Traffiking and Community Development Initiative Africa
8.      Agape Foundation for Literacy and Rural Development
9.      Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development
10.      Nigerian Electric Regulatory Commission
11.      Association of Anambra Town Union
12.      Life Care Outreach
13.      Human Right, Justice and Peace Foundation
14.      Community Health and Development Initiative
15.      Habit Care and Protection Inititiative
16.      SERI
17.      Association for Youth Developement
18.      Legal Defence and Assistance Project
19.      President General Women Wing Ahiazu
20.      SOROPTIMIST
21.      Imo Town Unions
22.      Development Dynamics
23.      State \Police Hqtrs. Owerri
24.      Citizens Centre for Intergrated Development and Social Rights
25.      OCDA, Afikpo
26.      Centre for the Advancement of Literacy and Leadership

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