From Daniel Edem, Jane Nwaoriaku and Rosemary Asogwa, Enugu
Disturbed by the rising crises in the South East region, a coalition of women human rights groups converged on Enugu last week to preach peace.
The coalition led by the South East Human Rights Situation Room said that there was need to rise up to condemn the rising agitation in the South East before it gets out of hand.
The coalition led by Prof Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, therefore, seized the opportunity of the World Peace Day 2017 which was marked earlier last week to stage a peace rally in Enugu State.
As early as 7:00 a.m, members of the various groups that formed the coalition gathered at the popular Okpara Square from where they went round the major streets of the Enugu metropolis, preaching peace to the people before returning to their take off point. Addressing the people, Prof Ezeilo urged the members of the public, particularly the youths in the South East zone to embrace peace and shun violence.
She disclosed that the peace rally was partly informed by the unrest in the zone perpetrated by some aggrieved members of the various groups, which she said was escalating on a daily basis.
She regretted that the Operation Python Dance staged by the military in the South East has largely been misunderstood, thus their resolve to go out to the streets to campaign for peace.
Prof Ezeilo, said that the rally tagged: “Together for Peace, Respect, Safety and Dignity for All” was organized by her group in collaboration with the National Council for Women Society, National Association of Women Journalists, National Association of Women Lawyers and other coalitions.
She, therefore, called on Nigerians to embrace peace, saying that it was the only way the nation could see progress and development. She appealed to parents to advise their children to shun violence and live in peace with one another.
Her words: “This rally is in response to the escalating violence in the South East zone and some agitations that have led to security interventions, including the military. This coincides with the Operation Python Dance 2 (Egwu Eke 2), which the military personnel are carrying out in the region.
“At first, the intentions of the military were not well known until they came out to declare their aim. Our role is to moderate and build a better military-civilian relationship, and a better and responsive security sector. We all came together as a coalition to monitor, observe and sensitize the public and to urge the youths to shun violence and embrace peace because we believe that war impedes peace and development.
“We believe also in justice, fairness and human rights. We want to see a Nigeria that is inclusive and represents the interest of everyone.”
Prof. Ezeilo also called on parents to teach their children peace just as she urged the public to cooperate with the military deployed to the region to carry out specific functions aimed at ensuring the smooth running of the country.
“If you see the military at any checkpoint, co-operate with them and answer the questions you are meant to answer. You cannot challenge the military personnel. We all came from a family and I believe they have human feelings in them. Respect is reciprocal. Other nations stand up whenever they see their military because they know that the military are ready to lay down their lives for them,” she said.
She also charged the military to respect their code of conduct and human rights while carrying out their duties.
Also speaking, Mrs Maureen Atuonwu of NAWOJ charged the people to work for peace, saying that women are the worst hit in the event of any war.
“As a woman, we are the ones that bear the brunt of war. Whatever violence that happens in this country, women suffer, children suffer and the youth too suffer. So, as a woman and a mother, I am begging our fellow women to talk to their children. Let us call our children to order so that they can shun violence and allow peace to reign,” she said..
Mrs Atuonwu also called on everyone in the country to shun violence, adding that war disrupts peace and destroys lives and property of the people in the country.