Hundreds of corps members for the 2012 Batch ‘B’ yesterday besieged the Gowon House headquarters of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Abuja, seeking immediate redeployment from the northern states over fears of Boko Haram attacks.
The corps members, mainly from the South-West, South-East and South-South geo-political zones, sought immediate re-deployment from states such as Yobe, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Adamawa, Bauchi and Borno.
The impatient youths who were visibly afraid of Boko Haram attacks in the northern parts of the country declined all entreaties from workers of the NYSC to first resume at their states of posting before seeking re-deployment, which is the usual process.
“We prefer to die here instead of being killed by Boko Haram in the North”, some of them said, insisting that it was too risky to even set foot on the states.
They blocked the entrance of Gowon House, preventing movement of vehicles in and out of the premises even as a corps member said: “Let them give exemption letters, that is better than serving in Borno State”
However, Director of Mobilisation, Mrs. Mercy Kolajo, said that the corps members have to report to camp first before they could be considered for re-deployment.
According to her, redeployment can only be done in the states where they have to fill forms and not at the headquarters.
“The 2012 Batch ‘B’ prospective corps members who have collected their call-up letters from their institutions should immediately proceed to their respective orientation camps for registration and camping exercise. Whoever is interested in seeking redeployment should make a request for relocation while in camp.
“We appeal to parents to let their children go. They are going to be safe. NYSC knows what to do in the case of states with challenges”, she said.
Also, Direct of Public Relations, Mrs. Abosede Aderibigbe, added that any corps member who feels threatened has the right to apply for re-deployment, adding that loitering around the headquarters will not help.
Meanwhile, a group under the aegis of Young Journalists’ Forum, has tasked the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the Ministry of Youths Development on the security of lives of youths deployed to the ‘troubled zones’.
The forum, in a statement signed by its President, Ayodele Samuel, and Secretary, Zacheus Somorin, urged the relevant security agencies to deploy strategies and manpower that would guarantee the lives of these future leaders.
The statement read: “The NYSC remains a unifying factor in our nationhood with the primary aim of fostering national unity and not national disaster in the course of serving their nation and humanity.
“We call on all security agencies, state government and indeed all peace-loving Nigerians to partner with the commission in ensuring an absolute protection and safety of all corps members in their states.”
Also, the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) said the inability of the federal Government to arrest, prosecute and punish armed hoodlums in parts of Bauchi, Yobe and Borno states who only last year massacred more than a dozen participants of the NYSC scheme makes it a crime against humanity for the same government to deliberately deploy other sets of graduates to the volatile states in the North to be exposed to even more deadly violence.
HURIWA in a statement jointly signed by its National Coordinator and Media Affairs, Emmanuel Onwubiko and Miss Zainab Yusuf, called on government to either disband the NYSC scheme or 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.
The non-governmental organisation stated thus: “While we note that in recent years, some young Nigerian 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 the 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 Nigerian youths to be slaughtered by armed hoodlums”, HURIWA affirmed.
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