We heard it last during the heydays of Donald Rumsfeld under George Bush – and judge in what condition it has left that part of the world, and beyond. Rumsfeld’s namesake – a sobering coincidence – also spat the same gung-ho rhetoric. That Donald once ordered his uniformed forces to “go out there” and “dominate the environment”, following civilian protests at extra-judicial killings of blacks by state police. Soon enough, leaving nothing to chance, that Donald II seized on the first opportunity to personally mobilize a mob to “dominate” Capitol Hill, his own seat of government that was clearly slipping from his control.
Optimists are free to underplay that threat to the much-acclaimed democratic beacon. Study that scenario carefully however, and you find It is not a question of: it could never have succeeded. Such surmises are wrong, It COULD HAVE SUCCEEDED, albeit with unpredictable consequences for America and the world. And so, when the elected head of a democratic state like Nigeria, not perched precariously on the knife edge of power but with a couple more years in the kitty, threatens to “shock” dissidents, we should indeed be shocked out of any complacency. Even if History has been deliberately eliminated from the school’s curriculum, Memory suffices to jerk us into a watchful, precautionary alert.
I hold no brief for those who resort to burning down police stations, slaughter their occupants simply for the crime of earning a measly monthly pittance, torch electoral offices, assassinate politicians in calculated effort to set sections of the country against others in the promotion of their own political goals. These are largely nihilists, psychopaths and/or criminal lords, soul mates of Boko Haram, ISWAP, Da’esh and company, not to be confused with genuine liberators. All over the world, throughout history, elections are denounced, boycotted, and generally delegitimized without recourse to wanton butchery.
When, however, a Head of State threatens to “shock” civilian dissidents, to “deal with them in the language they understand”, and in a context that conveniently brackets opposition to governance with any bloodthirsting enemies of state, we have to call attention to the precedent language of such a national leader under even more provocative, nation disintegrative circumstances. What a pity, and what a tragic setting, to discover that this language was accessible all the time to President Buhari, where and when it truly mattered, when it would have been not only appropriate, but deserved and mandatory! When Benue was first massively brought under siege, with the massacre of innocent citizens, the destruction of farms, mass displacement followed by alien occupation, Buhari’s language – both as utterance and as what is known as “body language” – was of a totally different temper. It was diffident, conciliatory, even apologetic. After much internal pressure, he eventually visited the scene of slaughter. His language? Learn to live peacefully with your neighbours. The expected language, rationally and legitimately applied to the aggressors, was exactly what we now hear – “I shall shock you. I shall deal with you in the language you understand”. That language was missing at the moment that mattered most. It remained “missing in action” for years until a belated “Shoot at sight” outburst. Too late, and of course, inappropriately phrased. The precedent had been set, the genie let out of the bottle, consolidating a culture of impunity that predictably spread its bloody stain all over the nation.
Buhari’s recent deployment of this language is thus wrongly targeted, and tragically untimely. Even while he was threatening dissidents, an agenda of both secessionism and alien occupation was taking place not too distant from Aso Rock. ISWAP was taking over the already excised territories of Shekau’s Boko Haram, appointing new warlords of the occupational forces, sectioning Nigeria into vassal states and unfurling their replacement flags of domination. Soon, logically, ISWAP’s letters of diplomatic accreditation will be presented in Aso Rock?
We must however backtrack a little – that is the function of memory. It would be false to suggest that these eggs of impunity are newly laid. They have been incubating in loathsome hatcheries of power and domination for years, even decades, and now the raptors have been hatched and taken wings. The political culture of the devil’s bargain, of denial, evasion, avoidance of constitutional mandates, the culture of “appeasement of the unappeasable” – to quote myself – in order to gratify the vested interests of a narrow, power obsessed elite has blossomed. Finally, the chickens have come home to roost.
The evocation of the Civil War, where millions of civilians perished, is an unworthy emotive ploy that has run its course. In any case – and this has been voiced all too often, and loudly – the nation is already at war, and of a far more potentially devastating dimension than it has ever known. Every single occupant of this nation space called Nigeria has been declared potential casualty, children being pushed to the very battlefront, without a semblance of protective cover. We have betrayed the future. We need no breast beating about past wars. The world has moved on, so have nations. Some, however, prefer to move backwards. The continent is full of these atavists. In Nigeria, powerful cliques of this persuasion still roam the corridors of power We are indeed at war. It does not take the formal declaration of hostilities, with or without lethal bombardments, for a nation to find itself shell-shocked. The populace of this nation is already in that shell-shocked condition. So, what is there left to shock? It is time to think “outside the box”. That many, in so doing, find no landing place except dissolution, is not a crime. It is not peculiar to any peoples, and is embedded in the ongoing history of many, and not only on this continent. It is their natural right as free citizens, not slaves of habit and indoctrination. Where disillusion rides high, sentiment tumbles earthwards, and the only question becomes: what can be salvaged? It thus remains the responsibility of leadership to persuade them, through both discourse and remedial action, that there are other options. Attempted bullying is not a language of discourse, nor the facile ploy of tarring all birds with the same feather.
I shall end on a personal note. It was not intended but, in view of breast thumping rhetoric by one president after the other over military sacrifice – undeniable, certainly – such recalls should be considered salutary.
The Rome Statute is the international treaty that founded the International Criminal Court. Comprising of 13 Parts, it establishes the governing framework for the Court. Adopted at the Rome Conference on 17th July 1998, it came into force on 1st July 2002, thereby creating the International Criminal Court.
The Statute sets out the Court’s jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and – as of an amendment in 2010 – the crime of aggression.
Nigeria has ratified the Statute, thus making the Nigerian State and non-State actors subject to the jurisdiction of ICC. The Nigerian State means its President and his appointees, especially the heads of the security agencies, their commanders, officers and the other ranks under them. It also includes Governors and all personnels working under their authority, directly or indirectly.
Among other things, the International Criminal Court was created to end impunity for perpetrators of genocide or crimes against humanity and it’s easily implicated wherever the perpetrators are the same as the persons officially saddled with the responsibility of protecting their victims. An example will include where State actors are known to have issued orders that directly or indirectly led to extrajudicial killings or other inhumane treatment.
The Statute defines genocide, in pertinent part, as including the killings or causing serious bodily or mental harm to an ethnic or national group with the intent to destroy them in whole or in part. If other elements are met, genocide becomes easier to prove when the perpetrator is of a different ethnicity from his victims. Nigeria is a tinderbox because of its many ethnicities and the genocidal tendencies that have been driving some of its officials in the implementation of security operations when it comes to a particular ethnicity.
Crimes against humanity include the widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population through murder, extermination, torture, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law. Included also is persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, ethnic or religious grounds universally recognized as impermissible under international law.
This is where Nigerian State actors need to be very circumspect when dealing with proponents of self determination because self determination is a political opinion clearly recognized under international law.
No government official enjoys immunity from ICC prosecution for genocide or crimes against humanity and there is no statute of limitation. In plain terms, neither the Nigerian Constitution or its sovereignty, nor the passage of time will protect you. Just imagine how long it took to nab Charles Taylor.
Under the Statute, commanders and superiors are saddled with special criminal responsibilities. In particular, a military or police commander, de jure or de facto, is criminally responsible for crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction if committed by forces under his effective control or authority.
Within purview also are crimes caused by neglecting to exercise proper control over forces under him where the commander either knew or should have known that the forces were committing or soon to commit such crimes and the commander neglected to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his power to prevent them or to submit the matter to the competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.
If the commander or superior officer is the one directly suborning the crime, such as in the case of Slobodan Milošević or Charles Taylor, the elements of the offense are met without more. Suborning the crime includes issuing direct orders to “shot to kill or shoot at sight”.
And for junior officers or other ranks, superior orders are not defenses to genocide or crimes against humanity. This means that when your superior officer orders you to “kill them all”, think twice before pulling that trigger.
The ICC Prosecutor shall initiate an investigation of alleged genocide or crimes against humanity upon receipt and evidentiary evaluation of information that provides a reasonable basis for the allegation.
On December 11, 2020, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has been investigating Nigeria for crimes that implicate the Rome Statute, made the following findings, amongst others:
‘Following a thorough process, I can announce today that the statutory criteria for opening an investigation into the situation in Nigeria have been met. Specifically, we have found a reasonable basis to believe that members of the Nigerian Security Forces have committed the following acts constituting crimes against humanity and war crimes: murder, rape, torture and cruel treatment; enforced disappearance; outrages upon personal dignity; intentionally directing attacks against civilian population and against individual civilians; unlawful imprisonment; persecution on political grounds; and other inhumane acts’.
Anybody who has been observing Nigeria since late 2015 would easily discern that some of the evidence examined by the ICC Chief Prosecutor included the killings at Nkpor in Anambra State, the night vigil killings in Aba, Abia State, the Onitsha head bridge killings, the killings issuing from Python Dance at Afaraukwu, Abia State and in which IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu nearly lost his life and lately the August 2020 Enugu massacre and the killing of EndSARS protesters in October 2020 in Lagos.
It’s instructive that these killings occurred from the inception of the present administration and State actors were implicated from the lowest rungs to the very top. The evidence, including visuals, is legion and unassailable. So, your guess as to who might ultimately be charged before the ICC is as good as mine. For now, the jury is still out on their identities because the developing indictment is as yet under seal.
Meanwhile, after December 2020, there have been more killings, woundings, torture and rape, including particularly at Obigbo and other locations in Rivers State and the Southeast, and lately the killings that have occurred and still occurring in the wake of the current security operations in Eastern Nigeria, code-named Operation Restore Peace which – in its implementation – is beginning to look like a misnomer.
In the midst of all these, it will be naive and foolhardy for Nigerian State actors (Federal, State and local) to believe that the ICC is not keeping tabs and building a stronger case from the quantum credible evidence mined from the many petitions streaming in from various sources.
So, for what’s worth, this humble piece is an early warning to all Nigerian officials who are – directly or indirectly – involved in any extrajudicial killings or other inhumane treatments that appear to be the order of the day in this era.
“Yes. I played a prominent role in Biafra for the unity of the country in order to restore peace and bring about unity of the country. That’s the role I played. I advised Ojukwu. I said well look, you have declared secession. What we should do is to get the elder statesmen and women of the nation to reconcile you and Gowon.
I said by declaring secession, you get so many people who do not believe you to remain there. You see all of us were interned. As we were interned then, we couldn’t express our own views as we see it because, he made Decree Number 5 which vested absolute powers in himself and if you were against his views, it then constituted an act of subversion and the penalty was death by shooting. Well, it was a war-time measure and that is understandable. So, I advised him. I said go to the conference table and iron out your differences. Allow elder statesmen and elder stateswomen to bring the two of you to the conference table and settle this matter so that there will no more be civil war and the country may be united. He agreed. But Gowon was advised by the Ministry of External Affairs to insist on pre-conditions. That is that before he could negotiate with the secessionists, that they must accept certain terms; accept the 12-state structure and all. So, it was quite obvious that the Federal Government wanted Biafra to come to the conference table with their hands tied and their feet tied. But they won’t be free agents. That was the diplomatic mistake on the part of the Federal Government. So, when they did that, then Lt- Col. Ojukwu told me, “How can I go to the conference table based on these ultimatums?”
Still I advised Ojukwu to go to the OAU and ask them to use their good offices to settle the dispute and that we should avoid loss of lives. He accepted my advice in good faith. Then he said, ‘Now, you have some heads of state in Africa who are your friends, would you mind going to appeal to them to use their good offices so that the Nigerian civil war could be an item on the agenda for OAU summit in Kinshasa?’ I said I would gladly go. So he sent me to Monrovia as a peace envoy. I went there and met my friend, President Tubman. Tubman expressed his willingness to use his good offices. He told me he would see another mutual friend, the late Haile Sellassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, and both of them would see that the civil war was placed as first item on the agenda of the OAU Summit in Kinshasa. I returned and broke the news to Ojukwu. He was very pleased.
Then, when the OAU summit opened, Chief Awolowo, as Vice-Chairman of the Federal Executive Council and Commissioner for Finance, led a strong Nigerian delegation to Kinshasa and raised a very strong objective on the Nigerian civil war being placed as an item on the agenda on the grounds that according to the OAU Charter, this was a domestic affairs and member states were precluded from interfering in the domestic affairs of each other, which was really sound according to international law. But we wanted to solve it in the African way, to use mediation and conciliation to bring two warring brothers together. The OAU accepted the submission of Chief Awolowo and so it was not put into the agenda. Well, history will show now between Chief Awolowo and myself, who actually accentuated the war. I was trying to get the OAU to settle the dispute so they could go to the conference table and he was thinking of legalism, that it would amount to interference in the domestic affairs of a member-state. But meanwhile here you have two brothers killing each other.
Well, Ojukwu told me, I have done my best. You see, Nigeria was relying on law and we are relying on humanity. What’s next? I said why not try other heads of states and see what could be done to bring about peace? He then said he left the initiative with me. I suggested going to some heads of state and see what can be done. But his advisers led by Dr. Nwakama Okoro suggested recognition. That if we can get other states to recognize Biafra, maybe the hands of Nigeria may be forced to go to the conference table. Well, I thought that was a sound idea and I placed my services at their disposal so as to meet my friends. We had in mind President Senghor of Senegal, President Houphouet Boigny of Ivory Coast, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, President Milton Obote of Uganda, President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and of course Francois Bongo, he is now Omar. He now has become a Muslim. He was then a Christian. The long and short of it all was that I and these great African statesmen agreed that if Gowon persisted with pre-conditions, then they would accord recognition to force the hands of Gowon to go to the conference table and bring about peace. That was one.
Two, Gowon had already predicted that the war would end on March 31 and as far as these African statesmen were concerned, these killings and atrocities did not do any credit to the image of Africa and as such what should be done was to stop it as soon as possible. Therefore if the war didn’t end by March 31, then the propaganda of ‘Biafra’ that it was an act of genocide would be justified. And they didn’t want to accept that. I went on this mission and succeeded in persuading these heads of state to agree to give recognition just to force the hands of Nigeria, diplomatically speaking, to the conference table.
President Senghor said he couldn’t because the majority of his supporters were Muslims and rightly or wrongly they felt it was a religious war. And he said well, if he granted recognition, then his government would fall. But he supported the idea of forcing the hands of Nigeria to the conference table. Houphouet Boigny was prepared, provided his people backed him. Ditto for the others except Milton Obote who told us that Prince Mutesa and the Bagandans wanted to secede and he couldn’t support secession when his own state was confronted with similar problems. It left four of them. That is, President Nyerere, Houphouet Boigny, Kaunda and Bongo. They agreed on the understanding that the war did not end by March 31, 1968 and pre-conditions would be removed to make it easy for both Ojukwu and Gowon to go to conference table.
So they granted recognition and it worked like magic because immediately after this, Dr. Okoi Arikpo, who must be presumed to be responsible for this diplomatic blunder (he was the Commissioner for External Affairs]—a good man no doubt, but he is a very poor diplomat in my own humble opinion – announced to the outside world that Nigeria would no longer insist on pre-conditions and that he was prepared for conference table but the war did not end on March 31 and so, they left the impression, you see, that Nigeria wanted to annihilate the Ibos. You noticed the Soviets gave Nigeria more arms and Nigeria used those arms to destroy the secessionists. Here, I came in again and I advised Ojukwu. I said look since Gowon has withdrawn the pre-conditions, go to the conference table and argue the points so as to pave way for a peace conference. It was agreed that they should meet in Niamey. I advised Ojukwu to go. Again Gowon was ill-advised so he couldn’t come.
At Niamey here was Ojukwu. I was on his side. Gowon wasn’t there but Haile Sellassie, Hamani Diori, Tubman and General Akran were there representing OAU. So, I told Ojukwu, I said now you have an upper hand. These respected leaders of the OAU were there. I had briefed Ojukwu. I said ‘look your line of approach is to express appreciation for what the OAU was doing in order to maintain peace in Africa but you were prepared to co-operate and you are leaving the whole matter in the hands of the OAU to see what could be done to bring an earlier cessation of hostilities. I said just say that and thank them and sit down. Now Gowon didn’t attend. He sent a junior man, I think Alhaji Femi Okunnu or so, to represent him. And they didn’t even attend this conference at which the four heads of state presided. It was only the Biafran side. So Ojukwu won a diplomatic victory and you know Ojukwu is a very good speaker if you give him all the facts. He was a good public relations expert and he won. He said, ‘well if Gowon was sincere why did he spite such great men and didn’t attend?’ That worked.
They agreed that Nigeria could be contacted so that we have a peace conference in Addis Ababa. It was a diplomatic victory for Biafra and so we returned to Biafra highly elated. And Ojukwu insisted that I should accompany him to Addis Ababa. Then something happened. Some of his advisers felt that I was becoming a victim of compromise and that I was a bad influence. That all I was trying to do was to make Biafra impotent. They told Ojukwu that Biafra was holding its own militarily. And why should we want a peace conference? That he should be very, very careful with me, especially as an Onitsha man because they thought that I was using him as a means to give publicity for myself internationally and that time will come when people will look more to me than to himself.
Well, as a young man, human, he fell for such flattery. I don’t want to mention all the names, but particularly influential in swinging his opinion at that material time was Mr. C. C. Mojekwu, who was based in Lisbon. Then Mr. Matthew Mbu was our Commissioner for External Affairs and he himself did as much as possible, but then he realized that he was having someone who has power of life and death over everybody. So, we went to Addis Ababa and on the night before the conference, Matthew came to my bedroom at about 10 in the night. He said, “Do you know that all we have done, this man is going to undo them tomorrow?’ I said ‘No’. Then he brought out a printed version of a long speech. The world press said it lasted for 90 minutes.
He [Ojukwu] went back on everything we discussed. He attacked the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union – all the nations of the world and the OAU, and said that they were misleading us and that the sovereignty of ‘Biafra’ was not negotiable. We went to the conference. I sat next to him. I thought that he was going to speak in accordance with the spirit of Niamey. But he spoke for 90 minutes and he just got the whole place upside down. Naturally Tony Enahoro – he led the Nigerian delegation – replied in kind and so we were back to square one. So, when we returned, I advised him. I told him that I was surprised at what he did but it was not late. He said, ‘The sovereignty of Biafra is not negotiable and if anybody should try to compromise that sovereignty, then it will be an act of subversion.’ Well, that was quite clear to me so I said, ‘Your Excellency, you still have Port Harcourt and you can still bargain from position of strength – after all, the main issue in the civil war is oil and they say that in international politics, oil is combustible and as you have a combustible situation you can begin from the position of strength’. He said, ‘No, Port Harcourt is impregnable.’ ‘Very well, Your Excellency,’ I said. I went back to Nekede where I had been in protective custody since February, 1968.
Two weeks later, Port Harcourt fell. He sent for me. I said, ‘Well, Your Excellency, I did warn you. You cannot now negotiate from a position of strength but having received recognition from four states, we can still use them to see what we can do to appeal to the outside world.’ He said, ‘Very well, I think you should go to the United Nations to seek for recognition.’ I said, ‘Your Excellency, let us wait until after OAU summit in Algiers and find out what Africa thinks.’ In the meantime, I went to Tunisia to see my friend Habeeb Bourguiba of Tunisia. He wasn’t quite well, so we moved from Carthage to Hermit where he stayed. Ojukwu had always said the civil war would be won on the battlefield and not on the conference table, and Bourguiba didn’t take kindly to that. He said don’t you people advise this young man? I explained to him that I have done everything I could to advise him, but he insists on going to the battle field. So we crossed our fingers awaiting the verdict of Algiers. You know it was decided by 33 to 4 in favour of Nigeria. I advised Ojukwu that to go to the United Nations to seek recognition would be unrealistic since Africa had decided by 33 to 4 in favour of Nigeria. I said Nigerian envoys, the Nigerian delegations, would just percolate the membership of the United Nations and they would frown at the whole thing. He insisted. I was then in Paris. I wrote him a letter. I said, ‘Since you refuse to go to the conference table to negotiate for peace, since you prefer that the civil war should end on the battle field and not on the conference table; since you said that the sovereignty of Biafra is not negotiable, I am afraid I cannot continue as a peace envoy because you have destroyed all the vestiges of any optimism for peace. Therefore I am relieving myself of my services as a peace envoy. I cannot continue as a peace envoy. I cannot continue as a peace envoy because you have let me down. You left me under the impression that if I succeeded in getting recognition you will go to the conference table. You got four recognitions; you did not go to the conference table.
I am therefore going to London on exile.’ I went to London in voluntary exile and the British government granted me asylum. I do not see how anybody could say that I ran away from my country. I crossed the Atlantic 46 times, trying to negotiate with various heads of state so that they could grant recognition or make OAU to settle the dispute. How could the head of state turn round now and accuse all those who were politicians in pre-1966 and post-1966 as being responsible for the downfall of the republic? I did my best to preserve the unity of Nigeria and also to preserve the lives of old men, able-bodied men and women and children but I failed. What could I do? I went on free exile and they keep saying that I was among those responsible for the downfall of the republic. I plead not guilty”.
(Excerpts from the interview Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe granted to New Nigerian Newspapers, 1979, as Presidential aspirant under the platform of Nigerian People’s Party.
Femi Fani-Kayode, former Aviation Minister, has charged ex-military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon to apologise to Nigerians over the killings of Igbos during the Biafra civil war.
Fani-Kayode explained that he can’t celebrate with Gowon who turned 85 over the weekend due to killing of three million people of the South East during the Biafra civil war, hence the need to apologise to Igbos.
In a series of tweets, the chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said Nigeria must also apologise to Igbos due to the Biafra war.
According to Fani-Kayode, Nigeria would never progress until it apologises to people of the South East.
He wrote: “When the real history of the country is written the role of Gowon and the other Nigerian commanders during the civil war will be put in proper perspective.
“The slaughter of 3 million Biafran civilians in that war is the greatest act of black on black genocide in human history.
“I cannot celebrate the birth of a man who presided over such carnage and neither can I describe him as a hero.
“Nigeria cannot make much progress or truly prosper until she apologises to the Igbo and Biafrans for the great evil that we visited upon them during the civil war.”
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Following the outrage generated in the social media by a hateful remark by one Mr Alaba Ajibola, who claims to be a staff of the prestigious private university, Babcock University has distanced itself from the said fellow.
The remark on his Facebook wall that ” the Igbo should have been wiped out during the Biafra-Nigeria civil war” caused outrage that went viral on the social media and attracted the attention of the university and they had to make a disclaimer.
The only serious issue still pondering many readers is that the young man in question still has on his social media accounts profile that he is still the staff of Babcock University.
The attention of Babcock University has been drawn to a story titled”Babcock University staff goes on a rant; Says Igbos Should Have Been Wiped Out During the Biafran War”.
The story is credited to one Alaba Ajibola.
This is to inform the public that the said Ajibola is neither a staff of Babcock University nor does he represent the University in any way whatsoever. The said Ajibola was once a staff of the Institution but his engagement with the University in that capacity ceased long ago. There is no longer any relationship, whether imagined or real, between the said Ajibola and Babcock University. Therefore, the University dissociates itself from him and his comments.
Babcock University’s pride is in its diversity of people and cultures. It is a global institution, and accommodates people, without bias, from every continent of the world. This confers upon the University its mark of uniqueness and identity as a global brand. The Institution celebrates the diversity of humanity because it gives a sense of beauty, and an acknowledgement of the power of God, the creator of all.
Babcock University values every and all persons irrespective of creed, culture, race, religion, and political persuasions.
The noble achievements of the University have been made possible by the contributions of the exceptionally gifted and immensely great individuals from the different parts of this country, and those from other nations of the world, who have found joy working in the University.
Whereas Babcock University believes in freedom of expression, and places premium on autonomy and responsibility, it is never supportive and does not wish to accede to any divisive tendencies intentionally or unintentionally couched, and are capable of inflaming the embers of discord or potentially devised to dismember the nation.
The University wishes to thank members of the public for their continued faith in the Institution, and for believing in it as socially responsible.
The University will continue to promote love, unity, excellence, integrity and accountability in all it does.
Director, Communication and Marketing, Babcock University, Ogun State, Nigeria.
In this photo provided by the United Nations, members of the United Nations Security Council vote at the United Nations headquarters on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, in favour of condemning Israel for its practice of establishing settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. In a striking rupture with past practice, the U.S. allowed the vote, not exercising its veto. (Manuel Elias/The United Nations via AP)
The Special Representative of UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, has expressed concern over the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria.
According to him, the conflicts, which are more pronounced in the Middle Belt region, were becoming “more sophisticated and deadlier.”
Mr Chambas, who is Head, UN Office for West African and the Sahel (UNOWAS), in a report presented to the UN Security Council, said the violence was a major security threat in the region, warning that it risks changing into terrorist attacks.
“Violence between farmers and herders is increasingly a major security threat in the region and risks morphing into the terrorist attacks that have defined the security landscape.
“Farmer-herder conflicts are becoming more sophisticated and deadlier, especially in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.
“During four days in June, new spates of attacks and retribution killings between herders and farmers in this region resulted in scores of deaths,’’ the UN envoy said.
In the Lake Chad Basin, Mr Chambas said in spite of gains made by the Nigerian armed forces and the Multinational Joint Task Force, Boko Haram remained active.
According to the UN envoy for West Africa and the Sahel: “The trend of Boko Haram, using female suicide bombers continue, and reportedly almost one in five suicide bombers is a child. The most recent attacks on a Nigerian military garrison in Yobe and the ambush of a military convoy in Borno are the latest manifestations of the threats still posed by Boko Haram.
“There is a need for increased support to diplomatic, security and humanitarian responses to Boko Haram, in a holistic manner.
“To this end, UNOWAS is providing technical support for a joint summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), on July 30, as called for by Security Council resolution 2349 (2017).”
He explained that the severe depletion of Lake Chad had led to environmental degradation, socioeconomic marginalisation and insecurity for 45 million people.
According to him, an estimated 2.3 million people remain displaced by the aggregate effects of insecurity and climate change.
He appealed to member states to support the humanitarian response to the Lake Chad crisis, which remains critically underfunded and revitalisation of the Lake Chad Basin.
“Let me stress that any military response to security challenges in the region needs to be matched by the implementation of comprehensive strategies linking security and humanitarian interventions to development and human rights initiatives.
“There is also need to increase our collective efforts to address the challenges facing the Sahel region with actions that combine politics, security and development,’’ Chambas stressed.
He said the period under review saw an upsurge in popular discontent in the region manifested through often violent demonstrations calling for political and economic reforms.
“The sometimes violent conduct of security forces, notably in dealing with popular demonstrations, has also fuelled political tensions.
“Commitment by countries of the region and support from the international community will be key to ensuring the effectiveness and accountability of security sector institutions as part of broader security sector reform efforts. Several countries continue to struggle with justice, national reconciliation and human rights challenges. Among those is the concerning number of high-profile arrests, judicial prosecutions and convictions against political and civil society actors,’’ he said. (The Sun)
Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja; Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Former minister of Health, Prof. Alphonsus B. C. Nwosu has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon ordered the Nigerian Army to be soft on Biafrans during the 1967-1970 civil war.
Prof. Nwosu said the president should spare Ndigbo his memory of the war and that he did not understand the basis of the president’s claims that the war was not brutal when over three million Igbo children were starved to death.
The former political adviser to former president Olusegun Obasanjo stressed that a war that every family lost a valuable provider and the Asaba massacre could not be said to be less brutal.
He remind the president that a Red Cross plane, which was to supply food to starving Igbo children, was shot down at Uli, in present Anambra State, by Nigerian soldiers, and that the late co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, renounced Christianity because of the killings, among other atrocious things perpetrated against the South East during the war.
“A war where bombs exploded in markets, every family lost valued providers, Asaba massacre took place and a Colombian rights activist had to burn himself in protest against atrocious things taking place against Ndigbo cannot be said to be one where Nigerian soldiers were lenient on Biafrans.
“It was a war which every Igbo, with proper Igbo DNA would not want to remember,” Nwosu said and expressed surprise that the president did not consider the sensitivity of the matter and the telling effect his claim would have on the people of the South East.
He said: “Ndigbo have moved on, in spite of the war. In due time, the accurate accounts of the war, as recorded by the participant,s shall be released.”
Nwosu tasked the president to focus on building a “just, fair and restructured Nigeria that works for all Nigerians and not for some Nigerians only,” rather than delving into issues which touch on Igbo sensibility.
Meanwhile, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has faulted the president’s comments on the civil war.
IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said that most Biafrans were massacred by the Nigerian soldiers without mercy.
“We state categorically and without equivocation that Buhari’s claims are as false and as strange as they come, especially in the face of quantum evidence to the contrary, chronicled by independent observes of the wartime atrocities committed by Nigerian forces against innocent Biafran civilians, including women and children”.
“We doubt if it is the same Buhari that addressed Eastern Youth Corpers in 2016, in his country home in Daura, Katsina State, on the horrors, pains, misery and suffering of the war, that made this latest ‘soft’ on Biafrans statement. It couldn’t have come from the same person.”
“The perpetrators, who seized power in 1966, on the blood of their fellow officers of eastern extraction, continued their bloodletting that directly led to the war… In July 1968, the British mission in Nigeria estimated that 200 to 300 Biafrans were dying every day. However, these estimates were based on numbers reported by the Nigerian government, as the British did not have access to the Biafran enclaves.
“Two months later, during the height of the crisis, the International Committee of the Red Cross (which traversed Biafra during the war) estimated 8,000 and 10,000 deaths per day.
“It obtained these figures based on random samples of death rates in villages, refugee camps and hospitals across Biafra, and cautioned that the estimates were likely to be conservative.
“Professor of Nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health, Jean Mayer, similarly argued that estimates of 10,000 deaths a day appeared to be accurate. We reckon that Buhari would rather wish all these away but it won’t work. It is a fact of history”.
“The Asaba Massacre is but another fact of history that clearly debunks Buhari’s narratives…
“It was reliably estimated that more than 700 men and boys were killed, some as young as 12 years old, in addition to many more killed in the preceding days. Bodies of some victims were retrieved by family members and buried at home. But, most were buried in mass graves; without appropriate ceremony. Many extended families lost dozens of men and boys. Federal troops occupied Asaba for many months,” Powerful narrated.
Similarly, Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has also faulted president Buhari over his comment that Nigerian soldiers had mercy on Biafrans during the civil war.
MASSOB Leader, Mr Uchenna Madu, said the president’s statement cannot “pacify the people of Biafra… The beauty and secret of the success that propelled us were the principals of non-violence, consistencies and self-resolution.” (The Sun)
File photo: Mass burial of Christian victims killed by Fulani herdsmen
BY ROBERT SPENCER
“Despite several calls to the governor and his deputy, and other security apparatus, the government remained silent as the atrocities continued. The Fulani were able to carry out their deadly attack. They stayed for hours in the vicinity, moving at will, unchallenged.”
Why? Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari clearly has no sympathy for the victims. He shares the worldview of the jihadi attackers.
“Armed gangs WIPE OUT 15 villages in mass Christian slaughter in Nigeria,” by Joey Millar, Express, February 18, 2018 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):
ARMED men stormed through 15 villages to massacre Christians and destroy their churches in a violent crackdown against the religion in Nigeria.
Dozens of people have been killed after the gangs ransacked towns and villages to clear them of all aspects of the Christian faith.
Houses belonging to believers have also been razed with authorities doing little to help, an anti-persecution watchdog claimed.
Open Doors spoke to one Christian who described the broad daylight attack carried out by a group of Fulani – one of Africa’s largest ethnicities.
A spokeswoman said: “One attack took place in broad daylight, as people were about to go to church.
“The assailants chased and killed the villagers and burned down nine churches and many more houses.”
Christian persecution is a major problem in Nigeria which has been exacerbated by the spread of radical Islamic teaching and practice.
The shocked witness said Christians needed more protection from the country’s leader or lives would continue to be lost.
They said: “Despite several calls to the governor and his deputy, and other security apparatus, the government remained silent as the atrocities continued.
“The Fulani were able to carry out their deadly attack. They stayed for hours in the vicinity, moving at will, unchallenged.”…
In the central state of Nasarawa, 25 villages have been destroyed since January 15….
A spokesman for the Concerned Indigenous Tiv People group said: “Since the outbreak of the crisis on January 15 this year, due to the Fulani /herdsmen attack on our villages, leading to the displacement of Tiv in their ancestral homes, the Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Almakura, has done very little to bring the situation under control.”
Other attacks have taken place in Benue State and across the Middle Belt region of the country. The Army has now been deployed to certain areas in order to stop the violence.
A spokeswoman for Open Doors said: “Believers experience discrimination and exclusion, and violence from militant Islamic groups, resulting in the loss of property, land, livelihood, physical injury or death; this is spreading southwards.
“Corruption has enfeebled the state and made it ill-equipped to protect Christians. Rivalry between ethnic groups and raids by Fulani herdsmen compound the persecution. Converts face rejection from their Muslim families and pressure to recant.”
Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), under the leadership of Mr. Uchenna Madu, has called on southern states and the Middle Belt, to be vigilant over alleged herdsmen plans to attack major cities and communities in their areas.
The group condemned the killing of Benue people by herdsmen and added that the Federal Government should take charge by arresting and prosecuting the herdsmen.
Madu, who spoke through MASSOB’s National Director of Information, Mr. Edeson Samuel, commiserated with the people of Benue
“The Idoma, Tiv, Igala and all ethnic nationalities in Benue must understand that their destiny is in their hands.
“MASSOB is also calling on other states in the Middle Belt and the southern states to be vigilant because this group has perfected plans to attack major cities in these areas.
“Until the Middle Belt understands and solidly stand for their inalienable rights of political, cultural, religious and economicalcemancipation from Hausa/Fulani domination, their future generation will experience more devastation than this present onslaught,” Madu alleged. (The Sun)