Saturday, 31 May 2014

Article: FERMA Federal Task Force Is A Violation Of The Laws OF Nigeria



By Nelson Ekujumi                      

The apprehension of FERMA Federal task force operatives by the Lagos state command of the Nigeria Police is not only commendable but must be appreciated in view of the fact that they were only living up to their constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and properties.

Traffic management is not only a national issue but an international one which involves safety of human lives. Management of traffic involves training about its rudiments which is crucial and also in view of  the United Nations statistics released in 2011, in which Nigeria ranked no 191 out of 192 countries with the worst rates of road accidents globally with 162 death rate per 100,000 population.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, over 1.3 million people are killed annually in road accidents while over 50 million people sustain different degrees of injuries from such crashes. It was predicted that if action is not taken to arrest this dangerous trend, that deaths from road accidents in sub Saharan might over take deaths from HIV/Aids.

In view of this alarming statistics of road accidents which is caused by a number of factors, it would be suicidal, irresponsible and inhuman of any serious government to commit the lives of innocent road users to a bunch of untrained persons. Definitely, Nigeria must exhibit strong commitment through positive actions if we are to be taken serious in view of our renewed commitment to road safety in stemming avoidable fatalities resulting from RTC’s and as a result of which the decade 2011-2020 has been declared the ‘UN Decade of Action on Road Safety’ with the goal to reduce the number of fatalities caused by RTC’s by 50 percent by the year 2020.

A dangerous dimension to the menace which the FERMA operatives wanted to constitute on the road before they were arrested and which should be a source of concern to every patriotic citizen is that this task force is not a creation of the law, whether state or federal. The question that came to my mind is that, are we a banana republic where any person or group of persons can just gang up and take over our roads or public institutions which is built and maintained with tax payers money? Have we lost focus of the fact that a society can only exist and thrive when there are regards for due process and rule of law? So in this context, one can appreciate the action of the police in arresting this illegality before a bad and dangerous precedence is set.

We also need to ask and know, if this federal task force have been established in other states of the federation to manage traffic even though, they don't have the backing of the law? If the answer is no, then we should all be alert because Yoruba's say that "Igi gogoro ma gun ni loju, o kere la ti nwo" meaning a stitch in time saves nine.

Another cause of societal concern is that if these operatives of FERMA had been allowed to continue their illegal and unconstitutional activities on the road, they would have compromised the security of lives and properties in Lagos state with their style of operation which involves wielding sticks and other dangerous weapons.

However, one cannot but condemn the sponsors of these illegal outfit called federal task force who have taken advantage of the unemployment crisis in the country to exploit our youths by fraudulently obtaining money from them, endangering their lives and enlisting them into an illegal body. Our findings revealed that the innocent youths employed as the federal task force operatives paid huge sums of money ranging between eighty thousand and one hundred and fifty thousand naira to enlist, procure uniforms and open bank accounts into which they were promised that their salaries would be paid into, what a scam!

One is hereby calling on the Lagos state police command to immediately investigate the activities of this task force and ensure that the full weight of the law is brought to bear on the sponsors of this illegality and criminality.

While commending the Lagos state police command under the leadership of Mr. Umar Manko for acting swiftly to prevent a breakdown of law and order, it is equally important to reiterate that the police must ensure that the fundamental human rights of the offenders is not violated by arraigning them in court as quickly as possible in line with constitutional provisions.

Article: Obituary Of The Nigerian Living Dead



By Emmanuel Chigozie Osuchukwu

Let’s hope we are not going to publish this one day. But it’s the practice of media establishments to write the obituary of great people before they die. I hope this is not Nigeria’s obituary but if it happens let the last man out of the country publish this. 

Once upon a time there was a great country with a great potential to become one of the greatest countries on earth. They had a wonderful diversity of people and cultures that at the beginning of nationhood they regaled on the concept of strength in diversity. They spoke confidently as the most populous nation in Africa and held the prospect of leading Africa economically, socially and politically. They boasted of taking their place in the comity of world powers and we seriously believed it. Things started to go wrong soon after our independence from Britain. The crop of politicians that took over from our colonial masters, although great men and compared to what we have now started faltering. The lure and privileges of high office overwhelmed many of them and the practice of the new form of government called democracy was a bit too much to comprehend and put into practice. Before long the virus of military dictatorships prevalent in the developing world reached us. When it did it was so cataclysmic that the downward spiral of this great nation began and it was not easily visible to many Nigerians. It is evident that Nigeria has been moving wobbly since 1966 but it was difficult for us to acknowledge. Either we were all in denial or the political engineers who designed the current Nigerian nation wanted us to believe that there was nothing wrong with the country. Irrespective of our belief, knowledgeable outsiders kept telling us that Nigeria was at risk of implosion and that when it happens it will have catastrophic regional effect. We carried on regardless and even celebrated that great word ‘brinkmanship’ as a good description of our ability to survive any political crisis. But like a stunt man there will be a day his skills will fail him and his obituary will be written. Today Nigeria is burning and at a dangerous crossroad. Many are afraid that the country’s health status could be terminal and we better start writing our obituary.
  
The ongoing ruthless and mindless Boko Haram insurgency has exposed a country worthy of a cancerous diagnosis. Unfortunately this is happening at a time the country has been terribly weakened by accumulated factors stretching over many decades and now I doubt if we have the common will to face a common enemy. Many even believe that the most dangerous aspect of Boko Haram insurgency is that it is enemy within. So how did we get here? If or when the obituary of Nigeria is written the cause of death will be the failure of leadership to live above the corrosive issues of ethnicity, religion and corruption.

Since independence the trinity of tribe, corruption and religion has been freely used by Nigerian politicians and in the most lethal concoction to destroy the country. The foundations of Nigeria’s geo-political squabbles were laid in the first Republic. The military men that terminated the first republic in 1966 as I have said in previous writings were neither Patriots nor Nationalist. The Northern military officers who gained and exercised maximum control of Nigeria’s political destiny were initially an avenging mob and hardly weaned themselves of their spiteful and ethnic bigotry. This was the class that built contemporary Nigeria. The fratricidal civil war of 1967 -1970 was essentially a tribal war masked in national colours. Since then Nigeria never recovered from being a country that grew without a balanced contribution from all relevant stakeholders in terms of particularly the creation of its governance superstructures and her main ruling ideas. 

Policies that accentuated and reinforced our tribal schisms reigned supreme. Eventually Nigeria became a nation at war in and with herself. Issues such as resource control, state creation, sharia law, census figures, and control of the federal government became so contentious that they elicited our primitive instincts of fight to the finish. Primitive instincts naturally thrive well in primordial settings and where those contrived entities do not really exist Nigerian politicians were adept in creating one, albeit artificially. Hence, Northern region that do not exist geo-politically exists in the minds of many northern politicians when competition for power arises. Arewa, Afenifere, Odua Peoples Congress, Ohaneze are some of the reactionary manifestations of Nigeria’s ethnic militancy. In summary ethnicity in Nigerian politics was the creation of the elite to further their political adventures. Without politics, I surmise that ordinary Nigerians will have no issues with each other. But here we are at each other’s jugular. Patriotism and nationalism were sacrificed to the extent that mere loyalty to the Nigerian nation is questionable among many Nigerians including the leaders.

Corruption was one singular issue that standing on its own corroded Nigeria. Corruption would have been less significant if it was just a case of stealing public money. I will concede that the level of stealing by Nigerian public officials is extremely huge and rampant and capable of bringing any nation to its knees. To absolve any public official from corruption is similar to saying that a pregnant woman has no knowledge of a man. Look at the display of wealth and lifestyle of past and present public figures to reach your conclusion. I will simply take Sani Abacha, James Ibori, Tafa Balogun, and the gigantic stolen Pension funds as sample evidence. But the real damage to Nigeria was the way corruption damaged our institutions and our moral fibre. We are damaged to the extent that our institutions have become prostrate and incapable of effective discharge of its roles and responsibilities. Who in Nigeria is confident that Nigeria Police, after experiencing them in check points and in their other lines of duty is there to maintain law and order; who in Nigeria relies on the Judiciary as the bastion of justices and safeguard of  the common man when top judicial officers have openly acknowledged that our judiciary is a cash and carry business; who in Nigeria relies on our military as the defenders of the realm after Boko Haram has exposed the rot in our military establishment; who in Nigeria believes that the different levels of law making bodies in the country are discharging their responsibilities as per constitutional requirements and not there to further their personal interests. Corruption destroyed our moral consciousness. It destroyed our ethical values and today Nigeria is unable distinguish between right and wrong. Nothing shocks Nigerians anymore. I wonder how many Nigerian leaders ask those ethical questions such as: Is this right?  Is it just? Is it fair? And is it proper? Instead Nigeria celebrates the interesting concept of the doctrine of necessity which basically overrides any sense of propriety.

Constitutionally, Nigeria is a secular state. But this has been flagrantly abused by political leaders who realised that religion has its insidious benefits. Like ethnicity religion conjures such emotional feelings that it provided the Nigerian elite the cheapest way of mobilising followership. The dangerous thing about misuse of religion is its ability to override reason.  In the North particularly where the prevalence of poor access to modern education and few gainful employment opportunities exist, the lethal combination of ethnic hatred and religious bigotry produced a devastating condition (Boko Haram). Given the enormous size of Northern Nigeria in terms of landmass and population the prevailing conditions of ruthless insurgency and the politics of its existence present immediate and clear danger to Nigeria.

Therefore I contend that the Afghanistanization of Northern Nigeria is the prelude to the country’s demise. Thanks to the politicians and other social and religious elite who whipped up ethnic and religious sentiments that created Boko Haram. The North must rule was one of those idiotic stands that betrayed crass ethnic chauvinism. Thanks also to the same elite who championed the cause of Sharia movement in a supposedly secular nation. Anyone that subscribed to these ideas stoked up the fire that may consume Nigeria. How long an already weakened nation can survive with a huge chunk of its territory under siege is a matter of conjecture. With corruption, national culture of official ineptitude, inefficient and ill motivated security forces as additional impetus, Nigeria is a walking dead.

Are we redeemable or we able to prevent the publication of our obituary? The prognosis is poor but let's remain optimistic. The answer lies in whether Nigeria’s political elite has learnt enough lessons to realize the damage they have done to the country and whether our democratic process can provide a lasting solution and heal a wounded nation. My biggest fear is what happens after 2015.  The Peoples Democratic Party, President Jonathan’s ruling party can rightly claim to be a national party but has been in power since 1999 and as usual with any party that has been in office long has offended a lot of people. PDP and President Jonathan are being challenged by a newly assembled political party called All Progressive Congress (APC). The biggest problem is that the driving force behind APC is Retired General Muhammadu Buhari and his antecedents and what he stands for is a matter of serious concern. Buhari’s utterances after the 2011 elections confirm him as an adherent of the North must rule ideology.  This is the mentality that manifests militant ethnocentrism, bullying and intimidation. Of equally significant concern is the perception that Buhari is a rabid Islamist and therefore a danger to a secular state. If we go down memory lane, Gen. (Rtd) Muhammadu Buhari, speaking in Kaduna at a seminar organized by the Supreme Council of Sharia in Nigeria, August 2001 said that:

"Sharia should be introduced in full across Nigeria…I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria…God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country…It is a legal responsibility which God has given us, within the context of one Nigeria, to continue to uphold the practice of Sharia wholeheartedly and to educate non-Muslims that they have nothing to fear…What remains for Muslims in Nigeria is for them to redouble their efforts, educate Muslims on the need to promote the full implementation of Sharia law."

That speaks for itself and whether Buhari leads from the front as President or from the rear he remains a major concern and by implication so is the party he cobbled together. APC remains a reactionary party with a primarily northern base looking for southern allies and that is risky and dangerous for a nation so divided and in need of healing. Reactionary movements attract reactionary responses and what would happen to Nigeria if APC wins worries me a lot. Similarly would APC’s diehard supporters accept President Jonathan’s victory?

Let’s hope that the national conference is not another Nigerian gimmickry, another futile exercise that leads to nowhere. If all concerned understand the dire state of the country they will grasp this opportunity and start addressing the issues that has placed Nigeria on the precipice. The national conference may well note that Nigeria has no soul. Though fragmented we are yet standing too close and suffocating each other at present. It may easily translate into strangulation even if Boko Haram fails in their objective. We may benefit from urgent review of our unitary federalism. This may sound to some Nigerians a fundamental restructuring but remember as the saying goes, those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change possible. The National conference may also note that the very institutions that we expect to redeem our precarious situation are badly compromised and may not effectively cope with further conditions of severe stress. I sincerely hope we do not get to publish our obituary, come 2015 as already predicted but the ominous signs are hovering.

(Osuchukwu is a London based writer. He can be reached on emmanuelosu@hotmail.com or tel. +447880600236)

Open Letter: Demand For Presidential Invitation Of The ICC To Nigeria (Part2)



INTERSOC/NG/003/05/14/FGN/ABJ

His Excellency
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan
President & Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
Federal Republic of Nigeria
The State House, Three-Arms-Zone
Abuja, FCT, Nigeria                      

Sir,
Boko Haram Terror & Other Unlawful Killings: A Demand For Presidential Invitation Of The Chief  Prosecutor For International Criminal Court For Investigation & Prosecution Of Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes & Related Others-Part Two
(Rule of Law & Security,
In addition to the World Igbo Congress account Your Excellency, it is our (International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety) discovery that there is a systematic plan by Boko Haram violent sect to wipe out all Christian communities in the north. Though top public security managers and governing authorities in the country have tried to cover up the identities of those felled by Boko Haram bombs and bullets, but credible findings by leading socio-cultural groups and human rights organizations have glaringly disclosed that Igbo-Christians and other Christians from the north are the worse victims of the sect’s butchery. The OHANEZE Ndigbo in Jos recently disclosed that out of 118 killed on 20th May in Jos, 36 were Igbos.  It is possible that the complete identities of Igbos who died in the blast were not captured. It may also be correct to say that out of 71 and 19 innocent people killed in first and second Nyanya bombings of 14th April and 1st May 2014, up to half of them are Igbos. The entire minority Christians of northern States of Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Taraba, Adamawa, Gombe, Plateau, Kogi, Kaduna, etc are in a verge of being wiped out. Most of the areas attacked or being attacked by the sect in the north have been discovered to be areas populated by northern minority Christians and non-northern Christian dwellers.

716 Nigerians Killed By Boko Haram Terror Sect In April & May 2014: In addition to 681 citizens killed in April and May 2014, which we captured in the first part of this public important letter to Your Excellency, at least, 35 more citizens of the country were massacred by Boko Haram violent sect in late night and early morning attacks in Gamushi, Amuda and Arbokko villages in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria. The three villages are close to Cameroonian border with Nigeria. In the murderous attacks that took place in Gamushi at about 6: am and Amuda and Arbokko at about 2: am on Thursday, May 28, 2014, 26 citizens were massacred in Gamushi, while 9 others were killed in Amuda and Arbokko villages. The media including AFP, residents and a local military sources said that the murderous Boko Haram sect stormed the areas in all-terrain trucks and motorcycles and attacked them with petrol bombs and guns and slain, at least, 36 of the villagers who were asleep. This latest bloody attack brings to 716 innocent Nigerians killed by Boko Haram in two months of April and May. One of the local residents that gave account of the killing is Mr. Tirda Takweshe, a minority northern Christian. This suggests that northern Christian communities in the areas are the target and victims of the callous attacks.

As Your Excellency is aware, there have been 1953 Kano anti Igbo riot, 1966 Igbo massacre in the north leading to 1967-70 bloody civil war, 1980-85 ethno religious riots, 2000/1 Kaduna riots, 2000 Abuja riots, 2001 Jos riots and 2002 Miss World riots. There were also Yelwa massacre of 2000s, 2008 Jos riots, July 2009 Boko Haram uprising, Bauchi Prison break, December 2010 Abuja bombing, May 2010 bombings, Suleija INEC bombing of April 2011, Police Headquarters bombing of June 2011, Abuja UN bombing of August 2011, November 2011 Damaturu attacks, December 2011 Damaturu bloody clashes,  Christmas Day bombings of December 2011, Adamawa killings of January 2012, Easter Day bombings, June 2012 church bombings, Deeper Life Church shootings, January 2013 Ezu River mass killing, Nasarawa or Ombatse killings of 2013, July 2013 Yobe State school shooting, Izghe Attacks, Kawuri massacre, Federal Government College attack, April 2014 Abuja bombing, April 2014 Chibok abduction attacks, May 2014 Abuja bombing, May 2014 Gamboru Ngala attacks and May 2014 Jos bombings(sources: Wikipedia & Intersociety May 2014). The number of innocent lives lost and properties destroyed is chilling and shocking.

In all these, host and dwelling Christian communities in the affected areas were the main targets and worse hit. Most, if not all the killings under reference have remained criminally and judicially unresolved till date owing to “unwillingness” and “inability” of the past and present governments in Nigeria to apply municipal code sanctions and visit them against the group and individual culprits including government agents or agencies found involved. The said successive and present governments have also failed to protect civilian populations and other vulnerable classes of individuals including women and children from such systematic and consistent violent attacks. Identities of the casualty victims have been mangled by the said past and present political authorities, who also denied them right to compensation via their loved ones and eternal recognition as “fallen heroes and heroines”.  The same malicious State treatments are visited against the physically and psychologically injured. It is possible Your Excellency that out of estimated 8,000 people or more felled by Boko Haram bullets and bombs since 2009, 40% or 3,200 are Igbo-Nigerians; another 40% or 3,200 are northern minority Christians; and the remaining 20% or 1, 600 non-northern Christians and Muslims/ members of other religions.

For the purpose of subject matter warranting this letter of ours Your Excellency, we are concerned ourselves with major terrorist and other unlawful killings that took place in Nigeria after June 2002; that is to say when the International Criminal Court and its Statute came into effect for purpose of its jurisdiction and investigative and adjudicative competence. As Your Excellency may know, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was enacted in 1998 and opened for signing and ratification months went by. It came into force on 1st July 2002 after its Statute was deposited with the Secretary General of the United Nations. The Federation of Nigeria now under Your Excellency’s leadership signed the Statute on 1st June 2000 and ratified it on 27th September, 2001. Presently, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court has 122 State-Parties including the Federation of Nigeria, out of the present 193 member-States of the United Nations. The 122 member-States of the Rome Statute are called “Assemblies of the State-Parties”. Out of the 122 member-States of the Rome Statute, 34 are African States, 18 are Asian-Pacific States, 18 are Eastern European States, 27 are Latin American and Caribbean States and 25 are Western European and other States.

International Coalition Against Boko Haram Terror: Though grossly belated, but Your Excellency’s bold step in crying out for international advisory military assistance is a commendable one. It is a truism that Boko Haram terror has gone scientific and global. It is also a truism that Nigeria woefully lacks effective scientific counter measures to tame the insurgent’s devastating onslaughts against the citizens of Nigeria and the State of Nigeria. Nigeria woefully lacks mental technology, preventive policing technology and ICT securitization technology direly needed to dwarf the violent sect. In other words, Boko Haram terror requires effective surveillance, security intelligence, preventive policing powered by electronic policing techniques and justice system powered by world best standards including maximum respect for human rights and dignity of human person. When an untrained or moronic security officer is armed with a gun, all his or her field approaches revolve around his or her gun and his or her head becomes empty. Same thing applies to BBC-born before computer criminal investigation security officer, who uses torture and summary killing as his or her only crime investigation toolkit.

In view of the foregoing Your Excellency, we wish to use this medium to appreciate the offer of international military and security intelligence advisory assistance to Nigeria by the Governments and Peoples of the United States, the State of Israel, the United Kingdom, the Republic of France and the Peoples Republic of China. The latest decision by the US Government to vote $5Billion for global fight against terror is also very commendable. The aspect that gladdens our heart most is the recent decision by the entire 15-member United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions against the “al-Qaeda-linked” Boko Haram terror group. The sanction will help to close off important avenues of funding, travel and weapons to Boko Haram, and strengthen global unity against the sect’s savage actions. The inclusion of Boko Haram terror brigade in the global Al Qaeda sanctions list is a global bold step in clipping the wings of the butchers of the jet age. The list currently includes 62 entities and groups, and 213 individuals, globally classified as “world generators of terrorism”, who are also subject to travel bans and under the world’s anti terror watch.

Need for International Criminal Justice Intervention: The ongoing global sympathy, coalition and advisory military actions against Boko Haram terror group in Nigeria will not be complete without invocation of international criminal justice code sanctions against those who sponsored and inflicted brutalities of shocking and deafening categories against innocent citizens of Nigeria. As we write Your Excellency, some known individuals and groups; some of them former top public office holders in the country, are reported to be holding clandestine meetings with Boko Haram leaders for reasons best known to them, but certainly not public oriented and beneficial. It is no longer news Your Excellency that reasons for Boko Haram insurgency are a mixture of politics, ethnicity and religion. There is a huge sympathy for the violent sect among leading Muslim northern politicians. In the lexicons of these leftist politicians, key leaders of the violent sect are known, but in the lexicons of the Federal Government and its security forces as well as Nigerian public, under Your Excellency’s political midwifery, its key leaders are unknown; though it is possible Your Excellency’s government knows its key backers and sponsors.

It is in a bid to end impunity and immunity enjoyed by those who perpetrate group crimes and other abominable atrocities against civilian populations in war and peace times that the International Criminal Court and its associated criminal courts were established. Today Your Excellency, Mr. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of the DRC rebel or armed opposition group-called “Union of Congolese Patriots” has been jailed by ICC for 14 years for war crimes committed by his group in DRC. He was sentenced on 14th April 2012. Mr. Charles Taylor; the butcher of Monrovia and Freetown, who went into exile in Nigeria in 2003, is serving his 50 years jail in the UK, having been convicted in April 2012 on 11-count charges including terrorism, murder and child soldiering by the Hague based Special Crimes Court for Sierra Leone.

Another DRC warlord and rebel leader-Mr. Germain Katanga is serving 12 years jailed for DRC war crimes. He was convicted in March 2014. The current President of Kenya, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy-Mr. William Ruto are standing criminal trials before the ICC for their reported ignoble roles in the 2007 post general elections’ violence in the country. The ex President of Ivory Coast, General Laurent Gbagbo, who was deposed in April 2011, is also facing trial before the ICC for criminal death of 3,000 citizens in his country. The President of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir has become an international fugitive since his indictment by the ICC in March 2009 over atrocities his regime committed in Darfur uprising and civil war.

The following leaders of the armed opposition groups and key government officials drawn from malicious formal and informal entities in Africa and elsewhere have been indicted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity. These ICC indicted malicious individuals are: Fidele Wandu-20/11/2013, Abdullah Senusi-27/6/2011, Joshua Sang-8/3/2011, William Ruto-March 2011, Vincent Otti-July 2005, Dominic Ongwen-July 2005,Okot Odhiambo-July 2005, Bosco Ntaganda-August 2006, Francis Muthaura-March 2011, Syvestre Mudacumura-July 2012, Ali Kushayb-April 2007, Joseph Kony-July 2005 (leader of butchery and cannibalistic Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda), Aime Kilolo Musamba-November 2013,Uhuru Kenyatta-March 2011,  Jean-Jacques Kabongo-November 2013,  Abdul Rahim Hussein-March 2012, Ahmed Haroun-April 2007, Simone Gbagbo-February 2012, Laurent Gbagbo-November 2011, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi-June 2011,  Charles  Ble Goude-March 2008, Jean-Pierre Bemba-March 2008, Omar al-Bashir-March 2009, Walter Barasa-August 2013, Abdallah Banda-August 2009 and Narcisse Arido- November 2013.

Yours Faithfully,
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman

CC:                  
1.  Mr. Ban Ki-moon,  Secretary General of the United Nations, New York, USA
2.  Ms Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor for International Criminal Court, Hague, The Netherlands
3.  The United Nations Higher Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland
4.  Secretary General of Amnesty International, London, UK
5.  The Executive Director, Human Rights Watch, New York, USA
6.   Nigeria’s Permanent Rep to the United Nations