Mr. Jean-Claude Junker, the blunt, strong-willed and battle-tested president of the European Commission blew hot about the precarious plight of the Igbo people and the dangers faced by members of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) in Nigeria last week.
He said “it is the people’s right to agitate and make a request from their government. Self-determination is a right enshrined in the United Nation Charter. The people of Biafra have every right to request for a referendum. They have been in this struggle for a while now. They have never killed or shot a bullet instead they are the victims of attacks and murder. The EU hereby condemns the brutal attack on IPOB members and leadership under the pretentious disguise of a military exercise (Operation Python Dance). The Nigerian military is warned to adopt democratic tenets in handling citizens. The EU will not sit by idly and watch things go undemocratic in the largest economy of the West African region”.
This is an excellent assessment of the situation and it provides a timely warning to the Buhari administration about their grave indiscretions and obvious excesses.
Yet instead of addressing the deep concerns that the EU, Amnesty International, the United Nations and many other notable players and organisations on the world stage have about what is going on in Nigeria, Mr. Lai Mohammed, President Buhari’s Minister of Information and a man who told us just a few years ago that it was wrong and unlawful to ban Boko Haram, had only the following to say:
“IPOB is a group sponsored by a coalition of political parties and looters who are bent on derailing the fight on corruption embarked upon by Buhari-APC led government.”
Such unadulterated poppycock and pernicious lies and such baseless allegations and nonsensical assertions, even when they come from a man whose credibility is at best questionable, beggars belief.
Instead of attacking and insulting those of us that have condemned the slaughter of Igbos and alleging that we are sponsoring IPOB the Buhari government would do well to consider Jean Claude Junker’s words and what the European Union have said about the barbaric killing of the Igbo and the universal right of self-determination which is protected and guaranteed by international law.
Since when has it been acceptable or the norm to unleash the dogs of war against a group of innocent, unarmed and defenceless young people and their colourful leader simply because they dared to ask for a referendum?
The fact of the matter is that whether anyone likes it or not, the attempt to break, subjugate, demonise, belittle, vilify and wipe out the Igbo race through the auspices of intimidation, disinformation, manipulation of the media, mass murder and ethnic cleansing by the Buhari administration shall fail.
The truth is that this whole thing is not about IPOB but about the consistent expression of an irrational, illogical and pathological hatred of the Igbos by the maximum ruler of the Nigerian state.
And if he gets away with it and manages to achieve his sinister and nefarious objective he will come after the Yoruba, the Ijaw, the Tiv and everyone else in a matter of time!
That is why it is important to refuse to be intimidated, to stand firm, to hold the line, to resist him with every fibre of our being and to insist on the restructuring and the renegotiation of Nigeria.
Fifty years after our brutal and genocidal civil war we have learnt nothing about the cataclysmic and devastating consequences and spiritual implications of slaughtering innocent people in the name of keeping Nigeria one.
Why do you think nothing works in our country and that our people are mostly unfulfilled, poor, miserable, afflicted and deprived? Why do you think there is so much suffering in our nation despite the fact that we have been blessed with so many human and mineral resources? It is God’s judgement.
Until we stop electing psychopaths, sociopaths and cruel men of blood into office and until our leaders stop killing innocent people whose only “crime” is to express their desire to be free from slavery, bondage and tyranny and to be allowed to determine their own future nothing will or can change for the better in our beleaguered country.
As long as the ethnic cleansing and mass murder continues and as long as our people cheer on our leaders as they commit these heinous crimes against humanity Nigeria will continue to be a basket case of a nation which is ruled by unrepentant and wicked tyrants, garrulous court jesters and certified village idiots.
If we continue to condone and refuse to desist from state sponsored repression and the mass murder of Igbos, northern Christians, Shiite Muslims, Niger Deltans or any other group of people who are seen by our collective oppressors as soft and easy targets our nation will continue to be perceived as an abominable and accursed dwarf that crawls around like a helpless, crippled and stunted child in the comity of nations.
Nigeria was once the hope of the black man but sadly in the last two years she has become an embarrasment and burden to Africa and a reference point for everything that is reprehensible and shameful in the world.
A nation where savage and insensitive beasts murder innocent men, women and children in the sanctity of their homes whilst the people cheer them on and embrace their murderous barbarity with joy and glad tidings.
A nation where political opponents can be locked up for years without any recourse to the courts and without any form of due process.
A nation where opposition members and dissidents are villified and subjected to every form of shame, malevolence and indignity simply because they refuse to bow before the maximum ruler and worship him as a living deity.
Can God’s prescence possibly be in such an arrangement and can God’s blessing possibly be in such a place?
Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, one of the true crusaders for justice and human rights in Nigeria and a man of remarkable fortitude and immense courage captured the mood and painted an accurate picture of the situation when he said the following:
“The Fulani herdsmen who go on rampage daily, maiming, rapiing and killing and those responsible for the Agatu massacre, Shiites massacre, Southern Kaduna pogrom, indiscriminate killings, brazen quit notice givers across Nigeria, etc, have never been arrested, prosecuted, let alone been proscribed and stigmatised as terrorist organisations. We must surely have and operate two sets of laws for two sets of people in Nigeria”.
How true this is! Yet even if the majority within the Nigerian political class and media are not prepared or able to confront and expose this great evil and speak truth to power, the international media, who are thoroughly and understandebly mortified and shocked by what is unfolding in our country, are evidently ready to do so.
For example the Washington-based Newsweek International Magazine, in an excellent article written by Mr. Connor Gaffey just last week, focused on the fact that “many Biafran Christians” had been subjected to “extra-judicial killings” by a northern Muslim-controlled and led army.
They condemned the activities of the Nigerian military in the east in very strong terms, decried the dangerous situation that is unfolding in Nigeria and echoed President Olusegun Obasanjo’s laudable call for dialogue between the IPOB leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and Buhari.
In their own contribution to the debate the respected New York-based Huffington Post published the following artice which was written by Mr. Bruce Feinn, a highly celebrated and distinguished human rights lawyer and a former Deputy Attorney General in the Reagan administration. He wrote:
“The United Nations will live in infamy for lending its megaphone on Tuesday, September 19, 2017, to Nigeria’s elected military dictator Muhammadu Buhari.
The Hausa-Fulani Muslim strongman is currently orchestrating genocide as defined by the Genocide Convention against Nigeria’s 50 million Igbo people because of their ethnicity and unwavering devotion to Christianity. Buhari’s genocide marks the culmination of a long train of Biafran subjugation by radical Hausa-Fulani Islamic terrorists. The dictator’s power is anchored to an illegitimate constitution decreed by a military dictator in 1999 to hold the Christian Biafran people in bondage to Hausa-Fulani Muslims. Nigeria’s constitution has never been approved by Nigerians.
Last June, Buhari tacitly endorsed a Hausa-Fulani threat to expel by force and violence and to plunder 11 million Igbos in twelve northern Nigerian states that have adopted Sharia as their legal codes if they did not abandon their Igbo homes and businesses by October 1, 2017. During the past few years in northern Nigeria, Hausa-Fulani terrorists have destroyed thousands of churches and religious schools and displaced millions of Christian Biafrans.
Hundreds of innocent civilians have died and more have been injured or terrorized by Nigeria’s military acting under Buhari’s direction in the last week alone. A courageous and influential Biafran leader, Nnamdi Kanu, has had his home attacked and quarantined by Nigeria’s armed forces and his followers killed. Grisly videos and photos taken at scenes of the harrowing crimes are conclusive. What they prove amounts to state terrorism—the systematic employment of violence to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.
Instead of providing Buhari a megaphone, the United Nations should be expelling Nigeria from membership under Article 6 of the United Nations Charter. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should be referring the dictator and his henchmen like Army Chief of Staff Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, to investigate for complicity in genocide. The UNSC should also be imposing an arms embargo on Nigeria under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter until the right of the Biafran people to self-determination is secured through a free and fair referendum conducted by the United Nations Electoral Unit. At present, dictator Buhari is diverting arms purchased for ostensible use against Boko Haram, an international terrorist organization, to the terrorizing of Biafran Christians. Buhari has no interest in defeating Boko Haram because its threat triggers military and financial assistance from the United States in its global war on terrorism.
These sanctions against Nigeria would honor twin objectives of the United Nations: (1) “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained;” and, (2) “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to religion”.
The genocide of Biafrans is not a “domestic” matter within the exclusive jurisdiction of Nigeria. Genocide is a crime against all of mankind which concerns every country. Moreover, if dictator Buhari is permitted to kill and enslave Christian Biafrans with impunity, Nigeria could degenerate into a Hausa-Fulani Islamic theocracy and could become a state sponsor of terrorism. Nigeria’s example would embolden the persecution of Christians elsewhere.
Nigeria’s 190 million inhabitants make it the most populous nation in Africa. It is a model not only in West Africa but throughout the continent. It is too important for its fate to be left to the roll of the dice.
The international community planted the seeds of contemporary Nigerian and African strife by arbitrarily carving up the continent in favor of colonial powers at the1884-1885 Berlin Conference. The United Nations is saddled with a moral obligation to help remedy the dystopias spawned by many of its key members.
While the suffering and persecution of Burma’s Muslim Rohingya have captured headlines and the attention of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, Nigeria’s far worse oppression of Biafrans has been largely ignored. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that the international human rights community squints when blacks kill blacks”.
He concluded by saying:
“Chad had its Hissene Habre, Libya had its Muammar Gaddafi and Nigerian President Buhari should learn from those examples before continuing his genocidal murders and torture of Biafrans. Justice will pursue Buhari as tenaciously as the Furies pursued Orestes. He would tremble if he reflected that God is just, and that His justice will not sleep forever”.
These are valid and legitimate observations and laudable assertions from a respected individual that has dedicated his entire life to the cause of protecting human rights and a medium that prides itself on the highest standard of literary excellence and investigative journalism.
Let us hope that President Muhammadu Buhari and his military commanders are listening!
Femi Fani-Kayode is a lawyer, a Nigerian politician, an evangelical christian, an essayist, a poet and he was the Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to President Olusegun Obasanjo from July 2003 until June 2006. He was the minister of culture and tourism of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from June 22nd to Nov 7th 2006 and as the minister of Aviation from Nov 7th 2006 to May 29th 2007. He tweets from@realFFK.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.