Since the military invasion of Igbo geographical entity in South East Nigeria, which has elicited widespread condemnation of the federal government and its armed forces, a lot of government officials including the military have embarked on fire brigade public relations stunts meant to douse the tension they created among Nigerians and the international community with that ill-advised invasion. One of such is to vilify the non-violent Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, an internationally recognised self-determination advocacy group.
Some have even made the puerile attempt to justify the genocide that took place there in the course of Operation Python 11 exercise.
Fortunately, Nigerians from every walk of life and tribe with human hearts have continued to condemn the federal government for its high-handedness and lopsidedness in dealing with Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB group, claiming, arguably, that it was an opportunity government carved out for itself to further pursue its well publicized 97% vs 5% agenda against the Igbo.
The panicky rush with which government officials including the military are attempting to justify the Operation Python Dance 11 as executed particularly in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, is an eloquent indication that either the python was instructed to go on a killing spree under the guise of dancing or it deliberately went beyond its mandate to dance to kill its admirers after enchanting them into provocation.
Yet, the admirers could only react with mere sticks and bottles after having been threatened by the presence of strange pythons in their numbers in the sleepy, dusty and rusty village of Afaraukwu in Umuahia where the bait of the python resides in pompous and petulant royalty. The worst Nnamdi Kanu has done is to insult everyone even including his own kinsmen and leaders. He saw everyone who does not believe in his cause or who believes in it but does not believe in his style of agitation as one form of lesser element or the other. But then even the president had at one time or the other referred to and categorized Nigerians into “dogs and baboons”.
While the president saw “dogs and baboons” in Nigerians, his wife saw hyenas, jackals and lions in them. Nnamdi Kanu, without justifying his rhetoric, pulled all of these together into a “zoo”! Let me be clear here. Neither Kanu nor the president nor his wife should have referred to Nigerians in these languages. You would never hear statesmen like Shehu Shagari, Alex Ekwueme, Olusegun Mimiko, Goodluck Jonathan et al condescend so low as to use such words on citizens no matter the level of disagreement. So when people like Nnamdi Kanu uses such words after the president and his wife, it could just be the case of “when the mother cow chews grass, the calf watches its mouth”. Such words, no matter who uses them, are condemnable and unacceptable!
But then, in what society are insults countered with military invasion if not an insane one? Kanu’s case is before a court of competent jurisdiction; even if he has committed offences outside the ones for which he is being tried in court, why not send the police after him? There are times and ways he could be arrested, if they need to, without raising dust from his followers. But to send military tanks, the type we saw deployed to his area of abode because of his rhetoric is a humiliation of our military.
Why send our military against a man unarmed and whose threats to burn down the nation can only be followed up with mere sticks and bottles? Does this not make us a laughing stock among nations especially as the president’s kinsmen the Fulani herdsmen who coincidentally are also kinsmen of our army chief have been killing, maiming and raping people with reckless abandon and tagged the fourth most dangerous terror group by the Global Terrorism Index, yet, they are never arrested or prosecuted, instead they receive monetary compensations from government for killing fellow citizens in their thousands within a short period of time as was the case in Southern Kaduna.
It is only in Nigeria that we kill ants with sledgehammer but chase hyenas with toothpicks, only in Nigeria!
While an unarmed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, is termed a terrorist organization, a killer lot, the Fulani herdsmen have been given the rite of passage to becoming the deadliest terrorist group in the world by Garba Shehu who described them as mere “criminals” and not terrorists. This is in spite of the fact that this is a terror group whose murderous activities even beyond Nigeria are well documented by world institutions. Garba Shehu forgets that his kinsmen, the Fulani herdsmen, have been displacing people while carving out territories for themselves, taking over the areas of their host communities, forcefully turning farmlands to grazing routes and their places of abode.
IPOB has carved out no geographical location for themselves, they operate openly without arms, their only arms being their songs of solidarity. Even if we choose to concede without admitting that IPOB extorts people on the roads according to government officials, this sort of extortion happens everywhere. Street urchins block roads and extort money from motorists even up till tomorrow in the north and the south west. Would they also be branded terrorists? Are these enough to brand a group never known to kill anyone terrorists? This goes a long way to prove that the Buhari administration is working in manners inversely proportional to the world in the classification and fight against terrorism.
The same IPOB which the Buhari administration is so much in a hurry to term terrorist organization holds open regular carnival-like rallies in countries that know better than Nigeria in every area including terrorism. IPOB members also held a rally in front of the United Nations building during the just concluded UNGA. They had the permission of the US authorities to do it. Garba Shehu and his co-purveyors of falsehood should know that the US government would never allow any terrorist organization to hold such rallies in their domain.
Even in the UK just as elsewhere in the world, IPOB keeps holding rallies where even the UK citizens could not resist the temptation of joining in their enchanting songs of freedom and hypnotizing dance steps of hope of triumph.
In reaction to his tradition of usually opening his mouth before engaging his brain, both France and the UK which Nigeria’s minister of information had accused of being the “financial headquarters of IPOB” and “refusal to close down” the radio station allegedly being used by IPOB to spread their message respectively, foreign missions of those countries have denied the allegations while denouncing the minister.
This was after Lai Mohammed had sold lies to Nigerians that “treasury looters” and “disgruntled” political opposition members were funding IPOB. He has been challenged by many to name those behind such funding but as usual, Lai would not and can never name them because he lied! He probably forgot that almost all the south east governors that proscribed IPOB and banned them were also members of the opposition. Once he was busted, he shifted the blame to the international community with the hope that those ones would not go to the press to expose him, but unfortunately for him, they did!
No matter the level of propaganda and falsehood churned out to cover up the genocide currently going on against the Igbo people in south east Nigeria, the international community and relevant world institutions are already in possession of the videos and hypocritical pronouncements of government officials on the matter and are analyzing same. And although Lai Mohammed has claimed that the videos were “super-imposed”, he shall be busted as usual and all those involved in this genocide will surely be brought to book, no matter how long.
The definition of genocide is not limited to the number of casualties. Once a people are killed in the manner the Igbos have been murdered because of their race, it is also genocide. The motivation for genocide could also be differences in beliefs and religion as was the case of the Shiites and people of Southern Kaduna. Surely, this government has blood on its hands in genocidal proportions and every actor and abettor would surely pay for it at the international courts some day!
It is hate to force people to lie down face-deep in muddy waters and force them to drink the water under the watchful eyes of a genocidal army. It is even more hateful to kill armless civilians in their sleep as was the case in the invasion of Nnamdi Kanu’s ancestral home recently.
While the ants suffer the fate of the sledgehammer, the hyenas are given just a slap on the wrist and emboldened by tales spewed by purveyors of falsehood in the garb of government officials!
Jude Ndukwe is a political analyst who lives and works in Abuja, Nigeria. He is a member of The Trent’s Elite Columnists. His column is published every Friday. He tweets from @stjudendukwe.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.