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Thursday, 15 November 2018

Nigeria; Blasphemy and the Kano Killing By Emmanuel Onwubiko



Most earliest scholars of philosophy were passionate about unraveling the essence and import of governmental authorities.

A significant percentage of classical scholars especially in the medieval epoch were of the considered position that government exists to protect the rights of all citizens to co-exist in peace and respect common norms, legal precepts and subject themselves to the rule of law. 

This is because there was an underlying belief that government became imperative as a way of saving man from total destruction by what obtains in the state of nature whereby brute force was the order of the day and might was right. In the state of nature, survival by man was by the fittest.

One of those reputable thinkers who formulated the systematic body of knowledge that government exists to protect the rights of all citizens, was the British philosopher by name John Locke (1632 – 1704).

Specifically, it was the contention of John Locke that the end of law is to preserve and enlarge freedom.

Some writers were of the view that the English philosopher John Locke was the first to articulate the liberal principles of government: namely that the purpose of government was to preserve its citizens’ rights to freedom, life, and property, to pursue the public good; and to punish people who violated the rights of others. 

In his thinking, law making was therefore the supreme function of government. 
Going through a particularly impressive book on politics, i encountered a distinguished analyst who as it were stated that for Locke, one of the main reasons people would be willing to enter into a social contract and submit to being ruled by a government, is that they expect the government to regulate disagreements and conflicts in a neutral manner. 

"Following this logic, Locke was also able to describe the characteristics of an illegitimate government. It followed that a government that did not respect and protect people’s natural rights – or unnecessarily constrained their liberty – was not legitimate". 

In this profoundly rich book published by DK book publishers and whose publisher is identified as Laura Buller, the English philosopher John Locke was said to have therefore been opposed to absolutist rule. 

Unlike his contemporary Thomas Hobbes, who believed that an absolute sovereign was required to save people from a brutal “state of nature”, Locke maintained that the powers and functions of government had to be limited (See the Politics Book, first published in Great Britain in 2013).
In proceeding therefore with this piece, the interrogatory that follows is why then is this writer burdened by the need to speak to the issues of blasphemy with specific reference to an associated killing that took place in Kano state around March of 2016? 

This piece is a call for a reawakening by the Nigerian and Kano state governmental authorities to fish out the killers of this woman and deliver justice in line with the constitution of Nigeria.

The immediate motivating factor is the decision of the supreme court of Pakistan which freed a young mother from the death penalty passed on her by a lower court over blasphemy charges. The Christian woman in Pakistan spent a total of ten years in detention whilst her appeal lasted. 

The challenge for the Nigerian state therefore is to efficiently go after those Kano killers who committed the murder over the nebulous charges of blasphemy against an innocent aged woman who was slaughtered and for years there is no closure neither is there justice in line with the grund norm of Nigeria. Murder is a heinous crime that must never be swept under the carpet. 

This is because the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended) has in section 10 recognized that Nigeria is not a religious state.

Besides, in Section 33 (1) of the same constitution, the unambiguous provision totally outlaws the taking of someone’s life without the due process of the law even as section 6 gives the judicial powers of the federation to the courts of competent jurisdiction and not to mobsters or religious zealots who are protected by the Kano state government. President Muhammadu Buhari will do his administration a whole world of good if he can compel the justice sector to take up the matter of that unresolved killing of the Igbo woman trader in Kano by the Moslem fundamentalists who were identified and picked up by the Nigerian police force but were set free by the Kano state government in what is clearly a violation of the Constitution of Nigeria. Already, the allegations that Buhari is a religious bigot has continued especially with the preponderance of appointment of Moslems in key national security offices since the last three years. President Muhammadu Buhari for the sake of restoring the sanctity of the constitution must ask that the case of the gruesome killing of this lady in Kano state be reopened and brought to an effective prosecutorial closure. 

This is because if therefore Pakistan, in Asia which is almost 95 percent Islamic can follow the due process of the law to set an innocent Christian woman free from death over blasphemy, why is Nigeria that is not a religious state failing to take justice to some identified killers who were simply freed by the Kano state government in a clear case of confrontation to the constitution of Nigeria?
A quick peep at the scenarios in both Pakistan and Nigeria will reveal the necessity for once more asking governor Abdullahi Ganduje who has an academic doctorate degree to respect the constitution, order the arrest and prosecution of those mobsters who committed murder in broad daylight. This will not end as an article because the organization that i head has decided to send a letter to the governor of Kano state and the current Nigerian President. 

To properly contextualize the two incidents in Pakistan and Nigeria, it would be appropriate to narrate what happened.

On March 2016, it was reported in the media that a woman in her early seventies whose family had lived in the boisterous city of Kano was suddenly lynched to death through beheading by some persons simply identified as Moslem fanatics. 

She was summarily executed after these unruly gangsters accused her of blasphemous conduct against the holiest prophet of their religion.

Identified as the Imo state born Mrs. Bridget Patience Agbahime; who until her gruesome murder, was a trader at the Kofar Wambai Market in Kano. This Woman's brutal murder has to be attended to or it would be concluded that the current government has lost legitimacy to remain in office.

The beheaded Nigerian Christian woman before her unfortunate murder sold plastic wares and was reportedly in company of her husband when she was attacked by the angry youths and beheaded. 
Those who killed her almost succeeded in killing her husband but for the intervention of the Kano state Police command. Some of her killers were immediately apprehended but later released on the orders of the state Attorney General who refused to institute charges.

A similar scenario was however not allowed to happen in faraway Pakistan which even pride itself as an officially Islamic state. The accused Christian lady who was similarly set up by Islamic fundamentalists was however made to undergo the due process of the law and eventually freed. Her release and the threats against her life has elicited global reactions with World leaders contemplating granting her asylum in the West. Canada is said to be nearing the process of airlifting her into safety. 
But at least the government of Pakistan behaved in much more legal way than what is at play in Nigeria under a similar circumstance. 

This latest case of alleged blasphemy in Pakistan was strikingly similar to what happened in Kano two years ago. The difference however is that the government of Pakistan did not allow the mob to have their way. The rule of the mobs in Nigeria has become phenomenal. 

This lady Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy after spending eight years on death row, has been freed from prison, report BBC.

Last week's Supreme Court ruling sparked violent protests from Islamists and the government agreed to their demand to stop her leaving Pakistan.

News of her release led to some confusion, with reports she had been taken to another country.
But the foreign office later said she was still in Pakistan.

The case is highly sensitive and Information Minister Fawad Hussein said journalists had been "extremely irresponsible" in reporting she had left the country without official confirmation.
Those reports were based on comments from her lawyer, Saiful Malook, who has been granted temporary asylum in the Netherlands after facing death threats.

Asia Bibi's husband had said they were in danger and pleaded for asylum. A number of Western countries are understood to have held discussions with Asia Bibi's family about granting them asylum.

The mother-of-five was released from prison in the city of Multan on Wednesday and the foreign office says she is in "a safe place in Pakistan".

Also known as Asia Noreen, she was convicted in 2010 of insulting the Prophet Muhammad during a row with neighbours.

The Pakistani government has said it will start legal proceedings to prevent her going abroad after agreeing the measure to end the violent protests.

Many of the protesters were hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws and called for Asia Bibi to be hanged.

One Islamist leader said all three Supreme Court judges also "deserved to be killed".

A spokesman for the hardline Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) party, which blocked roads in major cities for several days, said Asia Bibi's release was in breach of their deal with the government.

"The rulers have showed their dishonesty," TLP spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi told Reuters. Granted that the mobs of Pakistan are still baying for blood, but institutionally, the legal mechanisms have so far been activated unlike the anarchy and impunity that reigns in Nigeria. For any government to look the other  way whilst gangsters feasts on innocent citizens is the clearest example of the breakdown of law and order and going by the standards established for determining legitimacy of government, it can be said that the absence of rule of law is the death penalty on good governance which is imperative in modern society. 

A Nigerian scholar once stated as follows: “Good governance principle must adhere to the universal human rights declaration of 1948 which emphasizes; “Recognition, of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of human family as the foundation of justice, freedom and peace in the world”.

"Human rights protection is central and strategic to good governance because its essence is to protect these rights. Any government that does not respect the inherent dignity of human person is not worthy to be. The subjects or the governed, hand over their sovereign rights to a person or group of persons, to protect and promote their rights generally. Governance is instituted to achieve this purpose. Any government that derides the freedom of the people is not worthy of existence.

Eziokwu (2004:41) notes that rights are fundamentally divided into two types. One is the positive right that is man-made rights as enshrined in the legal system and enforceable by the law. The other is the moral rights which do not necessarily exist as enforceable by law. It must be noted that for international convention on human rights to be enforceable or justiceable, at the municipal level of the political community, they must be ratified, domesticated and incorporated into the countries legal system," (From the book “Good Governance; Theory and Practice” by Samuel Anayochukwu Eziokwu).

The aforementioned are actually in operation passively or actively in Nigeria. By this i mean that Nigeria is a signatory to these international human rights laws and by virtue of the provisions scattered and codified in chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution, government is under legal obligations to promote, protect and enforce laws that safeguard the enjoyment of the fundamental human rights of citizens including the RIGHT TO LIFE. The Nigerian government must bring the killers of the Igbo Woman trader in Kano state to justice. 

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of Human rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and blogs @ www.emmanuelonwubiko.com; www.huriwanigeria.com; www.huriwa.blogspot.com.


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

N5.8 Billion Fraud: A clean up of NEMA is imperative -: Says HURIWA; *Asks Vice President; DG of NEMA to resign:


Following the indictment of the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbanjo and the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in a N5.8 billion scam by the Federal legislature, a call from a leading pro-democracy organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has been made for comprehensive reorganization of the agency.

HURIWA has also frowned at the ongoing squabbles over the indictment of the Nigeria's number two citizen between the opposition Peoples Democratic party (PDP) and the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbanjo because the extensively damaging criminal allegations are being turned into a political wrestling match instead of the relevant agencies of government at the center and the national assembly to activate mechanisms to reform the corrupt infected system in place within the National Emergency Management Agency to refocus it and reposition it to play the role of an effective and efficient and professionally managed national first responder in the Country. HURIWA says Nigeria does not have the luxury of time to engage in political gymnastics by the political actors given that there are several national emergency situations that have happened all over the nation with thousands of Nigerians becoming internally displaced with no effective remedial redress mechanisms both at the center and the federating units.

In a statement by both the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA has asked the Vice President and the Director General of NEMA to resign immediately or be suspended for three months or sent on compulsory leave pending the holistic determination of the subsisting allegations even as they are  to subject themselves to transparent and open investigative activities by a combined team of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission (ICPC); Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC); and the Code of Conduct Tribunal so as to ensure hitch free probe of the extensively damaging allegations. HURIWA said EFCC alone cannot guarantee a transparent given the affinity that exists between the acting Chairman of EFCC and the Vice President.

HURIWA which applauded the All Progressives Congress dominated Federal House of Representatives for not capitulating to partisan pressure and undermine the investigation, has however affirmed that the enabling Act setting up the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) needed to be reworked fundamentally to insulate the office from the institutionalized political interferences of the presidency given that the Vice President is listed as the Chairman of the governing body of the agency.

Besides, HURIWA has tasked the National Assembly to take up the national assignment of reforming the enabling Act that set up NEMA so as to provide for the appointment of a technocrat with no political affiliations to head the National Emergency Management Agency because of the strategic national functions that such a sensitive institution is created to perform.

The Rights group lamented that over the years, NEMA has been used as a politically manipulated national cake by the party in power to reward the patrons of the political party just as the Rights group stated that the current management is the worst because of the fact that the Director General was basically rewarded for his contributions to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“We commend the visionary speaker of the Federal House of Representatives and the committee which began and completed the legislative probe of the monumental scandals within NEMA and has uncovered a spectacle of fraud and deliberate disobedience of the due process governing public procurement. Those indicted must be dealt with appropriately.”

“This is a clear case of criminality and must not be reduced into the traditional brick bats between PDP and APC. The right thing must be done so as to properly refocus NEMA to deliver services qualitatively and equitably to all sections of Nigeria instead of the current position whereby it operates like a pro-North East agency.”

HURIWA recalled that the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness offered insight into why it indicted Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the alleged diversion of N5.8 billion meant for emergency intervention in the north east.

The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Ali Isa J.C., who addressed reporters at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, explained that there was no way Osinbajo could be exonerated from the alleged mismanagement of the fund.

Isa said: “Yes, of course, he (Osinbajo) does have questions to answer. He may have questions to answer because he is the chairman of the governing council of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and he was the acting president that gave the approval.”

To justify his position, he brandished a memo (reference number SH/OVP/DCOS/HMF/010), dated June 1, 2017, which drew the attention of the former finance minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to an approval for the purchase of 30,905,08 metric tonnes of grains worth N5,036,644,933.26 and the cost for logistics and distribution of the grains put at N829,026,456.

The lawmaker also brandished another memo (HMF/FMF/CBN/FOOD/1/2017) dated June 2, 2017, in which Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, drew the attention of Adeosun, Osinbajo and the Accountant General of the Federation Ahmed Idris to the payment instruction for the aforementioned amount of money.

He further claimed that in breach of laid down procedure, the money was paid directly to five companies: Dangote Rice Limited (N936.1 million); Golden Agric Input Limited (N1.3 billion); BUA Rice Limited (N1.3bn); WACOT Limited (N453.6 million); and WACOT Limited (N939.9 million) while NEMA received N829 million for the transportation of the goods.

Isa, who insisted the report was not politically motivated, urged anti-graft agencies not to shirk their responsibilities by bringing to book anyone found wanting in the alleged theft.

HURIWA has specifically recommended the Chairman of the House investigative panel and his members for special national awards for their bravery and courage in unraveling the systemic rots within the National Emergency Management Agency.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

South East, Police and Cost of Living By Emmanuel Onwubiko


For a week, yours faithfully traversed the entire South Eastern states of Nigeria during a private visit to my Countryside.

South East of Nigeria is home to Igbo Nigeria’s strategic member of the national tripod just as others are Yoruba and Hausa.

During my visit to my home, yours faithfully came face to face with systematic neglect of national infrastructures of roads. It is no longer news that of the entire Country, South East suffers from serious infrastructure deficits. There are a thousand and one causative factors for this deteriorated state of infrastructures particularly with those services and infrastructures that should of necessity be built by the national government. One of the most disturbing causes is systemic failure of the central government to rebuild the devastated assets belonging to both the individuals and the Eastern region soon after the thirty months fratricidal civil war. The next most important cause is corruption on the part of the political representatives of the South East to vigorously canvass and deliver quality projects for their people over the years. This state of dysfunctionality is noticed majorly on the roads infrastructure.

The long stretch of federal Highway linking Enugu, Ebonyi Abia and Okigwe in Imo state has virtually collapsed.
The expansive two lanes of the usually boisterous and very busy road has become a shadow of itself following the total collapse of one of the lanes.

I observed regrettably that all the vehicular movements flowing in from all parts of Nigeria heading towards Abia from Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi and Rivers state are now forced to rely on the only lane that has yet to collapse totally.

To understand the enormity of the rot and consequential dysfunctionality, a traveller only needs to get to Lokpanta in Abia state whereby the northern population of cow sellers live to witness the epochal decay of the road infrastructure coupled with the stinking environment made up of decrepit structures and wooden huts whereby hundreds of Nigerian citizens of Northern extraction live and transact their daily businesses with most of them selling foods stuffs and other edibles along the only portion of the lane that hundreds of vehicles ply on daily basis. Lokpanta along the Enugu/Okigwe federal Highway is not only an eyesore but is an epidemic waiting to implode.

To make matters worst, on reaching Lokpanta in Abia state, on Friday last week, yours faithfully noticed the ubiquitous presence of heavy duty trucks from such big companies like Dangote cements and many big trailers ferrying petroleum products which were deliberately but strategically parked at the middle of the only functional lane out of the two lanes of that Enugu – Okigwe Federal Highway. Again the hundreds of vehicles plying that road go through untold pains just to go part that particularly dangerously and unhealthy spots.

As if the decay you noticed about strategic national road infrastructure in the South East is limited to the Enugu – Okigwe highway, the moment you veer off the highway from Okigwe and you drive towards Owerri, what confronts your sights is perhaps the most criminally neglected national road infrastructure of all times. I have never seen such criminality on the part of government targeting the ordinary populace who are deliberately subjected to traumatic experiences just to commute through that Okigwe to Owerri highway.

That extremely narrow one lane Federal Highway leading from Okigwe to the Imo state capital has all but collapsed making movement from Okigwe to Owerri a spectacle in hazardous travel. I have never in my entire life seen such a scenario whereby the central government sets traps with bad roads just to reduce the population of a region. This is the only possible explanation for such high level of wickedness and meanness on the part of the Federal and Imo state authorities towards the people.

This is because a traveller is then compelled to meander through Umuna junction and go through the ordeals of using the small state built road through Isiala Mbano before finding your way back to the only portion of the Okigwe – Owerri Federal Highway that is yet to collapse around Akabo town before making it to Owerri but not without swimming through several flooded areas on that same road which has been eaten up thereby forcing commuters to swim through the muddy and dirty accumulated flood water. The general picture that steers you, in the face is that you are in a war torn territory.

Perhaps, what may give you the impression that the inhabitants of most states in the South East are populations under police siege are the ubiquitous presence of gun wielding and poorly dressed police operatives in every fifty meter space in almost all the roads.

In Imo state and especially around Okwele, in Onuimo local government area, we came face to face with some badly behaved police operatives who were busy and openly demanding and receiving small bribes from all the road users and most especially those vehicles conveying foodstuffs.
Then coming from Aba to Owerri is another hard time with these bribe guzzling armed security forces. The immediate consequences of these kinds of criminal extortions by the police is the skyrocketing of cost of living generally in the South East.

Commercial drivers who are extorted daily simply transfer the financial burdens to passengers.
Business people who go to rural areas and neglected local government areas in the south East to buy freshly produced farm products are therefore forced to pay huge logistical cost which are simply transferred to the end users who are impoverished.

Unfortunately, the local government officials are not competent enough to ensure that such criminal activities of the police operatives do not happen in their areas of jurisdiction.

The local government areas are shadows of what a dynamic and vibrant grassroots administration should be.
The observation made by the former Nigerian president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on the issue of lack of local council autonomy is factual.

But for eight years that he served as president, he failed to deliver local council autonomy. His failure cannot invalidate the accuracy of his postulation in any way.
Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo accused Governors of routinely stealing the money meant for the Local Governments.

My nearly one week tour of the South East of Nigeria revealed the factuality of this top level accusation against state governors vis-a-vis the broad daylight robbery of funds meant for the development of local council areas.

Former President Obasanjo said the theft by governors of council fund has rendered the Local government areas incapable of performing even the basic functions for their people.
Making more revelation, Obasanjo said that the governors pilfer Local Governments’ funds through the nebulous “joint account.”

He said that this was why the governors have remained antagonistic to the agitation for Local Government (LG) autonomy.
Obasanjo stated this when members of a Non-Governmental Organization, Friends of Democracy, FoD, visited him at his new residence within the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, the state capital.

The groups were at the home of the ex-President to seek his support for the Local Government Autonomy Bill which had been passed by the National Assembly.
The bill still requires the approval of not less than 24 State Houses of Assembly to sail through successfully.

“When in 1976, we brought in Local Government Reforms, it was meant to be a third tier of the government and not meant to be subjected to the whims and caprices of any other government.
“Just the same way that the state government is autonomous from the Federal Government.
“Local Government is meant to be autonomous from the State Government, but from what we know, by design, most states have incapacitated the Local Governments.

“They have virtually stolen the Local Governments’ money in what they called Joint Account. They were to contribute 10 percent but they never contributed anything.
“So, what we have across the country are Local Government Areas that have functions, but cannot perform the functions.

“They have staff but most of them cannot pay the staff, and we keep getting excuses upon excuses.
“And I see no reason if the Federal Government allows the states to enjoy their autonomy except in the case of state of emergency.

“The Bill passed by the National Assembly which requires 24 State Houses of Assembly and like I am told only 9 States have signed it.
“I am proud of those states because they are what you will call progressive states that really believe in democracy.

“My own state (Ogun) is one of them. I will say kudos to Ogun State. In the South-South, only Bayelsa and Cross River States have signed it.
“Kudos to those two states. In the North-East, it’s only Bauchi. In the North-West, it’s only Sokoto. In the North-Central, we have four states, Kwara, Niger, Plateau and Benue. I will say kudos to the executives and the legislature of those states.

“But we must say those state executives and the legislatures that have prevented the bill from being passed, they must be taken as the enemy of the people and they should be treated as such.
“Because if you enjoy autonomy from the Federal Government why don’t you want Local Government to enjoy autonomy?

“Again, I will say leadership of NLC and NULGE who have always fought for the interest of the people should know that the interest of the people at the local government will be best served if the LG has autonomy which is meant that they should have.”

The above position is so true when you travel round most parts of the South East of Nigeria as I did and what you see are gun wielding police operatives who operate freely and are engaged in all sorts of criminalities. These criminal activities of the police escalates the cost of living in the South East even when you link those evils up with the views of experts regarding factors that affect cost of living. Speaking about cost of food which is the significant commercial activities of substantial percentage of rural people who are farmers, there are five factors that affect the cost.

Experts say Food prices can be affected by several factors: Weather/Temperature. This first factor is basically because all crops are affected by the weather during the growing season. If the growing season is too wet, too dry, or too cold, or too hot, crops cannot thrive. A scarcity or shortage of a crop may mean it will cost more. When a good growing season results in a surplus, food prices may go down.

Secondly, like weather, factors such as pest damage and disease can destroy a crop or affect livestock production.

Importantly, the third key factor is transportation because when the price of oil and gas are higher, it costs more to transport food through the steps from farm to plate (e.g. to processing facility, to the store). This can impact the price of food. But what these experts never anticipated could shoot up cost of transportation of persons, goods and services are the open criminal tendencies of forcing road users on gun points by the armed security forces to pay bribe from one point to the next. The South East of Nigeria is witnessing a prolonged social epidemic of police extortion and harassment of road users even within manor city centers.

Again, the bribe seeking police also creates a high cost of labour because those who provide the different kinds of services that commute daily to and from their places of work are subjected to daily doses of extortion and harassment by the armed police. Again, it is factual that agri-food system requires a lot of people to make it work (farmers, packers, processors, retailers, etc.). Many job opportunities exist in this system. If the cost of labour goes up (e.g. minimum wage is increased) food prices may increase. Other causes as i had mentioned earlier is the collapse of the local government administration and this is more severe in the South East of Nigeria.

Political and economic situations can influence the price of food, either up or down says experts. The South East of Nigeria is severely afflicted by the twin evils of unemployment and high cost of living. The National Bureau of statistics has even officially confirmed that the major problems in the country currently are unemployment and high cost of living. In the South East of Nigeria i can authoritatively affirm that the criminal activities of the armed security forces and mostly the operatives of the Nigeria Police force is the single most significant cause of extremely high cost of living even when it is evidently clear that of all the zones of the Country, the South East of Nigeria suffers from deliberate denial of strategic national institutions that are known for the significant percentage of white collar jobs they create wherever they are located. Apart from police stations and prisons, and few educational and health institutions owned by the central government, the South East of Nigeria which is a principal producer of crude oil resources does not have a single refinery. The North West has no single drop of crude oil but it has the biggest refinery and the current administration has plans to built a multibillion dollar refinery in Katsina. The lack of national institutions in the South East of Nigeria means that unemployment is high and the activities of the drive seeking police operatives have heightened the cost of living. These are my observations. However, the National Bureau of statistics has affirmed that high cost of living and unemployment are key existential constraints confronting most Nigerians.

According to the bureau, most Nigerians believe that if the government can tackle the high rate of joblessness across the country, the other problems will be significantly reduced.

Presenting key findings from the National Corruption Survey, entitled: ‘Corruption in Nigeria’, which was conducted by the bureau in conjunction with other agencies of government, at a corruption summit organized by Youth Alive Foundation in Abuja few weeks back the Director, Real Sector and Household Statistics, NBS, Isiaka Olanrewaju, stated that surprisingly, corruption did not emerge as the country’s major problem.

He said after the bureau conducted a survey on the percentage of Nigeria’s population who considered selected issues that were the most important problems affecting the country, it was discovered that unemployment was number one.

Olanrewaju noted, “Apart from talking about the issue of bribery and corruption, we also had peoples’ opinion on what they think is the major problem in Nigeria. And when we arranged them in order of mention, unemployment emerged as number one.

“This is followed by high cost of living, and corruption came third.”

Leaders and stakeholders from the South East of Nigeria must focus on resolving these issues even as the central government must call the grossly unprofessional police operatives to order before a social upheavals are caused by these suffocating and oppressive criminal tendencies. Enough is enough.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of Human rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and blogs@ www.huriwa@blogspot.com; www.huriwanigeria.com; www.thenigerianinsidernews.com

Monday, 12 November 2018

ATIKU'S HARASSMENT: DEMOCRACY UNDER THREATS-: SAYS HURIWA *ASKS WHY JETS CARRYING FAMILY MEMBERS OF PRESIDENT ARE NOT SEARCHED:


The leading pro-democracy and Non-Governmental Organization- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked the international community to note that Nigeria's fragile democracy is now going through the toughest threats from within the current President Muhammadu Buhari's administration even as the group specifically condemned as outrageous and unacceptable the abuse of power  by the Presidency for targeting the leading opposition party’s Presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Also the Rights group faulted as spurious, puerile and pedestrian the explanation offered by the minister of state for Aviation the Cousin of President Muhammadu Buhari Mr. Hadi Sirika that the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party's in the 2019 election was searched on arrival from Dubai the United Arab Emirates because that was the routine at the aviation facilities in the Country just as the Rights group stated that close family members of the President who often travel out of the Country and back making use of the publicly funded Presidential planes are not subjected to body searches nor is the jet searched but rather they are welcomed at the Airports by top ranking cabinet level members of the current government even when these family members are not officials of the Nigerian government.  HURIWA asserted that even officials of the administration who should also be subjected to bodily searches at the airports are never made to go through these so called routine searches just as the Rights group stated that the fact that the security officials who searched the former Vice President of Nigeria had on them some video and audio recording devices is a clear indication that the activity was properly planned, implemented and monitored at the highest level of the current administration in Abuja.

"The reason for the harassment of the opposition leader by security officials who searched his jet and subjected him and members of his entourage to bodily searches as adduced by the minister of Aviation does not hold water because there are clear evidences of double standards in such a naked fashion that even young children of the President are accorded the highest diplomatic treatments on arrival or departure from the international airports in Nigeria even when they are just like other ordinary citizens of the Country but the former Vice President of Nigeria Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was subjected to embarrassing searches with video recording devices just because he is the leading opponent of the current President who is the Uncle  of the current Aviation minister who ordinarily wouldn't want his big and benevolent uncle to lose the election and therefore can now be seen throwing his power around and abusing his official privileges by subjecting a highly respected Statesman to searches that even the most downgraded travellers returning from markets in China are not subjected to. This explanation by the Aviation minister of state is anything but believable or valid but is a pure fabrication to conceal their shameless faces after they failed as it were from achieving the predetermined plots for which the dubious stop and search was done on the plane of the most respected political opponent of the current President who only few months back was threatened with death the moment he emerged as the presidential candidate of the PDP. The searches on the jet of Atiku Abubakar and on their bodies was well choreographed by the Presidency to try to either intimidate, harass and embarrass Atiku Abubakar or try to implicate him in a phantom crime in other to disqualify him from the contest. Only last week some hired thugs of the Buhari campaign council had addressed the media calling for the Dubai visit of the candidate of the PDP for the presidential poll to be probed just after the National leader of APC Bola Ahmed Tinubu met Muhammadu Buhari and came out to ridicule the Dubai political meetings of Atiku Abubakar and the Deputy publicity scribe of APC also called for the investigation of the trip. The actions of the security forces were approved by the President".

HURIWA said the signals are ominous that constitutional democracy is facing grave danger of imminent collapse unless and except the leaders of the international community directly task the President of Nigeria to stop his government's rapid adoption of fascism and tyranny.

In a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA asked the global leaders of democracy in the United Kingdom, United States of America; Germany; France to intervene in the ongoing systematic attacks by the Nigerian government targeting independent leaders of opposition political parties; Civil society organizations; and Non-governmental individuals who have a difference of opinions on certain issues of nation building that fundamentally departs from the position maintained by the President and his top officials. "We in the independent organized civil society community are under attacks by officials of government with most of these attacks bothering on threats to lives of some of us. The recent search of the Jet of the leading opposition candidate for the coming Presidential election is only but a tip off the iceberg. The global leaders must intervene to save Nigeria's democracy from collapsing into fascism and totalitarianism similar to what obtains in today's Venezuela or Philippine".  The Rights group reminded the global leaders that Africa's stability is imperiled should constitutional democracy be allowed to collapse.

HURIWA recalled that the Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika says Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and his luxury jet were subjected to routine security measures at the airport when he returned from Dubai where he had been strategizing on the 2019 presidential election.

HURIWA quoted the aviation minister of state Mr. Hadi Sirika as stating as follows: "This is a mischievous attempt to grab the headlines. Nigerians need to know that one of the resolutions of the Atiku team at their recently-concluded, opulently-held Dubai retreat was to embark on scaremongering. This is one of such."

"For the records, all incoming passengers on international flights go through customs, Immigration, health and security screening."

"Where the aircraft is using the private, charter wing, as the PDP Candidate did, such arrivals are met by a team of the Immigration, customs and other security agencies. They go to the arriving aircraft as a team. The airport authorities confirm that this is a routine process, applying to all international arrivals, including the minister unless the passenger is the President of Nigeria. The President, the Vice President and passengers aboard planes on the Presidential air fleet use the Presidential wing of the airport."

"It is also important to state that even in the Presidential Wing of the airport the President of Nigeria uses, there is the presence of Immigration and other security officials who must stamp his or her passport on arrival."

"By standard procedure, all aircraft on international arrivals must first of all park at the international wing of the aircraft. They can move to the domestic terminal only upon the completion of the arrival processes."

"While it is true that the Task Force on Currency at the airport did the routine action of checking the former Vice President’s travel bag, he was accorded full respect as a senior citizen."

"These checks are mandatory, conventional, internationally applied and routine. No one is excused from them under our laws. These checks are carried out on all international arrivals and President Buhari does not get involved in them."

"Law-abiding citizens are encouraged to respect the laws of the country and our VIPs should not seek to be treated over and above the citizens they wish to serve.”

HURIWA however rubbishes the aforementioned claims by the Aviation minister and dismissed it as lacking in verifiable and concrete evidence since it is known that friends and family members of the President are treated as top diplomats at the airports and are never subjected to any form of searches.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

HURIWA condemns assassination attempt on the life of Ike Ekweremadu/family members: *Warned against targeted violence on opposition voices:


A leading pro-democracy and non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned the attempted assassination of the Deputy Senate President Professor Ike Ekweremadu and members of his family in Abuja.

HURIWA has also warned against what it termed 'targeted violence' against notable political opposition figures and credible leaders of the organized civil society community especially as the general election nears. HURIWA alleged that several of their members including the national coordinator have come under increasing threats of attacks on their lives because their independent opinions that are different from the views of the powers that be currently in Abuja and other federating units. "The level of intolerance of opposing views by government officials all over the Country is heartrending. Threats to the lives of credible opponents of the massive corruption going on under the nose of the current Presidency is frightening".

Expressing dismay at the rapidly deteriorating security situation all over the country leading to the free reign of freelance armed hoodlums and bandits of all ramifications, the Rights group said it was regrettable that rather than comprehensively reorganize, reform and recharge the collapsing Nigerian policing institutions and supervise the Nigeria Police force to get these officers to discharge their statutory duties for which huge public expenditures are made,  what we have seen is the consistent and systematic manipulation of all the armed security forces by the presidency and affiliate officials to embark on politically tainted and Ethno-religiously focused operations far removed from the statutory functions for which such bodies were established in the first place.

“The police, the Department of State Services (DSS) and all the organs of the armed forces in Nigeria have in one way or the other been polluted politically and diverted to embark on political assignments to satisfy the political objectives of those who wield temporary political power even as these institutions are now challenged to an extent that there is now a free reign of all shades and colours of freelance armed attackers such as kidnappers, armed Fulani herdsmen, terrorists and mass murderers who have in the last three years unleashed spectacles of vicious and blood cuddling violence that have resulted in the killings of thousands of innocent Nigerians. DSS for instance recently attempted to overthrow the constituted authority at the National Assembly with over 100 hooded and well-armed operatives directly controlled by the disgraced and dismissed Director General Alhaji Lawal Daura but such heinous crime against the constitution has been swept under the carpets of impunity. The climax of this uncontrolled chaos and anarchy is that opponents of the powers that be can no longer sleep with their two eyes opened.”

HURIWA has therefore called on all patriotic Nigerians to add their voices to the strident call by HURIWA on security forces to comply only with the duties clearly spelt out in the grund norm of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and stop becoming slaves to temporal wielders of political powers whose stay in office is ephemeral. HURIWA warned such deviant and politically corrupted security officers that a day of reckoning will soon come when they would be decisively sanctioned for these grave crimes against humanity.

“The attempt on the lives of the Deputy Senate President and his family members has come at a time that he has been bombarded by politically motivated attacks by government officials and partisan mobs embedded in a lot of supposed law enforcement agencies including a phantom presidential panel on anti-graft.”

“This attempt to kill one of the most vocal critics of the administration with just three months to election, must not be swept under the carpet of impunity like dozens of other unresolved but heinous crimes in the last three years, but Nigerians must mount pressure on heads of armed security forces to discharge their duties or be dismissed.”

“The international community must closely monitor the choreographed systematic breach of security, threats to lives and actual killings of opposition voices and persons with a difference of religious affiliations from those currently exercising executive offices.”

HURIWA recalled that the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, his wife, and son escaped an assassination attempt at about 4am on Tuesday.

The armed men discreetly evaded the security at Ekweremadu’s Apo Quarters residence, to gain entry into his house.

The attackers, who could not immediately shoot in order not to attract the attention of the security personnel on duty, took hold of his son, and commanded him to lead them the Senator’s bedroom.
It was at the Senator’s bedroom that a struggle ensued, leading to the arrest of one of the assailants with dangerous weapons and housebreaking devices, while the rest managed to escape.

The arrested member of the gang has, however, refused to divulge any information on the operation and has been handed over to the police.

Ekweremadu, his wife, and one of his sons were in the house at the time of the attack.
It could be recalled that the lawmaker narrowly escaped an attempt on his life in Abuja on November 17, 2015.

Although the 2015 incident was reported to the security agencies, nothing has been heard about the matter till date.

Monday, 5 November 2018

WANTED: BAILOUT for Nigerian Army By Emmanuel Onwubiko


In the early 80’s when yours faithfully was just about leaving primary school preparatory for enrollment into high school, something happened that has shaped my opinion of the Nigerian military.
This was it: a neatly dressed officer of the Nigerian Army was ushered into the assembly ground of the Aduwan one local government Education Authority Primary School in the sleepy town of Kafanchan in Southern Kaduna state.

The tall, handsome but tough looking officer was also accompanied by two other persons including a lady who were both so well dressed in the same military fatigue.
Their purpose for visiting the school was to educate the pupils about the Nigerian Army even as they said they were to look around the pupils standing before them for those who have the physical fitness and who may be interested in enlisting into the military.
Their focus was on the final year pupils who were only few days away from taking their first school leaving examination.

For about thirty minutes they were done with their assignment just as we were told that they found about a dozen pupils including yours faithfully who they think should be encouraged to apply for the Army’s secondary school and thereafter get enlisted.
One thing led to the other, and yours faithfully decided otherwise.
But some of my classmates opted to go to the Military High School.

That symbolic encounter became the turning point in my positively constructive view point about the Army. Psychologists states that the mind of a little child is like a tabula rasa in Latin which means a blank board.

It is therefore from a prism of someone who got fascinated as a child about the military that I am doing this piece. This is because of the complexity i find in the attitudes of our modern day soldiers that radical questions the validity of my infant's ideation of the military in Nigeria.
This piece is also directly inspired by the snippets of negative commentaries about the conducts of the military in the contemporary times during the numerous internal military operations in aid of the civil authority.

These negativity that sums up the overwhelming opinions of most observers regarding the ugly encounters between the military and the civil populace during the several internal military operations can then be likened to that which occurs when someone has reached the bridge and therefore is required to cross the it.

The journey to the bridge is akin to my earliest experiences of the military and my impressionistic opinion of the institution of the Army during childhood, and the crossing of the bridge is the new impressions that came pouring in based on the institutional impediments that have constituted a cog in the wheel of progress of the Nigerian Army on its way towards becoming a truly professional military institution that complies holistically to global best practices and whose operatives are bound by extant legal frameworks governing the conduct of internal military operations.
Two quick points on the major issues at play as highlighted above.

The most disturbing of the two is the failure of leadership on the part of the civil authority.
The failure of leadership on the part of those wielding democratically bestowed powers and authority can as well be seen from two perspectives.

The first is the lack of vision and political will to comprehensively reform the policing institutions and to make the police a thoroughly professionalized institution with the hierarchy that is chosen based on merits, competences and professional excellence.

The second segment of the failure of leadership at the level of political governance structure, is the failure to activate the legal frameworks for efficiently monitoring the internal military operations to ensure that the operatives and officers comply with extant laws and global best practices.

So far what has happened is that in virtually all of the complaints emanating from the apparent misconducts of the military in internal military operations is that the political authority has always ended up muddling up the mechanisms for redress by compromising such institutions like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and by setting up kangaroo panels that have always ended up not effectively dealing with the issues of professional misconducts.

These attitudes and tendencies to corrupt and compromise the mechanisms for redress have led to the erosion of confidence on the part of the civil populace that they can ever obtain remedial redress if their rights are infringed by soldiers during internal military operations.
Two things have therefore emerged: the victims of use of brute force by the military are compelled to resort to self-help measures.

Those insignificant minority who don’t subscribe to the use of self-help measures against the military whenever they suffer violations of their rights have decided to approach both the domestic and international legal fora to seek for redress.
I must state that the current chief of Army Staff will go down in history as someone who going by all that the media have reported about some in-house reforms, is passionate about instilling professional discipline.

It is known that in the last three years of his leadership scores of indicted military operatives have gone through the court martial process just as many have been sanctioned.
But it must be admitted that the impacts of the different military court martial sessions does not seem to have sufficiently tackled the overwhelming evidences of crass misconducts by some operatives.
For instance, there are occasions of conflicts between the Army and some civil protesters that resulted in fatalities.

But despite concerns expressed by well-meaning groups, the military is known to have defended their operatives.
The spokesman of the Defence headquarters has done irreparable damage to the public image of the Army by outrightly justifying what seemed like naked and brute use of maximum military force against civilian protesters. He said any confrontation with the military will be met with maximum force since the military have no rubber-bullets during internal military operations.

Watching the latest television interview the Defence headquarters spokesperson gave to a television producer who sought to know why the Army opened fire towards the surging protesters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, it does not look professional that this senior officer justified the extra-legal killings.

These conflicting signals from the media managers of the Nigerian military should lead us to ascertain the next big institutional impediment weighing down the professional pride of place of the military.

We have earlier listed that too many internal policing jobs done by the military is the fundamental cause of the deterioration of the professional status of the military because the primary duty of the military in line with the constitution in section 217 is to defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
The military has done well in defending Nigeria’s territorial integrity but is significantly impacted negatively by multiple policing jobs that the Nigeria police force ought to be doing but for the near collapse of the Nigerian police force, these routine policing duties are carried out by the overstretched military.

The next big impediment is funding deficits.
Poor funding inevitably results from the overwhelming involvement of the military in routine duties that they are not prepared, equipped or adequately financed to enforce.
This porous financing status can be seen from news reports that state governments whereby internal military operations take place are tasked to donate to the military.

It is not unusual these days to flip through the pages of newspapers to read stories and watch photos of state governors donating vehicles to the military and even a state like Rivers state is known to have donated gun-boats to the Navy to police the maritime areas.

I have never read nor have seen when any of the fifty states in the United States or any of the municipal authorities in Germany, Spain or United Kingdom have donated vehicles to their equivalents of armed forces and police.

Nigeria must decide on granting comprehensive bail out to the military.
Around February of this year, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, lamented poor funding of the Nigerian Army despite the military operations being carried out in all the states of the federation.

Buratai, while appearing before the Senate Committee on Army in Abuja to defend the 2018 budget proposed by the Nigerian Army, noted that agitations had spread across the country since 2015, making the military to be deployed for internal security operations.
The Army chief also decried the envelope budgeting system adopted by the Federal Government, which he said, had limited the outfit’s access to funds.

He said, “Let me quickly appraise the performance of the Nigerian Army’s budget for 2017. You will recall that since the beginning of 2015, the activities of violent non-state actors have aggravated in various regions across our dear country. In response to this, the Nigerian Army has expanded from five divisions to eight divisions, and is currently engaging in the war against Boko Haram and other internal security operations – virtually in all the 36 states of the federation.

“These commitments have extended our core constitutional roles and have impacted significantly on our human and material resources. The inadequate budgetary allocation, the subsisting envelope budget system and partial release of funds have negatively affected the Nigerian Army towards achieving an utmost secured environment for the citizenry.”

The Army chief however decried that the Ministry of Finance was deducting Nigerian Army’s power consumption bill from source, urging the Senate to stop the withdrawal.
Buratai, while appraising the Nigerian Army’s 2017 budget, said N133.44bn budgeted for unpaid allowances such as ration cash, medical and cost, was fully released.

He said the Nigerian Army’s overheads appropriation had a performance of 42.82 per cent, amounted to N171.7bn. He however said only N11,849,000,000 was released for capital expenditure, out of the N20,623,000,000 appropriated, representing 57.46 per cent.

On the 2018 proposal, the Army chief said the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning proposed N233.05bn.
He said, “However, the Nigerian Army is requesting the sum of N261.67bn.”

Commenting, a member of the committee, Senator Abdullahi Danbaba, lamented that the Army was being underfunded “in a situation where we have so many challenges in terms of even the territorial integrity of this country.”

He said apart from the fact that the overheads of the Army was “completely reduced” from what the committee recommended, the government failed to release the amount appropriated in full.
The chairman of the committee, George Akume, said the lawmakers would engage with the relevant authorities to ensure that the Army enjoy full releases especially on overheads.

Another member of the committee, Senator James Manager, however, argued that previous engagements with the Execute had not produced positive results.
He stated that it was time that the Nigerian Army was put on the first-line-charge of the Federal Government.

Manager said, “There is serious insecurity in the country and for us to survive as a country, there must be peace and that is where the Army, the police and all the security forces are important. Speaking for the Army and the entire military architecture, I would rather advocate the first-line-charge for the military.”

This writer totally agree with the proposal that the military should be put on first line charge just like the judiciary. This is because without adequate funding of the Army, the national security status would be porous. However, adequate checks and balances must be put in place to remove procurement crimes that do occur whenever defence expenditures are made by the ministry of Defence or the relevant procurement departments of the different segments of the armed forces. Funding independence must be followed strictly by monitoring and efficient oversight by the legislative houses and civil society practitioners.

All the aforementioned are strategic because more than any other period in the nation’s history, the Nigerian Armed Forces are engaged simultaneously in at least 10 major internal security operations across the six geo-political zones of the country, according to a report by Thisday.

These major internal security operations include the war against terrorism, deadly herdsmen, cattle rustlers, kidnappers, oil thieves and pipeline vandals, and the joint police/military security outfits against criminal activities such as armed robbery in the 36 states of the federation.

The various operations involve huge deployment of military assets and manpower and are being prosecuted simultaneously at a period of dwindling national revenue and protracted war against terrorism and insurgency that has lasted six years, thereby stretching the military too thin.

In the North East, there is Operation Lafiya Dole, which handles the overall Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency Operations with expanded scope, scale and depth comprising three divisions and more than five states. This has dovetailed to other specialized operations like Operation Crackdown to wind down the war against insurgents and clear the remnants of the Boko Haram sect in Sambisa Forest; Operation Gama Aiki, which serves same purpose in the northern part of Borno state; and Operation Safe Corridor, set up for the de-radicalization and rehabilitation of repentant Boko Haram terrorists.

North Central has Operation Safe Haven stationed in Plateau State with area of operation extending to Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa and Kwara States to quell ethno-religious conflicts and other criminal activities.
There is also Operation Sara Daji and Operation Harbin Kunama in the North West, established to battle the criminal activities of armed bandits, cattle rustlers and robbers operating particularly in Zamfara, Kaduna and fringes of Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Kano states.

Down south, the military has a major operation codenamed Operation Delta Safe which was formerly Operation Pulo Shield. It is now complemented by the Nigerian Army’s Operation Crocodile Smile, and Navy’s Operation Tsera Teku. These operations are all aimed at crushing the resurgent Niger Delta militancy and other acts of criminality like oil theft, vandalism, and bunkering in the region.
In the South west, there is Operation Awase with a mandate to contain the criminal operations around Ogun-Lagos axis, particularly in Arepo where illegal oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism are regular occurrences. South East has Operation Iron Fence to combat armed robbers, hooligans and kidnappers.

This is how important the institutions of the military is according to the constitution as spelt out in section 217 (1) “There shall be an armed forces for the federation shall consist of an Army, a Navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of the federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly. (2) The federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of – defending Nigeria from external aggression; maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air; suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the president, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the national Assembly; and performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Jift of the National Assembly.
This bailout is urgent and necessary.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko heads the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and blogs @ www.emmanuelonwubiko.comwww.huriwanigeria.com; www.huriwa@blogspot.com.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Trump as ‘Poster Boy’ of Nigerian Army By Emmanuel Onwubiko


In both Nigeria and the United States of America, this outgoing week has become a historical watershed in the area of enforcement and respect of the fundamental human rights vis-à-vis the rules of engagement in internal military operations.

In Nigeria, the Nigerian Army has come under serious scrutiny over its handling of the public protests within the Federal Capital Territory of the followers of the detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria also known as Shiites(IMN)- Sheikh Ibraheem EkZaczacky.

The Nigerian Army has had nearly half a dozen confrontations with 'caravan' of the Islamic movement of Nigeria’s protesters following what looks like an instruction from the president to crush the longstanding civil protests by this resilient group.

It would be recalled that the ongoing issues of confrontations between the state and these religious people started over three years ago in Zaria.

The story was told of how the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai was in an official convoy enroute Zamfara and on getting to Zaria, Kaduna state, a huge caravan of members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria reportedly blocked the right of way thereby halting the free flow of traffic on the Federal High Way which also affected the Army Chief.

It was further reported that the soldiers on the convoy of the nation’s military chief unsuccessfully attempted to convinced the leadership of the procession to steer clear of the right of way so as to allow other road users to proceed with their movement.

One thing led to another, and a confrontation ensued resulting in the killings of scores of members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria just as the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff reportedly managed to escape from the riotous scene so as to avoid been hit by any accidental discharge from both groups of state supported and IMN supported sets of combatants.

Soon after this incident, the leader of the Shiites group Sheikh Ibraheem Elzalzacky alongside his wife were arrested and taken into the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The detained leader of this group of Moslems had since secured over half a dozen bail orders from competent courts of law but President Muhammadu Buhari has simply refused to obey any of those binding orders of the court.

The court in Nigeria, has the judicial powers of the federation in accordance with section 6 of the constitution.
For the avoidance of semantic doubts, this is what the Nigerian constitution says in section 6: “(1) The judicial powers of the Federation shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established for the Federation; (2) The judicial powers of a State shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established, subject as provided by this Constitution, for a State; (3) The courts to which this section relates, established by this Constitution for the Federation and for the States, specified in subsection (5) (a) to (1) of this section, shall be the only superior courts of record in Nigeria; and save as otherwise prescribed by the National Assembly or by the House of Assembly of a State, each court shall have all the powers of a superior court of record; (4) Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this section shall be construed as precluding:- (a) the National Assembly or any House of Assembly from establishing courts, other than those to which this section relates, with subordinate jurisdiction to that of a High Court; (b) the National Assembly or any House of Assembly, which does not require it, from abolishing any court which it has power to establish or which it has brought into being; (5) This section relates to:- (a) the Supreme Court of Nigeria; (b) the Court of Appeal; (c) the Federal High Court; (d) the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (e) a High Court of a State; (f) the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (g) a Sharia Court of Appeal of a State; (h) the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (i) a Customary Court of Appeal of a State; (j) such other courts as may be authorized by law to exercise jurisdiction on matters with respect to which the National Assembly may make laws; and (k) such other court as may be authorized by law to exercise jurisdiction at first instance or on appeal on matters with respect to which a House of Assembly may make laws; (6) The judicial powers vested in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section - (a) shall extend, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this constitution, to all inherent powers and sanctions of a court of law; (b) shall extend, to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any persons in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person; (c) shall not except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, extend to any issue or question as to whether any act of omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Chapter II of this Constitution; (d) shall not, as from the date when this section comes into force, extend to any action or proceedings relating to any existing law made on or after 15th January, 1966 for determining any issue or question as to the competence of any authority or person to make any such law.”

So it is fair to say that the genesis of the heavy confrontations that took place in three working days this week within Abuja, is directly related to the demand by these followers for the president of Nigeria at this moment to release their leader who already has bail order (not one but many bail orders) to that effect but which have been recklessly disrespected by the powers-that-be.

The members of the Shiites Movement then decided to troop into Abuja for a grand protest and they reportedly planned to gain entrance into Abuja’s city center from the two strategic entry points located in Niger and Nasarawa states.

However, the Nigerian Army tried to dissuade the caravan of Islamic protesters from making good their threat to stage a huge rally in Abuja but this attempt to drive them back led to a violent confrontation. Several other confrontations then followed between IMN and combined armed forces and police leading to dozens of fatalities.

The Nigerian army however blamed the IMN by stating that: "Troops of the Nigerian Army deployed on routine duty at Kugbo/ Karu bridge checkpoint of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were attacked by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) sect at about 3:00pm on 29th October 2018."

"The sect in massive numbers forced their way into the troops checkpoint after over running the Police Force. The Police withdrew back to own troops position to join efforts to repel them. They fired weapons at own troops, throwing bottle cannisters with fuel, large stones, catapults with dangerous objects and other dangerous items at troops causing bodily harm and stopping motorist movement, breaking their windscreen and causing heavy traffic. However, Troops repelled the attack in conjunction with the Nigerian Police Force to stop the situation from further deteriorating."
The Nigerian Army spoke further: "Unfortunately, during the encounter 3 members of the sect were killed while 4 soldiers sustained various degrees of injuries and are being treated at a military medical facility.

Meanwhile, the situation has been brought under control and normalcy restored in the general area and there is free flow of traffic."

The spokesperson of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) however claimed that soldiers simply opened fire with lethal weapons, killing dozens of their members.

Both parties also had violent confrontation for an upward of three days leading to a tragic consequences.

However, Amnesty International condemned what they termed as excessive use of force and open deployment of lethal weapons by the Nigerian Army against Shiites.

Amnesty International states as follows: "An investigation by Amnesty International shows that the horrific use of excessive force by soldiers and police led to the killing of at least 45 supporters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) over two days, as the Shi’a Muslim group held a peaceful religious procession around Abuja."

"Amnesty researchers visited five different locations in Abuja and Nasarawa state where wounded IMN supporters were receiving treatment, including two locations where bodies were deposited. Researchers spoke with victims, eyewitnesses and medical practitioners, and analyzed videos and photographs of those injured and killed during the protests, which took place on Saturday and Monday."

“We have seen a shocking and unconscionable use of deadly force by soldiers and police against IMN members. Video footage and eyewitness testimonies consistently show that the Nigerian military dispersed peaceful gatherings by firing live ammunition without warning, in clear violation of Nigerian and international law,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

“Those injured were shot in different parts of the body – head, neck, back, chest, shoulder, legs, arms – and some of them had multiple gunshot wounds. This pattern clearly shows soldiers and police approached IMN processions not to restore public order, but to kill.”

Amnesty International has evidence that the military used automatic firearms during Monday’s protest, in which at least 122 protesters sustained gunshot wounds and at least 39 were killed. At least six people were killed in protests on Saturday.

The organization’s research team counted 24 bodies (23 male and one female) and trusted sources provided details of 21 others. Two of the bodies seen had their legs severed, which Amnesty International’s military and weapons expert analyzed as consistent with injuries caused by a heavy fully-automatic machine gun such as a PKM or DShK.

“It seems the Nigerian military are deliberately using tactics designed to kill when dealing with IMN gatherings. Many of these shootings clearly amount to extrajudicial executions,” said Osai Ojigho.
“This violent crackdown on IMN protesters is unjustified and unacceptable. They were perfectly within their rights to hold a religious procession and protest and there was no evidence they posed an imminent threat to life.”

Many injured IMN supporters have sought medical treatment in unofficial buildings due to fear of arrest if they go to hospital.

One medical worker near Abuja told Amnesty International: “From yesterday (Monday) I attended to 57 people with gunshot wounds, most of them still having the bullets lodged in their bodies. We are only trying to stabilize them by arresting the flow of blood before sending them to hospital. It is not an ideal situation because this is an uncompleted building, not a hospital. I am hoping that they get to hospital today.”

Since a massacre of over 350 IMN supporters which took place in Zaria in 2015, the Nigerian authorities have consistently sent in the military to respond to IMN protests or marches. This strategy appears to be at least partly to blame for the bloodshed witnessed on Saturday and Monday.
There are reports that stones were thrown by protesters as a response to the use of lethal force, to which security forces responded with tear gas and more gunfire.

“We are once again calling on the Nigerian authorities to impartially investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the extrajudicial execution killing of IMN supporters, including the commanders who gave the orders for live bullets to be used,” said Osai Ojigho.

“The continuous failure to investigate these gross human rights violations is fueling a dangerous disdain for the sanctity of human life in Nigeria.”

International law is clear that security forces policing demonstrations must not use firearms against protesters unless they pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury, and only if there is no lesser way to avert such threat.

They must never use firearms to disperse a demonstration, even if it turns violent. Firearms must never be used as a tactical tool for the management of demonstrations: they may only be used for the purpose of saving another life.

The Nigerian authorities have an obligation under international law to ensure there is a full and independent investigation of deaths at the hands of security forces and that those responsible, including in the command structure of the security forces, are held accountable under criminal law.

The Nigerian Army having run out of ideas on how to explain the circumstances that led to the killings of so many protesting Shiites, however got lucky that on the day Amnesty International and many other groups attacked the Army over the extralegal execution of Shiites, the eccentric president of the United States of America Mr. Donald Trump gave the Nigerian Army what looked to them as a better explanation.

Recall that at the beginning of this piece, I alluded to the striking coincidences that happened in both Nigeria and the United States of America.

In the United States of America, just like in Nigeria, the borders of the United States have come under closer watch because of the rapidly advancing caravans of immigrants running away from many Central American troubled states and they are headed to the United States of America seeking for succor.

But as this globally respected group known as Amnesty International was sounding critical to the killings of civilians in Nigeria who were protesting for the release of their leader, Donald Trump gave an interview whereby he said he will command the special forces he has sent to stop the advancement of the immigrants into the united states soil, to shoot to kill should they come under stone throwing attacks.

The US will adopt harsh, Israeli-style tactics and will treat migrants at the Mexican border as armed and dangerous invaders if they throw rocks at US law enforcement, Donald Trump has stressed amid a mass military deployment.

While the US commander in chief "hopes" the US military will not have to engage the so-called ‘migrant caravans’ with firearms once they reach the US border, Trump stated that pelting the American forces with rocks will not be tolerated.

Anybody throwing stones, rocks, like they did to Mexico... we will consider that a firearm
“It's the military. I hope there won't be that. But I will tell you this: Anybody throwing stones, rocks, like they did to Mexico and the Mexican military, Mexican police – where they badly hurt police and soldiers of Mexico – we will consider that a firearm, because there is not much difference if you get hit in the face with a rock,” Trump said to reporters.

Calling the caravans –at present making their way towards the US– an “invasion” that has already managed to overrun the Mexican military and police forces, Trump stressed that the US military is fully prepared to deal with criminals and other “tough people” in that crowd.

“These illegal caravans will not be allowed into the United States. And they should turn back now, as they are wasting their time,” he suggested, noting that many criminals and drug dealers are hiding in the crowd.

So this is not an innocent group of people. They’ve injured, they’ve attacked.

Information filtering in from the USA states that as part of the dramatically-named Operation Faithful Patriot, over 5,000 fully armed soldiers are currently being deployed to help some 2,000 National Guardsmen secure the 26 entry points along the 2,000-mile land border with Mexico. Trump and the Pentagon said they will not hesitate to deploy more troops if the need arises.

While General Terrence O'Shaughnessy of US Northern Command earlier noted that soldiers will "understand the rules" of interaction with migrants, which will "be consistent with CBP" rules of engagement, he failed to say whether troops will be allowed to use deadly force. Trump seemed to shed a little bit more light on the leeway American soldiers will have against the caravans, which currently comprise roughly 6,500 people, heading towards the US.

The Nigerian Army immediately adopted the weird and substantially extralegal position of Trump as a justification for the killings of dozens of protesting members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

However, both the United States president and the Nigerian Army that quickly adopted his irrational statement are wrong because international human rights laws are against such unlawful killings. It is indeed on the ground of these binding global rights provisions that the United Nations have severally passed resolutions condemning the extreme use of lethal force against the Palestinian stone throwing protestors by the Israel Army.

“The Nigerian Armed Forces when deployed for either internal or external operations, are bound by the laws of war and international law in the conduct of the operations. The laws regulate and limit the conduct of operations by acting as checks against arbitrary use of force. They are intended to minimize unnecessary suffering by combatants and non-combatants during war. The laws of war and international law are therefore sources of military law in Nigeria and include the following: The four Geneva Conventions of 1949; The two Additional Protocols of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949; Multilateral and bilateral agreements to which Nigeria is a signatory and have bearing on military service or operations; The decisions of: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague, Ad hoc war crimes tribunals set up by or with the backing of the UN Security Council; The International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague...."

"It is noteworthy that the four Geneva Conventions and the two additional Protocols of 1977 have been formally given effect in Nigeria by the enactment of the Geneva Conventions Act Cap G3 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2014. In sum, the conventions and protocols which are now an Act of the National Assembly, elaborately spell out the laws of armed conflicts on the use of force and the legal implication of disregarding rules regulating the means and methods of warfare, among other things. Specifically, section 3 of the Act provides for trial and punishment for breach of the Geneva Conventions as follows: In case of grave breach involving willful killing of a person protected by the Convention, sentence of death; In any other such grave breach, imprisonment for 14 years.” (From the book “Military Law in Nigeria, Under Democratic Rule” by Brigadier General T.E.C. Chiefe (Rtd) Ph.D.)

The Nigerian Army must desist from adopting the illegal opinions of Donald Trump when there are clear guidelines on how to tackle civil protests and rules governing use of maximum military force. By the way, the US Congress and the US embassy in Nigeria have condemned the extralegal killings of Shiites protesters.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko heads the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and blogs @ www.emmanuelonwubiko.comwww.huriwanigeria.com; www.huriwa@blogspot.com; www.thenigerianinsidernews.com