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Wednesday, 31 May 2017


Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, was the 16th  President of the World’s largest democracy- the United States of America between 1861- 1865. 
He was such a world’s statesman whose presidency was credited with many feats amongst which was the January 1st 1863 issuance of the emancipation proclamation and his earlier facilitation of freedom for rebellious slaves which happened in 1862. 
This may have motivated his successor Andrew Johnson who in 1865 abolished slavery. 
Above all else, this great citizen of the world Abraham Lincoln  is still remembered today for his major scholarly but common-sensical and impactful definition of the concept of democracy in which he affirmed that “democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people”.
In essence, Abraham Lincoln can rightly be said to have canvassed the position that there is no democracy without the people.
In Nigeria however, since the advent of civil rule in 1999, democracy that has been practiced is more or less that kind of government that is formed by the elite, ruled by the elite and fundamentally advances the interest of the elite.
The elite’s takeover of the entire  structure of governance in spite of the constitutional stipulation in section 14(2) (c) that “the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this constitution”, is therefore a major source of conflicts and agitations.
Amongst the salient agitations in the country is the version spearheaded by a group known as the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) in which there is now a mass movement canvassing self-determination for the people of South East of Nigeria in line with international laws.
The agitations for self-determination for South East has seen lots of avoidable extra-legal killings of unarmed civilians by the security forces leading to the compilation of report by the United Kingdom based Amnesty international which recorded these unfathomable atrocities. 
But the campaigners for self-determination are not deterred by the barrage of needless violence unleashed on their members by armed security forces. 
These agitators have therefore demanded that the international community need to conduct a referendum to decide the future and prospect of their agitation for self-government under the name of Republic of Biafra. 
But the status quo and those officials who benefit from the dysfunctionality in the structure of Nigeria have insisted that the unity of Nigeria cannot be subjected to agitation for possible dissolution. They are dead wrong!
This is because of the fact that injustice has no capacity to exist for long. Augustine of Hippo (354-430CE) stated rightly that: "if justice be taken away, what are governments but great bands of robbers?"
One of those beneficiaries of the skewed system of federalism that operates in Nigeria who is the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN) who ought to have known better given his privileged position has rather decided to play the ostrich by asserting wrongly that no amount of agitation or advocacy can bring about restructuring of the badly structured nation-state called Nigeria.
Hear him: "Their “agitation” and “provocative rhetoric’s” cannot achieve their dream".
He warned those behind the quest for restructuring to avoid demonstrations because “it is a complex process. 
What sort of a minister of justice who swore by the constitution to defend the fundamental human rights as encompassed in Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution be seen asking people not to exercise their fundamental freedoms of peaceful assembly and movement?
On another breath this minister said although Nigeria’s federal system had been experiencing challenges; its reforms could not be done in one fell swoop.
Besides, democratic means should be deployed to reform the federal system, according to Malami.
He argued also that: “Federalism is imbedded in our constitution as contained in sections 2,3 and 5. It is not out of place to state that as far as our constitutional democracy is concerned, the idea of restructuring is not a function of advocacy or agitation. It is about constitutional accommodation and or alternative constitutional amendment."
“As things stand, restructuring requires amending the constitution to accommodate referendum or, in the alternative, a constitutional amendment to the 1999 constitution, which in this case must be supported by majority of legislators in 24 states of the federation as enshrined in Section 9 of the constitution".
But the current justice Minister has failed to appreciate the enormity and essence of the constitutional provision in section 14 (2) which affirmed that: “Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this constitution derives all its powers and authority”
Besides, Article 1 of the international Convent on Civil and Political Rights states that “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, solid and cultural development”
So it is a fatal error for officials of the Federal government to play god and arbitrarily dismiss the clamour by a large percentage of the people of the South East of Nigeria for their peaceful advocacy for self-government. 
If i may ask Abubakar Malami, was doctrine of necessity in our Constitution?
Doctrine of Necessity was cited by the National Assembly to bring in the then Vice president Goodluck Jonathan as acting President when his then boss Umaru Musa Yaradua was flown abroad for medical emergency from whence he passed on. 
Putting aside the statement of the justice minister it is worthy to note that whilst all the pros and cons of the conversation around the theme of self-determination as canvassed by groups such as IPOB, and MASSOB are still going on, the events that happened on May 30th 2017 has provided ample evidence of the potency of people’s power.
This is because, even as the Federal might was wrongly unleashed by way of mass deployment of Military hardwares and armed security forces all around the South East of Nigeria to intimidate the population and dissuade them from complying with the sit-at-home directive issued by the the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) IN MEMORIAL OF THE DECLARATION OF BIAFRA Since 50 years ago, there is now a unanimity of opinion that over 95 percent of the population of the South East of Nigeria complied  with the directive to stay back at home and pray for the repose of the souls of the over 3 million Biafrans that were Massacred by then Nigeria Federal Forces aided by Western Powers of Britain, United States and then Union of Soviet Republic (USSR) Now Russia.
The total compliance with the directive to sit-at-home on May 30th 2017 also rubbished the futile effort made by the governors of South East States to stop the people from complying. 
This can only be described as the resurgence of people’s power and is a perfect opportunity for all hands to be on deck to address all the systematic anomalies foisted on the Nigerian State by the political and ruling elite which inhibits the proper functions of federalism in Nigeria.
This call for fundamental rethinking of the workings of democracy in Nigeria can be likened to a scenario graphically depicted by Professor John Keane in his book “The life and death of democracy”.
Professor Keane wrote thus: There were desktop philosophers, outspoken literary agitators and hard-line militant activists, none of them much in agreement about what needed to be done. Some critics (like the controversial French philosopher Jean-Claude Milner) accused democracy of being founded on disrespect for pluralism and, ultimately, on genocide". 
 "Worryingly, ... most of the new foes of democracy claimed to be true friends of people, which implied something more disturbing: if in future they managed to get their way with the world then it was absolutely certain that monitory democracy would be destroyed in the name of democracy."
In line with the above wise affirmations, the genuine lovers of the Nigerian nation must think out of the box and find workable solution to the overwhelming rise in the agitation for self determination.  
We can't wish it away or neither can we succeed in using the force of arms to armtwist the people into abandoning the clamour for Biafra. 
Little wonder that such international organisations like Amnesty International have challenged the armed security forces to desist from deploying brute and crude force of violence to maim or kill the agitators.
"The Nigerian security forces must exercise restraint when policing demonstrations marking the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Biafra War on 30 May, and avoid a repetition of the bloodbath caused by their heavy-handed response last year when more than 60 people were gunned down", said Amnesty International.
 “Last year’s heavy-handed response against pro-Biafra activists further stirred up tensions in the south east of Nigeria. The reckless approach to crowd control favoured by the security forces when policing peaceful pro-Biafra protests has left more than 150 dead since August 2015, not to mention cases of enforced disappearance and unlawful detention,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
 “Despite overwhelming evidence that members of the Nigerian security forces fired live ammunition with little or no warning to disperse pro-Biafra gatherings, resulting in the death of at least 150 people, no person suspected of criminal responsibility has been brought to justice,” said Osai Ojigho.
Be that as it may, the larger significance of what transpired in the entire South East of Nigeria and spanning as far fetched as Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, has shown that truly there is something  stronger than all Armies of the World and that is precisely an idea whose time has come (apologies to a Philosophy). 
The time has come for Nigeria to be restructured and made to work in such a way that all segments of the Federation will have a sense of belonging. 
 It is no longer acceptable that the South East of Nigeria is treated with the short end of the stick in the body politics to such a brutal extent that the current Federal Government failed to appoint someone from that geopolitical zone as one of the service Chiefs. 
The current administration must also redress all the imbalances such as the skewed location of strategic military infrastructures to other zones with none in the SouthEast of Nigeria and with the greatest percentage of these strategic national Defence assets located in the North of Nigeria. Why the fear to site these military infrastructures or some of them in the South East of Nigeria or are Igbo not Nigerians?
Besides, the South East of Nigeria just like the other places must also feel the impacts of federal presence such as building of refineries and other strategic infrastructures of Roads networks and the second Niger Bridge. 
But above all, let there be referendum to decide the future of this country.  Let nobody chorus the old song that it is not in the constitution because this same constitution weak and imperfect as it is still sees the people as the owners of the Sovereignty.  Let the people decide. 
These are minimal demands. 
* Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs;

Thursday, 18 May 2017


Today Thursdays May 18, 2017 started for me in a very special way.
First I got a distress call from a young single mum of three children who ekes out a living by hawking fresh fruits somewhere in Wuse Two, Abuja.
This call came boozing in the phone at about 8 am the moment I settled into my office desk to begin the day's work.
The purpose of the call was to report that the armed operatives of the Abuja environmental authority seized her articles of trade and arrested her late last night.
She was forced to cough out five thousand naira before she could be left off the hook but the men went away with her entire business wares.
This lady by name Miss Evelyn has a toddler she still breastfeeds in addition to the other two children who are in public school even as she relies on the petty trading to take care of them the best way she can.
She wept uncontrollably and urged that our group should intervene so her wares can be released.
But our effort was fruitless.
This is because upon our investigation those government sponsored armed thugs who brazenly took her wares away had gone to their various houses with the loots and we were even told that she was lucky to have escaped been dumped into the decrepit detention facility administered by this notorious agency.
Many persons languish for days before bribing their way out of these dungeons that aren't fit even for wild animals. These detention centres are scattered all over Abuja and Abuja can't boasts of vibrant Non Governmental groups that thematically focuses on the plights of the poorest of the poor.
Most platforms are politically inclined.
Pathetically, we saw how even the armed operatives of the Nigerian navy and army in addition to the regular police and civil Defence force were part of the squad of these Abuja environmental department’s staff.
Their daily routines include roaming about the streets of Abuja chasing petty traders out of the streets, looting their wares, imprisoning them so as to extort some money from those severely disadvantaged and economically deprived poor Nigerians.
 This is pure government-sponsored road side armed robberries and must stop except governance in Nigeria is meant to rob the poor to enrich the few privileged elite. 
This was the basis for a letter we sent to the Abuja minister and the noisy Senator heading the Committee on the Federal Capital Territory Mr. Dino Melaye but both of these men have taken no action to stop this day light robberies that have gone on for ages. 
The current FCT minister Mohammed Bello who headed the Islamic Pilgrims welfare board before his kinsman the current President redeployed him to the juicier position of FCT minister is rated as the weakest point in this current political dispensation. For two months that we sent him our letter demanding an end to these broad day crime of harassment of petty traders by the government's armed thugs, he has neither replied nor adopted any panacea to check this evil trend which is making governance in Nigeria look like organised crime against poor citizens.  
We had stated that we were  writing to bring to the minister's attention, the rampant cases of grave violations of the fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed rights of struggling and financially challenged members of the public in the Federal Capital Territory and especially those of them that have chosen to pursue one petty and small business or the other to survive the hard economic downturns that have bedeviled the nation.
We also said we wished  to direct the political authorities' attention to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which speak directly to the need for government to allow the citizens to engage in meaningful economic and sustainable means of livelihood especially from the Chapter two and chapter four of the constitution.
Section 16(2) provides thus: “The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring: (c) that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group”
Same grund norm in Section 34 (1) of the Constitution specifically condemns the practice of horse whipping poor petty traders as are done on routine basis by armed security forces accompanying the Abuja environmental agents sent from your office.
We have watched with amazement the brazen display of brutality and animosity by these task force officials against civilian traders only because these citizens were carrying out legitimate economic activities to ensure that their RIGHT TO LIFE IS ASSURED.
That Constitutional provision aforementioned says directly that: “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly -(a) no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment; (b) no person shall he held in slavery or servitude; and (c) no person shall be required to perform forced of compulsory Labour.”
We note however with considerable trepidation those officials of the FCT environmental agency have constantly subjected poor/petty traders to horrendous physical torture even as their only means of livelihood are usually confiscated, stolen and they are locked up under dehumanizing conditions pending a monetary induced bail.
We write to bring to your notice that from experiences we have generated over the years from numerous foreign trips, we have seen that in other jurisdictions, the authorities do not violate the fundamental rights of their petty/small business because of the empirical evidence that small businesses holds the key to national economic advancement.
Interestingly, the current Senate Committee Chairman on FCT Mr Dino Melaye has recently posted photos whereby he mimicked these small business operators even as he used his social media page to canvass for small businesses to be supported.
We then wonder why petty traders are humiliated and disgraced on daily basis in the FCT and their wares seized. We want to state that Small businesses are key to the economic revival of Nigeria and we will give you detailed research findings on this claim.
Those who know defined small businesses as companies that each employs less than 100 people. Researchers that workwithhttp://www.evolveyourbiz. com/ are of the knowledgeable position that small businesses in the United States is key to job creation and indeed are credited for creating nearly fifty percent or more of the entire jobs in the United States economy. According to them, in the USA, small business employs over half of the nation's workforce.
Apart from the above economic facts which states that most Countries value persons engaged in the Small and medium entrepreneurial businesses, most government academics believe that the essence of government is to redistribute national wealth amongst all citizens and to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest percentage of citizens.  But Nigeria operates from the position of cruel primitivism whereby the national wealth are cornered by a few whilst the greatest percentage wallow in ABSOLUTE POVERTY.  Only this week the UK based group OXFAM disclosed that only five rich Nigerias control over $30 billion, an amount that can bring about an end to ABSOLUTE POVERTY of the over 160 million heavily impoverished citizens. 

These scenarios show that if the citizens are alive to their civic duties and refused to be docile then this Country is overdue for immediate and comprehensive REVOLUTION because Thomas Paine stated correctly that 'it will always be found, that when the rich protect the rights of the poor, the poor will protect the property of the rich'.
Nigerians must demand that officials of government stop stealing from the poor. Let us demand for justice for all. Let us demand economic justice now because we are not slaves. Let is demand the repatriation of over $400 billion of public fund stolen by government officials since Independence. Chatham House, a scholarly institution in the United kingdom has only recently uncovered that $480 billion of public fund have been stolen by officials of successive and current governments. Enough is enough!
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA  (HURIWA) and blogs @;

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


One question that should agitate the minds of politico-historical researchers on Nigeria vis-a-vis our contemporary times is why there seems to be a wide gulf between how the British system and the Nigerian law enforcement system treats their respective crime suspects differently.
Alternatively, an inquisitive mind will wonder why Nigerians glamourise lynch mob attacks of petty criminals whereas in Britain suspected criminals relish in near-celebrity attention conferred on them by the popular media and the humane treatment atleast in the open by the law enforcement operatives.
This line of inquiry has become necessary because Nigeria boasts of some political nexus and interconnectedness with Great Britain given that both nations interacted for well over a century prior to the granting of political independence to Nigeria from Britain.  
Also, the foundation for the current law enforcement system in Nigeria was laid by the then British Colonial administrators who even left us with the historical links with their legal system of those days of Colonialism and indeed the Nigeria Police force owes it's evolution to the British. 
Who does not know that our earliest police operatives are called POLICE ELIZA (or ELIZABETHAN POLICE)? They were named so because of the name of the English Monarch Queen Elizabeth. A reading of Professor Chinua Achebe's magnus opus (classic) 'Things fall Apart' revealed this British historical foundation of the Nigeria Police force. 
Both nations framed their criminal laws to begin with the assumptions that crime suspects or accused persons remain innocent in the eye of the law until otherwise proven by a competent courts of law. There are legal jurisprudence or jurisdictions that looks at suspected criminals as guilty until proven innocent. 
Although Nigeria operates under a written constitution and Great Britain operates on an unwritten constitution and depends on legally decided cases as authorities and precedents but Nigeria and the British shares almost everything in common legally even as their laws are commonly identified as common laws. 
English law from where most of our operational laws were borrowed, is the Common law legal system which law experts say it governs England and Wales, comprising Criminal and civil laws. English law has no formal codification because according to scholars the essence is that it is made by Judges sitting in courts applying statute, and legal precedents (stare decisis) from previous cases. In Nigeria, although our laws are made by the Legislature, Judges especially of the highest Court in the land apply the same British style of adjudication.  So, more or less, both systems have synergized and operate in harmony atleast on paper. 
Speaking about practical law enforcement in Nigeria essentially, the legal foundation of the contemporary Nigeria Police force is traceable to the Act that made provisions for the organization, discipline, powers, and duties of the Police, the Special Constabulary and the Traffic Wardens of April 1st 1948.
 So why do we subject crime suspects under police custody to odium and are tortured by the same supposed law enforcement agents paid with tax payer's money to maintain law and order?  
A good observer of the law enforcement mechanisms applied by the law enforcement agencies in Nigeria will suffer CULTURAL SHOCK should the person travel to Britain and have cause to visit the Police in any part of Great Britain to notice how so humanely crime suspects are treated by the British policing institutions. 
 In Nigeria a child is exposed to the cruelties meted out by police on crime suspects as if to say that what the wordings of our constitution said about the innocence of an accused person prior to prosecution and eventual conviction or acquittal does not matter. 
A typical Nigerian Child is groomed by the rest of the society to believe that what a crime suspects deserve is instant mob justice of lynching to death and not the constitutionally obligatory criminal trial in the law courts. 
In Nigeria because of the need to graphically portray crime as evil, we no longer maintain a borderline between stigmatization of crime but have rushed to hasty conclusion that whomsoever is suspected of committing a crime no matter how infinitesimal or no matter whether the petty crime is hunger- induced deserves the ultimate verdict of disgraceful and public execution by an unruly mob. 
A good example is the case of Aluu town in PortHarcourt Rivers State whereby four innocent Students- Llyold Toku-Mike; Tekena Friday Elkanah; Ugonna Kelechi Ogbuzor; and Chiadiaka Loroson Biringa, were gruesomely murdered by the villagers over a mere accusations of attempted theft of laptop. These boys were lynched to death whilst the police stood by and took no pre-emptive action to forestall the mob attack. In Kano a lady Evangelist Mrs. Bridget Agbanime (72 years old) was killed by Islamic fanatics who accuse her of blasphemy even whilst the Nigeria Police operatives failed to stop this crudity.  
But the media of Great Britain currently are reporting that one of Britain’s most notorious killers, “Moors Murderer” Ian Brady, who murdered five children with his lover and accomplice, Myra Hindley, during a sadistic two-year reign of terror in the 1960s died on Monday.
Brady and Hindley were jailed for life in 1966 for abducting, torturing, sexually abusing and then murdering the children before burying their young victims on the bleak Saddleworth Moor near the northern city of Manchester.
Brady died at Ashworth secure hospital in Liverpool, where he has been housed since 1985 after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, aged 79.
“We can confirm a 79-year-old patient in long-term care at Ashworth High Secure Hospital has died after becoming physically unwell,” a spokesman for the hospital said.
For many of his last years, Brady had been on intermittent hunger strike and staff at Ashworth fed him via a tube through the nose on the grounds he was insane and incapable of deciding to end his own life.
In 2013, a Mental Health Tribunal rejected his request to return to prison, ruling it was necessary in his interests and for the safety of others that he remains at Ashworth.
The sadistic nature of the Moors Murderers’ killings made them among the most despised figures in Britain.
Brady was found guilty of snatching and killing 12-year-old John Kilbride, Edward Evans, 17, Lesley Ann Downey, 10, while Hindley was convicted of murdering Downey and Evans and shielding her lover in the third case.
In the 1980s, the couple admitted abducting and murdering 16-year-old Pauline Reade on her way to a Manchester disco in 1963 and killing Keith Bennett, 12, in 1964.
They were finally caught when Hindley’s brother-in-law tipped off police
During their trial the court heard tape recordings made by the couple of their victims pleading for mercy before they were tortured and killed.
One tape featured the voice of Downey, filled with pain and fear, whimpering: “I want to see my mummy. Please God, help me.”
Although their crimes took place 40 years ago, the revulsion felt by Britons and the hatred directed at them by the tabloid press hardly diminished.
Hindley was Britain’s longest serving female prisoner when she died in 2002 after 36 years in jail.
Successive UK governments had refused to release her despite her claims she had reformed and was driven to commit the murders by the psychopathic Brady. He insisted she was as much to blame.
Hindley had tried to court favour by helping police to find the missing body of Bennett. But despite exhaustive searches, his body has never been found.
When she was cremated, a banner which read “Burn in hell” was left outside the building. This report by a British press shows how so humanely the most notorious criminal was treated by the British law enforcement system.  
Mr. Khalid Masood a Moslem Convert, the lone wolf terrorist who knifed a policeman in Westminster to death on Saturday May 13th 2017 after running over dozens of pedestrians in Central London, was attended to humanely by medical staff after he was shot by the police just before he gave up the ghost.
 Watching the medical persons attending to this mass murderer made me wonder what his fate would have been if he was in Nigeria.  
He would have been shot severally to make sure he stands no fighting chance of making it alive. 
Also the situation of custodial maintenance of crime suspects in Nigeria is primitive.  
In Nigeria prisoners are caged in the most despicable and decrepit contraptions called Nigerian prisons whereby they either die of disease afflictions of bodily harm, physical and psychological torture or if they form part of  the remnants who survive these torture camps, they will emerge back into the society looking like sickly zombies.  
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria  (HURIWA) and blogs;