[ Masterweb Reports: Intersociety reports ] - (Intersociety, Onitsha Nigeria, 15th January 2017)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) is deeply pained as it concerns Nigeria’s steady sink to lawlessness and governance brigandage. Nigeria’s justice and liberty governance and ethics have been so damaged that their recovery from the catastrophic damage is practically a difficult task.
Sad too, is the fact that the country now witnesses the rise and official institutionalization of criminal sainthood; where criminal entities that have practically taken up arms against the Government and People of Nigeria and massacred over 25,000 mostly religiously and ethnically targeted Nigerians such as predominant Christian Ethnic Nationalities of Igbo and others since 2009, are now governmentally rewarded and seemed to have been enlisted for national merit awards; whereas innocent citizens who non-violently assert their constitutional and international rights to citizenship, development, identity, worship and self determination, are labelled and treated governmentally as “terrorists” and “treasonable felons”.
Just recently, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai was quoted and heavily criticized for describing the Free Chibok Girls Campaigners as Advocacy Terrorists and their campaign as Advocacy Terrorism. As we speak, thousands of arrested Boko Haram suspects are presidentially petted and treated as repentant Boko Haram members or released in droves as “cleared Boko Haram suspects”; while scores of innocent, nonviolent and defenceless Nigerians are being violently attacked by SSS and clamped into incommunicado detention without trial over spurious criminal allegations of “being terrorists” and “treasonable felons”.
It is recalled that Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) had in the dark hours of 31st December 1983 violently ousted the democratically elected government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and enacted Decree No 2 of 1984, cited as the Nigerian State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree No. 2 of 1984, which allowed for indefinite and incommunicado detention of Nigerian citizens. The State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree Number 2 of 1984 also suspended indefinite the constitutional freedoms or Fundamental Human Rights Chapter of the then 1979 civilian Constitution and empowered the chief of staff, Supreme Headquarters, to detain indefinitely (subject to review every three months) anyone suspected of "acts prejudicial to state security or contributing to the economic adversity of the nation." The Decree also authorized any police officer or a member of the armed forces to arrest and detain such a person at will and without trial.
The Buhari Administration has also technically suspended the Fundamental Human Rights Chapter of the 1999 Constitution and taken refuge in moribund and obnoxious legislations such as Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 as amended in 2013 as well as the moribund Decree No 2 of 1984 under which scores of innocent Nigerians including the leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim Zaky El-Zaky, his wife, Malama Zeenatu and over a dozen nonviolent Pro Biafra Campaigners and members of IPOB have been clamped into incommunicado detention for several months without trial.
Under these obnoxious provisions which grossly run contrary and inconsistent with Section 1 (3) (supremacy of the Constitution above any other law) and Section 35 (4) (detention of citizens for whatever alleged crimes not exceeding 60 days without bail and 90 days with bail, but without court trial) of 1999 Constitution; innocent and dissent voices are recklessly arrested by SSS, labelled “terrorists” and clamped into incommunicado detention for several months without trial and tortured severely in custody. All the citizens presently in the SSS custody, drawn from IPOB and IMN have never used or advocated violence. They were arrested in their sleep or shops or on transit.
The arrested citizens are routinely stigmatized and criminalized by the State and its SSS and where any detained citizen is rarely arraigned; he or she is expressly subjected to prosecutorial vindictiveness or slammed with obnoxious and trumped up criminal charges. Most of them are also arrested in their sleep, detained for months after which roguish ex parte orders are sought and obtained to further detain them for 90 additional days with limitless renewal upon expiration of every three months until the investigation is concluded. These the Buhari Administration and its SSS do under obnoxious Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 as amended in 2013, among other questionable procedures and processes.
Court orders and other judicial pronouncements condemning detention of citizens above 60 days and ordering for their unconditional release in accordance with Section 35 (4) of the 1999 Constitution have been flouted and disobeyed by the Buhari Administration and its SSS with reckless abandon.
For instance, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim Zaky El-Zaky and his wife, Malama Zeenatu are the longest serving detainees without court trial in the history of democratic Nigeria or since 1999. The Shiite leader and his wife have been held incommunicado by SSS for over 13 months. They were shot and battered by soldiers after a thousand of their followers were killed or went missing between 12th and 14th December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna State. While the IMN leader had 18 bullets reportedly removed from his body, his wife had four bullets removed from her body as well. It is feared in some informed quarters as whether the IMN leader and his wife are still alive or have died in SSS custody. Since they were shot half dead by Lt Gen Tukur Buratai led Nigerian Army and taken into SSS custody on 14th of December 2015, they have not been brought to public or allowed access to be seen by their biological relatives.
13 nonviolent Pro Biafra Campaigners and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have also been arrested and detained incommunicado by SSS for several months without trial in the ongoing violent crackdown launched by the Buhari Administration and its SSS against IPOB members particularly in the Southeast and the South-south regions of Nigeria. The Buhari Administration also massacred over 250 of the group’s members and supporters and terminally shot and injured over 300 others in over eight different locations in Anambra, Abia, Delta and Rivers States between August 2015 and May 2016.
The names of the solitarily detained IPOB members are: (1) Citizen Justice O. Udo. He was arrested by SSS in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in the mid night of 13th July 2016 and thrown into indefinite detention without trial till date; a period of over six months or 18 days. (2) Citizen Sunday Chukwuka Obasi was arrested by SSS in the late night of 16th August 2016 in Nnewi, Anambra State; shot at his two legs and thrown into indefinite detention without trial as at December 2016; a period of over four months.
(3) Citizens Ikechukwu Ugwuoha, (4) Asochukwu Boniface Ugochukwu, (5) Sunday J. Okafor, (6) Ekene Onuoha and (7) Joseph Okorie (Ogbuawa) were arrested by SSS on 24th August 2016 at Ugba Junction, near Aba in Abia State at about 7.30am on their way back from Kuje Prison (where they had gone to see their leader, Nnamdi Kanu) and thrown into indefinite detention without trial till date; a period of almost five months each. (8) Citizen Bright Chimezie. He was arrested by Police in Akwa Ibom State at business hours of 16th September 2016 and handed over to the SSS, which took him into incommunicado detention without trial till date; a period of four months. (9) Citizen Ndubuisi Arum (High Chief Oko) was arrested by SSS in Aba, Abia State in October 2016 and detained incommunicado without trial till date; a period of over three months.
(10) Citizen Eta Stephen Bassey is a 45yrs old Principal of the Wisdom Child International School in Bokokiri area of Port Harcourt in Rivers State. He is also the Financial Secretary of IPOB in Bundu Unit Town Zone 1 of the organization in Rivers State and hails from Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State. He was abducted by SSS at the business hours of 3rd November 2016 around Victoria Street/Aggrey Road area of Port Harcourt in Rivers State where he had gone to buy “suya” meat and till date; a period of 72 days, he has remained in solitary detention of the SSS. His mobile phone number as released by his close associates is +2348034284857.
(11) Citizen Moses Agbo is a member of the Biafra Family Writers. He was arrested by SSS on the Christmas Eve of December 2016 after he visited Citizen Nnamdi Kanu in Kuje Prison and till date; a period of 21 days, he is still held incommunicado by the SSS without trial. (12) Citizen Udochukwu Nelson, (13) Citizen Echeie Osten and (14) Citizen Rose... were arrested at their market shops at the business hours of 13th January 2017 by SSS in Rumuola area of Port Harcourt in Rivers State and they are still being held incommunicado as of today. Information available at our advocacy disposal also clearly indicates that all of the SSS detainees are gravely tortured to incriminate themselves and confess to spurious allegations of their involvement in “terrorism” and “treasonable felony”. Citizen Bright Chimezie, for instance, is said to have had his two legs broken by his SSS torturers in the Akwa Ibom State Directorate of the Service in Uyo.
All the circumstances, processes and procedures under which the above named innocent Nigerians were arrested, accused, tortured and held incommunicado are totally foreign, strange and unknown to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; all ratified by Nigeria in 1983 and 1993.
By Section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution, the 1999 Constitution is supreme, commander-in-chief and general overseer of all other laws in Nigeria. By Section 35(4) of the 1999 Constitution, Section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 as amended in 2013 is dead and buried; by virtue of its gross inconsistency with the said Section as it concerns deadline for detention of citizens accused of whatever crime in Nigeria. By Section 315 of the 1999 Constitution, all other existing and newly created laws in Nigeria are mandatorily subject to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and shall be brought in tandem and consistency by amendment or modifications with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. By Section 287(3) of the 1999 Constitution, the decisions of the Federal High Court, the FCT High Court and the State High Court shall be forced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons and by other courts of law with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the above named courts.
Instances of decided cases also abound. In a landmark judgment delivered on 17th December 2015 by Hon Justice A.F.A Ademola of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/873/15 (SSS v Nnamdi Kanu), the Judge while reversing his 10th November 2015 unconstitutional ex parte order for additional 90 days detention of the Applicant (Nnamdi Kanu) for spurious allegations of “terrorism and terrorism financing” by SSS held as follows:
....besides, there is no doubt that constitutional provisions remain supreme and every citizen’s rights are strictly protected and jealously guarded by Courts-see also Hassan v EFCC (supra). For the period spanning over two months, the Applicant (Nnamdi Kanu) remained in Respondent (SSS)’s custody. The Applicant is yet to be charged formally of all terrorism suspicion before a Court of competent jurisdiction.
From the foregoing, therefore, this Court holds that: (a) the Respondents are not ready to grant the Applicant bail as per the Order of the Chief Magistrate Court; (b) the Respondents lack enough material to prosecute the Applicant; (c) the Respondents are yet to make up their mind on the Applicant.
Therefore, whilst the Respondents are pondering on their next steps, this Court holds that the Applicant’s detention for more than two months in Respondent’s custody without filing charges before a Court of competent jurisdiction on suspected crime is contrary to Section 35(4) of the 1999 Constitution.
The Applicant (Nnamdi Kanu) is hereby released unconditionally pursuant to Section 35 (4) of the 1999 Constitution and in view of the Respondent’s admission that there is no pending charge against the Applicant. This landmark judgment was not only flouted and disobeyed by the SSS, but also the Nigerian Army at the Onitsha Bridgehead in Anambra State shot and killed over ten innocent citizens and wounded scores of others in protest.
Similarly on 1st December 2016, another Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, presided over by Hon Justice Gabriel Kolawole declared the continued detention of the leader of IMN, Ibrahim El-ZakyZaky and his wife, Malama Zeenatu without court trial as unconstitutional and ordered for their unconditional release within 45 days as well as payment of monetary compensation amounting to N25Million each to Malam Zaky El-Zaky and his wife, Malama Zeenatu.
The duo had been in solitary detention without trial since 14th of December 2015. They were shot severally at close range by Nigerian Army and a total of 22 live bullets were reportedly removed from their bodies: 18 bullets from Malam El-Zaky’s body and four from his wife-Zeenatu. It is unclear whether they are still alive or dead in SSS custody. Today marks the expiration of the 45 days judicial order for their unconditional release and as expected, it is again flouted and disobeyed by SSS.
Yesterday being 14th January 2017 marked 390 days or 13 months since Malam ZakyZaky and his wife Malama Zeenatu were taken into SSS custody and detained incommunicado without trial. This is unheard of in the history of democratic Nigeria or since 1999. Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and Citizen Dave Nwawuisi have also marked 450 days or 15 months in solitary detention yesterday having been arrested by SSS on 14th October 2015. Citizen Benjamin Madubugwu had also marked 18 months or 540 days in solitary detention having been arrested since July 2015. The trio of Kanu, Nwawuisi and madubugwu have remained at pre-trial proceedings or detained without bail till date.
We are therefore compelled to add our advocacy voice to that of the Legal Defense team of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and ors who disclosed in the open Court on 10th January 2017 that “nine IPOB members who visited Nnamdi Kanu in Kuje Prison have been killed by SSS after they were arrested and taken into its custody”. This is in addition to the fact that Citizens Justice O. Udo, Sunday Chuks Obasi, Ikechukwu Ugwuoha, Asochukwu Boniface Ugochukwu, Sunday Okafor, Ekene Onuoha, Joseph Okorie, Bright Chimezie, Ndubuisi Arum and Eta Stephen Bassey have been solitarily held dead or alive by SSS for several months after they were arrested and detained without trial. Since the dates of their arrest, their families, lawyers and physicians have been denied access to them.
Consequently, the authorities of the SSS are hereby called upon to produce publicly and bodily alive the named solitary detainees in its custody including Malam Ibrahim Zaky El-Zaky and his wife-Malama Zeenatu. Their public presentation must be covered by the trio of dependent and independent print, visual/audio visual and online media. The solitary detainees, who must include all the 13 detained IPOB members, must not only be publicly and bodily produced, but also be made to speak to Nigerians independently and coherently in live media coverage.
These the SSS must do within two weeks; otherwise all Nigerians including this Organization shall have cogent reasons to conclude that some or all of them including the detained Islamic cleric and his wife have been killed by SSS in its custody as alleged. We also demand for immediate and unconditional release of all 13 detained Pro Biafra Campaigners and the leader of Shiite Muslim and his wife.
As we have repeatedly demanded, the SSS and the Buhari Administration must end violent crackdown on nonviolent Pro Biafra Campaigners and members of the Shiite Muslim Community. Such huge State energies and resources being wasted in persecuting Pro Biafra Campaigners and Shiite Muslims shall be adequately channelled towards the terrorist, felonious and genocidal activities of Boko Haram and Fulani terrorists that killed over 2000 innocent citizens in 2016 alone.
Note: The attached pictures are: 1 Citizen Ekene Onuoha, 2 Asochukwu Boniface, 3 Bright Chimezie, 4 Moses Agbo, 5 Justice O. Udo, 6 Ugwuoha Ikechukwu, 7 Sunday Okafor and 8 Ndubuisi Arum (High Chief Oko).
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
Call Line: +2348174090052
Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq.
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Call Line: +2348180771506
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: Annotated remarks at Terrorism in Africa seminar By James M. Dorsey, Singapore 18 January, 2017. ] - There is much debate about what spurs political violence. The explanations are multi-fold. There is one aspect that I’d like to discuss tonight as it relates to Africa and that is the role of Saudi Arabia. Let me be clear: With the exception of a handful of countries, none of which are in Africa, Saudi Arabia, that is to say the government, the religious establishment and members of the ruling family and business community, does not fund violence.
It has however over the last half century launched the single largest public diplomacy campaign in history, pumping up to $100 billion dollars into ultra-conservative interpretations of Islam. That campaign has succeeded in making ultra-conservatism a force in Muslim religious communities across the globe. It involves the promotion of an intolerant, supremacist, anti-pluralistic interpretation of Islam that even where it rejects involvement in politics creates an environment that in given circumstances serves as a breeding ground, but more often fosters a mindset in which militancy and violence against the other is not beyond the pale.
What that campaign has done, certainly in Muslim majority countries in Africa, is to ensure that representatives of Saudi-backed ultra-conservatism have influence in society as well as the highest circles of government. This is important because contrary to widespread beliefs, the Saudi campaign is not primarily about religion, it’s about geopolitics, it’s about a struggle with Iran for hegemony in the Muslim world. As a result, it’s about anti-Shiism and a ultra-conservative narrative that counters that of Shiism and what remains of Iran’s post-1979 revolutionary zeal.
The campaign also meant that at times resolving the question whether the kingdom maintains links to violent groups takes one into murky territory. Again, I want to be clear, certainly with the rise of the Islamic State (IS) and its affiliates in Africa and elsewhere, and even before with the emergence of Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia has made countering jihadism a cornerstone of its policy. That is however easier said than done.
What is evident in Africa is that the kingdom or at least prominent members of its clergy appear to have maintained wittingly or unwittingly some degree of contact with jihadist groups, including IS affiliates. What I want to do in the time I have is anecdotally illustrate the impact of Saudi-backed ultra-conservatism on three African states – Nigeria, Niger and Mali – and how this at times relates to political violence in the region.
Let’s start with Nigeria. One of the earliest instances in which Saudi Arabia flexed its expanding soft power in West Africa was in 1999 when Zamfara, a region where Islamic State affiliate Boko Haram has been active, became the first Nigerian state to adopt Sharia. A Saudi official stood next to Governor Ahmed Sani when he made the announcement. Freedom of religion scholar Paul Marshall recalls seeing some years later hundreds of Saudi-funded motorbikes in the courtyard of the governor’s residence. They had been purchased to enforce gender segregation in public transport. Sheikh Abdul-Aziz, the religious and cultural attaché at the Saudi embassy in Abuja declared in 2004 that the kingdom had been monitoring the application of Islamic law in Nigeria “with delight.”
Like elsewhere in the Muslim world, local politicians in Zamfara were forging an opportunistic alliance with Saudi Arabia. If geopolitics was the Saudi driver, domestic politics was what motivated at least some of their local partners. Nonetheless, the lines between militant but peaceful politics and violence were often blurry. Political violence analyst Jacob Zenn asserts that Boko Haram even has some kind of representation in the kingdom. A Boko Haram founder who was killed in 2009, Muhammad Yusuf, was granted refuge by the kingdom in 2004 to evade a Nigerian military crackdown. In Mecca, he forged links with like-minded Salafi clerics that proved to be more decisive than his debates with Nigerian clerics who were critical of his interpretation of Islam.
Once back in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno state, Yusuf built with their assistance a state within a state centred around the Ibn Taymiyyah mosque and a compound in the city centre on land bought with the help of his father-in-law. Yusuf’s group had its own institutions, including a Shura or advisory council, a religious police force that enforced Islamic law, and a rudimentary welfare, microfinance and job creation system.
It operated under a deal struck in talks in Mecca brokered by a prominent Salafi cleric between a dissident Boko Haram factional leader identified as Aby Muhammed and a close aide to former Nigerian President Jonathan Goodwill. Under the agreement Yusuf pledged not to preach violence and to distance himself from separatist groups, an understanding he later violated. Boko Haram has further suggested that before joining IS, it had met with Al Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, a Boko Haram operative responsible for attacking a church in Nigeria reportedly spent months in Saudi Arabia prior to the attack.
Yusuf’s religious teacher, Sheikh Ja’afar Adam, a graduate of the Islamic University of Medina, presided over a popular mosque in the Nigerian city of Kano that helped him build a mass audience. Adam’s popularity allowed him to promote colleagues, many of whom were also graduates of the same university in Medina, who became influential preachers and government officials. Adam was liberally funded by Al-Muntada al-Islami Trust, a London-based charity with ties to Saudi Arabia that has repeatedly been accused by Nigerian intelligence a British peer, Lord Alton of Liverpool, of having links to Boko Haram and serving as a platform for militant Islamic scholars. Al Muntada, which operates a mosque and a primary school in London, has denied the allegations while a UK Charity Commission investigation failed to substantiate the allegations. Kenyan and Somali intelligence nonetheless suspected Al-Muntada of also funding Al Qaeda’s Somali affiliate, Al Shabab.
Among scholars hosted by Al Muntada are Mohammad Al Arifi, a Saudi preacher who argues that “the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls and to sever limbs for the sake of Allah and in defense of His religion, is, undoubtedly, an honour for the believer.” He also reasons that the Muslim world would not have suffered humiliation had it followed “the Quranic verses that deal with fighting the infidels and conquering their countries say that they should convert to Islam, pay the jizya poll tax, or be killed.”
Abd al-Aziz Fawzan al-Fawzan, a Saudi academic, is another Al Muntada favourite. Al-Fawzan advises the faithful that “if (a) person is an infidel, even if this person is my mother or father, God forbid, or my son or daughter; I must hate him, his heresy, and his defiance of Allah and His prophet. I must hate his abominable deeds.” Organizationally, the charity also maintained close ties to major Saudi funding organizations, including the Muslim World League (MWL), the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), and Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi governmental non-nongovernmental organization that was shut down in the wake of 9/11 because of its jihadist ties.
Adam publicly condemned Yusuf after he took over Boko Haram. In response Yusuf in 2007 order the assassination of Adam, a protégé of the Saudi-funded Izala Society (formally known as the Society for the Removal of Innovation and Re-establishment of the Sunnah), which sprang up in northern Nigeria in the late 1970s to campaign against Sufi practices and has since gained ground in several West African states. Much like Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism’s relationship to jihadism, Izala after spawning Boko Haram became one of its main targets. The group has since the killing of Adam gunned down several other prominent Saudi-backed clerics.
Nigerian journalists and activists see a direct link between the influx of Saudi funds into Yusuf’s stomping ground in northern Nigeria and greater intolerance that rolled back the influence of Sufis that had dominated the region for centuries and sought to marginalize Shiites. “They built their own mosques with Saudi funds so that they will not follow ‘Kafirs’ in prayers& they erected their own madrasa schools where they indoctrinate people on the deviant teachings of Wahhabism. With Saudi petro-dollars, these Wahhabis quickly spread across towns & villages of Northern Nigeria… This resulted in countless senseless inter-religious conflicts that resulted in the death of thousands of innocent Nigerians on both sides.” said Shiite activist Hairun Elbinawi.
Adam started his career as a young preacher in Izala, a Salafist movement founded in the late 1970s by prominent judge and charismatic orator Abubakr Gumi who was the prime facilitator of Saudi influence and the rise of Salafism in northern Nigeria. A close associate, Gumi represented northern Nigeria at gatherings of the Muslim World League starting in the 1960s, was a member of the consultative council of the Islamic University of Medina in the 1970s and was awarded for his efforts with the King Faisal Prize in 1987. All along, Gumi and Izala benefitted from generous Saudi financial support for its anti-Sufi and anti-Shiite campaigns.
Adam and Gumi’s close ties to the kingdom did not mean that they uncritically adopted Saudi views. Their ultra-conservative views did not prevent them from at times adopting positions that took local circumstances in northern Nigeria into account at the expense of ultra-conservative rigidity. Adam’s questioning of the legitimacy of democracy, for example, did not stop him becoming for a period of time a government official in the state of Kano. In another example, Gumi at one point urged Muslim women to vote because “politics is more important than prayer,” a position that at the time would have been anathema to Saudi-backed ultra-conservative scholars. Similarly, Adam suggested that Salafists and Kano’s two major Sufi orders, viewed by Saudi puritans as heretics, should have equal shares of an annual, public Ramadan service.
Peregrino Brimah, a trained medical doctor who teaches biology, anatomy and physiology at colleges in New York never gave much thought while growing up in Nigeria to the fact that clerics increasingly were developing links to Saudi Arabia. “You could see the money, the big ones were leading the good life, they ran scholarship programs. In fact, I was offered a scholarship to study at King Fahd University in Riyadh. I never thought about it until December 2015 when up to a 1,000 Shiites were killed by the military in northern Nigeria,” Brimah said. “Since I started looking at it, I’ve realized how successful, how extraordinarily successful the Wahhabis have been.”
Brimah decided to stand up for Shiite rights after the incident in which the military arrested prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky following a clash with members of Shiites in Kaduna state. The Nigerian military confirmed that it had attacked sites in the ancient university town Zaria after hundreds of Shia demonstrators had blocked a convoy of Nigeria's army chief General Tukur Buratai in an alleged effort to kill him. Military police said Shiites had crawled through tall grass towards Buratai's vehicle "with the intent to attack the vehicle with [a] petrol bomb" while others "suddenly resorted to firing gunshots from the direction of the mosque.” Scores were killed in the incident. A phone call to Nigerian President Mohammed Buhari in which King Salman expressed his support for the government’s fight against terrorist groups was widely seen as Saudi endorsement of the military’s crackdown on the country’s Shiite minority. The state-owned Saudi Press Agency quoted Salman as saying that Islam condemned such “criminal acts” and that the kingdom in a reference to Iran opposed foreign interference in Nigeria.
Brimah’s defense of the Shiites has cost him dearly and further illustrated the degree to which Saudi-funded Wahhabism and Salafism had altered the nature of Nigerian society. “I lost everything I had built on social media the minute I stood up for the Shiites. I had thousands of fans. Suddenly, I was losing 2-300 followers a day. My brother hasn’t spoken to me since. The last thing he said to me is: ‘how can you adopt Shiite ideology?’ I raised the issue in a Sunni chat forum. It became quickly clear that these attitudes were not accidental. They are the product of Saudi-sponsored teachings of serious hatred. People don’t understand what they are being taught. They rejoice when thousand Shiites are killed. Even worse is the fact that they hate people like me who stand up for the Shiites even more than they hate the Shiite themselves.”
In response to Brimah’s writing about the clash, Buratai, the Nigerian army chief, invited him to for a chat. Brimah politely declined. After again, accusing the military of having massacred Shiites, Buratai’s spokesman, Col. SK Usman, adopting the Saudi line of Shiites being Iranian stooges, accused Brimah of being on the Islamic republic’s payroll. “Several of us hold you in high esteem based on perceived honesty, intellectual prowess and ability to speak your mind. That was before, but the recent incident of attempted assassination of the Chief of Army Staff by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and subsequent events and actions by some groups and individuals such as you made one to have a rethink. I was quite aware of your concerted effort to smear the good name and reputation of the Chief of Army Staff to the extent of calling for his resignation. He went out of his way to write to you and even invited you for constructive engagement. But because you have dubious intents, you cleverly refused…. God indeed is very merciful for exposing you. Let me make it abundantly clear to you that your acts are not directed to the person of the Chief of Army Staff, they have far reaching implication on our national security. Please think about it and mend your ways and refund whatever funds you coveted for the campaign of calumny,” Usman wrote in the mail. Brimah’s inbox has since then been inundated with anti-Shiite, anti-Iranian writings in what he believes is a military-inspired campaign.
Brimah was not the only one to voice opposition to Saudi-backed ultra-conservatism. Murtada Muhammad Gusau, Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’at Mosque and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’ s Mosque in Nigeria’s Okene Kogi State took exception to the kingdom’s global effort to criminalize blasphemy, legitimize in the process curbs on free speech, and reinforce growing Muslim intolerance towards any unfettered discussion of the faith. In a lengthy article in a Nigerian newspaper, Gusau debunked the Saudi-inspired crackdown on alleged blasphemists citing multiple verses from the Qur’an that advocate patience and tolerance and reject the killing of those that curse or berate the Prophet Mohammed.
Brimah and Gusau were among the relatively few willing to invoke the wrath of spreading ultra-conservative, sectarian forms of Islam across a swath of Africa at an often dizzying pace. In the process, African politicians and ultraconservatives in cooperation with Saudi Arabia have let a genie of intolerance, discrimination, supremacy and bigotry out of the bottle. In the Sahel state of Niger, Issoufou Yahaya recalls his student days in the 1980s when there wasn’t a single mosque on his campus. “Today, we have more mosques here than we have lecture rooms. So much has changed in such a short time,” he said.
One cannot avoid noticing Saudi Arabia’s role in this development. The flags of Niger and Saudi Arabia feature on a monument close to the office tower from which Yahaya administers the history of department of Université Abdou Moumouni in the Niger capital of Niamey. Sheikh Boureima Abdou Daouda, an Internet-savvy graduate of the Islamic University of Medina and the Niamey university’s medical faculty as well as an author and translator of numerous books, attracts tens of thousands of worshippers to the Grand Mosque where he insists that “We must adopt Islam, we cannot adapt it.” Daouda serves as an advisor to Niger president Mahamadou Issoufou and chairs the League of Islamic Scholars and Preachers of the Countries of the Sahel. “Before, people here turned to religion when they reached middle age, and particularly after they retired. But now, it is above all the young ones. What we see is a flourishing of Islam.” Daouda said.
What Daouda did not mention was that with Africa, the battleground where Iran put up its toughest cultural and religious resistance to Saudi-backed ultra-conservatism, was witnessing the world’s highest rates of conversion to Shi’a Islam since many Sunni tribes in southern Iraq adopted Shiism in the 19th century. Shiites were until recently virtually non-existent in Africa with the exception of migrants from Lebanon and the Indian subcontinent. A Pew Research survey suggests that that has changed dramatically. The number of Shiites has jumped from 0 in 1980 to 12 percent of Nigeria’s 90-million strong Shia community in 2012. Shiites account today for 21 percent of Chad’s Muslims, 20 percent in Tanzania and eight percent in Gaza, according to the survey.
Ironically, Mali a nation where Shiism has not made inroads and where only two percent of the populations identifies itself as Ahmadis, an Islamic sect widely viewed by conservative Muslims as heretics, is the only country outside of Pakistan that Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nubuwwat (AMTKN), a militant anti-Ahmadi, Pakistan-based group with a history of Saudi backing, identifies by name as a place where it operates overseas. The fact that AMTKN, which says that it operates in 12 countries, identified Mali is indicative of the sway of often Saud-educated imams and religious leaders that reaches from the presidential palace in the capital Bamako into the country’s poorest villages. The government at times relies on Salafis rather than its own officials to mediate with jihadists in the north or enlist badly needed European support in the struggle against them. Moreover, cash-rich Salafi leaders and organizations provide social services in parts of Mali where the government is absent. In 2009, the Saudi-backed High Islamic Council of Mali (HICM) proved powerful enough to prevent the president from signing into law a parliamentary bill that would have enhanced women’s rights. Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita reportedly phones HICM chief Mahmoud Dicko twice a week. Malians no longer simply identify each other as Muslims and instead employ terms such as Wahhabi, Sufi and Shia that carry with them either derogatory meanings or assertions of foreign associations.
Dicko condemned the November 2015 jihadist attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako in which 20 people were killed but argued that world powers cannot enjoy peace by fighting God through promotion of homosexuality. Dicko said the perpetrators were not Muslims but mostly rappers with drug-related charge sheets. “They rebel and take arms against their society. This is a message from God that the masters of the world, the major powers, which are trying to promote homosexuality, must understand. These powers are trying to force the world to move towards homosexuality. These world powers have attacked the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) into his grave... These masters of this world, who think that the world belongs to them, must understand that we will not attack God and escape safely. They cannot provoke God and get his clemency, his mercy. They cannot have peace and peace with such provocations towards the Creator of the world down here. They will not have peace. God will not leave them alone.”
Like elsewhere, ultra-conservatism as a cornerstone of Saudi soft power has proven in Mali to be a double-edged sword for the kingdom and its beneficiaries. Iyad Ag Ghaly nicknamed The Strategist, a Malian Tuareg militant who led tribal protests in the 1990s and emerged in 2012 at the head of Ansar Eddine, one of the jihadist groups that overran the north of Mali, found ultra-conservative religion while serving as a Malian diplomat in Jeddah. A Sufi and a singer who occasionally worked with Tinariwen, the Grammy Award winning band formed by veterans of Tuareg armed resistance in the 1980s and 1990s, co-organized an internationally acclaimed annual music festival outside of Timbuktu that attracted the likes of Robert Plant, Bono and Jimmy Buffett, and hedonistically enjoyed parties, booze and tobacco, Ag Ghaly grew a beard while in Saudi Arabia. His meetings with Saudi-based jihadists persuaded the Malian government to cut short his stint in the kingdom and call him home. Pakistani missionaries of Tablighi Ja’amat, an ultra-conservative global movement that has at times enjoyed Saudi backing despite theological differences with Wahhabism and Salafism, helped convince Ag Ghaly to abandon his music and hedonistic lifestyle. He opted for an austere interpretation of Islam and ultimately jihadism.
This pattern is not uniquely African even if Africa is the continent where Iranian responses to Saudi promotion of Sunni ultra-conservatism have primarily been cultural and religious in nature rather than through the use of militant and armed proxies as in the Middle East. It is nonetheless a battle that fundamentally alters the fabric of those African societies in which it is fought; a battle that potentially threatens the carefully constructed post-colonial cohesion of those societies. The potential threat is significantly enhanced by poor governance and the rise of jihadist groups like Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and Al Shabab in Somalia, whose ideological roots can be traced back to ultra-conservatism but whose political philosophy views Saudi Arabia as an equally legitimate target because its rulers have deviated from the true path. At the bottom line, both Africans and Saudis are struggling to come to grips with a phenomenon they opportunistically harnessed to further their political interests; one that they no longer control and that has become as much a liability as it was an asset.
Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and a forthcoming book, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa.
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: SKC Ogbonnia reports ] - President Buhari’s new policy on whistle-blowing is revolutionary. Its goal is to broaden the attack on corruption by encouraging the general public to expose corrupt practices. The government will in turn reward those whose revelations result in recovery of funds or assets. The mere fact that the corrupt arm of the Nigerian Senate is already angling to oppose the initiative is a whistling indication that the policy is geared towards the general good.
But there is a critical problem beyond any Senate shenanigan.
The seemingly lack of transparency on the current anti-graft war remains a tottering can of worms. For starters, President Buhari embraced a unique kind of plea bargain, whereby corrupt individuals could secretly return looted funds or other assets. It was believed, and understandably so, that such compromise was the most expeditious way to recover the funds needed to address immediate national needs, especially considering that the president inherited a hopeless treasury as well as a receding economy. Plus, remember, exhausting the standard legal process cannot be a prudent option in a country where the courts are notorious for interminable delays of corrupt cases.
Sadly, the pattern of secret arrangements has led to mounting charges of selective justice or what have you. Not surprisingly, it is already casting a shadow over the new policy on whistle-blowing. In fact, there is a palpable confusion on where to begin and how the whole exercise will end.
Tracing corrupt proceeds among Nigerians, of course, is not a tall order. For corruption in the country is endemic, with its leaders never lacking in folly, always flaunting phony affluence every chance they get. Moreover, the corrupt proceeds are brazenly displayed across the globe in the form of overnight huge bank accounts, private jets, exotic cars and mansions—starting from the villages, urban areas, to foreign enclaves. These are not hidden at all. Yet, even if the masses know where to begin in the whistle-blowing effort, they may still feel reluctant to do so.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Finance, to be considered, a whistle-blower is required to “provide specific and fact based information such as what occurred, amount involved, who was involved and dates of occurrence.” The whistle-blower “must have provided the government with information it does not already have and could not otherwise obtain from any other publicly available source to the government” It adds that false or misleading information “will be referred to the enforcement agents for investigation and possible prosecution.”
Please grant me the indulgence and carefully go through the above paragraph one more time.
You might have just learnt, as I did, that the requirements are complex and call for a great deal of effort as well as risk on the part of the whistle-blower, which is quite in order. The rigorous demand can essentially dissuade mindless peddlers and hearsays. But such complexity equally begs the following questions:
First and foremost, since the programme lacks in transparency, why and how would the potential whistle-blowers not feel used and dumped once they submit a petition only to be advised that the information so provided is already available to the government? Second, what are the chances that the lack of transparency will not even engender another form of corruption in the programme with insiders trading off lucrative tip-offs to their cronies as usual? Thirdly, why should the secret pattern not worsen the situation by heightening the charges of selective justice and double looting currently dogging the anti-graft scheme?
The answer to these questions is simple. President Muhammadu Buhari should first do the needful and fulfill, without further delay, his promise to make public the specific details of the rich and famous who looted our country dry. If the war against corruption is to endure, the masses deserve to be kept abreast of the present or future leaders involved the assets in question, collaborators, and consequences, if any. These expectations are in line with Nigeria’s Freedom of Information Act and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) which the country signed unto not long ago.
In a similar vein, the team on whistle-blowing should constantly update their web portal with a comprehensive list of all cases under review, whether alleged or proven. The data ought to show the date and time the documentary evidence was entered, time dispensed, and nature of the outcome. After all, there are consequences for false information, and any accused person in Nigeria is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Moreover, Nigeria must not continue to bestow special treatment to the politically exposed persons accused of corruption while the rights of the ordinary citizens are trampled upon everyday without restraints.
The defense commonly offered by the administration for the undue leniency is that publishing the names of alleged looters may jeopardize investigations or the special plea arrangements. But the excuse is pure baloney. If shielding alleged looters is truly a panacea for corruption, it is profoundly obvious that we did not start on time. As for plea bargain, the idea is ultimately cost-efficient, but it is typically for reduced sentences. It must not include the current habit of hiding thieves or allowing those who forfeit a portion of their stolen assets to go scot-free.
It can be convenient to shift the blame to the judiciary or the lack of manpower needed to embark on a comprehensive approach to whistle-blowing. But we must resist the temptation of continuing to brandish such banal excuses as solutions. Instead, it has become critical to realize that being able to overcome obstacles is where true leadership comes in. President Buhari should, therefore, persevere and find ways to influence through the institutional frameworks essential for an effective anti-corruption war.
A compelling step is to complement the whistle-blowing programme by establishing the special courts needed to expedite corrupt cases. The anti-graft agency can follow by recruiting and training tens of thousands of jobless graduates adequate to wage a full-scale offensive combing from the 774 local governments upward. After all, the corrupt proceeds have been so overwhelming for the agency that many visible ill-gotten assets, such as the shady castles located in the various villages, are ironically ignored. Besides, apart from immediate job opportunities, any serious war against corruption in Nigeria not only pays for itself but can even compete as a top revenue generator for awhile.
Overall, the whistle-blowing initiative deserves every commendation. At the same time, even as the inherent plan to conceal the details of the corrupt elements may appear tenable short-time, it is counterproductive long-term. In short, the prevailing kid-glove approach is already beginning to create the false impression that corruption is suddenly insoluble in Nigeria thereby inadvertently aiding and abetting the crime itself. True.
SKC Ogbonnia ( Email: SKCOgbonnia@firsttexasenergy.com ) reports.
*Photo Caption - As seen.
[ Masterweb Reports: OlalekanWaheed Adigun reports ] - Every 15th of January in Nigeria is celebrated as Armed Forces and Remembrance Day. That date is unique because of two landmark events in the history of the Nigerian military. First, it was the first time the military staged a successful coup in 1966. Second, it was a day of victory for the Armed Forces over the former secessionist Biafran forces. For obvious reasons, we should forget about the second partly because of the emotions that comes with it. The question of “self-determination” is now been chorused loud in some parts of the country that it is in fact, a right!
Last year, I wrote under the title, Can Biafra Be Achieved Through a Referendum? In response to the article, I got some obvious replies. The reply from one Chris, looks like the most intellectually sound. I decided to engage him in what I thought was an intellectual discourse on WhatsApp, but was left disappointed when Chris resorted to insults and name-calling, like many ill-educated persons that have engaged me on the subject of self-determination. At that point, I stopped replying his messages, even after saying: “I am sorry for insulting you, Lekan.”
The simple question Chris struggled with is: What will the world look like if every nation of fifty thousand people is granted the right to statehood? I will come back to this later.
After the Leave campaigners won the referendum for Britain to exit the European Union (EU) last year, code-named, #BrExit, some pro-Biafra supporters here in Nigeria celebrated it as a “major victory.” They saw it as something that should be used as a basis for a sovereign state for Biafra. That was, and will never be, because there is absolutely no relationship between both political phenomena.
For those who do not understand the issues clearly, Britain voluntarily joined the EU, then known as the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973. Under the EU Constitution, a member state is free at anytime to exit the Union. This is not secession; neither does it look like it. The decision to leave the Union is at the sole discretion of the member state ONLY. Britain was not the first the leave the EU, and may not be the last!
The EU, just like its African counterpart, African Union (AU) has Nigeria has a member state. If Nigeria decides to leave the AU today, that is simply at the discretion of the Nigerian state, which elected to join the Union voluntarily at inception in 1963.
In parenthesis, Morocco had since 1984 left the AU, then known as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) over the controversial issue of the status of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Till data, Morocco is yet to rejoin the Union and it is doing just fine as an independent African state. The question I asked one of those using #BrExit to justify Biafran agitation is: What is the relationship between Morocco’s exit from the OAU in 1984 and the struggle for Eritrean independence in 1993 or of South Sudan in 2012?
Those who called for referendum to determine the Biafra’s continued existence as part of Nigeria will probably have to wait longer. This is because the issues like Biafra are largely political, not legal. If it were that easy as some people want us to believe, Cataluña in Spain conducted referendum as recently as 2012, but as at when I checked this morning, Cataluña is still part of Spain. We need to add that the struggle for Catalan independence dates back to the 17th century. Can you now see why I said it is not that easy to solve like a simple algebraic equation.
In 2001, East Timor, formerly part of Indonesia, after over three decades of struggle for independence, was granted independence by President Suharto. The new country soon descended into a Civil War less than five years after its independence with the agitation for “West-East-Timor” to become a sovereign state. Those who knew (about East Timor) understood the fact that German philosopher, Immanuel Kant asked: “What if everybody did that?”
After thinking about Kant’s statement, I ask myself what the world will look like if Igbominas in Kwara suddenly make a claim for self-determination, and file to the United Nations for a sovereign state? What will the world look like if every 100,000 people file for sovereign state, there will probably be a world of complicated 8000 states. This is what happens when every group file for self-determination as a right!
OlalekanWaheed ADIGUN ( Tel: +2348136502040, +2347081901080
Email: email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org ) is a political analyst and independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria.
*Photo Caption - Map of Defunct Republic of Biafra.
[ Masterweb Reports: Press Release For Immediate Release ] - A former Governor of Abia State Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu has concluded plans to hijack the three slots allotted to Abia State in the oncoming Ohanaeze Ndigbo national elections holding in Enugu on January 10, 2017.
A competent source noted that Orji Kalu's men are now on ground in Enugu to actualize this plan. The three positions alloted to Abia State in the elections are Deputy Secretary-General, Deputy National Publicity Secretary and National Vice Chairman Abia.
The election is a battle for supremacy in Abia State and Igboland as the gladiators are not taking chances. Abia State government is not leaving any thing to chance on the matter as it has perfected plans to checkmate Kalu's moves by throwing in strong support for its candidates in the election. For Orji Kalu, his ability to produce the three officers from Abia State in the National body of Ohanaeze and perhaps in other states will prove to all doubting thomases that he is the political czar in Abia State and Igboland.
Meanwhile, the battle in Enugu will pitch a former minister of Aviation Barr. Nnia Nwodo against a former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Allison Madueke. Some Stakeholders in the state are worried they were not carried along when the state governor endorsed Barr. Nwodo and vowed to resist any imposition in the election. In other states the governors have been making moves to hijack the process.
BY THE IGBO GONG, Enugu, Enugu State
*Photo Capption - Orji Uzor Kalu
[ Masterweb Reports: Olalekan Waheed Adigun reports ] - Since he was elected in 2014, the Ekiti state Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose, has always been in the news, often for wrong reasons. If he is not defending election rigging, he is justifying his poor performance as chief executive. In the very best, the only noble achievement he boasts of is his notorious “stomach infrastructure” programme with which he loots state funds. No one as seen a single road his administration built or renovated. He has no legacy of sustainable development other than his so-called stomach infrastructure, on which he has a “Special Adviser”, by name one Mr. Sunday Anifowose.
If the so-called stomach infrastructure is development-oriented and creative, maybe the struggling Fayose’s administration might have a face-saving excuse, but no. rather, Fayose prefers to be seen in “ponmo” or “agbo Jedi” sectors eating and drinking as though governance is not a serious business. His media team will take pictures of him eating in public restaurants during office hours like a jobless man. If the stomach infrastructure is something that leads to, say the revamping of the Igbemo Rice mill (just like the Abakaliki rice) which has the capacity to generate thousands of jobs for numerous unemployed youths in the state, things would have been better. Can you cast your pearls before swines? Fayose will rather prefer to lead a people who, like pigs, are led by their stomachs than a people who are led by their heads!
Before we are been accused of being an anti-PDP writer, let us be quick to educate those who prefer to be led by the stomach that the Ebonyi state government (under a PDP governor) has increased rice production to the extent that the state is selling rice to other states in Nigeria in the process creating employment for its people. Can the loquacious Fayose be at least humble enough to learn from his Ebonyi counterpart how to make money producing local rice at a time like this? Even the Lagos state government during Christmas decided to partner with faraway Kebbi state for the production of rice when there is the potential in Ekiti to produce rice. Is it not an indictment that Mr. Fayose is not aware that the partnership has created opportunities for Nigerians in Lagos to buy a bag of rice in Lagos at N12,000 while it is sold at N20,000 in Fayose's Ekiti?
Let us even be bold enough to ask what Governor Fayose has done with the bailout funds provided by the federal government since 2015? I remember posting on my several social media accounts in October for anyone with adequate information on Ekiti to furnish me with information on how many roads, schools or hospitals so far built by the Fayose administration since 2014. What and what has the governor been doing with the funds provided for him? He was one of the governors that came up against the federal government probing the funds to the state, so what did he do specifically with his portion in Ekiti? I tweeted this to the governor’s official Twitter handle and got no reply. I probably did not get a reply because I didn’t include stomach infrastructure. That is what you get when a people are led by their stomach like pigs!
Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN ( Tel: +2348136502040, +2347081901080 Email: email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org ) is a political analyst and independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria.
*Photo Caption - Governor Ayo Fayose
[ Masterweb Reports: SKC Ogbonnia reports ] - Events after events have shown that the continued detention of the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, by the Federal Government of Nigeria needs a serious rethink. The matter is not only plaguing the country socially and politically, but its toll on the national economy is not difficult to fathom. The unfortunate irony yet is that while the two principal actors, President Muhammadu Buhari and Kanu, may have good intentions, they are fighting the wrong enemies.
Please hold your thoughts till the later part of this essay on the flaming issue of secession for which Nnamdi Kanu is now better known. For it may not occur to many that before Kanu became a recurring decimal of Buhari’s presidency, a major aim of Radio Biafra, in Kanu’s own words, was to uproot “all looters, embezzlers, kidnappers, sponsors of terrorism, child traffickers, corrupt judges, crooked university lecturers, murderous Nigerian security forces and all thieving individuals masquerading as public officials who steal public funds thereby preventing developmental projects from impacting positively on the lives of the ordinary people.”
Any read of the statement above readily shows that such aspect of Kanu's advocacy is in tandem with Buhari’s standing vow for a corrupt-free Nigeria. If the rationale is inadequate, then consider that just about every group or leader who has pleaded for Kanu's release suggested that lack of development provoked his advocacy. This goes without saying that the president and Kanu have common foes in the corrupt leaders who plundered our common wealth the last 16 years of astronomical oil boom--that is, even before Buhari assumed democratic power.
Therefore, in case President Buhari and Mazi Kanu are yet to get it, which appears to be the case, their real enemies in this context ought to be the corrupt leaders from the Southeast (SE) and South-South (SS) zones of Nigeria who combined to hinder the provision of efficient public amenities as well as job opportunities in the Biafra land that drew the ire of Kanu in the first place.
More specifically, the enemies are the very politicians and contractors that connived to embezzle the funds budgeted for projects vital to the region, some of which include but not limited to: The 2nd River Niger Bridge; East-West Highway; Enugu-Onitsha/Enugu-PH Expressways; Akanu Ibiam and PH International Airports; Calabar and PH Seaports; Dredging of River Niger; Eastern Gas Pipeline network (CAP); Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC); Legislative Constituency Projects; National Conference convened by President Jonathan that adopted, among other things, the restructuring of the country; the Constitutional Amendment, initiated under President Umaru Yar’Adua, and funded to the brim to address the concerns for equitable distribution of states and local governments.
A simple scan of these projects and their attendant ministries reveals that politicians from the South-East or South-South played one dubious role or the other in sabotaging the desired implementation or development. Needless to say, none of the states or local governments in the SE/SS zones is run by the Hausa or Fulani people--that Nnamdi Kanu has commonly blamed--but wholly by the natives themselves. Yet, there is no commensurate development in the area for their share of federal statutory allocations.
This outright rebuke of the SS/SE politicians must not be misconstrued as exalting those from other regions as saints. Far from that! The emphasis on SS/SE is because of the topic of Biafra. Besides, the very zones under review produced the then president (Goodluck Jonathan), then de facto Prime Minister (Ngozi Iweala), and the then Minister of Petroleum Resources (Diezani Madueke)—the specious trio who superintended the national treasury during the period their kinfolks were looting the project funds in the area.
In a normal clime, this sort of exposé would be sufficient to unmask the culprits linked with the money-spinners cited herein. But in event that more specific details are needed, my identity has always been an open book. Moreover, this case will not require the state to dole out from its meager purse to fulfill the new policy on whistle-blowing. For quid pro quo is beneath my personal code of ethics in matters of public interest.
Change does not come easy, understood, but containing the situation in the east must not be a rocket science. Make no mistake about it; President Buhari deserves commendation for quietly undertaking some of the projects in the region that were funded but looted during previous administrations. Yet, to continue to punish the primary whistle-blower in Nnamdi Kanu while condoning the corrupt politicians--who return a portion of their loot--is sadly an oxymoron. In view of this irony, instead of the futile detention of Kanu, the masses prefer a leader that can summon the courage to expose the real enemies who had corralled the project funds into private bank accounts.
Any call for the release of Nnamdi Kanu easily stirs emotions, and that is understandable. The style of his advocacy alone is jarringly hostile and can constitute a problem by itself. But the manner of the man's detention, including the state's refusal to obey court orders, does not serve any good purpose. The only beneficiaries are the real enemies, the corrupt vortex of the opposition, who have nothing concrete to show for their time in office, but who are today having a field day, grandstanding as the champion for the oppressed, claiming the passionate desire to liberate Kanu while stoking a view of General Buhari as an unrepentant dictator determined to abridge freedom of speech in the land. Their ultimate goal, of course, is to capitalize on the Kanu saga to con the mass support needed to derail the president’s war against corruption.
Fifth columnists are sure to hide behind the urgency of Kanu's threat of secession to continue to sidetrack Buhari from the right path to justice. But fighting the right causes through the wrong courses usually creates more problems than solutions. Moreover, the president does not need to be reminded that, similar to other multi-ethnic nations, for example, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom, there has always been, and will always be, threats for secession in Nigeria, regardless of who is in power. The manner of the approach is where leadership begins and ends.
SKC Ogbonnia ( Email: SKCOgbonnia@firsttexasenergy.com ) reports from Houston, Texas, USA.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The major aim of Radio Biafra Is not "to uproot all looters, embezzlers, kidnappers, sponsors of terrorism, child traffickers, corrupt judges, crooked university lecturers, murderous Nigerian security forces and all thieving individuals masquerading as public officials who steal public funds thereby preventing developmental projects from impacting positively on the lives of the ordinary people” as stated by the author. Radio Biafra went through three major transitions, the first was when it was run by Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) with Nnamdi Kanu as Director - During this period Radio Biafra was set up to disseminate necessary information for the "actualization" of Biafra Nation. Ralph Uwazurike, leader of MASSOB cut-off funding of the radio after disagreement with Nnamdi Kanu who wanted to use the platform for support of 'credible' political candidates. The second transition was when Radio Biafra was owned jointly by Radio Biafra London(RBL)-registration name of Radio Biafra under MASSOB, Billie Human Rights Initiative and Council of Elders (Customary Government of Biafra) and during this period Radio Biafra was to disseminate information about the group and on "restoration of Biafra through non-violent means". The group (jointly known as Indigenous People of Biafra[IPOB]) represented by Billie took the Federal Government of Nigeria to court; they are still in court with Nigeria as at the time of this report. The third transition was the wrestling of Radio Biafra by Nnamdi Kanu away from the other groups. Kanu went on air and banned the other groups and later registered his own Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Under Kanu and his IPOB, Radio Biafra's mission is the "Restoration of Biafra" and dedicated to "the defense of the freedom and rights of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)". Radio Biafra website ( www.radiobiafra.co ) is no longer accessible but the radio still broadcasts and its goal can be verified on their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/radiobiafra/about/
*Photo Caption - Nnamdi Kanu
[ Masterweb Reports: Olalekan Waheed Adigun reports ] - It is New Year again. As usual, many Christians went to Church on New Year Eve to receive prophesies for the incoming year about what it may bring. There were prophesies like “APC will face crisis”; “A new party will be formed by politician”; “A popular politician will signal his intention to run for the presidency in 2019” etcetera which drive many Nigerians to great excitement. Not all these “prophesy” are entirely negative or clownish as some of the above appear to be. Some prophesies deal with the future greatness of Nigeria and the fact that it will be blessed with good leaders. The excitements and the mad rush to hear these statements show how religious many people are!
While it is not entirely bad to believe these prophesies, we must understand that, as a nation, God has blessed us so much that we can’t ask for more blessings. He has done His part; we only need to do ours. “Over Religiousness” or “Over Prayers” seen in many Nigerians today will not force His Hands to do our biddings. We must do our parts too.
Though, I enjoy reading the English novelist, Eric Arthur Blair (popularly known as George Orwell), I have never been a fan of English novels partly because of their over glorification of English culture or because of the boredom they bring to me then as a student of Literature-in-English. The only novel I still read apart from those of George Orwell, is Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.
Reading the novel, for perhaps the eight time, some days ago still struck me much about Nigeria and its abundant natural resources. I asked myself how a nation can be so blessed and yet appear so cursed at the same time. Are people poor because of lack of resources? If we had these much resources in abundance, why is there so much poverty, disease and hunger in the land? A Columbia University economist, conducting a research in Latin America in the 1950s, gave a strange answer (in paraphrase): people are not poor because of lack of resources, they are poor because they are ignorant of the abundance that surrounds them!
For those who haven’t read Robinson Crusoe, it is the story of an adventure undertaken by a young man whose father wanted to become a lawyer and manage his estate but chose to travel abroad by sea. His father warned him against such, ‘At sea you will only find trouble and unhappiness.” And in truth, when he sailed with his two friends, what happened were what his father had said.
On one of his sails to Guinea “to collect Africans to work” as slaves on their farms, they suffered a shipwreck leaving his two friends dead and Crusoe barely escaping with his life to spend over 28 years on a strange island.
On the island, his constant companions were his Bible, a dog, two cats, his flock and all that nature could provide for human survival. Though the island contained all that he needed to survive, Crusoe must go out to hunt for animals, else he will go hungry.
Like Crusoe’s island, God has blessed Nigeria with all it needed to achieve self-sufficiency and become one of world’s greatest powers. But unlike Crusoe, Nigeria and Nigerians expect God to, after doing so much, come and help us refine our oil; transform our cassava to garri; produce petrol from petroleum; and in some cases we pray to God to come and help us clean our dirty rooms!
Though Crusoe believed in God’s protection, he knew he can’t be the only one on the island. He never parted with his tools and ammunitions at any time else he became the victim when attacked by beasts or man eating savages. He probably understood the Arabian proverb “Trust in God, but tie your camel.” Nigeria is a sovereign state, we need a good security apparatus to conquer internal and external attacks. God Himself is known as “The Lord of the Hosts.” Prayers alone will not defeat Boko Haram; looting monies meant for arms to fight Boko Haram is not only a sin against man, but also against God!
Crusoe knows that God has supplied his needs according to His riches in glory on the island, he knows he has to save for the future. He understood the fact that his gunpowder (a key resource) will sooner or later run out. He started rearing goats “for meat and milk.” It is never God’s fault that we refused to save for the rainy day while we made huge sums from oil boom. It is not God’s fault that we loot the monies meant for repairs of our refineries. It is not God’s fault that we didn’t explore other resources that nature has provided for us through diversification. God has supplied our needs according to His riches in glory truly, but there is a part we also must play in accessing these riches!
As a nation that knows God so much that we sometimes even kill for Him or on His behalf (as though God is an infant that cannot avenge Himself), we must realize that He has done so much for us and there is no reason why we should cry or suffer. If the nation is poor, it is because we have refused to see the abundance He has deposited in our nation (like Crusoe’s island) as a result of our collective blindness. This won’t change by being just religious!
Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN ( Tel: +2348136502040, +2347081901080 Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org ) is a political analyst and independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria.
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[ Masterweb Reports ] – January 1 is an ideal time to express love and good wishes for those we care about. Masterweb cares about all her readers, their families, friends and associates, and wishes them "Happy New Year". May 2017 be blessed with all your wishes coming through and the timeless message of New Year fill your heart and home with joy. May Africa, the Middle East and the rest of the world find the much peace they deserve. No more wars, nor hunger - May the Good Lord Bless us all.
God Bless you as you share Christmas and New Year with family and with friends. May He fill your heart and dreams with peace, love and joy that never end. Speaking at our annual end of year party last weekend, our CEO/Founder, Chief Charles O. Okereke, declaring the event open said: "Our staff and readers have carried us to great lofty heights this year. We got over one billion hits this year, on all our sites. This was made possible due to our dedicated staff and loyal readers/customers like you. Thank you for the unflinching dedication, patronage and loyalty."
May this wonderful season warm your heart with joy that will last throughout 2017 and years to come. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
[ Masterweb Reports ] – Christmas is an ideal time to express love and good wishes for those we care about. Masterweb cares about all her readers, their families, friends and associates, and wishes them " Merry Xmas & A Happy New Year". May your holiday season be blessed with the true meaning of Christmas. May the timeless message of Christmas fill your heart and home with joy today, new year and years to come. May Africa, the Middle East and the rest of the world find the much peace they deserve. No more wars, nor hunger - May the Good Lord Bless us all. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
Gifts tied with beautiful ribbons arriving your home by mail! Yes, it is Christmas. Let us give thanks to the Lord for a life filled with many blessings, as we celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus, an immaculate conception and miracle culminating to divine delivery( "Therefoe the Lord himself shall give a sign, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" -Isaiah 7:14 ).
God bless you as you share Christmas with family and with friends. May He fill your heart and dreams with peace, love and joy that never end. Speaking at our annual end of year party last weekend, our CEO/Founder, Chief Charles O. Okereke, declaring the event open said: "Our staff and readers have carried us to great lofty heights this year. We got over one billion hits this year, on all our sites. This was made possible due to our dedicated staff and loyal readers/customers like you. Thank you for the unflinching dedication, patronage and loyalty."
May this wonderful season warm your heart with joy that will last throughout the New Year.
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