*The Threat To Nigeria's Existence Is Deepening On Daily Bases
By Chris Onyishi
The Nigerian State frowns at peaceful, organized and civil approach to matters of self determination but beckons on faceless armed militants who kill and maim innocent citizens in the name of agitation against the state on purely no defined principle. It is on record that despite the full blown civil war of 1967 to 1970, there has never been a greater destruction of human beings, who are all Nigerians predominantly of a certain tribe and religion, in the annals of our country.
So what you get is that a group from a section of the country that is peacefully asking for self determination is put forth for treasonable felony trial while the State is, at the same time, negotiating amnesty with another group that has caused the greatest number of deaths through broad day bombings in the land. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
I would have expected that at worst, a state that is run by creative people would want to negotiate with a civil agitation group rather than rapor with faceless gangsters, if only as a sign that it is more amenable to groups and individuals that follow internationally accepted pattern in demanding for self determination.
It is pertinent to note that it is as a result of flagrant repudiation of a people's fundamental rights to civil agitation that tensions which tend to destroy nation states are engendered.
President Jonathan cannot afford to sit on the fence while the nation he swore to hold together is on the precipise of disintegration. Injustice, unlike politics or politicking, has but one meaning. The project Nigeria cannot run succesfully on this form of flagrant abuse of the rights of its constituent members.
Chris Onyishi ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
*Intersociety Raises Alarm on The Grave Violation of The Federal Character Principle By Nigeria Police Force
By International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
From: the Secretariat of:
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra, Nigeria
Prof. Shuaibu AbdulRaheem Oba
Executive Chairman, Federal Character Commission
Plot 64, 1st Avenue, Off Shehu Shagari Way
Central Business District, Abuja, Nigeria
Grave Violation Of The Federal Character Principle By The Leadership Of The Nigeria Police Force: A Call For Your Commission’s Immediate Intervention
Above subject matter refers.
(Onitsha Nigeria, 6th day of May, 2013)-In line with powers vested on your Commission by the Federal Character Commission Act of 1996 and Section 153 as well as Supplementary Section 7, Part 1 of Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, your Commission’s attention is drawn to the above named subject. For full details and necessary action, please find attached a copy of our letter to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through Mr. Peter Gregory Obi, Governor of Anambra State and Chairman, Southeast Governors’ Forum. The letter is dated 6th day of May, 2013 and referenced: Intersociety/S/01/05/013/S/E/Presidency/ABJ/FGN.
Our Request: We pray your Commission to carry out full investigation into the 3rd day of April, 2013 promotion of 130 senior police officers by the immediate past leadership of the Nigeria Police Service Commission, which said it promoted based on IGP’s recommendation. Your Commission’s investigation will show whether the NPF and the former PSC leadership acted in conformity with the Federal Character Principle, in conformity with Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended as well as with the six geopolitical zonal structures. Our findings in the intersociety clearly show that the methods of recommendation for promotion, promotion and posting of senior police officers in the present day NPF are gravely lopsided and carefully designed to cripple and destroy the Southeast zone in the Nigeria’s social scheme of things. We demand that your Commission’s investigation, which should be thorough and conclusive, be extended to the Federal Ministry of Interior and the Immigration Service, where strong accusations of discriminatory practices against personnel of the Southeast extraction working in them are becoming thicker day by day.
We also demand that your Commission’s investigation should be extended to the area of serving AIGs in the NPF so as to ascertain why out of between 22 and 24 serving police AIGs in Nigeria, none is from the Southeast geopolitical zone. The number and geopolitical identities of all serving CPs in the NPF should also be thoroughly investigated to ensure that each geopolitical zone is equitably represented and not short-changed. At the end of your Commission’s investigation, the said lopsidedness should be frontally reversed and proactively prohibited at all times in all the federal ministries and agencies in Nigeria.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Nigeria
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*Hausanisation Of Nigeria Police Force: Intersociety Raises Alarm
By International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
From: the Secretariat of:
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra State
Dr. Goodluck E. Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Commander-in-Chief, Nigerian Armed Force & Chairman, Nigeria Police Council
The Chairman, Nigeria’s Southeast Governors’ Forum
Office of the Governor of Anambra State, Government House, Awka
Anambra State, Southeast, Nigeria
Hausanisation & Islamisation Policy In The Nigeria Police Force: Our Case Against The Police Leadership Under IGP M.D. Abubakar
(Onitsha Nigeria, 6th day of May, 2013)-The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies. Your Excellencies, it is totally correct to say that the foregoing firm constitutional directive provided in Section 14(3) of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, is observed in total breach by the present leadership of the Nigeria Police Force, headed by IGP Mohammed Dikko Abubakar as it relates to recommendation for promotion, promotion and posting of senior police officers, especially those from the ranks of Commissioners of Police and Assistant Inspectors General of Police. Though, the Nigeria Police Service Commission promotes, but it says the IGP recommends those to be promoted. This is in clear violation of the PSC Establishment Act of 2001 and Supplementary Section 29 of Part 1 of Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution as amended.
As Your Excellencies may know, unity in diversity is the main and last trademark of every heterogeneous society such as ours. It was a driving force behind the introduction of federalism into the country’s political and legal systems in 1954. The Nigeria’s variant of the Fundamental Human Rights doctrine, which was recommended in 1957/8 for enshrinement into the Independence Constitution of 1960, was solely predicated on unity in diversity. It was the fears of the Nigerian minorities of Mid-West and Middle-Belt that made its enshrinement into the country’s constitutions till date possible. Today, every Tom, Dick and Harry in the country is a beneficiary of this famous doctrine, originally intended to allay the fears of the minorities. This is also expressly responsible for Your Excellency, President Goodluck E. Jonathan’s presidential emergence, having come Ijaw small ethnic group. The unanimous adoption of six geopolitical zonal structures for Nigeria’s geopolitical system at the 1994 constitutional conference is also to ensure unity in diversity.
Therefore, the social importance of unity in diversity in every heterogeneous society like ours cannot be quantitatively and qualitatively measured. The trademark of unity in diversity is effective constitutional safeguards to ward off its violators at all times. In Nigeria, despite the clear and unambiguous provisions of Section 14(3) quoted above, the Government of the Federation and its agencies and agents have continued to observe these sacred constitutional provisions in gross breach. In 2012, we alerted Your Excellencies over discriminatory policies in some Federal Government ministries and agencies especially in the Nigeria Police Force as they concerned and still concern recommendation for promotion, promotion and posting of senior police officers. By the combined provisions of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution and the principle of six geopolitical zonal structures, the appointment of persons into various agencies of the Federal Government including the Nigeria Police Force as well as promotion and posting of the latter’s senior officers should strictly be based on federal character representation and six geopolitical zonal structures.
This simply means that on no accounts should the command structure of the Nigeria Police Force be dominated by one ethnic group or religion. It further means that if there are 24 police AIGs in the Force, each geopolitical zone must get at least four; if there are 90 police CPs, each zone is automatically entitled to fifteen. This should be replicated in other senior or command positions and postings in the Force. It should also be applied in field operations in the Force. For instance, out of the 12 police zonal commands and 37 State commands in the country, each zone should respectively get at least two zonal AIGs and six States CPs. But on the contrary, the reverse is the case. Deliberate Hausanisation and Islamisation policy has become a routine in the present day Nigeria Police Force under the leadership of Mr. Mohammed Diko Abubakar. As the Plateau State Commissioner of Police years back in 2001 or there about, Mr. M.D. Abubakar was gravely accused by Christian community, media, rights groups and government adhoc facts finders as an ethnic and religious zealot, a stigma that nearly robbed him of his present IGPship, which is still a big minus on his personage till date.
Non-promotion of Igbo-Southeast Police Personnel & Stagnation of their Ranks: Senior police officers of the Southeast extraction are heavily discriminated against in the areas of statutory promotions and postings. There is also an age-long ranking stagnation policy against them being promoted by the top headship of the Nigeria Police Force. The top field and administrative formations of the Force in Nigeria, out of its 6,651 field formations in the country are: IGPship manned by the overall head of the Force, six DIGs of administration, works, investigation, training, planning & research and information & computer technology; twelve zonal commands manned by twelve AIGs, thirty-seven States and FCT Commands manned by 37 States Commissioners of Police as well as hundreds of State criminal investigation departments and area commands manned by Assistant Commissioners of Police. There are also other important field and administrative formations in the Force manned by AIGs, CPs and DCPs. Some of them are Police Staff College, Jos, Police Academy, Kano, Police Medical, Police Veterinary, Air-wing, Border Patrols, Force Secretary, Intelligence and Marines & Airport Command, all manned by AIGs. Others like Police Detective Colleges, Police Colleges, Police Admin, Police Legal, Port Authority, MOPOL, SARS, CTU, Info Tech/Admin, Police Animal, etc, are manned by Commissioners of Police.
Surprisingly and shocking too, senior police officers of the Igbo-Southeast extraction are not equitably represented in all these key police formations in the country. For instance, in the number of serving police commissioners in Nigeria, the Southeast zone is the least represented geopolitically. Other than States Police Commands where about six of them are serving with their statutory terminal dates nearing, their absence in other key police formations in the country is acutely noticed. For instance, among the 12 Police Zonal Commands in the country, manned by AIGs, none of them is from the Igbo-Southeast extraction. As a matter of fact, there is no Igbo-Southeast serving AIG, out of between 22 and 24 serving AIGs (assistant inspectors general of police) in the Nigeria Police Force presently. The only serving AIG from the zone who was promoted in 2012 on the heels of similar outcries from the zone over non-promotion and exclusion of Igbo-Southeast senior police officers, quietly retired in April 2013. His name is Mr. Alex Emeka Okeke-a celebrated police pharmacist.
The promotion of Igbo-Southeast senior police officers to the ranks of ACPs, DCPs, CPs and AIGs is also deliberately stunted and carried out months away from their statutory retirement dates. There are incontrovertible pieces of evidence showing that the Igbo-Southeast police officers are among the best in both police colleges and police staff colleges in Nigeria, yet their promotions and postings are habitually stunted by the promoting and posting authorities of the NPF. There are still many Igbo-Southeast police officers who entered the Force in early 80s with higher education qualifications, who also emerged all round cadets in police colleges, yet, they are still in the ranks of SPs, CSPs, ACPs and DCPs, whereas their counterparts from five other geopolitical zones particularly the Northwest, Northeast, North-central and Southwest, have risen to the ranks of CPs, AIGs and DIGs. The present IGP, Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, from Zamfara State, Northwest Nigeria, joined the NPF as a cadet inspector on 1st day of August, 1979.
The Last Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back: On 3rd day of May, 2013, Nigerians, particularly those of the Southeast extraction received with shock and disbelief the news of decoration by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, of nine newly promoted Commissioners of Police at Force Headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria. Our swift checks revealed that they were part of the 13 deputy commissioners of police promoted to police commissioners on 3rd day of April by the immediate past leadership of the Nigeria Police Service Commission, which said it acted based on the recommendation of the Inspector General of Police, Mr. M.D. Abubakar. The former PSC leadership had in the exercise promoted 13 DCPs to CPs, 22 ACPs to DCPs, 9 CSPs to ACPs, 16 DSPs to SPs, 52 ASPs to DSPs and 7 Inspectors to ASPs. Also, one serving Commissioner of Police, Ali Ahmadu, was made an AIG with a strange directive that his promotion would take effect from 31st day of July, 2013, the same day he will retire from the Nigeria Police Force. The identities and geopolitical zones of the newly promoted officers were shrouded in secrecy by the former PSC leadership as well as the top leadership of the Force with the exception of the nine newly decorated CPs. The full details of the promotion were neither put on the PSC and NPF websites nor given to the media.
Our further in-depth checks showed that out of the nine newly promoted and decorated police commissioners, whose identities were made public by the IGP, none of them is from the Igbo-Southeast Nigeria and out of the 13 new CPs promoted, none is from the Southeast, whereas eight out of the nine newly decorated ones are northern Muslims. Seven of them are core Hausa-Fulani Muslims; one is a northern Yoruba Muslim, while one is a Southwest Christian. Their names are: Commissioners of Police Kudu Abubakar Nima, Umar U. Shehu, Usman Yakubu, Saidu Madawaki, Usman Isah Baba, Abdulmajid Ali, Abubakar Adamu Mohammed, Abdul Salami and Cornelius Kayode Aderanti. For us in the Intersociety, this is an impeachable violation of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution.
Further, in the eighteen names available to us, out of between 22 and 24 serving AIGs in the Nigeria Police Force, none of them comes from the Southeast geopolitical zone. They are: Police AIGs Saliu Argungu Hashimu, Mamman Ibrahim Tsafe, Suleiman A. Abba, Ali Ahmadu, Ibrahim Abdu, Tambari Mohammed, Mohammed Abubakar, Aliyu Musa and Balla Hassan (they are all Hausa-Fulani Muslims). Nine other non-Igbo-Southeast AIGs still serving are: Christopher Dega, Julius Ishola, Solomon Arase, Dan’azumi Job Doma, Solomon Olusegun, Michael Zuokumor, Orubebe Gandhi Ebikeme, Jonathan Johnson and Philemon Leha. None of the 4 or 6 remaining AIGs, whose names are not contained here, is from the Igbo-Southeast Nigeria. In the list above, all the geopolitical zones of Northwest, Northeast, North-central, Southwest and South-south are represented in the all-important AIGship except the Southeast zone.
Few serving Igbo-Southeast States CPs in Nigeria with nearing statutory terminal dates are CPs Ikechukwu Aduba-Delta State, Godfrey Okeke-Adamawa State, Kingsley Omire-Bayelsa State, Hilary Opara-Kogi State, Ikemefula Okoye-Ogun and Patrick Egbuniwe-Yobe State. Four other known non-State Command CPs from the Igbo-Southeast, who are still serving are CPs Mrs. Chintua Amajor Onu-CP Intelligence, Force Headquarters, Isaac Eke-CP Admin B, Force Headquarters, Benjamin Onwuka-Deputy Commandant, Police College, Jos and Felix Uyanna-Commandant, Police College, Oji River, Enugu State. It is possible that some of these CPs that bear Igbo names are of the South-south Igbo origin. The only cadre of the NPF top command that is equitably represented in the six geopolitical zonal structures is the six NPF’s top management levels manned by Deputy Inspectors General of Police. While DIGs Atiku Y. Kafur and Suleiman D. Fakai of Planning & Research and Administration departments, respectively, represent Northwest and Northeast geopolitical zones; DIGs Marvel Akpoyibo and Abdulrahman Akano of Training and Information & Computer Technology departments, respectively, represent South-south and Southwest zones. DIGs Peter Yisa Gana and Emmanuel Onyekachi Udoji of Investigation and Works departments, respectively, represent North-central and Southeast zones.
Marginalization of the Igbo-Southeast in Other Federal Ministries & Agencies: The attentions of Your Excellencies are drawn to efforts by some key federal ministries and agencies controlled by other geopolitical zones to oust and destroy the Igbo-Southeast personnel working in such ministries and agencies. It is clear to every Tom, Dick and Harry that the Northwest, Northeast, North-central and Southwest zones are not comfortable over the headship of the Nigerian Army by an Igbo-Southeast person. Phantom moves are steadily being made to oust the zone from the position. Just months ago, the Controller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Mrs. Rose Uzoma, who hailed from the Southeast zone, was unceremoniously ousted by the Federal Government under Your Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, over phantom allegations including recruitment of Igbo persons into the Service outside the Federal Character principle. Recently, the concerned Igbo-Southeast personnel working in the Service cried foul over the discriminatory practices being initiated and sustained against them in the Service and the Federal Ministry of Interior. They complained of non-appointment into key positions, barefaced discrimination, sideling and allocation of irrelevant duties to them, unnecessary and deliberate delays in appointing another Southeast person as the acting or substantive Controller General of the Immigration Service, among others. They specifically pointed out that the Igbo-Southeast are not represented in the Federal Ministry of Interior’s boards of Prisons, Immigration, Security & Civil Defense Corps, Customs and Police. Whereas other geopolitical zones are represented in the Ministry’s Joint Intelligence Board, it is only the Southeast zone that is not represented. They cited a stark example of the lopsided composition of the Ministry of Interior, where the Minister and Permanent Secretary are from the north and chairman and secretary of the Immigration Board are from the same north. Same thing applies to Prisons and Civil Defense Corps, etc.
Conclusion: Our writing Your Excellencies is to draw Your Excellencies’ attentions to issues under reference and demand for permanent end to same as well as strict adherence to Section 14(3) and six geopolitical zonal principle in matters of distribution of federal appointments, recruitments, promotions and postings of members of the armed forces including the Nigeria Police Force. The recent promotions in the NPF being complained of should be thoroughly and expeditiously investigated with a view to addressing the gross lopsidedness and sanctioning those found flouting the said Section 14(3). Your Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan, should expeditiously issue a presidential proclamation directing all heads of the armed forces including the NPF and the PSC to henceforth base their recruitments, promotions and postings on Section 14(3) and six geopolitical zonal structures. Your Excellency, as the chairman of the Nigeria Police Council and sole appointing authority of members of the PSC board should ensure that the next PSC board is composed of astute and impeccable personalities. The grave mistake of appointing a retired police officer as the chairman of the PSC must be avoided. The intendment behind the creation of the PSC is not to militarize the NPF but to civilianize it and provide effective checks and balances on its headship at all times. Also, promoting police officers on the recommendation of the IGP is illegal and unconstitutional. The PSC is expressly empowered both constitutionally and legally to appoint (promote), dismiss and discipline any member of the NPF other than the IGP without recourse to the IGP’s so called recommendation. The IGP is the operational head of the Force and nothing more than that.
We urge Your Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi, as the chairman of the Southeast Governors’ Forum, to be more proactive, protective and outspoken whenever the lives, liberties and interests of the people of Igbo-Southeast such as the foregoing are under threats. The slaughtering of thousands of the Southeast people on yearly basis by lawful and unlawful armed malicious elements in the country is partly because of the lopsidedness being complained of and quietness of the graveyard on the part of the zone’s top public office holders. The leaders of the zone under Your Excellency’s leadership must no longer sound and behave like a conquered people, which they are not. Nigeria, as Your Excellency is aware, belongs to all of us. Our people must be maximally protected in any part of the country at all times. The Jonathan’s Presidency must no longer be made to look like Jonathan rules and Igbo people get perished political game.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Nigeria
The Chairman, Federal Character Commission, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria
Deputy President of Senate, National Assembly of Nigeria, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*Chief Okereke, Masterweb Publisher Loses Mother
By Masterweb News Desk
Friday, May 3, 2013 has been set for the burial of Lolo Grace Nnennaya Okereke, mother of Nigeria Masterweb publisher, Chief Charles O. Okereke who passed on to glory at the ripe age of 90. She will be laid to rest at the family home in Ogwumabiri (adjacent to Amaja Elu), Akoliufu – Alayi.
Below is the Programme of the Funeral Rites.
Friday, May 3, 2013.
0 am: Body leaves St. Francis Mortuary, Aba for St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Akoliufu, Alayi.
11.00 am – 12 noon: Concelebrated Requiem Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Akoliufu, Alayi.
m: Body arrives at our family compound in Ogwumabiri (adjacent to Amaja Elu), about 1.5 miles from the church.
0 pm: Interment
1.10 – 2.10 pm: Speeches / Tributes
2.15 - 5.00 pm: Entertainment & Cultural Dances
Send condolences to email@example.com Okereke’s family can be reached at +234 08060471078. May her gentle soul rest in peace.
Photo Above: Late Lolo Grace Nnennaya Okereke
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*Amnesty For 8 Condemned Nigerian Prisoners: A Call For Urgent Action
By International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
The Secretariat Of:
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule Of Law
41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra, Nigeria.
1. The Secretary General
C/O Mr. Makmid Kamara, AI Researcher for Nigeria
1, Easton Street, Peter Benison House
London WCIX ODW, UK
2. The Executive Director
Human Rights Watch
C/O Mariana Enamoneta, HRW Researcher for Nigeria
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor, New York, NY 10118-3299, USA
Dear Senior Colleagues,
Amnesty For Eight Condemned Prisoners In Benin Nigeria: A Call For Urgent Action
(Onitsha Nigeria, 18th day of April, 2013) -On 15th day of April, 2013, our leadership got an urgent information from inside the Benin Prisons in Edo State, South-south, Nigeria that fresh plans are being made by the Prisons authorities, in collaboration with the Government of Edo State to execute some condemned prisons inmates at the Prisons Gallows located within its premises. In October 2012, similar plans by the Government of Edo State and the authorities of the Nigerian Prisons in the State to carry out the callous executions were thwarted by international pressures from leading internationally respected bodies including your respected organizations and the European Union Mission to Nigeria. Movement against judicial executions in Nigeria including the case under reference has also become a subject of litigation courtesy of the Nigeria’s Legal Defence & Assistance Project-LEDAP and other interested parties. The matter, principally filed on behalf of some death row inmates in Edo State, was filed before the Benin Division of the Federal High Court in October 2012 and is still pending in the Nigerian courts.
In spite of the litigious nature of the matter under reference in addition to existing moratoriums on death penalty in Nigeria (defacto) and the African Union, against judicial executions in the country, the political authorities in Edo State seem hell bent on carrying out such executions in secretly dangerous ways. As you may know, there are approximately 920 prisoners on death row in Nigeria, out of which, about 840 of them are presently in court, challenging the rationality behind their death warrants issued by substantive and adhoc judicial bodies in the country. This is more so when over 100 independent countries, out of the UN’s 193 member-States have ousted death penalty clauses from their municipal laws, while over half of the remaining countries, which are not parties to anti death penalty clauses have adopted moratoriums against it.
The latest alarm is stem from the servicing of the Prisons Gallows of the Benin Prisons and the padlock of a door leading to the Gallows on Monday, 15th day of April, 2013. According to concerned inmates in the Prisons, once the Gallows and the said door are oiled and serviced, it means executions may most likely take place. The door to the Gallows from prisons cells, popularly called gate of hell in the Prisons is opened once in a long while when executions are to take place. It is a passage through which condemned prisoners are led to the Gallows at the point of their executions. According to a source, the door has been under lock and key for years until three days ago. Strange presence of some prisons warders around the Gallows in the midnight of 17th day of April, 2013 was reported to us in the early morning of 18th day of April, 2013. It is seriously suspected that the Governor of Edo State has signed the death warrant of some death row inmates including Daniel Nsofor and Osarenmwinda Aiguokhian. The latter were part of those death row inmates saved from planned execution in October 2012.
The following eight condemned prisoners from the Benin Prisons fear terribly that they may most likely be executed at any time from now. They are: 1. Agbonmware Omorogie, from Edo State-convicted since 1994 and exhausted his right of appeal at the Supreme Court of Nigeria (spent 19 years after conviction).2. Cyracius Ogidi, from Imo State-convicted for armed robbery by military tribunal since 1997(spent 16 years after conviction).3.ThanKGod Ebhos, from Kaduna State convicted for armed robbery by military tribunal since 1988(spent 25 years after conviction). 4. Chima Ejifor-arrested in Edo State on 29-11-1994 and convicted on 21-8-1998 at the age of 27(spent 15 years after conviction). His appeal has been exhausted at the Apex Court.
Others are: 5.Richard Igago, arrested in 1994 and convicted on 19-12-1995 by an Edo State High Court (spent 18 years after conviction). 6. Osarenmwinda Aiguokhian-arrested on 7-7-1993 and convicted for armed robbery by military tribunal on 18-1-1996(spent 17 years after conviction). 7. Daniel Nsofor-arrested in Edo State on 31-11-1992 and convicted on 19-6-1996(spent 17 years after conviction with his right of appeal exhausted at the Apex Court). 8. Apostle Igene, from Delta State-arrested on 9-5-1997 and convicted for armed robbery by military tribunal in 1998 at the age of 28 with no right of appeal (spent 15 years after conviction).
Under an aspect of the Nigerian law called the Prerogative of Mercy, the President of the country and the Governor of any of the 36 federating units called States as well as the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Chief Judge of a State are empowered to commute the jail terms of convicted citizens ranging from death penalty, life jail to years-jail. They are also carnally arrogated with the powers of go home and sin or offend no more. Sadly, this important power is not equitably and socially exercised in Nigeria. They are exercised under politically motivated and ill-conceived influences. At times, the exercise is pegged for the highest bidders or those that have long legs.
Our writing your respected international organizations is in recognition of immense roles you successfully played around the globe with respect to movement against death penalty. That major leading regional and international social groupings like the Organization of American States, the European Union, the African Union and the United Nations now play ceaselessly the flutes of say no to death penalty, which has caught the municipal attentions of over 100 territorial sovereign entities, is expressly linked to sustained advocacies carried out by your respected organizations with other interested parties.
Though death penalty is globally condemned because it is cruel, degrading and inhuman, but the most cruel, degrading and inhuman is pretrial killings. Death penalty victims are processed criminals, though some may have been wrongly convicted, but victims of pretrial killings are unprocessed suspects merely accused of offending the law whether felony, misdemeanor or simple offences; who in the eyes of the law are not criminals because they have not been fully processed by way of criminal arrest, investigation, prosecution, fair trial, conviction and sentencing. In Nigeria, thousands of citizens are killed annually before trial in circumstances not even connected to the so called self defense, custody escape and arrest resistance, under which the country’s law enforcement agencies including the Nigeria Police Force hide to kill Nigerians in droves with impunity. The three universally outlawed killing circumstances are code-named Order 237 of the Nigeria Police Force contained in the NPF Act and defenses to rights to life and dignity of human person contained in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
We call upon your respected organizations to use your wide global influences to secure an amnesty for the nine Nigerian death row inmates under reference as a matter of extreme urgency and stop the country both at Federal and State levels to stop further judicial execution of those citizens under death row in the country. The Nigerian authorities should also be pressurized to adopt a substantive moratorium against judicial executions, from which she will be made to enter an anti death penalty club. The country should be encouraged to diversify her sentencing and penalty system to accommodate community service, prison labour, prison industry, parole, fines, prison sporting and social development, etc. The Nigerian Prisons System should also be put in the concurrent legislative list to enable various States to participate so as to ensure its effective and efficient management. It is also our call upon your respected organizations to initiate a new wave of international advocacy against pretrial killings by law enforcement organs of many member-States of the UN particularly in Africa. Effective legal mechanisms should be put in place internationally, regionally, sub-regionally and nationally to bring to book those law enforcement and other security personnel found involved in pretrial killings. Strong global movements against the globally abhorred acts should be formed and sustained.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Nigeria
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
*Motherhood -By Valentine Obienyem
By Valentine Obienyem
Childhood disposition is basically the same for both sexes especially at the early stages of life. The newly born, apart from a few natural distinctions, cry, crawl, go on diapers, play childhood pranks, sleep, and do many things almost indistinguishable from one another. As they enter into infancy, especially when they start primary schools, though still of the same disposition, they subtly become conscious of their sexes. At this stage, there is the tendency for each sex to be attracted to its kind. Thus, we see boys, as girls, playing with one another mostly. Sex prejudices will now crawl in like a snake to disturb the paradise of childhood oneness.
At puberty, helped by psychological and physical changes that children undergo, each sex now becomes fully conscious of its identity. Stimulated to amorous frenzy by these changes, girls are often advised to avoid boys because of the unexpected. Determined to enjoy all the fantasies of adolescence, the growing youngsters, despite all efforts to shield them from one another, still “enjoy” one another.
Now, moving into conscious young adulthood, the boys will now like to stay close to their fathers as the girls are naturally attracted to their mothers. A methodical father will now undertake to teach the son(s) the ways of the community: relevant histories, their possessions, masculine stories that praise heroism and despise effeminate degeneracy. As the son (s) grows to marriageable age, he will undertake to teach him the virtues that a man must look for in a woman he intends to marry. On the part of mothers, they undertake, in a nutshell, to teach their daughters the requirements of sound motherhood.
There are many reasons that suggest that motherhood is the crown of womanhood. This is not just motherhood, but blended with the right spiritual disposition. As soon as young girls come of age, they are agitated with the thought of getting married to the right man. To most of them, their wedding days are usually the happiest in their lives, not the day they gained admission into higher institution or recorded some epochal achievements. Soon after marriage/wedding, the next urge is to beget children and raise families. You need to see the trauma that accompanies childlessness to appreciate the position of children in our society. With the coming of children, our thoughtless young women assume another responsibility - the upbringing of their children. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Expectant mother with her son
If the truth must be told, mothers contribute more to the upbringing of children than fathers. Fathers surpass only in families where mothers are acutely unaware of, or incapable of living up to their responsibilities. If you have been part of a typical child’s upbringing, from conception to adulthood, you will realize what I mean. It is true that men “Supply” the sperm that fertilizes the ovum for life to begin, but this is often after a process that they usually derive pleasure from. Contemplating the long gestation, the pain of childbirth, and reckoning how many sleepless nights mothers are forced to bear by “troublesome” babies, some of us will revise our judgment of man being the principal party in child rearing, and perceive again the universal dignity of motherhood.
In the great systole and dystole of history, we have seen motherhood honoured in various ways. Among Christians, a Sunday is set apart - Mothering Sunday - for the celebration of motherhood. This is in recognition of the central position of mothers to the stability of the family. Do not remind me of Father’s Sunday, it is a patriarchal response to what seemed to the men as matriarchal omnipotence.
Most mothers take activities such as Mothering Sunday as the glorification of motherhood. This may not be far from the truth, but they need to be reminded that it is also a reminder to them of the responsibilities of being mothers. It is all about being mothers in name and in fact. It calls for sober reflection on the part of mothers. Genuine sober reflection, usually involves self-questioning. Thus, Mothering Sunday calls on all mothers to ask questions to themselves such as: “Have I been a responsible Mother? “ “Can I be a responsible mother? “. In what constitute responsible motherhood?
The chaos in our country today seems more to be a moral chaos, caused, perhaps, by the weakening of sound and pristine values. Children of these days are brought up in such a way to regard insolence and waywardness as a show of manliness. Respect for elders is now in short supply. Our institutions of higher learning are now populated by peculiarly deluded youths who only understand the language of violence. The dress code of contemporary youngsters disrespects all sense of decency, as it is aimed at arousing even stones to amorous gallantry. Looking at the moral situation of our society with perplexity, the “Perplexed” is wont to ask: “Who is to blame?”
Since the upbringing of the child is more the responsibility of mothers as dictated by their closeness to their children more than fathers, mothers are mostly to be blamed. Most of them, considering their disposition, are eminently unsuited for the dignity of motherhood in many respects.
Let us look at mothers that are shorn of morals. Some not only leave their husbands to live in brothels, they go ahead and raise children in these brothels. Raised in the midst of vices and debauchery, tell me how these children will not grow up into moral misfits?
To Confucius, example is the best form of precept. It is not enough for mothers to tell their children to do this or that, but do the opposite of their counsel. We mourn the degeneration of the dress code. We mourn the increase of cheating among youngsters. We mourn lack of respect that seems to be in vague among the youth. We mourn the so much vices that have become the trademark of youngsters. But in truth, some mothers stimulate these anomalies by their corrupt examples. The mothers of today are almost always the first to persuade the father to offer bribe for their children to be admitted into higher institutions. Some imbibe the culture of disrespect on their children by being disrespectful to their husbands. An Igbo proverb has it that when the nanny goat chews the cud, the kid watches.
Proper upbringing of a child calls for Spartan motherhood. Brought up in soft and aristocratic ways, the mothers of today handle their children softly to the point of shunning corporal punishment. Time was when bringing up a child was properly regarded as joint responsibility. Children dared not misbehave in the presence of any elder, both known and unknown, for the fear of his lashes. Not anymore!. Our modern mothers have allowed emotional considerations to dethrone their reason. When attempts to correct your neigbbour’s child are met with extreme hostility, everybody is now on his guard. Morality suffers.
The foundation of society is a disciplined individual in a disciplined family. For a family to be disciplined calls for responsible parenthood, especially on the side of mothers. It is for this reason that men are called to choose their wives carefully, bearing in mind the character of the woman. We end up having many failed marriages/families because most marriages are concluded for beauty’s sake, or huddled up for amorous desires. Marriage is much more than that.
In this day and age, most mothers are forced into marriage because of “scarcity” of men. This is detestable. It is not only the duty of men to choose their wives; women also should choose their husbands. Of two suitors for his daughters hand, we are told, Themistocles chose the likely man in preference to the rich man saying “I want a man without money rather than money without a man.” Let this be a guide to our young girls.
Motherhood is dignified, motherhood is sacred, and motherhood is worthy of celebration because of its importance to the moral fabric of the society. But are you a worthy mother? Do you merit our praises because of your forthrightness? For our society to regenerate morally, mothers have an important part to play. “There is no worse evil” Euripides wrote, “than a bad mother; and nothing has ever been produced better than a good one.”
*Does Boko Haram deserve Amnesty?
By Dr. Lewis Akpogena
Few weeks ago, the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad asked the Federal Government to grant members of the militant group, Boko Haram, a “total and unconditional amnesty” for the sake of peace in the country. The Sultan’s basis is premised on the fact that a presidential amnesty to even one member of the sect could make others to lay down their arms for peace to reign in the nation. In reaction to the sultan’s call, President Jonathan, during his visit to Maiduguri, said his administration would not grant members of the group amnesty until such a time the group comes out in the public to dialogue with the federal government. Since these two prominent figures made these comments, Nigerians seem to have been divided on the justification of amnesty for Boko Haram. Although this division can be understood if viewed from different perspectives, it is quite disappointing that most of the views expressed are either beclouded by sentiments or emotions, especially on the part of those who think that an amnesty for Boko Haram will be a tragic mistake. It is even more disheartening when those who are in support of amnesty for Boko Haram are immediately branded Boko Haram sympathizers, just because they dared to proffer a solution. It doesn’t even matter to this people if you have been affected in one way or the other.
I particularly decided to write this piece to add the Christian perspective to the ongoing public opinion on the matter. Terrorism by any person or group of persons based on political, religious or any other persuasion that results in killing of people and destruction of properties is evil and condemnable. If Boko Haram by their activities of killing Christians, People from the Southern part of Nigeria and destruction of Churches and their properties fit being described as terrorist organization, do they deserve amnesty? What qualifies a terrorist organization being granted amnesty? Can we equate the militant agitation of the Niger Delta Militants with the activities of Boko Haram? God’s view and method are the standard to analyze any given situation in life. The Bible, God’s Word reveals God’s intent, requirements and methodology. When man rebelled against God by doing what was wrong and became violent and hostile to God’s righteous demand. God did not only express condemnation of the act but proffer solution to the situation. He became solution for the redemption of fallen man with condition. “If you believe the finished work of redemption through Jesus Christ”, “accept and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour”. Furthermore, Luke 17:3-4, “3Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him”. What if the offender refused to repent? What should be done? Jesus Christ died for the whole world but the benefits of his death is not received or enjoyed by all…only those who believe and are remorseful over their wrong.
In light of the present situation, does Boko Haram deserve amnesty? Here are some opinions on this question: Abubakar Sidiq Usman is an Urban Planning Consultant; Blogger and an Active Citizen working towards a better Nigeria has this to say: “I do not live in any of those states where Boko Haram have laid siege and fortunately, I have not been directly affected by any of their atrocities, but I do not need to be or wait till I am before I seek a way out of the evil perpetrated by these men for whatever reason, because I may not be this lucky forever. My support for amnesty is not spontaneous. I actually kicked against it when it was first suggested, but over time, I realized the need for it and that reason is not borne out of the fact that I think Boko Haram deserves amnesty. Those evil men have caused untold harm to the Nigerian state and her people. Ordinarily, they should be made to face justice for their crimes and this I believe is the argument advanced by many of those who kicked against granting them amnesty, but while this has failed to bring about peace or at least succeed in putting a stop to the insurgency, it is only normal to give amnesty a try so as to prevent further carnage. After all, an unjust peace in the views of Cicero is better than a just war”. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: An assault rifle, one of the weapons used by Boko Haram.
“Even as some persons kicked against the amnesty, they have not been able to tell us what they think can solve the problem or at least guarantee peace to the affected people, except for a continued military onslaught whose outcome has resulted in more deaths of civilians than the Boko Haram members itself. There is no guarantee that amnesty will be all that is needed, but there is even a guarantee that the presence of the JTF in those areas affected will not stop the killing of citizens of those states. At least we have seen that for over five years. The argument by some of these people is that amnesty for Boko Haram is not in any way comparable to the amnesty granted Niger Delta militants. What they failed to realize is that crime against a state is a crime. No doubt, the Boko Haram sect has killed countless number of people and destroyed properties belonging to individuals and the authority, but if Wikipedia’s definition of terrorism which it says “refers to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror); are perpetrated for a religious, political or, ideological goal; and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians)” is anything to go by, then the Niger Delta militants are also liable, because they’ve also killed and destroyed properties, whether comparable or not to Boko Haram. Although I quite agree with what the agitations of the militants were about, assuming it is true they did what they did in the overall interest of the Niger Deltans, it still doesn’t exonerate them from what many people want for Boko Haram. That is by the way though”.
“An amnesty for Boko Haram does not necessarily need to be the same amnesty granted to Niger Delta Militants. Fact is that not everybody in the sect will accept amnesty, especially those who are hardliners like Abubakar Shekau, but you can be sure that a good number of them will accept it, especially those who joined because their mosques were destroyed, their leaders or members were killed extra-judiciously or even those who joined because they suffered victimization from the hands of security agencies. Personally, I think amnesty for Boko Haram should come with a lot of conditions. Those who are willing for example could be asked to submit their arms; all members should be screened and those who actually deserve the gesture should be given, while those who are found to have committed heinous crimes should be made to face the course of justice. Also, the training and monthly allowance as is the case with Niger Delta militants should either be minimal or completely excluded from the amnesty package. As this is going on, a combined strategy of dialogue, improved intelligence gathering and use of force will be stepped up to tackle those who will not accept the amnesty. Gains against this terror group are even more realistic now that there seem to be different factions in the sect, as this must have weakened their ranks. There are no guarantees of success with this strategy though, but it will go a long way in reducing the number of enemies the government will have to deal with”.
“The government really needs to step up its responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of every Nigerians instead of playing politics with the issue. The claim by President Jonathan that Boko Haram is ghost and therefore cannot be granted amnesty is not only laughable, but irresponsible. We have not forgotten that the government told us severally that it is in dialogue with Boko Haram. We have also not forgotten that at a point, the government promised to publish the names of their sponsors which it never did. How come these same people all of a sudden became ghosts? President Jonathan said the elders of the terrorist stronghold should fish out the Boko Haram members. When late President Yar Adua granted amnesty to Niger delta Militants, he didn’t sit down in Aso Rock and asked leaders in the Niger Delta to fish out the militants. He empowered his vice president, who incidentally is now the President to enter into the creeks and dialogue with the militants before they finally accepted amnesty. Dr Goodluck Jonathan as vice president then worked in conjunction with governors and elders of the Niger Delta states to dialogue with the militants which eventually ended up in the amnesty. That exactly is what President Jonathan ought to do, especially now that the vice president is also a son from the north and not to sit down in Aso Rock and hand over his responsibility solely to those who do not have the requisite capacity to carry out such assignment. Until we are ready to explore as many options as possible part of which is an amnesty, we may just have to continue to live with the evils of Boko Haram for a long time coming”
Another view from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) represented by the General Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake: “Our position is very clear. We don’t support amnesty for Boko Haram. You don’t give amnesty to people you don’t know. If those people who are calling for the amnesty know these people called Boko Haram, and they are seeking peace, let them come out and tell us why they are killing people. Their targets are Christians and they have been going after Christians and they have been saying it without mincing words. They have been saying that the Nigerian Constitution should be removed from the North and be replaced with the Sharia, if not, the violence will go on. For somebody to come out and say there should be amnesty for people like that, without considering the people that have been made widows and orphans, without considering the places of worship and schools that have been burnt down, is insensitive. In calling for amnesty, they never mentioned those widows, those orphans; they never mentioned the grave injustice that has been done to Christians. This leaves me with a very big question mark. What is the motive behind the call? There was a time that some Muslims denied that Boko Haram members were Muslims. But none of the Muslims is ready to support our position. We want to know them. What are they fighting for?”
Don’t you think granting Boko Haram amnesty could bring the crisis in the North to an end? “ Do you have a guarantee for that? We can’t play games when people’s lives are being wasted daily. Their leader, Ibrahim Shekau, came out recently and said they were fighting the cause of Allah. He never talked about injustice. He never said they were looking for justice. I really don’t understand. And there are some people, who are just trying to attract attention by comparing them with the Niger Delta militants. What happened in Niger Delta was completely different. There was a cause that they were fighting for. But the goal of this people is to destroy churches and kill Christians. When you say there is no justice, I ask: who needs justice; is it the person who is killing others or the person who is being killed? We as Nigerians need to be very sincere with ourselves. Nobody is saying anything about the people who have lost their loved ones and their places of worship destroyed. All we are hearing is that Boko Haram, faceless people, who are fighting no just cause, should be granted amnesty. I’m from the North. And I can tell you that the North has been shattered by the activities of Boko Haram members. So, it bothers me to hear someone calling for amnesty for these people”
This issue seems to have become a subject of argument between Christians and Muslims. Is there a political dimension to this or is it strictly religious? “I don’t think these people (Boko Haram members) have at anytime convinced anybody about their mission. Right from the onset, they declared that Christians are enemies of Allah, so they are out to get rid of Christians. And look at their activities. It’s only Christians they go after. They have burnt down several churches, and they killed so many Christians. So, this is not an issue that somebody should begin to scratch his head over who their target is. If you listen to all they have said, they have never minced words about eliminating Christians. So, you don’t believe poverty has a hand in this. “If you are poor, do you begin to fight and kill others? Is that the way to get rich? Can the firearms they are using, the AK 47 they are using in their numbers, be purchased by poor people? Does it make sense to say you are poor and you are holding AK 47? We are more than this kind of argument. Let’s talk of the real thing. Let’s call black black and white white. Let’s be honest with ourselves. This has nothing to do with poverty”
FOR the past four years, federal government has been fighting to end Boko Haram insurgency in the northern part of the country with little or no success. This has prompted some northern elders and legislators from that part of the country to call on the federal government to grant amnesty to the members of the Islamic sect. This call has generated a lot of controversy among Nigerians. While some people argue that Boko Haram does not deserve amnesty, others insist that amnesty is the only way out of the prevailing security challenges. God did not force salvation on people to ensure peace. He declared and called for repentance. Has Boko Haram show remorse? Who guarantees peace, security and order if amnesty is granted without fulfilling these conditions? What is your view of this?
Dr. Lewis Akpogena (08033399821, firstname.lastname@example.org ), A Christian devotional writer/Minister, Consultant and Educationist reports from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
*Nigeria: Happy nation (Poem)
By Jide Olu
We are a happy people
Let us celebrate and sing a song
We are a happy nation
The last strand of our ill
The pretense that our GEJ would certainly fight corruption
Has finally breathed its last
Our corruption once again lives and kicks in fine health
We are a happy people
Let us celebrate and bring a bomb
We are a happy nation
Sultan calls for amnesty
The pretense that GEJ was surely atop the situation
Has finally breathed its last
Our politics of violence gains life as from the dead
We all are Nigerians and we have no worries
We have Goodluck Jonathan
We have the Sultan, and he has Boko Haram
And we're quiet as the mouses in our Temples
We are a happy country.
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states and Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)
*Chinua Achebe as a Moral Standard – A Tribute
By Osita Ebiem
Chinua Achebe one of the most important pioneers in African literature and the advancement of world knowledge and understanding died on the 21st of March, 2013 at 82. We join with millions of others around the world with a deep sense of loss to mourn Achebe’s passing. But we also take consolation in the fact that he lived well and has left us with many clear examples of how we should conduct our human affairs. Achebe was a formidable fighter while he lived. Intellectually he fought to dissipate and disabuse the numerous misconceptions that the rest of the world held about Africa and its peoples. He fought so unreservedly on the side of truth and justice especially when he voluntarily enlisted in the rank of those that championed the struggle for the freedom and independence of his Biafran people. And for more than one decade of the last part of his life he fought without complaining a debilitating handicap where he was paralyzed from waist down and restricted to the wheelchair after a car accident on a Nigerian road. Characteristically, Achebe in spite of this restricting health problem fought his way through and remained active and productive till his last moments. Throughout this period of health troubles he still continued to teach and conduct academic seminars and conferences such as his world famous Achebe Colloquium that held annually every December at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in the United States. Achebe had one of the best and astute of minds but most of all he was an unassailable honest intellectual and truth teller with an impeccable character.
Though this can be considered a period of transition and the realigning of many long-established world orders yet there is a general consensus amongst many chroniclers of world events and epochs that the moral standard of our world is currently struggling. This, most people agree, results from the many decades of lack of enough credible voices of people of influence with integrity that speak from the high ground of morality, honesty, truth and sincerity. On another hand there seems to be the over-abundance of people with compromised and unreliable characters in places of influence and authority. Across the globe today there are noticeable diffused morality lines or near total lack of moral standards. In some societies this negative and even dangerous lack of social/personal moral standards and a sense of what is right is being defended as social liberalism or “freedoms”. As much as we cherish true freedom as the most essential ingredient for all human progress and civilization but we are very much aware that there will always be standards and the legitimate demand from members of any responsible society that those of them in positions of authority and influence show leadership and accountability if such a society will survive and prosper. Freedom is not equivalent to recklessness and lack of individual and collective responsibility. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Prof. Chinua Achebe
Experiences have proved that it is through the path of responsible freedom and enforceable social standards that societies attain that coveted level of prosperity, greatness, civility, security and the seemingly elusive sense of the brotherhood of man. Given our present human experience it seems that there may never come a time when any society in the world will be able to afford to do without the mandatory imposition of the rule of law, individual and collective responsibilities and still hope to succeed. So, for a society to succeed the members must find a way to establish and insist on enforcing these standards and collective social goals. And because we know that the mere letters of the law and the best law enforcement agents are never enough and because human beings learn faster and better through emulation then every successful society must find and project to the fore their own human standard bearers; the beacons that the rest of the society aspire to emulate. These epitomes of who we should look like, do not only become mirrors, they also become the conscience of the society. These people do not get to be appointed by any politician or through any ballot box, they achieve this enviable position through dint of hard work and the will to transcend self and maintain stability; consistency in the midst of the vagaries and influences of situations, institutions, environments and persons around them.
It is in this area of being the society’s mirror and conscience that Achebe the artist, intellectual and a human being shines forth so unmistakably. Chinua Achebe through hard work and personal discipline became the mirror and conscience of the society: The Nigerian society and beyond. Through personal choice and conscious effort, Achebe became one of the most important credible truth tellers and unassailable honest individuals of all time who would neither be corrupted nor compromised by powers or tainted honors. It was consistent with his character that though Achebe had accepted numerous local and international merit awards in the past but he would not accept, on two different occasions, national awards from Nigeria’s government in 2004 and 2011 respectively. He rejected these awards because as he said, Nigeria has become too dangerous, unjustifiably genocidal, irretrievably corrupt and unwilling to succeed as a society or country. It should be noted here that his friend Christopher Okigbo, the internationally acclaimed poet and Biafran soldier who died fighting for Biafra’s freedom and independence had exhibited similar characteristic too. Okigbo would not accept an international literary award in 1965 on the basis that it was couched in a discriminatory nomenclature. When anyone person has a strong enough character and moral strength they would always look at even the proverbial gift horse in the mouth because they will not for any reason accept personal gains and promotions at the expense of the greater good.
Achebe lived through an era when truth, justice and the will to do what is right experienced their most difficult moments amongst world leading politicians and policy makers. In Achebe’s prime in the 1960s world leaders and politicians were merely concerned about what will be for their parochial individual interests and were willing to employ every form of chicanery and even immoral brazen display of official power, arm-twisting and undue influences in thwarting justice and what is right. Like official position bullies they overreached themselves and sought to destroy small people and imaginary enemies with disproportional jackboots and sledge hammers. (In those days Britain under the leadership of Harold Wilson did not see anything wrong in the death of more than 3 million Biafrans; Chinua Achebe’s people, so long as the sacrifice of Biafra’s children and women of that number would preserve a hopeless one Nigeria).
The Biafran crisis of 1966 to 1970 afforded Great Britain under Prime Minister Harold Wilson one of the best opportunities of all time to do what is right in regards with Nigeria. That was the time when Britain should have acted as an impartial arbiter and helped to re-divide the country as it should be: Along the pre-colonial and still existing ethnic/religious dividing lines. Right from the onset of the ill-fated amalgamation of 1914 by the British colonialist Frederick Lugard it has always been known that the various ethnic/religious groups in Nigeria have very irreconcilable cultural, social, religious and linguistic differences and that they can never coexist and build a successful society as citizens of the same country. Had Britain then honestly taken this most appropriate, reasonable and honorable line of action, the terrible and unconscionable disgraceful murderous events that are taking place in Nigeria today would have been avoided. That Britain was inexcusably wrong in supporting the continued existence of one Nigeria especially at the time when events presented themselves for the division of the country can easily be proved. Two examples among numerous others will suffice here. All through the colonial era when Britain controlled Nigeria there were several warning signs that were ignored which clearly showed and still show that the peoples that are being forced to live as citizens of one country in Nigeria can never become one and will only end up (as in the physicist’s matter/antimatter phenomenon) annihilating one another should they continue as one Nigeria. The 1945 and 1953 ethnic/religious cleansing in Jos and Kano respectively are just two apt examples. Jos and Kano are two Islamic North of Nigeria cities that have continued to be in the news for exactly the same reasons of ethnic/religious genocides till today.
Today Nigeria as a country has become an abysmal nightmare, the scourge of the civilized world and the graveyard of truth, justice, honesty, sincerity, secured existence of citizens and every positive trait that should normally be found in a modern society. Nigeria has become a bedlam, a thriving center of world Islamic terrorism and the seat of the worst kind of corrupt sociopolitical management. British and other Western nationals are being kidnapped and murdered on a regular basis in Nigeria by Islamic fundamentalist groups like Boko Haram, Ansaru and others which are known to have working relationships with al Qaeda worldwide network and those at the Maghreb in North Africa, AQIM. This mayhem is taking place in Nigeria today because Nigeria is a hopelessly failed government and political state. And this failure has its root in the initiation and perpetuation of an unworkable one Nigeria by the colonial British. This unnecessary Islamic violence to persons and properties, bad governance of society and waste of resources would have easily been avoided in the 1960s when the Biafran crisis afforded the opportunity. The peoples of the former Eastern Region of Nigeria under the assumed name of Biafra were pushed into opting out of the Nigerian union and they sought for a separate existence through the exercise of their legal and legitimate right to Self Determination and national independence. But Britain led a coalition of allies to fight them back and defeat them.
But nevertheless, and because the Biafran effort was just, honest and right, Chinua Achebe who was always known for his honesty, incorruptible integrity and sterling strength of character was among those at the vanguard that championed Biafra’s independence. Though Britain under the leadership of Harold Wilson spearheaded the counter move, yet it did not diminish the justness and the necessity of the Biafran effort. During the 1960s while the crisis was on Wilson as the Prime Minister of Britain worked with the then Soviet Union as he mobilized Egypt, the Islamic Arab League of Nations, the United Nations of U Thant, African Union, then known as Organization of African Unity and a number of other political power centers around the world and worked to frustrate what would have been a redemptive opportunity for Britain.
Britain in Biafra was offered a very rare golden opportunity to redeem itself and show that the colonial mistake they made in creating one Nigeria was a mistake of bad judgment and not a deliberate act to create a monstrous demon that would eventually self-destruct while “entertaining” the spectators as in the gruesomeness of the gladiatorial fashion in the Amphitheater of the old Rome. The Self Determination and independence move made by Biafrans in the 1960s offered the British and still do the chance to fix one of the most terrible devastating mistakes of the colonial Europe in Africa (please refer to the 1884 to 1885 Berlin Conference). Unfortunately that opportunity was bungled but it is never too late to do the right thing. The time is just right today as it was then in 1960s; to divide Nigeria. Dividing Nigeria today will solve permanently Nigeria’s problem of Islamic terrorism, British and other foreign nationals’ kidnappings and killings and end the seemingly unending genocides and ethnic/religious cleansings.
Emphatically, dividing Nigeria is Chinua Achebe’s last testament and wishes as he stated in his last and the most important of all his books. Achebe’s memoir was published only a few months before his death and it is the final word on the most reliable solution to one Nigeria: Divide Nigeria. There was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe (published by Penguin Press, New York, 2012) tells us that for the sake of our children and their own children, Nigeria must be divided now. Achebe witnessed the injustices of Biafra and after more than fifty years he concludes in the book that Britain and other former colonial powers that created the unworkable modern states of Africa must help to unravel and disentangle the irreconcilable national unions like in one Nigeria. It is a general consensus that Achebe contributed positively and immensely to the collective global knowledge, progress and understanding through his excellent intellectual efforts. And the best way the world can show gratitude and appreciation for this invaluable contribution now that Achebe is dead is to help fulfill his last wishes: The security and freedom of his people. The greatest tribute that anyone or group can bestow on Achebe is to prove to our common humanity that it is still right to live honestly and support what is right like Chinua Achebe demonstrated with his life and works. The killings of Achebe’s people in Nigeria as in the 1960s when Achebe and his fellow compatriots had to go to war to prove their right to life and human dignity continues today unabated. Achebe’s memory is asking all humanity to help end these kidnappings and killings by dividing Nigeria and setting Achebe’s people free. The people of the former Eastern Region of Nigeria; Chinua Achebe’s people, are still as anxious to leave Nigeria and become a separate sovereign independent country today as they were in the 1960s. And Achebe as the quintessential specimen of the best things anyone can hope for in the finest of human beings, in parting offers to us the only answer to the many troubles of Nigeria and the only hope for his Biafran people: The division of Nigeria now.
*Literary Giant Or Nobel Laureate?
By Chris Onyishi
I recapped, recently, two tributes on Prof. Chinua Achebe by Tola Adeniyi (“Chinua Achebe: The Uncrowned Nobel Laureate”) and Shola Balogun (“THE NOBEL LAUREATE WE NEVER HAD”). These two tributes are just but a figment in the avalanche of tributes to the great writer upon the news of passage to the world beyond.
The highlight of Tola’s expose, without disregards to other streaks in that tribute, is that “Chinua Achebe was not just a writer; he was a distinguished writer with the best and noblest of human virtues. A non hypocrite. A non bully. Achebe was both a great ambassador of Africa and a true and respectable specimen of the finest humanity"
I accentuated Tola’s tribute thus:
When the main issue is about character and men of no mean literary state from all works of life talk fluently about an individual, in most unguarded ecstasy as we have witnessed on Prof. Achebe, then even the corruption laden uncharitable rulers of Nigeria would have to have a break. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Prof. Chinua Achebe
On Shola Balogun’s tribute, the aspect of his highlight includes; "… even literature is no longer immune from the vagaries of global politics and other considerations. They have observed that perhaps, owing to political and other extraneous considerations, the Nobel Prize in Literature may well elude certain writers despite their exceptional brilliance and great talent that have been well acknowledged across the globe”.
On my side, I had rapped that Shola’s tribute has once more brought to the fore the faulty scale upon which Europe and the West generally weighs intellectualism when an iridescent, but uncompromising, African - such as Prof. Chinua Achebe - is involved.
I did interject that I was very glad that up until his death, Prof. Achebe never wavered - for once - in asserting that honor should only be given by honorable people, for if it is given by dishonorable people, the giver and taker become both of questionable character.
It is in this vain that I have always viewed the “Nobel laureate” and its organizers - of recent - as another token of imperialism.
My question here now is which insignia would have been best for Prof. Chinue Achebe? Would it have been more honorable to refer to him as a Nobel Laureate or a literary giant? From Tola and Shola’s accounts, a literary giant could easily become a Nobel laureate but a Nobel laureate may not be or become a literary giant.
If I should answer myself, I would say that a literary giant tag for a man whom one of his books sold over 12 million copies and was translated into over 50 languages would be more honorable and weighs more than a Nobel laureate tag which is an award by one small Swedish academy whose judgment t has been infiltrated by an unfounded yardstick due to some political and other extraneous considerations.
But the greatest looser in the whole “Nobel Laureate” saga, in my opinion, is Alfred Nobel who enunciated the award via his will of 1895 for rewarding greatness in the fields of Chemistry, Physics, Literature, Peace and Physiology or Medicine. For when you begin to view greatness from regional or political prism, the greatness becomes an aberration.
The Swedish Academy that brings this distortion to the “award” may have to rethink and allow the soul of Alfred Nobel to rest in peace.
If the Swedish academy decides now, to posthumously, award Prof. Achebe the Nobel Laureate, it will only play the role of gradually returning integrity to the organization and may not necessarily change anything in terms of Prof. Achebe’s literary and intellectual stature. But if they remain adamant to awarding the laureate to a real globally accepted and recognized literary giant such as Prof. Achebe, it will only worsen the image of that organization and may even bring question marks to those they have accorded this honor both in the past and in the future.
Chris Onyishi (email@example.com) writes from Lagos, Nigeria
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