*Forgiveness, State Pardon & Clemency: Why the Pardoning of Alamieyeseigha & Others is in order
By Dr. Lewis Akpogena
A pardon is the forgiveness of a crime and the cancellation of the relevant penalty; it is usually granted by a head of state (such as a monarch or president) or by acts of a parliament or a religious authority. Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation (in whole or in part) of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves. Commutation or remission is the lessening of a penalty without forgiveness for the crime; the beneficiary is still considered guilty of the offense. A reprieve is the temporary postponement of punishment, often with a view to a pardon or other review of the sentence (such as when the reprieving authority has no power to grant an immediate pardon). Today, pardons are granted in many countries when individuals have demonstrated that they have fulfilled their debt to society, or are otherwise considered to be deserving. Pardons are sometimes offered to persons who are wrongfully convicted or claim they have been wrongfully convicted. Some believe accepting such a pardon implicitly constitutes an admission of guilt as a pardon does not set aside the conviction, so in some cases the offer is refused. Cases of wrongful conviction are nowadays more often dealt with by appeal than by pardon however, a pardon is sometimes offered when innocence is undisputed to avoid the costs of a retrial. Clemency plays a very important role when capital punishment is applied. In the early winter of 2007, Gerald R. Ford, the nation’s 38th president and first unelected chief executive, died at the age of 93. His passing offered an opportunity for historians, political commentators, and pundits alike to reevaluate the general legacy of the Ford presidency and to analyze, again, his specific decision to pardon his predecessor, Richard Nixon, for any criminal acts related to his participation in the Watergate scandal. Ford certainly faced numerous political quandaries when considering granting Nixon’s pardon. Of equal concern was the legal implication of such a decision. Relying on a decades-old United States Supreme Court decision, Ford and others in his administration took the position that an executive pardon not only exempted an individual from punishment, but also served as a personal recognition of guilt when the wrongdoer accepted the grant of clemency (BURDICK v. UNITED STATES 1915). The pardon, offered just one month into Ford’s tenure in office, attracted significant criticism inside the Beltway as well as from the public, whose approval of the newly installed president dropped more than twenty percent in a single week (Greene 1995, at 53). Critics suggested that Ford had moved too quickly in absolving Nixon, arguing that no pardon should be granted until the nation comprehended the full scope of the former president’s participation in the scandal.
These questions were part of a broader theoretical debate raised implicitly during this national discussion concerning the place of the pardon power within a legal system. Should pardons be awarded? What does a pardon confer upon the recipient? What acts or actions are excused by the executive grant? Is the acceptance of the pardon an implied admission of guilt? The debate on the pardon, clemency in democracy as was with the United States of America is now same issues being raised here in Nigeria with respect to pardon granted by the Nigeria President in Council, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to Alamieyesigha and others. Examples of how Presidents’ of United States of America have exercised this act of pardon and clemency were the subject of an article by Dave Asei entitled: “PRESIDENTIAL PARDON- THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE - List of people pardoned or granted clemency by the President of the United States” This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it. The following List of people pardoned or granted clemency by the President of the United States documents the most prominent cases of each presidency. As granted by the Constitution (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1), Presidents have the power to grant clemency in one or more of the following ways: the ability to grant a full pardon, to commute a sentence, or to rescind a fine. U.S. Presidents have no power to grant clemency for crimes prosecuted under state law.” “As to the difference between a pardon and a commutation: A pardon is an executive order vacating a conviction. A commutation is the mitigation of the sentence of someone currently serving a sentence for a crime pursuant to a conviction, without vacating the conviction itself. Approximately 20,000 pardons and clemencies were issued by U.S. presidents in the 20th century alone. The records of acts of clemency were public until 1934. In 1981 the Office of the Pardon Attorney was created and records from President H. W. Bush forward are now listed. This list includes pardons and commutations.” In another article By Dave Asei in defense of President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan constitutional action putted out how this act is even being biasly abused by United Kingdom and United States of America the world so called advanced democracies that are condemning the clemency and pardon to Alamieyeseigha and others in an article entitled: “PRESIDENTIAL PARDON IN THE UNITED KINGDOM HEAVILY FAVOUR WHITES THE REASON FOR THIS INFORMATION IS TO TELL THOSE WHO ARE AGAINST PRESIDENT JONATHAN FOR GRANTING PARDON TO D S P ALAMS THAT IT DOES NOT START WITH JONATHAN. PLEASE, READ ON”- “Many contributed to the presidential pardons project' Have you ever applied for a presidential pardon? Share your story. Blacks have had the poorest chance of receiving the president's ultimate act of mercy, according to an analysis of previously unreleased records and related data. Current and former officials at the White House and Justice Department said they were surprised and dismayed by the racial disparities, which persist even when factors such as the type of crime and sentence are considered. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Dr. Lewis Akpogena
"I'm just astounded by those numbers," said Roger Adams, who served as head of the Justice Department's pardons office from 1998 to 2008. He said he could think of nothing in the office's practices that would have skewed the recommendations. "I can recall several African Americans getting pardons." The review of applications for pardons is conducted almost entirely in secret, with the government releasing scant information about those it rejects. ProPublica's review examined what happened after President George W. Bush decided at the beginning of his first term to rely almost entirely on the recommendations made by career lawyers in the Office of the Pardon Attorney. The office was given wide latitude to apply subjective standards, including judgments about the "attitude" and the marital and financial stability of applicants. No two pardon cases match up perfectly, but records reveal repeated instances in which white applicants won pardons with transgressions on their records similar to those of blacks and other minorities who were denied. Senior aides in the Bush White House say the president had hoped to take politics out of the process and avoid a repetition of the Marc Rich scandal, in which the fugitive financier won an eleventh-hour pardon tainted by his ex-wife's donations to Democratic causes and the Clinton Presidential Library.” (This abridged research by Post researcher Julie Tate and ProPublica researchers Liz Day and Robin Respaut contributed to this report).
Forgiveness: The exalted nature of forgiveness is attested to by the fact that it presupposes a number of other virtues. Consider three virtues in particular: justice, clemency, and mercy. Justice has the nature of an equation: Borrowing 10 Naira requires returning 10 Naira. When justice is violated, punishment or restitution of some kind is required. Herein is the timeless significance of bringing the scales of justice back into balance. Injustice demands a counterbalancing repayment. Clemency goes beyond justice, to some extent ignoring the need for precise balancing, and reduces the payment. For example, clemency may be used to reduce a 60-day sentence to 15 days. Mercy goes beyond both justice and clemency to wipe away the need for punishment. It does not turn a blind eye to the offense committed, but it does pardon the offender. Forgiveness goes beyond those three virtues, but without negating any of them. Justice, clemency, and mercy provide the very foundation that allows forgiveness to be a possibility. Forgiveness goes beyond mercy and treats the offense as if it never happened. It wipes the slate clean, as it were, and gives the transgressor a fresh start. On the part of the person forgiven, the virtues of humility, sincerity, and hope are presupposed. In this way, forgiveness represents a truly exalted virtue because of the foundational virtues it presupposes in both the forgiver and the one forgiven.
Humanly Possible? So exalted is forgiveness that it has long been described as supernatural. "To err is human, but to forgive is divine." Or, to modify this timeless maxim slightly, "To err is human, but to forgive is superhuman." By contrast, systems of justice are incapable of dispensing forgiveness. A sign posted in a Los Angeles police station brings this point home both accurately and humorously: "To err is human, to forgive is against departmental policy." Systems are not only incapable of forgiving, but are often vehemently opposed to it. A few years ago a successful businessman died whose name happens to be well-known to enthusiasts of baseball trivia. National newspapers that carried his obituary didn't begin in the customary manner of mentioning his accomplishments or the members of his immediate family, but in the following manner: "Fred Snodgrass, whose muff of a fly ball cost the New York Giants the 1912 World Series . . ." Society remembers Fred Snodgrass, along with "Wrong Way" Corrigan and a populous class of similar individuals, solely in terms of a single, inexcusable, though often trivial, misadventure. In order to be in a position to appreciate the reasonableness of forgiveness — and the accompanying horror of condemnation — one must stand on a platform built on its foundational virtues. It is comparable to a father lifting up his child so that the lad can see over the heads of the people in front of him to see the parade.
No Islands: The secular world has its penitentiaries, just as hockey has its penalty boxes and baseball scorecards have their error columns. The kind of forgiveness the world usually offers is of a bogus variety — that of forgiving yourself. This concept of self-forgiveness is, in part, the consequence of modern secular psychology that has inflated the importance of the individual as an individual. Popular self-help books such as How to Be Your Own Best Friend, Winning Through Intimidation, How to Get Divorced from Mom and Dad, and others, create the impression that the individual is an island unto himself. But forgiving oneself implies a radical form of personal disunity. Can one divide oneself into two parts: the part that bestows forgiveness and the part that receives forgiveness? And how would the former part receive forgiveness or rise above the latter part to presuppose that it can dispense forgiveness? And along what lines (fault lines?) of the personality can such a division be made? The essence of forgiveness concerns not individuals as such, but relationships. Forgiveness repairs a damaged relationship between man and God, as well as between man and neighbor. The two great commandments — to love God and to love neighbor — reiterated in the Lord's Prayer, underscore this meaning of forgiveness.
Exalted and Mundane: In Peter Shaffer's play, Amadeus, a demented Antonio Salieri, now an inmate of an insane asylum, rolls through the hallways in his wheelchair dispensing "forgiveness" to his fellow inmates for the "sin" of mediocrity. The Salieri character went mad precisely because he could not succeed, despite trying with all the power he could muster, to forgive himself for not being a composer equally talented as Mozart. An individual cannot forgive himself anymore than soap can clean itself. Humility is the virtue we need to be ourselves. Forgiveness is the virtue we need in order to repair our relationships with others. In the absence of forgiveness — or the presence of unrepaired relationships — the field is wide open for the unchecked spread of deadly vices. This is the theme of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's most enduring play, Der Besuch der alten Dame (The Visit of the Old Woman). In the play, first staged in 1956, Claire Zachanassian, now a very wealthy woman, returns to the town that unjustly condemned her and drove her out 45 years earlier. Her unforgiving attitude hardens into hatred for all the townsfolk. Drawing on a huge amount of inheritance money, she exploits the greed of the people of Güllen, seduces them into murdering her principal defamer, and leaves town with the diabolical satisfaction that the collective guilt of the people will plague them for many years to come. Here is the fundamental paradox of forgiveness: it is supernatural and presupposes many foundational virtues while it is also elementary and necessary in order for people to get along with each other. Forgiveness is both exalted and mundane. This paradox may seem easier to grasp when one realizes that God, exalted as He is, remains with us to guide us in our relationships with Him and our neighbors every step of the way.
The issue of Forgiveness, State Pardon and Clemency is a creation and act of God in practice over the years from the beginning of creation. Redemption is based on forgiveness, pardon and clemency. It is criminals, sinners and those who have done something wrong against higher authority like you and me that is forgiven and pardoned by God. If there is no forgiveness and pardon there would be no redemption or reconciliation. There is nothing wrong with what President Goodluck Jonathan has done. It is in keeping with the Bible, God’s order and Nigerian Constitution. America and Great Britain and the like that want to dictate to Nigeria Government have no better example to show nor do they have the right to point the way for us. Few biblical examples suffice here: Read the case of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). While we keep sinning Christ died for us and forgave us. He justified and count us as if we had not sin (see Rom. 5:5-8, 2 Cor. 5:17-21). God does not hold on to our sins or keep record of them. He forgives, pardon and exercise clemency (Ps 130:3, Heb. 10:10-19). We are called upon to exercise same forgiveness in order to experience same from God. Why do we want to hold on to the sin of Alamieyeseigha and others as if we ourselves don’t sin? If not for God’s mercy none of us can live to see tomorrow. God gives us all a second chance to amend, let us give Alamieyeseigha and others so pardon the chance to live better and contribute to better society. Have question you may call: 08033399821 or write email@example.com. Stay blessed
Dr. Lewis Akpogena (08033399821, firstname.lastname@example.org ), A Christian devotional writer/Minister, Consultant and Educationist reports from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
*Ezu River Corpses: How Victims Were Suffocated To Death By Nigeria Police SARS
By Intersociety-Nigeria (Society Review Part 3)
(Onitsha-Nigeria, 11th day of March, 2013)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law can confirm to the world that most, if not all of those found floating on Ezu River of Death on 19th day of January, 2013, died from suffocation. It is recalled that we had in the part two of our explosive report on Ezu River of Death dated 4th day of Match, 2013, stated clearly that the methods used by Anambra SARS in killing those found in Ezu River were methods not restricted to gun-shots. That is to say that they might have been killed through other means, which include clubbing, lethal strings, strangulation, macheting, poisoning, rubber/tube tying, etc (including suffocation). Our further findings after part one and two of our report clearly indicate that most, if not all of them were killed through manually traceless means-called mass suffocation. This clearly explains why the Anambra State Police Command, having gotten briefing from its SARS leadership on how it killed the victims being referenced, hastily told the world that no gunshot wounds or bullets were found on any of the corpses.
Our Credible Findings:
A member of one of the armed community vigilante groups belonging to one of the communities that share common boundaries with the Awkuzu SARS headquarters in Awkuzu Community, Oyi LGA in Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria, was arrested by the Awkuzu SARS sometime in early January 2013, and detained for two weeks for armed robbery. The freed vigilante operative told an under-cover investigator on condition of anonymity and face to face chat, that he was contracted by a trader to recover some debts owed him by another trader. He led other armed vigilante operatives to the debt recovery operation during which the debtor was beaten up and injured. The injured debtor reported him to Awkuzu SARS through the help of the debtor’s friend who is a SARS operative. The freed vigilante operative told the under-cover investigator that he regained his freedom through the intervention of his community’s chief security officer and the president general. He told the investigator that at Awkuzu SARS, detention cells are serially numbered from 1, 2, 3, and 4 and so on. Those in cell 4 and above are condemned detainees waiting for extra judicial executions and that extra judicial execution of detainees is almost on daily basis. He revealed that there are several torturous ways Awkuzu SARS operatives kill their detainees extra judicially and those who cannot afford huge illegal bail sums ranging from N50, 000 to N200, 000 or more as case may be, are among those being executed extra judicially. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Floating dead bodies in Ezu River
On that fateful day, according to the freed vigilante, detainees from Awkuzu SARS dead or condemned cells, numbering dozens were brought out in a broad daylight, chained and handcuffed; made to lie face down on an open field within the SARS premises and under scotching sun and heat. All the assembled detainees were covered with thick tarpaulin under the watchful eyes of their killers and made to stay under it for hours during which they suffocated and died. Their evacuation and dumping into the Ezu River of Death, according to a prominent resident of Amansea, who monitored the dumping, was done three times within the period-Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That is to say that they were evacuated from SARS killing field and dumped into the Ezu River of Death on 14th, 16th and 18th day of January, 2013. This expressly strengthens the print and electronic media accounts that some of the corpses were in varying state of decomposition when they were discovered. The prominent resident also clarified that the blood stains found on the surface of the Amansea Old Enugu Road Bridge were those of one of the bodies discovered to be alive by Police SARS and possibly detainees who were ordered to evacuate the murdered bodies. To erase any traces, they were shot severally and confirmed dead before they were thrown into the dead river from the top of the Bridge in the late night/early hours of January 18/19, 2013.Some residents of the area confirmed the blood stains on top of the left side of the old bridge during one of our field team’s visits to the area on Sunday, March 10, 2013. Their dumping possibly took place between 12:00am and 3:00am, considered to be the hours of the dead.
Before the shocking discovery of dozens of murdered corpses in Ezu River of Death, some residents of the areas said that dumping of murdered corpses by the Anambra State Command has been a routine. Corpses dumped from the Old Bridge into Ezu River are converged by the River at Onaluokwe circle of the river in Amaowelle Village, Amansea, where they are either eaten by big fishes or decomposed and decayed. Onaluokwe literally means a circle where the River receives objects and accommodates or accepts same. Reasons for dumping the extra judicially murdered corpses into the river in recent times, according to our findings, are due to several alarms raised by host communities on whose lands such murdered bodies were shallowly buried and liquidated with acid substances. Part of the reasons is also because of the procurement of some of such parcels of land by private citizens. For instance, the Onitsha Old Cemetery management has forbidden the Anambra Police SARS from dumping their extra judicially murdered bodies in the cemetery. The Nawfia by Ezugu-Agidi stream has been sealed off by the affected communities owing to the menace of littering the area with police-murdered corpses. Extra judicially murdered corpses are dumped inside the stream’s gully and liquidated with raw acid substances. The Agu-Awka dumping site, located near the Awka MOPOL 29 barracks, controlled by Ntoko Community, near Awka, has also been sealed owing to concerns expressed by the host community over indiscriminate dumping of extra judicially murdered bodies by Anambra Police SARS.
A female student of the Igbariam Campus of the Anambra State University also confirmed that extra judicial killing of detainees by the Awkuzu Police SARS is a routine. She revealed that Otuocha River (Omambala River) is another river where those extra judicially murdered by SARS are routinely dumped. Their dumping hours, according to her, are from 9:00pm and above, and their route is usually the Awkuzu Junction-Otuocha Road. This reinforces the recent discovery of about three or four murdered corpses in the River reportedly by media and the NSCDC. Some residents of Amansea and Awkuzu communities, who spoke to Intersociety, confirmed the atrocious acts under reference. A resident of Amansea community said that the murdered dead bodies are introduced by SARS to officers and men of the Nigeria Police Mobile Force, who mount permanent road block less than 100 meters away from the Old Enugu Road Bridge as wasted products. According to some residents of Akwuzu, spoken to by Intersociety, there are more than seven methods of torture and killing used in killing the SARS detainees extra judicially. Some of them are killing by suffocation through the use of thick tarpaulin and compacted and unventilated cells; killing by gun-shots; killing by machetes; killing by strangulation; killing by clubbing with planks or metal objects; killing by lethal strings; killing by infliction of grievous bodily torture; killing by circle-tying the detainee’s toes to waist and finger to shoulder regions, resulting in instant death; and killing by chaining the detainee’s legs and hands together and hanging him or her upside down on a ceiling hook to die. As a torture strategy, detainees are routinely brought out from cells, shot on their legs and fingers and sent back to their cells without treatments, which lead to their untimely death as a result of decaying wounds. They are killed and disposed off if they become nuisance to SARS detention cells and environment. It is also a routine in Awkuzu SARS to order some detainees to evacuate the extra judicially murdered bodies, after which they are shot and killed to erase traces. Female detainees are treated inhumanly in their cells. A female student told Intersociety that she was detained for two weeks without being allowed to have a shower not even a single day. Awkuzu SARS cells are a clear replica of the German Concentration Camp.
Our Team’s Visit To The Crime Scenes:
Our visits covered the old and new road sides of the Ezu River of Death, the sites of the boreholes of controversy sunk by Governor Peter Obi and Senator Chris Ngige. The Ngige borehole is located after the police road block, while the Obi borehole, which has started running, is located along Nitel Road, all in Amansea. We also visited the River’s dumping points as well as former SARS dumping sites at Onitsha Old Cemetery, Agu-Awka and Nawfia Stream by Enugu-Agidi Junction on Onitsha-Enugu Dual Carriage Way. We spoke to some residents of Amansea and Awkuzu Communities including male and female students of UNIZIK and ANSU. At Amansea, we were told that as the villagers were discovering dozens of murdered corpses at the old and new sides of the two Enugu Roads, there were dozens of more murdered bodies floating on the Onaluokwe circle of the River. Some of the villagers told Intersociety that Onaluokwe circle is where the Ezu River of Death enlarges, which can only be accessed via canoe boats peddled by the Ijaws. They also alleged that some boat peddlers were hired and paid by police during the horrible saga to remove and shallowly bury those corpses floating on the River’s Onaluokwe circle to remove them from outsiders’ viewing.
Also, according to them, dumping extra judicially murdered corpses into the River mostly comes from the Anambra State Police Command and sometimes from Ugwuoba Community in Enugu State. Corpses emanating from Ugwuoba are usually insignificant in number (not more than three) at a time and they are usually alleged thieves caught by its local armed vigilante. To them, number of corpses found on January 19, 2013, was alarmingly higher than what they usually saw and that the reason why those corpses floated and refused to be pushed away by the River was because of drastic reduction in water currents owing to dry season. The number of corpses found on that fateful day, according to them, is 50 and far above when added to those floating on the River’s Onaluokwe circle same day. This confirms a disclosure by another university female student that a top operative of SARS had in December2012 at a liquor joint, complained that their cells as at then, contained over 100 detainees and that before the end of January 2013, half of them will be cleared(killed extra judicially). Dating female students of ANSU is a routine among SARS operatives.
Finally, we wish to state again that the leadership of Nigeria’s Intersociety has no scores to settle with the Nigeria Police Force as a public organization, but we have a series of scores to settle with ethnic cleansers, beasts and cannibals it employs and pays through Nigeria’s collective wealth to murder and torture with reckless abandon Nigeria’s innocent citizens particularly the young Igbo sons who are at their prime age of productivity. We suspect seriously that a policy of ethnic cleansing has perfectly been designed to exterminate the Igbo productive population in Nigeria. The level of hatred and hate policing activities being visited against the Igbo race in Nigeria is taking an alarming dimension day in day out. The race is incontestably an endangered species in Nigeria today. MASSOB organization, for instance, is not different from the O’ Odua People’s Congress in Southwest Nigeria, but while the group enjoys maximum freedoms and police protection, innocent MASSOB members and Igbo law-abiding traders are hunted on daily basis and slaughtered with impunity. It has been factually established that out of every five police officers from the northern Nigeria, four would kill any Igbo man extra judicially if they have an opportunity; out of every five police officers from the Southwest Nigeria, four would do same; whereas out of every five police officers from Southeast Nigeria, one would kill a northerner or a south westerner outside the law, if he or she has an opportunity. The ratio ethnic hatred in Nigeria between Hausa/ Yoruba and Igbo is 90/20. That is to say that 90% of the former hate the Igbos, while only 20% of the latter hate the former.
Comrade Justus Ijeoma
Head, Publicity Desk
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*Return Of Anambra Killing Fields: A Criminological Evaluation Of Ezu River Of Death & Related Tragedies (Part 2)
By Intersociety-Nigeria (Society Review)
(Onitsha-Nigeria, 4th day of March, 2013)-On 21st day of January 2013, the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, released a public statement-titled: The Nigeria Police Force: The Good Versus The Bad & The Ugly-in which the major challenges facing the Force including nefarious conducts of some, if not many of its senior/field officers, such as killing outside the law, torture and excessive use of force, were highlighted. On 19th day of February, 2013, we released another statistically grounded public report-titled: The Return Of Anambra’s Killing Fields (Part-One). Today, part-two of the Report is continued and concluded. For our teeming readers all over the world, the central idea of part one and two of the report is to expose locally and internationally the entrenched culture of extra-judicial killings and torture within the Nigeria Police Force and direct and indirect backing of the locally and internationally atrocious acts by relevant political authorities in Nigeria. The report is zeroed down to Ezu River of Death with strong linkage to the Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Anambra State Police Command-the general overseer of extra judicial killings and torture in Anambra State of Nigeria.
It is recalled that we had in the referenced public statement of January 21, 2013, informed the world that dozens of corpses found floating on Ezu River of Death by local villagers on 18th day of January, 2013, might most likely emanate from the deadly Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Anambra State Police Command led by one Police Commissioner Bala Nasarrawa. In other words, they were victims of extra judicial killings and torture carried out by SARS. The deadly outfit is under one Chief Police Superintendent James Chima Nwafor. The indisputable position of ours was collaborated by Anambra State leadership of the Civil Liberties Organization vide its separate public statement same date. As expected, leaderships of the State Police Command and SARS weakly and remorselessly denied any involvement and labeled us-enemies of the State. It was in the light of these that part-one and part-two of the report under reference was, and is still predicated. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Floating dead body in Ezu River
The grand summary of the Ezu River of Death Disaster perpetrated by the Police is that dozens of unprocessed(not fully investigated, prosecuted, properly tried, convicted and sentenced) suspects including some innocent members of the public, some members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra-MASSOB and some suspects accused by the formal security agencies in Anambra State of Nigeria of armed robbery and abduction(kidnapping); numbering between 25 and 50, who were violently taken into SARS detention since December 2012 or before then, were brought out from their detention cells, killed with lethal objects or substances, which may include killer-chemical substances, lethal niddles, lethal clubbing, strangulation and lethal bullets (particular mode of killing is to be determined by independent credible autopsy)other than tasering or tear-gassing ; taken to Ezu River on patrol vans during the hours of the dead(1:00am and 3:00am) and dumped in turn, into the river under reference; with a malicious intent to close traces and heap blames on the host community(Amansea) and endanger their lives and those of their neighbours with false linkage to non-existent violent communal conflicts as the cause and source of the floating corpses. While credible independent sources including some media houses gave the number of the floating corpses as 25, 30 and 50, sources from the Police and the Government of Anambra State claimed that the number was 19. Nine members of MASSOB are believed to be among the dead. It is recalled that in October 2009, during the fatal road accident along Umunya portion of the Onitsha-Enugu Dual Carriage Way, involving multiple commercial buses (14 & 18-seater buses) loaded with passengers, and a fuel tanker lorry; eyewitnesses’ accounts including journalists, passersby and survived passengers put the number of the dead at 70-80, but the State Government and the Federal Road Safety Corps said it was 13. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Floating dead bodies in Ezu River
Star Witness Account:
On Monday, 25th day of February, 2013, Mrs. Uchenna Ogbu, who is in her early twenties, spoke to the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law at its Onitsha administrative headquarters. Mrs. Uchenna Ogbu, who is about six months pregnant, is the wife of Citizen Basil Ogbu, one of nine MASSOB members that went missing in the hands of SARS since 7th day of December, 2012. Citizen Basil Ogbu is strongly believed to have been extra judicially executed alongside eight others and dumped into Ezu River of Death by SARS on 18th day of January, 2013. Her Account: My name is Mrs. Uchenna Ogbu from Ogbaru, Anambra State, married to my husband-Mr. Basil Ogbu, 25 years of age, from Nsukka in Enugu State. I dropped out of 2nd year from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria about three years ago due to my mother’s death and got married in 2012. My husband is a businessman, dealing in cosmetics along Sokoto Road, near Onitsha Main Market. He has about five apprentices trading and working for him. Some stay in his shop, while others work for him in a motor park, located on Bida Road, near Onitsha Main Market. We live at No.100, Bida Road, in a flat apartment. My husband is also one of the local leaders of MASSOB in Onitsha. We returned from Okigwe in Imo State (headquarters of MASSOB in Nigeria) in early December 2012 and my husband was getting ready for his new administrative posting to Nnewi at Ojukwu’s house before his arrest and missing.
In the morning of December 7, 2012, my husband-Mr. Uchenna Ogbu told me he was going to their office, which is located at Ezeolisa Lane, off Sokoto Road, for a meeting on how to bury one of their members-Citizen Uchechukwu Ejiofor (from Imo State), killed by a combined team of security agencies on 12th day of November, 2012. In the evening of December 7, 2012, my husband did not come back; later a call came informing me that he had problem with the police and the Onitsha Main Market armed Vigilante Group. One of their members called me again and told me that my husband was shot and bundled away alongside others by a combined team of soldiers, SSS, SARS and armed vigilantes-called JTF, which stormed their office on the said date. On 8th day of December, 2012, we organized a search party involving myself, my husband’s elder brother and a lawyer and we visited the Onitsha Area Command and the CPS. He was located at the Onitsha Area Command alongside others. We saw him lying on the floor with one of his legs battered with gun bullets without any medical treatment, not even first-aid. His battered leg was covered with carton papers. He managed to speak to us. He said that some of their members were on peaceful procession along Sokoto Road, when the armed security team came and violently disrupted their procession and arrested some of them, after which they raided their office, shot and arrested him; and that about nine of them were violently arrested on the said date.
My husband later asked us to give him pure water(sachet water) and a police officer on duty advised us against it on the ground that he may die if given because of his gun-shot wounds. He suggested a pack of locozade boost and a bottle of malt, which were bought and given to him. The police officer who was touched by my condition and age (early twenties) advised us to hurriedly get a doctor to treat his gun-shot wounds before they are transferred to SARS or State CID. We went to the New Hope Hospital and the doctor on duty demanded police report and by the time we got back to the Onitsha Area Command, my husband and others have been taken away. We went to the State CID, at Awka and they told us that such suspects including my husband were not brought there. We went to the Awkuzu SARS headquarters and they chased us away. We returned to the Onitsha Area Command and pleaded profusely with the Area Commander-ACP B.S. Wordu before he brought out the transfer list showing that my husband and others were transferred to the Awkuzu SARS headquarters. It was when several efforts to see my husband at the Awuzu SARS failed that we went to the Awka Federal High Court to compel the O/C SARS to produce my husband in court, which till date, has failed to yield any good results. Since 8th day of December, 2012, a period of two months, two weeks and three days, I have not set my eyes on my husband-Basil Ogbu. I am tempted to believe that SARS have murdered my innocent husband!
From the foregoing, therefore, it has been incontrovertibly established that Citizen Basil Ogbu and eight other MASSOB activists, who were arrested since 7th day of December, 2012, were moved from the Onitsha Area Command, which also houses the Onitsha Central Police Station, to the Awkuzu SARS headquarters on 8th day of December, 2012, in the form of transfer and since then, they have not been seen by any member of the public or any member of their families. The inability of the police authorities to produce the detainees in courts or before their families’ members expressly means that they have been killed by the police through jungle justice. The police through the Awkuzu SARS are also responsible for the extra judicial killing of dozens of other detainees and their dumping into Ezu River of Death on or before 18th day of January, 2013. Therefore, the denial of any culpability by the Anambra State Police Command including its SARS in the unlawful killing and dumping is totally undeniable, hasty, baseless, senseless, watery, remorseless, beastly, immoral and criminal. The heinous killing is even outside the infamous and notorious Order 237 of the Nigeria Police Force, under which its field personnel kill Nigerians they accuse of resisting arrest or escaping from custody.
The unresolved questions to be answered by the Nigeria Police Force over the horrible development are: what are the whereabouts of the nine MASSOB activists transferred to SARS from the Onitsha Area Command since 8th day of December, 2012? Were they granted interim bail? If yes, who were their sureties and where are the records with which they were granted bail? Were the detainees arraigned in either courts of inferior records or in courts of superior records? If yes, which divisions of the courts in Anambra State and at what dates? What was their fate after the courts’ charges or arraignments? Were they granted bails or remanded in prisons’ custodies? If yes who were their sureties or which prisons or police stations were they remanded and by which courts and dates? Are they still being detained by SARS without being charged to, or arraigned in courts? If yes, which of the SARS units are they being detained? Failure by the Anambra State Police authorities to provide concrete and empirical answers to the foregoing stainless questions expressly means that they have committed crimes against humanity including mass killings, murder and torture as defined by Section 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998, ratified by the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2001. It also has an inkling of genocide and ethnic cleansing because all the murdered were from one ethnic group (Igbo). During the recent visit to the Awkuzu SARS inmates by the Nigeria’s Senate Committees on Police, National Security and Intelligence, most of the detainees revealed that they have been in detention for two months (since January 2013). None of them, from the media accounts and analysis of what transpired, bore any name connected to the nine MASSOB missing members. This clearly sustains the strong accusation that the Awkuzu SARS authorities have carried out the extra judicial execution of those or most of those detained in their cells before January 2013 including nine MASSOB activists, innocent detainees and other unprocessed suspects accused of involvement in capital offences such as abduction/kidnapping, armed robbery and murder, whose bodies were dumped and made to float on Ezu River of Death on 18th day of January, 2013.
The remorselessness of the SARS operatives in the heinous crime under reference knows no bounds. The deadly outfit still arrests and extorts innocent citizens across the State with utter alacrity particularly in the evening times. Each raiding deadly squad usually operates with a Hilux Security van, with which it tows private motorcycles belonging to innocent citizens retiring homes and a hired L300 commercial bus, with which it piles up the innocent citizens arrested. The deadly SARS operatives attached to Okpoko Police Station in Ogbaru LGA, Anambra State, commanded by SUPOLs Anthony and Mike (2/Ic), engage in such illegal raids and arrests with reckless abandon. Once it is 7:30pm, any citizen found outside his or her residence is a potential guest to the deadly squad particularly in Fegge, Awada, Ugwuagba, Nkutaku, Iyiowa Odekpe and Okpoko areas of Onitsha and environs. The SARS unit attached to the Onitsha CPS also indulges in same unlawful conducts in Odoakpu, Inland Town, Nsugbe, Woliwo and Omagba Layouts, Nkpor and Ogidi areas under Onitsha zone. Those arrested are made to pay huge sums of money as summary bail fees and those who do not have money to pay run the dangerous risk of being labeled armed robbers or kidnappers and transfer to Awkuzu SARS Headquarters, where they are held incommunicado, grievously tortured and extra judicially executed. Such illegal raids are carried out in front of residential houses, along the streets, on the city roads, at restaurants and football cinema centers, between 7:30pm and 9:00pm on daily and weekend basis.
For instance, on 1st day of March, 2013, at about 8:45pm, Citizens Michael Okeke and Ifeanyi Okoye of No.22, Chukwudulue Street, in Okpoko, Ogbaru LGA, were arrested at PIETA Hospital by Nwaziki Avenue, Awada Layout alongside the wife of Citizen Okoye and another friend accompanying them to the Hospital. Mrs. Okoye who was being taken to hospital, was released on the spot, while others were bundled to the Okpoko Police Station with their two private motorcycles. On 2nd day of March, 2013, they paid their captors N26, 000(N20, 000 for bail and N6, 000 for the bailing of the two private motorcycles). The third detainee was refused bail for fighting police. He runs the risk of being held incommunicado, tortured and killed extra judicially. On 2nd day of March, 2013, Citizen Emmanuel Onyemeke of No.7, Nwaegbeigwe Lane, Awada Layout, Obosi, Anambra State was arrested at about 8:30pm in front of his residence. He paid the Okpoko SARS N10, 000 to secure his release. On same date, Citizen Ikenna Ekwueme, a resident of Tony Obi Street, Ugwuagba Layout in Obosi, was arrested alongside his female friend, Onyinye, at about 8; 30pm with his private motorcycle. He paid his captors N6, 000 on the spot and was released instantly, while his female friend was taken away because he could not afford her bail fee. Citizen Ikechukwu Odoh of No. 6, Tony Umeh Street, Awada Layout, was arrested and detained since 2nd day of March, 2013 because he could afford his bail fee of N10, 000. He was arrested along Ezeiweka Road, Awada Layout at about 8:45pm and as at today-04-03-2013, he is still being detained. Citizens Anthony Ogbonna(choir master) and Uchenna Obodougo( deputy choir master) of No.21B, Amanato Street, Ugwuagba Layout, Obosi, were arrested at about 8:50pm. They were going home from their choir practice at St. Peter’s Catholic Church Parish, Ugwuagba Lawyout and got arrested in front of their residence. Their captors demanded N10, 000 each for their bail-out. They were released without a dime after the leadership of Intersociety intervened on 3rd day of March, 2013. They told our leadership that an L300 bus with which they were bundled to the Okpoko Police Station was jam-packed with over 15 arrested citizens. They were detained alongside other arrested citizens in a batcher within the Station, where SARS detainees are held until they pay for their release or get labeled armed robbers /kidnappers and transferred to Awkuzu SARS with summary death tags.
Roles Of Nigerian Politicians In The Ezu River Of Death Disaster:
We note with sadness the lukewarm attitudes of top political office holders in Nigeria, from the presidency to the State officials, towards the sanctity of human lives. In organized and progressive climes, the unlawful death of their citizens and non citizens is considered a national calamity, but in Nigeria, it is utterly relegated to the background and becomes an avenue for blood money making especially by the relevant standing committees of the Nigeria’s National Assembly, in the form of legislative committee investigation, which never sees the light of the day at the end. The Ezu River of Death disaster is a clear case in point, because no positive outcomes will emerge at the end from the so called legislative committee investigations. The lukewarm attitude of the Government of President Goodluck Jonathan, which swore under oath to protect every Nigerian irrespective of tribe or race, from unlawful death and torture, is highly despicable and condemnable. It is a fact that the Federal Government of Nigeria, which faces the world at the UN Rights Council’s 2013 Universal Peer Review on 22nd day of October, 2013, has not made any categorical statement in condemnation of the world’s latest crimes against humanity, not to talk of ordering a full scale criminal investigation into the dastardly act. The leadership of the Nigeria Police Force under IGP, Mohammed Diko Abubakar, is also condemned for its quietness of the graveyard. Till date, not even administrative sanctions, which are the main disciplinary measures for violating the NPF’s new Code of Conduct, have been visited upon those senior officers at the center of the grave accusations including CP Bala Nasarrawa, CSP James Chima Nwafor(O/C SARS), DCP and ACP OPS, AC-State CID, AC-Onitsha Area Command and AC-Awka Area Command. CP Bala Nasarrawa and CSP James Chima Nwafor are the principal culprits. The field officers who carried out the heinous murder and dumping of dozens of Ezu River of Death corpses are still on the prowl with impunity. The recent clandestine investigations carried out by the NPF High Command into the dastardly act, is utter mostly suspect. We at Intersociety see it as operation erasure, meant to exploit loopholes and defenses, if any, with a view to extricate the Force from unhidden moral and legal culpability.
The conversion of the horrified tragedy into politics of borehole by some Anambra politicians including Senator Chris Ngige and some aides working for Governor Peter Obi is a clear indication of disrespect for the sanctity of human lives. Instead of truly expressing shocks and disbelieve over the resurgence of this Stone-Age cannibalism; observing mourning periods; and working tirelessly towards fishing out the culprits, establishing scientifically the circumstances of the killing of the murdered-criminal autopsy( whether they were shot, strangulated, clubbed, stoned, macheted or poisoned with lethal strings); and ensuring proper identification of their identities vide credible and efficient criminal investigations and public information; the politicians so called are bent on corrupting the substances of the earth-shaking tragedy with their politics of parochialism and naivety. It is correct to say that they leave substances and chase shadows. Today, media loyalists belonging to these political camps and politicians have introduced several theories lacking in empiricism, to the tragic saga, all in an effort to extricate or rope in their paymasters, or divert the clue sources, or to achieve cheap political goals with respect to the forthcoming Anambra gubernatorial poll. Some compromised media practitioners have attributed the tragic incident to campus cult killing, Ezu Shrine death revenge, victims of MASSOB kidnapping activities, victims of highway armed robbery, to mention a few.
Also, if I help you to be extricated, you will back me during my election or my party’s election deal has reportedly been brokered between the culpable senior police officers and their field formations and some of those politicians. Some of them, through their killer-squads, have resorted to the issuance of death-threats to the leadership of MASSOB to back out of their factual insistence that Police SARS killed nine of their members extra judicially, so that it will be easier for them to exonerate the accused senior police officers and their formations. For instance, the leadership of MASSOB dishonored its recent invitation to Awka by the Senate Committees said to be investigating the tragedy because of reported mounting threat-calls. Lately, some elements within MASSOB are accused of soliciting for, or collection of millions of naira from the Federal Government and politicians, via some elements within the legislative investigators to kill the matter. As a result, new field elements have been appointed to follow the matter. From every indication, therefore, there are serious cover-ups and bribery attempts going on in the tragic saga. From hurried evacuation of the corpses to their hurried burial; from selective exhumation of few bodies for autopsy to secluded and guided subjection of same to criminal autopsy; from the independent figure of the corpses’ number, ranging between 25 and 50, to the government/police skewed number of 19; and from the politicization of the tragedy to the politically motivated and criminal erasure oversight/clandestine criminal investigations. Justice will surely be murdered going by these contrived arrangements and conclave of hopelessness. There will be no light at the end of the tunnel unless the international community intervenes because the Nigeria’s municipal authorities blatantly lack moral, political and criminal will to get to the root of these internationally heinous crimes against persons.
Problems With Police/SARS Criminal Investigation & Trial:
Conventionally, criminal investigation is a serious criminal intelligence business, manned by professionally trained detectives in plain clothes, which involves a systematic collection of information about crime and assembling of physical and testimonial pieces of evidence within the framework of the law in order to identify the perpetrators of the crime and provide evidence for successful prosecution of the criminal suspects in courts of competent jurisdictions. The reason for high incidence of torture and extra judicial killings within the Nigeria Police Force is the absence of conventional criminal investigation knowhow and toolkits, and sluggish and archaic criminal justice system as well as non-application of relevant safeguards to sanction the perpetrators of such heinous acts owing to corruption. In other words, police torture detainees in Nigeria because they lack conventional criminal investigation tools, experience and management. They kill their detainees because their criminal investigation outcomes are legally unreliable, scientifically unverifiable and prosecutorially weak. They also kill because the court system and criminal laws and procedures are weak, twisted, sluggish and outmoded. The art of torture and extra judicial killings, globally speaking, is an express art of trial/killing by ordeal, which is universally outlawed. It also contravenes and destroys the seven key elements of crime, including, most importantly, the rules of mens rea(criminal mindset).
The Anambra State CID and SARS totally lack modern tools for criminal investigation such as conventionally trained personnel, scientific data, interrogation tools, information data, scientific crime data/records, etc. A modern crime detective is a well trained officer who is able to construct hypothesis and draw conclusions in problems relating to crimes in addition to reasoning soundly and logically. A crack crime investigator is someone with professional training and solid experience, who, by carefully completing every appropriate step in a criminal investigation, leaves nothing to chance. Most operatives of the Anambra State CID and SARS are computer illiterates and internet enemies. Their reasoning/ intelligence quotients have been blocked and corrupted by excessive liquor consumption and immoral lifestyles oiled by extortion and bribery proceeds. Because theirs are Ape-like reasoning/intelligence quotients hovering round 800 and 900 as against the universal basics of 1,300 and above, they act in a beastly manner such as deriving joy in inflicting grievous bodily harms on their detainees and indulging in rapacious killing of those under their custodies, outside conventional criminal procession. In other words, they are like serial killers and torturers.
The Anambra State CID and SARS also lack modern scientific/technical aids, which are fundamentally relevant in criminal investigation, including all the technical aids used in modern criminal investigation like modus operandi, lie detector, telephoto lens, detective dyes, x-ray kits, metal detector, etc. Conventional Crime Laboratories also elude the two important public anti crime formations. Crimes Laboratories-also called Forensic Labs are major crime labs where scientific tests are carried out to establish a triangular link between the suspect, the scene of crime and the victim. A conventional or standard crime lab consists of Mobile Unit (comprises scene of crime officer), Photography, Ballistic/Tools marks, Documents, Chemists, Biologists, Fingerprints, Photograph Examination, Voice Identification, Information Technologists, Cyber Crimes Experts, Criminal Lawyers, Criminologists, Psychologists, etc. The Crime Labs are expected to assist an investigator to establish an element of the crime, link the crime scene to the victim or criminal, corroborate or disprove an alibi, induce an admission or confession, exonerate the innocent or confirm the guilt of the accused and provide expert testimony in court. There are no modern interrogation techniques in the Anambra State CID and SARS, mentally and tool-kits wise, with which to skillfully and soundly question unwilling suspects and witnesses. There is lack of logic, craft and psychological insights in the criminal investigators attached to the two formations owing to blatant lack of training, information technology, practice and research. This is why torture is on the increase among the Nigeria Police Force crime detectors and investigators particularly in the Anambra State CID and SARS. Conventional Data of Crime is near-absent in the two police formations. It includes modern data warehouse for collection of information about criminals and maintenance of records of criminal activities, collection and preparation of information from those records as well as interviewing suspects to collect evidence to present in court. Where it exists, it will be easier to establish and link 90% of violent and property crimes to repeat offenders, who are usually the insignificant portion of the adult population.
Criminal investigation generally involves three stages of Scene of Crime Management, Information Gathering and Arrest/Identification. The latter must be devoid of mistaken identity-considered fatal to the criminal investigation if it happens. Among Nigeria’s three capital crimes of murder, armed robbery and abduction/kidnapping, the crimes of armed robbery and kidnapping/abduction are less difficult to investigate or unravel because of their easy triangular link to the scene of crime, the suspect and the victims, unlike the crime of murder, which is more difficult to unravel. Referrals to the DPP and arraignment of suspects with capital crimes charges in the courts of inferior records are partly responsible for extra judicial killings and largely responsible for long pretrial detentions and awaiting trials (act of remanding suspects in prisons with long delays in their trials). By the combine provisions of Sections 77 of the Nigeria’s Criminal Procedures Act, 56(1) and 57 of the Nigeria’s Federal High Court Rules and 23 of the Nigeria Police Act, legally qualified police officers(police lawyers) can prosecute any criminal offences including capital offences in any court in Nigeria, without referrals to the Federal or State DPPs, who are under the Federal or State Attorney General, except where the Federal or State AG has an interest in accordance with Sections 174 and 211 of the 1999 Constitution. In terms of case-laws or decided cases, this issue has also been settled in the case of FGN v George Oshahon & Ors (Court of Appeal).
1. Federal Government of Nigeria should make a categorical public statement on the Ezu River of Death Disaster, which will include an unreserved apology to Nigerians and the world for maintaining silence of the graveyard over the issue.
2. The leadership of the Nigeria Police Force should formally condemn the atrocious acts of its officers and men in Anambra State and administratively sanction those officers involved including CP Bala Nasarrawa, CSP James Chima Nwafor as well as two killer-DPOs- Temitope Fasugba of the Onitsha Central Police Station, who shot twice at close range an innocent ASTA contracted driver, Citizen Chuka Nwankwo on 18th day of December, 2012; and John Mark of the Fegge Police Station, who lacerated the body of Mrs. Chika Obikwelu on 15th day of December, 2012. Mrs. Obikwelu is a mother of five children (see our report: NPF: the Good versus the Bad & the Ugly: 21-01-2013). Strong efforts should be made by the Force High Command to ensure the total stoppage of these criminal conducts of its officers and men not only in Anambra State but also in its entire 6,551 field formations in Nigeria.
3. The Special Anti Robbery Squad in Anambra State should be disbanded and collapsed into the State CID and rebranded as specially and conventionally trained crime detectives and investigators or rebranded special anti violent crimes’ squad. In the process of rebranding them through in-service examinations, re-orientations and trainings including ICT literacy courses, the Ape-like ones should be identified and transferred to the Nigeria Police Force Animal Division. The present State CID headquarters should be relocated with a befitting structure adorned with modern crime fighting, detection and investigation toolkits, knowhow and management as highlighted above. Alternatively, Anambra SARS should be surgically operated and made to be headquartered at the new expanded headquarters of the State CID under recommendation, with a view to enabling them share modern technical crime’s aids and information together as it is the case in USA and other organized climes.
4. Federal Government of Nigeria should expeditiously set up a special independent and credible panel of enquiry to unravel the circumstances leading to the horrific tragedy. Part of its terms of reference will be to exhume all the bodies hurriedly evacuated and buried for credible autopsy to credibly establish the circumstances of their death. Maximum security should be provided for victims and witnesses wishing to testify before the panel or observe and contribute during its proceedings.
5. Federal Government should undertake the sole responsibility of paying adequate compensations to the families of the nine MASSOB activists killed extra judicially by its Police Force as well as their funeral expenditures. In paying the compensations to their family members, each, especially their wives or mothers, should receive compensation equivalent to the five years salaries and allowances of the serving Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police.
6. The Government of Anambra State should, immediately, undertake the responsibility of reforming its criminal law and justice system. Example of reformed criminal justice law and system in Nigeria is that of Lagos State. Among 20 serving High Court Judges in Anambra State manning various High Court divisions, Criminal High Courts can be designated to speed off criminal trials. Particular attention should also be paid to the legal qualifications of the State serving High Court Judges. Criminal trials should be presided over by Judges with requisite qualifications in criminal law and criminology. Inviting Judges with degrees in marine, family and cannon laws, etc, to preside over criminal trials make the process professionally quackly. Arraigning suspects with capital crimes’ charges in the courts of inferior records should be discontinued.
7. Nigeria’s leading rights, labour and other social voice groups like National Human Rights Commission, NLC, NBA, etc, should not only speak out but also ensure that the horrific saga under reference is not swept under the carpet at the end.
8. Respected international voices should step up consistent pressures on the Nigeria’s municipal authorities to ensure that those behind the dastardly act directly or remotely, are brought before the law.
9. In the event, the Nigeria’s municipal political authorities failed to bring the culprits to book, then the international community including the International Criminal Court, the UN Human Rights Council, offices of the UN Reportuers on Extra Judicial Executions and Torture, among other international groups and governments, should take over the matter or influence its takeover by the internationally qualified groups and individuals, with a view to ensure untainted justice is done.
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*Niger Delta: Science Education and NDDC’s push
By Ifeatu Agbu
“Kola nut will understand English today,” the Master of Ceremony[MC] intoned, directing his gaze at the array of chiefs from Isoko kingdom seated majestically in colourful traditional regalia. The jocular MC was obviously teasing the chiefs by asking them to allow the kola nut to be presented in English language, since they were being hosted in an academic environment. The chiefs had gathered at the Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro, in Isoko North Local Government Area, to witness the commissioning of internal roads built by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. The bewildered looks on their faces told all and sundry that kola nut would never understand any other language other than the local one.
Everyone knew that any important ceremony in Delta State must be preceded by the often rigorous ritual of supporting the kola nut with a repeated chant of Isoko Wa doo! Urhobo Wa doo! And all the other ethnic groups that would have to be acknowledged with Wa doo!
The ceremonies were well worth the time and effort because it was not every day that the rector and his academic constituency come out in their numbers to celebrate development programmes laid out for the advancement of knowledge.
An obviously delighted Rector of the Polytechnic, Dr. Jacob Oboreh, moved around the tables, welcoming his guests to the commissioning of the main access road to the polytechnic campus constructed by the NDDC. He commended the interventionist agency, for developing the necessary infrastructure to support the advancement of education and human capital development. He noted that the 1.5 Km road was the first road built in the campus out of a total planned road network of about 20 kilometres for the entire Ozoro community. “We regard the NDDC as the trail blazer of road construction in the polytechnic,” he said. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt
Dr Oboreh also gave kudos to the NDDC for other projects still under construction in the polytechnic. He said the on-going projects included a twin auditorium and electrification project which comprised power distribution lines, two transformers and a 500KVA generating set.
The rector said further: “Recently, the NDDC supplied two hundred  computers, 200 UPS and 50 printers to the polytechnic. It is also gratifying to mention that NDDC has commenced the construction of a very befitting two-story building ICT Centre for the polytechnic.”
Ozoro Polytechnic is not alone in the celebration of a new boost to technical education in the Niger Delta. Four other tertiary institutions in the region also had cause to rejoice as they also got 200 sets of computers and accessories too. The Beneficiaries include Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Imo State Polytechnic, Rivers State Polytechnic and the College of Arts and Science, Port Harcourt.
The NDDC Director, Education, Health and Social Services, Dr. Christy Atako, who handed over the computers, on behalf of the Managing Director, Dr Christian Oboh, said that the commission placed a lot of emphasis on education because if its intrinsic value to the society. “Education plays a vital role in societal development and ICT has made the world a global village, so we cannot afford to sit back and watch the world move ahead of us” she said.
Dr. Atako, said that the commission was partnering with relevant institutions to intervene in the education sector. The collaborations, she said, ranged from the supply and equipment of schools, to the building of infrastructure and training.
She said that the commission has so far supplied science equipment to schools from the primary to the tertiary levels. He said that 400 units of primary science kits and 700 units of junior secondary school kits were distributed to schools in the Niger Delta recently. In addition, he said, 36 units of 100kg Rotary Furnaces and 18 sets of Advanced Units of Manufacturing Technology facilities were distributed to tertiary institutions in the region.
The director said that the NDDC was determined to make the teaching and learning of sciences pleasurable by providing the necessary infrastructure and equipment to support the schools. According to her, the commission fully understood that providing quality science education required well trained teachers, thus it had accordingly expanded the scope of its Foreign Scholarship Scheme. The commission, she said, has so far sponsored over 600 students at the post-graduate level under the scholarship programme. The beneficiaries pursue Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in science disciplines.
Dr Atako said that the emphasis on the sciences was deliberate. "You know we have a lot of gaps in our oil and gas sector, and that is what we desire in the Niger Delta region and Nigeria at large," she said.
As part of its efforts to strengthen the teaching and learning of science, the commission recently organised a training workshop for primary and secondary school teachers in Akwa Ibom State in collaboration with the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure [NASENI]. The Train-the-trainers workshop was designed to improve knowledge on the use of NASENI primary and junior secondary science kits.
Dr Christian Oboh, the NDDC boss said that the special attention being paid to science education was justified because of the critical role it plays in the development of any nation. “We have resolved to demystify the teaching and learning of sciences in the schools spread across the Niger Delta,” he declared.
It was the same message which Chief Solomon Ogba, the Delta State representative on the board of the NDDC, took to the Ozoro polytechnic where students were already enjoying the facilities made available by the commission.
He said that the commission would continue to place priority on providing the necessary infrastructure for quality education in the Niger Delta region, noting that some of its university hostel projects would be commissioned soon. In all, the NDDC is building 19 hostels in universities and polytechnics in the 9 Niger Delta states.
The Chairman of Isoko North Local Government Area, Hon Samuel Idise, praised the role being played by NDDC in the education sector. “We are happy that the NDDC is partnering with the Delta State Government in promoting human capital development,’ he said.
As the Isoko people celebrated the facilities inaugurated at the Ozoro polytechnic, other communities spread across 4 local government areas of Delta State, were equally dancing to the tunes of their local drums as NDDC inaugurated 8 new roads for them. They include two township roads in Ovwian, three rigid pavement roads in Uvwie council area, two roads in Warri South LGA and a rigid pavement road in Orhuwhoron town.
The atmosphere at Izomor Street, in Ovwian town was electrifying as the youthful dancers exuded joy and happiness. Indeed, it seemed as if the entire community converged on the street for the ceremony to formally open their road. Their excitement could only be explained by the fact that the area was like a jungle before the road was constructed.
Mr Eugene Gedi, one of the community leaders, recalled that they were isolated because a big swamp covered where the road now passed. “The road has indeed brought to an end the suffering previously experienced by residents of Izomo and the Udu community at large.” He said. The joyous ambience at Izomo was replicated at Orhuwhoron town, also in Udu Local Government Area, where a rigid pavement road was commissioned. Mr William Saiki, the president general of the community, said that the NDDC did well to put smiles on the faces of his people. He praised the contractor engaged by the NDDC for the project for doing a quality job. He described the contractor as the Julius Berger of the Niger Delta.
At every stop of the commissioning train, people came out in large numbers to show their appreciation to the NDDC for giving them something to cheer about. It was a harvest of garlands for Chief Ogba, who stood in for the NDDC Managing Director at the ceremonies. Chief Ogba said that the on-going handing over of projects in all the NDDC states was meant to give the people the opportunity to see what the commission had been able to accomplish. “We want to give the NDDC a new face. We want people to see what we have done with the resources available to us.”
Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( email@example.com ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
*There will be No "One-Nigeria" come December, 2013
By Ikechukwu Enyiagu
There will be nothing like a continued One-Nigeria by December this year. Those who plot increased abominations but say they are planning for a centenary celebration of goodness are living in the depth of darkness and ignorance. The abominations of a continued One-Nigeria have overflown their banks and there are no more reservations to contain Nigeria's collection of doom-treasures because the land has caved in as a result of overburdening.
The cycle of atrocities in Nigeria has grown and matured just as those who have recycled leadership amongst themselves - even to their hard-hearing and blind grayness. The perpetual shackle with which these verminous entities have bound the lots of these misjudged and mistreated, as Britain did do, has worn out and cut loose. Those who have thought, believed and reserved for themselves the taskmaster's whip will be bound and tasked by their very torturous hands.
The land upon which these abominations of bloodshed, deprivation and many injustices have been perpetually, ardently and joyfully perpetrated has long lost its graces for patience and forbearance. Her vengeful resistance has birthed escalating disorderliness in the psyche of the spirit of the country and the core of those hitherto bound under it. Its revolution has created a society with the willingness and passion but no reason to shed blood - blood of many innocents.
The blood of millions of quiet souls shed in the pretext of feeding a forced but continually-resisted oneness of distinctly different peoples have clouded the clouds and compelled natural repercussions. In the west of a well-placed continent, the skies have emptied themselves - not to bless the seeds of the wicked and the righteous but to curse them in anger. The seas have borne so much concealed wickedness; now it no longer wishes to hide the abominations of these abominable. Sacrifices no longer suffice because even the skies and the seas know too well that they will be judged as well. They now throw, both the sacrifices and the atrocities, back to the surface. What men do in secret have revolted in equal reaction and are now poking their repulsive revelations before the face of all. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
The sane are fighting to hold their sanity, the atrocious their atrocities. But nothing suffices and the heavens, the earth and the seas would no longer keep mum lest they be counted as accomplices against their maker and keeper. But how much longer can "the sane" hope to keep their sanity by ignoring the unobliterable truth?
Nigeria - both its amalgamation and its vision - was a mistake. But who feeds his mistakes and expects it to sum up to a favorable equation? For vehemently forcing this standing impossibility, Nigeria has gravitated from a correctable mistake into an intolerable abomination. Therefore it will be stopped; and along with it will be stopped all those who have thrived and still reap from it's putrid superimposed interference to natural and spiritual order.
For nearly a century, this mistake have been given time for correction. Sadly, this seed was not allowed to die so as to produce fruits of righteousness, justice and love. It rather matured into an imposing and arrogant abomination. For this reason of unquantifiable and unqualifiable magnitude, a One-Nigerian centenary debauchery will remain a dream that will pass away with those who hide their sins and joyfully stand before God for blessings. Abraham sowed the seed that begot the beloved Israel. He did this in strict obedience to the voice of truth. Every innocent soul whose blood was shed by the Nigerian society was the seed of Abraham - sown in the spirit of Saul and against God's intentions. Nigeria, for killing the seeds of Abraham in order to oppose and stop the Israel of God, may God stop you! May He remove the bolts and knots holding your wheel together and may He throw both your horses and their riders over the cliff of His fury against an increasingly wicked establishment! May He, as was done the foolish rich man just the very night he thought himself secure on every side, gather your soul for judgement with the urgency and the swiftness of His Spirit. Amen.
Ikechukwu Enyiagu can be reached at
*From Oloibiri to Odi: NDDC Plays the Game Changer
By Ifeatu Agbu
Oloibiri, a historic landmark, gave Nigeria its first oil well in June, 1956 and thereafter seemed to have been forgotten. The mother of Nigeria’s black gold was literally sucked dry and left in a state of squalor. Oloibiri, in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, catapulted Nigeria into the prestigious league of major crude oil exporting countries of the world. But Nigeria has not been kind to Oloibiri.
Odi, another blur in our history, leapt into the Nigerian consciousness in November, 1999 when soldiers invaded the town in search of a militant group that allegedly killed 9 policemen that had gone into the community to arrest a notorious gang. The then President Olusegun Obasanjo promptly dispatched soldiers to the community and razed it to the ground.
The common thread running through these two iconic towns is their hunger for development. It is now 56 years since crude oil pipes tore through the soils of Oloibiri and pumped Nigeria’s first crude oil in commercial quantity, opening the door for Nigeria in the international oil market. Yet, what first catches the attention of a first-time visitor is an old signpost marked “Oloibiri Oil Well 1” with over-grown bushes.
Chief Belemi Ovoh, one of the community elders in Oloibiri said that the sin of neglect committed against the people of Niger Delta in Nigeria was first committed against Oloibiri. As far as he is concerned, the tokenism that is being dished out to his people is nothing to write home about. “Shell promised that it will develop Oloibiri. But the promises turned out to be lies, and by that act of lying Shell Petroleum Development Company initiated the first "rape' on Oloibiri,” he said. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Nigeria's first oil well in Oloibiri
There is no doubt that changing the tide of injustice in Oloibiri poses a big challenge. However, The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has shown some eagerness in setting the tone for a positive change. The interventionist agency has over the years demonstrated that it is quite conscious of the historical importance of the town where oil was first discovered.
Recently, the NDDC demonstrated its interest once again when it commissioned concrete internal roads for the Oloibiri community. That was not the first time, but it was only an indication of an abiding interest to make a change.
For the people of Oloibiri, the long awaited change must begin to tumble down. So, they repeated their story of woe tothe visiting NDDC team. In an address signed by Chief Foster Inengeti Ikpesu, chairman of Oloibiri Council of Chiefs, they said: “The story of Oloibiri has been that of exploitation, rape of our natural wealth, destruction of aquatic life, environmental degradation, neglect and total abandonment. Our case is both peculiar and pathetic because exploration activities have seized in Oloibiri for some years now, which prompted the oil companies and development agencies set up by the Federal Government to completely forget the first goose that laid the golden egg.”
However, in spite of these lamentations, the chiefs of Oloibiri did not fail to acknowledge the contributions of the NDDC in recent years. Perhaps, they recognise that the years of neglect may be fading as the NDDC, continues to commission more projects in the area. They demonstrated their goodwill towards the NDDC by trouping out in their numbers to celebrate another development project executed by the interventionist agency.
The chiefs were in their best elements as they were all decked in their traditional regalia. As a way of showing their appreciation, the council of chiefs draped the NDDC Bayelsa State representative, Barr Orubo in a gorgeous wrapper as a mark of honour and appreciation. Chief Ikpesu said they were glad that the NDDC had given the people a sense of belonging. He said: "We are convinced that a new dawn has come through your commission for practical and sincere solutions to redress the past injustices meted out to the Olobiri people.” The traditional ruler said that the new direction has been demonstrated by the various infrastructural facilities provided by NDDC, such as: water project; link bridge, landing jetty, electrification project and the internal roads.
The NDDC boss said the government would try its best to redress the injustice meted to the oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta. He noted that the sufferings of the people of the region could no longer be ignored by the government. He stated the resolve of the NDDC to execute programmes that would impact positively on the lives of the people who have over the years borne the dire consequences of environmental degradation and occupational deterioration caused by oil exploration and exploitation.
From Oloibiri to Odi, the NDDC continued with its redemption efforts. In the case of Odi, it had to be helped to rise from the ruins of a military invasion. Here too, things are changing through the contributions of the NDDC.
Riding through the quiet streets of Odi today, one could hardly see the “scars of war” left by the invading soldiers. Slowly but steadily, development is blurring the dark marks of destruction visited on the town. The modest bungalow, which is the palace of the traditional ruler, Chief Shine Andrew Apre, did not betray the violence that the community witnessed thirteen years ago. Odi struggled to get back to its feet with the support of some government agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. Acknowledging the important role played by the NDDC in the Odi transformation, the Amananowei of Odi kingdom, Chief Shine Andrew Apre, noted that the commission gave his people two very important keys to development. He said: “It is pleasing to note that NDDC has through her intervention projects touched the lives of people of Odi Kingdom in the areas of education, water, health and this time electricity and link road. These projects are visible and have direct impact on the lives of our people.” Waxing poetic, the king said: “With road you have given us access. With light, you have given us life.”
The people are now enjoying a steady power supply following the extension of electrification from Kaima to Odi from the Kolo Creek Gas turbine. The project entailed the installation of 33Kv transmission line and the rehabilitation of existing dilapidated networks in Odi town. Chief David Tombiri, one of the community leaders, said that the power supply from the NDDC extension project gave the town a new vibrancy and confidence in the future. “Our local economy has been energised and our people are no longer idle,” he said.
This turn-around of Odi was further given a boost with the commissioning of the ground-breaking Odi Trofani Road and bridges, which cut through a virgin forest. If Odi was given a gateway into the Nigerian nation, Trofani was liberated from topographic isolation. It would forever remain grateful to the NDDC, because before the road was opened, it was a swamp-locked community on the banks of the River Nun.
In fact, when the first set of vehicles entered Trofani last year, after the completion of the bridges, the community was thrown into tumultuous celebrations. The children ran out in large numbers shouting “moto, moto.” Their excitement was understandable because majority were seeing cars for the first time.
Performing the commissioning ceremony on behalf of the Managing Director of the NDDC, Dr. Christian Oboh, the representative of Bayelsa State on the board of the commission, Barr Eddy Orubo, noted that since infrastructure was the driving force of development, the commission thought it was necessary to help Odi overcome its chronic infrastructure deficit.
The 18-kilometre Odi-Trofani Road project traverses three major communities, namely Odi in Kolokuma-Opokuma LGA, Aduku and Trofani in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.. Naturally, it has also opened up several other communities between Odi and Trofani. It has five bridges of various sizes and numerous culverts necessitated by the swampy terrain. It now provides a veritable access to rural dwellers to bring their farm produce from the hinterland. The intervention in Odi is very significant. The military face-off with Odi youths in 1999 left the ancient town in ruins. Its infrastructures were destroyed and the people sent packing into exile. The commission played a historic role in the restoration of Odi. It has at different times, rehabilitated failed sections of its only road which links it to the East-West Road, the major artery connecting all the states in the South-south zone. The commission also constructed internal concrete roads to previously inaccessible parts of the town and its environs. Chief Asherifa Torru, who represented the Trofani traditional institution, wrapped up the feelings of his people thus: “Our hearts are filled with profound joy on the commissioning and handing over of the Odi-Trofani road.” He said that the entire Trofani community highly appreciated the efforts of the NDDC in redeeming their town.
Mr Hope Okuta, a welder plying his trade along the Odi-Trofani road, suspended his work to witness the commissioning ceremony in Odi. He said the benefits of the electricity project and the road were immense. "We have never had it so good; we thought that we will not survive the 1999 invasion. But thank God for NDDC, better days have come for us."
Obviously satisfied, Okuta said that his people from Trofani could not easily forget that some years ago they could not drive their vehicles home because there was just no road for that kind of luxury. Then, he said, both the rich and the poor could only get vehicular access to Trofani through Patani in Delta State or through the River Nun."You can now imagine our joy to see a road from Odi to our town, which has also cut down drastically on the time and money we spend to travel to other communities."
Mr. Ifeatu Agbu ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
*What Does Cloud Computing Portend For Developing Nations - Part 1
By Chris Onyishi
I said in one of my articles recently that I will try to veer off from commentaries and opinions on good governance and leadership issues for now. I just want to, as I said in that article, break away from the jinx of landlord of an environment. The link to that article is “BREAKING THE LANDLORD OF ENVIRONMENT JINX”. I had done so much commentary on socio-political matters and good governance that it is looking or becoming monotonous and it was getting to a point where I was being locked up in the “Landlord of Environment” jinx. People who have read my articles would immediately conjecture the direction I would be heading to the moment they see an article credited to me. It is a small community, I agree, but they have been consistent judging from the hits on my opinions and commentaries.
I will be depicting a topic that has been as old as the information technology (IT) itself but which has come up now and then in different cloaks or gabs. The topic is called “Cloud Computing” in the information technology parlance and I will further attempt to foray into what its implication will be for developing nations mostly from the African continent. “Cloud Computing”, as the name implies, simply means computing that occurs in a cloud or a pool form where computing resources are used mainly on rental bases. Some analogies will bring out the meaning of the term more succinctly without many technicalities or technical jargons.
The insurance business is a good example of “Cloud Computing” in their mode of operation. An Insurance company collects small amount of money annually (called premium) from a large clientele and from the resultant pool of money, they settle a few accident cases that may occur in a year. Let us not border ourselves with various insurance products such as motor, life, burglar, money in transit, etc for now. The important thing is that if, for instance, I bought a car (for say N800,000) and by any form of computation I pay annual comprehensive insurance premium on the car to the tune of N10,000, it is said that my car is covered comprehensively by the insurance company. If there are five thousands (5000) of us that paid this premium and whose cars are covered, the insurance company will have a pool of about fifty million (N50,000,000) naira to play with annually. The fifty million is the ten thousand naira premium into five thousands of us.
The implication is that if there is any mishap to some cars belonging to some three people in the pool annually, but you know I am only being figurative here, the insurance company will pay out two million four hundred thousand (2,400,000) naira to replace those cars since they were insured under comprehensive category – not sure if this is a good insurance term.
If you ever had any claims from an Insurance company, you will disagree with me that claims are as straight as I have depicted it here. But just take it as is given for us to coast along. Everybody feels his/her car is covered and government has used edicts or decrees to impress upon all people to get insurance covers, at least third party category. If after some several years you have not gotten any mishap with your car and you are beginning to feel like pooling out, the insurance marketers will come around with a booby trap called “No Claim Discount - NCD”. This is a situation where they cajole you into thinking that they are doing you a favor by pressing their calculator, with whatever formula, to come up with the ten thousand (10,000) naira annual premium and then ask you to pay just six thousand (6,000) naira for that service since you have never had any mishap with your car. And you know we human beings are all selfish in a way. You are fooled to think that you a being given a service worth ten thousand (10,000) naira and you are being asked to pay just six thousand (6,000) naira. We will usually fall for that cheap trick.
This is akin to going to a super market towards a New Year period and you see a label on some items with the note “35% discount”. We usually jump at that and we keep buying and buying. In the first place, who placed the original price tag on the item? GOD? No. We just get fooled and we begin to reason like fools. Somebody was making 100% gain and because his warehouse is full of items getting to expiry date, he chooses to reduce his profit to clear his warehouse, we get carried away. Oh well this is not the main theme of this piece. Let us not waste our time and space here anymore.
I am writing this article on my laptop with a utility program in the Microsoft Office suite of applications called Microsoft Word or MS Word for short. This tool is residing in my laptop and the file containing this article is also residing in my laptop. We also use the term personal computing, loosely, to refer to the computing which we carry out holistically on our personal computers such as desk tops or laptops. At this age we all know what laptops and desktops mean and look like. So I will not border explaining them here.
The implication is that I paid for the Microsoft operating system (in this case Microsoft Windows XP) – “MS OS” for short – which is the building block of the computer system. I also paid for the Microsoft tools. And of course I paid fully for my laptop. My children also have their laptops which I paid roundly for all the things I mentioned above. For any other laptop or desktop computers I procure, I will continue to pay for the various tools I use. But you may not understand what I am saying here because most of us engage or do what Microsoft calls software pirating.
You remember the regular acronym for personal computer; “PC”. Personal computing actually started somewhere in the late eighties. We were used to main frame computing where when a large corporation wants to pay salary, they will go to one house where large computers are concentrated in a large hall to process their payroll. In those days, I remember, we had a main frame in Lagos Island in a building called LAPAL house. Companies such as Coopers and Lybrand – a chartered accounting firm – goes to queue up there to get their time ledger processed for a fee. There were other three places where there were main frames viz: University of Nigeria in Nsukka, Obafemi Awolowo University called then University of Ife in Ile-Ife and one somewhere in Amadu Bello University in Zaira. I cannot now remember if there were others in University of Benin and University of Lagos.
The mainframe was a kind of “Cloud Computing” but in a very simplistic form compared to what we now talk about. At least you were able to point to where the mainframe computers were located and even in that case most people carried their database in what was then called discs or disc pack. So if there was a problem in one mainframe centre you had the option of waiting or carrying your database over to another centre for processing. This is also possible in the “Cloud Computing” environment but the user may have little or no control but feeble minds may be asking what the control is for?
Now the proponents of “Cloud Computing” are advocating for something much bigger and out of touch to the users. They argue that you do not have to buy very expensive computing hardware and attendant software, anymore, just as I enumerated above for PCs. All you do is to engage in one form of rental or the other from Microsoft Office tools to a common solitaire game. They argue that, just as in the insurance example depicted above, the cost of the rental will be damn too cheap for anybody to resist and very attractive for everybody to dabble into. They argue as well that power provision will be cheaper just as security will be better in the “Cloud Computing” environment.
So there is this temptation for sectors such as the banking to be wooed into this rental booby trap. Hitherto, banks or even the financial institution in Nigeria is the only sector that has deployed automation beyond window showing. But they have done this at a very exorbitant cost. The costs may have been imaginary or fictitious but the stake or share holders have no way of limiting them. But with the notion of rental in “Cloud Computing” setting, share holders may be told that with rentals, a bank that used to budget over a hundred million for automation may be paying only ten million, annually, and this will be juicy enough for anybody to resist.
So the banks will be hosting their data in a far away land where they may not even know the direction and I know proponents will ask me what hell the direction is needed for. And I have heard and seen enough glee from some owners of Micro Finance Banks about the concept of “Cloud Computing”. The danger with developing nations is that any concept catches like wild fire provided it is coming from abroad. Our people who reside abroad look out for the newest and craziest fads without considering the economic implication for their mother land. Everything is business.
Again, just as in the example of insurance, the owners of “Cloud resources” would be contending with billions of dollars. What they have not told anybody is who takes all these billions of dollar at the end of the day but certainly it won’t end up in any African or developing country’s economy since we have not decided to think of how to organize ourselves. Some may not know this but the truth is that about ten years ago, cyber café owner spent not less than ten thousand dollars to open shops. We repatriate million abroad to start off a cyber café business and we kept paying heavily for the internet access.
Let us go further to paint the real picture of what will happen in a “Cloud Computing” environment. It is only after this real picture that we will understand the place of developing countries in such arrangement. Most of my readers now should have an email address, I guess. Many more of them have Face Book accounts and some have Skype accounts and the rest such as tweeter handle, etc. We are all quick to give out our email address and Skype account or Face Book ID (or any other electronic ID) as modern people who know “how far”. I learnt the slang “How far” or “Weting Dey” recently.
This is just starting and I do not intend to frighten anybody. Many of us, including my humble self, have uploaded all manner of pictures and data to most of these accounts and we have never paused for a moment to ponder on where these materials are kept or stored; in someone’s or some cooperation’s computer of course.
Now how many of us can point to where our emails are residing, which continent, which organization’s hardware and things like that. Most of us have never thought of what happens if we wake up one morning and Yahoo or Microsoft decides to yank us off their network. The most appalling thing is that when we were opening these electronic accounts, we were adequately given an End User License Agreement (EULAs) to endorse and we did that with fanfare. We never bordered to run through these agreements because we never had time or it did not mean anything to us because it is not a loan agreement or a rental house agreement. But the truth is that the providers of these resources have roped us all in mercilessly in those EULAs. If they decide to disconnect us, we have no place to go for retribution.
Has anybody lost his phone once and he or she did not have a backup of the contacts and other data in it? How did it feel? Has anybody ever forgotten his email address and he could not get around it? Was the experience sweet or bitter? If you have ever lost the key to your house, the worst that happened was that you broke the key and bought a new one to replace it. The content of your house was there for you. Your loss was just the cost of the new key. If you lose your phone or your email account and you cannot get around, then you lose everything. That is how bad it is.
But these are still at individual level. Now let us think of a bank. What happens if the banks’ building goes up in flames and they do not have a backup? Dangerous! We do not even want to think about that. But the bank was just carless. If the bank had a backup, they would call back the last save point into new machines in their headquarters and business would continue with minimal down time. In a “Cloud Computing” environment, you may not even know where your data headquarter is located. So your database is hanging in the air.
But we are only talking about security at the level of hardware and individual data. The owners of Face Book and all other social media will give a better age range of Africans than African governments themselves.
In the second part of this article, we will try to x-ray the various hazards involved in exposure at
a) Individual level
b) Corporate data
c) National level
We will also show how “Cloud Computing” will mean electronic colonization by the west and which, by all calculations, is worse than all forms of dependence (socio-political, economic) we have gone through and are still going through. The electronic dependence, if care is not taken, will be the final straw that will break the camel’s back. The developing nations will ever remain underdeveloped if they do not conscientiously resist that temptation to of becoming electronically re-colonized by the West.
Chris Onyishi (email@example.com)writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*Return of Anambra’s Killing Fields : A Criminological Evaluation Of The Ezu River Of Death & Related Tragedies(Part 1)
By Intersociety-Nigeria (Society Review)
(Onitsha- Nigeria, 19th February, 2013)-Anambra State of Nigeria has steadily earned local and international notoriety as a social enclave where the State-actors and non-State actors ceaselessly engage in butchering and maiming members of the human family outside locally and internationally approved and accepted processes. Any killings and maiming not covered by local and international due processes are tagged-extra jus (beyond the law); extra legal (beyond what the written criminal law provides); and extra judicial (beyond court or judicial process). Universally speaking, any killing of human being by a State actor or official security operative without the completeness of subjecting the killed to the processes of arrest, investigation, prosecution, fair trial, conviction and sentencing by a criminal court of competent jurisdiction amounts to extra jus, extra legal or extra judicial killing. Few strict exceptions are governed by the Laws of War and the Principles of Self Defense. Any such killing by a private individual amounts to murder or manslaughter depending on the intents (mens rea) and other prescribed circumstances. In some, if not in many jurisdictions, corporate bodies, which facilitate the murder of individual citizens, are held to account under the law in the form of manslaughter. In the area of torture, which can be physical or mental, with malicious intents, the local and international norms hold the torturers, whether State-actors or non-State actors legally culpable and if convicted, faces same punishment according to jurisdictions.
In Criminology, which is a multi-disciplinary science study of crime, especially in its biological and sociological context, a Criminal is anybody who violates the criminal laws of a country or a defined political territory, whether mala prohibita or mala inse; and adjudges by a competent criminal court after going through the process of arrest, investigation, prosecution, fair trial, conviction and sentencing. A criminal is also anybody who is in conflict with the criminal law, whether he or she is a born-criminal (biological criminal) or a criminaloid(environmental/sociological criminal) is immaterial in the eyes of both criminology and criminal law. A child usually under 12 years, who is in conflict with the criminal law, is regarded by same as a delinquent. Therefore, any killing or torture, whether physical or mental that is rooted within the confines of extra jus, extra legal and extra judicial processes, is socially, biologically, morally and legally abhorrent and culpable. Also, anybody tortured or killed within the confines of extra jus, extra legal and extra judicial processes, with exceptions to the international Laws of War and the Principles of Self Defense, is not a criminal whether accused of armed robbery, kidnapping or murder unless and until he or she is properly processed within a written law and defined penalties through arrest, investigation, prosecution, fair trial, conviction and sentencing. Adequate and sufficient local and international safeguards against these heinous crimes against members of the universal human family abound. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Floating dead body in Ezu River
Locally, some of such safeguards are contained in Chapters Two and Four of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, especially Sections 33, 34, 35, 36(with its relevant subs .i.e. sub 12) and 42; the new Code of Conduct for the Nigeria Police Force and relevant decided cases. Regionally, the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights of 1981, domesticated by Nigeria in 1983 in line with Section 12 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, is a competent regional safeguard. Internationally, there are the UN Convention against Torture (CAT), the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officers, the UN Basic Principles for the Use of Force by Law Enforcement Personnel, the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crimes & Abuse of Power, the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention & Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary & Summary Execution, the Law Enforcement Oath of Honour, Code of Ethics, Code of Conduct and Cannons of Police Ethics, issued by the International Association of the Chiefs of Police. Others are the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights and its optional protocols, the Rome Statute for International Criminal Court and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These local and international safeguards against torture and extra legal executions have political and legal binding effects on State-actors and non-State actors as well as member-States of the UN family including the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Nigeria is a State party to most of these regional and international safeguards, either by way of signing, ratification/accession or domestication. The country is also the general overseer of her numerous local safeguards. Administrative and criminal penalties dominate their violations codes or chapters. Sadly, despite the availability of these local and international safeguards, killing fields and torture chambers still dot Nigeria’s strategic formal and informal security formations including the Special Anti Robbery Squads of the Nigeria Police Force. The Ezu River of Death in Anambra State of Nigeria is one of such tragedies in recent times.
Historically, the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War of 1967-1970 introduced or exacerbated the culture of mass killings and torture in the Southeast Nigeria. Most of the heinous crimes known in the country today including the colorization of violent crimes with sophisticated weaponry and technology also originated from the war. Hate crimes (systematic killing of Igbos by non-Igbo security personnel .i.e. secret killing of non-violent MASSOB members/supporters by non-Igbo security operatives and their Igbo collaborators as well as systematic massacre of Igbo nationals by Boko-Haram militant elements in northern Nigeria) and negative collective behaviors (civil disturbances and mob justice) also have their origins rooted in the war. In other words, modern trends and patterns of crimes as well as raging gun and homicidal cultures in Nigeria had their origins rooted in the Nigeria-Biafran civil war of 1967-1970.
In 1979, what looked like first negative collective behavioral action-called Boys Oyee( mob justice) took place in the commercial of Onitsha, Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria. Suspected criminals especially thieves and robbers were ambushed in their hideouts including hotels housing commercial sex workers and summarily executed. The hotels and residences housing them were also burnt or destroyed. Dozens of such alleged social deviants lost their lives. The Boys Oyee was repeated in 1989. The crude public acceptance of the socially and legally abhorrent methods by the local residents particularly traders, later led to its fully adoption in the early 1990s by the leadership of the Onitsha Market Amalgamated Traders Association (OMATA) under the leadership of one G.U. Okeke. Suspected criminals and opponents of the market leadership were routinely rounded up, slaughtered with machetes or shot with pump-action and double-barrel guns and dumped inside the River Niger usually in the night. As a result, hundreds of unprocessed suspects lost their lives. This crudity continued into the late 1990s during the regime of the Onitsha Traders Association (which replaced OMATA) under the leadership of one Paulinus Ubanozie, now late, which lasted from September 1999 to July 8, 2000. Over 1,500 unprocessed suspects including innocent citizens and opponents of the market leadership were slaughtered on major streets of Onitsha. The outfit’s modus operandi was slaughter and dump on the street. For instance, on the Xmas Eve of December 1999, many Onitsha residents were offered dead and decomposing bodies as their New Year Gifts, on their return from the Feast of Xmas. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Floating dead bodies in Ezu River
The then disastrous civilian government of one Chinwoke Mbadinuju in Anambra State not only backed the OTA-killer leadership and its killing spree, but also adopted extra legal execution methodology as its official policy of crime fighting-so called, owing to its political intolerance and legitimacy bankruptcy. This was because kill at will was very popular among traders, most of who had, and still have limited education and little knowledge about law, security, crime and human rights norms. Prior to this inglorious epoch, there was Nnewi Bakassi Boys, formed in 1998 with its offshoot in Ariaria Market in Aba, Abia State, Southeast Nigeria, which, in turn, originated from an alleged shrine in Cross River State, South-south Nigeria. The Nnewi Bakassi Boys also slaughtered dozens of unprocessed suspects-labeled criminals. In July 2000, the Mbadinuju disastrous regime signed the Anambra Vigilante Service Law No 9 of 2000, making the State the first extra legal/judicial killing and torture State in Nigeria. Between July 10, 2000 and September 22, 2002, Anambra State was turned into a killing field and torture chambers. The lynching of a citizen accused of minor legal infraction or involvement in civil dispute usually got the attention and presence of the said governor and members of his cabinet. Suspects were tortured and lynched few meters away from the governor’s office in Awka, the State capital city. At the end, over 4,000 unprocessed suspects (excluding over 1,500 slaughtered by OTA Killer squad) including those in business, family and land disputes; those accused of pick-pocketing and other petty crimes; those involved in land-lord/tenant disputes; married and unmarried women who refused to sleep with Bakassi operatives; and opponents of the then disastrous government, were massacred. Also, thousands, if not in their tens of thousands, were tortured, both physically and psychologically, and out of every five citizens who came in contact with the Bakassi Boys, five were tortured and three out of the five slaughtered. The Bakassi Boys’ modus operandi was kill- and -burnt to ashes. Rape was also very high among the two deadly squads created and funded by the then disastrous government of Anambra State. For instance, late Mrs. Ngozi Oranu of Eziowelle in Anambra State was raped to death by the Bakassi Boys at the Bakassi White House located at the Onitsha Main Market in November 2001. She was fighting for her late husband’s properties including a parcel of land when she was framed up and abducted by the Bakassi Boys. Also, in early August 2002, the 17-year old SS2 Student of the Mathamavis Secondary School, Umoji Community in Anambra State, Miss Chinenye Okoye was abducted by the Bakassi Boys(AVS) and taken to its White House-so called, where she was raped in turn for 60 days. She was among those rescued on September 22, 2002 by the Nigeria Police Force during the dislodgement of the killer-outfit.
Summarized Data Of Innocent Citizens Killed By OTA & Bakassi Vigilante Death Squads:
Citizen Chuma Onwuazo-killed by OTA in April 2000 at Onitsha Main Market. He was framed up over a business transaction by a fellow businessman at the Niger Bridgehead Market and taken to the OTA office at Onitsha Main Market where he was butchered. 2. Comrade Bonaventure Egbuawa-butchered by OTA in July 2000 at Onitsha Main Market and dumped inside the Niger River in the night of July 8, 2000. He was a rights activist opposing the OTA’s killing spree. 3. Hon. Ifeanyi Ibegbu-escaped death by whiskers in the hands of Bakassi Boys in August 2000. He was rescued at midnight in Onitsha Main Market by the order of the then IGP. He was a State legislator opposing hash policies of the then government of Anambra State. 4. Edward Okeke-a popular prophet killed and burnt by Bakassi Boys in November 2000 at Ochanja Market Roundabout, Onitsha for prophetically opposing the then disastrous government of Anambra State. 5. Ezeodimegwu Okonkwo-killed by Bakassi Boys in February 2001 at the Nsugbe “33”, near Onitsha. He was a politician/musician. 6. Ikechukwu Nwagboo-killed by Bakassi Boys in February 2001. He was a personal assistant to the then member representing Awka North/South Federal Constituency at the House of Reps. 7. Rockfeller Okeke-killed by Bakassi Boys in April 2001 at his residence in Awka, Anambra State. He was a public servant. 8. Mrs. Ngozi Oranu-raped to death by Bakassi Boys in November 2001 at the Bakassi White House. She was framed up over her late husband’s properties. 9. Felix Ikebude-killed by Bakassi Boys in December 2001. He belonged to the Anambra People’s Forum (political rival of the then government of Anambra State). 10. Sunday Uzokwe-killed by Bakassi Boys in January 2002 at Ozubulu, Anambra State over a misunderstanding he had with one of his town’s men, who was a Bakassi Boys chieftain. 11. Citizen Odigwe-killed by Bakassi Boys in August 2002 in Onitsha. He worked for the then State Environmental Sanitation Authority. 12. Barnabas Igwe-butchered by Bakassi Boys in September 2002 along Oraifite Street, Awada, Anambra State. He was a lawyer and head of a local branch of the Nigerian Lawyers/Bar Association. 13. Amaka, A.B. Girl Igwe-butchered alongside her husband-Barnabas by Bakassi Boys on the same spot and same date. They were butchered because they spoke out against failed public governance in Anambra State of Nigeria.
The Resurgence Of Killing Fields Under Anambra SARS Midwifery:
The denial of any culpability by the Anambra State Police Command under CP Bala Nasarrawa in the Ezu River of Death tragedy is criminologically un-surprising. What matters most is the emptiness of his logic of denial and emerging circumstantial pieces of evidence and incontrovertible antecedents of unlawful killings by the Command, particularly its deadly Special Anti Robbery Squad-SARS with respect to extra jus, extra legal and extra judicial killings as well as torture. It is an incontrovertible fact that SARS is the general overseer of extra judicial killing and torture in Anambra State. The stark truth is that Ezu River is just one out of many killing or dumping fields in the State. The Niger River, for instance, is already angry and saturated with dead bodies killed outside the law by various security agencies in the State led by SARS, which coordinates these secret killings across the State. Even when motley of armed vigilante groups in the State, numbering up to 1000, kill their captives, they legitimize it through SARS, particularly controversial ones. This is because SARS kills at will and recklessly with impunity. As a matter of fact, it is licensed to kill and torture by the State Commissioner of Police and others before him. Transferring suspects to SARS, which is a routine in the Anambra State Police Command, expressly means a journey of no return. The sole idea of such transfer is for the purpose of infliction of grievous body battering and pretrial executions. Those battered are routinely wasted-killed for constituting nuisance in the cell. Their detention cells are horrible in that ventilation and sanitary conditions are very degrading and torturous. Tortured suspects and those inflicted with body injuries in the course of their arrests are hardly taken to hospital for adequate treatments.
Further, SARS and the entire Anambra State Police Command consider diligent prosecution of their suspects particularly those accused of kidnapping, armed robbery and murder as time wasting. To them, any suspect accused of any of the three violent crimes, which attract capital punishment is entitled to jungle justice by death. They also discretionary mark suspects and other detainees including MASSOB members/supporters involved in non-capital offences and civil disputes, for summary execution. For instance, those arrested in front of their residences, bar joints, along the streets, sporting and entertainment centers, etc, who could not afford summary bail fees, are transferred to the Awkuzu SARS Headquarters and labeled armed robbers and kidnappers with summary death certificates. Their optimum prosecutorial approach ends with Holden Charge-art of arraigning suspects with capital crimes’ accusations in courts of inferior records, usually magistrate courts that lack jurisdiction in entertaining the said accusations, with a view to reminding them to languish in prisons.
Other than Holden Charge, which is the second routine in the treatment of their suspects, torture and pretrial executions remain the SARS major routine. Diligent prosecution and effective criminal investigation of their suspects, owing to blatant lack of modern criminal investigation tools and know-how, are near-absent. Other than torture toolkits, building structures housing the deadly outfit are like ancient prisons or civil war bunkers. There are no crime laboratory, data and records. Most of its operatives lack modern requisite knowledge in crime detection and investigation technology including information technology. Many, if not most of them lack in-service training and experience including internal and external affair concept of human relationship. They look deadly and cannibalistic at all times. They are also merchants of death as they routinely use threat of death and torture to heavily extort money from their captives and their associates/relatives including engaging in dirty jobs and perfect crimes. The Akwkuzu SARS Headquarters are also the receiving points of marked suspects from their Nneni, Nnewi, Ekwuluobia, Umunze, Okpoko, CPS-Awka and CPS-Onitsha Units. Citizens arrested in various parts of the State are routinely transferred to them to be tortured and wasted as case may be. Suspects transferred to the State CID for possible effective criminal investigations are sent back to SARS. SARS also receives suspects and other arrested citizens from various armed vigilante groups in the State as well as from the Joint State Security Taskforce and other major police field formations in the Anambra State Police Command. In Anambra State of Nigeria, fear of SARS is the beginning of wisdom. Night life has virtually disappeared in the State’s leading urban cities, no thanks to SARS and its virus.
Statistics Of SARS Killings & Its Roles In The Ezu River Of Death Tragedy:
On 20th of November, 2004, Comrade Ifeanyi Onuchukwu of the Nnewi based Human Justice International, reported that the SARS operatives then headquartered at the Awka Central Police Station, Anambra State, had on 4th of November 2004, at about 7.15pm up to 8.00pm, carried out mass killing of 20 young detainees, detained for months in their cells. Comrade Onuchukwu was arrested by the Nigerian Secret Police-called State Security Service for organizing a peaceful protest against government hash environmental sanitation policies including imposition and forceful collection of outrageous levies from Nnewi traders. He was transferred to the State Police Command Headquarters, from where he was transferred to SARS in the morning of 4th November, 2004, in the form of armed robbery suspect. The Comrade, who shared same cell with some of the murdered, further reported that the young detainees were carefully selected, brought out of their cells, lined up and shot at close range, after which their remains were conveyed in patrol vans and taken to a parcel of public land at Agu-Awka(very close to the Ezu River of Death), where they were buried in shallow graves with their bodies liquidated with acid substances. Comrade Ifeanyi Onuchukwu said he heard several gun shots during the killing, but was later informed of the mass killing and shallow burial details by one of his cell-mates forced to partake in evacuating the corpses. He managed to get the names and State/community of origin of those massacred from an old detainee, who compiled the names for a SARS officer who forgot to retrieve it. The Comrade who was released on 19th of November, 2004 through the strenuous efforts of the State Rights Community via Barrister Chuka,obele-chuka, further informed us that five more detainees were later shot dead after his release, according to his insider contacts. Some of those killed were the detainees that assisted in evacuating the remains of the 20 shot bodies. This is possibly to erase any traces or implications. Several representations made to the then IGP by rights groups including the CLO and Humane Justice International for the heinous crimes to be thoroughly and conclusively investigated, were unsuccessful.
For avoidance of doubt, names and social community origins of the 20 murdered young detainees said to be in their twenties and early thirties are: 1. Samuel Odoh(Nsukka-Enugu State, 2. Ofordike Odoh(Nsukka-Enugu State), 3. Chibueze Ugwueke(Ebonyi State), 4. Ugochukwu Okonkwo(Abagana-Anambra State), 5. Chizoba Mbaebie(Mba-ukwu-Anambra State), 6. Ifeanyi Nwafunanya(Awka-Anambra State), 7. Ugochukwu(Nibo-Anambra State), 8. Ifeanyi Izueke(Enugu State), 9. Ekene Ejike(Oba-Anambra State), 10. Chinedu Okoro(Enugu State), 11.Uche Ubaka(Awka-Anambra State),12. Charles, 13. Onyeabo Anaekwe(Onitsha-Anambra State), 14. Leonard ObasI(Ugwuoba- Enugu State),15. Emeka Ofoeke(Ebonyi State), 16. Chibueze Asouzu(Agulu-Anambra State), 17. Obiajulu(Osamala, Ogbaru-Anambra State), 18.Ugonna Nwude(Enugu State). 19. Nduka Okoye ( Anambra State), 20. Ephraim Okenyeka (Anambra State).
SARS Invasion Of Umeagbalasi Family In May 2009:
On 15th May 2009, the Chairman of the Board of Intersociety-Nigeria, Emeka Umeagbalasi traveled to his community-Ezinifite in Aguata, LGA, Anambra State, for the wedding mass of his younger brother, Chimezie and in the early hours of 16th May 2009, at about 6:00am, 12 SARS operatives stormed his house, claiming that the family snatched from one of them a loaded AK-47 Assault Rifle and hid it in the family compound. All seven males in the compound including Emeka, Chimezie, Chinonso and Ebuka Umeagbalasi as well as Uchenna Uzoaga(nephew), Chike Umeosonwunne(an in-law), Donatus Ezeugwu(family friend) and Miss Chinenye Umeagu(cousin) were bundled to the SARS area office in Ekwuluobia. Eight other women including Patricia (Emeka’s mother), Blessing, Chibuzor(bride), Azuka, Uchechukwu, etc were about to be bundled to SARS office before signals from the then acting CP, Amusa Bello, reached the killer-squads. Prior CP’s intervention, Emeka and his relatives were told to be ready to be disfigured to death. They were shown four fresh graves at the back of the SARS office, where, according to them, stubborn people like them were buried. It was later discovered that one of the SARS operatives abandoned his rifle in another village in his girl friend’s beer parlour after soaking himself in a bowel of liquor. The rifle was later recovered. The Umeagbalasi family members narrowly escaped being butchered if not for surname and connections.
On March 29,2009 and June23,2009, respectively, the duo of Nonso Ayalogu(43) of Onitsha and Chekwube Okeke(41) of Nanka, in Orumba-Anambra State, went missing in the hands of the Awkuzu SARS operatives over business disputes with their accusers. Till date, their whereabouts are unknown. The leadership of the Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization led by Comrade Aloysius Emeka Attah investigated their disappearance and found that they have been killed extra judicially by SARS.
Investigation Of Nine MASSOB Members Possibly Murdered By SARS On 18TH January 2013: Sequel to local and international enquiries coming to us in torrents over the authenticity of the claims by the leadership of MASSOB that nine of its members have gone missing in the hands of SARS and might most likely be among some 25 to 30 corpses found floating on the Ezu River of Death on 19th January 2013, we investigated it and found the claims to be credible. The nine names are: 1. Basil Ogbu, 2. Michael Ogwa (Ogba), 3. Monday (Sunday) Omogo, 4. Philip Nwankpa, 5. Ezeh Obumneme(Ndubuisi), 6. Ebuka Ezeh, 7. Obinna Oguejioffor( Offor), 8. Joseph Udoh, and 9.Sunday Offor. They were arrested since 7th December 2012 by the Joint Taskforce Force including the Onitsha Main Market Vigilante Service, led by one Chinenye Ihemko(Okpomkpi) and handed them over to the Onitsha CPS –SARS Unit, which transferred them to their Awkuzu Headquarters and since then, their whereabouts have not been accounted for.
Our investigation revealed that: 1. Basil Ogbu is real. He hailed from Nsukka in Enugu State and lived at 100 Bida Road, Onitsha. He was about 25 years. His wife is Mrs. Uchenna Ogbu, a nursing mother with phone number-08064018819. 2. Monday (Sunday) Omogo is real, formerly of No.10, Minaj Street, Obosi, Anambra State. He hailed from Ohakwu LGA in Ebonyi State and was about 30 years of age. His wife is Mrs. Eucharia Omogo with phone number 08109957940. 3. Michael Ogba (Ogwa) is real. He lived at Johnbosco Lane, Ugwuagba Layout, Obosi. He hailed from Ebonyi State and he was about 35 years. His wife is Mrs. Susan Ogba(Ogwa) with phone number-08135564871. 4. Obinna Oguejiofor(Offor) is real. He hailed from Umuoli-Umoji in Anambra State. He was 20years. His mother is Mrs. Augustina Oguejiofor with phone number 08068262471. 5. Obumneme(Ndubuisi) Ezeh, age 25, is real. He lived at No.2, Maifulani Street, Fegge, Onitsha and hailed from Amandugba in Imo State. His mother is Mrs. Phebi Oguejiofor with phone number-07031949088. 6. Ebuka Ezeh, age 27, is real. He lived at No. 5, Anaekwe Street, Fegge, Onitsha and hailed from Amandugba in Imo State. His mother is Mrs. Philomena Ezeh with phone number-08022945380. 7. Philip Nwankpa is real. He lived at Uruowulu Village, Obosi and hailed from Ezza West LGA, Ebonyi State. He was about 30 years. His wife is Mrs. Ekene Nwankpa with phone number-08133021378. The relatives of the remaining two missing MASSOB members-Joseph Udoh and Sunday Offor are yet to be traced. Other missing MASSOB members in the hands of SARS since November 2011 are: Uchechukwu Ejiofor(Imo State), Louis Onwe(Ebonyi State), Abel Obeka(Ebonyi State), Ikechukwu Ononye( Anam in Anambra State), Sunday Obasi and Philip Ubah(Imo State).
We shall continue and conclude in Part Two.
*‘Cry of A Biafran Child' Launch Unites Milwaukeans, Sets Stage For World Peace
By Masterweb News Desk
Saturday, January 26, 2013 was a rainbow day in Milwaukee as different communities in different shades of color gathered in a Church hall to honor invitation for the launch of All Hail Biafra, a song the composer’s friends refer to as “Cry of A Biafran Child”. The CD is subtitled “Cry of A Biafran Child” not only because of the reference by people but also for the fact that it was truly an inspired cry at the end of a very bitter armed conflict that wasted millions of innocent lives. The number of the dead in the Biafran conflict ranges from one million to three million, depending on compilers; most of the casualties were from starvation.
Nigerians as well as other Africans, Americans, Latinos and Milwaukee business community were present to show their support to Composer Chief Charles Okereke and his Committee of Friend’s maiden invitation. African Diaspora including but not limited to African Americans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans were well represented. Highly admired Octogenarian Mrs Europa Agwu was chairperson of the event and gave a moving speech recounting her role in caring for displaced and orphaned Biafran children under the umbrella of the international Red Cross during the war.
Among the special guests of honor were the immediate Past President of the Odua Association in Milwaukee Mr Victor Johnson, CEO of Iriluz Nutritional Consulting Services Ms Judy Andino, President of Dominicados Unidos Inc. Ms Julia Reyes, Vice President of The United Dominican Association Milwaukee Inc. Mr Julio Delgado, Hon. Uche Maduka, Alhaji Akin, Pastor Tayo Salako of City on The Hill Chapel Milwaukee, Ms Wendy Montes De Oca of the Spanish Council in Milwaukee, Mary Bryant (Milwaukee radio personality) and Vincent Awoshika, CEO, Vince Shipping Co. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Composer Chief Charles Okereke flanked by the President of Dominicados Unidos Inc. Ms Julia Reyes (Left) holding God Bless Africa CD and
Vice President of The United Dominican Association Milwaukee Inc., Mr Julio Delgado (Right).
- CLICK FOR EXTRA LARGE PHOTO.
The Current USA-Wisconsin State Professional Boxing Heavy Weight Champion Mr Enobong Umohette traded his boxing gloves for the microphone as the master of Ceremony for the event. The event climaxed with the lunching of the song/hymn as Charles Okereke personally distributed autographed copies to the event attendees.
Two important invitations were extended to Chief Okereke during speeches by special guests of honor. The first invitation was from Ms Julia Reyes, President, Dominicados Unidos Inc. who invited Okereke as special guest to the forthcoming independence anniversary of Dominican Republic scheduled for February 23. Reyes said she was very familiar with God Bless Africa (Chief Okereke’s African Union Award Winning Anthem) played along with the U.S. and Nigerian anthems at the beginning of the occasion and that she was pleased to meet the composer in person. The second invitation was by Mary Bryant, a renowned Milwaukee radio personality who said she would invite Chief Okereke to her radio show to share his compositions with Milwaukeans.
Chief Okereke in his vote of thanks described Africa as the tree of life since she is the origin of mankind. He said races and nations of the world are branches of the African Tree. Okereke sang God Bless Africa at the end of his vote of thanks to loud hand clap and applause. The event wound down with closing prayer. It was a celebration of inspired tune after lives were spared from heavy death-seeking artillery silenced by painful radio broadcast that halted further innocent bloodshed and death from hunger. The U.S. launch of ‘Cry of A Biafran Child' CD is scheduled for March 22-23, 2013 in Staunton, Virginia – more information on the event will be released soon. => Massive Support For Milwaukee ‘Cry of A Biafran Child' CD Launch
The CD (also God Bless Africa) can be purchased by sending $14.00 by mail to Charles O. Okereke, P.O. Box 11721, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53211; and by Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org Individual tracks can be purchased at itunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/all-hail-biafra-cry-biafran/id594341032?uo=4 . The entire CD or individual tracks can be purchased at amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/All-Hail-Biafra-Biafran-Child/dp/B00B2WRI5K
By Valentine Obienyem
The greatest institution in the entire world is the Catholic Church. Her greatness often leads so many people to develop interest in her. Once you talk about the Church, you are invariably talking about the Papacy, that is, the system of government of the Catholic Church with Pope as the head. But who on this earth can, with his finite brain, comprehend exhaustively the phenomena of the Pope and of the church. Many claims are made, many points are raised, many objections are put forward, but the question about the papacy remains not adequately answered. This piece wishes to lend its voice to the awe-inspiring institution of the papacy, taking cognizance of its foundation, structure, problems, achievements and shortcomings; and contemporary papacy as embodied in the Popes of 20th /21st centuries. These are the current questions following the notice of resignation by Pope Benedict XVI. Very soon, the issue of who succeeds the pope will occupy the front burner and many questions will be asked about the papacy.
FOUNDATION OF THE PAPACY
Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is the invisible head of their Church which, according to them, he founded. Christ, the logic goes forth, by the nature of his mission on earth could not stay ad infinitum, therefore he founded an authority to represent him on earth. Thus Christ, some believe, established the office of the Pope when he said to Simon, who was also called Peter, or the Rock. “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18). Later in the gospel of John (Jn.21:15-17), Christ brought out Peter’s position more vividly. Having called him three times, Christ gave him the jurisdiction of a supreme shepherd and ruler over the whole flock thus making him the first Pope. Did Peter justify this position?
How far St. Peter carried on the flock of Christ could be seen in his activities. He was always at the head of the apostles, and named first whenever the names of the twelve were mentioned. During the Council of Jerusalem (A.D.47), which deliberated on the propriety or otherwise of admitting the Gentiles into the Church, Peter presided. When St. Mathias was chosen to replace Judas as an apostle, Peter was the spokesman. During the Pentecost, it was Peter that addressed the men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem on behalf of the apostles. During the condemnation of Ananias and Sapphira, Peter was at the forefront. By all indications, Peter’s leadership was accepted by the early Church. Faithful to Peter as the first Pope, the early Church continued to grow amidst many obstacles that even surpassed what the Church is experiencing today.
The nascent Church existing first in Palestine, Syria, Asia minor and Greece, as described in the Acts of the Apostles, soon found its focal point in the capital of the Roman Empire, a centre which has remained to this day. The testimony of Peter’s residence in Rome is so abundant that renowned pegan and protestant historian, Whiston, attest to that. He says that the evidence “is so clear to Christians antiquity that it is a shame for any protestant to confess that any protestant ever denied it.” ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Valentine Obienyem, author of article.
Prior to his pontificate at Rome from A.D. 42-A.D. 67, Peter was the first Bishop of Antioch in Syria. He was martyred in Rome with St. Paul during the reign of Emperor Nero. According to tradition, Peter was buried under what later became the site of St. Peter’s Church in Vatican City.
It is almost two thousand years since Christ ascended into heaven. Thus the Catholic Church and the Papacy have existed for almost 2000 years. During these times, other institutions that started with the Papacy have all fallen. This, to some, is an indication and indeed the fulfillment of Christ word that he would be with the Church till the end of the time. This divine assistance has made the Church and the Papacy to rise above the human weaknesses of her members and to live and bury those organizations and institutions that once threatened her.
This long existence of the Papacy (2000 years) should and have produced many remarkable innovations and modifications. Many titles are now used for the Pope; many Offices, Congregations and Tribunals have been created to help the Pope in administering the Church; dogmas are continuously being defined (not invested) to meet the changing world; more dignified way of electing the Pope has been adopted after many centuries of trials and errors; so many advancement that were St. Peter to come back to the world today, he would scarcely recognize the Papacy. If in a sudden cataclysmic destruction of all institutions in the world, mankind were advised to name one institution for preservation, they would choose the Papacy. When I see it, I imagine I see Grandeur herself in person. As we marvel at this marvelous institution, let us see its structure and operation.
THE STRUCTURE AND OPERATION OF THE PAPACY
We have to “dismantle” the Papacy before we can comprehend its structure. This cannot be done without the knowledge of the Vatican City. During the struggle for unification of Italy, from 1848 to 1870 all Papal States were forcefully taken from the Church by the state. Having no standing army, the Pope was helpless. As a protest, Pope Pius IX (1792 – 1878) and three of his successors, in the next 60 years, made themselves voluntary prisoners of the Vatican.
In 1929, Pope Pius XI (1857 – 1939) and the Italian government led by Benito Mussolini settled the 60-year dispute between the Church and the State with two historic documents – The Lateran Treaty and The Concordant. The former gave the Pope full sovereignty over Vatican City while the later dealt with relations between the Vatican and Italy. These documents having been signed, Pope Pius XI emerged from the Vatican and entered St. Peter’s square in a huge procession witnessed by about 250,000 persons. His appearance signaled the triumph of the Church.
Justifying its sovereignty, Vatican City has its own Pope’s yellow and white banner as the official state flag, automatic license plates, postage stamps and coins. It maintains its own public works: mail and telephone systems, water supply, and lighting and street-cleaning services. Vatican has its own bank, a large printing plant, and a rarely occupied jail (use for something else now). Vatican does not have an army or navy capable of fighting a war. But it does have its own “Armed Forces”. The most famous are the Swiss Guards, who protect the Pope and serve as sentries. Other armed forces include the Noble Guards (body guards and escorts of the Pope); the Palatine Guard (the Pope’s militia); and the Pontifical Gendarmerie (the Pope’s Police Force).
In addition to L’0sservatore Romano, the most influential Vatican daily newspaper; it also publishes Osservatore della Domenica, a weekly publication; and the Acta Apostolican Sedis, which prints official Church documents. The Vatican Radio transmits Papal message in more than forty languages, including Latin.
Most importantly, the Pope sends and receives diplomats from other countries. Papal ambassadors and envoys are called Legates. Legates of high position are called Nuncios and those of lesser positions Internuncios. All Bishops submit to supervision of their affairs by legates of the Pope. The Pope’s seat of authority is called the Apostolic See or the Holy See.
Pope’s functions are mostly spiritual. Whenever he speaks Ex Cathedra, that is, in his position as the head of the Church on matters concerning morals and faith, he is say to be infallible. Besides, he is as gullible as the man next door. The Pope has the sole function of beatifying and canonizing saints. He appoints and deposes bishops; he creates dioceses, and approves new religious orders. Whenever the Pope wishes, he may call an ecumenical council, or a general conference of the Church to help him decide on Church affairs.
In carrying out his temporal and spiritual functions, the Pope is aided by numerous Congregations, Tribunals, and Offices in Rome. All this makes up the Curia. The Congregations have executive authority; the Tribunals exercise judicial powers; and Offices perform ministerial duties. The heads of most of these units have the rank of Cardinal.
In the Roman Curia, many offices are distinguished; some of them are the Apostolic Chancery – this office sends Papal documents to dioceses throughout the world; The Apostolic Datary – the office examines candidates for Papal benefices; The Apostolic Camera – this office is concerned with temporal goods and rights of the Holy See; The Secretariat of State – this office handles special matters including the relationship of Holy see and civil governments; and the Secretariat of Briefs and Latin Letters – this office prepares letters to civil rulers and puts Papal documents into its official Latin form.
There are many titles with which the Pope is known. All of this titles point out to his position as the Primus inter pares among other bishops. His full titles are legion: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, and Sovereign of the State of Vatican City. He is addressed as “Your Holiness” or “The Holy Father”, but the Pope speaks of himself in official documents as “Servant of the Servants of God.” (Servus servorum Dei).
The clothes of the Pope are similar to those of his brother bishops in style and colour mostly white. His shoes are low, open and red in colour with cross on the front of each. His pallium, which is a band of wool embroidered with crosses, shows his rank as an archbishop. Pope’s jewels include a pontifical ring, which is known as the fisherman’s ring.
Very important in the lives of Popes is the Sacred College, also called the College of Cardinals. This body acts as advisers to the Pope. The Pope, in the spirit of apostleship, asks their advice whenever needed. He meets them officially in the Consistories. Consistories could be secret, semi-secret or public.
In secret Consistories, the Pope meets with his Cardinals. It is there that new Cardinals are named. Pope gives the new Cardinals their sapphire rings as a symbol of their offices. If a Cardinal comes from a far country, the Pope assigns him an honorary position as the head of a diocese in Italy. At secret Consistories, the Pope appoints Cardinal Camerlengo i.e. Chancellor of the Catholic Church. In semi-public Consistories, the Pope, Cardinals and Bishops meet. This Consistory discusses candidates for beatification and canonization. In public Consistory, church officials and dignitaries could be invited.
The major function o the College of Cardinals is the election of a new Pope. When a Pope dies, a member of the college must verify his death. He touches the forehead of the Pope thrice with a silver mallet and calls him by his baptismal name. He then announces that “the Pope is truly dead” in the interim, the Sacred College takes over his functions. Though we have had Popes that resigne in the past, it was essentially due to one problem orthe other, including the era of anti Popes. With the resignation of the present Pope, it is imperative that before the date it will take effect, he would have named what the formula will be.
During the election of a new Pope, the College of Cardinals is known as “The Conclave”. Why in the conclave, the Cardinals severe any relationship with the outside world. On the day of the election, mass of the Holy Ghost is celebrated for guidance in decision. The actual voting takes place in the Sistine chapel (erected in the palace of the Vatican by Pope Sixtus IV in 1473).
The Conclave begins between the 15th and 18th day after the death of the Pope. After voting, if a new Pope is not elected, the scrutinies (ballots) are burnt with a mixture of straw) to produce black smoke. When eventually a Pope is elected, the straw is burnt alone to produce white smoke. Then, outsiders will shout “Viva il papa” (“Long live the Pope”). The Cardinals will then pay their first homage to the Pope- elect. The senior Cardinal deacon will then step out on the balcony of St. Peter’s Church and announces to the people in Latin, Habemus Papam (“We have a Pope”). The Pope makes his first appearance and gives his blessing, “Urbi et Orbi” (to the City and to the World”).
The Pope-elect chooses a day and a place for his installation – they have often chosen St. Peter’s Church. On that day, the Pope is carried in a portable throne in a procession from the Vatican to Saint Peter. After the mass, a three-tiered crown is placed on the Pope’s head. He then gives his blessing. The cardinals will pay a second homage.
However, in 1978, Pope Paul I eliminated many of this traditional ceremonies. He walked in the procession and chose to have a pallium placed over his shoulders, symbolizing his pastoral responsibilities as the head of the Church. Later, Pope John Paul II followed this Pauline example.
The foregoing represents the operation of the papacy, so terribly organized. In fact if art were the organization of government, the Papacy is the most imposing masterpiece in history. This does not mean that the papacy is trouble-free. It has its own plenty share of troubles amidst many achievements.
TROUBLES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
It is said, often with some truth, that the beginning of anything is usually difficult, thus the early Church and Popes faced monumental obstacles. In these trials, they were mettlesome enough. Almost all of them faced the opposition against the Church with heroic faith.
Since Roman Emperors were pagans, they tried to exterminate the nascent Christianity at all costs. It was so intense that in A.D. 67, Emperor Nero killed St. Peter and St. Paul. When Rome burnt (A.D. 64 – 65), Nero accused and persecuted Christians. In A.D. 96, Emperor Domitan tried to surpass the records of Nero by his brutal killing of Christians. Emperor Diocletian in A.D. 303, 23rd February, published a general edict ordering the destruction of Christian Churches and writings and reduced Christians to slave status. The list of hostility, if one wishes, could go on. ad-infinitum
A turning point was, however, recorded in A.D. 314. With the help of his mother, St. Helena, Pope Sylvester (314-325) converted Constantine to Christianity. As a postscript, he initiated the transformation of pegan Rome into a Christian state. Constantine stopped the crucifixion and breaking of leg in Roman Empire (A.D. 315); Constantine declined to celebrate the Ludi Saeculares at Rome because of their pegan association (A.D. 314). Constantine exempted the clergy of Roman Empire from taxation (A.D. 315); Constantine recognized the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts (A.D. 318); Constantine forbade magic (A.D. 320); Constantine forbade heretical gatherings and divorce (A.D. 331). The culminating act of his conversion was the building of the first St. Peter’s Basilica above the crypt (tomb) of St. Peter in 325. The modern St. Peter was however started in 1506 by Pope Julius II and dedicated in 1626 by Pope Urban VIII. Pope Alexander VII (1655 – 1667) was to erect the magnificent colonnade of the plaza at St. Peter.
Another unpleasant task of ecclesiastical organization under the Popes was to prevent a fragmentation of the Church through the multiplication of heresies i.e., doctrines contrary to the conciliar definitions of the Church creed. These heresies almost always rose in an East that had inherited the Greek passion for defining the infinite. It has always been resolved through different Councils convoked to examine specific heresies otherwise known as General or Ecumenical Councils. The first council was that of Jerusalem chaired by the first Pope, St. Peter.
Then in A.D. 318, Arius, a Libyan Priest, startled the whole world by his denial of the Holy Trinity. Christians hold Christ to be so identical in being with God (homoousious), Arius considered him only similar in being (homoiousis). In A.D. 321, Arius was excommunicated. With the help of Constantine, Eusebius of Caesarea and St. Athanasius (Later Bishop of Alexandria) and the support of Pope Sylvester I the Nicene Council was called. The Council re-affirmed the trinity and gave us the Nicene Creed, which summarizes the Chief articles of the Christian faith.
At this point, Nestorious, Bishop of Contantinople, entered the heretic scene. According to the church, Christ was God, and Mary was “Theotokos,” God- bearing, the mother of God. Nestorius thought the term too strong; Mary, he said, was the mother only of the human, not of the divine, nature of Christ.
In 429, St Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria, repudiated Nestorius. Pope Celestine I (422 – 432), stirred by a letter from Cyril, called a Council at Rome (A.D. 430) The Council demanded Nestorius to retract, he refused. Finally the Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431) re-affirmed that Mary was the mother of the incarnate Logos, or word of God, containing both the divine and the human nature of Christ. The same Pope Celestine I sent St. Patrick to convert Ireland to Christianity, a task he masterfully accomplished.
Eutyches, head of a Monastery near Constantinople, announced the last great heresy of this turbulent period, and the most momentous in result. In Christ, said Eutychus, there were not two natures, human and divine; there was only the divine. The Council of Chalcedom (451), under Pope Leo I condemned this “monophysite” heresy and reaffirmed the double nature of Christ.
In between the above heresies, many other heresies had at a point threatened the Church. There was the Albigensian heresy. This heresy derived its name from the city of Albi, they rejected the Holy Trinity and believed that Christ was not the son of God but an archangel who came to earth as an apparition or illusion. Pope Innocent III fought them to a standstill in 1208.
In 787, Pope Adrian I condemned the heresy of Adoptionism, whose exponents held that Christ as man was the adopted, but not the natural Son of God. The Pope, in 787, presided through his delegates over the second Council of Nicene, which condemned Adoptionism and Inconoclasm.
We cannot point out all the heresies that agitated the Church in her history. In addition to those mentioned, we have the Apollinarians, Saballians, Manichism, Paulinians, Bogomiles, Pelagianism, Massalians, Priscillinists and heresies propagated by current commercial churches. Added to these heresies, there were additional problems created by differences between the Latin Church and the Eastern Church. The Church, despite its many problems and heretics attacking her, was united until after the first 800 years when a major schism began to separate the Church at Rome and the Church at Constantinpole, now at Istabul. The causes of this schism were many and its result momentous.
First there was communication problem created by differences in language, liturgy and doctrines. Greek Liturgy, ecclesiastical vestments, vessels, and ornaments were more complex, ornate, and artistically wrought than those of the West; the Greek cross had equal arms; the Greeks prayed standing, the Latin kneeling; the Greek baptized by immersion, the Latin by aspersion and/or immersion; marriage was forbidden to Latin priests but permitted to Greek priests; Latin priests shaved, Greek priests had contemplative beards. These differences and many other disagreements led to the excommunication of Photius in A.D. 863 by Pope Nicholas and Photius excommunicated the Pope in A.D. 867. In Leo’s pontificate, Greek and Latin Church were finally divorced (1054). The excommunication was removed in 1965, when patriarch Athenagoras visited the Pope in Rome. There was a follow up to their earlier visit (1964) in Jerusalem, the first meeting in 500 years.
In 1300 the papacy suffered two major setbacks: the era of “antipopes” and the “Babylonian Captivity”. In 1305 through influence of king Philip of France, a French Archbishop was elected and crowned at Lyon as Pope Clement V. Clement moved the papal court from Rome to Avigon in 1309. The papacy remained in France during the reign of seven Popes, and this greatly reduced the prestige of the Papacy. This period was known as “Babylonian Captivity” it ended in 1377 when Pope Gregory XI returned the Papal throne to Rome.
This development made the Papacy to be a subject of intense rivalry among Catholic countries. Unfortunately, it degenerated into the era of rival Popes, in other words, known as “anti-popes.” An anti-pope was he who has been improperly elected a pope. He sets himself in opposition to the pope who has been regularly chosen in accordance with canon law. The first anti-pope usually noted was Hippolytus; the last anti-pope was Felix. This schism divided the church for almost 60 years. As if the Church was recovering from it, subsequent popes posed a problem to the Church. Having obtained their election by bribe, they lived shamefully. This was exemplified in the pontificate of Alexander VI. Alexander involved himself in the political maneuvering which characterized Italy of 1492-1503. The career of Alexander VI and some other Popes of the era demonstrated that they were typical Renaissance Princes occupied with Italian politics often to the neglect of their spiritual duties, thus bringing disgrace to the Church and the Papacy into disrepute.
As an aftermath of this degenerative Papacy, many Church leaders cried out for reforms. These cries continued unheeded until Martin Luther came forth. Though Erasmus was accused of having laid the egg that Luther hatched, but he was more civilized as opposed to the rudeness of Luther. Luther was a Catholic Priest and a monk. In his 95 theses he denounced many things in the Church especially the indulgence. But let it be said here that even before Luther, Pope Boniface IX in 1392, Martin V in 1420 and Sixtus IV in 1478 had repeatedly condemned the misconception and abuses of indulgence. Luther’s concerns were legitimate. Some believe that his way of going about it was wrong, others believe otherwise. This debate continues.
In response to this protestant reformation, the Church called the Council of Trent, which met from 1545-1563. This Council re-affirmed the Catholic doctrines. It needs to be said, and I do hereby say it that the personal immoralities of priests or popes do not nullify the divine character of the Church, the purity of its doctrines or the graces and spiritual powers it transmits. The final major offensive against the papacy was the madness of Napoleon Bonaparte. He forcefully annexed the Papal States in 1809. The Congress of Vienna restored this in 1815 under the protection of Austria. During the struggle for unification in Italy, all the papal provinces were confiscated, but in 1929 the Vatican City was granted independence: this ushered in the era of the modern papacy.
THE CONTEMPORARY PAPACY
In the 1900’s the papacy enjoys a high prestige and influence. With the independence of the Vatican, the popes concern themselves with moral and social issues of the day. Pius X who became Pope in 1903 worked hard to keep peace in Europe. He was shocked by the outbreak of World War II in 1914.
Like Pius X, Pius XII who succeeded him worked tirelessly for peace during the World War II, this brought him worldwide acclaim. Pope John XXIII, known as the “rotund” Pope succeeded him in 1958 and called the Second Vatican Council, which began in 1962. This is the 21st council in the history of Christianity. This Council made changes in the Church and was completed under Pope Paul VI who succeeded him in 1966.
Paul travelled widely. He was the first Pope to visit the Holy land, the U.S. and the South America. In 1978 he died and Pope Paul I succeeded him. After 34 days, he died and Pope John Paul II succeeded him. A year of three Popes!
We must not refuse this Pope the credit of having brought the Church to her greatest height, and had never relented in his task of realization of a moral state. He was one of the ablest Church leaders in Church history. He pursued his aims with vision, devotion, inflexible persistence, and unbelievable energy.
The Pope gave himself so unremittingly to the problems of humanity that he looked physically exhausted, weighed down by the suffering of humanity. He waged war against abortion, euthanasia, oppression, with unquestionable sincerity and heroic devotion. He was called a mobile Pope because he travelled widely as part of evangelization with his message of love, reconciliation, charity and peace. These, among other things, made him the most cherished visitor wherever he visited. The Pope had some physical comeliness and spiritual magnetism that attracted millions of people wherever he visited. He remained a spiritual lion even until he died on the 2nd of April, 2005 mildly like a ripe pawpaw from its tree.
Contemplating his achievements, we marvel at the prestige he brought to the papacy, Catholic Church and Christianity. He renewed our faith in the future possibilities of the Church as indispensable to the moral health of humanity. We can always call him, without tongue-in-check, the very representative of Christ. It is a challenge to the Catholic Church to keep on producing Popes like him in future, thank God that the present Pope, Pope Benedict xvi is leading the Church along the parts of holiness.
Watching the actions of Pope Benedict XIV, one noticed that he is not after personal glory. He does his job as the Representative of Christ. In his apostolate, he keeps making reference to the work of his predecessor without any tinge of jealousness.
Presently, there appear to be organized war against the Catholic Church and we are happy the manner the present Pope has handles it. The war is hinged on clerical celibacy, ordination of women, same-sex marriage, abortion and many other contentious issues. If the Church is truth, it would have to maintain the teachings of God and not swing with the changing times. The moment the Church starts saying that because majority of the people are clamoring for this or that, let us change the divine truth, it will do more harm to her.
Expectedly form today till the 28th of February the Pope’s resignation will take effect, we shall witness a lot. the See of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the Cathedral Church of the Bishop of Rome (Pope) will be declared vacant (Sede Vacante) . Normally, with the death of the Pope, all heads of Roman Curia resigns, except Cardinal Camerlengo and Major Penitentiary, will it apply in this case/ Will the Coat of Arm of the Holy See changer form the normal Papal tiara to Umbraculum? These questions will soon be answered.
Valentine Obienyem , writes from Awka , Anambra State, Nigeria.
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