*How INEC Failed In Its Statutory Duties On Voters’ Registration Exercise In Anambra
Continuous Voters’ Registration Exercise In Anambra State: How INEC Failed In Its Statutory Duties
(Public Information, Onitsha Nigeria, 24th of August, 2013)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law is deeply concerned about the failure of the INEC-ordered Continuous Voters Registration –CVRs exercise and related issues in Anambra State of Nigeria. The exercise is in preparation for the all-important governorship election in the State slated for 16th day of November, 2013. We had on 15th of August, 2013, raised several issues considered as fundamental determinants of the crucial poll. The issues so raised border on technical and legal bottlenecks needed to be judiciously and simply resolved for the credibility of the poll to be entrenched. On 21st of August, 2013, we spoke out again over the non-resolution of the problems complained of in relation to the ongoing exercise billed to end tomorrow, 25th of August, 2013. Our advocacy campaigns for hitch-free continuous voters registration and revalidation exercise are in line with our Democracy & Good Governance Program grounded in our vision. They are also in accordance with the global democracy best practices anchored on the doctrine of the Universal Adult Suffrage.
Elections stand rigged or brutally corrupted once the register of voters and its processes is tainted and corrupted. The attitude of contemporary CSOs as in monitoring elections only on elections’ day is a major setback to the growth of our democracy especially in Nigeria. Effective poll monitoring starts from this critical period and not on poll’s day. Anything short of this is politically sponsored and procured or a smokescreen approach tended to retire the European and North American generated hard currency accounts with zero public impact.
The issue of the status and credibility of the voters’ register and voting rights is so important that in the United States of America it has continued to dominate her national discourse to the extent that two of the most important issues placed in the country’s apex court for seminal determination are the twin issue of voting rights and immigration. The important issue of Electoral College in the country’s electoral code and culture is predicated on voters’ register, voting rights and voting constituency. The Barak Obama’s path to US presidency is also founded on his successful advocacy and pro bono campaigns for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised black voters, who were disenfranchised on technical and legal grounds.
In Anambra State of Nigeria, INEC’s technicalities predicated on policy confusion as well as high level of unpreparedness have robbed tens of thousands of voting Anambra residents of their justiciable voting rights. INEC’s power to “register voters, compile, maintain, revise and update the voters’ register” “on continuous basis” is not in contention. Rather, what is highly in contention is its ability and competence to do such statutorily assigned duties. The Commission’s public relation management in the State is very abysmal. For instance, members of the Anambra public do not know, till date, how, where and when the Commission conducts its public interest business including “continuous voters’ registration and revalidation exercise”, ordered by Sections 9(1) and 10(1) of the Nigeria’s Electoral Act of 2010. The recent disqualification of Mr. Oseloka Obaze by his political party, from contesting the all-important Anambra governorship poll, on the ground of not having a voter’s card is a clear case in point. The said order of Sections 9(1) and 10(1) is unambiguously meant to capture the likes of Mr. Oseloka Obaze, who might have been outside the country when the parent exercise took place in 2010/2011; but for INEC’s abdication of the public-important duty, which the law ordered it to do on “continuous basis” or non-stop until 60 days to any poll date.
Until few weeks ago, Anambra INEC did not make available for Anambra public the verifiable numbers of polling centers and registered voters in the State. It was also difficult for us at Intersociety to get hold of any for us to verify, simplify and publicize same for the consumption and benefit of Anambra public. What we found online are distorted versions. The Commission’s contact addresses in Anambra State including its physical address, telephone numbers, emails and website cannot be accessed online. This is not to talk of other basic information of Anambra public importance. Till date, the numbers of polling centers and registered voters in the State, which it belatedly gave as “1,711, 061 and 4,608”, respectively have remained independently unverifiable. It is also not independently ascertained whether some polling centers said to be existing in shrines and forests, which INEC says it is verifying, are part of the 4, 608 existing polling centers in Anambra State. In the area of the registered voters, the Anambra State INEC’s REC said that the final figure of 1, 711, 061 came down from initial figure of 2, 011, 746 as a result of subjection of the latter to “Register Optimization Process”, after passing through “data consolidation” using “ Automatic Fingerprints Identification System-AFIS”.
This simply means that a total of 300, 685 names were altered by the Commission from the Anambra list of voters. Yet the status of the 93, 000 double registrants alleged by the Commission to be in the State’s voters’ register as well as other possible double registrants cannot be independently ascertained. Granted that INEC is empowered by Section 9(6) of the Electoral Act of 2010 to designate centers for the purpose of “continuous registration of unregistered voters”, but such centers are not known to most Anambra voting residents as well as leading members of the Civil Society Organizations in the State. The Commission, as a matter of law and policy, ought to name the names and locations of such centers throughout the State and put proximity factor into consideration. It should have also lowered stringent conditions it attached with respect to those lost their voters’ cards to floods or other intervening conditions as well as those who relocated from their previous electoral units or wards.
It may be correct to say that less than 30 percent of the target voting age in Anambra State will be captured in the ending Continuous Voters’ Registration Exercise . The challenges being faced by those wanting to be registered and those that lost their voters’ cards are technically and INEC-oriented. Apart from difficulties in locating the so called “ward registration centers”, said to be located in the wards’ vote collection centers; the distance to be covered by many of the target citizens between their residences and the designated registration centers is found to be very far.
The stringent conditions imposed by the Commission on those that lost their voters’ cards and those that relocated from their previous residencies are another inhibiting factor. They are expected to fill certain forms, get police extracts or court affidavits and come back in 30 days time for reply. In Ogbaru LGA, for instance, the ward registration center for 18 polling centers of Iyiowa and Odekpe areas is located outskirts of the city-Odekpe Central Primary School, which is about 5 kilometers away from the area’s city. It will take an average resident of Acha Street in Iyiowa Layout between N500, 00 and N300.00 to transport him or her to the ward registration center thro and fro. As at noon of 24th of August, 2013, only five persons were registered.
When we went round some registration centers on Friday, 23rd of August, 2013, in company of the State reporters of the Channel and ABS Televisions, the difficulties were barefaced in the areas visited. Many, if not most of the few prospective registrants found on the scene were ferried to same by some politicians for a fee. In other words, politicians appeared to have hijacked the exercise. At Fegge Ward 3, located at Amichi Town, politicians were sighted trying to get their procured prospective voters registered.
A female student of one of the private Catering Schools in Awka told us off camera that their director had three months ago brought some INEC staffs to their school where they were registered for a fee, possibly under the influence of some politicians. According to her, her purpose of coming to the ward was to register again because she did not know if her registration at her school was authentic since she had not been issued with duplicate copy of voter’s card which must bear the date of issuance. At the Onitsha North Ward 9, located at the Eastern Academy, 12 suspected Obosi militant youths stormed the scene at about 11: am to 11:30am and snatched the Commission’s registration materials. They alleged that “Onitsha exercise is being carried out in Obosi territory”. The ward is the registration center for 12 polling centers.
Further instances of INEC’ incompetence and administrative lapses are too numerous. The other day, the Commission shamelessly informed the public on the basis of speculation and administrative confusion that 53 polling centers were missing in the Anambra Voters’ Register. They included 34 in Awka South LGA, one in Ayamelum LGA, two in Anambra East LGA, two in Ihiala LGA, one in Idemmili North LGA, four in Nnewi South LGA and five in NNewi North LGA. The Commission speculated that “it is either that the INEC staff that handled the registration deliberately deleted the names or that the computer system had a virus”. Either of the two reasons amounts to gross administrative incompetence. It is shocking that the Commission did not deem it fit to secure its data with effective anti-virus or back-up devices, which are available and affordable in open markets. The Commission also never cared to investigate same to know what actually caused it; whether human or computer errors.
By Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act of 2010, INEC is ordered to conduct the CVRs exercise for Anambra governorship poll within the minimum of five days or maximum of fourteen days. Though the said provision is in respect of “display for public scrutiny of the voters’ register for Local Government and Wards”, but since it is accompanied by “Contentious Voters’ Registration”, our demand is both popularly and legally grounded. This is also strengthened by Section 9(5) of the Act, which states that the registration of voters, updating and revision of the register of voters under this section shall stop not later than 60 days before any election covered by this Act.
In view of the foregoing, therefore, the ending exercise has failed woefully to capture as many eligible voters as ordered by the Constitution and the Electoral Act. The possibility of popular participation in the voting is hereby grounded to zero. The credibility of the entire voters’ register is also seriously under threat. The remedy available to the Commission in this circumstance is for it to restructure its failed arrangements and extend the important exercise to seven more days, in line with Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act of 2010. Part of the re-arrangements will be to return to all the polling units or designate at least three centers per ward for sake of proximity, convenience and mass participation. There is no provision in the Electoral Act that says that CVRs must be in the LGA’s ward voting collection centers.
The stringencies above complained, should be lowered. Anything short of the forgoing means that the technical rigging of the poll has started. It is also important to urge the INEC to depart from technicalities or use of technical jargons while implementing its policies or dealing with the public. Demographic policies and laws are designed not only for professors but importantly for the downtrodden such as vulcanizers, wheel barrow pushers, Okada riders, petty traders and rural dwellers.
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*History And Menace of Roguish Voters’ Register In Anambra State And Need For……
History And Menace Of Roguish Voters’ Register In Anambra State And Need For Ongoing Voters’ Registration & Revalidation To Be Grounded In Popular Participation & Administrative Competence
( Public Information: Onitsha Nigeria, 21st day of August, 2013)-It is most likely that the voter registration and revalidation exercise commenced in all the 4,611 polling centers in Anambra State on Monday, 19th of August, 2013, will end up in monumental failure. The important exercise is to last till Monday, 26th of August, 2013, a period of only seven days. The exercise is in line with Sections 9(1) and 10(1) of the Electoral Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2010. It is expected to cover “registration of unregistered voting Nigerians of Anambra State residency, revalidation and updating of the voters’ register including deletion of names of the dead voters from the register and entering in the Supplementary Voters List of the registered voters who moved from their previous electoral constituencies to new ones as well as entering in the said list names of the newly registered voters.
The exercise generally targets the qualified voters of 18 years and above and expected to address complaints arising from loss, damage, destruction, tearing and defacing of voters’ cards as well as those voters whose names are missing in the register. It is the crucial component of INEC’s preparation for the November 16, 2013 governorship poll in Anambra State of Nigeria and a fundamental yardstick to measure the credibility or otherwise of the important poll. The conduct of the State LGA poll slated for 5th of October, 2013, is also expected to be anchored on the register.
The Anambra Governorship poll and its judicial review had since 2006 served as the revolutionary fortress for free and fair poll and judicial sanctification of same in Nigeria. Way back in 1999, malevolent political godfatherism staged a successful coup in the State politics. This produced Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju’s puppetry civilian regime, which ended in disaster of unquantifiable proportions in May 2003. On May 29, 2003, another riotous political era gripped the State. It was headed by one Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, which ended in compounded disaster in March 2006. The political riot of November 2004 was the peak of the disastrous regime, resulting in attempted kidnapping of the then sitting governor and burning down of public properties and other key infrastructures in the State. The regime was ousted judicially in March 2006.
The ground upon which the Nigerian judiciary saved Anambra State from political guerilla warfare and criminal enterprise was solely predicated on the sanctity of live votes cast in the governorship poll by the respected Anambra voters in April 2003, which were brutally stolen by an army of electoral robbers and buccaneers who snatched and made away with dozens of ballot boxes filled with cast live votes. In September 2003, the Nigerian Judiciary, invited and prayed by an assemblage of social saints, began enquiry into the disappearance and whereabouts of tens of thousands of live votes cast by the Anambra People in the said hallowed poll.
In August 2005, the Nigerian Judiciary through her Anambra State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, headed by Hon. Justice Garuba Nabaruma recovered the stolen live votes and their rightful owner. The stealers of the live votes, who defended their electoral armed robbery with 524 fake witnesses as against the original mandate owner’s 45, fruitlessly objected to the hallowed recovery at the Appellate Court sitting in Enugu and on March 15, 2006, the renowned, erudite and revered appellate panelists headed by Hon Justice. Danladi Mohammed, under the administrative headship of Hon. Justice James Ogebe, reaffirmed the lower court’s findings and ordered the interloper government out of the Anambra State’s hallowed seat of power.
Indisputably speaking, this marked a turning point in the annals of Nigeria’s democracy, which has been mired in roguery since 1960s. It not only introduced a staggered poll calendar into the country’s electoral poll system, but also removed Anambra State from national and global pariah status and returned it to the comity of credibly democratic federating units of the global community. Today, Anambra has set an impeccable pace, which has been successfully replicated in Edo and Ondo States. An attempt was made to replicate this wonderful feat in Ekiti and Osun States, but it was judicially corrupted.
In all, Anambra State is still not free from roguish voters’ registration and register management. Shrines and “evil forests” are still dotted with bogus and fake polling booths. There are still fake voters and non-living objects baptized as registered voters as well as undeleted dead voters and double registrants in the State’s voters’ register. In the 2010 staggered governorship poll in the State, out of INEC’s bogus figure of over 1, 8million registered voters so called, about 1, 2million were fictitious names. They included imported names like late Gani Fawehinmi , Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Wole Soyinka, etc. This explained why out of about 600.000 living voters found in the roguish register, only 300.000 of them voted. Then, we concluded and insisted that “it is better to have 10,000 live votes than to have 1millin dead votes”.
Therefore, a credible voter’s register is a sin qua non for participatory poll including Anambra governorship poll billed for November 16, 2013. Sadly, reports reaching us clearly indicate that the ongoing voter registration and revalidation exercise, supposedly taking place in the State’s 4,611 polling booths may end in monumental failure. Our checks reveal that while INEC staffs pasted names of the registered voters in all polling booths as it earlier promised most of the polling booths remained unmanned as at Wednesday this date being 21st of August, 2013. In other words, INEC staffs were found absent in most of the polling booths visited.
By implication, those with their missing names and pictures do not have INEC staff to attend to them. Also, those who want to register or those wanting their names to be included in the INEC’s Supplementary List of Voters found no INEC staff to attend to them. Our investigators went round Ogbaru, Idemmili North and South, Onitsha North and South LGAs and found no INEC staff in most of the polling booths. Our calls to Aguata, Orumba North and South, Nnewi North and South and Oyi LGAs yielded similar outcomes. In Ogbaru LGA, INEC staffs were seen only at the Odekpe Central School.
We wish to object to seven days designated for the important exercise. That is to say Monday, 19th of August to Monday 26th of August, 2013. By the Electoral Act of 2013, official closing of the exercise, as in registration of unregistered eligible voters, updating and revision and revalidation of the voters’ register is on 16th of September, 2013, which is 60 days to any polling date. The days so allocated are grossly inadequate.
It is not only that the closing date should be extended but also INEC staffs must man all the polling booths and attend to the affected citizens diligently and judiciously. Machinery should be put in place by the Commission to check absenteeism and lateness on the part of its erring staffs. The presence of the INEC’s staffs in all the 4,611 polling booths will also serve as security against defacing or tearing of the pasted names of the registered voters and scare away children as well as adults with malicious intents.
Enough publicity including radio jingles and television announcements should be introduced and consolidated by INEC throughout the exercise. The era of election rigging must be permanently made irrevocable in Anambra State of Nigeria. The cleanliness and integrity of the voters’ register is a trusted path to free, fair and participatory poll.
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
Hurdles That May Mar Credibility of Forthcoming Anambra Elections (Open Letter)
Professor Chukwuemeka Onukaogu
Resident Electoral Commissioner for Anambra State
Anambra State‘s INEC Office, House of Assembly Road
Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria
An Open Letter: Hurdles That May Mar The Credibility Of Two Important Forthcoming Elections In Anambra State
(Unclassified: Onitsha Nigeria, 15th of August, 2013)-The leaderships of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law and the Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization have carefully studied the 15-point public notice issued by your Commission regarding the November 16, 2013 governorship election in Anambra State of Nigeria. The public effect of the timetable commenced on 13th day of August, 2013. This is in line with Section 178 of the Constitution of Nigeria, as amended in 2011. The Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission has also announced its intention to conduct election on 5th of October, 2013 into the 368 local government elective seats in the State. In other words, election is to be conducted into the 326 councillorship and 42 chairmanship and vice-chairmanship positions in the State’s 21 Local Government Areas. This is in accordance with Section 7(1) of the Constitution.
But after our careful study of the two timetables, it was discovered that there are unresolved issues and questions that if not resolved, will mar the credibility of the two important polls and rubbish the integrity of the two electoral umpires-INEC and ANSIEC. The hurdles and unresolved questions collectively arise from your Commission’s management of the Anambra version of the National Register of Voters. According to your Commission, there are 1, 758,220 registered voters in Anambra State as at 2011.
Your Commission has recently announced through its public affairs department of its National Headquarters, that there are 93, 000 “double registrants” in the Anambra version of the National Register of Voters. This is in violation of Section 16(2) of the Electoral Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2010. The Nigerian media, quoting the acting chairman of the Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission, Mr. Sylvester Okonkwo, also reported recently that there exists polling boots or centers in some shrines and “evil forests” located in Ogbaru, Onitsha North and Oyi LGAs of the State. There are 4,611 INEC-recognized polling booths or centers in Anambra State.
By law and according to Section 9(1) of the Nigeria’s Electoral Act of 2010, your Commission is empowered and mandated to compile, register and update on “continuous basis” all persons who are qualified to vote in any federal, State and Local Government elections in Nigeria; that is to say 18 years and above. Section 9(2) empowers your Commission to maintain a register of voters for each State of the Federation as well as for each Local Government Area in each State with its ward. Section 9(5) disqualifies your Commission from the registration of qualified persons and the revision and updating of the voters register, 60 days before any election. Section 9(6) mandates your Commission to designate by public notice registration centers for the purposes of continuous registration of qualified persons and updating and revision of the voters register.
Further, Section 10(3) mandates your Commission to make available to every registered political party, at every 60 days of a new year or around February, the names and addresses of those registered during the continuous registration exercise. Section 13 directs your Commission through REC to accommodate in the Transferred Voters List the registered voters who moved from their previous electoral constituencies to new constituencies. Section 18(2) mandates your Commission to resolve complaints arising from loss, destruction, defacing and tearing of voter’s cards, not less than 30 days before polling date.
Section 20 of the said Electoral Act of 2010 also mandates your Commission to integrate the Supplementary Voters List arising from continuous registration exercise, with the Voters Register and make same public, not later than 30 days before the polling date. Under Section 21, an aggrieved omitted registered voter has seven days to appeal to the REC for his or her omitted names to be rectified before the polling date. And Section 18(3) bars your Commission from issuing voter’s card to any qualified unregistered Nigerian on polling date or less than 30 days before the polling date.
Our questions on the strength of the foregoing are: has your Commission fully complied with these legal provisions and directives? How prepared in the context of credible and participatory poll, is your Commission with respect to the forthcoming governorship poll in Anambra State of Nigeria? While we wait eagerly for your Commission to provide answers to the above extremely important questions, we must point out that Sections 9(1) and 10(1) of the Electoral Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2010, with respect to “continuous registration of qualified persons and revision and updating of the voters register by your Commission at publicly designated centers by public notice” are gravely observed in breach. This is because there are no scientific and verifiable records showing that such crucial exercises had been conducted in any part of Anambra State of Nigeria since 2011.
By Section 9(5) of the said Electoral Act, registration of qualified persons or those who have attained the voting age of 18 years and above in the State since 2011 will end by 16th of September, 2013; 60 days before the governorship poll. Yet thousands of qualified persons have remained unregistered. The fate of the State citizens whose voter’s cards got lost, destroyed, torn, defaced or damaged, particularly those of Ogbaru, Ayamelum, Anambra East, Anambra West and Oyi LGAs, affected by the flood menace of 2012; still hangs cloudily barely three months to the crucial governorship poll and less than two months to the all-important LGA poll.
The names of dead voters, who died since 2011, may also not have been deleted from the register. Your Commission’s expected expeditious answers to the above questions should also address the issue of the discovery of 93.000 “double registrants” in the Anambra version of the National Register of Voters as well as the media reported existence of polling booths or centers in shrines and ‘evil forests” courtesy of the boss of the Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission.
Another important reason behind this letter of ours is concerned with the forthcoming LGA poll in Anambra State, slated for 5th of October, 2013. As cited above, your Commission, not ANSIEC, is legally and constitutionally entrusted with the round the clock midwifery of the National Register of Voters including the Anambra State, its LGA and ward’s versions. Also by law, no LGA poll can be conducted without INEC’s Voters’ Register and on the same premise, ANSIEC is mandated to apply to your Commission for the release of the State’s version of the register and your Commission is mandated to issue it an updated, revised and cleaned up “certify true copy” of the register.
This means that the register must be tidied up before it is released to ANSIEC for the conduct of the said LGA poll. In view of this, our question, again, is has ANSIEC applied to your Commission for the register? If yes, has it been given? If yes, which version was given to it? Has it been updated and revised with deletion or inclusion of 93.000 “double registrants? What about those who lost their voter ‘cards or have their names omitted? And what of those who have not been registered?
If no, how does your Commission intend to do it? In view of the fact that your Commission has fixed 17th of October, 2013 as a date for the publication of the integrated Supplementary Voters List and the Voters Register for public scrutiny sequel to the November 16, 2013 governorship poll; how possible is it for it to be used to conduct LGA poll on 5th of October, 2013? Are there going to be two versions of the register; one updated, revised and cleaned up; and the other not? We also wish to ask the duo of your Commission and ANSIEC: is it still possible to conduct legally flawless; credible and participatory Anambra LGA poll on 5th of October, 2013?
We trust in your Commission’s expeditious and satisfactory response to these vital questions as well as prompt and creative resolution of the hurdles complained of.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law 41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria
Comrades Aloysius Emeka Attah & Justus Uche Ijeoma
For: Civil Liberties Organization, Anambra State Branch
14, Orlu Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria
Mobile Phone: +2348035090548, 8037114869
1. Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Abuja, Nigeria
2. Chairman, Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission, Awka, Anambra, Nigeria
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*Discarding the Achebes and the Kayodes
By Jide Olubiyi
Here is the bitter side of history, that it is never fully recorded or reported. The sparse record of it that remains was written by individuals who viewed, experienced and interpreted events strictly from own limited point of view. In other words, we can never truly recover the full facts of the past by reading the skewed accounts presented by the historians. An Hausa man would write the history of Nigeria in a light that protects the perennial interest of the Hausas. The Chinua Achebes would go to the extent of unnaturally bending past record and presenting it in light that makes one view the Igbos as permanent victims of undeserving malevolence directed at them from all other ethnic groups around. And when a Yoruba man, the Fani-Kayodes, writes his own version and surnames it The Bitter Truth, he goes all the dubious way to marshal his craft and craftiness to present the Yorubas as some noble ethnic group, one that is all accommodating and never given to crime and suspicious dealings...
But as a Nigerian I now write: our self-appointed historians have failed us.
The Chinuas have failed, and so have the Kayodes of this country. For they are no more than a servant of their own gall and bitterness. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Chinua Achebe-Left; Femi Fani-Kayode-Right
For, what is the purpose of a history that does not solve any problem or make a single meaningful contribution to the life of a Nigerian? Instead, their account of the past was designed to keep us chained down by the fetters of blood, of intrigues, of hatred woven by these same men and their colleagues. And this they did supposing Nigerians shall have no other place to find meaning than in looking back over their shoulders at the failings of their fathers and then refusing to move forward.
But they have all failed, these servants of discord and bitterness.
When great men die, shouldn't they leave behind a legacy of benefits that should tell their tales? Great men have lived and died and by the products of their lives established scholarships and foundations that have continued to benefit humanity, even the children of strangers, centuries after they were gone. Chinua died and left behind a call to hatred, and Fani-Kayode's very life labours to fan such embers to full blood. Should Nigerians be deceived about their motives?
Should we be deceived?
Perhaps we are really so dumb- as opined by Tunde Bakare- dumb enough to allow these selfish and hateful interpreters of history to sway us by their own demons and venom. Perhaps we are dumb enough to ignore the fact that the same challenges befall all as Nigerians: 1) Boko Haram doesn't care that you're Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa before they seek to kill you; 2) your ethnicity makes little difference when poverty and joblessness come calling at your door; 3) before the Police man forces a bribe out of you you're not required to justify your ethnicity; 4) ... I shall stop here, but we all know there are more. Why not conduct a small experiment. Make a road trip to Katsina, Enugu, Benue, Nasarawa, Oyo, Anambra or Ekiti State..., some place, any place away from your ethnic origin. Perhaps then you shall understand better the problems and situations that unite us are many more than the ethnicity that (some persons want to) divide us.
Isn't it silly and utterly unintelligent that one should take credit for something not a product of one's own choice? If you did not do a thing to become an Igbo man, why then should you wear your Igbo-ness as some proud warrior would do after his conquest of the Land of Ticks? If my Yoruba-ness was beyond my choosing why then should it be the basis for differentiating me from all other ethnic groups both in Nigeria and beyond? Should it be land and claim to it? Millions of people that had laid claim to the same land have come and gone, not able to leave with a handful of earth from it. We too have come, and shall certainly go when we are done here. Isn't it silly that we should lay a bloody claim to a thing that shall survive our mortal existence?
Education, business empires, sound political career and legacy: these are direct products of human diligence, resourcefulness and effort. If you're tempted to boast because of any of these the world will understand and congratulate you that your boast is well deserved...
A thousand of thousand years from now, and perhaps just a thousand years from now, every Nigerian will likely have in his veins the blood of all ethnic groups. Even now, there are millions of Nigerians within whose veins the bloods of different ethnic groups have achieved an harmony. Which side should these people then pledge allegiance to? Where should we chase them the next time we consider them too unsightly and poor to adorn our state capitals? Or should we simply call them a no-man's people the next time we seek a reason to relieve them of their jobs in the state civil service?
These past months and weeks given us reasons to bite and malign one another, no thanks the self-sponsored Achebes and Kayodes. I am to remind us that at the end of the day we all must return to tending the wounds that we commonly share as Nigerians. And that many of our historians are men so much overwhelmed by their own bitterness and failings that they must incite public discord for them to find some relief from their affliction, their narrow view of the Nigerian history and situation. But this is the very reason we are humans, capable of individual interpretation of our circumstances in a way that improves the present. Most Igbos had never personally had a reason to specially hate a Yoruba man until Prof Chinue Achebe's "There was a country". Then the Igbos suddenly remembered, as one jolted out of a dream, their ethnic duty to hate and distrust the Yorubas. Then also came the champions of the Yorubas, Fani-Kayode, who reminded the Yorubas their sacred duty to view the Igbos with immense suspicion. And in this induced silliness, many Yorubas chanted, "Go home ingrates". These they did, as though afflicted by a strange amnesia, ignoring the personal relationships they have had (and still do have) with many Igbos, some of whom they have married, some of whom they have fathered and mothered, and some of whom are their Pastors and fellow-sharers of the same faith and trade.
And for a Nigerian, where is home? Isn't it silly to be asked such a question when you are at home?
Jide Olubiyi writes from Germany.
*Nigeria: Murder Alert of Kano OHANAEZE Chairman
Kano Bomb Blasts: Intersociety & Anambra CLO Alert The World Over Threat To Arrest & Kill Extra-judicially The OHANAEZE Chairman In Kano State Over Management Of Casualty Figures
(Joint Statement, Onitsha Nigeria, August 10, 2013)-The attention of the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law and Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization has been drawn to threats from the office of the Divisional Police Officer of the NORMANSLAND Police Station, Sabon Gari in Kano State, Northwest Nigeria to arrest Mr. Tobias Idika of Ohanaeze Ndigbo , Kano State Branch on trumped up charges. Mr. Tobias Idika is the chairman of the Igbo socio-cultural group in Kano State.
There have been sharp disagreements between the Government of Kano State and the security agencies in the State, on one hand; and the Ohanaeze leadership in the State led by Mr. Tobias Idika, on the other, over the management of the casualty figures in the two deadly bomb blasts that were planted and detonated in the Sabon Gari area of Kano State on March 18 and July 29, 2013 respectively. While the former watered down the two figures to 22 and 12 respectively; the latter insisted with facts and figures that over 185 and 50 died in the two blasts. Over ninety-five percent of them were Igbo-Nigerian citizens. The watering down of the number of the dead in both police unlawful killings and other killings carried out by malicious Nigerians in recent years, have become a routine in the country and the reasons for it are politically related.
Latest threats on the life and liberty of the Ohanaeze chieftain arose from the July 29, 2013 multiple bombing of strategic areas of Sabon Gari including Enugu/Igbo Road, near International Hotel and New Road, opposite Ado Bayero Square. One of the areas that recorded high death and injury rate is the Christ Salvation Pentecostal Church, located at 41, New Road, Sabon Gari where 39 dead bodies were recovered. The Church was in the midst of its evening crowded service when the bomb went off killing scores of its members on the spot. The Kano Ohanaeze leadership, which arrived the scene moments after the evening multiple blasts, also recovered 6 more dead bodies on Enugu/Igbo Road and assisted in the evacuation of the injured. Over five others died later in hospitals from injuries sustained. This brought the total number of those who died in the multiple blasts to over 50.
But the Government of Kano and its security agencies including the JTF and the Kano State Police Command said that only 12 people died in the multiple bomb blasts; a claim that was strongly disputed by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Kano State leadership. It is the insistence of the Pan-Igbo Kano State leadership and its refusal to accept the Government’s mangled casualty figures that led to threats being complained of.
Mr. Tobias Idika has on 6th of August, 2013, written the Inspector General of Police over threats of unlawful arrest and detention slammed on him by the DPO of NORMANSLAND Police Station, said to be acting on the orders of the State CP, Mr. Musa Daura. He alleged that the DPO, Mr. Shaibu Bello threatened him on phone, describing him as “being stubborn and outspoken”; a vivid reference to Mr. Idika’s insistence and refusal over mangled casualty figures, contained in his leadership’s recent public statements on the blasts. He has also received threats calls from persons believed to have been hired by the State Government and its planted detractors within the Igbo community in the State. One of such threat messages sent to him from +2348180689050, read:” Very soon your chapter will close if you do not run. Be warned”. Chief Tobias Idika, as a result, has gone into hiding.
Consequently, we wish to bring to the attention of the world including the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Southeast Governors Forum and the Inspector General of Police over the threats being complained of, with a view to ensuring at all times the security and safety of the said citizen and his leadership. We demand that nothing untoward must happen to him henceforth.
Chief Tobias Idika is also one of many Nigerians who believe that the Boko Haram terror is politically sponsored and that the Government of Kano State under one Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwamkwaso, may most likely be an accomplice if independently investigated. As we speak, reports have continued to have it that efforts are on by some agents of the State Government to destroy the inventory opened by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Kano State Chapter for compilation of the names of the dead and the injured.
Among those who died in the multiple blasts on New Road are Chinemerem Kingsley Ezebuala( male,14 years), Chiamaka Constance Ezebuala( female, 12 years) and Nmesoma Peace Ezebuala(female, 10 years). They belonged to the same family of Ezebuala in Uga Community of Aguata LGA, Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria as well as the Governments of Kano and Anambra States should take the post mortem responsibility of the above family as well as others that were affected.
We demand for an end to suppression of casualty figures in Nigeria be they victims of natural disaster or those who died from human generated security threats and other unsafe conditions. The ICC is again called upon to intervene in these unabated politically organized killings in northern part of Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan’s policy of emergency State security declaration leaving behind political actors and bodies strongly suspected of fanning and sponsoring such terrors is roundly condemned and rejected.
1. Emeka Umeagbalasi
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
2. Comrades Aloysius Emeka Attah & Justus Uche Ijeoma
For: Civil Liberties Organization, Anambra State Branch
Photo Above: Mr. Tobias Idika, Kano State OHANAEZE Chairman
*Nigeria May Go Up In Flames If Unchecked, MASSOB, Intersociety & Anambra CLO Warn
By MASSOB, Intersociety & Anambra CLO
(Joint Public Statement, Onitsha Nigeria, August 3, 2013)-“As the man who saw tomorrow, we, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, saw years ago, the needlessness of the present Nigerian Federation that makes some citizens predators and others predators’ meals; a so-called country where citizens are made slaves and destitute in their own land. Such is what we painfully called NIGERIA today, which is nothing but a camp of enslavement and butchery”-Says Comrade Uchenna Madu, MASSOB National Director of Information.
“The arrogance, remorseless postures, callous choice of words and unguarded utterances of the Governor of Lagos State in his futile justification of the Nazi-like deportation of Nigerians have clearly vindicated our earlier position that: 1. Lagos State has laid a case both in theory and practice that it is tired of being governed by the mother law-the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. 2. The State runs a separatist enclave.3. The State is the most lawless federating unit in the Nigerian Federation. 4. The provisions of the mother law have been made inoperable and subject of infraction and disobedience in the State. 5. The criminal and civil laws of Lagos State are now supreme and superior to the mother law.6. The State has jettisoned and disregarded the Constitution and now operates Hitler-like laws and policies with recklessness.”- Says Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman of the Intersociety’s Board. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Lagos State Igbo deportees (Photo 1)
It is very easy to tell lies or indulge in illegal acts but very difficult, if not impossible to defend them. By convention, liars use passive voice, while truth tellers use active voice. As a result, the defenses put forward by the Governor of Lagos State and two of his party’s chieftains, Mr. Joe Igbokwe of the Lagos State APC and Dr. Chris Ngige of Anambra APC; over the dumping of 72 innocent citizens in Onitsha at 3:am have continued to expose them. Another twist to the criminal and unconstitutional conduct was the circulation of some documents to justify the gross constitutional misconduct. Unfortunately for them, the indefensible documents turned out to be utterly incoherent with the subject matter. In other words, the documents they authored and invoked for defense have caught them in the act by disclosing further how a governor magisterially and unconstitutionally sanctioned the internal deportation of the citizens of the same federation to another federating unit in a commando style at the hours of blue law.
Apart from the fact that the act of internal deportation of citizens , by itself, grossly violates the Constitution, the documents, which includes purported exchange of letters between an aide of the LASG and the Lagos liaison office of the Anambra State Government in April 2013 as well as names of the so-called fourteen citizens of Anambra State origin; are grossly contradictory and baseless. Also, there is no link between the said documents and the callous act of bundling 72 innocent Nigerians at the hours of blue law to another federating unit. We believe strongly that the documents were hurriedly dusted up to justify the criminal and unconstitutional conduct carried out on July 24, 2013. That is to say over three months after the purported correspondence exchange took place (April 2013). To further expose the emptiness and immateriality of the documents, thirteen out of the fourteen names have no links to traditional Igbo surnames of Anambra State as well as the local governments and towns the documents claimed they hailed from. None of the names also tallied with the names of the 72 deportees some of, which are in possession of relevant agencies of the Anambra State Government, the media, the Red Cross and the Rights groups. The genuineness of the said fourteen citizens was never verified, yet the LASG cooked it up for defense of its indefensible atrocious act. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Lagos State Igbo deportees (Photo 2)
The names with fake surnames, towns and LGAs of origin are: 1.” Nokonu Ani”, from “Ikanu” in “Ikanu LGA” of “Anambra State”. 2. “Onyekua” “Okuwa”, from “Ihiala LGA”. 3. Jude “Olumba”, from “Omunama” town of “Nnewi LGA”. 4. “Emma Okori”, from “Ikolegbene” town. 5. Ndubuisi “Kalu”, from “Onitsha, Ogbosiri LGA”. 6. Okoro John, from “Osarobi” town of Nnewi South LGA. 7. “Andy Oshornogor”(no town and LGA). 8. Sunday Nwagwu (no town and LGA). 9.” Joseph Eto”, from”Gbogboasan” town, in “ Obudu LGA”. 10.”Christian Otu”(no town and LGA). 11. Ifeoma Chukwuemeka, from Ojoto in Idemmili South LGA. 12.Juliet Ikemere, from Ufuma in “ Olumba LGA”. 13. “Grace Udo”, from “Asia” town. 14. “Victoria Agboola”(Yoruba). Out of these fourteen names, thirteen names are faked with fake towns and LGAs; except one Ifeoma Chukwuemeka from Ojoto in Idemmili South LGA. In other words, these names, towns and LGAs are not known to the Government of Anambra State, its Local Government, town/community and traditional surname systems.
Apart from the foregoing, more revelations as per how innocent Nigerian citizens including petty traders were rounded up by the LASG on Lagos roads and streets, detained for over seven months without trial and deported to Onitsha Upper Iweka in Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria, have continued to emerge and rubbish a bunch of falsified and clueless excuses offered by the Government of Lagos State and its ruling party chieftains including Engineer Joe Igbokwe and Dr. Chris Ngige. One of such revelations came from one of the deportees, Miss Rosemary Nathaniel of Ubakala, Umuahia in Abia State. According to her”I was arrested in January 2013 with a friend by some KAI operatives of the LASG while standing and discussing by the roadside. Before my arrest and detention, I was working at a T-shirt weaving centre at Mile2. We were taken to an illegal prison at Alausa area of Lagos, where we met others who were also arrested and detained. The painful aspect of it was that they were not bordered to ask any of us where we live or what we do for a living. As I speak, my sister whom I live with does not know anything about my whereabouts. It is a sad thing that this is happening in one’s country” (source: Vanguard Newspaper, 2nd August, 2013). Other deportees are Friday Ndukwe-Ohafia, Abia State; Grace Igbochi-Lagos State; Ugulori Tutua-Warri, Delta State; and Chinyere Nicholas-Awomama, Imo State. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: A Lagos State Igbo deportee (Photo 3)
Dr. Chris Ngige’s attempt to defend the grossly unconstitutional act of his potential campaign funders and political party ticket givers ended up rubbishing them the more. His introduction of barefaced falsehood into the atrocious act dimmed the little chance available for them to apologize to Nigerians especially the Igbo-Lagosians. His weight behind such modern slavery speaks volume of soiled and inhuman characters occupying our public offices and those seeking to occupy same. How can a sane State Government accept to receive the internally deported citizens at a boundary that does not link it and the deporting State and at the blue law hour of 3: am? Were the deportees dumped at the Niger Bridgehead or under the Onitsha Upper Iweka Flyover? Why would armed police escorts accompany a peacefully negotiated exchange of deportees between the Lagos and the Anambra State Governments? Is Upper Iweka Flyover the Government House of Anambra State?
“As for Engineer Joe Igbokwe, we are not surprised at his throwing of weight behind the dastardly act of his political employers. We are eagerly waiting for his change of Igbo name and adoption of the Yoruba surname soonest. His continued bearing of Igbo name is beginning to disconfort us. Somebody who used to attack our own Eze-Igbo Gburugburu without regard to his seminal wisdom and old age can do anything including selling his people in return for bowel of Amara and red oil soup. He must be careful so as not to be declared a persona non grata in Igbo land including his Nnewi town, the great home of our Great Ikemba.”-Says Comrade Uchenna Madu.
As far as we are collectively concerned, Governor Babatunde Fashola has exhibited unfitness, constitutionally, to continue to function as a governor having gravely violated the Constitution under which he was elected to govern and swore to uphold and protect at all times. He ought to have resigned or be impeached. The impeccability of his SANship is also threatened so also decency and decorum attached to the inner Bar in Nigeria. A knowledgeable governor ought to guide his choice of words and mode of public speeches at all times. How can he describe the Igbo-Lagosians as “guests” and his government “host government”? Are Igbo-Lagosians foreign citizens in Lagos? What makes him think that Mr. President has no constitutional or legal powers over his State and its unconstitutional conducts even in matters such as being complained of that threaten the national security and put the Constitution and the citizens in jeopardy? What does he mean by “a lot is at stake here”? Is he threatening to annex the properties of Igbo-Lagosians or create rooms for “abandoned properties”? Is Fashola respectable and constitutionally knowledgeable enough to wear the toga of a SAN or is he a Senior Advocate of Internal Deportation? Why would Governor Obi call Governor Fashola to inform of the dumped deported citizens who were hurriedly dumped at 3: am when the same Fashola did not deem it necessary to call him to inform him of the LASG’s plans to dump them in the State’s territory?
Finally, we thank Nigerians and the media immensely for standing up against this perfidious constitutional violation by the Lagos State Government. It is our collective warning that unless the action of the Lagos State Government is checked and nipped in the bud; otherwise Nigeria will go up in flames. There are limits to tolerance and multiple approaches to resistance and self determination. One of them is disobedience. The Federal Government must be guided by the fact that under the Constitution, no State including Lagos has any right or power to engage in act of internal deportation of citizens from its federating unit to another. Also, no State including Anambra State has any right or power under the Constitution to receive or negotiate to receive any internally deported citizens within the Federation. Any discussions or negotiations between two States on how to deport or receive any citizens or to cause forceful movement of same from one part of the country to another is null and void and of no constitutional effect. What Lagos State did amounts to treason or grave constitutional breaches such as enforcing its laws and policies beyond its constitutionally defined boundaries by way of internal displacement and illegal and extra-boundary resettlement of Nigerian citizens against their will. The power and authority to enforce all laws and policies in all parts of the Federation resides with the Federal Government of Nigeria. Attached pictures 1 to 5 are those of Citizen Osondu Agwu and others dumped in Onitsha by Governor Babatunde Fashola on July 24, 2013.
1. Comrade Uchenna Madu
For: Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra
2. Emeka Umeagbalasi
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
3. Comrades Aloysius Emeka Attah & Justus Uche Ijeoma
For: Civil Liberties Organization, Anambra State Branch
*Return of Slave Trafficking in Nigeria & Lagos State Government’s Infantile Defense
(Public Information, Onitsha Nigeria, July 31st, 2013)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law sees the last weekend defense by the Government of Lagos State over its roles in dumping in Onitsha Upper Iweka of 72 less privileged citizens, which it called destitute; as constitutionally impeachable. This is because it amounts to gross misconduct, contrary to Section 188(2b) of the Constitution. It is also a grave violation of Section 1(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. By Section 1(3), the Constitution does not share her supremacy with any other law and policy in Nigeria that are clearly incoherent with her provisions. From every indication, the Government of Lagos State is a clear opposite of an enclave under organic solidarity and a rabid proponent of mechanical solidarity.
Following thunderous and deafening condemnations that trailed the dumping of 72 destitute in Onitsha Upper Iweka, Southeast Nigeria by the Government of Lagos State through its office of Youths & Social Development and the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command; the State Government, which initially denied knowledge of the criminal exercise, has spoken out and claimed responsibility. According to the Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Youths & Social Development, Dr. Enitan Dolapo Badru, who spoke to the Guardian Newspapers last weekend, “at least 1, 708 beggars and destitute have been expelled from Lagos to their various States and countries since January 2013, in government bid to rid the streets of beggars and the mentally challenged”.
The Special Adviser further said as follows:” the international standard requires the State to reunite them with their families”. “The end result is to reunite them back with their families. We are not repatriating them out of Lagos, we are reuniting them with their families because once we rescue them, we cannot as a government, hold a child under the age of 18 in custody without parental or guardian’s consent. We found out that a lot of children on the streets of Lagos come from outside the state thinking that Lagos is an Eldorado. It is unfortunate that many of them are underage and very vulnerable because they can be introduced to so many vices”.
“When we rescue them, we try as much as possible to carry out social investigation to know where they actually come from and why they absconded in the first place. And this takes time, because most of them don’t usually tell the truth since they don’t want to go back home. Once we have them in our custody, we must take a Court Order to keep them since the law provides for that and we cannot keep them indefinitely, so we still need to send them back to their parents. And our practice is to get in touch with the social welfare services of their respective states, which would in turn get in touch with the families”.
“ In the last one year, a total number of 3,114 beggars/destitute/mentally-challenged have been rescued in day and night operations and 2,695 were taken to the Rehabilitation and Training Centre, Owutu, Ikorodu, where the state government has made provisions for facilities to help in turning their lives around, while the mentally-unstable are given medical attention”.
Apart from monumental contradictions inherent in the watery defense, our sociological, legal and criminological analysis of same, as put up by the Government of Lagos State clearly shows that the State is psychiatrically challenged. Our questions arising from the said public statement of defense are: 1. which provisions of the Constitution or Nigerian Criminal Code empower Lagos State Government to engage in reckless internal deportation and dumping of citizens in another federating territory at ungodly hours? 2. Which court in Nigeria can grant an order detaining citizens including minors accused of simple offenses, misdemeanors and juvenile delinquencies in illegal detention centers without public and family access and trial for over seven months? 3. Is Section 166(1&2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011 superior to the 1999 Constitution and her Criminal Code? 4. Are “disorderly conducts, anti begging and wandering” laws of Lagos State capital offenses? 5. Is Lagos State Government a police investigator, a prosecutor, a trial judge or magistrate and a prison officer? 6. Is it correct to say that among the 54 “destitute” escapees dumped by Lagos State Government in another federating territory at ungodly hours are violent criminals including assassins, kidnapers and armed robbers, imported to terrorize the State for the purpose of securing a political advantage or goal for its ruling party?
7. Who is a destitute and how does Lagos State Government determine who a destitute is? 8. Are area boys or “alayes” destitute and if yes, are they not up to 40% of the Lagos State poor residents and have they all been jailed or evacuated from the streets of Lagos State? 9. Is one Tinubu Bola-a so called political godfather not a former destitute and which known and highly rated secondary school did he attend if he was born with golden spoon? 10. What is the main purpose of government; does it exist for political appointees and the rich or is it established for the welfare of majority poor citizens including the so called destitute? 11. Are there no beggars, hawkers, lepers, the aged and bodily and mentally disabled on the streets of the western capitals including the United States of America?
It is important to point out that one of the reasons why the early Nigerian capital was moved from Calabar to Lagos was because of its melting pot status. A number of former slaves were also settled in Lagos. In other words, nobody owns Lagos. Most of the past and present political appointees in the State including an immediate past governor, the State Assembly members and those occupying the Alausa Government House at Ikeja are not from Lagos State, likewise many, if not most of the notable politicians and NGO leaders. Lagos is like the United States where nobody owns America. The word “America” is derived from an individual named “Amerigo Vespucci”. He was a great sailor and explorer that came in early 1500s after Christopher Columbus who came before him in 1490s. In their adventurous exploring project, they discovered a new world, which later became “America”. On the other hand, Lagos shares similarity with America in that it means “lakes” in Portuguese, having been so named by a Portuguese Settlement. Its traditional name is “Eko”( war camp); a name given to it by its Benin Conquerors of the Benin Empire(1440-1897).
While reiterating our unequivocal condemnation of the atrocious action of the Government of Lagos State and call for searchlights of the Federal Government and the citizens to be beamed on same at all times; we wish to appreciate the steps taken so far by the Government of Anambra State, which last night (30-07-2013) held a high powered meeting with the Federal Government of Nigeria at which a strong worded written petition against the Government of Lagos State was submitted. We still want the Government of Anambra State to weigh the option of going to the Supreme Court against the Government of Lagos State to establish a case of grave violation of the Constitution against it including invasion of its federating territory at odds and ungodly hours with malicious intents.
Another measure that would deter the belligerent and lawless Government of Lagos State from engaging in such callous action in future is by instituting a class action on behalf of the dumped citizens, seeking billions of naira worth of compensation to them for infringement of their fundamental human rights. The President is also called upon to order the Inspector General of Police to investigate the roles of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police in the unconstitutional and despicable action. In the course of the IGP’s investigation, all illegal detention centers in Lagos State where citizens are held for months without trial under the guise of “operation flush out destitute”, should be identified and closed down. The Federal Government should, as a matter of uttermost immediacy and federating importance, review all sets of laws and policies being operated by the Government of Lagos State with a view to bringing them into conformity with Nigeria’s mother laws especially the 1999 Constitution.
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
*Reintroduction of Slavery In Nigeria & Lagos State Disastrous Journey To Separatist Enclave
(Public Information, Onitsha Nigeria, July 27, 2013)-One hundred and fifty two years(1861) after not-literate King Desomu of Lagos ceded Lagos to the British colonialists, which formally signaled ninety-nine years of Nigeria’s colonization that terminated in October 1960; history is about to repeat itself downwards. The repetitive history this time is the perceived disastrous and steady efforts of a strategic component unit of Nigeria-called Lagos State of Nigeria to become what looks like a sovereign political territory within another sovereign political territory by way of its anti social and anti territorial laws and policies in recent times. It may be credibly unchallenged to submit that Lagos State is disastrously opting out of the Union it disastrously entered 152 years ago with other entities by way of thumb-printing. The State’s strange and utterly discriminatory set of laws and policies in recent times are enough evidence guiding the hallowed position of ours today.
From every indication, Lagos State is speedily marching to the enclave of disastrous self-governed territory with set of laws and policies clearly at variance with the all-binding Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and federal policies; part of which is its re-introduction of human slavery in Nigeria. The only difference between the Atlantic Slave Trade and the one complained of is” Trade”. The despicable conducts forgoing are also an eye-opener to all Nigerians and the rest of the world over what the governing political party in the State-the ACN may have in stock for Nigeria, Nigerians and other parts of the country it seeks by election to govern. The State’s faith in the Federal Republic of Nigeria and allegiance to her Constitution is no longer trusted.
We are totally at loss as why a component unit of a country under the authority and supremacy of a supreme Constitution would choose to be corporately lawless and utterly unrepentant in such criminalist and unconstitutional conducts. Not even the State’s leading roles in the agitation for true federalism so called can comfortably assuage our rationality as per reasons behind these clearly unconstitutional conducts of the so called Nigeria’s Center of Excellence. Federalism theory is like the principles of separation of powers that have no common definition and uniformity in application.
In other words, there is no clear-cut separation of powers and universally applicable federalism. Law also recognizes that in everything, exception is entrenched. Theorists of federalism and separation of powers always disagree on common definitions but agree at the end that domesticated federalism is the best in a credible democratic setting. That is to that federalism with local contents that is not repugnant to the credible democratic values; defined, agreed upon and adopted by all component units with the collective consent of their constituents in a federation is the best federalism needing adoption. This simply means that the federalism concept of Lagos State, if applied in this context and subject matter, is dead on arrival because it is sectional, unpopular and constitutionally void.
Statistical Journey Of Lagos To Separatist Enclave:
On 18th of September 2012, over one hundred citizens made up of destitute-beggars, children, women, and the aged and the physically challenged were dumped at about 4: am under the Upper Iweka Flyover in Onitsha, Southeast Nigeria. They were conveyed in 9 buses by unnamed agents of Lagos State Government believed to be working under the State’s Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI). The Lagos State Government, as expected, weakly denied knowledge of the human cargo. Those interviewed by journalists, Red Cross officials and rights groups presented clear and horrible pictures of their ordeal in the hands of the Government of Lagos State.
As if that was not enough, on Wednesday, July 24, 2013, at about 3: am, another 72 people including beggars, petty traders, the aged, women and children and the physically challenged, were dumped at the same spot in Onitsha. Journalistic and rights investigative reports revealed that: 1. They were arrested and detained in a non-formal or State detention center in Okorodu area of Lagos State, near Ijebu Ode in Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria since December 2012. That is to say that they were detained for over seven months. 2. They were detained incommunicado and inhumanly with one pro-dysentery and non nutritious meal a day. 3. They were arrested in connection with alleged offences of misdemeanor/ simple offences of wandering, begging, etc, which according to Nigerian Criminal Code; attract days, weeks and some months of imprisonments and options of fines as low as N100.00 (about 70 US cents).
4. Despite the fact that the alleged offences are loosely and easily bailable, they were held in non State detention centers against their will and without trial for over seven months. 5. Among the victims of the Lagos State generated human cargos were petty traders and wheel barrow hawkers. Citizens Osundus Mbuto and Agwu from Ohazara LGA of Ebonyi State, Southeast Nigeria, are such victims. They were arrested since December 18, 2012 on their way to their trading spots. Citizen Osundu Agwu told Intersociety that three suspected KAI officials accosted him on his way to his wheel barrow kiosk and asked him to enter their vehicle and as he was trying to explain to them, two anti riot police personnel emerged and forced him into their vehicle and drove him away with KAI officials to their Ikorodu illegal detention center where he was held till July 23, 2013. 6. Most of the victims are not from Anambra State. The trio of Osundu Mbuto, Osondu Agwu and Sunday Irabor, who hail from Ebonyi and Edo States, are a clear case in point.
7. All the 72 people were arranged by the Lagos State Government for its Onitsha human cargo disposal spot after they were deceived by being asked to put their names on a sheet of paper in exchange for their freedom. 8. They were conveyed on Tuesday evening (23-7-2013) in four commuter buses with eighteen passengers each and escorted by two Toyota Hilux Vans marked Rescue Operation filled with armed anti riot police personnel(police mobile force). 9. On getting to Onitsha Upper Iweka Flyover by 3: am, all the 72 people were forced to disembark, after which their conveyors turned and sped off back to Lagos. 10. Before 7: am in the morning, 54 of the 72 people have escaped, leaving behind 18 people made up of the aged, women, children and the physically challenged. They were later taken to the Zik’s Avenue Primary School at Fegge in Onitsha, from where they were transferred to the Onitsha General Hospital on July 26, 2013. The social and health identities of the escapees were not ascertained. In other words, nobody knows whether they are light or hardened criminals or citizens with mental or infectious diseases or challenges.
Apart from the foregoing gross misconduct of the Government of Lagos State, the State has also engaged in other grossly unconstitutional acts in recent times. One of them is the unconstitutional creation of 37 Local Government Areas (LGAs) outside the clearly laid down constitutional processes. The State also violates the Constitution by seizing the Federal fiscal allocations meant for its 20 constitutionally recognized LGAs and re-distributes them among its so called 20 LGAs and 37 LGDAs. In furtherance of its harsh and separatist policies, the Government of Lagos State has introduced a distinct motorization driver’s license and particulars policy that bar other Nigerians not resident in the State from entering the State with their private vehicular except they are in possession of Lagos State Driver’s License. This not only violates the constitutional right to freedom of movement of other Nigerians, but also renders the uniformed federally issued driver’s license inoperable in the State that is considered as Nigeria’s melting pot.
Other despicable and discriminatory policies pursued by the Government of Lagos State are demographic and electoral sectionalization; whereby despite the over 6 million citizens of Igbo Southeast extraction in Lagos, for instance, none of them occupies any elective position in the State, not even a councillorship position in Ojo LGA-fondly called Igbo LGA of Lagos State. Other set of laws and policies not in tune with the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as well as all-binding federal policies also abound in the State.
We join other rational and conscientious Nigerians and the rest of the world in condemning the gross constitutional abuses by the ACN led Government of Lagos State. Its continuing denials and unrepentant postures despite abundance of testimonial evidence are not surprising and speak volume of a government of recklessness and falsehood. By the despicable actions of the State, the Constitution of Nigeria is grossly abused and threatened. The two pillars of our Constitution: Chapter Two and Chapter Four are now at an unprovoked war with the Government of Lagos State. Under our hallowed Chapter Four, her Section 41 is grievously wounded by Lagos State-a state governed by an acclaimed Senior Advocate of Nigerian Law. The Section under reference is not only sacred; but also justiciable. This is by the provision of Section 46. The Section 41 states that every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof; and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefrom.
Under our Chapter Two, which contains the Ten Constitutional Commandments (sections 13 to 23) handed down to our 17,500 top public office holders including the Government of Lagos State, her Sections 15(2)- national integration and 17(1b)-sanctity and dignity of human person are grossly in breach by the Government of Lagos State. By Section 13 of our Constitution, our Chapter Two tolerates no infraction of any of her Sections or provisions by any tier of government in Nigeria, yet the State under reference violates same with reckless abandon. It is also important to point out that no State law in Nigeria; be it wandering or anti begging, can invalidates living provisions of our Constitution especially her Chapter Four.
We call on all Nigerians and the rest of the world to watch the macabre dance of the Government of Lagos State of Nigeria. The State is steadily opting out of our federated union to self-governed enclave by creating and midwifing a set of laws and policies layered in the confines of mechanical solidarity. “When laws and policies are designed by an enclave to disfavor 90 percent of the federated population and make federal laws and policies under which the lager citizens live and cohabitate inoperable and worthless, then federalism is gone for good and citizens ‘ liberties endangered”-Says Emeka Umeagbalasi today in Onitsha Nigeria.
‘We call on the Anambra State Executive Council to direct her Attorney General to take the Government of Lagos to the Supreme Court of Nigeria by way of originating summons to determine the constitutionality or otherwise of the gross misconducts complained of as well as obtainment of perpetual injunction stopping the wicked acts from being repeated”-Says Comrade Umeagbalasi, who chairs our Board. We also call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to carefully watch Lagos State including its set of laws and policies. Elsewhere in the United States, where agitations by some interest groups for the secession of some States from the Union, are on, their laws and policies are now under tight scrutiny at all times by the sovereign partner-the Federal Government of USA.
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
*Intersociety-Nigeria: Season of International Recognition; Challenges Facing NGOs
Season Of International Recognition & Awards To Intersociety Family & Friends
Challenges Facing NGOs In Nigeria & The Rest Of The World
(Public Information, Onitsha Nigeria, July 24, 2913)-It is indeed a season of international recognition and merit awards to the family and friends of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety). First was Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi who successfully participated in the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program on “NGO Management”-class of June 2013. The program, designed for NGO leaders, staff and volunteers as well as those working for social and business enterprises and government institutions ; for the advancement of their professional skills and international exposure; covered educational and cultural exchange sessions, workshops, under graduate, graduate and post graduate level tutorials in over eight US universities on non-profits in USA, etc; visits to respected think tanks like Center for Strategic International Studies-CSIS; lectures on US democracy and struggles for civil rights movements; sightseeing; visits to White House and Capitol Hill, to mention but few. In all, six States including Washington DC, Washington State, Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan and Missouri were covered in the three weeks intensive and extensive program.
As the jubilation dust that heralded Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi’s historic participation and return to his beloved country was yet to settle, another friend of Intersociety, Ms Amaka Biachi-Nwosu, wife of our dear friend, late Comrade Chidi Nwosu; slain chairman of the Campaign for Democracy, Southeast zone, who was gruesomely murdered by suspected State agents in Abia State, Southeast Nigeria; was included in the list of participants in the same program ongoing in the United States of America-class of July/August 2013. Late Comrade Chidi Nwosu was assassinated in his residence in Abia State in December 2009. Ms Amaka Biachi’s name was included in the team of Intersociety that played host to the US Consular General and his team who held a meeting with us during his visit to Anambra State in 2011, which led to her recommendation and nomination. Madam Biachi-Nwosu was recommended and nominated by our organization to keep the struggle with which her late beloved husband was known for, alive.
” The choice and inclusion of Ms Amaka Nwosu in the prestigious program is not only a plus for Intersociety but also a great psychological reprieve to her because it is likely that she is still traumatized by way and manner her beloved husband was battered and murdered in her presence three and a half years ago”-says Emeka Umeagbalasi today in Onitsha Nigeria. “It is a great cure and a psychological recovery for a woman who may not be far from the confines of post traumatic stress and shock arising from Comrade Chidi Nwosu’s wicked murder”-further says Emeka Umeagbalasi, our Board Chairman and Comrade-in-Charge .
Another great friend of Intersociety and a popular nominee for Intersociety board membership, Dr. Josephine Obiajulu Okei-Odumakin, who heads the Campaign for Democracyin Nigeria and founded Women Arise for Change; had earlier in March 2013 been awarded a prestigious International Woman of Courage; an award giving to its meritorious recipients annually by the US Secretary of State. Dr. Joe Odumakin, who teaches in various universities in Ghana, Dubai-UAE and Nigeria, has four other international awards this year to her credit. She is also an alumnus of International Visitors Leadership Program of the US State Department-class of August 2008. These are great honors to Intersociety family and friends and we thank the US State Department and the US Embassy in Nigeria for finding us meritorious and worthy. We promise to keep the flag of struggle flying without ceasing and season.
Lessons & Expectations:
One of the great lessons learnt from the prestigious program is strong partnership and collaborative culture existing between the government of US and non-profits organizations in efforts to develop and sustain the US society, unlike in Nigeria where cat and mouse relationship still beclouds the government and the non-governmental organizations. There are about 1.5 million non-profits in USA including social enterprises and religious bodies. The IVLP is instituted and funded by the US Government but organized by selected and reputable non-profit establishments on behalf of the US Government. Another great lesson is the giving culture of US citizens despite her country’s social stresses arising from economic meltdown. This is opposed to give me culture in Nigeria. In 2012 alone, American citizens made a total donation of &316 Billion to charities.
The third great lesson is the success story of the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program, which is subdivided into NGO management, volunteerism, financial crimes, international law and diplomacy, entrepreneurship, to mention but a few. Since 1963 when the prestigious program was instituted, over 50,000 international societal agents of change have participated, out of which, 325 have ascended to plum political leadership positions in their countries. One of such world leaders who participated in the prestigious IVLP is the current Chinese President, Mr. Xi Jinping who participated in the program 27 years ago. Mr. Jinping became his country’s president and chairman of the central military council via China’s National Peoples’ Congress in May 2013. Great lessons learnt from the program are inexhaustible but will be featuring in our subsequent messages to the world.
On the issue of expectations, our experiences from the formidable trip shall be reformative, transformative and constructive in application. We now have a reformed vision, mission, values, motto and programs. We have also adopted two basic programs of democracy & good governance and peace & security. Our democracy & good governance involves popular elections and electoral reforms, accountability in public governance and anti abuse of office. On the other hand our Peace & Security involves security & safety and alternative dispute resolution. Our reformed profile will be made public in a couple of days. It is also available at Intersociety-ng.org.
Though the first international NGO was Anti-Slavery International formed in 1839 but the post Second World War NGOs were created into existence for the betterment of the lives of the immediate and larger societies they work for. That is to say that NGO works that do not impact positively and directly on the grassroots are ballooned and evaporative. Any NGO that disconnects itself and works from the grassroots exists only to enrich professorial, doctoral and other academic students in their research libraries and laboratories. Such an NGO is dead on arrival. NGO leadership is more than local, national, regional and international workshops and seminars’ attendance, benefiting from academic scholarships and obtaining chains of academic degrees and wooden object awards. It is also more than mastership in coining programs that disembowel fat grants’ vaults in Europe and North America.
Sadly, many of the NGOs including over 40,000 recognized by the UN and millions of others operating in 193 independent countries around the world have lost focus of the very idea behind the invention of NGO. In Nigeria, for instance, 60 percent of founding members of Nigeria’s rights NGOs are from the Southeast zone of the country but domiciled in Lagos, yet the zone still parades the most visionless and tainted elected political officials in the country. The zone’s political landscape and leadership are still dominated by political rogues and brigands. With the exception of Anambra and Imo States, fought for and liberated by few radical NGOs in the zone, others are governed by those with crooked electoral mandates. This is because many of Nigeria’s NGOs are evaporative, academic and ballooned.
Despite having access to best technical expertise and funders in Europe and North America, they may be best described as “professors and doctorate degrees holders without students and constituency classrooms”. They are seen as “libertarian rights activists” who are far from “egalitarian rights activism”. They are also like an average Nigerian clergy man that prays outwardly for solutions to social problems but prays fervently inwardly for such problems not to go so that deliverance tithes tied to the problems will not seize coming into his pocket. Granted that an NGO is a “nimble” and a competent social evaluator, which analyses creatively with innovative ideas, but messages of NGOs must reach the grassroots and get them better informed to make themselves active members of the society. This explains why our motto is “taking the civil liberties & the rule of law campaigns to the grassroots for direct impact and betterment of their lives”. Intersociety; without fear of being accused of boastfulness, is one of the most grassroots-oriented NGOs in Nigeria. We are also an unrepentant messenger of “no democracy & good governance, no human rights”!
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
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