*How Yakubu Gowon Caused The Nigeria-Biafra War
By Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
One of the greatest enduring myths in Nigeria is the lie that Yakubu Gowon fought the Nigeria-Biafra war to keep Nigeria united, whereas in reality not only did Yakubu Gowon whose Northern region had originally intended to secede (Araba) after the July 1966 counter-coup cause the unnecessary war through his failure of leadership, his aim for fighting the war was never in the least a genuine desire to keep Nigeria united but purely because of Northern economic interests. The economic interests of the hitherto secessionist North became the principal reason for the volte face from secession to “one Nigeria” after the British government advised the Northern leadership of the economic disadvantages of secession. Thus unlike most civil wars where there is a genuine desire to keep the nation united for patriotic reasons, the Nigeria-Biafra war was an opportunistic war instigated by Yakubu Gowon and the North; not out of a genuine desire for a united Nigeria but for the selfish aims of British imperialism and Northern economic interests which remains the reason and reality of their presence in Nigeria to date.
Every conflict is dogged by lies and propaganda, but history always waits out the intrigues of war in the knowledge, that the truth; no matter how suppressed and how long it waits, will eventually prevail. In the midst of the historical lies and propaganda that trailed the conflict the long suppressed truth is beginning to find life. One emerging fact is the true causes/ intentions of the conflict and the fact that the conflict has by all accounts been considered a needless war. It is already deemed by some to be the most avoidable war of the 20th century. Unlike many unavoidable conflicts, there were many opportunities to avoid the Nigeria-Biafra war which needlessly consumed the lives of some 3 million people, entrenched an un-healing generational bitterness and caused severe social, political and economic dislocation from which the nation is yet to recover. Wars carry with them the worst of human tragedies and scars that endure for all time. It is an evil that must be avoided except it is absolutely necessary. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Nigeria Ex-Military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon leaving after attending Late Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua's funeral in Katsina, Katsina State May 6, 2010.
In the case of Nigeria-Biafra; there was nothing that made the war in the least necessary. Nigeria as a nation never existed until the British colonialists patched up the contraption of disparate ethnic and religious groups into an unworkable nation to service her imperial interests. From the onset it was obvious Nigeria would be inhibited by her contradictions and consequently doomed to failure. Thus when the pogrom/genocide of 1966-67 demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubts the impossibility of Nigeria, the legal route under international law as enshrined in the United Nations charter was to hold a plebiscite or referendum to determine by democratic means the choice of the majority as it concerns self determination for Biafra.
That route would have solved the problem in a legal and civilised manner as “no war no matter how desirable for the purpose of keeping a nation together is justifiable.” It defies all logic and natural justice to kill people in other to keep them in a nation. It is like killing a woman’s children in order to forcefully keep her in a marriage from which she seeks to exit. Freedom and self determination are inalienable God given rights and nations must be constructed and preserved through democratic consent and not through the barrel of a gun. Any act otherwise, to forcefully create or preserve a nation without the democratic consent of the indigenous peoples is an act of colonialism. Every ethnic group within the Nigerian geographical expression ordinarily retains the same right for which we struggled for independence from the British colonial government. It is thus a usurpation of the right to self determination and independence for any group or groups within Nigeria to wage war or forcefully coerce another into the nation against their will. To that extent the war against Biafra must be understood for what it really was; a war of aggression and colonialism.
Thus for the purposes of history and for generations yet unborn, I have decided to put on record for all time; the truth and injustice of the needless war of colonialism Yakubu Gowon and his allies instigated against Biafra on the lie of a war of unity.
Eastern Leadership And The Historical Championing of One Nigeria
One of the ironies of the Nigeria-Biafra war is how the East and her leadership under Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe who relentlessly championed the very idea of a united Nigeria as against the Northern leadership that harboured deep anti-Nigeria sentiments were forced by circumstances resulting from the pogrom/genocide to exercise the fundamental right of self preservation and opt for secession.
When in 1957 the British colonial authorities offered independence individually to the regions provided two out of the three regions accepted the offer, the Northern region declared they were not ready for that level of political and economic independence, the Western region declared their readiness for independence, the East became the tie to make or break Nigeria; Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe in a historic move, rejected the offer by declaring that “although the Eastern region was ready to assume the responsibilities of regional independence, its attainment without the North would lead to the balkanization of the Nigerian nation and conceivably a break-up of the country. The Eastern region would rather suppress its appetite for independence and the obvious gains it would entail until the Northern region was ready.” By this momentous and in my own opinion mistaken decision, Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe prevented the break-up of Nigeria as offered by the then colonial authorities in 1957. He also stridently opposed the Northern proposal for a right of self determination in the constitution in subsequent constitutional conferences.
These feats alongside the emergence of a Northerner “Mallam Umaru Altine” as the first mayor of Enugu in 1956, amongst so many other sacrifices made by Dr Azikiwe and other Eastern leaders in the course of the evolution of the nation to accommodate the historically “secessionist” North underscores the role the East played in being the biggest champions of a united Nigeria. Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe was not only an advocate of Nigerian unity; he was also highly invested in Pan-Africanism and the campaign for a United States of Africa. It is also noteworthy that in spite of the fact that crude oil was discovered in the then Eastern region in 1956 which gave overwhelming advantages to the East, not a single Eastern leader ever mentioned crude oil in any of their political narratives or sought to take undue advantage of it. Indeed Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe and even the short-lived military administration of General Aguiyi Ironsi demonstrated a diehard commitment to a united Nigeria for which the later ironically paid with his life; killed by the same Northern hypocrites who after accusing him of introducing the unitary system (which he did in his genuine desire to unify the country) ended up consolidating, sustaining and defending to date, the same unitary system for which they killed General Aguiyi Ironsi.
Historical Northern Rejection Of Nigeria
Historically, the North and her leadership were the greatest opponents of the very idea of Nigeria and Nigerian unity. Northern leaders such as Ahmadu Bello, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa amongst others never hid their disdain for Nigeria. The rejection of Nigerian unity at a point became the political ideology of Northern leaders which they variously expressed in public declarations and in the exclusionist policies formulated in the Northern region. In 1948 while addressing the legislative council, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa declared that “Since 1914 the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, in their religious beliefs and customs and do not show themselves any sign of willingness to unite. Nigerian unity is only a British intention for the country.” Undisguised disdain and rejection of the very idea of Nigerian unity is aptly demonstrated by this speech as presented by Tafawa Balewa.
The foremost Northern leader, Sir Ahmadu Bello was even more resentful of Nigeria. In his book and autobiography “My Life” published a year after independence in 1961, he famously castigated the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria as “the mistake of 1914.” Being the premier of the Northern region Ahmadu Bello further demonstrated his opposition to Nigeria by using his administrative powers to create an “Apartheid Northernization policy” which decreed that all available jobs in the North must go to a Northerner and in the event that there is no qualified Northerner should go to Europeans/ Arabs rather than Nigerians from the South. Nothing better demonstrates Ahmadu Bello’s hatred and rejection of Nigeria than his Apartheid Northenization policy that gave preference to Europeans, Arabs and other foreigners than to fellow Nigerians from the South. Segregation of southerners into areas known as “Sabon gari” was also a segregationist policy of Ahmadu Bello designed to keep Northerners separate from Southerners that endures to this day. The whole strata of the North and her leadership was thus never historically interested or invested in the idea of a United Nigeria from the dawn of colonial Nigeria.
The hostility and rejection of Nigeria by the North is also noted in the first riots directed at southerners in Jos in 1945 and subsequently in 1953 in Kano when an anti-independence riot was sponsored by the Northern leadership against Southerners living in Kano. Both of these riots resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Southerners and set the precedent for future riots that later became routine. Most importantly, the riots underscore the historical context of the hostility of the North to the very idea of Nigeria.
Post Independence Crisis:
Perhaps; because the duo of Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello harboured so much disdain for Nigeria, they had no incentive to invest in nation building or to make the necessary sacrifices to consolidate the fledgling republic in her most critical foundational years. They demonstrably advanced only narrow regional and sectional interests at the expense of the rule of law and good governance, thus by 1962 there was already a crisis of rigged census results and infighting in the West that led to the declaration of a state of emergency in the Western region. By 1963, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was arrested and convicted for alleged coup plotting. By 1964, a coalition between Ladoke Akintola the premier of the Western region and Tafawa Balewa resulted in massively rigged elections in the Western region which sparked off violent riots and disturbances (wetie).
In the Tiv Division riots had also been violently put down by Tafawa Balewa’s government using the military, however in the Western region the violence continued unabated until 1966 when the military reacting to the corruption, election rigging, thuggery, tribalism and the sustained violence in the Western region unfortunately struck at dawn in January 1966.
The Pogroms/Genocide And Yakubu Gowon’s Inaction/ Complicity:
A leader must be judged and held accountable for what happens under his watch. Following the injection of tribalism into the January 1966 coup, the North staged a secessionist counter (revenge) coup in July 1966 in which the then Head of state General Aguiyi Ironsi, Colonel Fajuyi the military governor of the Western region and some three hundred Eastern officers were assassinated. Yakubu Gowon who had been the chief of army staff consequently emerged head of state. “The most important constitutional duty of a head of state all over the world is the protection of life and property of the citizenry under all circumstances.” Yakubu Gowon abdicated his most fundamental constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property when he did absolutely nothing while officers and men of the Nigerian army and police who were supposed to protect life and property crossed over from their coup to attack and massacre thousands of Eastern civilians including women and children in the premeditated genocide in the North.
As the mass killings of innocent civilians went on by cowardly Soldiers who crossed over from a political coup to target and kill defenceless civilians, Yakubu Gowon did nothing. He didn’t send in troops or the police to try to calm the situation, he neither imposed a state of emergency nor a dusk to dawn curfew, he also never set-up any investigative panel to probe the killings. To make matters worse, even though the officers and men who were carrying out such heinous crimes against humanity were well known, Yakubu Gowon never reprimanded, arrested, court marshalled or punished any of them, rather the officers were all promoted. It became obvious by his inaction and promotion of the implicated officers that Yakubu Gowon was complicit in both the coup and genocide.
There is no circumstance that can justify the mass murder of innocent civilians while Yakubu Gowon who has a duty to protect life and property under all circumstances refused to act. It is unthinkable to imagine that at the height of the provocation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed more than 3000 Americans by Islamic terrorists; President George Bush would allow the massacre of innocent Muslims in the US. An estimated 50,000 innocent civilians were brutally murdered while Yakubu Gowon as head of state did nothing and indeed tacitly supported the mass killings. It is exactly for those types of crimes that the international criminal court in the Hague and Geneva Convention were established to bring to justice those who commit acts of genocide and other human rights violations. The killings only stopped when there was no one left to kill. Yakubu Gowon failed in his most fundamental duty to protect life and property and this failing created the self preservation scenario that necessitated self determination and consequently Biafra by the East. Since Yakubu Gowon as head of state could do nothing while thousands of innocent civilians were being hacked to death by Soldiers and Police officers who were supposed to protect life and property, the very idea of Nigeria died from that point and the East like any group had no choice but to undertake the natural right of self preservation and thus self determination.
(Araba): Intent Of Northern Secession And the British Government Advice That Changed the equation
The propaganda of Nigerian unity for which Yakubu Gowon and his goons premised their war was patently false for the simple reason that the Northern counter-coup christened “Araba” which means separation in Hausa language was a secessionist coup originally intended to finally break the North from Nigeria. Indeed the flag of the new republic had already been hoisted preparatory to the announcement of secession by the North. Yakubu Gowon informed the then British high commissioner Sir Cumming Bruce of the intention of the North to secede and it was the British in line with their imperialist interests that advised against Northern secession and made strident efforts to dissuade the North from seceding.
In his book “The Biafran War” Micheal Gould p.43 stated: “Cumming –Bruce was able to persuade the Emirs that secession would be an economic disaster”. As the British high commissioner Sir Cumming Bruce himself testified p.43 “it wasn’t on the face of it easy to get them (the North) to change, but I managed to do it overnight. I drafted letters to the British Prime Minister, to send to Gowon as Nigerian Head of State, and for my Secretary of State (Micheal Stewart) to send letters to each of the Emirs. I wrote an accompanying letter to each of them because I knew them personally. I drafted all these and they all came back to me duly authorised to push at once. The whole thing was done overnight and it did the trick of stopping them (the North) dividing Nigeria up.” From the testimony of the then British high commissioner Sir Cumming Bruce in regards to the effort he made to persuade the North not to secede, the deceit, propaganda and opportunism of Yakubu Gowon and his crowd as they lied through their teeth in their false claim of fighting for Nigerian unity when in reality they had originally intended to secede and only changed their mind on the prompting of the British government becomes self evident.
For all the false propaganda spewed to prosecute the needless war and the consequent tragic bloodletting, the British high commissioner’s testimony proves that Yakubu Gowon and the North were never genuine or interested in Nigerian unity. They were only opportunists who turned around to claim one Nigeria because of economic interests linked to crude oil which remains the reality of their presence in Nigeria to date. Had Yakubu Gowon and the North spared us the lie and kept their original plan to secede, the nation would have been better for it as more manageable homogenous units would have emerged and the nation would have been spared the needless conflict that was fought on the great lie of Nigerian unity.
Yakubu Gowon Reneges On Aburi Accord:
“My word is my bond” is a famous phrase that underlines the importance of honesty. For a leader the most important test of character is standing by his word. Yakubu Gowon failed this important test of character when he reneged on an agreement he personally participated in reaching in Aburi. On the 4th and 5th of January 1967 a genuine and final opportunity presented itself to resolve the simmering crisis through a conference in Aburi Ghana at the instance of General Ankrah. Notably Aburi was chosen because following the events of 1966 and the practical disintegration of the army, the security of Odimegwu Ojukwu and other Eastern dignitaries could not be guaranteed anywhere in Nigeria.
Yakubu Gowon, together with his advisers, secretaries and the military governors of the North, Midwest and Western regions were in attendance while Colonel Odimegwu Ojukwu being military governor of the East together with his aides also attended. Given the dire situation at that time, the meeting deliberated exhaustively on the structure of Nigeria. The next day the meeting continued and affirmed a final agreement known as the “Aburi Accord.” Thus for two days, Yakubu Gowon and his aides together with all the regional governors constituted the supreme military council which incidentally is the highest ruling body and reached agreement on all the critical issues, but as soon as Yakubu Gowon arrived in Nigeria he began the process of dilly dallying and reneging on an agreement freely negotiated and entered into in Aburi Ghana.
The question of building good faith and confidence was just as important as the conference itself as a bridge building measure given recent events. Unfortunately Yakubu Gowon almost immediately truncated the opportunity of building good faith by not respecting one of the agreements reached in Aburi concerning the temporary payment of salaries and recovery of properties of Eastern civil servants who had been forced to leave their jobs through no fault of theirs. Decree No. 8; later issued in May, a considerably long time for a conference held on the 4th and 5th January, which to a large extent is evidence of Yakubu Gowon’s dilly dallying and subterfuge, went further by ignoring the security sensitivities of the times, particularly for the Easterners by reneging on the most basic fundamental of Aburi accord which requires concurrence of all 4 military governors in all matters affecting the country when he sneaked in the powers to declare a state of emergency in the country with concurrence from only 3 out of the 4 military governors. The implication of this breach means that Yakubu Gowon and his cabinet could suddenly with concurrence from the other 3 military governors declare a state of emergency in the East and subject the region to military invasion.
Given the context of the time with a mutinous and dysfunctional Nigerian army whose officers and men instigated and actively participated in the genocide that killed officers and civilians including women and children of Eastern origin and while none of the officers or men in the Nigerian army or Police who committed such atrocities were either arrested, prosecuted or removed from the army or Police, it was natural that the Governor of the East needed enough safeguards and guarantees even if temporarily through collective concurrence of all four military governors on issues of national importance as agreed in Aburi to avoid suddenly becoming a victim of a state of emergency and other such insidious plots by the mass killers that still abounded in the Nigerian army/ Police until at least such a time that security and confidence is adequately restored.
It is ironical that the powers to declare a state of emergency which Yakubu Gowon never exercised when it was most necessary during the genocide to stop the mass killings which would have prevented the crisis in the first place was suddenly sneaked into Decree No. 8 with consent of only 3 out of the 4 military governors required in breach of the Aburi accord that recommended consent of all 4 military governors in such matters. Except Yakubu Gowon and his advisers had some ulterior motive as was suspected in the East, there is no reason why concurrence of all 4 military governors as agreed in Aburi for the declaration of a state of emergency in situations of riots or strife should be a problem for a temporary period until trust, confidence and a measure of reconciliation is achieved.
Indeed, reneging on the Aburi accord over the state of emergency issue by Yakubu Gowon was unnecessary as being a military regime, he still ultimately retained the powers under the “doctrine of necessity” in exceptional circumstances to issue an emergency decree that enables the declaration of a state of emergency in the extreme and very unlikely situation where he is unable to get consent of all 4 military Governors for the declaration of a state of emergency. There was thus no practical or logical reason for Yakubu Gowon to renege on the most sensitive and fundamental aspect of Aburi accord that was designed to be a temporary safeguard given the genocide, disintegration of the army and lack of trust until security and confidence is restored.
By disregarding the morbid fear and trauma which the pogroms/genocide had incited in the East thus reneging on the most fundamental aspect of the Aburi accord which would have given the necessary safeguards and created the environment for reconciliation and a permanent resolution of the crisis Yakubu Gowon proved incapable or unwilling to make any temporary sacrifices for peace. As a leader he failed to keep an agreement which he himself had personally participated in negotiating in Aburi Ghana. This failure of leadership and bad faith finally set the nation on the part of an unnecessary war and bloodletting. As a further demonstration of bad faith and insincerity, it is also important to note Yakubu Gowon’s unusual delay from January to May before he issued the diluted version of Aburi accord. This five month delay more than anything else serves as an undeniable indication of Yakubu Gowon’s insincerity in resolving the crisis and his preference for war.
Colonialism And The Right To Self Determination
Colonialism is generally regarded as the total or partial loss of autonomy of indigenous peoples to the coercive or forceful establishment of exploitative/oppressive governing authorities on unequal terms by a people, group or colonial power not ordinarily or historically linked culturally, geographically or linguistically to the colonised. Any group that therefore forcefully subjects another to their authority without democratic consent of the indigenous peoples through a plebiscite or referendum is an act of colonialism. There was nothing like Nigeria until the British in trying to consolidate the commercial interests of Taubman Goldie a British trader whose forays brought him to the region put together a people who mostly never had any cultural, geographic, linguistic or ethnic links with each other. It was from the onset an impossible nation created not for the harmonious existence or interests of the unfortunate subjects who made up the strange and unworkable contraption but for the servicing of British trading interests.
Following strident agitations and the increasing enforcement of the right to self determination as enshrined in the United Nations charter, Nigeria gained independence in 1960 but the subjects within the Nigerian space who had no hitherto cultural, geographic or linguistic links faced their own colonialism within the “geographical expression known as Nigeria” for the many tribes and cultures within Nigeria where just as alien to each other as the British were to them. The manifest injustice of colonialism led to the adoption of the right to self determination in the United Nations Atlantic Charter in 1941 and further consolidated in 1945. It established the right under international law for all indigenous peoples to seek independence through democratic means.
The Nigerian crisis and pogrom/genocide of 1966/67 established beyond all reasonable doubts the incompatibility of Nigeria and opened the opportunity for the application of international law to peacefully determine the status of Biafra through a plebiscite or referendum administered by the United Nations. Nigeria being a nation of alien tribes, Biafra reserved the same right of independence with which Nigeria won independence from Britain on the basis of colonialism. But Yakubu Gowon refused to allow a referendum in line with the dictates of international law as established in the United Nations charter which would have resolved the impasse through a legitimate democratic method that respects the inalienable rights of indigenous peoples to self determination and freedom from internal or external colonialism.
To the extent that the people of Biafra were never allowed to freely and democratically express their choice and right to self determination through a plebiscite, Yakubu Gowon’s war against Biafra and consequent coercive subjugation of the people to the governing authorities of Nigeria was and remains for all practical purposes an act of colonialism.
The Conduct And Aftermath Of War Reveals The Lie Of War Of Unity
7th of July 1967, the Nigerian army attacked Biafra and began the onslaught on an aggrieved and beleaguered people who had in exercising their legitimate and natural right to self defence/preservation opted for self determination in the aftermath of the genocide against innocent Eastern civilians while the head of state refused to act. In prosecuting the war Yakubu Gowon proved his complicity in the genocide by fielding the likes of Murtala Muhammed, Shehu Yar’Adua, Theophilus Danjuma, Mohammed Shuwa and others who ironically are the same cowardly officers who perpetrated the genocide against civilians that created the crisis in the first place. These officers were not just mass murderers they were also rapists who serially committed crimes against humanity in the course of the conflict.
To decipher the true motive for the conflict, certain fundamental questions must be asked; If Yakubu Gowon was genuine about Nigerian unity as the true reason for his war why the North was originally intent on secession until the British authorities advised them not to because of economic interests / crude oil? Why did Gowon as head of state abdicate his constitutional responsibility and stood by when thousands of innocent Eastern civilians were being massacred? Why was Gowon so unwilling to make any sacrifices for the interest of peace and why did he renege on an accord he agreed in Aburi? Why did it take him so long from January to May to issue a decree on the diluted version of Aburi accord? Why was the Nigerian army so invested in massacres, rape and arson as they did in Benin, Asaba, the apostolic church Onitsha and practically all theatres of the war? Why were officers and men of the Nigerian army like Benjamin Adekunle and others making inflammatory statements of their intent on genocide in a supposed war of unity? Why was the notorious radio Kaduna making atrocious statements that urged rape and genocide in a supposed war of unity? Why did balkanisation of Igboland, abandoned property, divide and rule and the seeds of division instead of reconciliation become the policy of Yakubu Gowon’s government before and after the war? Why did Apartheid policies of marginalisation/exclusion become federal government policy after the war if it was genuinely a war of unity as Yakubu Gowon repeatedly lied?
In nations that went through a civil war, driven by a genuine patriotic desire for unity, the end of such conflicts is not followed by policies of balkanisation, abandoned properties, exclusion and marginalisation as has been the case in Nigeria but swift and total reconciliation, reconstruction and re-integration. Vietnam, Angola and post-genocide Rwanda are just some examples of nations that achieved total reconciliation and re-integration in the aftermath of conflict because of a genuine desire for unity.
In the case of Nigeria, the events before, during and after the war in itself provides sufficient evidence for the true intentions of the conflict as a war not borne out of patriotism and a genuine desire for Nigerian unity/ nation building but of economic interests, subjugation and colonialism. On his own part, Yakubu Gowon by not following through with the original intent of the North to secede, by his repeated bad faith, by abdicating his most fundamental constitutional responsibility to protect the lives and property of citizens thus allowing and even enabling mass killings of genocidal proportions under his watch, by reneging on an agreement he personally participated in negotiating in Aburi and by usurping a people’s inalienable right to self determination through democratic means (plebiscite or referendum) as enshrined in the United Nations charter amongst other excesses personally and deliberately caused the avoidable and unnecessary Nigeria-Biafra war and the attendant tragedies associated with the conflict just seven years after independence.
Not only did Nigeria by the events before and during the war pioneer genocide in Africa, the first images of starving children which has now become a permanent fixture of Africa also began from Nigeria. The pogrom and the war more than anything else have come to define Nigeria as a land of monumental injustice and impunity. The war itself was an illegal war and a violation of international law which established since 1945 the right of self determination in Chapter 1, Article 1, part 2 which states that the purpose of the UN Charter is: "To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace." As each successive generation discovers the truth and injustice of that needless conflict, the bitterness is sure to remain Nigeria’s deepest enduring divide.
Nigeria continues to suffer severe social, economic and psychological dislocations as a result of the needless conflict. The nation has since become a disharmonious, dysfunctional and strife torn chaotic failed state Nigeria. Courtesy of Yakubu Gowon, crude oil that was hitherto not an issue during the time of Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe is now an obsessive object of national importance and the only mainstay of the economy. Gowon took away all aspects of federalism and consolidated the unproductive parasitic unitary system together with the creation of unviable states/local governments (without plebiscites) that are dependent only on crude oil allocations at the expense of industrialisation and other productive initiatives, which has in turn encouraged corruption and led to the collapse of the economy.
As the truth of the conflict continues to emerge and as the nationwide campaign for a sovereign national conference gathers steam in a nation that has been awakened to the lie of Nigerian unity, Emeka Ojukwu has been vindicated by Nigeria’s increasing strife, failure and impossibility as a nation. Yakubu Gowon was ultimately an unprincipled, incompetent, bigoted and opportunistic leader whose failure of leadership unleashed the pogroms and unnecessary war that spilled enough blood to fill the bowels of the Niger River. He and his cabinet members who so callously plunged the nation into an atrocious bloodletting will have to live and die with their conscience haunted by the millions of lives they took on the premise of a great lie. Their successive generations will also not be spared.
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu ( Email: email@example.com ).
*Akanu Ibiam Airport: Beginning of International ID & Socioeconomic Greatness of Ndigbo
Akanu Ibiam International Airport: Beginning Of A Journey For International Identity And Socioeconomic Greatness Of The Igbo-Nigerians
(Public Information: Onitsha Nigeria, 25th of August, 2013)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law is happy to celebrate the news of the launching of the first international flight at the upgraded Akanu Ibiam International Airport located in Enugu, Southeast Nigeria. The Boeing 737-800 Ethiopian Aircraft, marked ET-APL, was reported to have landed at the airport, at about 12.14pm on Saturday, 24th of August, 2013, with fifteen passengers on board and left at about 2.30pm same day. The aircraft has 158-passenger capacity.
Enugu is the old capital of the defunct Eastern Nigeria; one of the original three regions created by the Richards of 1946, on the basis of three major tribes in Nigeria-Hausa-Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba. The creation was done for the purposes of devolution of political powers and decentralization of socioeconomic activities on the basis of equity and fairness. Enugu (hilltop) celebrated its centenary in 2009. The Igbo Race of today is made of sedentary Igbo or home Igbo-represented by the Nri/ Igboukwu and Arochukwu Dynasties with over 1000 years of recorded existence; pastoral Igbo-represented by Agbor Dynasty with over 900 years of existence; and assimilated Igbo or lost Igbo, who collapsed into other tribes scattered in Edo, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Benue and Kogi States and a part of Southwest as well as Ivory Coast, Benin Republic, Togo, Cape Verde, Spain and Portugal.
Sadly, the Igbo Race, fondly called “African Scientists of Development”, has no single international airport and seaport for the past 100 years. Despite this age-long maltreatment, the race still engages in the development of various parts of Nigeria especially Lagos in the Southwest and Kano in the Northwest Nigeria. Also despite the innocuous intents of the race, they are labeled, mocked and hated wherever they go so as to reside and develop peacefully. In Kano, which they entered in 1840s, they transformed an area given to them to live and suffer-called Sabon Gari, yet they ended up labeled “Inyamiri” (an Igbo word meaning-give me water, but bastardized and adopted as scornful word by the Hausa-Fulani race).
Today, Sabon Gari is one of the richest, if not the richest city in Kano State and a major source of revenue for the Government of Kano State. In Port Harcourt, South-south Nigeria, the Igbo People were rewarded with “abandoned properties” maltreatment. Lately in Lagos State, they were labeled “destitute” by the Governor and Government of the State after forcefully deporting dozens of them in the hours of the blue law and during the market hours of the spirit world. The race contributes about 40 percent, if not over 40 percent to the State’s internally generated revenues.
Though, the epochal event that took place in Enugu on 24th of August, 2013 is a welcome development, but it should be seen from the prism of beginning of a long journey. What the Peter Obi leadership of the Southeast zone has succeeded in getting for the Igbo People does not go beyond securing the Federal Government’s license and certification to operate an international airport in the zone with adhoc upgrading and adjustments. Challenges abound. The next step will be “the making of Akanu Ibiam International Airport a reality”. We have demanded and still demand that the Southeast Governors Forum and other core stakeholders should get the Federal Government of Nigeria into making sure that the foreign missions in the country particularly those of Europe, North American, India, China and other Southeast Asia and the Gulf Cooperation Council open their consulate offices in Enugu for visa procession and obtainment and related issues. A demand should be made to the Government of Enugu State to provide a land space or rent facilities for the sitting or location of such consulate offices. These should be geared toward resting for finality the hurdles of traveling to Lagos to obtain visas for international travels or traveling to overseas through same route as well as bringing to an end era of age-long socioeconomic slavery in the hands of the Government of Lagos State and its southwest geopolitical zone.
Extra efforts should be made to equip the airport and make it wear the look of a modern international airport adorned with international aviation qualities. This will make it not to attract cabin coffins but internationally certified healthy aircrafts. Another important task which the Obi-led southeast socioeconomic thinkers should perform is provision and maintenance at all times of access routes to the all-important airport. To this extent, the Onitsha-Enugu and the Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Ways, which are now death-traps, should be reconstructed as a matter of uttermost immediacy. For immediate and effective utilization of the international airport, the five States of the Southeast should jointly fund the reconstruction of the two important roads and seek for refund from the Federal Government of Nigeria later.
Some of the qualities of a modern international airport that Akanu Ibiam International Airport should be adorned with for the purpose of attracting huge patronage locally and internationally, include provisions of sizeable power station, adequate departure and landing wings, underground trains, modern boarding and departure gates, vehicular lobbies, elevators, excavators and manual staircases, electronic boarding pass devices, aviation and access control electronic devices. Others are hygienic and modern restrooms, stretchers and wheelchairs for physically challenged, modern airport clinics, financial houses and shopping malls and sales stores. The service of internationally rated airport maintenance firm should be secured for the round-the-clock maintenance of the airport.
The grand importance of these is need for effective policing including physical, mental and electronic securitization devices, personnel and management. All the routes to the airport and around its premises should be wired. The idea of flooding the said routes and surroundings with armed security personnel should be lowered drastically. This is because it will constitute nuisance and further insecurity, thereby scaring away home and foreign passengers and diminish the potentials of huge resources mobilization needed for further development of the Southeast zone. Instead, intelligence and electronic security should be massively deployed.
Other than the foregoing, there is an urgent need to decongest and decentralize Lagos wharfs. In view of this, conveying container goods to Port Harcourt wharfs, which are more friendly and convenient for traders of the Southeast and the South-south zones, should be encouraged and intensified. There should also be proper dredging of the River Nigeria and construction of medium size wharf in Onitsha. For easy conveyance of goods and services to Onitsha, Nnewi and Enugu, a connecting bridge should be built between the Ogwuikpere- Ogbaru part of Anambra State and the Ndoni part of River State, which, when built, will shorten the distance between Port Harcourt in River State and Onitsha in Anambra State to about one and a half hours. In addition to existing industrial layouts in the Southeast zone, there shall be established new ones to be decentralized and sited in Anambra, Imo, Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi States and they should be provided with modern industrial incentives such as roads, power station, human, physical and policy security as well as tax concessions.
As for the absence of the Governor of Imo State at the historic event, it is shocking. The collective development of the long marginalized Southeast zone ought not to be premised on political party politics. It ought to transcend beyond political party line. Engaging in politics of vendetta or parochial party politics is totally condemnable. This has for years, undermined our collective development as a geopolitical zone.
On the same premise, those who blamed Senator Chris Ngige for not sponsoring a single bill at the Senate since 2011 on the ground of legislative incompetence may be wrong. But blaming it on politics of vendetta and parochial party politicking may not be contestable. Educational capability is not lacking in the Senator. He is more qualified educationally than some Senators from the Southeast zone. But for perceived politics of vendetta and parochial party politicking, he would have sponsored at least ten bills.
By distancing himself and his government from such historic event in Enugu, the Okorocha government and his new party, APC, are losing a rare opportunity available to them to proof critics in many quarters especially in the Southeast zone wrong, to the effect that the All Progressives Congress-APC, largely drawn from the Hausa-Fulani’s CPC and the Yoruba’s CAN, will visit Igbo Race with “Boko-Haram” and “dead night deportation policies”, voted into power at the State or federal levels, either by live or dead votes.
Finally, the efforts of the Southeast Governors Forum led by Governor Peter Obi, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela, Senator Pius Anyim, Ministers Emeka Worgu, Stella Odua, Onyebuchi Madubuike, Senator Ike Ekweremmadu, etc are commended. President Goodluck Jonathan also deserves commendation in this regard. We wish to remind the President that the peoples of the Southeast and the South-south zones are still waiting for the takeoff of the Second Niger Bridge project.
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
Photo Above: Section of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria.
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*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
*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
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