A US bases group has released a report of its latest findings in Nigeria. The report made available by the US Nigeria Law group indicted the Federal Government over its silence on the persecution of Christians and multiple security checkpoints in the South East region of the country which have become oil well for security agencies who have resorted mainly to extortion of the hapless citizens.
The report read thus;
USNLG: Annual Human Rights Report on Nigeria: PART 1: GEN. BUHARI BUILDS A WALL
Last week, we concluded a fact finding mission to Nigeria and are releasing this report in commemoration of International Human Rights Day today.
PART A – ATROCITIES OF NON-STATE ACTORS
1. RESURGENCE OF TERRORIST TARGETING OF CHRISTIANS AND HOSTAGE-TAKING OF AID-WORKERS
During our visit to Nigeria, Boko Haram announced its abduction of several Nigerian Security agents and “eight Christians” in a renewed genocidal campaign of religious persecution. This is a resurgence of it’s rogue roadblocks that claimed the lives of over 170 people in 2013 as terrorists dressed as soldiers checked IDs and beheaded Christians in a chainsaw massacre.
Also during our mission, a lecturer Dr Bitrus Zakka who teaches Christian Religious Knowledge was abducted at a checkpoint upon the discovery of a bible in his luggage. Educators are also targets of the terrorists. It is unclear if Dr Zakka is amongst the captives reported by the terrorists. Boko Haram also claimed the capture of two “Christian” aid workers for the Red Cross. Bearing in mind the execution of their Red Cross co-worker Hauwa Liman last year and aid workers Lawrence Duna Dacighir and Godfrey Ali Shikagham this year, the recorded number of aid worker fatalities in Nigeria over the past decade is now in excess of 40. This averages one per quarter for 10 consecutive years!
This does not include UNICEF midwife Alice Ngaddah and 16 year old Christian heroine Schoolgirl Leah Sharibu held hostage for 649/659 days respectively and the recent hostages from Action Against Hunger. We note once more our prior alert that Boko Haram has again relaunched clear targeted attacks on the basis of religious identity. This is all the more worrisome given their impersonation of military personnel more so during the high risk Christmas season.
2. UPSURGE IN KIDNAP FOR RANSOM
Last Easter, the spouse of a relative of this researcher was abducted for ransom in northern Nigeria by Herdsmen. Last month the husband of a relative of this researcher was also abducted in southern Nigeria by criminals. The statistical odds that this would occur to one individual within a six-month timeframe is highly indicative of the geometric rise in these sorts of crimes. Incidentally a justice of the court of appeal was also abducted. All instances cited above resulted in releases however British aid worker, Faye Mooney was killed in northern Nigeria also in a botched kidnapping. Apart from the multi-state Herdsmen syndicates, kidnapping has become an opportunistic crime around the country in what can only be described as a resurgence of “localized slave trading.
3. SEPARATIST VIOLENCE
Members of the Separatist Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) group reportedly burnt to death two police officers in Nigeria’s southeast while we were in country. Although the group had not engaged in terrorist activity before it was outlawed for terrorism, this rare violent incident reportedly resulted in reprisals for the killing of half a dozen of its members.
4. HERDSMEN ATTACKS
While there were no major massacres while in country, continuing low grade altercations occurred with Herdsmen grazing on farms or even simply burning farmers’ crops.
PART B – ACTIONS OF STATE
5. COURT INVASION
While in Nigeria, the regime’s secret police released activists Sowore and Bakare from 125 days of detention but brazenly invaded a courtroom to rearrest them the next day in violation of the law, desecration of the court and disregard for court orders. The DSS had unlawfully invaded the Legislature last year and its boss was fired by Nigeria’s VP Osinbajo who was acting President at the time. However, the unlawful invasion of the court by the DSS has received no reaction from President Buhari besides justification.
6. LETHAL MILITARY FORCE IN NORTH EAST
There are credible reports of indiscriminate air bombings that claimed the lives of innocent civilians gathering firewood in Northeast Nigeria. In addition, at least one known victim of a helicopter firing on defenseless voters during the “elections” in Kogi is battling for her life in hospital. The use of lethal air munitions on defenseless citizens on the ground has become a recurring phenomenon since the mass casualty attacks on a Rann IDP Camp.
7. POLICE EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS IN SOUTH EAST
There were also reports of the killing of at least six members of IPOB in southeastern Nigeria. Postings to the southeast are reportedly at a premium as policemen prefer to be at the numerous lucrative checkpoints that extort motorists. There were reports of a driver killed for not giving a 50 naira bribe (seven cents). A Nigerian American journalist visiting reported that his taxi was stopped by a policeman who demanded money from him (the journalist) and not the driver. Uber drivers complained that they had to remove their Uber stickers due to targeting and harassment by policemen.
8. JUDICIAL MANIPULATION
There were further signs of the manipulation of the judiciary in the handling of election appeals challenging Gen. Buhari’s dubious elections.
I. Contrary to long-standing procedure, the Supreme Court did not constitute a panel of the most senior justices to hear the case.
II. A senior justice with familial ties to the opposition party was not allowed to sit on the case while another justice with ties to the ruling party was allowed to.
III. A senior justice who had given a dissenting judgment contradicting the bizarre Osun case where the governorship was spuriously awarded to the ruling party was also not on the panel.
IV. A justice who was approached by a government minister to award governorship of a state to the ruling party but refused and was then arrested by the government was on the panel.
V. The new CJN who was foisted on the judiciary after the unlawful ouster of Chief Justice Onnoghen was also on the panel.
VI. The court dismissed the election challenge without hearing it.
9. The state of Gombe in northern Nigeria is the latest to fail to confirm a female Christian, Justice Beatrice Iliya, as Chief Judge of the State pursuant to the constitution. Like Justice Elizabeth Karatu of Kebbi State, earlier this year, she has been replaced by a junior male Muslim judge of debatable pedigree after having acted as Chief Judge. This is the third high profile female Christian Judge to face obstacles to confirmation in northern Nigeria. Justice Patricia Mahmoud was similarly denied Chief Judgeship in Kano State on account of her Christian Faith. The case of Justice Beatrice Iliya is not yet final but the unfortunate precedent by Gen. Buhari’s illegal removal of Nigeria’s first southern Chief Justice in 30 years and his replacement with a northern Muslim does not inspire confidence. There is palpable public concern at a systematic northernization and Islamization of government at both federal and state levels. While the expired tenures of numerous northern Muslim officials have been illegally extended, those of southerners are abruptly cut short or not renewed.
10. CENSORSHIP and REPRESSION – the Nigerian Government is institutionalizing repression as statecraft. A wall has been built around the Unity Fountain in Abuja that had become a recognized staging ground for protests. Parliamentarians from the US and Europe are amongst foreign dignitaries who had addressed activists such as Bring Back Our Girls Group there. After over a year of the stationing of police to harass protesters, a wall has been built to further shut down civic dissent and citizen activism. Where other leaders build walls to protect their citizens, Gen. Buhari has built a wall to prevent his citizens. The building of the wall is symbolic of repression under the Buhari regime which has now outdone his prior military junta for its crass demolition and denudation of Democracy. Like his first coming 36 years ago, Buhari’s second coming is also synonymous with the destruction of democracy in Nigeria again.
A Hate Speech Bill in the parliament appears to be a reiteration of his draconian Decree 4 of 1984 which even then did not prescribe capital punishment for outlawed speech.
To be continued.
US NIGERIA LAW GROUP
Chibuike John Nebeokike
For: Radio Biafra Media