Buhari’s Last Chance By Azu Ishiekwene

If the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, is offering advice on what President Muhammadu Buhari must do to rescue his government, then the President should know he has work to do.

The governor, who came to office over six years ago on the ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, has since switched parties. He is currently the official clown of the All Progressives Congress. And with months of unpaid salaries and pensions, and state monuments bearing his family name, there’s enough wreckage to show for his status.

But that’s a digression. His advice to Buhari is on point and infinitely more sensible than the nonsense of his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello, who declared a public holiday to mark the President’s return but didn’t know what to do to save even one of the 60 persons that died from an abdominal infection in Kogi the same week.

Buhari has work to do and he has to start from home while the rodents in his office are being apprehended and the cobwebs cleared.

His six minutes national address was a mixed bag. But whatever its defects, he has made enough speeches in the last two years. It’s time to do what he has been saying.

As far as I can remember, Buhari is the first to win a presidential election depending almost entirely on votes from the North and the South West. What he should have done on assumption of office, was to rally the whole country and not give the regrettable impression that he would only be President for the regions that voted for him.

Azubuike Ishiekwene

That posture, compounded by a few skewed appointments in his early days, has fuelled separatist sentiments, especially in the South East, and popularised Nnamdi Kanu’s Biafra rhetoric.

Renaming Buhari “Okechukwu” (a share from God) or even “Onyenzoputa” (savior) will not solve the problem created by his initial faux pas. The government has to start an honest engagement with its citizens, especially groups that have been radicalized by official insensitivity.

The 2014 National Conference report and even reports from previous ones, which Buhari has inexplicably refused to read, would be a good starting point.

As I said in this column last week, Boko Haram appears resurgent and insecurity is assuming new, frightening dimensions. It would be naïve to assume that Boko Haram would be wiped out. The recent deadly attacks by the group suggest that there’s still work to be done.

Buhari cannot afford to take his eyes off the insurgents; nor should the even more difficult task of resettling the victims be ignored anymore.

It’s heartening to know that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had not submitted his committee’s report on the $43 million found at a Lagos residence before the rodents invaded Buhari’s corner.

The Vice President’s committee was supposed to find out how tons of dollars ended up in a private residence and if it was true as the former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, claimed, that he sheltered the money on orders.

That report should be made public, along with the findings of Osinbajo’s committee on the role of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, in the alleged case of millions of naira set aside for the Presidential Initiative on the North East, which ended up in private pockets.

The war on corruption appears stuck in the mud. But since the President was getting regular briefings in his London sickbay, he’s probably already aware of two court rulings asking his government to publish looted funds recovered since 1999 to date; looted funds recovered on his watch since 2015 and the names of the looters.

Corruption will kill the country if all we do is talk about it or turn a blind eye when the culprits are close to us. Some people close to the President are giving his government a bad name and he knows them.

If the National Assembly is still perceived as a den of corruption, it’s because Buhari has failed to use his leverage as leader of the ruling party to deal with it; and if the judiciary is making mincemeat of anti-corruption cases, it’s because Buhari has retained a minister of justice who is confused, if not incompetent.

If he seriously wants a change, he’ll have to make the right call. And time is not on his side. There’s merit in Okorocha’s advice that he might need to overhaul his cabinet.

Not only does he need to take another look at the Justice Ministry, he might also need to overcome the sentiment that to love a competent minister is to kill him with work: Babatunde Fashola is currently overworked with three ministries. He needs to be where the country can optimise his talent and energy.

In theory, the Ministry of Education should be able to handle the national strike by university teachers, which is in its second week. In practice, however, Buhari cannot afford to outsource the problem, which has lingered on now for eight years.

I recall that when The Interview interviewed Buhari in July 2016, he said one of the reasons why he dumped the National Conference report was that Goodluck Jonathan’s government used the money that ought to have been used to pay lecturers to host “a useless conference.” Now, he’ll find that the matter is a bit more complicated.

Money won’t bury all the problems in the universities, though. Sure, the universities require more resources, but even if we hand over the key to the treasury to them, nothing will change as long as the market continues to think that university graduates are useless and that a good number of lecturers themselves need teachers.

What is required is a comprehensive overhaul of the educational system – the kind that Oby Ezekwesili tried to implement as Education Minister before vested interests fought her to a standstill. Fixing education is a presidential assignment.

It’s good to know that, so far, there are no reports of well-wishers falling over themselves to visit Buhari at home since he returned. They can send him cards with a spray can or two of pesticides for his office use, if they can afford it.

The man has work to do and should be left alone to face it, squarely. 

Ishiekwene is the MD/Editor-In-Chief of The Interview magazine and board member of the Paris-based Global Editors Network 

 

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The Common Enemy Of The Nigerian People Are Politicians, The Men of God, The Imams and a docile Populace by Charles Oputa Charly boy

Area Father Charley Boy

“Since 1960, Na story story story. The Evil that descended on us, have been left unchecked.

“Kai na the British pack all of us put inside this one chance? Chea!!!!!!!! See our lives, like say dem swear for us.

“Prophets Like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti never stopped preaching, we just ignored him to the detriment of our Nationhood, Development and Economic Growth.

Religion is an enemy of the Nigeria people, lost her glory in Nigeria in the late 1970s. Intolerance & fraud took over the churches and mosques in the 1990s, with fraudulent pastors in their Mega 419 churches and a hungry miracle obsessed populace.

“The Intolerant Imams armed with their violent interpretation of the Quran supported by brainwashed illiterates as followers. Na wa.

“The only common relationship between these two set of demons ravaging the Nigerian State and narrative is the audaciously mindless corrupt politicians and bastardized populace.

“Before the 1990s, the devilish proliferation of Mega churches/the violently murderous Intolerant Imams, religious crisis were minimal and barely existed.

“Corruption was something that Nigerians frowned at; morals was something to be proud of and contentment was celebrated.

“Nigerians who were disciplined, with Integrity and uprightness made the society proud and fought for the good of all.

“We had factories, labour was valued and organized union fought for all. Miracles had a connection with hard work and leaders of the church and mosque frowned at ill-gotten wealth. Pre 1990 Nigeria celebrated the beauty of a just, fair and equal society.

“Now, Nigeria has become a haven of fraud, Intolerance, Deceptive, Despicable and Destructive Mentality. We lost it as a Nation, we lost it as parents and we lost it as human beings. Our humanity is a reflection of our failure as a PEOPLE.

“The common enemy of the Nigerian people is the Politicians, The Men of God, The Imams and a docile populace. Those who promote the Narrative of Destructive Engagement are the same people who are feeding off the problems of an unstable Nation. God punish them one by one.

“Political Leadership in the Military, National Assembly; Nigerian Judiciary, Nigerian Executive; Criminal Political Bankers; Demonic Political Contractors, Intolerant Imams and 419 Men of God are the common enemy of the People and have succeeded in messing our country up for decades because the masses have been hypnotised, brainwashed, misled and misinformed.

“Now we Fight; because dis no be life. Now we wake up and now we form Alliances that can Challenge the tradition of deceptive engagement; The enemies of the people and the mind that is misinformed.

“In fighting these demons, we will be confronted by a populace who will do anything to remain in bondage, but we must not be wary and worried, we must not be tired and afraid, we must not give up or give in and we must not let the enemies weaken our spirit or resolve, who born them. Der papa.

“We must challenge the essence of our Humanity. We must define the mood of our Nation and we must breathe life into the frustration of our shared suffering.

My people day don break.

“The only chains we have to lose is our Fear, Hunger, Pains and Suffering. My people must be ready for the long battles for freedom, the long walk for equity, justice, fairness and the long movement for renewed nationalism.

“We all must be prepared to fight for this Great Nation because our #OurMumuDonDo.”

​Governor El Rufai Should Prosecute Murderers Of 347 Shiites And 204 People In Southern Kaduna By Femi Falana (SAN)

In a bid to counter the allegation credited to the Christian Association of Nigeria that 800 people were killed during the 3-month violent attacks on many communities in Southern Kaduna by armed herdsmen the Nasir El-Rufai administration has announced a figure of 204. The official figure was reported to have been compiled by the National Emergency Management Agency and the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency. Both agencies have continued to make relief materials available to thousands of people whose houses were set ablaze as well as children and wards whose parents and guardians were brutally killed during the crisis.
The National Peace Committee led by a former military ruler, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has commenced moves to promote “peace” between the assailants and the family members of those who were killed.

Femi Falana

Photo Credit:

Premium Times

At the end of a meeting with Governor El-Rufai in Kaduna last week, General Abubakar said that peace could only return to the area if the people were ready to dialogue and forgive one another. Thus, the directive of President Buhari that the criminal elements who perpetrated the orgy of violence be fished out and prosecuted is likely to be sacrificed on the altar of “peace.”

Since the Committee is interested in the restoration of peace in Kaduna state, it is pertinent to draw the attention to the case of the Shiites. The State government had revealed at a judicial commission of inquiry last year that the Nigerian Army had massacred 347 Shiites when armed troops opened fire on them in Zaria for causing a traffic jam which interrupted the movement of the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff on December 12, 2015? However, the Kaduna state government aided and abetted the Army in the secret burial of the bodies of the slain Shiites in a mass grave in Mango village, near Kaduna? As if those atrocities were not enough, the Kaduna state government proceeded to demolish the houses of the Shiites leader, Sheik Ibraheem Elzakzaky. Apart from witnessing the gruesome murder of three of their children, Elzakzaky and his wife who were subjected to horrendous brutalisation from the troops have been detained without trial since December 14, 2015.

Having lost his right eye, Elzakzaky has applied to seek medical treatment abroad. But the request has been rejected by the State Security Service. In a grand display of impunity, the order of the Federal High Court that the couple be released from detention and be provided with accommodation by the government which has rendered them homeless has been treated with disdain. Meanwhile, the Kaduna State government has refused to prosecute the soldiers who killed the 347 Shiites as recommended by the judicial commission of inquiry which it had set up. In the same vein the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Buhari has refused to direct the army authorities to constitute a court-martial for the trial of the military officers who issued the illegal order for the genocidal acts.

With respect to the incessant killing of farmers by armed herdsmen in various parts of the country the Committee members should be told that the temporary reconciliation of murderers and victims cannot guarantee lasting peace. The Committee should impress it on the state governments where there is livestock to embark on the establishment of ranches and abattoirs. Our political class ought to learn from Botswana which is an arid land with the Kalahari Desert extending to the western part. Yet that country which is the largest producer and exporter of meat and meat products in Africa has successfully eliminated clashes between cattle rearers and farmers by establishing ranches and abattoirs.

While the National Peace Committee is commended for the initiative of promoting peace in Southern Kaduna the state government ought to be told that peace without justice will continue to elude the State. Therefore, Governor El-Rufai should be advised to direct the Attorney-General of Kaduna State to set the engine in motion for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the well-known criminal elements who massacred 347 Shiites and the 204 people in Southern Kaduna. In any country, which operates under the rule of law the perpetrators of violence are not treated like sacred cows.

Femi Falana SAN
Culled from saharareporters 

​Buhari And Nnamdi Kanu Fighting The Wrong Enemies By SKC Ogbonnia

Events after events have shown that the continued detention of the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, by the Federal Government of Nigeria needs a serious rethink. The matter is not only plaguing the country socially and politically, but its toll on the national economy is not difficult to fathom. The unfortunate irony yet is that while the two principal actors, President Muhammadu Buhari and Kanu, may have good intentions, they are fighting the wrong enemies.
Please hold your thoughts till the later part of this essay on the flaming issue of secession for which Nnamdi Kanu is now better known. For it may not occur to many that before Kanu became a recurring decimal of Buhari’s presidency, a major aim of Radio Biafra, in Kanu’s own words, was to uproot “all looters, embezzlers, kidnappers, sponsors of terrorism, child traffickers, corrupt judges, crooked university lecturers, murderous Nigerian security forces and all thieving individuals masquerading as public officials who steal public funds thereby preventing developmental projects from impacting positively on the lives of the ordinary people.”

Any read of the statement above readily shows that such aspect of Kanu’s advocacy is in tandem with Buhari’s standing vow for a corrupt-free Nigeria. If the rationale is inadequate, then consider that just about every group or leader who has pleaded for Kanu’s release suggested that lack of development provoked his advocacy. This goes without saying that the president and Kanu have common

foes in the corrupt leaders who plundered our common wealth during the last 16 years of the astronomical oil boom–that is, even before Buhari assumed democratic power.

Therefore, in case President Buhari and Mazi Kanu are yet to get it, which appears to be the case, their real enemies in this context ought to be the corrupt leaders from the Southeast (SE) and South-South (SS) zones of Nigeria who combined to hinder the provision of efficient public amenities as well as job opportunities in the Biafra land that drew the ire of Kanu in the first place.

More specifically, the enemies are the very politicians and contractors that connived to embezzle the funds budgeted for projects vital to the region, some of which include but are not limited to: The 2nd River Niger Bridge; East-West Highway; Enugu-Onitsha/Enugu-PH Expressways; Akanu Ibiam and PH International Airports; Calabar and PH Seaports; Dredging of River Niger; Eastern Gas Pipeline network (CAP); Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC); Legislative Constituency Projects; National Conference convened by President Jonathan that adopted, among other things, the restructuring of the country; the Constitutional Amendment, initiated under President Umaru Yar’Adua, and funded to the brim to address the concerns for equitable distribution of states and local governments.

A simple scan of these projects and their attendant ministries reveals that politicians from the South-East or South-South played one dubious role or the other in sabotaging the desired implementation or development. Needless to say, none of the states or local governments in the SE/SS zones is run by the Hausa or Fulani people–that Nnamdi Kanu has commonly blamed–but wholly by the natives themselves. Yet, there is no commensurate development in the area for their share of federal statutory allocations.

This outright rebuke of the SS/SE politicians must not be misconstrued as exalting those from other regions as saints. Far from that! The emphasis on SS/SE is because of the topic of Biafra. Besides, the very zones under review produced the then president (Goodluck Jonathan), then de facto Prime Minister (Ngozi Iweala), and the then Minister of Petroleum Resources (Diezani Madueke)—the specious trio who superintended the national treasury during the period their kinfolks were looting the project funds in the area.

In a normal clime, this sort of exposé would be sufficient to unmask the culprits linked with the money-spinners cited herein. But in the event that more specific details are needed, my identity has always been an open book. Moreover, this case will not require the state to dole out from its meager purse to fulfill the new policy on whistle-blowing. For quid pro quo is beneath my personal code of ethics in matters of public interest.

Change does not come easy, understood, but containing the situation in the east must not be a rocket science. Make no mistake about it; President Buhari deserves commendation for quietly undertaking some of the projects in the region that were funded but looted during previous administrations. Yet, to continue to punish the primary whistle-blower in Nnamdi Kanu while condoning the corrupt politicians–who return a portion of their loot–is sadly an oxymoron. In view of this irony, instead of the futile detention of Kanu, the masses prefer a leader that can summon the courage to expose the real enemies who had corralled the project funds into private bank accounts.

Any call for the release of Nnamdi Kanu easily stirs emotions, and that is understandable. The style of his advocacy alone is jarringly hostile and can constitute a problem by itself. But the manner of the man’s detention, including the state’s refusal to obey court orders, does not serve any good purpose. The only beneficiaries are the real enemies, the corrupt vortex of the opposition, who have nothing concrete to show for their time in office, but who are today having a field day, grandstanding as the champion for the oppressed, claiming the passionate desire to liberate Kanu while stoking a view of General Buhari as an unrepentant dictator determined to abridge freedom of speech in the land. Their ultimate goal, of course, is to capitalize on the Kanu saga to con the mass support needed to derail the president’s war against corruption.

Fifth columnists are sure to hide behind the urgency of Kanu’s threat of secession to continue to sidetrack Buhari from the right path to justice. But fighting the right causes through the wrong courses usually creates more problems than solutions. Moreover, the president does not need to be reminded that, similar to other multi-ethnic nations, for example, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom, there has always been, and will always be, threats for secession in Nigeria, regardless of who is in power. The manner of the approach is where leadership begins and ends.

SKC Ogbonnia writes from Houston, Texas.

Time to scrap EFCC, by Jideofor Adibe

​This piece was motivated by two inter-related developments: the first is the furore caused by several corruption allegations against some top officials of the Buhari government and the reported directive by the President to the Attorney General of the Federation to investigate the involvement of any top government official accused of any wrong-doing. The corruption allegations against top officials of the government coupled with similar allegations against some members of the National Assembly would seem to suggest that despite the government’s anti-corruption postures and rhetoric, corruption, or at least allegations of it, still thrive as in any other past regime.

The second impetus is the refusal of the Senate to consider approving Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the financial crimes buster, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ostensibly because he failed the requisite integrity test. The development has triggered a media war between supporters of Magu and his traducers in which the issue is unfortunately reduced to the simplistic binary of the ‘good guys’ versus the ‘bad guys’. Here the ‘good guys’ are assumed to be those who want Magu’s nomination to be approved because he has “demonstrated good track record in fighting corruption” while the ‘bad guys’ are those opposed to his confirmation and therefore represent “corruption fighting back”.

I believe that rather than dissipate energy on whether Magu should be confirmed as the EFCC chairman or not- we should be posing the more relevant question of whether the EFCC is succeeding or not in the fight against corruption or whether it is exacerbating the problem of corruption by undermining, through its style, the evolution of institution- driven methods of fighting the ailment.

At this stage I believe it will be germane to come clean: I have never been a fan of the EFCC. In fact in a feature for the blog Nigeria Village Square (www.nigeriavillagesquare.com) on January 8 2009 entitled: “War on Corruption: Why EFCC Will Fail,” I wrote: “A major reason why the EFCC is likely to fail is that it is using exactly the same strategies employed by previous regimes and agencies – treating corruption as a moral lapse rather than a systemic problem.” I further argued that “corruption is a systemic problem, which is tied to the success or failure of the nation-building project, the level of poverty in the land, and the extent to which citizens believe they are valued as stakeholders in the state. Therefore fighting the malfeasance by a segment of the society for an ill that is generalized and expressed in different forms is unlikely to solve the problem of corruption.” I have over the years written several other articles critical of the EFCC. From about 2012 I began calling for the granting of conditional amnesty against all accused of corruption because I felt the whole ‘war’ was a charade that had not achieved its aim. In fact EFCC’s ‘gra-gra’ method compounds the blurring of the boundary between the supposed fight against corruption and political vendetta.

But this blurred boundary is actually rooted in the country’s political history: For instance one of the earliest attempts to use charges of corruption to smear political opponents was in 1946 after the NCNC raised £13,000 from its well-publicised tour of the provinces (April 1946 to December 1946) to send a delegation of seven people to London to protest against the Richard’s Constitution, and its ‘four obnoxious ordinances’. The delegation left for London in June 1947 and returned two months later. Though it was welcomed by an enthusiastic crowd of over 100,000, the initial euphoria was quickly overshadowed by insinuations of corruption. For instance the government-owned Daily Times, in its editorial of August 15, 1947, led the charge: “We would like to remind the delegation that what has been achieved could have been obtained in Nigeria by airmail at the very modest cost of one shilling, whereas the delegation has been ever so expensive. If therefore this is the sort of unthinking and wasteful leadership being thrust on us, we will have none of it”.

With the EFCC suspected to be the attack dog of any government in power since Obasanjo set it up in 2003, it has had the problem of legitimacy across the political divides amid accusations of selective targeting of the opposition and opponents of the President.

Another reason why I have not been a fan of the EFCC and its methods is that there is nothing to suggest that it is succeeding in the fight against corruption – despite its ‘gra-gra’. Methodologically, the best way of assessing the impact of the EFCC in the fight against corruption is to use the ‘before’ and ‘after’ benchmarks – that is, to pose the question: what was the situation before the EFCC was set up and what is the situation now? Procedural issues like how much money it succeeded in confiscating or the number of convictions it secured are really mere details. The key question is:

Has the incidence of corruption reduced since the inception of EFCC? If, as anecdotal evidence suggests (and from what succeeding governments tell us of their predecessors in office) the malaise seems to be rather increasing, one needs no further evidence to conclude that the EFCC and similar institutions used in fighting corruption in the past simply have failed. In the current situation where the structural and environmental factors that predispose people to corrupt practices are increasing, it makes it even more difficult for the EFCC to succeed. The EFCC, like the other contraptions before it, seems to spend too much energy fighting the symptoms of what is a more fundamental social malaise. That each chairman of the Commission since it was created ended up from being a hunter to the hunted and also has allegations of corruption against him or her, tells volumes.

An interesting question is why Nigerians seem to be fascinated with the EFCC and its methods despite lack of evidence that its succeeding: There are several possible explanations:

One, is that Nigerians like to behave like ostriches. Everyone pretends to be a sort of angel fighting corruption. This includes all sorts of shady characters such as professional conmen and the opportunistic car mechanics who will quickly exchange your new car battery for an old one if you step aside to answer a phone call.

Two, a society emerging from recent dictatorship seems to retain certain authoritarian impulses. For this, the EFCC’s strong arm tactics, which is sometimes short on finesse and rule of law (witness the impunity perpetrated by Ribadu during Obasanjo’s term in the name of fighting corruption) appeal to some who erroneously mistake ‘authoritarian dispositions’ for ‘strong leadership’.

Three, the EFCC’s, ‘naming and shaming’ of the ‘high and the mighty’ and the accompanying media trial taps into Nigerians’ distrust of the justice system. EFCC appears to have a strategy of ‘bypassing the courts’ and taking their cases directly to the courts of public opinion. In a country where the justice system is seen to be anything but blind and its wheels turn very sluggishly, some Nigerians express their distrust of such justice system by embracing the alternative ‘justice system’ of media trial. It is also very appealing to those baying for the blood of people they regard as their class, ethnic, religious and regional enemies.

Largely because of the above, rather than join in the fruitless discourse of whether Magu should be confirmed or not, I feel the conversation ought to be

about the EFCC as an institution. I feel we should seriously consider scrapping the EFCC and strengthening instead the various institutions and mechanisms we find in the formal sectors of our national life that are meant to checkmate abuses and impunity. My feeling is that the EFCC undermines the development of such systems and mechanisms by making people believe that ‘gra-gra’ is the only method of fighting corruption. The truth is that a system can be very unobtrusive but effective as we have in the mature democracies. We need therefore to re-set the whole fight against corruption such that it will be institution-driven and without the ‘gra-gra’ from contraptions like the EFCC.

Managing the politics of fighting corruption using the failed systems of the past in a society like ours is probably one of the reasons why many corruption cases get stalled in the courts. Harassing judges to get more convictions is also not the way to go. It is better for hundred criminals to go free than for one innocent citizen to be erroneously convicted. While securing convictions is important, it is even more important to pose and answer the question of why the incidence of corruption and corrupt practices are not abating despite the EFCC and similar institutions.

. Adibe writes from pcjadibe@yahoo.com. Twitter: @JideoforAdibe.
Syndicated from The Eagle online

​I Never Said “Buhari Is Worse Than Jonathan” – Femi Falana

I was privileged to have delivered the 2016 Convocation Lecture of Oduduwa University at Ipetumodu, Osun State on November 18, 2016. In the said lecture I had cause to advise the Muhammadu Buhari administration not to further plunge the nation into debt by taking a fresh loan of $29.6 billion. In opposing the proposed loan I urged the federal government to muster the political will to recover the several billions of dollars withheld from the Federation Account or criminally diverted by the parasitic ruling class that has mismanaged the economy of Nigeria since 1999. My views on the proposed loan were well reported by credible print and electronic media.

However, out of sheer mischief and cheap blackmail, some dubious fellows twisted my views and reported that “Falana says Buhari is worse than Jonathan”. Since the image launderers of the ancien regime have a short memory, I am compelled to advise them to google “Falana asks the national assembly to reject Jonathan’s request for $7.9 bn”. In my letter of November 10, 2012, I had urged the national assembly members to advise President Jonathan to jettison the loan option and recover ” the billions of dollars which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and some oil companies have refused to remit to the Federation Account”. But the national assembly approved the request for the loan.

A year later, I pleaded again with the federal legislators to reject the request for another loan of $1 bn for procurement of arms and ammunition for counter-insurgency operations. On that occasion, i asked the legislators to demand an account of the over N3 trillion appropriated for the nation’s defence from 2010-2013. Once again, the loan request was approved by the national assembly. In the course of defending 58 out of the 70 soldiers who were charged with mutiny for legitimately demanding for weapons to fight the well-equipped Boko Haram terrorists, I confirmed that the $1 billion loan had been diverted. In fact, one of the reasons why the trial was held in camera was that our defence was anchored on the criminal diversion of the huge fund.

In a bid to justify the looting of the defense fund the young men were convicted and sentenced to death. In justifying the fraudulent death sentences passed on the soldiers, Marshal Alex Barde (rtd), the then Chief of Defence Staff, said that the boys deserved to die for having the temerity to demand weapons when they could have fought the terrorists with their bare hands! My plea for a presidential pardon for the convicted soldiers was ignored by President Jonathan. Even though President Buhari has granted our prayer and has since commuted the death sentences to 10 years imprisonment, I believe that the convicts ought to be granted unconditional pardon and freed from further incarceration in prison custody. More so, that the Presidential Panel on Arms Procurement has confirmed that the $15 billion earmarked for the procurement of arms and ammunition from 2007-2015 was diverted and cornered by a coterie of military officers. Some of the suspects are currently facing trial for fraud, money laundering and other allied offences.

Having strenuously opposed the recolonisation of the country through questionable loans with unfavourable conditionalities procured by successive regimes I could not have said that President Buhari is worse than Jonathan who presided over a rogue regime. Convinced that there are alternative economic policies I shall remain as constant as the northern star in opposing the mortgaging of the future of the nation. Therefore, let those who are desperately looking for credibility to justify the call for a return to the era of official prodigality count me out of their ill-fated agenda.

How Nigerian security forces killed 150 pro-Biafra protesters – Amnesty International

​A new report by Amnesty International (AI) has revealed how extrajudicial execution and torture by Nigeria security forces, especially the Nigerian Army, led to the death of at least 150 pro-Biafra protesters across Nigeria’s south-east, between August 2015 and August 2016.

The report titled: “Bullets Were Raining Everywhere”: Deadly Repression of Pro-Biafra Activists, released on Thursday relied on the analysis of 87 videos, 122 photographs and 146 eye witness testimonies that revealed soldiers of the Nigeria military firing live ammunition to disperse protesters, most of them members of the separatist group, Indigenous People of the Biafra (IPOB), without warning.

According to AI, at least 60 defenceless IPOB protesters were shot dead within two days leading to the Biafra Remembrance Day of May 30.

The AI report corroborated PREMIUM TIMES’ investigations published in June showing the vicious clampdown and wanton executions of members of IPOB by soldiers of the Nigeria Army, the police and operatives of the Nigeria’s secret police, the State Security Services (SSS).

IPOB, which was formed by Nnamdi Kanu, seeks the restoration of breakaway sovereign state of Republic of Biafra from Nigeria. Biafra was a secessionist state in the south-east region of Nigeria that existed from May 30, 1967 to January 1970. The secession of Biafra was the main cause of the Nigeria Civil War. Over 1 million people died in the war.

Mr. Kanu was arrested on October 14, and is being tried for treason. There has been an increase in the agitation of pro-Biafra activists since his arrest.

President Muhammadu Buhari is strongly opposed to the creation of Biafra. In May 2016 during a visit to the palace of the Emir of Katsina, Mr. Buhari suggested that it is better for Nigerians to commit mass suicide than for the actualization of the breakaway state of Biafra.

“We will not let that happen. For Nigeria to divide now, it is better for all of us to jump into the sea and get drowned,” he said.

Extrajudicial Killings

The Amnesty International report revealed that the largest number of IPOB members were killed during the Biafra Remembrance Day of May 30, 2016. It stated that as over 1,000 members of the group gathered for a rally in Onitsha, Anambra State, security forces swooped on their homes and a church where they were sleeping.

“On Remembrance Day itself, the security forces shot people in several locations. Amnesty International has not been able to verify the exact number of extrajudicial executions, but estimates that at least 60 people were killed and 70 injured in these two days. The real number is likely to be higher,” the organisation revealed in a statement accompanying the report.

Recounting some of the chilling incidents that happened on the day, AI spoke to a woman named simply as Ngozi (not her real name), the 28-year-old wife of one of the slain members of IPOB.

Ngozi told AI that her husband called her shortly after he left for work in the morning that soldiers have shot him in his abdomen. He said he was in a military vehicle with six others, four of whom were already dead.

“He started whispering and said they just stopped [the vehicle]. He was scared they would kill the remaining three of them that were alive… He paused and told me they were coming closer. I heard gunshots and I did not hear a word from him after that.”

The next day after searching for her husband, Ngozi found his body in a nearby mortuary. The attendants at the mortuary told her that the military had brought him and six others. She said he had three gunshot wounds one in his abdomen and two in his chest, which confirmed that the military had executed him.

Similarly, Chukwuemeka (not his real name), a 25-year-old trader, told AI that he was shot and taken together with corpses to the barracks.

“They dumped us on the ground beside a pit. There were two soldiers beside the pit. The pit was very big and so many dead people were inside the pit. I cannot estimate the number of people in the grave. … We were dumped on the ground.”

He said that he escaped and hid in the bushes.

The organization said it reviewed videos of a peaceful gathering of IPOB members at Aba National High School on February 9. The Nigerian military surrounded the group and then opened fire on everyone in sight without any warning.

Many of the protesters were then rounded up and taken away. Four days later, 13 corpses including some of the men taken away were found near the Aba Highway.

According to AI, the military took the bodies of people killed and injured in Onitsha and Asaba to the military barracks in Onitsha. Video footage shows soldiers loading dead and wounded people into their Hilux van.

“Initially, when they were still dumping corpses, I could see 10 to 12 lifeless bodies. That was in the morning. In the evening, there were more but I could not estimate,” A man who was detained in the barracks and who saw the corpses dumped in front of the military mortuary said.

Torture

The report also revealed the disturbing use of widespread torture and ill-treatment of those arrested by the military.

Vincent Ogbodo (not his real name), a 26-year-old trader, said he was shot on May30, 2016 in Nkpor and hid in a gutter. He said when soldiers found him they poured acid on him.

“I covered my face. I would have been blind by now. He poured acid on my hands. My hands and body started burning. The flesh was burning… They dragged me out of the gutter. They said I’ll die slowly.”

A man detained at the Onitsha Barracks revealed that “those in the guard room were flogged every morning. The soldiers tagged it ‘Morning Tea’.”

“This deadly repression of pro-Biafra activists is further stoking tensions in the south east of Nigeria. This reckless and trigger-happy approach to crowd control has caused at least 150 deaths and we fear the actual total might be far higher,” said Makmid Kamara, Interim Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

“The Nigerian government’s decision to send in the military to respond to pro-Biafra events seems to be in large part to blame for this excessive bloodshed. The authorities must immediately launch an impartial investigation and bring the perpetrators to book.”

“It is chilling to see how these soldiers gunned down peaceful IPOB members. The video evidence shows that this was a military operation with intent to kill and injure,” said Mr. Kamara.
Culled from premiumtimesng.com