Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Mindless Slaughter Of Innocent Nigerians

By Kenechukwu Obiezu
Renowned international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International’s recently released a report damningly found that Nigeria’s security agencies had systematically and extra-judicially gunned down one hundred and fifty members of the Indigenous  People of Biafra (IPOB), whose leader remains incarcerated,  in defiance of multiple orders for his bail by national and international courts, and by a government which  poorly continues to disguise its monumental discomfort with  the rule of law.
Nigeria’s   descent into a land of many and geographically-diverse killing fields has been steady decades now. President after President beginning with Olusegun Obasanjo under who  security agencies fell on Choba, Rivers State and Zaki Biam in Benue State, to the current administration which let loose security agencies in Anambra State, Kaduna State and in other states to crush supposed secession attempts by the IPOB and an alleged terrorist group in the  IMN, have cited threats to the national security and sovereign integrity of the country to justify repeated  ruthless deployment of force  done with scant regards to human rights, the rule of law and the rules of engagement.
Most gullible and impressionable  Nigerians increasingly afraid for their lives and security in a country of mounting insecurity and scandalous corruption have allowed themselves to be swayed by the government’s well–prepared propaganda and party lines into believing that all those whose blood have flowed were indeed terrorists whose places in the supposedly sane society of Nigeria had become untenable and highly dangerous. Add the rampaging killings by the terrorist Boko Haram sect and criminal Fulani herdsmen to the equation plus the government’s anemic and even comedic response and reaction thereto and you have a witch’s brew of mindless slaughter of innocent Nigerians.  President Muhammadu Buhari has   done little to help calm the frazzled nerves of   Nigerians and international human rights monitors who have remained alarmed at the killing sprees of security agencies in Nigeria.
Indeed, some of his  comments  issued in defiance to groups alleging marginalization  have, a posteriori,  been interpreted by overzealous security agencies as war cries rising from the highest office of the land against those who seek to tear asunder Nigeria’s internal security and render the giant of Africa ‘the Afghanistan of Africa.’  The results are bloody and scrawled in red.
From the beginning of time, most human societies have affirmed directly and indirectly the sanctity of human life. Even those who believed and propounded killings and human sacrifices in satisfaction of religious and sundry obligations   saw differently with time.
The United Nations Charter   which is the  foundational charter of  the United Nations, an intergovernmental organization, was  signed in San Francisco, United States, on  June 26,1945 by 50 of the 51 original member countries. Nigeria later appended its signature and became a member.

On the 10 December 1948 under the auspices of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR), a milestone document in the history of human rights, was jerked  into life by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. Article 3 provides thus: Every one has the right to life, liberty and security of person. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ratified and adopted into the African Union legislation as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). Article 4 of the ACHPR thereof is facsimile with Article 3 of the UDHR. Nigeria has ratified and domesticated the ACHPR.  Consecutive Nigerian constitutions have in keeping with the Nigerian state’s international obligations and obeisance to international treaties and the good of its citizens customarily dedicated entire chapters to making provisions for fundamental rights.
In the extant Constitution which is the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended), it is Chapter IV which continues this significantly rich tradition. In recognizing the fundamental right to life of every Nigerian citizen, Section 33(1), clearly and forcefully provides thus: Every person has a right to life and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.
Nigeria is a country of flamboyant legislators and colourful laws, but unfortunately scant enforcement. This nauseating reality plays out every day. Most of the laws that find enforcement   or  a pretence of enforcement are  enforced only in breach.
As the world continues to grapple with issues of terrorism, Nigeria has not been spared. The Boko  Haram sect has in declaring war on the Nigerian state and people laid waste to whole villages while slaughtering innocents. In the face of the mindless   carnage and pockets of protests across the country by disgruntled groups who feel shortchanged in the Nigerian project, the ruthless deployment of force by agencies of the Nigeria state might temptingly find more argument and even condonation by a wide swath of Nigerians .But it should not be so.
Given that we have trod that path before with tragic consequences and  with the hard lessons coming from other climes, those who presume to defend the Nigerian state from supposed criminals must be held strictly to the rules of engagement and professionalism. They must be unanimously reminded   by their task masters and a vigilant Nigerian public of the dangers posed by the large cracks their presumptuous and overzealous actions taken in defence of the Nigerian could create.
History readily lavishes us with its lessons in this wise. The  Boko Haram  sect was a volcano rumbling well beneath the surface until its then leader was extra- judicially killed in 2009.Today,the leaders of the IPOB and the IMN  remain incarcerated extra-judicially in defiance of the law.
Let those who defend the Nigerian nation and those who unleash them on security threats always remember how sacred the duty they collectively   owe the Nigerian state is and let them tread  with caution and diligence. While the bloody linens are out and flying   around, let all those involved in extra-judicial killings be fished out and prosecuted. For just like those they gleefully pronounce enemies of the Nigerian state, they have no place here.
Obiezu writes from Akwanga, Nasarawa State.


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