Monday, 21 July 2014

News Release: Consolidated Letters To Pope Francis And Others

Pope Francis


The consolidated letters under reference were informed by unending or ceaseless mass killing of innocent Christians and burning of churches in northern Nigeria by two leading violent Islamic religious sects called Boko Haram and Fulani Jihadists. Hundreds, if not thousands of other non-Christians have also been killed in the raging ethno-religious-cum-political butcheries in the country.

For profound records, Nigeria is a country of approximately 170 million people with 923,000 square kilometers of landmass; 3,500 kilometers of railways; 8,600 kilometers of inland waterways; and 22 airports- both domestic and international. It shares borders with Niger, Cameroun, Benin Republic and Chad and has four transnational highways.  The country is multi religious/ethnic and constitutes 17% of African population and occupies 9.2% of African landmass; it has 2.5% of the world population and is the highest populated Black Country on earth. The country also has 3.5% of the world landmass of about 30 million square kilometers; its landmass is roughly two times the size of State of Alaska in USA (1.7 million square kilometers). Nigeria is blessed with 198,000 kilometers of federal, states and local governments’ road network and has abundant human and material resources (with over 33 solid mineral deposits).

Nigeria has been mired in unending political and ethno-religious violence particularly since return to civil rule in 1999. It is also caught up by other unlawful killings. To the country’s gross deficit, at least 66,000 innocent citizens have been butchered outside the law since the end of May 1999. Police unlawful killings including roadblock, pre-detention, detention and “disappearance” killings are believed to have accounted for at least 23,000 deaths as of date. Ethno-religious butcheries since 1999 including violent Islamic Boko Haram and Fulani sects’ killings account for at least 22,000 deaths. Others are unlawful killings by armed vigilante groups: 17, 000 deaths; uncivil military invasions of Odi, Zakibiam and Gbaramatu civil communities of 1999, 2001 and 2009 and pre-election and post election violence of 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 etc, which totally account for at least 4,000 deaths. A number of these killings also went unreported; as a result, our calculations are very conservative.

In the area of ethno-religious butcheries, which informed this executive summary, at least 6,000 people, mostly rural indigenous Christians and Igbo-Christians have been killed in the Jos ethno-religious violence since 2001; with those of 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2011 being the bloodiest.  As at March 2010, a total of over 13, 500 innocent people including women and children, dominated by Igbo-Christians were butchered in ethno-religious violence in Nigeria since Kaduna and Kano religious riots broke out in 2000 and 2001. Other areas affected were Plateau, Borno, Gombe and Bauchi States, etc.  Between April 2010 and June 2014; a period of four and a quarter years, at least 8,500 innocent citizens mostly Christians have been butchered in the raging ethno-religious violence.

While violent Islamic Boko Haram sect accounts for at least 6,000 deaths, the remaining 2,500 is credited to violent Islamic Fulani sect and other individual ethno-religious violent citizens. Of particular note is the fact that the Islamic Boko Haram violent sect is responsible for at least 9,000 deaths mostly targeted at innocent Christians since 2002 when it launched its violent militancy. Between 2002 and December 2011, at least 3, 000 people were killed in the Boko Haram terror violence. This includes the July 2009 Boko Haram uprising and counter offensive attacks by the Nigerian security forces, leading to at least 1000 deaths. Between January 2012 and December 2013, at least 2,500 deaths were recorded in the hands of the two deadly Islamic sects. In the first three months of 2013, alone, at least 600 deaths were recorded in the hands of violent Boko Haram sect. In all, at least 22,000 innocent citizens mostly of rural and urban Christian residential and host populations have been butchered in Nigeria since Kaduna and Kano ethno-religious riots of 2000 and 2001. This grand figure could be much higher owing to our adoption of conservative calculations.

The year 2014, which is in its seventh month, is the bloodiest so far in the two violent sects’ Islamic uprising against Nigeria and Nigerians; with butchering in six months of at least 4, 118 innocent citizens, who are mostly Christians of Igbo and northern Nigerian minority extractions. Between January and March 2014, at least 1, 500 people were killed (Amnesty International). This includes members of the security forces and suspected members of Boko Haram violent sect.  And between April 1st and June 5th 2014, at least 1, 296 innocent citizens, who are mostly Christians, were butchered (Intersociety 2014). In seven days; that is to say between June 23rd and June 29th 2014, at least 322 Christians were butchered by Islamic Boko Haram and Fulani violent sects. Since January 2014, over 1000 rural Christian farmers of Southern Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba and Benue States extractions have been butchered by violent Islamic Fulani sect, which is erroneously called “Fulani Herdsmen”.

In five days into this July 2014 (3rd,14th, 15th, 16th and 18th ), at least 287 people mostly rural Christians of Plateau and southern Borno States extractions as well as rural Muslims of Zamfara State extraction have been massacred by violent Islamic Boko Haram and Fulani sects. Most of those killed in southern Borno and Plateau villages are Christians. Ninety percent of the Boko Haram terror attacks in the country are directed at Christian communities, residences and gatherings. The rest is targeted at government facilities. Over 1000 churches have also been lost to violent Boko Haram attacks since 2009.  Human Rights Watch has in its July 2014 report said that “at least 2,053 civilians were killed by Boko Haram terror sect in the first six months of 2014”. The HRW figures are grossly under quoted and evidently lower than that of the Federal Government of Nigeria, which said on July 16 that “since Chibok abduction incident of 14th April, over 2000 people have been killed by Boko Haram terror insurgents”. Amnesty International has in its April 2014 report said that “over 1,500 people mostly civilians were killed in Boko Haram violence in the first three months of 2014”.

The Pentecostal Fellowship (PFN) account indicates that it has lost over 750 churches alone to ethno-religious uprising by Boko Haram violent sect (sources of the above analytical findings are: AI, HRW, Intersociety, OSIWA/NOPRIN, Wikipedia, Local & International Media). Governor Hashim Shetima of Borno State recently told the BBC that “176 public teachers have been killed and 900 public schools destroyed by Boko Haram terror insurgents since 2011”. According to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Media Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okukpe, “since the Chibok event (of April 14, 2014) over 2, 000 people have been killed by Boko Haram and Abuja was bombed” (read VOA’s Peter Clottey’s interview with Dr. Doyin Okukpe, July 16, 2014: www. voa.com). This is not only a confirmation of the credibility and authenticity of our figures but also a further confirmation that our calculations are very conservative.

 287 Citizens Killed In July: At least 287 innocent citizens dominated by northern Christians have been killed since July 3rd 2014. On July 3rd, over 40 civilians were massacred in the Monday Market in Maiduguri, Borno State courtesy of Boko Haram insurgents.  On July 14, at least 106 civilians were massacred in Borno, Zamfara and Plateau States by Boko Haram and Fulani terror insurgents: 45 in Dille village, Borno State (Guardian Newspaper); 50 in Gidandawa district in Maradun LGA of Zamfara State and 11 in Zamadede in Pil-Gani district of Lantang North LGA of Plateau State (Vanguard Newspaper).

On July 15th and 16th, at least 36 civilians were killed by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State: 20 in Damboa; 9 in Huyim village in Askira-Uba LGA and 7 killed on July 16th while burying their dead loved ones. On July 18th, about 100 civilians or more (latest update) were massacred by Boko Haram terror insurgents in Damboa village in Borno State. Houses and shops including Damboa Central Market were torched (Guardian Newspaper). On same July 18th, at least five rural Christians were killed by Fulani terror insurgents in Fadan Karshi village in Sanga LGA of Kaduna State. Earlier on June 24th, about 200 rural Christians were massacred in the same area. Over 26, 000 Christian refugees have been generated.  It is our conclusive position that in 200 days; that is to say between 1st January and July 20, 2014, at least 4,405 people mostly civilians and northern Christians have been butchered by Boko Haram and Fulani terror insurgent groups.

Further, in the ethno-religious riots or uprising carried out in different parts of the north since 2000 and 2001, 60% of the casualty figures were Igbo-Christians, 20% northern Christians and the remaining 20% Muslims and other non-Muslims. In the Boko Haram terror butchery that became widespread in July 2009, 40% are northern Christians, 40% Igbo-Christians and 20% other non-Christian Nigerians including Muslims. In the Islamic Fulani terror butchery, 80% of casualties were rural northern Christian farmers and 20% non-Christians including Muslims.

Our four-part letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, dated 29th and 31st May as well as 6th and 7th of June 2014, was informed by these as well as increasing non application of municipal criminal code sanctions against the perpetrators of these group violence and crimes by the governing authorities in the country leading to unending mass killings and burning/destruction of properties including churches. Our letter also pointed out challenges (with solutions) militating against the competence of the Nigerian security forces leading to their abysmal performances in their counter measures against Boko Haram and Fulani group criminals.

These include archaic nature of Nigeria’s National Policy on Security, which was last updated in 1979; non use of ICT security technology by the security forces; non digitalization of security establishments; high level of computer or ICT illiteracy among public security personnel including most members of the country’s 400,000-people police force; absence of man-machine intelligence policing and preventive/protective policing; as well as corruption. Our letter under reference also demanded from Mr. President the invocation of international criminal code sanctions against those involved in the commission of heinous group crimes and atrocity crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Provisions of the Rome Statute for International Criminal Court as well as the relevant provisions in the UN Charter were also pointed out. We specifically demanded the presidential invitation of the Chief Prosecution of the ICC to commence investigation into the raging mass killings in Nigeria or proactive involvement of the UN criminal justice and humanitarian agencies for the purpose of establishment of an international crimes tribunal for Nigeria on Ethno-Religious Killings or Boko Haram Killings.

The Chief Prosecutor of the ICC wrote us on June 2nd 2014 to acknowledge our earlier letter to them and on 3rd June 2014, we replied them.  In our letter to  respected Christian leaders and bodies in Nigeria, dated 17th July 2014, vivid references were made to the four-part letter to Mr. President and other related publications so attached including our public statement, dated 30th June 2014, titled: “Christians At Risk In Northern Nigeria: How 258 Northern Christians Were Killed In Seven Days”.  The two publications contained shocking statistics of mass killings under reference as well as useful information about violent Islamic Boko Haram sect, etc.

Our letter to Christian leaders and bodies, on the other hand, contained proactive lawful measures they are expected to take to counter the unending mass killing of their innocent faithful and burning or destruction of their churches in northern Nigeria. These include stepping up pressures on the Federal Government of Nigeria and the international community to apply all necessary legitimate local and international measures to contain the Islamic Boko Haram and Fulani menaces including allowing room for international criminal and humanitarian inquiries and digitalization of the country’s security establishments. Others are application of legitimate self defense and self protective measures like deployment of malicious elements detection devices in churches, application of self vigilance at all times and domestication or quasi privatization of the services of public security personnel. These should be done alongside traditional “praying and fasting”.

In our letter to the revered Holy Father, Pope Francis, dated July 18th 2014, we prayed him to come to the urgent aid of Christian populations in Nigeria particularly those in northern Nigeria, who are in a verge of extermination or annihilation. We specifically prayed him to use his wide international reach to bring the attention of the international community particularly the UN and its criminal justice and humanitarian agencies to the suffering populations in Nigeria particularly Christians of the north.

We had in the letter observed that judging from the roles of the UN and its agencies in the Syrian conflict, its involvement in Nigerian violence is very skeletal and, as such, it should be made to be proactively involved. Till date, over 200 young post primary school girls quartered in Chibok area of Borno State, Northeast Nigeria, who are mostly Christians, are still held in captivity under grossly inhuman conditions. We had in the said letter to the Holy Father reasoned that should Nigerian violence explode uncontrollably into full ethno-religious war, the UN and its agencies as well as AU and ECOWAS will not contain and control the number of refugees and internally displaced persons arising from the war as well as other humanitarian crises. This is because Nigeria (170m) is roughly eight times more populated than Syria (23m).

The Holy Father is also prayed to use his wide and respected international influence to get military and modern anti terror war strategists from Europe, ASEAN, Japan, Israel and North America to assist the State of Nigeria in demystifying the Boko Haram terror organization and contain its unending onslaughts against innocent Christian populations in Nigeria. We also begged the Holy Father to join in the international campaigns for the involvement of the International Criminal Court or the setting up of the UN’s Special Criminal Court for Nigeria on Ethno-Religious Killings or Boko Haram Killings. Nigeria as a State-Party to the ICC Statute of 1998, which it ratified in September 2001, can be internationally pressured to invite the ICC Chief Prosecutor.  The jurisdictional competence of the ICC came into effect on 1st July 2002.  Where Nigeria remains dangerously adamant, the UN Security Council can be gotten to invoke its powers of “referral” under Article Seven of its Charter directing the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC to intervene immediately.

Finally, our international campaigns under reference are already gathering momentum both locally and internationally. On Saturday, July 12 2014, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress joined in our call for an international inquiry over Boko Haram menace and sponsorship in Nigeria. Though the mode or type suggested by the Party is grossly at variance with ours or standard international inquiry, but we are at ease with such added voice. Also, on Monday, July 15th 2014, the Federal Government of Nigeria set up a “National Committee on Boko Haram Victims Support Fund”. Not only that we welcomed the setting up of such committee but also we saw it as a big boost for our campaign for remedial justice for victims of the terror butcheries and criminal justice for the perpetrators who have largely remained on the prowl. The Federal Government’s recent pronouncement that its security system and establishments are archaic also gladdens our heart and a confirmation of our earlier position that “a typewriter police officer or security personnel cannot validly chase or go after an ICT bomb detonator”.

We enjoin the revered Holy Father and the respected Christian leaders and bodies in the country to rise up and join in these local and international campaigns. Let the message begin and let it go round without ceasing until Islamic Boko Haram and Fulani violence is overcome; killing of Christians stopped; burning or destruction of churches discontinued; and those behind them brought to international criminal justice.

Thank You

For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law

Emeka Umeagbalasi (Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies)
Chairman of the Board
+238100755939(office), 2348174090052

Oguejiofor Ogochukwu, Esq., (BL, LLB)

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