|Davies (without mask) with supposed members of Boko Haram|
“The fundamental role of a third party negotiator in any violent conflict lies in the confines of neutrality and confidentiality. This includes his or her ability not to be bought over or compromised as well as having his or her efforts not politicized or hijacked and blown out of proportion by a biased interested party”-Emeka Umeagbalasi (Board Chair of Intersociety & a Criminologist).
In Criminology & Security Studies, asymmetric conflict strategy includes a resort to unconventional weaponry (including media propaganda and campaign of calumny) by a party that feels inferior or weaker against its opponent to gain a strategic advantage in real or perceived conflict. In modern warfare, it is a resort to the application of any kind of unconventional method including suicide attacks, mass killings, rape, torture, kidnapping, etc against a conventional body, which is usually stronger than the unconventional war method applicator. A typical example of an unconventional war outfit in Nigeria is the Boko Haram insurgent terror group and a typical example of non-military asymmetric warfare outfits in the country are the sponsors and sympathizers of the Boko Haram terror group and other ethno-religious butchers and butcheries in the country including the Islamist Fulani terror brigade and its ethno-religious killing spree in recent times.
In the same critical field of securitization studies, “strawmen” are those recruited or hired and paid by a party in ethno-religious, military or political conflict and secretly deplored in its opponent’s camp to study its opponent’s strengths and weaknesses in the context of issues under contention for the purpose of gaining a target advantage. These “strawmen” can be freshly recruited or converted in their lines of duty. By simplification, an official of the antagonist’s opponent can be hijacked and converted into a “strawman”, so also a third party negotiator, who can be recruited and implanted or hijacked and converted under heavy inducement or threats. We are compelled to submit that Dr. Stephen Davies wears the toga of a “strawman” for the sponsors and sympathizers of butchery insurgencies in Nigeria.
In the same Criminology & Security Studies and her sister discipline: Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution; the roles of a third party negotiator in any bloody conflict are clearly spelt out likewise his or her personality qualities. The absence of track records associated with such a negotiator robs him or her of personal credibility. One fundamental yardstick in the role of such third party negotiator is neutrality. Another is confidentiality. Resolution processes involving any bloody conflict include peacemaking and peace-building; conflict prevention, resolution and transformation. In all these, a highly respected third party negotiator can be brought in by governmental or intergovernmental bodies with laid down terms of reference.
In the case of the so-called “Australian Hostage Negotiator” called “Rev. Dr. Stephen Davies”, it is totally correct to say, from the facts available in the public domain, that he is not an internationally respected hostage negotiator but a hired international “strawman”. This is because no internationally respected hostage/conflict peace negotiator can recklessly indulge in the art of talkativeness and wild allegations with reliance on mere “hearsay pieces of evidence” such as “Boko Haram commanders told me”. There is a clear difference between “fact-finding” and “hostage negotiation”. With all due respect, the so called “Australian International Hostage Negotiator” has grossly deviated and derailed from the art of “Chibok girls’ hostage negotiator” to “international alarmist and killer propagandist”.
Flowing from these, our questions are: Was Dr. Stephen Davies engaged to negotiate the release of abducted Chibok girls or to interview Boko Haram Commanders to ascertain their sponsors? Can a hostage or conflict peace negotiator validly break his or her oath of neutrality and confidentiality as Dr. Davies has recklessly done? Are there not terms of reference for Dr. Stephen Davies to operate? What benefits do the Boko Haram Commanders stand to gain by naming their sponsors? Did the Boko Haram Commanders actually name their sponsors in their so-called interactions with Dr. Stephen Davies? Did Dr. Stephen Davies’ hostage negotiation deal for the release of Chibok girls fail on account of the sponsors and sponsorship of Boko Haram terror insurgency? Is Dr. Stephen Davies truly a third party hostage/conflict peace negotiator? What about his past success or failed stories in matters of hostage or conflict peace negotiation if any? Are his talkativeness and wild allegations in line with the international best practices in matters of conflict peace third party negotiation?
The antics of Dr. Stephen Davies quickly reminds us of a judicial inquiry episode that took place in Anambra State in 2005 before the Anambra State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal during the cross-examination of a so-called “forensic expert witness”, who was brought from the United States by the camp of Dr. Chris Ngige to dispute the forensic expert submissions of Mr. David Kolawole of the Nigeria Police Force (a renowned police forensic), who was brought by the camp of Mr. Peter Obi. In the course of cross examination by the legal team of Mr. Peter Obi, the self-styled “US Forensic Expert” shockingly revealed and confessed that he was not actually a forensic expert, but a licensed mechanic with a workshop. Our further question is: Can it be said that Dr. Stephen Davies is a confirmed quark hired by Nigeria’s merchants of death for bloody enrichment and deadly political-cum-ethno-religious goals?
It is no longer news that Nigeria as a country is sick in different fronts. While the Boko Haram terror insurgents and their sponsors have dangerously continued to pursue their forced “ethno-religious homogenization and assimilation” policy using machetes, guns and bombs; the country is also pursued for destruction by xenophobic brigades scattered in the political and media corridors in the north and west axis.
The country is also deeply divided along ethno-religious sentimental nationalism. In the country’s CSO rights community, for instance, there is a deep division and ethnicity. An activist is regarded and treated as a leper unless he or she canvasses “southwest agenda or progressive agenda”. In the media industry particularly the print, promotion of primordial sentiments and “first class-second class citizenship” division is very high. National cohesion or oneness in the country’s media died after the anti military struggle in 1999.
Today, the country’s print media is now tailored towards the promotion of sectional extremism. Even among the political class, no matter how dirty a politician is in or outside office, once he or she defects to the opposition political party, he or she automatically enjoys huge paper and to some extent audio/audio visual media coverage dominated by the Southwest axis.
Further, in the categorization of the public, there are “decision-making”, “attentive” and “mass public”. As a result, it is evident that the sponsors of the ongoing media warfare against the likes of Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika deliberately capitalize on the age-long “collective foolishness”, which is also called “public gullibility” to spread fallacious message and killer propaganda with a view to diverting the public attention with respect to those that sympathize and sponsor terror insurgencies against Nigeria and Nigerians. These categories of malicious and murderous people also pursue political powers by violent means rather than through peaceful electoral means.
The ongoing propaganda and killer media attacks are clearly to divert the public and international attentions over the true identities of the sponsors of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. The attacks and other diversionary tactics so deployed are as a result of a motion moved before the British House of Common in July 2014 urging the UK Foreign Secretary and Commonwealth Affairs to conclusively investigate serious allegations that the opposition political bodies and individuals in Nigeria are linked with the sponsorship of Boko Haram insurgency. This marked the beginning of these diversionary efforts under reference. For the country’s political class, Nigeria is zoology of impunity and immunity”, except when their nefarious conducts become an international issue. This is because there are no immunity and impunity beyond borders.
While condemning the antics of Dr. Stephen Davies and his perceived Nigerian sponsors, we wish to reject the disclosure made by the country’s Directorate of State Security Service (DSS) to the effect that it will invite Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff (former governor of Borno State) on account of Dr. Stephen Davies’ warped accusing fingers of his inclusion in the list of the sponsors of the Boko Haram. Our total rejection of his invitation stems from the fact that Dr. Stephen Davies’ allegations are dead on arrival. This is because they are corrupted, stained, contaminated and compromised. This is more so when the country’s criminal justice system does not allow room for conviction of the accused citizens on the basis of corrupted pieces of evidence. Acting investigatively based on “hearsay” evidence and other corrupted accounts amount to “investigation and trial by ordeal”.
Applying the practice of conventional data mining and management, Dr. Stephen Davies’ accounts should be seen and treated in the context of “raw data” or mere clues subject to independent critical procession and investigation. It can only be relied upon if at the end, the DSS’s fresh findings corroborate the said allegations either in whole or in part. We also renew our earlier demand for effective international criminal and humanitarian justice interventions in the country’s insurgency warfare and its sponsorship, which have the capacity to unleash more catastrophic effects on Nigeria, Nigerians and the regional and international communities.
1. Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman (Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies)
+234(8100755939 (office only)
2. Barr Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
3. Barr Anita Onochie, Head, Security & Safety Program
4. Barr Angela Onyinyechi Nwankwere, Deputy Head, International Justice & Human Rights Program