For the purpose of ensuring total compliance and strict adherence to Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of the State Policy, contained in the Chapter Two (Sections 13-24) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended; Section 22 of the same Constitution morally charged “the press; radio, television and other agencies of the mass media to at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people”. Section 13 of the same Constitution superbly provides that “it shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of Government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution”. The Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of the State Policy is Nigeria’s version of the Social Contract between the people (ethnic nationalities) of Nigeria and the public office holders (elected and appointed); totaling 17,500. The Constitutional Oaths of Office & Allegiance for public office holders in the country is fundamentally laid on Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of the State Policy.
However, and sadly too, the reverse is not only the case, but also the press; radio, television and newspaper industry in Nigeria has long lost its independence and public ownership; making it one of the most gagged and corrupted media industries in the world, with an exception being the online media; which, too, is battling for its independence and freedom from political corruption and censorship, particularly under the present Buhari administration. It is also our grounded observation that the sacred foundations of not only the press, but also judiciary, rule of law, human rights, political pluralism, non Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba ethnic nationalities, rights based CSOs and leading professional bodies like NBA, NLC, NUT and NANS; are steadily under intense threats. Of these, Southwest based CSOs and press (electronic and newspapers); are already cocooned and bottled up. Those in a verge of being cocooned and bottled up are the judiciary, rule of law, political pluralism and leading professional and occupational associations. These bodies have in the past become formidable agents of democracy and democratic constitutionalism in Nigeria; reaching their peak when military was chased out of power and returned to barracks.
Therefore, we, the Southeast based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs); coordinated by Intersociety, have watched with deepest dismay concerning the unfolding sad and sore events in Nigeria particularly the riotous elevation and deployment of falsehood and propaganda as the official policy of the Government of Muhammadu Buhari. The elevation of the assets and liabilities of the propaganda machinery of the current federally ruling party to the level of the Federal Ministry of Information & Culture in Nigeria is one of the greatest policy blunders of our time.
Apart from the ignoble roles of Abacha’s Wada Nas and Uche Chukwumerije; leading to institutionalization of State terrorism during his maximum khaki era; consequences of institutionalizing falsehood and propaganda as a State policy have remained generationally catastrophic and unforgiving in a country like Rwanda where the propaganda machinery of the Hutu’s main political activists later became widespread and elevated as the official policy of Government of Gen Juvenal Habyarimana; including the establishment of a hate radio station called Radio RTLM, through which official lies, propagandas and other messages of bigotry and hatred were spread and institutionalized. The Tutsi population was during the inglorious epoch labeled “inyenzi” (cockroach) and murdered in their hundreds of thousands within three months of the country’s genocide (April to July 1994) (credit: Carol Ajie & Co and Intersociety).
We therefore note sadly that institutionalized falsehood and propaganda is on rampage in Nigeria. Appointing an arch propagandist and; some say, “professor” of falsehood; as a chief information officer in Nigeria is a serious threat to the country’s democratic and rule of law foundation. Falsehood and propaganda are major triggers of violence and warfare in both past and modern times. Totality of the two is also called “cyber terrorism or information warfare” in modern time. It is a settled fact in the field of criminology & security studies that information mismanaged or distorted is propaganda; and facts distorted or corrupted is falsehood (credit: Emeka Umeagbalasi).
It is therefore correct to hold that the Federal Government of Nigeria through its Minister of Information & Culture is solely responsible for the renewed killings and recent death and wounding of over 200 Nigerian citizens within three days of 25th to 28th December 2015. While over 80 innocent citizens were murdered in one day in Adamawa and Borno States in Northeast by Boko Haram terror group, at the verbal instigation of the Minister of Information & Culture; over 13 others were killed in another village of Borno State on the Xmas Eve. Scores of citizens were also critically wounded in the multiple bomb and gunshot attacks. The Minister’s infantile and inflammable comments have further been worsened by more propagandist public comments such as “Boko Haram attacks prove that we have won the war”. The Minister has continued to probate and reprobate on the issue till date.
On the other hand, the new twist (media propaganda and falsehood) in the persecution of Citizens Nnamdi Kanu and Ibrahim El-Zakzaky is a further attestation of elevation of falsehood and propaganda as official policy of the Government of Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria. While the likes of the Nation Newspaper, Sahara Reporters and TV Continental have turned blind eyes to unprovoked, unwarranted, unjust and unconstitutional killing of 25 innocent citizens and wounding of scores of others by soldiers and police in Onitsha over peaceful pro Biafran protests that took place on 2nd and 17th December 2015, as well as flouting with reckless abandon of four consequential orders of the Wuse Zone 2 Magistrate Court and the Court Six of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court; the named media outfits with their political owners and associates are riotously on news loose over Citizen Nnamdi Kanu. Their latest propagandist headlines are: “how Nnamdi Kanu was arrested by DSS in hotel hibernating with a young lady and how he wanted to escape or slip off the hands of the DSS”; “unmasking the real identity of Nnamdi Kanu”; and “Kanu apologizes to Buhari, etc for calling him a terrorist”.
Hired and conformist columnists have also been recruited and directed to awash their newspaper columns with associated falsehoods and propagandas so as to divert the public attentions away from poised persecution of the Pro Biafran self determination activist and shameless disrespect to court pronouncements by the Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari. That is to say that Citizen Nnamdi Kanu’s phantom prosecution for phantom offense of treasonable felony has been moved from court room to the pages of newspaper.
It is obvious that the real motive behind this latest propaganda onslaught and falsehood against Citizen Nnamdi Kanu by Federal Government of Muhammadu Buhari and the DSS; using named conformist media; is to cause intervening factors or circumstances that could lead to the death of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu’s heavily pregnant wife and her unborn child. She is reported to be medically due for delivery in coming weeks. The onslaught is also designed by the Federal Government and its leprous media agents to cause break up of Citizen Kanu’s marriage, leading to in-captivity divorce; otherwise what has catching Citizen Nnamdi Kanu in a hotel hibernating with a young lady got to do with phantom charge of treasonable felony and associated spurious accusations slammed on him and ors? It is obvious that the Federal Government and its leprous media outfits want to project Citizen Nnamdi Kanu in a bad light as an “irresponsible married man who sleeps around with women in hotels outside wedlock”.
We further ask: what smartness is the DSS claiming when it unlawfully engaged in riotous breaking of hotel rooms without search warrants; thereby infringing on the right to privacy of the guests in the hotel? When has it become unlawful for any citizen to use his middle names (i.e. Nwannekaenyi) or other affiliated names while lodging in hotels? How truthful and commonsensical is it for the DSS to have caught Citizen Nnamdi Kanu “hibernating with a young lady in a hotel room” (i.e. making love)? When have hotels in Nigeria started planting hidden cameras in hotel rooms through which the DSS saw or caught Citizen Kanu “hibernating with a young lady in a hotel room”? Where are the video clips showing Citizen Nnamdi Kanu “hibernating (making love) with a young lady in a hotel room”? Did the DSS ascertain the social identity of the “young lady caught hibernating with Citizen Nnamdi Kanu in a hotel room”? Is the young lady in question not Ms. Maryam Ibezimakor (alias Ada Biafra); one of the ardent pro Biafran activists? Is it now a crime in Nigeria for a hotel guest to be visited by his or her opposite sex including his or her associates, relatives, partners and friends?
Ordinarily, the issues above are not worth responding to, but experiences of the recent past have steadily taught us “the Lyndon Johnson’s way”, that it is better to speak out and clear a doubt than to remain silent and be thought a fool. We had severally raised alarms concerning the desperation of the Buhari administration to use all know dark forces and forces of evil to crush the Igbo Ethnic Nationality in Nigeria including sending Citizen Nnamdi Kanu to jail by fire by force. In the perceived reasoning of the ageing President, he will remain in power forever and live on earth immortally. To him and his associates, power is not transient and government tenure has no end. We are therefore not surprised over the unfolding sore and sad events under discussion. Having been deceived by Igbo political gangsters and traders that with billions of naira from federal purse, if released; pro biafran protests will be buried; and having been released, pocketed and failed to bury pro Biafran protests; all dark forces and forces of evil have been mobilized by the Federal Government to kill the message and the messengers and continue the age-long structural violence and injustices against the Igbo race.
Instead of going back to the drawing board to critically examine the age-long atrocities and injustices against the Igbo Ethnic Nationality, for the purpose of addressing them politically, geographically, geopolitically and economically; the Buhari administration is bent on entrenching them and pursuing their grievances in the hard and wrong way. Apart from its rapacious disobedience and disrespect to judicial pronouncements, it is laughable and vexatious too, to observe further mockery of judiciary and abuse of court process in the so called six count charges concocted by DSS and the Federal Ministry of Justice against Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and ors. The phantom charges include alleged offenses which Citizen Nnamdi Kanu knows nothing about. For instance, the personal (private) firearms said to have been recovered in the house of another citizen and some communication gadgets alleged to have been imported and managed by a different citizen are deliberately and mischievously lumped up to rope in Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and convict him at all costs.
Also, how these translate to commission of offense of treasonable felony leveled against Citizen Nnamdi Kanu, is surprising and shocking. To the extent that peaceful and non violent assertion of African Charter’s rights to self determination, existence and development and Constitutional rights to peaceful assembly, association and expression; now constitutes commission of offense of treasonable felony, remains one of the wonders of 2015 in Nigeria. Also in the charge sheet under reference, charges preferred against Citizen Nnamdi Kanu at the Magistrate Court, such as criminal conspiracy and managing and membership of unlawful society; which were later discontinued and dismissed and struck out by the Magistrate Court; were again brought back and included in the new charge sheet.
The personal (private) firearms or un-prohibited firearms (i.e. pump action guns) allegedly found in the house of another suspect in Ihiala; has nothing whatsoever to do offense of treasonable felony. In the plain language of Section 28 of the Firearms Act of 2004, when possessed by a citizen without valid licenses including a license from the Inspector General of Police or his top subordinates, the bearer on judicial conviction; goes to jail for a term not exceeding five years imprisonment. In other words, it is lightly bailable. All the charges lumped with the so called treasonable felony against Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and ors are all bailable offenses, yet they were so lumped to rot and possibly kill them in jail.
The same political persecution being undergone by Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and hundreds of his supporters clamped into jails without fair trial across the country is also being visited against Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of the Nigeria’s Shiite Muslim Movement. The Buhari administration not only massacred over 300 of his followers and destroyed his Movement’s headquarters, but he was also battered, arrested, detained for over two weeks before being charged for criminal conspiracy and remanded in prison custody few days ago. In other words, he was held unconstitutionally for 13 days or more before being charged over a bailable offense requiring only 24 hours pretrial detention. Similar media propaganda and falsehood unleashed on Citizen Kanu and his teeming followers have also been unleashed on Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his teeming followers by the Buhari administration and its hired media propagandists.
We call on all lovers of democracy, rule of law, human rights and constitutionalism in Nigeria and across the globe to take proactive notice of renewed efforts of some hired and paid media practitioners recruited by the Federal Government of Nigeria for the purpose of unleashing falsehood and propaganda against Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and millions of their followers particularly by attempting to stain their impeccable personalities and characters and demonize their constitutional and treaties’ rights to existence, development and self determination; personal liberty, life, dignity of human person, movement, thought, conscience and religion; as well as freedom of expression, peaceful association and assembly.
We appeal to social saints and change agents all over the world to step up their global campaigns for the unconditional release of the duo of Citizens Nnamdi Kanu and Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and hundreds of their detained followers. Such campaigns must also include pressures on the Buhari administration to obey the judicial pronouncements and desist from mocking and impugning the judiciary and rule of law. The Federal Government of Buhari’s Presidency must also be compelled to respect the fundamental human rights of all Nigerians and apply to the letter the principles of rule of law and constitutionalism when dealing with citizens accused of being in conflict with the law.
All Nigerians of good will should henceforth ignore any media report of falsehood and propaganda backgrounds sponsored by the Federal Government of Nigeria to divert public attentions from its ignoble roles in the two recent catastrophic events. As the Federal Government had failed twice in its desperate bids to politically and vindictively nail and convict Citizen Nnamdi Kanu; it will fail again until it stops chasing shadows and gambling with the collective destiny of the Igbo People which no amount of illicitly spent billions can buy or upturn. We have warned and are still warning that should anything causes or leads to the death of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu in the hands of his captors (DSS and the Federal Government), Nigeria will explode inflammably!
For: Coalition of Southeast Based Human Rights Organizations (CSBHROs):
1. Emeka Umeagbalasi (+23474090052
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
2. Comrade Aloysius Attah (+2348035090548)
For: Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO)
3. Comrade Peter Onyegiri (+2347036892777)
For: Center for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy (CHRPA)
4. Comrade Samuel Njoku (+2348039444628)
For: Human Rights Club (a project of LRRDC)(HRC)
5. Justus Uche Ijeoma, Esq.(+2348037114869)
For: Forum for Justice, Equity & Defense of Human Rights (FJEDHR)
6. Comrade Chike Umeh ( +2348064869601)
For: Society Advocacy Watch Project (SPAW)
7. Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq. (+2348034186332)
For: Anambra Human Rights Forum (AHRF)
8. Comrade Alex Olisa(+2348034090410)
For: Southeast Good Governance Forum (SGGF)
9. Jerry Chukwuokolo, PhD (+2348035372962)
For: International Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights Initiative (ITERSOLIDARITY)
10. Evlyn Chinwe Eze, Esq. (+2347019646494)
For: Street Law Africa (LawAfrica)