We, the leaderships of the Southeast based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations; comprising the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), the Center for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy (CHRPA), Human Rights Club(HRC) (a project of LRRDC), Southeast Good Governance Forum (SGGF), Forum for Equity, Justice & Defense of Human Rights (FEJDHR), Society Advocacy Watch Project (SPAW), Anambra Human Rights Forum (AHRF), the International Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights Initiative (INTERSOLIDARITY) and the Street Law Africa (LawAfrica) are deeply worried and concerned that Citizen Nnamdi Kanu may mostly likely go the way of late Muhammed Yusuf.
It is recalled that late Muhammed Yusuf was the leader of the Boko Haram terror group who was arrested alive by the Nigerian Army during the July/August 2009 Boko Haram uprising in northern Nigeria and taken into the custody of the Nigeria Police Force, from where he was murdered in cold blood or killed extra judicially. The consequences of that dastardly act by the country’s security forces led to sharp rise or increase in the spate of terrorism activities by the violent group; which has remained untamed till date. Nigeria till date holds the world record in extra judicial and unlawful killings. It was also recently declared the third most terrorized country in the world after Afghanistan and Iraq and seconded only by Syria and Pakistan.
Nigeria, through its political leaders and security establishments; also notoriously disrespects human rights and desecrates human dignity and lives. Controversies surrounding the reported killing in action of 139 soldiers on 19th and 22nd November 2015 in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria by the Boko Harm terror group; have continued to surge. While 105 soldiers were reported to have been mass-murdered on 19th November, 34 others were also reported to have been killed three days later (22nd November). Despite strong and steady reports on the sad development by credible independent or open sources; backed by pieces of pictorial evidence; the country’s military authorities and the Presidency have kept on denying, saying; no soldiers went missing in action. The denial has not been accompanied by any strong and credible official investigation and its outcome till date. These records of infamy attained by Nigeria have continuously worsened under the Buhari’s Presidency.
The Criminal Justice Administration under President Muhammadu Buhari administration is at its worst state. As recently as 10th November 2015, Hon Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court Six in Abuja issued a judicial license through an ex-parte (one sided) order; to the authorities of the DSS to detain Citizen Nnamdi Kanu for ninety (90) days for the phantom purpose of investigating him for terrorism and terrorism financing. The consequence of the kangaroo order is that: the DSS has been judicially licensed to torture, detain incommunicado and slam trumped up charges against the non violent self determination campaigner. As we write, Citizen Nnamdi Kanu is undergoing excruciating torture both physically and mentally in the hands of his DSS captors. Part of psychological or mental torture being so inflicted is total denial of access to his lawyers, family and doctors. His lead-Counsel, Barr Egechukwu V. Obetta told our Coalition last night that all judicial and administrative efforts he made to see his client (Citizen Nnamdi Kanu) before and after his last court appearance on 23rd November 2015 have been blocked and frustrated by the DSS; particularly following the kangaroo court order; which the DSS now uses as a license and an excuse. Citizen Nnamdi Kanu’s access to his family and doctors has also been blocked and denied by the DSS.
Nigeria holds world record of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. The country’s security forces and intelligence establishments are notorious in using torture to extract or obtain confessional statements especially when it comes to trumped up charges or spurious criminal accusations such as terrorism and terrorism financing; under which the DSS fabricated an affidavit and secured a kangaroo order or license to detain and interrogate (torture) Citizen Nnamdi Kanu.
From every indication, Citizen Nnamdi Kanu is most likely undergoing physical and mental torture in the hands of his DSS captors. During his last court appearance on 23rd November 2015, he looked frail, physically and mentally depressed and was disallowed to speak publicly. We wish to warn that the consequences and tragedies that will befall Nigeria should Citizen Nnamdi Kanu goes the way of late Muhammed Yusuf will be generationally untamed and unquenchable. The Buhari administration and its DSS as the present managers of the life, liberty and death of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu must be reminded that should he dies naturally or unnaturally in their hands, the culpability of his death shall inescapably and inexcusably be in their hands and no amount of medical theorizing or posthumous arguments or excuses will fly or exonerate them from his custodial death if he dies under torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
It is therefore extremely important to inform all Nigerians and members of the international community that the DSS is most likely torturing Citizen Nnamdi Kanu physically or mentally for the purpose of forcing or compelling him under duress to reveal and admit being (a) sponsored by leading Igbo politicians (who he is being coerced to name); (b) a terrorist; and (c) involved in terrorism financing. Involvement in terrorism and terrorism financing is a capital offense punishable under the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 (as amended in 2013) by death and life imprisonment respectively. Nigeria under the military regime of Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) in 1984 to 1985 was notorious in using trumped up charges and retroactive criminal legislations to arrest and detain the opponents of the maximum military regime for months and years without fair judicial trial and fair judicial conviction. Trumped up charges and retroactive criminal charges are prohibited by the 1999 Constitution and the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights of 1981, ratified and domesticated by Nigeria in 1983; yet the present Buhari civilian administration has defiantly resuscitated them in fragrant violation of the country’s mother law and the international treaties.
For the records, it is trumped up charges or fraudulently concocted charges, for instance, when a citizen is caught wandering, but arrested, detained and accused or charged for armed robbery (i.e. night arrests by police); or when a citizen is caught holding or suspected of being in a possession of firearm possibly with or without license; but get arrested, detained and accused of treasonable felony (i.e. Sambo Dasuki); or when a citizen is arrested and detained unlawfully for expressing his political thoughts without use or advocating for violence; but arrested, detained and accused of involvement in terrorism and terrorism financing( i.e. Citizen Nnamdi Kanu). In other words, they are lesser alleged criminal acts or omissions of the citizens over-bloated and substituted with charges of commission of higher criminal acts or omissions; for the purpose of holding or detaining the citizens in longer or perpetual confinement through long pretrial custody detention or Holden Charge. These have been responsible for the country’s monumental failure in investigatory and prosecutorial criminal justice; to the extent that most of the criminal charges brought against the accused citizens cannot stand in judicial trials owing to want of pieces of indictable and convictable evidence. It is also substantially responsible for the country’s swelling number of awaiting trial inmates or detainees in the country’s prisons and other custodial establishments.
Further, by the United Nations Convention Against Torture & Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatments or Punishment of 10th December 1984, ratified by Nigeria on 28th June 2001; Torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions (i.e. execution of court sentence).
In all these, the tragic history of former Yugoslavia is still fresh in the memories of all and sundry. The peaceful and non violent political agitation for right to self determination by the Indigenous People of Biafra and millions of its supporters is not Nigeria’s main headache or threat to its volatile statehood; rather the greatest threat facing the country is its current Presidency, which has gone gaga in deployment of its coercive powers or violence against its people.
This was exactly the case in former Yugoslavia under Slobodan Milosevic until he plunged his country into bloody civil war that led to its violent fragmentation into six war and starvation stricken statehoods. The sad history of former Yugoslavia is replicating itself under the Buhari’s Presidency. The greatest threat to Nigeria’s statehood is its Department of the State Security Services. Torturing Citizen Nnamdi Kanu to confess or admit being involved in phantom terrorism and terrorism financing; likewise coercing him to rope in innocent Igbo politicians as sponsors and financiers of the phantom terrorism and terrorism financing, is the height of intelligence crudity, failure and infantilism on the part of DSS.
Labeling innocent, peaceful and nonviolent political self determination campaigners or agitators as terrorists and terrorist organization (via affidavit deposed to by DSS before the Federal High Court Six in Abuja); amounts to collective punishment against the people of the Southeast zone for being law abiding and using peaceful means to register home their grievances against the Federation of Nigeria. The implication of searching for leaders, members and funders of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is that the DSS should locate them in their overseas bases comprising over 80 countries where they are registered, recognized and domiciled; and begin to arrest and deport every citizen of the Southeast resident in overseas. It also means that the DSS should advise its general overseer (President Muhammadu Buhari) to build more prisons with more than three million inmate capacities to accommodate the arrested members of the IPOB and citizens of the Southeast Nigeria resident in overseas.
The modern theory of violence clearly indicates that monopolization of violence by State authorities is waned and out-fashioned; likewise modern theories of security and warfare, which have also moved into the hands of non State actors. Same thing goes to human rights violation that is now common among non State actors and State actors as well. All lovers of democracy, rule of law and civil liberties must call the Buhari Presidency to order before it plunges the country into violence of intractable proportion. Embarking on maximum deployment of State coercive powers and violence and indiscriminate resort to use of trumped up charges to haunt and hurt the lives, liberties and safeties of the Nigerian citizens of critical mindsets is a compound threat to the country’s fragile statehood and the entire population. All hands must be on deck to save Nigeria from becoming another bloody Yugoslavia in the of the Buhari’s civilian presidency. Nigerians must rise up and say no to abuse of office and illegitimate use of State force against innocent citizens of the land.
In the concluding part of this publication of ours, we shall demystify or un-bottle the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 amended in 2013 and expose its gross incoherent with the 1999 Constitution and the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights ratified and domesticated by Nigeria in 1983. Specifically, the incoherence of the Act with the Chapter Four (Fundamental Human Rights) of the 1999 Constitution and relevant Articles of the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights will be highlighted. The inconsistency and incoherence of the provisions of the Terrorism Prevent Act with the present unconstitutional conducts of the DSS leading to labeling of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB as terrorist group and terrorism financier will also be exposed.
For: Coalition of Southeast Based Human Rights Organizations (CSBHROs):
1. Emeka Umeagbalasi (+23474090052 (office)
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)