First of all, we congratulate the newly emerged democratic forces and voices in Nigeria; which emergence followed the birth eight months ago of the chained democratic administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Those worthy to mention are the frontline online media organizations including: chidi opara reports, the Nigerian Voice, the Newsepress, Globalreportersvienna, Elombah News, the Trent News Online, Odogwureports, the Nigerian Masterweb, Allnewsandreports, News247, Republicreporters, Igberenews, the Nigerianlawyers Online News, Factreporters, Oderareports, the Willnigeria, the US-African Dialogue, Biafran News Reports, the Radio Biafra London (RBL); and the Streetreporters, the Naija News, the Naijalnd News, etc.
Our congratulation also goes to the Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and those who use them in Nigeria to advance the promotion and protection of democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism in the country. Also congratulated are the Galaxy TV, the Vanguard Newspaper, the Guardian Newspaper, the Thisday Newspaper and rising democratic voices like Barr Ms Carol Ajie, Ms Aziza Uko, the Odumakins, etc as well as Nigeria’s newest leading human rights and pro rule of law advocacy organizations particularly HURIWA, Intersociety, Anambra CLO and Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations. We congratulate as well the legal team of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu particularly the duo of Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Esq., and a respected member of the Silk: Nze Chuks Muoma, SAN. Barristers Egechukwu Obetta and Egbule are also commended for their courage and boldness; likewise the national leadership of the NBA for its recent commendable public position against Buhari’s gross contempt for rule of law in Nigeria. Courageous and un-purchasable members of the Bench including the CJN deserve commendation and a call to do more to ensure that judiciary remains the last hope of common person and bastion of democracy in Nigeria.
The recipients of our informed commendation above represent new faces of the defenders of democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism in Nigeria. They have by their recent identification with rule of law and constitutionalism in Nigeria unstoppably matched into the vacuum created by now retired democratic forces of the Southwest domination; who have disastrously chosen the path of entrepreneurship of dictatorship, lawlessness and un-constitutionalism in Nigeria; pillared by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari. The new faces of the defenders of democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism in Nigeria shall also become foundational members of newly formed Nigerian Pacifism Movement; a think tank opposing State violence (other than use for legitimate security and crime control), lawlessness, abuse of office and un-constitutionalism.
The reasons behind the above informed commendation of ours stem from achievements recorded so far in their struggles to save Nigeria’s democracy, human rights, rule of law and constitutionalism. One of such achievements is the campaign for unconditional release or fair treatment and trial of Citizen Nnamdi Kanu & ors leading to latest judicial pronouncement transferring him to Kuje prison from his murderous and tortuous 96 days detention under DSS captivity; a judicial decision the DSS frustratingly obeyed on account of sustained local and international pressures mounted against it as the most lawless security agency in Nigeria by referenced new faces of the defenders of rule of law and constitutionalism in Nigeria.
We wish to call on these new faces of the defenders of human rights, rule of law and constitutionalism in Nigeria not to rest on their oars because the battle has just begun. As new faces of the defenders of democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism in Nigeria, we must at all times remember and arm ourselves with Gani Fawehimni’s three weapons against dictatorship and other social injustices, which are: knowledge of the law, facts and figures and consistency. As the immortal saying goes; “a drop of water makes hole in stone; not by violence but by often fall”.
Violent Suppression of Nonviolent Protests in Nigeria: Documented statistics available at our disposal clearly indicate that massive application of State violence outside local and international norms to violently suppress the pro Biafran nonviolent protests in Nigeria between 30th August 2015 and 18th January 2016; a period of less than five months, have led to gruesome murder by security forces of at least 50 Nigerian citizens. These included four citizens killed in Awka and Onitsha on 30th August 2015; 13 killed in Onitsha on 2nd December 2015; 12 killed in Onitsha on 17th December 2015 (eight were killed on the spot and four others died in hospital following gunshot wounds); and eight killed in Aba on 18th January 2016. Scores of innocent citizens have also disappeared in the hands of Nigerian security forces particularly the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force. Citizens are routinely arrested by Police on allegation of being “MASSOB or IPOB members” and killed secretly and buried in undisclosed shallow graves; likewise those shot and killed by soldiers and police while embarking on peaceful protests. Once their bodies are taken away by their killer security operatives, they will never be accounted for or released to their families for befitting burials.
Further, over 120 citizens were shot and critically injured with gunshots in Delta, Rivers, Anambra, Abia and Enugu States between 30th August 2015 and 18th January 2016. Of these, over 40 citizens were critically shot and injured in Anambra (30th August, 2nd and 17th December 2015); 30 in Abia State (18th January 2016 alone), 21 in Rivers State (30th August 2015); 10 in Delta State (30th August 2015) and 6 in Enugu State. These exclude scores of others critically shot and injured in related nonviolent protests in those States as well as Bayelsa State.
Among those critically shot and injured in Rivers by Nigerian Army and the Police including their mobile lines are Citizens Sunday Udegbe (08160946188), Nwabunne Udo (no number), Agwasi Anthony (08167834881), Meshach Emmanuel (08176464439), Chinwendu Ogbonna (08161840331),Amanda Onyekachi (08098649766), Emmanuel Arinze (08069667733), Okwudiri Ojah (08064551694), Chibuike David (08162879531),Uzochi Ugwojialili (07037701738); Chukwuma Igwe (07038524167), Kingsley Okere (08095527180), Chinedu Solomon Iwu (09034451844), Okon Emmanuel Udo (08132211725), Kelechi Uwaeze (08162093292), Uwalaka (07030463326), Solomon Chikwe (08037677503), Ikenna Ezekwem (07030334626), Ubani (08145558128), Amarachi Onyemachi (07031250438) and Chukwudi Ofoegbuliwe (08168944577). In Enugu State, the following were critically shot and injured, Mr. Godswill Ojikeme (08069283046), Mrs. Chinyere Godswill Ojikeme (08108156453), Ogbodo Monday (08186845441), Jonah Kelechi (07055762590), Onuigbo Paul (08180094127) and Obiorah Innocent (08142553818).
Those gravely shot and wounded in Delta State are: Chinedu Abel (08138655496), Onovo Michael (09038654579), Kingsley Anuife (07066333801), Amechi Ojieh (07069039930), Ogbonna Kanayo (09099221978), David Ogbu (08168868302), Charles Chukwuka (07011001409), Elochukwu Uzor (08052783369), Chinedu Chukwuma (09053081522) and Onyekanna Ifechukwude (08144142575).
Those critically shot and injured on 30th August 2015 in Anambra State are: Sampson Kalu (08149301083), Chidiebere Nnaji (08063110151), Onyekwelu Ovute (08035132025), Felix Ndianaefo (08137358206), Ikechukwu Okafor (08098896344), Chimaobi Okafor (09099735103), Christopher Oforah (08092188866), Sunday Nwazugbo (08033517008), Stanley Eze (08060911589), Mrs. Eucharia (08065697342) and Mrs. Patricia (07069707424). Two of the four citizens killed in Awka and Onitsha in the same peaceful protest of 30th August 2015 were Ebuka Nnolum from Enuguabo-Ufuma in Anambra State (his father’s number is 08034615426 07084367400) and Obasi Maduka from Oshiri in Ebonyi State (his brother’s number is 08165443726). In the 2nd and 17th December 2015 peaceful protests in Onitsha, over 30 citizens were critically shot and injured, out of whom, 27 citizens were taken and admitted at the Multicare Hospital.
Between 300 and 400 citizens or more labeled “Biafran or IPOB or MASSOB members” had also been arrested, detained, tortured, or killed extra judicially across the country since 30th of August 2015. In the Aba pro Biafran peaceful protest of 18th January 2016 alone, 60 peaceful protesters were arrested and detained. Many are still languishing in pretrial detention; others are facing concocted heinous political crimes charges such as treason and treasonable felony.
Why Buhari Must Heed EU’s Advice: In the world over, violent suppression of nonviolent protests by territorial governments have always boomeranged; leading the suppressed to abandon nonviolent approaches and resort to self help or self defense approaches including defensive armed rebellions. Most of the ongoing devastating intra State violent conflicts in Africa and the Middle East primarily started as nonviolent socio-political or ethno-cultural campaigns, but turned violent on account of the host States’ repressive and dictatorial responses. A newest case in point is seeming resumption of oil violence in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria.
Consequently, the latest advice handed down to the Government of Muhammadu Buhari by the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Ms Federica Mogherini, is a welcome development, timely and internationally grounded. The EU High Representative had advised Buhari that in as much as, the European Union has strong diplomatic and economic ties with Nigeria, “protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms remains a priority for the EU and we encourage the authorities (Nigeria) in every occasion to respect such rights”. The EU, on the other hand, advised pro Biafran campaigners and the Organization of Emerging African States (OEAS) “that self-determination and border changes must be in accordance with established international law. This followed the OEAS call for an internationally recognized referendum on Biafra independence or autonomy. The EU further advised that “it will only recognize a Biafra born via international law and not (through) armed secession (or rebellion)”.
The EU’s advice is totally in agreement with our public position on the same issue, to the effect that the Buhari administration must refrain from massive deployment of State violence and use of dark side of the laws of the land as well as levying of political, economic, social, ethnic and cultural wars against members of the Nigeria’s Igbo and other Southern nationalities. We had also advised the pro Biafran agitators to at all time stick to nonviolent and peaceful approaches and stay away from resorting to violence or armed rebellion. To the best of our knowledge, the agitations and their campaigners have remained nonviolent till date; as opposed to the Buhari administration which had applied and still apply maximum and dreaded State terror in handling the political self determination campaigns.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Mobile Phone: +2348174090052
Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq., Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor-Nwonu, Esq., Head, Campaign & Publicity Department