The Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs), coordinated by Intersociety and comprising: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), Anambra State Branch of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Center for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy (CHRPA), Human Rights Club (a project of LRRDC)(HRC), Forum for Justice, Equity & Defense of Human Rights (FJEDHR), Society Advocacy Watch Project (SPAW), Anambra Human Rights Forum (AHRF), Southeast Good Governance Forum (SGGF), International Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights Initiative (ITERSOLIDARITY) and Igbo Ekunie Initiative (pan Igbo rights advocacy group), are alarmed and shocked by immoral activities of “political traders” and other merchandizing groups concerning pro Biafra agitation in Nigeria, which gathered currency in October 2015.
Particularly alarming and shocking are the immoral roles of political traders (including sitting governors and political appointees), hired community and market based associations and religious bodies as well as socio-cultural organizations of Igbo extraction. We have observed that these conscientiously mortgaged groups and individuals have since October 2015 when Prince Nnamdi Kanu (POC: prisoner-of-conscience)) was arrested and detained over pro Biafra struggle; turned themselves into “merchants of the dead and butchers of conscience”; by criminally enriching themselves and engaging in sundry immoral politics at the expense of the blood of dozens of their murdered fellow Igbo citizens and liberties of hundreds of others maimed and incarcerated till date. Others found to have maintained till date “silence of the graveyard” over the burning issue, for reasons best known to them, are majority of the civil rights leaders or frontline activists of Igbo or Southeast extraction, who are dominant in Southwest zone particularly in Lagos State. It is on indisputable record that half of the civil rights and pro democracy organizations in the area are founded or led by citizens of the Southeast extraction. These “docile comrades” and their groups are quickly followed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which had maintained the same “silence of the graveyard” on the issue since October 2015.
Combined effects (negative) of the foregoing have emboldened President Muhammadu Buhari and his killer-security forces; resulting in entrenchment of culture of impunity in their use of State terror against unarmed and nonviolent pro Biafra agitators and criminalization of the country’s international and regional treaty rights and obligations particularly rights to self determination, ethnic identity, existence and development. The central purpose of the Vienna Declaration & Program of Action, adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights on 25th of June 1993, which led to setting up of the National Human Rights Commission in Nigeria in 1995, is for the advancement and protection of all human rights contained in the treaties of the UN, the AU and the 1999 Constitution. The same rules and regulations also govern all Nigerian based civil and other human rights organizations including those concentrated in the Southwest Zone, dominated or led by citizens of the Southeast extraction. The worst of it all are the open hostile and chronic hate attitudes of other rights and media advocacy groups run by Nigerians of other sectional or regional extractions towards the safety, security and rights of Igbo citizens in Nigeria.
To them, “Igbo citizens do not deserve living and protection in Nigeria or any part thereof”. To them, also, “Killing, maiming and incarceration and torture of Igbo citizens in Nigeria do not constitute rights abuses”; while same elsewhere do and warrant prompt advocacy responses including wide media campaigns and condemnations, litigations, protests and petition writings.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the chief brain behind the pro Biafra agitation; by law, convention and conducts. By international conventions and customary international law, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, now governed by APC and Retired Gen Muhammadu Buhari, with a professor of law as his vice; willingly submitted its instruments of ratification to be a member of the United Nations and African Union. On the same premise, the country willingly acceded to be a State-Party to a number of strategic international and regional human rights norms particularly the International Covenants on Civil & Political Rights and Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (UNO) and the African Charter on Human & Peoples’ Rights (AU), which it ratified in 1993 and 1983 respectively. In the same 1983, Nigeria’s National Assembly domesticated the African Rights Charter and in the year 2000, its validity and enforceability was sealed by the Supreme Court of Nigeria; whereupon it ruled that “African Rights Charter is subject to the 1999 Constitution, but superior to any other legislation in Nigeria”. Till date, the Federal Republic of Nigeria under Gen Muhammadu Buhari is still a State Party to all the international and regional rights treaties under reference and has not backed out of any of them.
By law, the pro Biafra agitation is in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution by virtue of its Chapter Four or Fundamental Human Rights. It is also partly protected by the Chapter Two of the same Constitution under “Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of the State Policy”. Section 14 (2) (a) of the Constitution, for instance, raises “sovereignty as a responsibility” or “citizens’ sovereignty”, by stating that “sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government, through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority”.
By its ill-conducts, the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the chief architect of pro Biafra agitation. It has over the years, till date, refused to restructure Nigeria to accommodate, protect and prosper all ethnic nationalities and sexes irrespective of size, colour, religion or origin. The Federal Government had continuously created a culture of “two-in-one country” or “first class and third class citizenship” and chronically planted seeds of discord among ethnic nationalities; leading to a country of socio-cultural divisiveness and enslavement, where, for instance, teenage girls of Christian religion are recklessly and brazenly abducted and converted to Islam with police IGP doing nothing; where Fulani herdsmen (terrorists) armed themselves and massacred and still massacre thousands of innocent and unarmed rural Christians with police IGP doing nothing; where Igbo citizens are massacred in thousands by malicious State and non State actors in different parts of the country with police IGP and federal authorities doing nothing; where innocent and unarmed citizens in their hundreds who gathered in a school premises to ventilate their social angers peacefully and verbally are massacred by security forces with their corpses dumped and burnt to ashes in burrow pits with federal authorities saying and doing nothing; where up to 1000 unarmed citizens have been massacred by security forces in Zaria, Onitsha, Aba and Ogoni since June 2015 with federal authorities doing nothing; and where over 2000 unarmed and innocent citizens have been butchered by the Boko Haram and the Islamist Fulani terror groups since June 2015 with federal authorities doing nothing till date.
In spite of the foregoing tragedies that have befallen Nigeria and Igbo Ethnic Nationality; leading to nonviolent and peaceful pro Biafra agitation under reference, the struggle has also thrown up “merchants of the dead” and “butchers of conscience”, who go about defrauding federal authorities by claiming to have potentials and capacities, ”if bribed”, to end or “kill” the agitation. These elements are conspicuously present in “Ohanaeze”, and other conjectured and government controlled market associations and religious bodies. Among them also are sitting governors, legislators and political appointees in the Southeast Zone as well as harlotry and habitual politicians in the zone.
Devilish of it all is resort by politicians of conscienceless morality to use pro Biafra agitation as political campaign tools for the purpose of gaining cheap popularity or waging vendetta war against their opponents. The recent arrest of Chief Victor Umeh by the DSS; strongly condemned by our lead-coordinating group (Intersociety), alongside this coalition, is a clear case in point. While it has been established that Chief Victor Umeh was arrested over his alleged hostile open campaign comments or attacks against the Buhari administration (and not over sponsorship of IPOB or pro Biafra agitation), indented by DSS operatives attached or deployed to the campaign arena, he expressly pointed accusing fingers at his political opponents and claimed, till date that “he was accused by them of sponsoring IPOB/pro Biafra agitation”. Rather than critically examine the “social realities” associated with pro Biafra agitation for the purpose of getting the federal government to address them, politicians of the above description have now turned the well founded agitation into political weaponry and stigmatized same as “crimes against the State and people of the Southeast”.
The unforgivable of it all is merchandizing with innocent blood of the murdered pro Biafra agitators, numbering at least 80 and the injured or maimed, numbering over 170 since August 2015. Apart from “collective silence of the graveyard” maintained by these political traders during and after the Onitsha and Aba pro Biafra peaceful protest massacres and shootings as well as dumping and burning or destruction of 16 of their corpses in burrow pits in Abia State, they have also resorted to criminal enrichment per federal authorities and their host State Governors as well as giving of false and scripted opinions to visiting international observers. We are aware that in the course of arranged meetings facilitated by federal authorities and host State Governors, those political traders were influenced to give false opinions over the social state of things in the Southeast Zone, warranting the agitation under reference.
In the course of our meeting with a delegation from government of one of the EU countries recently, for instance, we were reliably informed that “other than our coalition and very insignificant others, the rest they met with gave them scripted and indoctrinated opinions”. Till date, these political traders are strongly believed to remain under the payroll of federal authorities and host State Governors for the purpose of destroying rather than critically addressing the social realities of the pro Biafra agitation (i.e. age-long and chronic personal and structural violence unleashed on Igbo citizens and Southeast Geopolitical Zone). The height of this personal and structural violence against the Igbo race got spiraled since Retired Gen Muhammadu Buhari became President on 29th of May 2015.
That of structural imbalance or violence has risen to an apogee. Till date, for instance, no senior police officer of Southeast extraction is among the 12 Police Zonal Commands in Nigeria headed by AIGs and we are not aware, too, of any of such officers from the Southeast Zone presently serving as AIGs among the country’s 22 serving AIGs. The number of them serving as State and non State CPs is provocatively insignificant and till date, no efforts are on the ground to address such violent geopolitical lopsidedness or imbalance.
Finally, the main purpose of this joint statement is to expose the immoral, despicable and condemnable roles of political traders and other money mongers towards the systematic ethnic cleansing and extermination of the Igbo race in Nigeria, condoned and sanctioned by federal authorities, and to call on politicians of Igbo extraction to desist from using pro Biafra struggle for their dirty political games or campaigns. We also advise such dirty politicians to desist from raising false alarm and instigating murderous security agencies into harassing and arresting arbitrarily their opponents or dissenting forces using nonexistent allegation of “sponsorship of IPOB or pro Biafra agitation”
Those who go about collecting bribes and defrauding federal authorities and host State Governors for the purpose of “killing Southeast or pro Biafra legitimate and nonviolent self determination rights agitation” must stop such generationally calamitous habits of trafficking in the dead or merchandizing in human and material miseries of their Southeast citizens and the zone. Politicians engaging in election campaigns must stay away from politicizing and criminalizing pro Biafra agitation and concentrate on real campaign issues such as how they can contribute immensely towards societal transformation and betterment of the downtrodden if elected as legislators, governors or LGA chairmen or councilors.
On the other hand, we call on the IPOB leadership worldwide to steadily beam its searchlights at its local officers in Nigeria for the purpose of ensuring that they are not hijacked and polluted by the political traders and desperate government agents or apologists. They must also be barred at all times from accepting or collecting any monetary or material support from any government official or politician. Our resolve to pricelessly lend ongoing humanitarian and human rights advocacy assistance to the IPOB worldwide will be discontinued any time it comes to our credible knowledge that IPOB is partly or wholly hijacked or funded by political traders, politicians or government agents.
At the level of IPOB worldwide, it is our strong advice that it should watch itself, back and forth, at all times and resist any attempt by federal authorities to possibly plot divisions within its ranks by inducements and other nocturnal means. The discordant sounds witnessed recently among its ranks and Prince Nnamdi Kanu’s former legal team when Prince Kanu (POC) was in DSS captivity is a clear case in point and must not be allowed to repeat itself. Any official of the IPOB in Diaspora found to be a mole, conscientiously immoral and yielding, must be removed. Because our contributions (human rights and humanitarian assistance) to the struggle are priceless and beyond what money can buy, we shall not associate ourselves with merchants masquerading as “international indigenous rights activists”.
For: The Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs)
1. Emeka Umeagbalasi (+2348174090052)
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. Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma(+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. Maazi Tochukwu Ezeoke (+447748612933)
For: Igbo Ekunie Initiative (pan Igbo rights advocacy group)