Igbo Elders Warn Northern Elders Over Threat To Drag Ihejirika To ICC
Threat provocative, says Chukwumerije BEVERLY HILLS, CA, January 22, (THEWILL) - Igbo elders came out forcefully on Wednesday daring Northern elders to carry through their threat to drag former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.
Azubuike Ihejirika, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague over alleged human rights abuses in the fight against terrorism in the country.
Besides, the Igbo leaders urged President Goodluck Jonathan to redress the omission of Ndigbo in the council of security chiefs of the country.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, stated this on behalf of the Igbo elders at a press conference in Abuja.
He said the threat of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) to drag Ihejirika and six others to ICC in The Hague is capable of unleashing a national ill-wind that will do no one any good in the country.
Chukwumerije declared that the approach of the Northern Elders Forum to a national problem is 'selective, patently biased, apparently in search of preconceived culprits, pointedly indifferent to the demands national unity, and highly provocative to the sensibilities of all who genuinely desire the unity and stability of this Federation.
' Emphasising that the senseless sacrifice of a human life is indefensible, the lawmaker noted that violations of human rights have remained the bane of Africa.
'A society that has no respect for human life is nearer the status of a community of animals.
But the situation in the universally acknowledged difficult terrain of a borderless war such as terrorism, counter terrorism and guerilla-like conflicts offers a unique challenge.
'The motives of Prof.
Ango Abdullahi and co.
are obviously beyond concerns about violations of human rights.
This is so because the incident of Bama (Baga) has been investigated and put to rest long ago.
'For instance, the Senate sent a strong team to the area in June 2013 after the incident.
After a thorough on-the-spot investigation which extended to interviews with all concerned officials (Director of SSS, State Governor, Commander of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, and stakeholders of the community) and visit to the grave yard, the Senate Committee concluded as follows: 'the death toll of 185 was exaggerated but there may be more than 37 deaths------' he stated.
Chukwumerije who disclosed that the Senate endorsed the report, said: 'Definitely, there were no massacres to the scale that demanded the judicial sanctions of The Hague.
' He therefore posed three questions: 'Why the blatantly selective search for responsibility in Bama (Baga) and why so personal? 'Every citizen (including Prof.
Ango Abdullahi) knows that the anti-terrorism campaign in the North is a joint-military operation under the command of the Chief OF Defence Staff.
'In singling out Lt.
General Ihejirika, the then Army boss, the likes of Prof.
Ango Abdullahi are merely betraying old prejudices and embarking on new hazardous search for bad names to hang hated dogs.
'Besides, the fact that Prof.
Ango Abdullahi and co, sprung into action immediately Lt.
General Ihejirika and 'six others' left their commands has revealed the depth of long-smouldering resentment of the campaign against Boko Haram by the self-proclaimed leaders of the North,' he said.
The position of the Northern Elders Forum, he added, 'raises a question about where their sympathy lies in this battle' against Boko Haram.
Chukwumerije further asked, 'Why single out Bama (Baga) incident for Hague's adjudication?' He said, 'We have seen, in the past, cases of wholesale massacres which were not only more gruesome than Bama's (Baga) but proven as true unlike Bama (Baga).
Ango Abdullahi and co.
'There was the case of Odi in which a whole community was decimated.
There was the case of Zaki-Biam.
There was the case of Katsina Ala.
'If Odi did not arouse the conscience of Ango Abdullahi because the people do not belong to his hallowed Northern enclave, how about Zaki-Biam and Katsina Ala? ' In the magisterial judgment and imperial political wisdom of the Ango Abdullahi's, when is a Nigerian, their type of Nigerian worthy of national attention and respect of the law, and when is a Northerner, their type of Northerner worthy of attention and protection of the law.
Why only Bama (Baga)? According to him, 'if Ango's criterion fo selection of cases for Hague is 'gruesome use of force against unarmed civilians,' 'extra-judicial killings' and 'acts of strangulating civilians' (unproven or exaggerated as the allegation may be), then our learned professor ought to know that the prime candidate is genocidal atrocities of the civil war against the people of former Eastern Region, especially Ndigbo.
' Chukwumerije added: 'As Ango Abdullahi's team opens the doors and walks into the hall of the World Court, let them realize that they have at last opened the Pandora' Box.
'The indigenes of Odi, Zaki-Biam and Katsina Ala will in quick succession file into the hall.
At the same pace, Ndigbo of South East and Anioma will dust their files and head for The Hague.
' He said that Nigerians must cling to the hope that Prof.
Ango Abdullahi and co 'wish long-lasting peace and stability to our troubled federation.
' According to him, the only path to long-lasting stability of the federation is the path of equity-'an understanding by all of us that the irreducible necessity in a multi-national state like our federation is a secular state soundly based on rule of all, on equality of rights and obligations of all citizens.
' On the omission of Ndigbo in the council of security chiefs, he said the Igbo-speaking citizens of the country observed with disquiet that the present constellation of security chiefs, has none from the Igbo ethnic nationality.
Ndigbo, he said, view the omission with concern 'because it means that at the highest level of consideration of the security challenges of the country, the voice of Ndigbo will be missing.
' BY EMMA UCHE, ABUJA