Zaria & Onitsha Killings: A Call For International Investigation Of Army & Police Chiefs In Nigeria
(Onitsha Nigeria, 16th December 2015)-The last weekend’s coordinated massacre by the Nigerian Army of hundreds of Shiite Muslim faithful of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in Zaria, Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria; is not only a State murder and terrorism; but also signals the return of Idi Amin era in the Nigerian Army under the Commander-in-Chief of President Muhammadu Buhari. The Idi Amin era in the present Nigerian Army context includes: (a) blood thirst of the person of Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, (b) indiscriminate visitation of military’s maximum violence on unarmed and defenseless citizens and groups at slightest or no provocation; and (c) adoption of crude violence and falsehood by the Buhari’s Presidency as State policy in government-citizens’ relationship and conducts. Totality of these is called State murder and terrorism.
In Uganda, where the bestiality was once the order of the day in the 70s under late Idi Amin Dada, countless State murders were committed and series of carnage and ethnic cleansing were perpetrated and perpetuated against targeted ethnic groups and other sections of the Ugandan population. In all these, State falsehood was entrenched and independent media muzzled and terrorized; for the purpose of covering up and watering down the atrocities of the State. Two particular references were those of State murder of the country’s then Justice Minister and Central Bank Governor; upon which a stage managed/fake road accident was plotted as the cause of their death.
Therefore, what played out in Zaria over the weekend bears total semblance of the Ugandan State murder and terrorism governing style. The theory of attempted assassination plotted and circulated publicly by the country’s Army authorities as a reason for visiting war-like terror and violence on unarmed Muslim faithful in Zaria, leading to massacre of hundreds of them; is totally dead on arrival. It also exposes the crudity and infantilism of the country’s Army Chief of Staff; Lt Gen Tukur Buratai in matters of modern military and information technology. It further exposes him as a combat general without common sense. Till date, no single video clip or pictures of the parroted Army casualties with their identities have been shown publicly by the Army or the so called media crew attached to the Chief of Army Staff that accompanied him on the date of the dastardly act.
In modern criminological and criminal law circles; assassination attempt or attempted murder must include grave bodily harm (assault occasioning grievous bodily harm) inflicted on the target or a closest third party on the scene or serious damage on surrounding property. Invocation and application of right to self defense to repel it must also go with proportionality of force or violenceused by the attacker or attacking party. But in the instant case or claim of assassination attempt, none of these was encountered, shown or applied. Excusable blockage of the road does not in any way amount to assassination attempt.
It is a common knowledge to all and sundry in Nigeria that Muslim faithful (though condemnable) have long engaged in the habit of blocking major roads including federal roads during their Friday Prayersor when marking major Islamic activities. We are therefore, surprised as how this age-long condemnable practice condoned till date by public office holders in the country including Lt Gen Tukur Buratai; has suddenly become attempted assassination.
It is therefore our firm position that there is no iota of truth in the claim of attempted assassinationof Lt Gen Tukur Buratai; the Chief of Army Staff. It is a clear case of crudity of use of State force or violence against unarmed citizens and abuse of office. We challenge the COAS and the Nigerian Army authorities to publicly show the pictorial and video clip evidence of the casualties they claimed were inflicted on them by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria as well as weapons and types of same used or applied by the Sect in assassination attempt on COAS.
The only difference between the Onitsha Military/Police Killings and the Zaria Army Massacre is that the latter is bloodier than the former. In the context of acts, omissions and intentions, they are the same. Just like the bare faced lies told by the Army authorities in the Zaria massacre; the same tissues of lie were also dished out without any evidential support; by the same Army authorities in theOnitsha Killings; where upon they falsely claimed that they resorted to use of deadly force or violence against the Pro Southeast self determination peaceful protesters when they discovered that they were armed with dangerous weapons. The phrase: dangerous weaponsare expressly lesser in category and definition than firearms; coupled with the fact that no single pictorial or video evidence of some or any of the protesters holding machetes or daggers was shown publicly till date.
Relying on the media crew that reportedly accompanied the Chief of Army Staff during the said incident; for the purpose of authenticating the Army’s claim of attempted assassination on its COAS, does not hold water. It is a common knowledge in Nigeria that he that pays the piper dictates the tune. That is to say that the media crew particularly electronic media that is attached to Nigeria’s public office holders including the Chief of Army Staff; is usually on contract basis; for the purposes of covering their official activities and protecting their unseen and usually dirty conducts.
Any member of the media crew that reports, broadcasts or writes the opposite of such unseen or dirty conducts is occupationally doomed. In some cases, members of the media found to be independent minded; who witness such unseen or dirty conducts; are instantly made victims ofperfect killing or killed under stage managed circumstances. The suspicious State murder of the photo journalist (Tunji Oyeleru of the Vanguard Newspaper) alongside then Executive Director of the CLO (Chima Ubani) in Maiduguri, Borno State in September 2005; during the anti fuel price hike rally is a clear case in point.
We wish to further state that the Zaria Army Massacre, directed by Lt Gen Tukur Buratai is another time-bomb and insurgency-breeding. Attestation to this fact are angry reactions trailing the dastardly act; coming from right, left and center including Iran and Shiite strongholds in Iraq. The Sect including its leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky; had in 2014 lost 34 of its members in the hands of the Nigerian State military forces. Another 20 of its faithful were killed recently in controversial bomb attack; in which the Sect strongly accused the Buhari administration of involvement.
Among those killed in the two State’s murderous attacks were his sons. In the last weekend invasion of his Sect’s headquarters, its leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky was captured, mentally shattered and bodily lacerated as if he was a field war captive; captured in combat. We just hope he will not go the way of late Yusuf Mohammed. Till date, there is no strong evidence of the Sect taking up arms against the Federal Government of Nigeria or engaged in insurrection. The most despicable of it all was the second bloody invasion of his Sect’s headquarters and mass killings and property destructions that followed it. In all these, no single soldier that went on such rampaging attack was credibly reported hurt or killed; thereby rubbishing the Army’s claims of the Sect’s use of violence against its personnel including the COAS.
We are yet to see any leader of the so called Fulani Herdsmen that had massacred or still massacre thousands of innocent Nigerian citizens in rural parts of the country; being apprehended and prosecuted by the Federal Government for killing of thousands of innocent Nigerians and destruction of their hard earned properties. It is therefore shocking that Nigerian leaders of today including President Muhammadu Buhari and his Chief of Army, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai have refused to realize that power is transient and that excessive use and application of State violence is brazenly an office of office and amounts to official invitation to anarchy and lawlessness. It is now a common knowledge that Nigeria is on daily basis being pushed to brink by the Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari.
The coordinated silence of the Buhari’s Presidency in the Zaria Army Massacre and the Onitsha Military/Police Killings is not surprising to us. That Lt Gen Tukur Buratai and IGP Solomon Arase still hold unto the COAS and IGP positions despite their murderous roles in the twin carnage is also not surprising to us. It worries and saddens our heart how Nigeria has descended abysmally and fully returned to the cave under the Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari in a twinkle of an eye. Under former Jonathan’s administration, Nigeria moved from cave to forest and got stunted; but got raced back to the cave by the Buhari’s Presidency within seven months. As Nigeria was crawling back and forth between cave and forest; its contemporaries of the 60s and 70s like China, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia have long completed their missions to the moon and are heading towards the mars.
It also shocks and saddens our heart over the coordinated silence of key members of the international community including the UN and leading international rights groups; in these unfolding triggers of anarchy and lawlessness. It is extremely important to remind that the eruption of bloody internal conflicts in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Syria (lately); solely happened because the international community chose to become deaf and dumb; leading to their refusal to do nothing. Watching idly the Government of Muhammadu Buhari breaching, gravely, the international human rights and humanitarian norms on daily basis; is grave disservice, on the part of UN and other leading members of the international community, to the citizens of Nigeria and the world at large. Nigeria has in the past seven months been turned upside down by the Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari. The few advancements recorded in recent past, in economy, justice sector; human rights, politics, infrastructures and social services; have abruptly been upturned.
All draconian and obnoxious enactments and case-laws are now on rampage and used to run riot on Nigerian citizens. From the judicially castrated public order Act to Holden Charge; from long detention without trial to trumped-up charges; and from Decrees 2 and 4 to pretrial perpetual detention, per Terror Act of 2011; the list is numerous to mention. We have severally kicked against and still kick against killing of unarmed citizens or groups in Nigeria or any part thereof, irrespective of their ethnic, religious, age or class affiliations. Any person or group of persons whether in military or police that perpetrate or perpetuate such killings must be fished out no matter how short or long it takes and brought to justice. In the Republic of Chad, for instance, former President Hissene Habre had since 2014 been taken into judicial custody for atrocities he committed during his tenure, which ended in 1990. The duo of Lt Gen Tukur and IGP Arase has earned themselves pariah statuslocally and internationally and such pariah status is not statute barred.
We hereby call for international enquiries to be carried out into the Zaria Army Massacre and theOnitsha Military/Police Killings. The essence of this exercise to be conducted by the United Nations is to ascertain the truth behind the dastardly acts and secure strong evidence in the two heinous killings and fish out those directly and indirectly involved. The grand aim is to charge those found individually and vicariously involved including Chief of Amy Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai and Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, before the ICC or UN Special Criminal Tribunal forcrimes against humanity as well as sending a strong message to the Nigerian authorities including President Muhammadu Buhari, IGP Solomon Arase and the COAS, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai that the era of impunity for mass murder, carnage, pogrom, rape, ethno-religious cleansing, torture and murder, etc; culminating in commission of crimes against humanity; as well as brazen abuse of office; is no longer condoned in any part of the world including Nigeria.
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor-Nwonu, Esq., Head, Campaign & Publicity Department