Public Lecture: The Nigerian Dream & The Rights Of The Youths, The Oppressed & The Voiceless (2) Presenter: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chair, Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Origin of Social Contract
In his 1690 famous book called the Second Treatise of Civil Government, John Locke saw and called for a situation where a free, equal and independent people agreed to be governed in return for certain secure enjoyment for their individual rights, which the courts and police powers of a government can enforce leading to every free individual having a moral right to be protected from arbitrary interference by government or other individuals, of his or her sacred rights.
The visionary and philosophical work of John Locke and ors were later in 1776 reviewed by American founding fathers including Thomas Jefferson, who drafted or wrote the US Independence Declaration Speech delivered on 4th July 1776. Thomas Jefferson later became the third President of the United States from 4th March 1801 to 4thMarch 1809. This was the origin of the enshrinement of the famous Social Contract in the US Constitution till date. The American Independence Speech holds as follows:
We hold these truths to be self evident that all men (and women) are created equal and endowed with certain natural and inalienable rights, and most important being of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And to protect these rights, men set up government whose authority rests on their consent.
And whenever a government ceases to do what it has been set up for, its citizens have a right to change it or its order and put in place a new government or a new order that will provide for their safety and happiness.
Tragedies of Leadership Failure on Human Rights & Economic Development in Nigeria
The problem of Nigeria yesterday, today and perhaps tomorrow is leadership failure and absence of charismatic leaders. Granted that part of Nigeria’s problem is inherited from its foundation (i.e. British led western slavery, gun culture, colonialism and foreign religion with its strange and locally incompatible doctrines); but failure of successive and present Nigerian political leaderships to provide charismatic leadership and right the wrongs of the past, has compounded the country’s flurry of social problems and put it in the present path of seeming irremediable perdition or doom.
It is so bad that Nigeria, till date, acutely lags behind in matters of measuring up with seven modern dimensions of Human Security; namely: political security, personal or physical security, economic security, health security, environmental security, community security and food security.The UN’s new concept of Human Security was developed in 1994 by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). It emphasizes on the expansion of the concept of security from its old gun culture and State monopolistic concept to the new concept of human security-a radical or geometric shift to citizens’ freedom from want and fear. The concept of Human Security is also called “peopling security”.
Nigeria is also acutely eluded by two concepts of negative peace and positive peace. Negative peace represents absence of large scale personal or physical violence while positive peace represents absence of structural violence or policy against political exclusion and institutional segregation. Lack of the above has spiraled group violence and escalated youth militancy and unchecked use of illicit small arms and other weapons of death in Nigeria. The Nigeria Police Force and other security forces including the Nigerian Army have responded to increasing group violence in Nigeria crudely and through other approaches that are outside the law.
The Nigeria Police in particular, also recklessly and brazenly resorts to racial discrimination in the course of controlling and managing street crimes in the country while the Nigerian Army indulges in reckless and excessive use of force and other mindless violation of int’l rules of engagement; in its response to group expressions such as democratic free speeches and street protests. In the world over under the UN System, national armies have no single business in managing and policing both aggressive and nonviolent assemblies other than armed resistance or struggle. Policing organizations are empowered and equipped to do so.
International Laws & Treaties Binding on Nigeria
They include the UN Covenant on Civil & Political Rights and the UN Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights of 1976; the UN anti Genocide and Torture Conventions of 1948 and 1985; the UN Convention for Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance of 2009; UN Women & Child Rights Conventions of 1984 and 1990; the UN Statute on Refuge of 1951; the Rome Statute of the Int’l Criminal Court of 1998; UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials of 1979; UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force & Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials of 1990; UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948; the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights of 1981; UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People of 2007; and more importantly, the Geneva Conventions or Laws of War of 1949, enacted to regulate inter State and intra State conflicts and treatment of non combatants including refugees and IDPs affected by intra and inter State conflicts. Nigeria is a State Party to the above and also morally bound by them till date.
Obligations of Nigerian Government to Its Citizens under UN System
The UN’s new concept of sovereignty as a responsibility or citizens’ sovereignty and maintenance of international peace and security as the core foundation of the Purposes of the 193-member Organization; is inviolably binding on Nigeria as a key Member-State. Nigeria is also bound by the Customary International Lawunder UN System particularly those that are inviolable by virtue of their doctrine of “substantial uniformity by substantial number of States” or “Opinio Juris”.
The UN’s principle of Opinio Juris binding on its 193-Member States including Nigeria literally means a general belief binding on all Member-States that a non-treaty is legally binding on States. This is in addition to another important principle of UN called “Jus Cogens” (i.e. absolute rules of general international law binding on UN Member-States for which no derogation is permitted). Instances of the latter include rules against use of crude or deadly force on vulnerable and unarmed populations; perpetration of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity; massacre of unarmed and defenceless citizens in non war situations, slavery, mass rape and torture, etc.
Int’l Procedures for Policing Aggressive & Peaceful Assemblies (Non-War)
Numerous regional and international procedures binding on Nigeria abound. Specifically, Nigeria as a leading member of the UN and international community is bound by the Basic Standards or Procedures of International Law & Humanitarian Principles. Under this are the ten basic rules or standards for policing aggressive and peaceful assemblies in any member-State; which expressly recognize the rights of the citizens of all Member-States of the UN including Nigeria, to peaceful assemblies and expressions other than armed conflict or resistance-and strictly outline ways through which these assemblies shall be managed or policed by policing agencies of member State other than their armies.
The ten basic standards of the international law put in place for policing agencies of Member-States of the UN for management of civil assemblies and free speeches as well as arrest, detention and prosecution of citizens accused of commission of municipal crimes of relevant municipal code definitions are:
(1)everyone is entitled to equal protection of the law without discrimination on any grounds, especially against violence or threat..; (2) treat all victims of crime with compassion and respect, and in particular protect their safety and privacy; (3) do not use force except when strictly necessary and to the minimum extent required under the circumstances.
Others are (4) avoid using force when policing unlawful but nonviolent assemblies; (5) when dispersing violent assemblies, use force only to the minimum extent necessary (i.e. in line with proportionate use of force and avoidance of application of excessive force on unarmed(i.e. not bearing automatic rifles or firearms) but violent or aggressive assemblies), (6) lethal force should not be used when arresting nationals suspected of committing municipal or local crimes except when strictly unavoidable in order to protect your life or lives of others. Note: peaceful or provoked violent assemblies do not amount to commission of municipal crimes other than insurrection, mutiny or armed struggle; (7) arrest no person unless there are legal wounds to do so and ensure that the arrest is carried out in accordance with lawful arrest procedures; (8) ensure that all detainees have access, promptly after arrest to their families and legal representatives and to any necessary medical assistance.
The rest are (9) all detainees must be treated humanely and avoid infliction, instigation or toleration of any act of torture in any circumstance and refuse to obey order to do so; (10) do not carry out, order or cover up extrajudicial executions or disappearances of the arrested or the detained and refuse to obey any order to do so; and report all breaches of these basic standards to your senior officers and to the office of the public prosecutor and do everything within your powers to ensure steps are taken to investigate these breaches.
In policing or managing such civil assemblies and free speeches, particularly if they become uncontrollable and capable of breaching public peace and safety, policing agencies and their officers must apply the following modern crowd control methods and approved kits: tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, electric tasers, batons, whips, water cannons, long range acoustic devices, aerial surveillance, police dogs, etc; with their handlers bodily aided or protected by body protective devices such as anti crowd helmets, face visors, body armor (i.e. vests, neck protectors, knee pads, etc), gas masks and anti crowd shields.
Int’l Rules of Engagement for Protection of Civilians in Violent Conflicts
Under circumstances of war or situations of internal conflict, the military and humanitarian handling or management of same are strictly regulated regionally and internationally. On humanitarian and use of force aspects, Nigeria is a party to UN Statute on Refuge of 1951 and allied rules for treatment of IDPs. Nigeria is also a State Party to the Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998. Nigerian armed forces and police are further strictly bound by the UN’s Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials of 1979 and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials of 1990.
Under war or conflict situations, Nigeria is bound by the Geneva Conventions or Laws of War of 1949 and their Four Protocols including the doctrine of rules of engagement and its principles of use of force, self defence, and related others. Nigeria is also a State Party to anti Genocide and anti Torture Conventions of 1948 and 1985 respectively.
The Rules of Engagement, traditionally and universally associated with internal and inter -State violent or armed conflicts or wars, are the integral part of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 or Laws of War and their Four Protocols of 1977. They originally came from the three war related doctrines of Jus Ad Bellum (justification and ground for going to war); Jus In Bellum (ethical rules of conduct during war, such as ethical standards expected of soldiers or combatants in wartime or rules of engagement); and Jus Post Bellum (regulations on how wars are ended and facilitation of transition from war to peace).
These are also called the Standard Rules for the People of the War. The People of the War here literally means parties in the conflict who occupy the conflict areas such as fighting parties, non-combatants or civilians or IDPs and refugees as well as other third parties directly or indirectly participating or affected by the conflict.
There are six key features of the internationally standardized Rules of Engagement strictly applicable in war or conflict situations and they are (1) legitimate use of force, (2) proportionality of use of force, (3) legitimate self defense, (4) treatment of prisoners of war or conflict, (5) avoidance of attacks on non-military necessity or civilian targets or properties, (6) avoidance of attacks on civilians or non-combatants, (7) treatment of the wounded, (8) avoidance of attacks on culture symbols or places of worship, (9) avoidance of attacks on humanitarian agencies and personnel/human rights activists; (10) legitimate treatment of other peoples of the war (i.e. spies and journalists).
Short Statistics on State use of Deadly Force against Nigerian Youths & Ors
By our recent statement, dated 4thof June 2018 (killing of 150 Pro Biafra Activists during Army Python Dance II in Abia State & related ors), the combined authorities of the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Air Force are responsible for killing of no fewer than 456 defenseless and unarmed citizens of the country in 2017 alone. The killings included jet-bombing of no fewer than 236 Christian IDPs at Rann IDP camp in Kale-Balge LGA of Borno State on 17thJanuary 2017.
There were also no fewer than 20 supporters of Biafra Indigenous People, shot and killed by soldiers at pro Trump Rally in Port Harcourt on 20thJanuary 2017; no fewer than 50 rural Christians bombed to death in Numan, Adamawa State on 4thDecember 2017; and no fewer than 150 mainly supporters of Biafra Indigenous People killed on 12th, 13th and 14th of September 2017 in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia (105 deaths), Isiala-Ngwa(20 deaths) and Aba (25 deaths); where not less than 100 unarmed and defenseless others were shot and wounded particularly in Afara-Ukwu; which witnessed the highest number of injuries and Aba with the second highest number of injuries.
In 2016, the Nigerian Army, joined by Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies killed no fewer than 200 pro Biafra activists in Aba on 18th and 29th of January and 9th of February (60 deaths including 16 slain bodies dumped in two burrow pits and over ten recovered slain bodies) and 29thand 30th of May 2016 at Nkpor, Onitsha and Asaba (140 deaths with only about 15% bodies of the slain recovered and buried by their families).
In 2015, the Nigerian Army, joined by Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies killed no fewer than 50 unarmed pro Biafra campaigners. They were killed at Awka and Onitsha on 30thAugust; again in Onitsha and Aba on 2nd December and lastly for the year in Onitsha on 17thDecember at Niger Bridgehead. Out of no fewer than ten killed in Aba on 2nd December 2015 along Aba-Port Harcourt Road, five slain bodies were later dumped inside a burrow pit.
The remaining number of deaths associated with army massacre of pro Biafra Campaigners came from other violent crackdowns that greeted their street protests between 2015 and 2016 in Asaba-Delta State, Enugu-Enugu State, Abakiliki and environs-Ebonyi State, Yanogoa-Bayelsa State, Port Harcourt-Rivers State and Uyo-Akwa Ibom State. There are also unreported others technically classified as dark and grey figures of crimes. In the above highlighted massacre operations targeted at unarmed pro Biafra activists and ors, no fewer than 500 were shot and maimed with some crippled for life and a number of others died from injuries sustained.
The Nigerian Army is also responsible for killing between 12th and 14th of December 2015; of no fewer than 1000 members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria or IMN. The killings took place in Zaria, Kaduna State during the annual sacred procession of the sect. Subsequent killing by security forces in 2016 and above; of the unarmed Islamic sect members also led to no fewer than 120 deaths.
There are also other military killings resulting from custody related deaths in Northeast Nigeria. These deaths perpetrated in conflict environment and outside military necessity, clearly constitute war crimes. They include torture-deaths (including starvation and malnutrition) in army detention centers involving hundreds of civilians including new born and others aged not above five.
Among such deaths were 240 deaths recorded in the Giwa Military Barracks in 2016 in Borno State. Statistics relating to these custodial deaths are contained in the reports of Amnesty Int’l including its 2016/2017 and 2018 reports on Nigeria, which also released another report on 24thMay 2018 detailing widespread rape and other sexual harassments perpetrated by personnel of the Nigerian Army in some IDP camps in Northeast Nigeria.
In all, through illegitimate use of force and its crudity or regime violence, the Nigerian Army, joined by Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Air Force and other security agencies are responsible for no fewer than 2,150 killings between June 2015 and September 2017. These did not include police custody and torture related deaths which have intensified and risen to national monthly average death of 250 uninvestigated and unprocessed arrested and detained citizens; with yearly average of 3000.
That is to say that Nigeria Police Force may most likely have killed as much as 9000 uninvestigated and unprocessed detained citizens since mid 2015. The victims are those arrested and taken into police custody from where they are tortured to death or shot and killed outside the law. The authorities of the Nigeria Police Force usually refer to them as “slain armed robbers and kidnappers shot in gun duel or attempted custodial escapees”. A good number of the slain victims are victims of racial profiling policing policy in Nigeria mainly targeted at members of the Nigerian Youth population of Igbo stock.
Death of 107,500 Citizens outside the Law since June 1999
Non State actor killings and maiming have also intensified or escalated in Nigeria; with most victims being the youths and children. Youths are usually those in 18-35years age bracket. They are also referred to as active members of the national population. No fewer than 107,500 unarmed and defenseless citizens mainly from members of youth population have died outside the law in Nigeria since June 1999.
The not less than 107,500 deaths outside the law since June 1999 included victims of vigilante violence, police custody deaths, civilian deaths in military invasions of Zaki Biam, Odi and Gbaramaturu; communal violence, ethno-religious group and mob violence; civilian deaths in Niger Delta militancy violence; Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen’s anti Christian and other terror violence; military killings in Zaria, Southeast and South-south; civilian deaths in military custody in the Northeast; civilian deaths in the Nigerian Air Force jet-killings in Borno and Adamawa as well as victims of Zamfara Bandits’ terror violence in Zamfara and Kaduna States.
Death outside the law occurs when a citizen who is unarmed and defenseless at the time of his or her death is killed by his or her fellow citizen or a State armed officer or a violent member of armed opposition group or a member of street criminal gang. It includes death arising from deadly use of force in non war situation or that occurring from non military necessity attack by armed parties in a violent conflict; or death arising from police custody-usually from torture or deliberate shooting and killing in custody.
Importantly, by law and criminology, a criminal is not one until he or she is fully subjected to the processes of arrest, detention, investigation, investigative indictment, fair trial including fair hearing and fair defense; conviction and sentencing.
(Being Part Two Of The Public Lecture Presented On 8th June 2018 At A Conference, Tagged: The Nigerian Dream: Prospects & The Role Of The Youths; Held In Awka And Organized By The Senate Of The Law Students Association Of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria)