Protests: ‘Buratai’s Butcheries’ & Consequences Of Niemoller’s Silence In Nigeria
Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria, Thursday, 22ndOct 2020: Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller (14th Jan 1892-6th March 1984), was a theologian and Lutheran Pastor. Also named Reverend or Pastor Martin Niemoller, he was well known for his opposition to the Nazis' state control of the churches. Pastor Niemöller was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1938 to 1945. He narrowly escaped execution. After his imprisonment, he expressed his deep regret about not having done enough to help the victims of the Nazis.
Till date, the world still remembers Pastor Niemoller for his immortal lamentation, regret and confession. He had lamented thus: First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
In Nigeria, history has repeated and is still repeating itself. The Nigerian Army led by Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, in conjunction with the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigeria Police Force, has supervised and perpetrated at least Fifteen Massacressince August 2015. The Department of State Security Service, SSS, under Lawal Musa Daura (July 2, 2015- August 7, 2018) was responsible for the supply of intelligence that led to most of the massacres. The not less than Fifteen Massacres, now coined “Buratai’s Butcheries”, involve mass killing of unarmed and defenseless citizens peacefully engaging in democratic free speeches and assemblies.
‘Buratai’s Butcheries’ have also vicariously, if not directly marked COAS, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai out as the most atrocious Chief of Army Staff in the history of non-Civil War Nigeria and second most atrocious COAS since 1970. Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, Nigeria’s COAS, was born on 24thNov 1960 and appointed Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff on 13th July 2015. Late Gen Hassan U. Katsina (31st March 1933-24thJuly 1995) remains the most atrocious COAS in the war era Nigeria. A former military governor of old Northern Nigeria, he served as Nigeria’s Civil War Chief of Army Staff from 1968 to 1971. During his time, estimated 2.5m to 3m civilians mostly citizens of old Eastern Nigeria were massacred or starved to death, in total breach of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its Protocols.
The List Of Fifteen ‘Buratai’s Butcheries’ (Massacres) In Nigeria: The fifteen ‘Buratai’s Butcheries or Massacres’ across Nigeria since August 2015 include (1) the 30th August 2015 massacre of 40 defenseless citizens of Judeo-Christian faith during peaceful protests in Onitsha, Enugu, Yenagoa, Uyo, Port Harcourt and Asaba; (2) 2nd and 17th Dec 2015 massacre of 30 defenseless citizens of same faith in Onitsha; (3) 14th-15th Dec 2015 massacre of 800-1000 unarmed Shiite Muslims during their religious processions in Zaria (Government later admitted massacring 348); (4) 18th and 29th Jan 2016 massacre of 20 defenseless citizens of Judeo-Christian faith during peaceful protests in Aba; (5) 9th Feb 2016 massacre of 30 unarmed protesters in Aba; and (6) 29th and 30th May 2016 massacre of 140 defenseless citizens of Judeo-Christian faith during global Igbo Heroes Day in Onitsha, Nkpor and Asaba.
Others are (7) the 2016 starvation to death of 240 civilian detainees including 29 children with ages between newborn and five years at Giwa Army Barracks in Maiduguri, Borno State (AI Report: 2016); (8) 7th Jan 2017 military massacre (air bombing) of 236 internally displaced persons (IDPs) at Christian IDP camp in Kala-Balge, Borno State; (9) 20th Jan 2017 massacre of 20 unarmed protesters (pro-Trump rally) in Port Harcourt; (10) 4th Dec 2017 massacre (air bombing) of 50 rural Christians in Numan, Adamawa State; (11) 11th to 14thSept 2017 massacre of over 180 unarmed and defenseless citizens of Judeo-Christians faith in Ogwe, Aba, Isiala-Ngwa and Umuahia, all in Abia State; and (12) 29th and 30th Oct 2018 massacre of 47 Shiite Muslims in Abuja. The rest are: (13) 29th/30th June 2020 massacre of 30 unarmed Tiv Christians in Taraba State; (14) 23rd August 2020 massacre of 30 Judeo-Christian worshippers and sports activists in Emene, Enugu State; and (15) 20th night of Oct 2020 massacre of up to a dozen (casualties likely to be higher) defenseless protesters in Lekki, Lagos State.
In all, not less than 2,500 unarmed and defenseless Nigerians have since August 2015 been massacred or killed outside the law including in contravention of the ICC Statute of 1998; with the Nigerian Army led by Lt Tukur Yusuf Buratai accounting for 75%, Nigeria Police Force 20% and others 5%. Over 2000 defenseless citizens were also shot at close range and brutally injured with scores crippled for life. Between 80% and 90% of the bodies of those massacred in the entire butcheries were taken away and permanently disappeared by Gen Buratai’s soldiers. Till date, none of the massacres has been credibly investigated locally or internationally and all the perpetrators are still on the prowl.
‘Buratai’s Butcheries’ Have Gone Round: Lt Gen Buratai, through his vicariously, if not directly owned “Buratai’s Butcheries” has vicariously, if not directly made himself the slayer of defenseless citizens of Southeast, South-south, Southwest, North-central (i.e. Benue), Northeast and Northwest. That is to say that the butcheries in his vicarious, if not direct name have gone round. In the immortal confession of Pastor Martin Niemoller: First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
When ‘Buratai’s Butcheries’ started with unarmed and defenseless citizens of Igbo Judeo-Christian faith and their neighbors in old Eastern Nigeria, the Nigerian mainstream media especially the Lagos based electronic and paper media as well as some of the country’s leading CSOs and rights activists mostly based in Lagos and Abuja, became silent and pretended as if nothing had happened. The butcheries were hardly or barely discussed or given special attention or coverage by the referenced, a sort of ‘structural’ and ‘cultural violence’ against the victims and their ethno-religious groupings.
Even when ‘Buratai’s Butcheries’ were unleashed on unarmed members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria or Nigeria’s version of Shiite Muslims, similar conspiracy of silence rented the air. The named did not stop at that. They, especially some leading CSOs and rights activists of Southwest extraction, also lent a hand in several efforts at covering up the military atrocities and shielding their perpetrators including ‘terror tags’. These could clearly and circumstantially be seen in the leprous military and NHRC’s “probe panels” and “their reports” as well as that of the Kaduna State Government (where the hunted have become the hunters) and the reconstitution of the Board of the National Human Rights Commission where some of them made the list and got compensated.
The conspiracy of silence and leprous roles of the named did not end within Nigeria as they were also taken beyond borders. Apart from their spousal relationship with the present central Government of Nigeria, they also became the international lobbyists and image launderers of the indicted military and other security chiefs. These could be seen in the installation of a stooge as the President of ICC, who is about to end his three years tenure in April 2021 without a single investigative and prosecutorial breakthrough. The biased and incompetent Prosecutor of the Court is also billed to end her nine-year single tenure by June 2021.
We at Intersociety were specifically and deeply shocked in Dec 2018 during the release of our updated report on police and military roadblock extortion in old Eastern Nigeria when a well traveled rights activists called us to thank us for the report and also to inform us of the conspiratorial roles of some of the country’s leading rights activists including key staffs of the country’s Rights Commission. The named were so shameless and conscienceless that that got hired by some service personnel working at the legal department of the Nigerian Military to counter or attempt to discredit petitions submitted against the country’s military and its indicted chiefs, indicted by some local and international rights groups and activists.
The Comrade further confirmed to us of having personally met or sighted them in company of military lawyers attached to the legal departments of the Nigerian Military heading overseas onsuch image laundering mission. Apart from submitting watery counter petitions internationally for the indicted, the hired activists have also been sighted at strategic international justice and diplomatic quarters including at the Headquarters of ICC, UN rights agencies and diplomatic circles located in some key western capitals.
Therefore, it is not surprising to us at Intersociety that ‘Buratai’s Butcheries’ have gone round as what goes around surely comes around. Like the immortal confession of Pastor Martin Niemoller, the ‘Buratai’s Butcheries’ have struck at the doorstep of those who refused to speak and condemn or act when the butcheries reared their ugly heads and started with Judeo-Christians of Old Eastern Nigeria and Shiite Muslims of Northern Nigeria.
The functions and efficacies of human rights including rights to life, personal liberty and dignity of human person and rights to freedom of association and assembly and freedom from discrimination are best understood by explanations given in the Abraham Maslow’s fundamental human functions and needs theory. Apart from human rights being indivisible and indissoluble, violation or abuse of same anywhere is a serious threat to rights of others everywhere.
There are no spousal relationships between human rights/pro democracy CSOs and Governments in the global lexicon of democracy. From the formation of the Anti Slavery Int’l in 1848 as the world’s first human rights group, the best a rights CSO or activist or rights CSOs or activists can do is or are to constructively partner with a credible and popularly elected Government or Governments strictly for purposes of fulfilling the sacred obligations contained in the Social Contract Charter (good and accountable governance).
That is to finally say that ‘Buratai’s Butcheries’ wrecking havoc across the country today, would have been well taken care of had the named CSOs and activists resisted same at their embryonic stage. Today Lagos, the country’s intellectual and human rights ‘capital’ is going up in flames. A High Court and a Court of Appeal, eight police stations, State’s transport terminal and fire stations/vehicles and section of the Nigerian Port Authority, a public tollgate, a traditional ruler’s palace, and multibillionaire mass communications facilities strongly suspected to have been built with stolen public funds and numerous other public and private owned properties or facilities have been torched or gone up in flames or destroyed.
Since 2015, we at Intersociety have been strongly warning the country’s Presidency and its security forces to return the country to the path of secular and plural governance as well as pacifism as nobody has monopoly of violence. This is because, in the words of Emeka Umeagbalasi, “nobody owns violence or has monopoly of same as there are over 1000 forms of it and if people are pushed to the wall, resulting in revolt, AK-47s will become toys and their state actor wielders ended in refugee camps”.
Int’l Society for Liberties & Rule of Law hereby calls for proper documentation and archiving of the Lekki army massacre as in law and criminology, when a crime or a massacre is committed or perpetrated, it is not a crime or a massacre on record until it is properly investigated and documented. The best protection from criminal liability Lt Gen Buratai and his co-travelers in atrocity crimes can get is to remain in armed forces with complicit state cover, but certainly not forever and the best gift for them is to ensure that they are made international pariah personalities while in service and face jail terms anywhere in the world after service.
Intersociety & Emeka Umeagbalasi Wrote From Onitsha, Old Eastern Nigeria
Contacts: Phone: +2348174090052. Email: [email protected] . Website: intersociety-ng.org