JOS: SAVING JONATHAN FROM ICC
As an active practitioner in the Human Rights and Development sector in Nigeria, I am often confronted by my colleagues from other civilized climes with the critical question of why life is so very cheap in Nigeria. Others have also often asked me why the Federal Government of Nigeria tolerates and indeed promotes impunity given the ugly fact that mass murderers arrested in the scene of sectarian and genocidal killings are often let off the hook on the ground of ethnic and religious sentiments. In one of my published articles during the life time of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, I addressed the ugly fact that life has indeed become so cheap in Nigeria and I ended up by admonishing the government to take effective, comprehensive and result-oriented action to stem the tide of mass killings all across Nigeria and especially the pogroms that have continued in Jos, the Plateau State capital, Maiduguri, Bauchi and other dangerous and notorious flashpoints in Northern Nigeria.
I am worried that though Nigeria’s legal regimes and the various statutory provisions in our law books that deal with crimes have sufficiently provided stiff judicial sanctions to be pronounced and enforced on persons convicted in the competent courts of law for murder but the Federal Government through the office of the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice has failed consistently to stand up for what is legal and lawful by playing politics with heinous crimes like mass murder committed by some street urchins funded and supported by some top persons in the corridors of political power.
I was therefore at great pains to explain to my British friend who had wanted to find out why some suspects arrested and prosecuted since last year for their roles in the mass killings that took place in Jos South local Government council of Plateau state last year were only recently literarily given ‘a slap in their wrists’ in the name of sentences for these crimes against humanity by the Federal High Court, Jos division. My friend called me while on a visit to Northern Nigeria and wanted to find out if the crime as serious as murder is only punished with mere two year jail term which should run concurrently and in all honesty I was as disappointed as he was that the Federal High court could be so lenient to literarily hand a sentence to a murder suspect which is similar to telling the suspect to ‘go home and sin no more’. I also looked at the question from the angle of the shabby and shoddy manner that the so-called police prosecution teams wilfully and corruptly mess up the investigations of certain serious cases of mass killings once they [ the police] are sufficiently settled by the godfathers of these mass murderers and these less than professional handling of investigation into such dastardly crimes of mass killings will inevitably leave the presiding judge in the High Court with no option but the ‘devils alternative’ of handing soft sentences to persons arrested and charged for mass murder in Plateau State in the last few years.
It appears that the police investigative teams involved in unravelling the actual perpetrators of the systematic mass killings in Jos and other parts of Nigeria are indeed ‘devils’ advocates’ willing to sell their consciences for little handouts rather than pursue their jobs with professional excellence and the love of nation and obedience to the principle of the rule of law.
How did our value system in Nigeria collapse so spectacularly that a publicly funded law enforcement operative is ever so willing to trade off serious matters like investigating murder cases with professional precision so as to enable the competent courts of law to reach a satisfactory determination of such matters?
We must find a solution to the above question or else we will continue to witness the kind of cruel mass murders that have become an ever present reality in Plateau State and other parts of Northern Nigeria like Maiduguri, Borno and Bauchi States.
If you wonder how and why we need to save President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan from being dragged to the International Crimes Court in The Hague, Netherlands, then you need not go too far to find out. The International Crimes Court is clothed internationally with the legal jurisdiction to try cases that border on crimes against humanity, the type that have become common place in Jos, Plateau State in the last two years and especially last year. The systematic killing of more than four hundred women and Children in Dogo Nahawa, in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State certainly fall under the category of heinous crimes against humanity which have so far remained unresolved because the Federal Government has failed to arrest the masterminds of these atrocious acts to be appropriately punished for these grave crimes against mother nature and human kind.
The Constitution of Nigeria makes it imperative that the primary duty of Government is the protection of life of citizens and their property. The oath of office usually administered on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria makes it mandatory that the holder of that highest office is legally obliged to safeguard the lives and property of the citizenry as that is the primary constitutional duty of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and once the holder of that office either by omission, commission or design, fails to provide fool-proof security of lives and property of the citizens, then the holder is liable to be dragged to the International Crimes Court for failing to protect the citizenry or doing anything tangible to bring perpetrators to trial in the local courts.
Recently, the Human Rights Watch[HRW] of the United States of America and the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria[HURIWA] made strong observations regarding the ongoing mass killings in Jos with the former saying that hundreds of persons made up largely of women and Children have been killed while the latter stated that President Jonathan has to act swiftly to arrest the perpetrators responsible for the Jos killings for effective prosecution or else he could be taken to the International Crimes Court for crimes against humanity because as Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s Armed Forces, he is constitutionally clothed with the power to protect the lives of the citizenry. It is in President Jonathan’s self enlightened interest to ensure that Jos ceases to be a ‘Killing Field’.