Justice Walter Onnoghen:  A Symbol for the Equal Treatment of all Nigerians under the Law

Justice Walter Onnoghen:  A Symbol for the Equal Treatment of all Nigerians under the Law

Priye S. Torulagha

Priyet@hotmail.com

 

The law is the law and whoever violates the law should be arrested, charged and tried in a competent court of law. Therefore, if Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), violated the law, he should be arrested, charged and tried in a court of law, in accordance with due process.  However, the issue in Justice Onnoghen’s case is not whether he violated the law by failing to declare his assets but rather the selectivity in the enforcement of the law, the rush to force him out without due process and the political manner in which the law is hurriedly being enforced against him by this administration.  The Federal Government’s desire to hurriedly arraign and force him out of the CJN position through the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), rather than allow the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) to probe the matter first, has unleashed a torrent of political debate in the country.  Many Nigerians wonder why the Buhari administration is so eager to hurriedly force Justice Onnoghen out of the CJN position for failing to declare his assets without following due process when the same administration has hesitated on numerous occasions to enforce the law on corruption against public officials who are associated with the president and the ruling APC party.

 

The debate regarding whether the process of attempting to arraign the Justice through the Code of Conduct Tribunal rather than refer the matter to the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) is appropriate and constitutional or not, has divided public opinion into three major camps.  One camp insists that it is appropriate and constitutional to try Justice Onnoghen through the CCT.  The second camp insists that it is inappropriate, and unconstitutional to rush him through the CCT without allowing the Nigerian Judicial Council to investigate the matter first.   The third camp agrees that Justice Onnoghen might have probably erred or violated the law concerning the declaration of assets but noted that he is selectively being prosecuted in order to pave the way for a more pliable justice to take over the CJN position, in lieu of the coming elections.

 

The purpose of this write-up is to accomplish two goals:  one, determine whether the Buhari administration engages in selective enforcement of the law against corruption and two, determine whether Justice Walter Onnoghen is a victim of a politically motivated effort to force him out of the CJN position through the selective enforcement of the law.  In order to determine whether the Buhari administration engages in selective enforcement of the law against corruption, it is necessary to examine various circumstances and cases involving some public officials that have been alleged to have engaged in corruptible practices in the Buhari administration

 

 

  1. Determine whether the Buhari administration engages in selective enforcement of the law against corruption

It is necessary to identity and describe some pertinent circumstances and cases that have taken place during this administration in order to determine whether there is selectivity in the manner corruptionrelated cases are prosecuted.

First, it is agreeable that this administration is very selective in the manner it enforces the law against those accused of corruption, as shown below:

  1. Since this administration took over the leadership of the country, it has focused its energy in probing the manner in which the People Democratic Party(PDP)  gathered funds to conduct its political campaigns prior to the 2015 elections.  As result, many PDP members have been dragged to court repeatedly.  Unfortunately, while the Buhari administration is working frantically to probe the PDP sources of funding, it does not seem to show any interest in probing the sources of funding for the APC which spent massively prior to the 2015 elections.  It is a known fact that Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari did not even have the funds to pay for the APC’s presidential registration form in 2014.  He had to take a loan of N27.5 million to pay for the form (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/10/jonathan-blasts-buhari-says-buhari-promising/).  Yet, the president and the APC were able to amaze huge sums of money to carry out a mammoth campaign, to the point of defeating an incumbent president.  So, where did the APC got the funds to sponsor the presidential campaign between 2014 and early 2015?  The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Department of State Service (DSS), and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) generally do not go after those who sponsored the president to find out how they accumulated such a vast sum of money to sponsor his presidential candidacy.   As a result, it is apparent that his war on corruption does not target those in the ruling party who were responsible for sponsoring him.  Apparently, his financial sponsors are treated as sacred cows who are above the law.

 

  1. It is also an acknowledged fact that any politician on the opposition party can escape the probing eyes of the EFCC, NPF, DSS and ICPC by simply jumping ship and joining the All Progressive Congress (APC) party. This means that a corrupt individual can escape the war on corruption by simply crossing over to the APC.  Thus, as soon as he or she crosses over, the individual becomes a saint.  In fact, the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, unapologetically informed the entire world that “Once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven.”  Therefore, he is openly encouraging members of the opposition to join the APC so that their sins would be forgiven (https://punchng.com/oshiomhole-once-you-join-the-apc-your-sins-are-forgiven/).  This reinforces the view that President Buhari only fights the war on corruption against members of the opposition based on the APC CREED which says “Join APC and your crimes are forgiven.”

 

 

  1. The EFCC, DSS and the NPF operate like the Gestapo in the sense that they go after the governors, senators and representatives of the opposition parties. This is why Akwa Ibom, Benue, Ekiti, Rivers  and other states have faced constant harassment on the pretext that the federal government is fighting corruption.  On the other hand, APC governors, senators and representatives have nothing to fear and can walk freely without being harassed.

 

Second, the administration fights corruption on one hand while encouraging corruption on the other hand.

  1. The NPF, EFCC, DSS and the ICPC under this administration did not rush in a gestapo-like manner to probe the allegation of corruption leveled against the top brass in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).  It should be recalled that Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had made allegation that contracts worth about $25 billion were illegally awarded by the managing director, Dr. Maikanti Baru without going through proper channels. The president and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) have never spoken about the need to probe the matter after the vice president stated that the allegation was not true. If this allegation was made against a Nigerian who is not a member of the APC party, there is no doubt that the person would have been hounded and dragged all over the place by the EFCC and the ICPC.  The Attorney General too would have made statements justifying the need for a thorough investigation of the allegation.

 

  1. The presidency recalled and reinstated the former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, who was wanted by the EFCC and the Interpol for allegedly embezzling pension funds, even after the Head of Service had warned President Buhari about the political implications of recalling someone who is being sought by the EFCC, back into government service. (https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/246882-reinstated-fugitive-ex-pension-chief-maina-nigerian-govt.html/). The AGF, EFCC, NPF, DSS and ICPC are not scouring every nook and corner to catch Mallam Maina.  In fact, Maina stated that he was actually invited by the presidency to come back and resume his position in government.  This means that he is a sacred cow and the law does not apply to him.

 

  1. Nigerians had to put pressure on the presidency before Babachir Lawal, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) was let go in October 2017, following allegation of financial corruption over the awarding of grass-cutting contracts to his own companies. The AGF, NPF, DSS, EFCC and ICPC have no desire to use gestapo-style tactics to arrest him.  He is a sacred cow and is above the law. In fact, President Buhari does not believe that he committed any offence, hence, he challenged Nigerians to submit evidence that Mr. Lawal actually embezzled money (https://www.vanguardngr.com2019/01/bring-evidence-of-babachir-lawals-corruption-buhari-chalenge -critics/.   Thus, any Nigerian who petitions or makes allegation against a member of the APC or a friend of the president is expected to investigate and gather evidence before the federal government acts upon the matter.

 

  1. On the other hand, any Nigerian who is not a member of the APC or a friend of the president could be immediately arrested and charged for corruption without the slightest hesitation. Moreover, as soon as the individual is arrested, he or she is presumed to be guilty even without trial.  This is why Justice Onnoghen is being forced to vacate the CJN position, without any court trial.  The presidency wants to use the Code of Conduct Tribunal to force him out of the CJN position so that Justice Ibrahim Muhammad can take over.   Thus, Justice Onneghen is already guilty while Babachir Lawal is not even accosted by the crime-fighting agencies.

 

  1. Gen. Abdulrahman B. Dambazau, the Minister of Defence and Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, the current Chief of Army Staff (COAS) were major players in the procurement of arms for the Nigerian Army during the Yar’Adua and Jonathan’s administrations. Yet, they are not targeted for investigation while other senior military officers, including Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, Col. Sambo Dasuki and 52 others are being prosecuted or tried for financial corruption (https://punchng.com/arms-scam-probe-dambazau-buratai-ex-military-officers-tell-buhari/).  Even the effort by retired military officers to persuade President Buhari to extend the probe to the two senior administration officials is ignored.  Col. Dasuki has been detained since 2015.  President Buhari also ordered the EFCC to probe the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Vice Marshall  Alex Badeh and former Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Adesola Amosu (https://vanguardngr.com/2016/01/arms-scandal-buhari-orders-efcc-to-probe-ex-military-chiefs-badeh-amosu-15-others/).  Yet, President Buhari is not interested in probing any allegation of corruption against the military, following the repeated Boko Haram attacks against military posts  and the repeated lamentation  by soldiers that they are being underequipped to fight the Islamist group.

 

  1. When Senator Hamman Isah Misau, who represents Bauchi Central Senatorial District, blew the whistle and made allegations of corruption against the immediate past Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, instead of the EFCC, NPF, ICPC and DSS investigating the matter, the Federal Government protected the IGP by dragging Senator Misau to court to stop him from continuing to make allegations against the IGP.

 

  1. Even though the DSS issued a report about alleged corruptible practices of Mallam Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the EFCC and the fact that the Senate refused to confirm him as the substantive Chair of the commission, on two ocassions, the president continues to retain him. As a result, for three years now, an individual who could not pass the Senate’s confirmatory hearing process continues to serve as the head of a government agency, contrary to the procedure for hiring agency heads in Nigeria.

 

  1. Even though the former Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Ibrahim Lamorde, was removed from the position due to allegations of corruption, the president brought him back to serve as the Commissioner of Police, in-charge of Special Fraud Unit in Ikoyi, Lagos.  It is inferable that he is exempted from the letters of the law dealing with corruption because he is a sacred cow that is above the law.

 

  1. Even though Prof Usman Yusuf, the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), was suspended by the Governing Council of the NHIS over allegations of corruption and administrative infractions and was told not to comeback until the matter is completely investigation, nevertheless, he came back and resumed his position with the assistance of about 50 police officers who escorted to his office, despite protests by workers in the agency (https://). Although, he vehemently denied the allegations leveled against him, he did not wait until the investigation was completed before getting back his job.  He made the Minister of Health looked powerless and helpless since he had been suspended twice.  The Buhari administration looked the other way and acted as if the allegations were not important enough to warrant legal action by the EFCC or ICPC.

 

  1. The EFCC, ICPC, NPF, and the DSS did not raise a voice about enforcing the law when Ahmed Gambo Saleh, the former Supreme Court registrar was brought back to serve in government as the Secretary of the National Judicial Council and the Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee.  Again, the law is not the law here because he is above the law.

 

  1. Sambo Dasuki continues to be detained for alleged embezzlement of funds allocated for the procurement of arms to fight the war against Boko Haram. In fact, other top military officers too have  faced charges in the court of law over their alleged involvement in the arms procurement scams.  Surprisingly, Nigerian soldiers who are fighting Boko Haram today continue to complain that they are underequipped, underpaid and underfed to effectively confront the Boko Haram.  As a result, Boko Haram has successfully overran a number of military posts.  Thus, if Dasuki is being detained for the misappropriation of military funds, then, why are investigations not being conducted to find out whether funds allocated to fight Boko haram are still being embezzled today.  There seems to be no interest in probing funds allocated to the military to prosecute the war against Boko Haram today.  Why?

 

  1. Third, it is obvious that the president is very selective about fighting corruption. The reason is that he was the one who said that Gen. Sani Abacha was not corrupt.  Even today, he still does not believe that the general stole tons of money, despite the fact that Abacha’s loot continued to be recovered from various countries in the world.  After three years, it is confirmable that even the APC is not interested in fighting corruption.  The party cares more about being in power than making a change.  The party is interested only in destroying the opposition by any means necessary, so that it can rule endlessly.

Third, it is hypocritical to say that the law must be enforced when it is an open secret that this administration chooses when to obey the law.

  1. It ignores court decisions whenever it chooses to do so. This is why Col. Dasuki is still in detention despite numerous court rulings that granted him bail.

 

  1. When Kemi Adeosun was removed due to political pressure from Nigerians as the Federal Minister of Finance, for allegedly forging a certificate of exemption from National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) service, no legal action was taken against her. She was allowed to leave Nigeria without any legal impediment.  This meant that she was a sacred cow.

 

  1. Federal Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu skipped the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) service, yet, he is still a federal minister without any legal consequence (https://www.premiumetimesng.com/news/headlines/284754-exclusivee-another-buhari-minister-busted-for-skipping-nysc-risks-jail-term.html/). This means that he is a sacred cow and is above the law.  As a result, the Code of Conduct Bureau, DSS, and NPF do not go after him.   Some Nigerians believe that his case is more serious than that of Kemi Adeosun, yet, he has not been compelled to leave the ministerial position.

 

  1. There are allegations that Buhari’s family bought large shares in Keystone Bank and Pakistani Islamic bank, yet, the EFCC and the AGF have no desire to investigate the allegations because the president’s family is a sacred cow. Although, the president’s family and Keystone Bank have denied the allegations, nevertheless, it is a legal duty of the appropriate corruption-fighting agencies to look into the matter.  Of course, there is no doubt that the agencies would not investigate the allegations.

 

  1. When a video, in which Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, was seen allegedly receiving bribes burst into the public limelight, President Buhari and his corruption fighting agents did not jump into action and investigate the matter. Instead, the president wondered as to why the governor received the bribes personally instead of allowing someone else to receive the bribe for him (https://www.vanguardmgr.com/2019/01/abuja-town-hall-exposes-buharis-corruption-tendencies-pdp/).  The president has not ordered the EFCC, ICPC, NPF, and DSS to investigate the matter.  Here again, Governor Ganduje is a sacred cow and is above the law.
  2. In fact, the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, released a list containing 30  of President Buhari’s officials and associates who are alleged to be corrupt (https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/306916-atiku-releases-list-of-corrupt-buhari-associates.html/).  Since Atiku is the opposition’s presidential candidate, it is the responsibility of the presidency to respond by discounting the veracity of the list.  Otherwise, the 30 individuals in the list are a further demonstration of the fact that this administration is very selective in fighting corruption by prosecuting some individual while ignoring the transgressions of the law by those who are associates of the president.

 

  1. Determine whether Justice Walter Onnoghen is a victim of a politically motivated effort to force him out of the CJN position through the selective enforcement of the law.

First, as indicated by the circumstances and cases identified above, there is no doubt that this administration engages in the selective enforcement of the laws pertaining to corruption.  In adhering strictly to the APC CREED, as clearly spelt out by Adams Oshiomhole that “Once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven “, the members of the APC and friends of the president are not liable for prosecution despite engaging in corruptible practices as public officials.   On the other hand, the members of the opposition and other Nigerians are automatically liable for prosecution for allegedly engaging in corruptible practices.

Second, due to the selective manner in which cases of corruption are prosecuted, this administration tends to incline towards the view that it is acceptable to violate due process and the constitutional rights of those Nigerians who are not affiliated with the president and the APC party.

Third, the administration seems to adopt a view that none members of the APC and those who oppose or criticize the president can be subjected to immediate arrest, arraignment and trial without according them due process and giving them time to prepare their legal defences.  There are many cases to cite from but a few will do here:

  1. Dasuki and many former public officials in Jonathan’s administration were hurriedly arrested and detained before their cases commenced. Of course, Col Dasuki is still in detention.

 

  1. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was hurriedly proscribed and treated as a terrorist organization. On the other hand, herdsmen are merely referred to as “bandits” even though internationally, they are regarded as “ terrorists.”  Thus, IPOB was rushed by the Federal Government to face the anti-terrorist law while herdsmen are left to continue their destructive path.

 

 

  1. While some high-level public officials in this administration have been alleged to have engaged in corruptible practices, the law is purposely made to walk slower than the speed of a snail in catching with them. On the other hand, the law is fastened to run like a cheetah against Justice Onnoghen and other Nigerians.  This clearly shows that the Onnoghen issue is much more than the mere violation of the law.  It seems to be a calculated political strategy to achieve a pre-determined goal.

 

  1. The fact that most members of the APC publicly support the desire to probe Justice Onnoghen through the CCT and most member of the PDP frown at the speed in which he is being arraigned and the effort to try him through the CCT rather than through the NJC is a testament to the political nature of the issue.

Fourth, this administration tends to take the view that none members of the APC and those who oppose or criticize the president are automatically presumed to be guilty of any corruption-related crime until they prove otherwise in the court of law.   On the other hand, the administration tends to create the impression that members of the APC and friends of the president are not presumed guilty of any corruption-related crime until they are found guilty in the competent court of law.  Moreover, for this government to arraign any APC-affiliated person, the petitioner of an alleged crime must investigate, gather appropriate evidence and submit the evident to the EFCC or ICPC before the government agency would act.   Thus, a double standard has been established for determining who is to be prosecuted and who is not to be prosecuted.  The president set the standard when he explained about why the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, has not been arraigned by the EFCC.  He said “If there are strong allegations, people should come out with strong evidence like names of companies looted, contracts awarded, then, we take them before the court and ICPC and we have to trust the system and allow them to complete their investigation” (dailypost.ng/2019/01/17/cant-prosecute-ex-sgf-bbachir-lawal-fraud-buhari/).

Fifth, based on the above observation of the tendencies and actions of this administration, it is inferable that Justice Walter Onnoghen is a victim of the APC CREED.  There are stories floating around that Justice Onnoghen refused to cooperate in ensuring that election tribunals are filled with individuals who are sympathetic or supportive of the ruling party, in lieu of the coming elections in February 2019.

Sixth, due to the APC CREED, there is a strong desire to force him out of the CJN position since his presence could negatively impact the ability of the APC to win the coming elections in February 2019.

The mind-boggling thing is that federal authorities and the corruption-fighting agencies dragged their feet on the cases of alleged corruption mentioned above, yet, they rushed as if they are running a 100-yards race as soon as a petition was received from the Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative (ACRBDI) to charge, arraign and force Justice Onnoghen to vacate the CJN position within three working days.  For instance, the Federal Government filed charges against Justice Onnoghen probably on Friday, January 11, 2019 and he was immediately arraigned on Monday, January 14, 2019 with the hope of pushing him out. They avoided the NJC process in an effort to quickly get rid of him as if he is not a Nigerian.  Why is the president and the APC in such a rush to get rid of Justice Onnoghen when they have no interest in probing other violators whose cases are even more serious than that of Justice Onnoghen?

The rush to get rid of the CJN without following due process creates the impression that some Nigerians are more important than other Nigerians.  Some Nigerians wonder whether the law is being enforced against Justice Onnoghen in a rushed manner because he is not a member of the president’s family and the ruling party.  In fact, news reports indicate that Justice Onneghen is being forced out of the position because he refused to compromise with the APC desire to fill the pre and post-election tribunals with members favorable to the party, in lieu of the coming elections.  In particular, it is alleged that they wanted Justice Onnoghen to load the Presidential Election Appeal Tribunal with individuals who support President Buhari (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2019/01/govt-directs-seizure-ofonnofhn-family’s-financial-assets-cupp-alleges/). In other words, the president, his handlers, and the ruling party allegedly want Justice Onneghen out so that they can put someone as CJN who would be favorably inclined towards loading the election tribunals with individuals who are supportive of the ruling party.

 

Conclusion

It is obvious that the action being taken against Justice Onnoghen is motivated more by political calculations rather than by the need to enforce the law.  The reason is that some Nigerians who have been alleged to have embezzled public funds have never been arrested, charged and tried in a court of law, as indicated above.  Their sins are easily forgiven because they belong to a certain political affiliation that makes them sacred cows while Justice Onnoghen and some other Nigerians are easily arrested, arraigned, and tried in a humiliating manner because they do not belong to the “ ALLIANCE”.  Therefore, in this case, it is more appropriate to examine the political reasons that lead to the sudden arraignment of Justice Onneghen rather than dwell unduly upon the technicality and constitutionality of the process of the law, as many lawyers seem to do.  It is obvious that the Code of Conduct Tribunal is being intentionally chosen to try the judge, instead of allowing the NJC to investigate the manner first.  The unwillingness to allow the NJC to investigate the matter is attributable to the fear that such a route will take too long to get rid of him before the coming elections.  Those who want Justice Onnoghen out of the CJN position do so for political reasons since he is not willing to play ball with them to pre-determine the outcome of the coming presidential election even before the election takes place. Likewise, it appears that there are also those who have motives which are contrary to the strategic interest of Nigeria that want him to vacate the position so that they can put in place someone who identifies with their ideological motives.

Thus, due to the political nature of the issue, it is indeed a waste of time to even debate whether Justice Onnoghen should be investigated by the NJC first or be tried by the Code of Court Tribunal.  The reason being that those who want him out have already decided that the Code of Conduct Tribunal is the preferable way to get rid of him as soon as possible since the elections are less than a month from today.   Nigerians who care about the separation of powers must work together to put pressure on the administration to stop the political effort to remove the judge before the elections.  They should allow the legal process to take its appropriate course and not rush the issue as if the world is coming to an end.

Due to the persistent tendency by this administration to selectively enforce the law, Nigeria is sliding into a lawless entity.  The reason is that a law is only good when it is applied equally across the board on everyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, region, religion and political affiliation, in any given society.  On the other hand, the law becomes meaningless when it is used arbitrarily to violate the constitutional rights of some citizens while protecting others.   Consequently, the merit of the law is destroyed when some individuals are treated as sacred cows and are allowed to behave as if they are above the law while others are subjected to the tenets of the law in an arbitrary manner.  When a law is applied tactically in an arbitrary political manner, it is no longer a law but a political tool to score political points.  When that happens, the citizens have a right to react legally and politically against the system, regardless of the merit of the law.

The most suitable political system for Nigeria is democracy due to the diversity and complexity of the country.  Therefore, as far as Nigeria operates a presidential form of government, power must be separated so that the legislative, executive and judiciary branches play their check and balance roles effectively and efficiently.  The executive branch cannot be allowed to control the legislature and judiciary branches.  Apparently, it is obvious that the executive branch is trying to dominate the judiciary branch of government by trying to impose its will through determining who should be a judge or not.  If Nigerians allow the executive branch to tactically control the judiciary branch, the country would end up as a dictatorship.

Indeed, Justice Walter Onneghen has become a symbol for the struggle to standardize and apply the law equally across the board and strengthen government institutions.  No political leader should be greater than the institutions that enable a society to work effectively.   Consequently, Nigerians should be very careful in choosing their leaders, otherwise, the institutions of democratic governance could easily be sacrificed for the glorification of an individual who believes that he or she is above the law.

The war on corruption must be comprehensive and not partial. In other words, no one should be above the law.  What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

 

 

Are Nigeria’s security forces colluding with herdsmen and Boko Haram?

Are Nigeria’s security forces colluding with herdsmen and Boko Haram?

By Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

 

Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), the former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Defence raised a firestorm against the armed forces, particularly the Nigerian Army, when he alleged that they are colluding with herdsmen to kill Nigerians.  Based on the view that the armed forces are colluding to kill Nigerians, he advised Nigerians to arm and defend themselves to avoid being killed (Afolabi, Ahovi and Akpeji, 2018, March 25).

As soon as he made the statement during a convocation ceremony at Taraba State University in Jalingo, Nigerians reacted swiftly in a predictable manner.  Some former military officers were in utter disbelief concerning the proposition that the armed forces are colluding with herdsmen to kill Nigerians.  Some felt disappointed that Gen. Danjuma, quite contrary to the principle of espirit de corps, decided to go public with his suspicion, instead of quietly contacting and speaking with President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also a former military general.  Some supporters of the Buhari administration criticized him for attempting to cause anarchy in the country by suggesting that Nigerians should arm and defend themselves, instead of relying on the government to protect them.  The Nigeria Army reacted by discounting the view that it is colluding with herdsmen.  In fact, the Nigerian Army instituted a 10-member Special Military Probe Panel that conducted an investigation and determined that there was no evidence of collusion with herdsmen to kill Nigerians (Erunke, 2018, May 19).  On the other hand, Nigerians who are alarmed by the unnecessary killings of innocent people by herdsmen and those who support restructuring of the country supported Gen. Danjuma for making such a bold declarative statement about the collusion of the security forces with herdsmen.  Similarly, the victims of the killings and destroyed communities, especially those in Benue and Taraba States, also supported him.

Gen. Danjuma, it should be noted, is one of the most influential military personalities that have shaped and influenced the direction of the country, starting from the second military coup of July 1966, through the Nigerian civil war and continuing with various changes of military regimes in the country.  Thus, the view by the retired general that the Nigerian military, intelligence and police forces are no longer capable of providing security to Nigerians continues to reverberate throughout the country.  Hence, after suspected herdsmen attacked and killed two Catholic priests and 17 others in a Catholic church in Benue State (Daka et all, 2018, April 25), the political leadership of various indigenous ethnic groups in Benue and Taraba States started calling upon their members to arm and defend themselves. The urgent need for self-defense increased significantly when suspected herdsmen killed 120 people in Plateau State in late June 2018 (Ajijah, 2019, June 24).

 

Purpose of the Write-up

The purpose of this article is to explore the issue of whether Nigeria’s security forces, particularly the Nigerian Army, Airforce, Department of State Service (DSS) and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) are colluding with herdsmen to kill Nigerians, in an attempt to implement a political agenda with a strong ethno-religious undertone.  The task requires identifying and explaining various actions, inactions and circumstances which tend to create the impression, whether truly or falsely, that the security forces or some elements within the security forces, are tactically colluding with herdsmen and Boko Haram to kill people and destroy indigenous communities in Nigeria.

For purpose of this write-up, Nigeria’s security forces include the Nigerian Army, Airforce, Navy, Police, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Defence, DSS, Immigration, Customs, Nigeria Security aand Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA).  All of these national organizations contribute to the national security of the country.  Some individuals might not view Immigration and Customs as national security outfits but they are.  If the borders are not secured, then, mischievous outsiders might pour into the country to commit crimes and engage in violent acts.  Similarly, if the borders and entry points are not secured, large quantities of illegal arms could flow into the country to threaten the national security.

Thus, to determine whether Nigeria’s security forces or some elements within them are colluding with herdsmen and possibly Boko Haram to inflict death and destruction on Nigerians, the following 41 specific actions, inactions and circumstances are identified and examined:

First, without going too far into history, the actions and circumstances concerning the situation in Bama in Bornu State in 2014 might be an excellent starting point.  As the Boko Haram grew in strength and started to carry out massive bombing campaigns, it decided to confront the Nigeria Army directly in combat in Bama.  As a result, after a particular clash between the two forces, a Nigerian soldier informed the world through a media report that some of the Boko Haram fighters he fought against were Nigerian soldiers who had trained with him in Kontagora.  He was shocked to realize that some of his former military training colleagues were fighting on the other side against the Nigerian Army.  The soldier’s statement was corroborated by the fact that the Nigeria Army  “arrested several soldiers fighting in the north-eastern part of the country for alleging giving vital security information to members of the terrorists group, Boko Haram” (AllAfrica, 2014, October 14).  This meant that some Nigerian soldiers actually transferred their loyalty to the Boko Haram and crossed over to join the group to fight against Nigerian troops in 2014.

Second, in another military confrontation between a contingent of the Nigerian Army and the Boko Haram in Bama, a Nigerian soldier, during an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service, stated that some Nigerian Army commanders were working for Boko Haram.  He narrated a story in which a Nigerian military officer whose unit was stationed in Bama tricked his own unit into an ambush in which many of his comrades were killed.   According to him, “the commander of a nearby military unit, based in the town of Bama, recently sought assistance from his unit in carrying out a raid.  When the two military units joined up, they were given different uniforms.  The Bama unit commander gave his own troops green uniforms. The soldier said that his unit received tan “desert camouflage” uniforms.  When the troops reached the battle area, the soldier said the commander of the better-equipped Bama unit suddenly withdrew his troops, leaving the remaining soldiers to fend for themselves against Boko Harm fighters.  Speaking in Hausa, he said “we had only light arms and our men were being picked up one after the other.” (Dockins, 2014, April 5). It should be noted that during this time in the Islamic North, Boko Haram was viewed by many Moslems as a freedom fighting organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the interest of Moslems in Nigeria.  With such a positive characterization of the Islamist group, some soldiers crossed over and fight for Boko Haram.

During the same period, some Nigerian soldiers mutinied because they feared being slaughtered since they were not sufficiently equipped to fight Boko Haram. The soldiers felt that Boko Haram fighters were better equipped than Nigerian troops, so, it was suicidal to engage the Islamists.  The BBC reported:

A group of soldiers in northeastern Nigeria is refusing to fight Islamist Boko Haram militants until they received better equipment, one of the mutineers has told the BBC.The soldier who requested anonymity, said at least 40 of his colleagues would refuse orders to deploy (2014, August 19).

 

During this time of the war, Boko Haram attacked Nigeria military formations repeatedly and drove many army units out of the region.  This enabled the militants to capture a large chunk of territory. In fact, at one time, 54 Nigerian soldiers were sentenced to death for “for mutiny, assault, cowardice, and refusing to combat Boko Haram” (The Telegraph, 2014, December 18).

Third, around the same time in 2014, Boko Haram appeared to have penetrated deeply into the Nigerian security network, so much so that it was able to obtain first-hand intelligence that enabled it to capture many parts of the Northeast.  Boko Haram was able to attack and capture many military and police posts, thereby, boosting its arms supply from captured Nigerian weapons.  Feeling hopeless and betrayed, more Nigerian soldiers continued to desert their posts to escape death. It is inferable that during this time, some Nigerian military, police and intelligence officers actively supported Boko Haram in order to embarrass President Goodluck Jonathan. In other words, it appeared that some security personnel on the Nigerian side worked cooperatively with Boko Haram in order to ensure that President Jonathan did not succeed.  In fact, Al Jazeera reported “Ten generals and five other senior military officials have been found guilty in a court-martial of providing arms and information to Boko Haram, several Nigerian newspapers reported” (2014, June 4).

Fourth, the kidnapping of the Chibok secondary school girls in April 2014 provided circumstance leading to doubt about the war against Boko Haram. It also increased the feeling that some sections of the security forces were colluding actively with the Boko Haram.  The reason is that in terms of military logistics, it was impossible for Boko Haram to have successfully carried out the abduction of over 270 students in an area that was under military emergency without the ACTIVE assistance or involvement of some security personnel in the area.  Even a regular military unit would find it exceedingly difficult to move around 270 human beings and keep them without creating logistical problems for itself.  It is inconceivable that Boko Haram was able to abduct the students, load them up in vehicles and drive away without detection by any of the military, police, and DSS units posted to various locations in the region.

Apart from that, the idea that Boko Haram was able to abduct and keep over 270 human captives, feed them regularly and provide healthcare to the sick without being detected is too unconvincing. To keep in custody over 270 human beings by an unconventional force that must move from place to place in order to avoid detection, makes it implausible that Boko Haram actually carried out that operation without the active participation of very important political and security personalities in the area.  The report by Al Jazeera that “ten generals and five other senior military officials have been found guilty in a court-martial “(2014, December 18), buttresses the argument that it was impossible for Boko Haram to abduct the Chibok school girls without active support from some political tycoons and security personnel. In other words, it was a staged operation to score political points against the Federal Government.

Fifth, after the abduction, the fact that the Nigerian Army, Police, NIA and the DSS were not able to locate the whereabouts of the girls also created the impression that some elements of the political and security forces were involved. The other explanation would be that the abduction was staged to score political points, so, there was no need for the security forces to look for the girls.   In a normal military operation, the intelligence units of the security forces would have done everything possible to locate the whereabouts of the girls.  After doing so, a special forces’ unit would have been deployed to rescue the girls or keep watch over the area.

The doubt about the credibility of the Chibok abduction is enhanced by the fact that Nigerian, Nigerien, Chadian and Cameroonian forces under the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) too were not able to locate the Chibok girls.   The failure to rescue the girls portrayed the security forces of these countries as being incompetent. This kind of failure would have resulted in a court-martial in some countries.

Sixth, due to the publicity that the Chibok abduction generated throughout the world, the United States, Britain and France volunteered to join the effort to locate and possibly rescue the girls.  These countries deployed various high-tech equipment, including drones to search for the girls.  Then, without informing the world about the result of their search effort, they withdrew from the operation without saying a word.  They left hurriedly and the world still does not know why they left suddenly.  The sudden departure created a feeling that perhaps they might have found out that the abduction was more than what they thought.

It is inconceivable that Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad and assisted by the United States, Britain and France were not able to locate and rescue the Chibok girls.   The incredulity of the abduction, perhaps, prompted the Labor Party in Nigeria to reject “the believe that some girls of Government Secondary School, in Chibok town, Borno State, were kidnapped after all.  Rather, the party said that it was a ploy to oust former President Goodluck Jonathan from office.  The Chairman of the Labor Party, Abdulkadir Abdulsalami, said the APC should expect the wrath of God for deceiving Nigerians and manipulating the parents of the Chibok girls” (Odili.net, 2017, May 24).

Perhaps, the mystery surrounding the Chibok abduction might be unraveled following the report that “22 suspected Boko Haram members including those who allegedly participated in

the abduction of the Chibok school girls” ( Haruna, 2018, July 18) have been arrested by the Nigerian Police Force in Borno and Yobe states.  However, there is a tinkling feeling that the sudden police announcement of the arrests of eight suspected participants in the Chibok abduction sounds too convenient, like a staged event, considering the ease with which the suspects confessed their roles in the Chibok affair.

Seventh, in 2017, the Nigeria Army and the Police provided an armed escort to a convoy of Nigerian oil workers, university researchers and those supplying food materials to IDP camps in the Northeast.  As the convoy was heading to its destination, Boko Haram launched an attack which killed more than 50 people.  After the attack, the speculation was that someone who was probably involved with the security arrangement worked with the militants to set up the convoy in such a manner that enabled Boko Haram to know the movement of the convoy. In fact, due to a feeling that someone in the army was spying for the militants led the military authorities to suspect “that moles were feeding terrorists with movement of its personnel, government workers and vulnerable villages” (Odunsi, 2017, July 31). Apart from this ambush, Boko Haram has been able to successfully attack other convoys and important facilities in the Northeast region of the country.

Eighth, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State made a very interesting statement when he noted that the war against Boko Haram always seems to progress much better when a Southern military officer takes over the command of the war effort.  By implication, he was saying that something fishy was going on in the sense that whenever a Northern military officer leads the war effort, progress against Boko Haram always seems to slowdown. The Daily Nigerian reported: “Mr. Shettima said he was disappointed to observe that the previous commanders, who are from the Southern states of Nigeria, did much better than the last occupants of the office who are from the North” (2018, June 28).

It is possible to interpret the governor’s observation by saying that there might be some sort of collusion between some senior Northern military commanders and Boko Haram due to religious affinity.  Another way to explain the observation is that Southern military officers feel discriminated and marginalized so much so that they always have to prove that they are as capable, if not much better than their Northern counterparts who seemed to enjoy a favored status in the Nigerian armed and police forces today.

Ninth, when the Nigerian Army declared operation Cat Dance exercise in the Middle Belt, particularly in Benue and Taraba States, the indigenes thought that the military would help to prevent herdsmen from further attacking them.  However, instead of feeling protected by the presence of the security forces, the indigenes actually felt more threatened.  They reacted negatively against the military exercise due to a feeling that some military units were actually assisting the herdsmen to carry out attacks.

Likewise, some citizens of Adamawa State alleged that the Nigerian Air Force used helicopter gunships and jet fighters to bomb their villages and towns, thereby, killing at least 35 people (Carsten, 2018, January 29).    The air force action took place exactly at the same time that the cattle herders were also attacking them.   The fact that the Nigeria Air Force dropped bombs at the same time that herdsmen were attacking the villagers created the impression that some elements in the air force were colluding with the herdsmen to attack the communities.  The Nigerian Air Force denied the allegation but Amnesty International agreed with the residents of the villages and towns by accusing the military of violating human rights.

Tenth, while Nigerians continued to be killed, almost on daily basis, by herdsmen, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) ordered Nigerian citizens to give-up certain categories of weapons.  PM News listed the prohibited arms as:

 

Artillery, apparatus for the discharge of any explosives of gas diffusing projectile,       Rocket weapons, Bombs and Grenades.

Others are:  Machine-Guns and Machine Pistols, Military rifles, those of caliber 7.62mm. 9mm, 300 inches, revolvers and pistols, whether rifled or unrifled (including Flint-lock pistols and cap pistols), Pump action gun of all categories and any other firearms/lethal weapons fabricated to kill (PM News, 2018, February 22).

The spokesperson for the Nigerian Police Force, CSP Jimoh Moshood explained further by saying:

No license will be given or recognized in respect of prohibited firearms and ammunition except granted by the President and  Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria upon the recommendation of the Inspector General of Police.

The police will not hesitate to apply the full weight of the law on any individual or group under any guise whose conduct runs contrary to the law of the land

 

The IGP order was seconded by the Minister of Interior, retired Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, who insisted upon the “strict enforcement of the law against the possession of illegal firearms in the country” (Ibid).

Ordinarily, it made a lot of sense for the IGP to launch a program to reduce the availability of illegal firearms in the country.  It also made sense for the interior minister to support the reduction of illegal firearms in the country.  Indeed, no country would tolerate the uncontrollable flow of illegal arms into its territory since such could threaten the peace and national security. However, the timing of the order at a time many Nigerians are facing insecurity and violent death due to unprovoked attacks by herdsmen, kidnappers, and armed men tended to create the impression that the IGP took the action so that indigenous Nigerians might not be able to fight back against the herdsmen.  Those Nigerians who doubted the sincerity of the IGP went further by alleging that the IGP is following a well-executed plan that would make the country conquerable by those who want to Fulanize and Islamize it.   Thus, the timing of the IGP order further created the impression that collusion is taking place between herdsmen and some elements of the security forces, otherwise, the chief of police would not have given an order that tended to make Nigerians defenceless in the face of continuing unprovoked aggression by herdsmen and other armed killers.

While the possibility of an arrest for the possession of illegal firearms is much higher against members of host communities, such is not the case against herdsmen.  It seems that the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police Force and the DSS have no desire to stop the marauding herdsmen with their arms.  On the other hand, these security organizations are more likely to focus their attention in making sure that indigenous Nigerians do not possess illegal firearms by arresting and detaining them.  This is why herdsmen continue to wield their A K 47 assault rifles openly without being arrested by the police.

Eleventh, when the Niger Delta Avengers and other armed elements in the oil belt decided to blow up oil and gas facilities, the Nigerian Army and Navy did not waste a minute in mobilizing their forces to counter the threat.  As a result, many youths were arrested and detained by the security forces.  Some of them are still in detention today.  Thus, in the South-South, the slightest threat to security is countered by the full deployment of military units.  However, the armed forces have been lukewarm toward fully deploying military units to counter the rampaging herdsmen that are inflicting unbelievable carnage on the country.  If the rampaging herdsmen were from the Southwest or South-South or Southeast or Central Nigeria, the armed forces would have been fully mobilized to deal with them.  By now, a Joint Task Force (JTF) would have probably been established to deal specifically with the threat.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, President Buhari and the heads of the armed forces, police and the DSS are not eager to mobilize security forces against herdsmen. They also do not want to create a large scale special security task force to deal with the situation.

Twelfth, when Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) attempted to organize a referendum in Southeastern Nigeria, the Nigerian Army, Police and DSS immediately deployed their forces to stop them.  Some people were killed and many more were detained.  Apart from that, the Nigerian Army branded IPOB members as terrorists and proscribed the organization.  The Attorney General of the country put meat into the Army’s effort to destroy IPOB legally and have all members of the organization detained. Even today, the Federal Government does not want to hear anything about IPOB.  The government reacts as soon as IPOB is mentioned.  On the other hand, the Nigerian Army, Airforce, Police, and DSS have no desire to clamp down hard on herdsmen and other unidentified armed gangs because the president’s body language does not support a security crackdown.

Thirteenth, instead of clamping down on herdsmen, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Internal Affairs insinuated that the herdsmen are on a warpath because of anti-open grazing laws.  Basically, these security chiefs believe that the rights of the cattle herders to roam from place to place in order to feed their cows have been violated, hence, their attacks against farming communities.  It is on this basis that they suggest the revocation of the anti-open grazing laws.  These security chiefs made the remark without taking into consideration the fact that herdsmen and farmers have being clashing for decades, even before the anti-open grazing laws were passed in Benue, Ekiti and Taraba states.  They also ignored the fact that herdsmen have killed people in states that have no anti-open grazing laws.  Thus, the statements uttered by the three security chiefs create the impression that there is some understanding between herdsmen and sections of the security apparatus in Nigeria.

Fourteenth, it is a sad commentary that very important high government officials insist on supporting nomadic cattle herding system in a country that is highly populated.  The nomadic system is associated with the past, yet, these officials argued in its favor, instead of encouraging cattle owners to adopt ranching, which is the most prevalent method of herding cows in the world today.  Thus, instead of looking forward, these officials are looking backward, thereby, indirectly encouraging herdsmen to continue their attacks.

Perhaps, the three high government officials are influenced by or share the views of Professor Angho Abdullahi who believes that herdsmen have a right to move their cattle around any part of the country.  According to the professor, the British established cattle corridors throughout Nigeria to allow cattle herders to move about with their cattle. However, they can no longer exercise the right to engage in their cattle business by moving freely from place to place, hence, the anger and the resultant killings of members of host communities (Nwachukwu, 2018, February 18). Thus, the professor believes that herdsmen have a right to kill in order to claim a right of free passage to do their cattle business.  Likewise, it could be said that the three high federal officials are probably also influenced by Prof. Umar Labdo Muhammad, who believes that Benue State belongs to the Fulani by right of conquest since half of the state is part of the Bauchi Emirate and the other half is part of Adamawa Emirate. By implication, according to the professor, Benue State is part of the Sokoto Caliphate, so, the indigenous ethnic groups have no right to stop herdsmen from using land in the state to feed their cows. (Opejobi, 2018, January 18).

Fifteenth, the unwillingness to deploy security forces in large scale could be influenced by the views of Professors Agho Abdullahi and Labdo Mohammad, as indicated above.  These two intellectuals have a great impact on the thinking of Fulanis in Nigeria.  Their views on the right of herdsmen seemed to be shared by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Association and Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, which believe that herdsmen are fighting back by killing members of host communities in retaliation for the rustling of their cattle and killing of their own members.  It could also be inferred that President Buhari, like the Inspector General of Police and the ministers of Defence and Internal Affairs, seems to share the same thoughts as those of the two professors.  Hence, he does not see the reason to use security forces to crackdown on herdsmen.  The unwillingness to deploy security forces in full scale leads to half-hearted measures that fail to guarantee security, hence, Nigerians are paying an intolerable price. For instance, in Zamfara State, Amnesty International noted that over 371 people have been killed since January 2018 and thousands of people now live in fear daily.  Villagers in the state complained that whenever they received threatening letters from the armed gangs, they take the time to inform and plead with the security authorities to intervene to no avail (Amnesty International, 2018, July 31).

The president seems to dance around the fact that thousands of Nigerians have been killed and numerous communities destroyed. Perhaps, he regards the herdsmen as victims, rather than aggressors, hence, he even pleaded with the leaders of the Middle Belt when they visited him by saying “ I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your countrymen.  You can also be assured that I am just as worried, and concerned with the situation (Usigbe, (2017, January 16).

Sixteenth, the perception that the Buhari administration is not keen about taking proactive measures to clamp down on violent herdsmen that have killed thousands of people is evidenced by the fact that the administration has given different explanations for the ongoing attacks.  First, President Buhari blamed the late Col. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya for training and arming the herdsmen (Sahara Reporters, 2018, April).  Second, the administration’s spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu, blamed politicians for sponsoring and encouraging violent attacks (Aziken, & Oyadongha, 2018, April 23).  Third, the administration indicated that the attackers are foreigners who sneaked into the country to carry out the attacks.  Fourth, the administration blamed ISIS for spearheading the violence.  Fifth, the Minister of Defence, Col. Mohammed Dan-Alli (rtd.), blamed the anti-open grazing laws that some states have enacted for causing herdsmen’s attacks (Ogunmade, Obi and Okoh, 2018, January 26). The different explanations given for the attacks simply show that the administration has not committed to finding a solution to the problem.  It is impossible to take a proactive measure when government officials give different explanations for the cause of a problem. The other explanation could be that by giving conflicting explanations, the administration is buying time for the completion of a targeted plan.

Seventeenth, the fact that President Buhari appointed mostly members of his ethnic group and Moslems into very critical national security positions in a country that has about three hundred ethnic groups automatically creates the impression that the president has a hidden agenda, even though he might not have such a sinister plan.  Even if there is no sinister plan, the fact that the president has made statements in the past that tended to support Islamization adds to the doubt about his sincerity.  After all, the president had previously acted and made statements that created the impression that he is committed to Fulanizationn and Islamization.   For example, he went to Oyo State on October 13, 2000 to express his anger concerning the alleged killing of 68 Fulani herdsmen in Saki, Oke Ogun Area of the state.  He took the trip to confront the governor of the state at the time, Alhaji Lam Onalolapo Adesina, in the company of Gen. Buba Marwa, former governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Aliko Muhammed, Alhaji Abdulrazak and Alhaji Hassan and truck-loads of his ethnic members to the governor’s office.  President Buhari allegedly accused the state governor of complicity in the killings and perversion of justice in the sense that the culprits were alleged to have been released without court trial.  The president insisted upon the stoppage of the killings and demanded compensation for the Fulanis (Olaosebikan, 2017, November 18).   After making the charges, the Commissioner of Police and the Director of SSS in Oyo state countered by saying that the indigenes were actually the victims of Fulani provocations and killings (Ibid).     In another ocassion, President Buhari, in 2001, promised to spread the Sharia throughout Nigeria when he declared:

I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria.  God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of Sharia in the country.” (Omokri, 2018, January 17).

 

Perhaps, the desire to Sharianize the country prompted him to strategically hire mostly Moslems to occupy critical national security positions.  It also probably contributed to his efforts to nationalize the cattle business and water resources in the country.  Otherwise, he would not have been so emphatic in trying to establish cattle colonies and ranches throughout Nigeria at a time Southern and Central Nigerians are demanding a restructuring of the country.  It is obvious that restructuring does not fit into his plan for Sharianization and national colonization of cow ranches.

Eighteenth, when some Yorubas and Hausas clashed, resulting in the deaths of 46 and wounding of 96 people in Ife in Southwestern Nigeria, the Nigerian Police Force did not waste time in sweeping in to arrest the culprits.  Surprisingly, the suspects were taken to Abuja, instead of being kept and tried in the area in which the conflict had taken place.  Even though the violent confrontation involved some Yorubas and Hausas, only the Yorubas were paraded by the police on television as the suspects in the case.

Nineteenth, increasingly, the impression is being created that all Nigerians are equal, however, some Nigerians are more superior, hence, are ‘sacred cows.’  Otherwise, what is going on in Nigeria is unacceptable.   When herdsmen kill Ancestralists and Christians, the police do not rush in to arrest and try them for murder or any other serious crime.  On the other hand, whenever a cattle herder is killed, the police immediately swings into action to arrest and try the culprits.  For instance, in Yola State, five Nigerian Christians were sentenced to death for killing a cattle herdsman. The judge rendered judgment based on “criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide which contravened Section 96 (1) (a) and Sections 79 and 221 (b) of the Penal Code of Laws of Adamawa State, 1997” (Yusuf, 2018, June 13). It should be noted that in Abia State, some Igbos were arrested for allegedly killing herdsmen.  While, other Nigerians are easily arrested by the police and army for threatening, attacking and or killing of herdsmen, it is rare to hear of herdsmen being sentenced to death.  Of course, hundreds of herdsmen have been arrested.  Of all the Nigerians that have been killed in Abia, Adamawa, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, and Zamfara states, how many herdsmen have been sentenced to death?  The unwillingness of the NPF and other security organizations in dealing with organized killers in a decisive manner, perhaps, prompted the governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’aziz Yari to give up his position as the Chief Security Officer of the state (Sahara Reporters, 2018, June 16).  He realized that he does not have the political and legal authority to compel the chiefs of the security agencies to act decisively and apprehend rampaging killers in his state.

Twentieth, while there is hesitancy on the part of Nigeria’s security forces to deal decisively with marauding herdsmen, it is not the case with groups in other parts of the country.  For instance, as soon as some criminal elements (Oyawerikumo , alas “Kareowi” and his dreaded gang) who were engaged in piracy in Bayelsa and Delta  states were finally caught by a unit of the Nigerian Army attached to the Joint Task Force (Amaize, et al, 2018, January 13), they were summarily executed and their bodies thrown into the river.  In Rivers State, when a notorious criminal gang leader (Don Wani) who was alleged to have masterminded the killing of 22 people in Omoku was caught, he was executed on the spot and his house was destroyed. Thus, in both Bayelsa and Rivers States, criminal elements who are caught are summarily executed by the army units sent to apprehend them.  However, the security forces are very cautious in dealing with herdsmen who are rampaging throughout the country. This statement is not intended to support criminality but to show how the security forces act differently, depending on the group or element they are dealing with at any particular time.

Twenty-first, when leaders of sixteen northern youth groups met in Kaduna and issued an evacuation notice to the Igbos to vacate the North, the NPF, DSS, and the Nigerian Army did not threaten to arrest them on the basis of national security (The Guardian, 2017, June 7).  The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) justified police inaction on the ground of “security implications” of doing so (Nnochiri & Mic-Braimoh, 2017, August 29).  Thus, the northern youth leaders were not even invited for questioning by the police or DSS while IPOB leaders had to run for their lives.  If youth leaders in the Middle Belt, Southeast, Southwest and South-South had given any eviction notice, the Nigerian Police, Army, Navy and the DSS would have gone after them.  The Airforce too would have deployed its helicopters to hunt them down.

Twenty-second, many Nigerians might not pay attention to the fact that it was the leadership of the sixteen northern youth groups, which originally demanded that members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) should be declared as terrorists by the United Nations and Nigeria. In justifying the need to declare IPOB as a terrorist organization, the spokesperson of the coalition of northern youth groups, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman stated: “We became concerned that Kanu has finally crossed the boundaries of Nigerian laws and has blatantly breached international laws that specifically frown at the use of terror to achieve a goal” (Ibrahim, 2017, July 13).

It did not take long after the coalition made the demand on Nigeria and the United Nations before the Federal Government decided to act proactively to stop IPOB demonstrations.   The Nigerian Army poured into the Southeast zone and arrested IPOB members.  Then, it branded IPOB as a terrorist organization and proscribed it.  The army action was immediately followed by that of the Attorney General, who legalized the proscription and branded IPOB as a terrorist organization.  The action by the army and the Attorney General tended to create the impression that the northern youth leaders were working closely with high-level federal government officials, hence, the government decision to take action based on the recommendation of the northern youth coalition.

On the other hand, the Nigerian Army, Police, DSS, the Attorney General and President Buhari have not been willing to declare the marauding herdsmen as terrorists despite the effort made by prominent Nigerians to persuade the Federal Government to do so.  The governments of Taraba and Benue States have pleaded repeatedly for a proactive federal intervention to stop the killings of citizens to no avail.  The lack of political will to deal with the matter compelled Taraba State Government to raise an “alarm that more people may be killed in the state by herdsmen in the coming days unless the Federal Government and the military changed their tactics (Daniel, 2018, March 29).  Likewise, leaders of the Middle Belt, Southeast, Southwest and the South-South have repeatedly called upon President Buhari to declare the herdsmen as terrorists and take proactive measures to prevent the killings but the president is not willing to regard herdsmen as terrorists.  Prof. Wole Soyinka “urged President Muhammadu Buhari to stop Nigeria from sinking by putting a stop to the recurring killings in many parts of the country, which he described as ethnic cleansing” (Ndujihe, 2018, Apriil 29). Sensing no positive response from the Federal Government on the need to stop the senseless killings, the European Union (EU) too called upon the Federal Government to take action to prevent the killings.  The EU stated:

While we welcome the visit of President Buhari to affected states, we encourage the government and all stakeholders to engage decisively in order to promote a constructive dialogue with the aim of finding viable solutions and sustainable policies that would permit all to live in peace, whatever their ethnicity or religion” (Adeyemo, 2018, March 13).

Increasingly disturbed by the killings, the Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar, “queried the competence of the security agencies and their inability to stop the attacks and killings by herdsmen in Benue State (Adeseun, 2018, Apriil 26).  Based on the legal standard used by the northern youth coalition to characterize IPOB as a terrorist organization, it is puzzling why the same standard is not being applied to characterize herdsmen who have done far worse than IPOB, as terrorists by the Nigerian Army and the Attorney General of the Federation?

Twenty-third, the Nigerian Army, DSS and the Police do not seem to have tolerance for any group that does not tow the line of President Buhari and the All Progressive Congress Party (APC).  As a result, when elders of the South-South decided to meet and strategize under the auspices of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in Port Harcourt, the Nigerian Police stormed the venue of the meeting and prevented the elders of the region from holding a peaceful meeting (Akasike, 2017, October 17).  The NPF took this action, disregarding the fact that the elders of the South-south have been primarily responsible for pleading with the youths not to attack oil facilities.  Thus, the Federal Government even considered a peaceful meeting held by regional leaders in the South as a threat to the national security. Yet, it finds it very difficult to use proactive measures to deal with herdsmen.

Similarly, it was alleged that the leaders and elders of Southern and Middle Belt groups were technically prevented from flying into Makurdi Airport from Abuja to attend a summit on restructuring of the country.  This happened when a plane that was supposed to fly the regional leaders to the capital of Benue State was denied landing by the Nigerian Airforce.  However, the Nigerian Airforce responded to the allegation by explaining that the official procedure required for allowing a civilian plane to land in a military field was not followed, hence, the denial of permission to land in Makurdi military airport (Fabiyi, 2018, July 18).  Despite the prompt response by the Nigerian Airforce to clear the air about the allegation, the reason given does not douse the feeling that the current administration and its supporters are not supportive of the need to restructure the country.  Therefore, whether knowingly or not, an impression is being created that any activity, regardless of its harmlessness, that is viewed as a threat to the strategic interests of the president and the APC is treated as a threat to the national security.

In this regard, when rumors spread that some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party were about to defect to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP and other political parties, the police mobilized to stop the Senate from meeting by blocking the residences of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Senate Deputy President Ike Ekweremadu (Ayitogo, Ogundipe & Busari, 2018, July 24).  This action was immediately followed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) charging of the Deputy Senate President for corruption.  At the same time, probably to punish Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State for attempting to defect to the PDP, the police sprung to action to arrest some members of the Benue House of Representative.  Similarly, the EFCC decided to charge the governor for corruption involving the use of the state’s security vote.  Many Nigerians viewed the police actions in Abuja and Benue State as efforts to clamp down on those who do not support the president and the APC.  The actions portrayed the NPF as a partisan organization intended merely to protect the interests of President Buhari and the APC party.

Thus, while the police are very proactive in clamping down on groups that oppose the president and the ruling party, the NPF does not take threats issued by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore as threatening to the national security of the country.  Hence, the leadership of the associations are not afraid to justify why herdsmen carry out violence against host communities.  If any Southern business group were to justify the use of violence to achieve its goal, the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Army and the DSS would most likely invite the group leaders for questioning.  Here again, the standard used by the northern youth coalition to characterize IPOB as “having crossed the line” is not considered for application against the Miyetti Allah Cattle Association and the Myyetti Cattle Kautal Hore by the Federal Government.

Twenty-Fourth, while Nigerians and members of the international community were still scratching their heads in bewilderment over the abduction of the Chibok girls, suddenly, the news struck the airwaves that 110 students of the Government Girls Science and Technical College had been abducted in Dapchi on February 19, 2018 (Sahara Reporters, 2018, March 7).  As the media probed the circumstances surrounding the abduction, they discovered that an army unit that was posted to the area to provide security was removed days before Boko Haram invaded the school and abducted the students.  In reaction, people wondered why the Nigeria Army removed the unit from the area knowing that a girls’ school is located in the area and Boko Haram could attack.  Nigerians wanted to know who gave the order to remove the army unit from the area.  In response, the Nigerian Army stated that the army unit was removed from Dapchi and redeployed in Kanama to provide security since the Dapchi area was considered safe and secured at the time.  The army further added that the police unit in the area was formally given the responsibility to provide security for Dapchi.   The Police countered the army story by saying that it did not receive any official handing over notice to bear responsibility for providing security to the community (Onani, 2018, February 27). The sudden removal of the army unit and the sudden abduction of the school girls tended to create the impression that the Dapchi affair was an inside job.  This meant that there was some kind of collusion between Boko Haram and some elements of the security forces.

Just like in the Chibok affair, questions started popping up about the capability of Boko Haram to move so swiftly in a security zone and abduct more than one hundred students without any inhibition.  Thus, how was it possible for Boko Haram insurgents to get to the school with two or three vehicles without being seen by any unit of the Nigerian Army or Police or DSS?  How was it possible for Boko Haram insurgents to drive away from the scene and disappear into the unknown with over 100 students without any unit of the security forces stopping them along the way?  The ease with which Boko Haram carried out the operation led some Nigerians to speculate that the organization worked directly with the army, hence, the army unit in Dapchi was removed to make it easy for Boko Haram to carry out the mission.  Some Nigerians went further in speculating that, perhaps, a unit of the Nigerian Army was directly responsible for staging the event in order to boost the sagging image of President Buhari.

As wonders never end in Nigeria, about three weeks after the abduction, the insurgents surprisingly returned 105 of the kidnapped girls back to Dapchi.  In doing so, they received a hero’s welcome from some members of the community.  After dropping the girls off, the abductors drove off again without being stopped by the Army or Police or DSS. Under normal circumstances, police and other members of the security forces would have tracked or trailed the abductors to find out their hideout and then plan an operation to round them up later.  This did not happen, meaning that there was a sort of agreement between the security forces and the Boko Haram, which guaranteed the insurgents a free and safe passage.  Consequently, the insurgents drove into Dapchi with their flags openly displayed to return the girls and then drove into the sunset without being accosted.  It is generally believed that the insurgents returned the 105 girls because they are Moslems (Maclean & Abrak, 2018, March 21).  However, Leah Sharibu, one of the kidnapped victims, being a Christian, was left behind because she refused to convert to Islam and still remains in captivity today.

Twenty-fifth, one of the most disturbing aspects of the actions, inactions and circumstances that compel some Nigerians like Gen. Danjuma to say that Nigeria’s security forces are colluding with herdsmen and Boko Harm to kill Nigerians is the issue of HERSDMEN ATTACKS.  It is a fact that herdsmen and farmers have through the years clashed violently about the right to own or use land for farming or grazing.  However, the attacks increased threefold since President Buhari became the political head of an elected government in Nigeria in May 2015.  Some Nigerians inferred that the herdsmen are embolden to launch attacks all over the country because President Buhari intentionally hired mostly Nigerian Moslems to occupy important national security positions.  Some Nigerians further add that among the Moslems hired from the multitudes of ethnic groups, the Fulanis seemed to occupy the most critical positions, thereby, reinforcing the view that this is the Fulani time to fully control Nigeria.  Due to the overwhelming representation of the Fulanis in Buhari’s administration, many Nigerians are increasingly using “sacred cows” to refer to them.  By implication, since they are treated as sacred cows, the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police and the DSS cannot and do not go after them.  Perhaps, this is why herdsmen openly carry guns without being arrested by the police for carrying illegal firearms.

A worrisome aspect of the actions and inactions of the security forces is that even when they know that herdsmen are about to attack a particular community, they do not take proactive measures to prevent the attack.  Hence, time after time, community leaders and state officials alert the public and inform the security forces about impending attacks, yet, the security forces rarely act on the information until after the attacks have taken place.  This contributes to the reason why many Nigerians are convinced that the Nigerian Army and the Police are colluding with herdsmen and other violent gangs.  In places like Benue, Enugu, Kogi, Plateau, Taraba, and Zamfara states, security officials are most often informed about impending attacks.    For instance, in the Plateau State killings, which took 120 lives, a witness stated: “We informed members of the Special Task Force (STF) on Jos crisis.  They went to one of the villages but the attackers had committed the havoc and left” (Ajijah, 2018, June 24).  Thus, the security forces generally do not act decisively to prevent the attacks until after the attacks have taken place.  For instance, Da Sambo Chollom (Mai Angwa), a Ward Head in Dorowa Babuje narrated the ordeal of his community by saying:

The herders have plucked virtually everything from our farms; we don’t know what to do.  To enable us to scavenge the few crops they left, we had to seek the assistance of the Mobile Police Force to go to the farms as we were tired of going to the Operation Safe Haven who would not respond to us when we sought their assistance (Polycarp, 2018, July 21).

 

The unwillingness to respond in a timely fashion when informed about an impending attack probably contributed to the death of 120 people in Plateau State in June 2018.  To be able to kill 120 people, the attackers took the time to plan and reinforce before carrying out the operation, yet, not the army or police or DSS heard about the intended operation until after the mass killings had taken place. The same could be said of the January 2018 killings which took 73 lives in Benue State. The lack of response by the security forces led to the attacks in Nimbo in Enugu State and Agatu in Benue State.

Twenty-sixth, the Nigerian military tend to apply different standards even when carrying out military exercises in the country.  In Southeast, Southwest and the South-South, it seems that military exercises are designed to intimidate and arrest or kill potential troublemakers.  Thus, during such exercises, like during Crocodile Smiles 1 and 2 and Python Dance 1 and 2, the military adopt aggressive posture by arresting and detaining alleged troublemakers.  This means that military operations in these zones are intended as sweeping operations to clear or weed out alleged trouble-makers and would-be-trouble-makers.  However, in the Cat Dance military exercise in the Middle Belt, it appeared that instead of carrying out sweeping operations to stop or deter or prevent militants and herdsmen attacks, the indigenous communities seemed to feel the pressure of the military presence more than the killers.  This accounted for why despite the presence of the military, herdsmen continued to launch attacks and kill people without the military reacting forcefully to stop them. Yinka Odumakin of Vanguard noticed the different standard when he wrote:

Given the recent Operation Python Dance which allegedly inflicted horrors in the South east and “Operation Crocodile Smile” in South West and South-South, which has reportedly claimed some casualties in South West, the rumours became some referendum on the loss of faith in the Nigerian state (2017, October 24).

 

Twenty-seventh, it could be said that members of the Nigerian armed forces have established a reputation for dealing with civilians who provoke them.  Thus, going back to the pre-civil war years, Nigeria’s military men have never hesitated in ganging-up and beating up civilians who allegedly provoked them in one way or another.    Even police officers have been beaten up for having an altercation with a member of the armed forces.  In some cases, entire communities have been raided and destroyed to “pay back in kind” for assaulting members of the armed forces. Some of the most notorious cases of military overkill included Odi, Zaki Biam, Odiama, Gbaramatu, Oyakoromo and a host of other communities. In Benue State recently, soldiers stormed Naka, the headquarters of Gwer West Local Government Area and burnt houses in response to the killing of a solder by some members of the community.  Even though the suspects who killed the soldier were arrested, soldiers still decided to pay back in kind by burning down an entire section of the community. A resident, Francis Ayagah narrated what happened:

A soldier was killed by hoodlums yesterday, but I met the brigade commander around 4:30am today.”  …  He gave me a list of suspects and we arrested five of them overnight.  It was while we trying to take them to the brigade that soldiers stormed the town and started burning houses.  A whole part of the town has been completely burnt down and we’re appealing for help and understanding from the soldiers. (Ogunipe, 2018, April 19)

 

Due to their reputation, Nigerians expect Nigerian soldiers and police officers to react towards the killings of their members by paying back in kind to herdsmen who did so.   Surprisingly, the members of the armed and police forces have not shown any inclination to “pay back in kin”’ when marauding herdsmen kill their members.  However, it is quite noticeable that solders have not been eager to carry out reprisal attacks against herdsmen or their communities for killing any member of the armed forces.  Why are soldiers not eager to “pay back in kind” when herdsmen kill their members? Could it be that herdsmen are treated as “sacred cows” by the current administration, hence, soldiers do not want to risk their careers by paying back against herdsmen for the killing of their members?  It is amazing how soldiers swiftly reacted when members of an indigenous community in Benue State killed their member compared to the general lack of interest in taking on herdsmen for killing members of the armed and police forces.  Even though the residents of Naka demonstrated good faith by arresting the individual who killed a soldier, soldiers still poured into the community to avenge the death.

Twenty-eighth, even though the actions and inactions of the security forces tend to create the impression that there is collusion going on, none of them have made serious attempt to probe the conduct of its members who have been involved in suspicious circumstances since the Buhari administration came into power.  Not until Lt. Gen. Danjuma (rtd) accused the Nigerian armed forces of colluding with herdsmen to kill Nigerians before the Nigerian Army decided to establish a committee to probe whether some of its officers are colluding with herdsmen or not.  Vanguard reported: “The Nigerian Army has set up a panel of inquiry to probe allegations by some Nigerians that its personnel were colluding with Fulani herdsmen in the killing of people in Taraba and Benue States” (Erunke, 2018, April 9).  The internal investigation committee eventually cleared the army of any collusion.  Some Nigerians criticized the army report and insisted upon an independent investigation of the matter, due to the seriousness of the allegation.

It is assumable that if Gen. Danjuma had not spoken publicly, the Nigerian Army would not have conducted an internal probe of the allegation that its personnel were colluding with Boko Haram and herdsmen to kill Nigerians and destroy communities that oppose cow grazing in their lands.  This view is necessitated by the fact that before Gen. Danjuma made his thought-provoking declaration, other Nigerians, including Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and Dr. Paul Unongo had made similar allegations against the security forces but none of the branches of the security forces took the allegations seriously.  It might be interesting to know whether the Nigeria Airforce too would develop a plan to probe the allegation that some of its planes were used to attack some villages and towns at the same time that herdsmen were attacking the same communities in Taraba State.

Twenty-ninth, the actions and inactions of Buhari administration create the impression that it is doggedly committed to nationalizing the cattle industry and spreading the Fulani people all over Nigeria.  Hence, the administration wants to use taxpayers’ money to subsidize the establishment of ranches in Nigeria even though cattle owners are some of the richest Nigerians.  In other countries, cattle owners do not want to invest their own funds to buy land and establish private cattle ranches.  In Nigeria, the Federal Government of President Buhari wants to spend about N179bn to establish ranches for the rich owners of cows, even though they are engaged in a private business.

Thirtieth, apart from trying to establish cattle ranches, the Buhari administration also wants to nationalize water resources in Nigeria by proposing a bill which is intended to take away the right of indigenous communities to make decision about the rivers, creeks and lakes in their territories (Adesomoju, A., Baiyewu, L., and Aluko, O. (2018, May 25).  Some Nigerians regard the water bill as another effort to reward cattle owners while depriving indigenous groups the right to make decisions about resources in their territories. If such a bill passes the National Assembly, Nigerians would no longer be able to use the waters in their communities freely without first getting approval from some government agencies.  On the other hand, it would allow the Federal Government the right to remove, relocate, settle and resettle people whenever it wants.  In such a scenario, Nigeria would end up looking like a communist country where the national government has total control over the management of the state.

While the Buhari administration is committed to rewarding cattle owners and herders generally, he has not spoken fervently about rehabilitating farmers whose farms have been destroyed by cattle herders.  There is also no plan so far to rehabilitate Nigerians whose communities have been destroyed in Benue, Bornu, Enugu, Plateau, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara States.  Of course, the presidency has not made a statement about compensating the families of those killed by cattle herders and other unknown gangs that are terrorizing the country.  The Buhari administration has also not made any statement concerning the rehabilitation of those whose farms and fishing waters have been devastated in the Niger Delta/South-South zone through oil pollution and gas flaring.

Thirty-first, it is most likely that the war against Boko Haram would not end soon.  The reason is that the war has political, military, religious and financial dimensions.  It seems that whenever Boko Haram is militarily degraded by the Nigerian Army and Airforce, something always happens either by design or unintentionally to rejuvenate it.  Quite, often, the actions and inactions of the government greatly contribute to the rejuvenation of the organization when it runs into trouble.   This observation is supported by the fact that the Federal Government has announced many times that Boko Haram has been defeated.  Yet, Boko Haram always come back to counteract the government statement.  Similarly, the Federal Government has announced at least twice that the Sambisa Forest has been retaken from Boko Haram.  Yet, Boko Haram always get back into the forest to destabilize Northeastern Nigeria.

The failure of intelligence in locating the whereabouts of the remaining Chibok girls has forced the Nigerian Government to negotiate and pay ransom to Boko Haram.  Quite often, part of the negotiated agreement includes financial payments and releasing of important Boko Haram’s field commanders and fighters in exchange for the release of some of the school girls and other captives.  The problem is that whenever the national government pays money to have some abductees released, Boko Haram uses the money to buy more sophisticated weapons and recruit more people into its ranks to fight the Nigerian military.  Apparently, the government approach in dealing with Boko Haram leads to a catch 22 situation whereby the government either intentionally or unintentionally rejuvenates the organization through its own actions.

In addition, perhaps, due to religious affinity, the Federal Government occasionally releases hundreds of Boko Haram fighters that were captured as prisoners by Nigerian security forces.  The government always justify the release on the ground that the ex-fighters have reformed.  Allegations have been made by some Nigerians that some of the released fighters eventually go back to rejoin and fight for Boko Haram again.  Obviously, it is like a revolving door thing in the sense that the security forces fight so hard to capture Boko Haram fighters and the Nigerian government then releases some of them to go back and rejoin their comrades to continue the war against Nigeria. It is, therefore, not surprising that Boko Haram attacked a Nigerian military base in Jilli in Yobe State recently (Moritz-Rabson, 2018, July 17). This is in addition to the recent Boko Haram ambush of Nigerian troops in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State (Haruna, 2018, July16). In fact, Boko Haram is becoming very adept at attacking military and police bases now.  In other words, it is repeating in 2018 what it did in 2014 when it overran military posts and carted away weapons to enrich its arsenal. Boko Haram is tactically becoming very efficient in targeting soldiers, police officers and civilian members of the security forces. The fact that Boko Haram, especially the Abu-Mus’ab Al-Barnawi faction, is attacking military and police bases, indicates that the organization is gaining strength.

Thirty-second, concerning the marauding herdsmen and unknown armed gangs, the Federal Government of Nigeria does not want to concede the fact that they operate as terrorists by terrorizing Nigerians.  As a result, the president avoids speaking about the issue and taking actions that might put a dent on the senseless killings.  The killers are keenly aware that the Federal Government is not committed to dealing with them.  This is why they are able to invade, kill and destroy communities even when soldiers and police officers are around in the neighborhood.  In other words, the herdsmen and armed killers are not afraid of the security forces, perhaps, convinced that they have a political godfather to protect them.  Since there is no political will to take proactive action, the security forces maintain the view that they cannot do much to prevent attacks since they have not been given the “MARCHING ORDER TO ACT DECISIVELY.”  Evidently, the army folds its arms, the police looks the other way and the DSS feigns ignorance of the gruesome killings. It is ironic that the Nigerian Army that went to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Balkans to stop bloody conflicts heroically cannot quench bloody fires in its own territory.  It is sad that the NA is now a mere shadow of its former self.  The Nigerian Police Force look increasingly like a security outfit for the president and the APC party and not as a professional national law enforcement organization.  Law enforcement decisions are made through political calculations of the ruling political party and the president.

Thirty-third, in an attempt to explain the cause of herdsmen attacks, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State explained that illiteracy is responsible for the violent attacks against farming communities.  He states that “the average Fulani herdsman is not literate and because of the nature of their activities they were prone to violence” (Ogbolu, 2018, March 5).  Well, if illiteracy is a contributing factor, then the leaders of the ethnic group and northern political and military leaders should be held accountable for not making the effort to send their youths to school in sufficient numbers for decades.  It is a fact that the Islamic North has produced most Nigerian leaders since October 1, 1960.  Yet, it never occurred to them to institute a vigorous regional educational program to educate the youths of the region.  Now, the entire country is bleeding for the lack of foresight in the educational sector.  However, the reason advanced is not very satisfactory considering the fact that youths in the Middle Belt are sufficiently educated compared those in the Upper Islamic North. How was it possible for Middle Belt leaders to send their youths to school in large numbers and those in the Islamic North failed to do so for decades?

Thirty-fourth, since the coming of this administration, Nigeria’s security forces have never hesitated to mobilize fully to squash activities or demonstrations that are targeted at the administration or the APC political party.  Hence, the Inspector General of Police did not hesitate to mobilize 30,000 police officers in Ekiti State during the recent gubernatorial election.  The army and DSS also mobilized their forces in the state.  Some Nigerians felt that the heavy-handed security presence was intended to intimidate voters who wished to vote for the opposition and ensure the victory of the APC candidate.  If the IGP can mobilize 30,000 police officers to a single state during an election, why is it so difficult for the IGP to mobilize 30,000 officers to prevent killings in Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba Yobe and Zamfara states?

Thirty-fifth, obviously, the actions, inactions and circumstances surrounding the manner in which the Federal Government of Nigeria responds to the killings is compelling the Amnesty International to say that the government is encouraging the killings.  Premium Times reports: “Rights group, Amnesty International, says the failure of Nigerian government to hold murderers to account is encouraging them and fueling rising insecurity” (2018, June 28).

Thirty-sixth, the Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina is credited to have made a statement indicating that Nigerian communities should give up land for cattle colonies and or ranches in order to save themselves from being killed (Akinrefon, 2018, July 5).  The notion of giving up land for life creates the impression that the Federal Government does not want to act proactively to stop the killings, hoping in the process that after thousands of Nigerians might have been killed, those who resist giving up their lands would finally agree to allow cattle colonies or ranches to be established.  This further creates the impression that the president’s inaction and the unwillingness of the security forces to act decisively are part of a calculated strategy designed to achieve a particular goal.

Thirty-seventh, the view that Nigeria is gradually disintegrating due to a feeling that President Buhari is Fulanizing, regionalizing and Islamizing the country is leading to a distrust of the Federal Government among Southern and Central Nigerians.  Even ethnic groups in Upper Northern Nigeria too are increasingly concerned about the direction of the country since the uncontrollable killings are also taking place in Adamawa, Bornu, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara states.  The concern translates into a distrust of the government and the national security organizations.  The increasing distrust of the Federal Government was ably demonstrated when the Nigerian Army launched a vaccination program for school children in the country. When parents heard about the program, they rushed to the schools and hurriedly picked up their children to avoid the army vaccinating them.   Yinka Odumakin of Vanguard described the panic that ensued:

From the entire South East through Rivers, en route Ondo and down to Borno states we have seen worrying images of school children “pick am for race” at the rumours that soldiers were approaching their schools to vaccinate them.  Parents are not left out as they rush to schools to take their children home.  I saw a woman scaling a fence that even men will have difficulty climbing in order to get hold of her child (2017, October 24).

 

The Nigerian Army eventually stopped the program on realizing that Nigerians were distrustful of the effort (Adebowale, 2017, October 14).

Thirty-eighth, while the Buhari administration and some northern Islamic and political leaders attribute the violent attacks on the struggle for land space between farmers and cattle herders, it seems that the herdsmen are not hiding their actual intention.  A group known as the Fulani Nationality Movement, according to Rev. David Oyedepo, the founder of the Living Faith Church, Worldwide, sent him a letter saying that “there will be no peace until cattle colonies are established in all states in Nigeria (Daily Post, 2018 .”  According to him, the group added “We have asked all Fulani herdsmen all over West Africa to move to Nigeria and penetrate every corner for the upcoming jihad” (Ibid.).  However, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), through its National Secretary, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, recently made a statement disassociating itself from any kind of violence in the country (Opejobi, 2018, July 18).

Thirty-ninth, the fact that all critical positions relating to the national security of Nigeria are held by mostly Moslems of Hausa-Fulani ethnicity, adds to the suspicion that something strange is going on in Nigeria.  Indeed, the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Airforce, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Internal Affairs, National Security Agency, Department of State Services (DSS), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC), Chief Security Officer, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria Prison, Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Special Protection Unit, Nigeria Customs, Nigerian Ports Authority, etc., are led by Moslems from the Islamic North (Ogbeche, 2016, August 11).   The only exceptions are the Nigeria Navy and Defence Staff, which are led by Southerners.  This is taking place in a country, which is multiethnic and multi-religious with about 200 million people. Likewise, the director general of the DSS has just been replaced by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo after the agency blockaded the National Assembly to prevent the members from holding a meeting.

Fortieth, Apart from the fact that all national security-related positions are held by Moslems, President Buhari compulsorily retired many senior army officers.  Most of the retired officers came from the South (Southwest, Southeast and the South-south).  This means that a large proportion of senior Christian and Ancestralist army officers have been pushed out of the army.  Due to the forced retirement, the Nigerian Army is no longer a national army but a regionalized force with all critical positions held by Islamic officers.  This is why military officers from the Southern and Central Nigeria (Middle Belt) are no longer visible.  They perform their duties behind the limelight and remain quiet.

Forty-first, it is inferable that a certain degree of conspiracy intended to achieve a particular goal, which is contrary to the national security of Nigeria is going on among some of the security chiefs in the country.  This inference can be attested to by pinpointing certain circumstances.  (1) The NPF deployed 30, 000 officers during the gubernatorial election in Ekiti State.  Other security agencies, including the Nigerian Army and the Department of State Service also mobilized their forces.  (2) As soon as it was made known that Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State might defect from the APC, trouble started brewing up in Benue State House of Assembly.  A group of eight legislators, which are loyal to a former governor of the state and backed by the NPF and DSS, decided to impeach Governor Ortom and the Speaker of the State House, Mr. Terkimbir Iyange.  (3) Then, the DSS and the NPF mobilized their forces to blockade the State House of Assembly so that the eight legislators could carry out their impeachment exercise while preventing other 22 state legislators from entering the State House of Assembly. (4) This action was followed by EFCC’s announcement to file charges of corruption against Governor Ortom over alleged misuse of the state’s security vote.  (5) When the story of the likely defections of some APC legislators in the National Assembly spread, the NPF sent officers to blockade the residences of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President.  (6) The EFCC decided after the gubernatorial election in Ekiti State to charge Governor Peter Fayose of Ekiti State and his wife for corruption. (7) Some APC legislators decided to impeach Senate President Bukola Saraki.  (8) Then, on August 7, 2018, the DSS blockaded the National Assembly to prevent the leaders of both houses to meet and discuss pertinent national issues. (9)  The EFCC freezes the accounts of Benue and Akwa Ibom States.  Even though the Inspector General of Police stated that the police were not involved in the blockading of the National House of Assembly, the actions of the NPF, DSS and EFCC indicate a coordinated effort to achieve a certain political goal.

It looks like the Ekiti show of force by the NPF and the DSS was reenacted in Benue State. Benue State eventually became the laboratory from which the blockade of the National Assembly took place. These actions indicate that the NPF, DSS, and EFCC coordinate their actions.  If that is the case, then it means that the security chiefs work from the same template in dealing with security in the country.  This further means that probably the security chiefs strategically decided to go soft on cattle herdsmen who go on violent rampage in the country in order to achieve a particular goal.  The reason is that these security organizations have no hesitation to mobilize their forces and act decisively when certain political interests are threaten, yet, decline to act decisively against herdsmen and other organized armed militias that are killing Nigerians aimlessly.

Consequently, whether there is collusion or not, the distrust of the Federal Government and its security institutions are very high in the the country since President Buhari ascended the national political throne.    Similarly, there is a feeling among indigenous ethnic groups throughout the country that a jihad has been launched through violence that is similar to what happened in Darfur, Sudan, to eliminate them and take over their lands.  Therefore, it is not by accident that Nigerians are being killed in Benue, Bornu, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ondo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamafara states and there is not much response from the appropriate authorities.

The saddest part of the Nigerian story is that while the Islamic countries of the Arab world are steadily developing, modernizing, and innovating their scientific and technological capabilities, Nigerians are busy debating whether cows should still be allowed to roam all over the country.  While the Arabs are turning their countries (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain  etc.) into centers of science and technology, Nigerians are being killed for not allowing cows to roam all over the place and destroy farms.  Instead of turning Nigeria into a 21st century country, there is a debate about turning the country back to the 18th or 19th century so that cows can roam free.  It is not an overstatement to say that Nigeria is going backward, instead of forward.  This is why citizens who have gun-shot injuries are expected to have police reports before they are treated by the hospitals. Many Nigerians have died because the hospitals refused to treat them without police report.  This is taking place in the 21st century.  Who in this world does not know that any gun-shot injury requires immediate medical attention to avoid death?

 

Implications

Based on the identified actions, inactions and questionable circumstances generated by this administration and the security forces in dealing with Boko Haram and marauding killers, the following implications are drawn:

  1. There is no doubt that there is a farmers–herdsmen conflict over the right to use land, resulting in violence and the deaths of thousands of Nigerians, including members of host communities and the Fulanis.

 

  1. There is also no doubt that cattle are being rustled in large scale by criminals who prey on pastoral cattle herdsmen and their communities. This forces cattle herders to become proactive in protecting their cattle and defending themselves, resulting in undue use of violence by the herders.
  2. However, the spate of killings, starting from 2016, cannot be attributed to farmers vs. cattle herdsmen conflict alone. The reason is that the killings and destruction of host communities by either herdsmen or unknown militias showed an organized framework intended to achieve a strategic political goal of reordering or rearranging the right of land ownership in the country.

The tactics deployed to kill people and destroy communities are eerily similar to the tactics that the Janjaweed militia used in Darfur, Sudan.

 

  1. The Federal Government’s lethargic approach in dealing with the gruesome killings of people and the destruction of host communities eerily resembles the response of the Sudanese Government to the Janjaweed killings in Darfur, Sudan. In fact, the International Criminal Court (ICC) charged President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan for war crimes and crimes against humanity over Darfur killings (Rice, 2009, March 4).

 

  1. Thus, the actions, inactions and tendencies of the Federal Government under President Buhari, create a feeling that the administration has an agenda quite contrary to the national security of Nigeria.

 

  1. The excessive recruitment of Moslems into high-level national security positions in a country that is multi-religious creates the impression that there is an agenda towards Islamization of Nigeria.

 

  1. The excessive recruitment of Fulanis into high-level national security positions by a president who is a Fulani in a country that is multiethnic, creates the impression that there is a Fulani agenda to dominate Nigeria in totality.

 

  1. The repeated efforts of President Buhari to establish cattle colonies and ranches throughout Nigeria in a country that is multiethnic with diverse business interests, creates the feeling that there is a plan to Fulanize and Islamize Nigeria.

 

  1. The fact that thousands of people have been killed and scores of communities destroyed by herdsmen and unknown armed gangs or militias without the security forces taking proactive measures to stop them creates the impression that there is a secret code of conduct for treating cattle herders. In other words, cattle herders are “sacred cows” and cannot be touched by the security forces.

 

  1. The fact that Nigerians have been killed in Abia, Benue, Bornu, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara states by unknown herdsmen and or assailants/militias while the security forces look on, creates a feeling that host communities are tactically being eliminated to make way for settlers to take over.

 

  1. The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Minister of Defence, Minister of Internal Affairs and the Director General of DSS blamed anti-open grazing laws for the killings despite the fact that people are also being killed in Nasarawa, Kaduna, Plateau, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara states that do not have anti-open grazing laws, creates the impression that herdsmen are being encouraged and protected.

 

  1. The fact that the EFFCC only fights its war on corruption against members of the opposition and those who do not agree with the president and the All Progressives Congress (APC) indicates that there is an agenda to control the country.

 

  1. An implication could be drawn to say that the coordinated efforts of the NPF, DSS and the EFCC to achieve a certain political goal in the country could be interpreted as the reason why these security organizations, including the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Airforce have not been proactive in curtailing violence perpetrated by herdsmen and other armed militias. It is also responsible for the lack of decisive action in defeating Boko Haram.

 

Recommendations

Based on the aforementioned actions, inactions and circumstances, the following recommendations are made to ameliorate the perception that Nigeria’s security forces are colluding with herdsmen and Boko Haram to kill Nigerians

 

  1. President Buhari urgently needs to Nigerianize the chiefs of security in the country. This means that he must choose the heads of the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Airforce, Nigerian Navy, the Minister of Defence, Minister of Internal Affairs, Director of Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), Director of State Service (DSS), Director of Immigration, Director of Customs, and … from different zones of the country.  Currently, the heads of these organizations are mostly Moslems and mostly Hausa-Fulani in a country of about 300 ethnic groups.  The only exception right now is that the head of the Navy and the Chief of Defense Staff are from the South. There is not a single individual from the Southeast zone serving as a security chief.

 

  1. The National Assembly needs to pass a law banning undue recruitment of people into high-level national government positions from members of the president’s family, ethnic group and region. Currently, President Buhari is surrounded by his family and tribal members, thereby, inhibiting his ability to function effectively as a president of a multiethnic and a multi-religious nation.  Thus, it is a threat to the national security of Nigeria to have a president who surround himself/herself with only members of his family, ethnic group and region in a multiethnic and multi-religious society.

 

  1. The Federal Government must apply the same standard in treating all Nigerians. There can be no sacred cows.  If IPOB is treated as a terrorist organization, even though it is not, then, herdsmen and the unknown armed gangs must also be treated as terrorists.  This also means that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore too should be proscribed.

 

  1. The head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) must not come from the same ethnic group and religion as that of the president. If the president is from the North, then the EFCC chair must come from the South or Middle Belt. If the president is from the South or Middle Belt, then the chair of the EFCC must come from the Upper North.

 

  1. Similarly, if the president comes from the North and is a Muslim, then, the head of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) must come from either the South or the Middle Belt and must be an Ancestralist or a Christian and vice versa. If a Christian becomes a president, the head of the INEC must be a Moslem or an Ancestralist.

 

  1. The president should stop trying to nationalize the cattle business and water resources in the country because Nigeria is not a Communist country and neither is it a dictatorship. The states and local governments must be allowed to generate economic activities and ensure the safety and security of their citizens. Nigeria is an African country with a communal culture.

 

  1. The actions and inactions of the president and the heads of the security chiefs are creating the impression that herdsmen are killing other Nigerians so that they can take over the country and dominate West Africa. This is why there is apprehension in the region about what is going on in Nigeria.  The situation is so tense that in Mali, members of the Dogo group attacked a Fulani village in Mali and killed 31 people. Thus, the Nigerian situation could actually expose Fulanis throughout West Africa to a greater danger.  President Buhari must act fast to stop the killings and destruction of communities.

 

  1. It is inappropriate to compare Nigeria and Ghana, as Ishaq Akintola, the director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) did when he said:

But Ghanaians did not crucify their president because of the clashes but solve the problem by establishing their first cattle ranch last week at Afram Plains in the eastern region.  It is time to face realities.  We must borrow a leaf from Ghana (Premium Times, 2018, July 16).

 

The reason is that Ghana is not as tribalized, regionalized and religionized as Nigeria.  Ghanaians worked very hard, right from the beginning to build a united country while Nigerians were tribalized, regionalized and regilionized even before Nigeria gained independence.  Nigeria had a bloody civil war due to the distrust emanating from the injustice of the Nigerian system.  Ghana had never had a bloody civil war.   In Nigeria, whenever the federal and state governments take land from the people under public domain, they rarely make effort to properly relocate and appropriately compensate them.  The people of Maroko and Abuja can testify to this fact. Since Nigeria nationalized oil and gas resources, the Federal Government has never made a serious effort to clean the environment.  Due to the failure, the Niger Delta/South-South people are suffering all kinds of medical maladies due to pollution, gas flaying and acid rain.

In the current administration, despite the fact that Nigeria has about 300 ethnic groups, only members of the president’s ethnic group dominate the national security machinery.  In addition, it is mostly members of a particular religion that control the entire security system.  Due to the tribalistic, regionalistic and religionistic nature of the current administration, if cattle ranches are established by the Nigerian Government, there is no guarantee that those who wield national power would not use the Nigerian Police Force, Department of State Service and the Nigerian Army to intimidate communities which do not agree with the cattle herders.    National cattle ranches would contribute to more conflict between cattle herdsmen and farming communities.

As pointed out above, there are sufficient circumstantial evidence to say that the actions and inactions of the Federal Government and the security forces, point to a certain degree of collaboration among certain elements in government with the marauding killers.  This is why the security forces are not acting decisively to degrade the attacks on Nigerians.  However, in the final analysis, the question of whether the security forces are colluding with cattle herders to intimidate and terrorize Nigerians can best be answered or determined by the reader.

 

  1. Times have changed due to urbanization and an increase in population. This means that it is time for cattle breeders to change from the pastoral way of breeding and managing cattle to ranching.  This further means that they should invest some of their wealth in buying or renting land to establish ranches.

 

  1. To save Nigeria from a political disaster, the National Assembly should set in motion a plan to restructure the country if the president and the APC are not willing to do so.

 

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Cameroon and Nigeria: Tethering on the edge of the political cliff due to internal colonialism

Cameroon and Nigeria:  Tethering on the edge of the political cliff due to Internal Colonialism

By Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

 

 

It is inferable that the colonial era in Africa is gradually coming to an end in the twenty—first century, following the demand by many African ethnic groups and regions for a change or a restructuring of their colonially-induced countries.  The reason is that a considerable number of ethnic and regional groups have never been happy or satisfied with the territorial, political, governmental and administrative arrangements, structures, institutions and processes of governance that the European colonial powers foisted upon them.  Thus, after four or five decades of experimenting with the European created states, they now feel that it is time to change or restructure or rearrange the countries to ensure equal rights, democratic representation .and equity in the distribution of political power and national resources.

It should be noted that almost all modern African states, with the exception of a few, came into being through forceful incorporation by European military powers.  The European powers did not care about the needs, desires and aspirations of the African people while they hurriedly created the colonies as agricultural and political plantations to boost their geopolitical and economic interests as they competed among themselves to dominate the world.  The arbitrariness of the colonies which subsequently became states on supposed independence, adversely affected a majority of the ethnic groups and regions while rewarding a tiny minority of individuals, ethnic groups and regions in the African continent.

As a result, many ethnic groups and regions feel unhappy, restricted, discriminated and marginalized as external (European) colonialism was transformed into internal (African) colonialism, whereby, a tiny minority of ethnic groups and regions ended up dominating and playing the role of colonial masters to other African ethnic groups and regions.  Thus, every modern African state today is characterized by internal colonialism with one or two ethnic group(s) or region(s) lording over other ethnic groups and regions to the point of violating their natural right to exist in a given territorial space and enjoy the resources/fruits of their territory without pleading to someone else for crumbs. 

Purpose of this write up:

The purpose of this write up is to accomplish the following: (1) explore the issue of internal colonialism in Africa with a particular focus on Cameroon and Nigeria; (2) briefly examine the historical and political factors that contribute to dissatisfaction among citizens of these two countries; (3) find out whether it is appropriate to use the term “post-colonial” in referring to the current status of African states that were created by European powers.

Argument

Due to the nature of the topic, the following arguments are made here:  First, although, all modern African states claim to be sovereign nations after supposedly gaining political independence from their European colonial masters and are recognized as such under international law, they are not.  Secondly, African states are not sovereign nations because European colonialism was replaced by internal (African) colonialism on independence.  Third, in this regard, Cameroon and Nigeria, like other modern African states, are facing crises of internal colonialism where one or two ethnic groups and or regions, supported by their former European colonial powers, dominate and impose their will on other ethnic groups and regions.  Fourth, due to the continuation of the colonial system, it is fallacious to refer to African countries as “post-colonial” states.   The “Post-colonial” era will come into being when current African states are restructured or reorganized to reflect their African character, as well as ensure equal representation and fair distribution of political power and national resources to their constituents, regardless of race, ethnicity, region, religion and political affiliation.

First, although, all modern African states claim to be sovereign nations after supposedly gaining political independence from their European colonial masters and are recognized as such under international law, it is argued here that they are not.

By and large, African states continue to operate under the philosophical, territorial, political, governmental, judicial, security and economic foundations laid down by the European colonial powers.  As a result, the states continue to infringe upon the rights of many ethnic groups and regions which feel trapped by the colonially-induced state system.   In almost all African countries, there are issues concerning constitutionality, territorial rights, governance and the distribution of political and national resources.  This creates anger and the demand for a rearrangement or a restructuring of the states. Thus, modern African states are not independent for the following reasons:

On independence, no referendum or a constitutional conference was held in a majority of the countries to allow the ethnic groups and regions to determine freely whether they wanted to remain in the states they found themselves or go their separate ways or rearrange the political frameworks.  Thus, the very first political action that the indigenous African political leaders would have taken as soon as they became the presidents and prime ministers, would have been to call a constitutional conference and invite the ethnic, regional and religious groups to decide whether changes should be made or not to make the states inclusive of all groups and regions. The exception was Southern and Northwestern Cameroon, in which a referendum was held, thereby, allowing Northwestern Cameroon to join Nigeria and Southwestern Cameroon to join the Republic of Cameroon. 

Following the supposed independence, no major territorial adjustments were made by the indigenous African political leaders to adjust or ensure that territorial boundaries were compatible with the geographical distributions of the ethnic groups.  Due to the failure, a vast majority of African states today have conflicted territorial boundaries with many ethnic groups scattered into multiple states.  The Tutsis, for example, are found in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Hausas are found in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Benin and possibly Ghana.  The Ewe are located in Benin, Togo and Ghana.  The Fulanis are located in about ten states, starting from the Sene-Gambian/Guinean region and extending to Nigeria, Cameroon, Sudan and etc.  The Tuaregs are located in Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauretania and etc.  The Mande people are found in Guinea, Liberia and possibly Sierra Leone. The Berbers can be found in multiple Arab countries. The arbitrariness of the boundaries create political tension among states that share common borders since a political or military conflict in one state can spread quite easily into other states due to the interconnectedness of the ethnic groups. This is what happened during the Ugandan, Liberian, Sierra Leonean, Congolese (DRC), Somalian, and Ivorian civil wars.  The conflicts spread to embrace ethnic groups in other countries.

After the supposed independence, African states continued to practice and perpetuate the same political, governmental and judicial systems that the European colonial powers instituted in the colonies. Of course, some countries decided to forsake the parliamentary system and adopt the American-styled presidential system.  Some countries too made efforts to reform their educational systems.  However, generally, most African countries continue to mimic European political, governmental and judicial systems.  This accounts for why in many African countries, lawyers and judges continue to wear professional garbs that looked exactly like their European counterparts.  In some African countries, including Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda, the members of the law profession even put on wigs.  The implication is that they are applying Western law in an African setting, thereby, denigrating African judicial traditions. Quite often, they enjoy quoting judicial terminologies in Latin to demonstrate their legal prowess in European law, even though they know that such terminologies have no place in traditional African cultures. Thus, African judges and lawyers continue to perpetuate legal colonialism for practicing legal systems that have nothing to do with the cultures of the African people.  This is why the legal systems are very corrupt and alienating.

Some African political and military leaders even adopted draconian colonial security laws to deal with their internal political opponents.  This is why even in the twenty-first century, it is not a comfortable idea to be in the political opposition in any African country.  The reason is that those who exercise political power and the ethnic groups and regions which support them tend to view any constructive criticism as a threat to their hold on corporate power of the state, hence, react aggressively to stop the opposition.  This was vividly demonstrated in Kenya recently when the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta shut down some television stations for reporting the symbolic swearing-in of the main opposition party candidate, Raila Amolo Odinga, as the president (Iredia. 2018, February 11).  Therefore, as part of the effort to contain political opposition, some African countries have enacted terrorism laws that are designed to stifle and discourage political opposition. Cameroon and Nigeria, for example, regard themselves as democracies, yet, react to the opposition as if they are authoritarian regimes.  The security presence is constant and many citizens are detained for long periods without trial under the pretext of national security. For instance, Charles Okah was detained for about eight years before he was finally tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for the alleged bombing on Independence Day celebration in Abuja, Nigeria.  There are many Nigerians who have been detained for years without trial. 

Secondly, African states are not sovereign nations because European colonialism has been replaced by internal (African) colonialism after independence

It is not an exaggeration to say that European colonialism has been replaced by internal African colonialism, whereby, one or two ethnic groups and or regions dominate each African country by rendering other ethnic groups and regions powerless, marginalized, discriminated, frustrated and angry.  This is why it is maintained here that it is inappropriate to refer to current African states as “post-colonial” entities since they are still operating under a colonial framework.

The frustration and anger emanating from the perception of being dominated and marginalized contributes to the igniting of military coups, the establishment of irredentist and separatist movements, and the eruption of civil wars by those groups and regions which feel oppressed, marginalized and discriminated to fight for their rights.  Apparently, a considerable number of violent political and military conflicts that have taken place in Africa after the European handover of power, have been generated by issues emanating from internal colonialism.  African states that have experienced incidents relating to internal colonialism include, Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and so on and so forth.

It might be educative to examine the issue of internal colonialism by focusing on two closely related neighbors with convoluted colonial history, namely, Cameroon and Nigeria.  Cameroon has a population of 23.3 million people while Nigeria has about 180 million people.  Thus, Nigeria is much larger and probably much more complex than Cameroon, nevertheless, these two countries are like wolves in sheep clothing in the sense that they claim to be democracies, yet, operate as authoritarian unitary systems because the internal colonizers want them to remain the way they are so that they are able to continue to impose their will over other ethnic groups and regions.

The Republic of Cameroon

In particular, one country that is severely bedecked by internal colonialism but has not experienced a very bloody civil war is Cameroon.  People have been wondering why a country such has Cameroon with a convoluted colonial history has been relatively calm while countries that are not as convoluted and complicated as Cameroon have experienced bloody and destructive conflicts following rebellions emanating from issues of internal colonialism.  The best way to explain the Cameroonian situation is that the country has been in a climatic political circumstance comparable to the “calm before the storm” weather phenomenon. The “calm before the storm” expression refers to a weather situation, whereby, there is relative calm and peacefulness while a very powerful storm is about to strike. Thus, as the storm approaches, whether it is a thunderstorm or a tornado or a hurricane/cyclone, the vicinity in which it is about to strike becomes very quiet and peaceful, then, gradually, the storm roars in to inflict destruction and death.  It could therefore, be said that Cameroon has been in such a climatic condition while the political storm of rebellion gradually builds up.  Now, the political storm has finally arrived and is unleashing violent and thunderous hails and destruction.  To understand the Cameroonian political situation, it might be necessary to briefly describe and explain the history of the country.

Cameroon’s Colonial History

The Republic of Cameroon could be said to have a complicated and an unfortunate history, perhaps, more than a vast majority of the other African states.  The Portuguese were the first Europeans to get to the area now known as the Republic of Cameroon in the 15th century.  They established a sugar cane plantation in the 16th and subsequent centuries, up to the early 19th century.   Portuguese and Dutch slave traders dominated the slave trade in the area until slavery was abolished.   Sometime in the 19th century, nomadic Fulanis arrived in Northern Cameroon and settled.

Germany eventually gained possession of the area and established Cameroon as a Protectorate in 1884, thereby, making the country a colony.  German colonial authorities ruled the colony until 1916 when a combined French, British and Belgian military force drove out the Germans during the First World War.  After the First World War, Cameroon was taken away from Germany as part of the armistice that ended “the war to end all wars” in 1919.  It was divided into two and shared by two of the victorious allied powers (Britain and France).   As a result, Britain administered Northwestern and Southwestern Cameroon under the Mandate of the League of Nations while France administered four-fifth of the total territory. (The Commonwealth, 2017, October 5;Caxton, 2017, July 21).  Obviously, France had a much bigger territorial area under its control than Britain. After the Second War, both countries continued to administer the territory under the Trusteeship of the United Nations.

While still under the trusteeship of the UN and administered by France and Britain, indigenous African political parties emerged and began to agitate for Cameroonian independence.  For instance, the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC), led by Ruben Um Nyobe demanded that the two parts (English-speaking and French-speaking) should be amalgamated to form an independent country.  Due to its proactive role in agitating for independence, the UPC was banned in the 1950s by the colonial powers. The ban resulted in a massive rebellion in which a considerable number of people were killed, including the leader of the party, Mr. Nyobe (Ibid).

In any case, partial self-rule was granted to the colony.  Eventually, Cameroon gained full independence in January 1, 1960.  A UN plebiscite was held in 1961 in which Northwestern Cameroon decided to join Nigeria while Southwestern Cameroon joined French Cameroon, following the feeling that it was ignored, discriminated and marginalized while being in Nigeria.  Due to the nature of the country, a federal system of government was established with both language zones (English-speaking and French-speaking) having their own parliaments. The prime minister of the English-speaking Cameroon became the deputy president of the country while the leader of the French-speaking regions served as the president (Morse, 2017, June 2).

However, the federal system was dissolved in 1972 by President Ahmadou Ahidjo and replaced with a unitary system of government, resulting in the concentration of power at the national level.  As a result, the name changed to the United Republic of Cameroon.  In 1984, the name was changed again and the country became the Republic of Cameroon (Republique du Cameroun).

Obviously, Cameroon started as a German colony, then was taken over by the British and French following the end of the First World War, under mandate of the League of Nations and United Nations trusteeship. The French (Francophone) and British (Anglophone) regions were amalgamated.   The majority (four-fifth or about 80%) of the regions of the country is French-speaking while a smaller portion (about 20%) of the regions is English-speaking.  (International Crisis Group, 2017, August 2). Perhaps, due to this factor, the French regions have dominated the country, so much so that the English-speaking region feel marginalized and discriminated in almost every aspect of the country.

Cameroon, unlike its Nigerian neighbor, which has had fifteen heads of state since independence in October 1, 1960, has had only two since independence in January 1960.  Ahmadou Ahidjo first ruled as the president from 1960 to 1982, then President Paul Biya took over in the same year and has continued to rule the country to the present.  Both political leaders originate from the French-speaking regions.  This means that no English-speaking Cameroonian has had the opportunity to serve as a head of state of the country.  All policies and decisions seem to originate from the strategic interests and calculations of the French-speaking regions.  Even Cameroon’s foreign policy is greatly aligned with that of France.  This accounts for why President Paul Biya visits France regularly and is strongly aligned with France.  On the other hand, Britain has had little or no influence on the English-speaking regions, thereby, leaving those regions to feign for themselves.

An interesting aspect of Cameroon’s politics is that the military attempted four unsuccessful military coups in 1979, 1983, and February and April 1984.  The last two attempted coups were alleged to have been staged by military officers who were loyal or sympathetic to former President Ahidjo. As a result, the former head of state was tried for instigating the coups in absentia and found guilty.     This means that unlike many other African countries, Cameroon has never had a military regime in power.  Nonetheless, the country tilted towards a unitary system of government because the power-wielding elite opted to centralize political authority at the center to reduce divisiveness.  They did so by merging two governing political parties and some opposition groups in 1966.  Similarly, the ruling party was reconstituted as the Cameroon National Union (Union of National Cameroinaise), otherwise known as the UNC.  Then, it was renamed as the Reassemblement Democratique de people Camerounais (Cameroon’s Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM) or RDPC).

The Demand for Political Decentralization, Equity and Fairness in Governance

During the 1990s, there were a series of protests and demonstrations against one-party rule since it tended to concentrate political power at the center.  This led to the multiplication of political parties.  Despite the multiplication of political parties, the incumbent president, Mr. Paul Biya, was able to win various presidential elections handily, including those of 1992, 1997, 2004 and 2011(The Commonwealth, 2017, October 5). It should be noted that in 2008, President Biya abolished term limits, thereby, enabling him to run for office as the president without any constitutional restriction (Morse, 2017, June 2).

Even though Cameroon joined the British Commonwealth in 1995 as a result of the fact that it has an English-speaking population, nevertheless, Cameroon has operated as if it is a wholly French-speaking country, to the detriment of the Anglophone region.  Feeling neglected, marginalized and deprived, English-speaking Cameroonians started clamoring for a change or a restructuring of the country.   In particular, they insisted upon the equitable sharing of the oil wealth, which presently is lopsidedly in favor of the country’s majority French-speaking regions.  They also insisted upon changing the judicial system which is currently based on French language and legal traditions while ignoring English language and legal traditions (Vanguard, 2017, October 1).  They are particularly irked by the fact that Anglophone Cameroon courts are sometimes operated by French trained judges who have no understanding of British common law.  In addition, English-speaking students decry the fact that they are not given opportunity to take examinations in English (Morse, 2017, June 2).  They also decry the fact that there are too many French-speaking teachers in the Anglophone region that are not proficient in English.  The employment environment is very stifling to English-speaking Cameroonians who find it difficult to gain employment and join professional associations (Caxton, 2017, July 21).This makes English-speaking citizens feel like foreigners in their own country.  To solve some of the problems, the English-speaking citizens called upon the government to redeploy the French-speaking teachers and encourage more English-speaking teachers to be deployed in English-language schools.   In particular, the Anglophone Cameroonians want the reintroduction of a federation rather than a unitary system (Ibid.).

Like in many other African countries, Anglophone Cameroonian demand for restructuring of the country has been ignored or rejected by the political leadership and the French-speaking majority which assume that they have the political and military wherewithal to stop or prevent any major rebellion on the part of the English-speaking people from taking place.    Hence, protests have been met with harsh security measures.  The harsh security measures simply added fuel to the anger and the desire to restructure the country or separate the two parts. Hence, starting in late 2016, the crisis in the English-speaking regions escalated as the people demanded a restructuring or a rearrangement of the country.  Consequently, thousands of English-speaking Cameroonians, including students, teachers, lawyers and civil society organizations mounted demonstrations and strikes against discrimination (Morse, 2017, June2).  Due to the confrontations, the casualty rate is increasing. For instance, four protesters were killed in December 2016.  In another protest, 100 people were arrested and detained.   On October 1, 2017, a mass protest in the English-speaking North-West and South-West regions resulted in the death of 17 protesters as security forces used live bullets to disperse the protesters (Unh & Ojeme, 2018, February 2). In the effort to curtail rebellion in the English-speaking regions, the government went as far as banning internet communication for three months and proscribing two organizations.  It even arrested and charged the leaders of the two banned organizations with crimes bordering on terrorism.  It also instituted a temporary restriction on travel in both the Northwest and Southwest regions of the English-speaking zone (Nigerian Tribune, 2017, October 12).

As the conflict escalated, certain elements decided to opt for secession and are now demanding the separation of the English-speaking region from the French-speaking regions.  They call their region Ambazonia.  The demand for independence has increased confrontations between security forces and the separatists, thereby, resulting in armed resistance. The violent clashes have forced more than 40,000 English-speaking Cameroonians to flee their country and seek refuge in Nigeria.  Apparently, there are thousands of Cameroonians who are now in refugee camps in Nigeria.  In early January 2018, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, the leader of the separatists and other important members of the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC) were arrested in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, by Nigeria’s Department of State Service (DSS) while they were organizing a meeting to find ways of taking care of the thousands of English-speaking Cameroonians who left Cameroon to seek refuge in Nigeria (BBC, 2018, January 8). The arrests prompted human rights lawyers and advocates in Nigeria to demand the release of the individuals since they have a right to express their political opinions.  Similarly, the Amnesty International warned against repatriating the separatist leaders back to Cameroon by reminding Nigeria of its obligation to adhere to international law regarding human rights (Premium Times, 2018, January 12).  Sadly, Nigeria secretly repatriated the separatist leaders back to Cameroon, thereby, putting their lives in great danger.

Thus, the country is incrementally edging towards an uncontrollable civil war as an increasing number of English-speaking Cameroonians have joined the call for total separation from French- Cameroon.  As a result, the major cities in the English zone are now occupied by military and police forces.  Buea, the major city in Southwest Cameroon became a ghost town when separatists decided to symbolically declare independence on October 1, 2017.  This date was chosen for the symbolic declaration since it was the day that both the French-speaking and English-speaking regions amalgamated in 1961 (Vanguard, 2017, October 1).  It should be noted that Nigeria got its independence on October 1, 1960.  As the conflict spreads, even rural areas in the English-speaking zone are feeling the impact of the escalating conflict.  In many rural communities, people are running into the bushes to hide from Cameroon’s security forces that are desperately trying to stop the rebellion.

President Paul Biya, despite is old age, seems to have a total grip on power like a dictator, so much so that he rules Cameroon as a personal estate.  Strongly backed by the French-speaking Cameroonians, he holds cabinet meetings infrequently.  As a result, cabinet meetings are held two or three years apart.  The most recent cabinet meeting took place in March 2018 and the previous one was held in October 2015.  The cabinet meetings generally last for very short durations and the minutes of the meetings are rarely published (Premium Times, 2018, March 15).  Indeed, Cameroon operates like a personal colony of Mr. Biya and his ardent supporters.  He is free to do whatever he wants whenever he wants without much political consequence.  He takes vacations regularly in Switzerland.  In an attempt to appease the English-speaking region, he appointed two individuals from the region into top government positions and hopes that the effort would dampen the agitation for separation (Ibid.).

The Republic of Nigeria

Nigeria’s history is as convoluted as that of Cameroon, hence, it is not something to be admired.  Before 1914, the British had two major colonial possessions in the area. These two areas were known as the Southern Protectorate and the Northern Protectorate.  Even though the two protectorates were not compatible since one was increasingly Christian and traditional and the other was Islamic and traditional with pockets of Christianity, the colonial governor, Lord Frederick Lugard, amalgamated them in 1914 to establish Nigeria.  Due to the incompatibility of the two parts, Nigeria is like a snake with two-heads.  The Southern head looks towards Israel and the West and the northern head looks towards the East, particularly Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.  The Southern part is progressive and secularized while the northern part is theocratized and conservative with a proclivity towards doctrinaire Islamic orientation.  Southern Nigeria wants to be part of the twenty-first century while the Islamic North inclines towards the 13th and 19th centuries.  This accounts for why Nigeria dances in circles instead of dancing forward to embrace science and technology and become a major contributor to the world economy.

Apart from that, Nigeria also has a very dangerous internal colonial system in which one ethnic group waged a religious jihad over a century ago and conquered many indigenous ethnic groups in Northern and Southwest Nigeria to establish an Islamic Caliphate, thereby, making Nigeria a country within a country.  The caliphate operates almost like an independent state, resulting in perpetual domination of many indigenous ethnic groups which have been compelled to embrace the Sokoto Caliphate. Thus, all Nigerian Moslems, particularly the Sunnis, regard the Sokoto Caliphate as their politico-religious state. It is the leaders of the Sokoto Caliphate that are the principal wielders of power in Nigeria.

In addition, the 1946 constitution of Nigeria instituted by Sir Arthur Richards, the British colonial governor, tribalized and regionalized the country.  Dr/Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe prophetically stated:

Sir Arthur Richards deliberate demarcation of Nigeria into regions has paralysed our political hopes, anyway the fight is on.

As far as the three regions coincide with the three tribes, this Englishman has sown the seeds of tribalism and I am afraid whether our children or children’s children will be able to solve this problem.

As far as the sizes are unequal the largest one will take the smaller ones to ransom sooner or later (Benaebi Benatari, 2004 October 20).

 

Due to the convoluted nature of its creation and the regionalized constitution of 1946, Nigeria really never had the opportunity to congeal and develop a proper and effective sense of nationhood among the 200 to 300 ethnic groups.  Thus, as soon as the country supposedly gained independence, it divided into three major constituent parts, based upon the regional configuration of the three largest ethnic groups.  Hence, the Action Group (AG) dominated the Western Region, the Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC) dominated the Northern Region and the National Convention of Nigerians and the Cameroons, later changed to the National Convention of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) dominated the Eastern Region. Each major political party was closely aligned with the largest ethnic group in the region.  The minority ethnic groups were rendered politically faceless and powerless since they had to toe the lines of the major ethnic groups. Nevertheless, they established their own political parties to mobilize themselves to fight for political and economic rights.

The lack of a unified nationhood pitched the three major ethnic groups against each other with one or two aligning to weaken the other.  The structural imbalance and the political problems resulted in the attempted military coup of January 15, 1966, led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu.  The coup did not succeed but very important senior military officers and politicians from the North and the West were killed. In other words, the attempted coup led to the deaths of Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region, Chief Samuel Akintola, the Premier of the Western Region, Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Hafusat Ahmadu Bello, Mrs. Lateefat Ademulegun, Ahmed Ben Musa, and Ahmed Pategi. The attempted coup also resulted in the deaths of the most senior Nigerian Army officers from the Northern and Western regions, including Brig. Gen. Zakariya Maimalari, Brig. Gen. Samuel Ademulegun, Col. Kur Mohammed, Col. Ralph Shodiende, Lt. Co. James Pam,  and Lt. Col. Abogo Largema. Surprisingly, not a single politician from the Eastern Region died as a result of the abortive coup.  The only Eastern military officer who died was Lt. Col. Arthur Unegbu.  The aftermath of the coup led to the view that the coup was staged mostly by military officers from the Eastern Region, particularly Igboland.  Of course, it is now proven that the coup was a national effort involving military officers from various parts of the country and not only from Igboland.  Nevertheless, the perception that it was an Igbo attempt to dominate the country fanned the need to retaliate militarily against the East.  With tension very high in the country, Maj. Gen. Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi, the most senior military officer took over the leadership of the country as the first military head of state.  When he attempted to calm the situation by centralizing political authority through the enactment of Unification Decree #34, the North reacted, fearful of Igbo domination of Nigeria.  Hence, a bloody counter-coup was staged by officers mostly from the North in July 25, 1966.   The coup resulted in the deaths of many Southern military officers and soldiers, particularly from Igboland.  This was immediately followed by a violent northern mob which killed thousands of Southerners, mostly Igbos in the North.  Due to the depth of distrust, following the bloodbath in the Northern Region, the Federal Government and the Eastern Region’s leadership could not uphold agreements reached at the Aburi Conferences in Ghana.  The failure eventually resulted in the bloody Nigerian Civil War which started in July 1967 and ended in January 1970, in which more than a million people died.

The Emergence of the Islamic North as the Wielder of National Power

Following the success of the 2nd counter-coup of July 1966, the Islamic North, particularly the Hausa-Fulanis, emerged supreme as the wielders of power in Nigeria.  As a result, the North produced successive Nigerian military and political heads of state, including Gen. Yakubu Gowon (1966 -1975), Gen. Murtala Mohammed (1975-1976), Alhaji Shehu Shagari (1979 – 1983) Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (1983 -1985), Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (1985- 1993), Gen. Sani Abacha (1994 – 1998), Lt. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (1998 – 1999), the late President Umaru Yar”Adua (2007-2009) and the current president, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (2015 – present). The only exception to northern rule during this time was when Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (a Southerner) took over following the death of Gen. Murtala Mohammed in 1976, Chief Ernest Shonekan took over after the sudden departure of Gen. Babangida, following the June 12, 1993 presidential election fiasco, and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan took over after the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua. Evidently, the Northern region, particularly the Islamic North, consolidated its power and ended up creating the impression that it has the mandate from Britain to rule Nigeria. So, for all intent and purposes, a vast majority of Nigeria’s national policies are dictated and implemented based on the approval of the Islamic Northern Nigeria.

The northernization and Islamization of Nigeria took on an added significance when Maj. Gen. (rtd) Muhammadu Buhari became president in May 2015.  Since his ascension of the throne, Nigeria has increasingly looked like a country made up of only one or two ethnic groups as the Moslems from the North occupy all critical national government positions, in a country made up of 200 to 300 ethnic groups.  The other ethnic groups are being treated as vassals of the Hausa-Fulani ethnic groups.  For instance, under President Buhari, the  Minister of Defence, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Chief of Air Staff, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Minister of Internal Affairs, the Director of the Department of State Service, (DSS), Director of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Controller of Customs, Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Director of National Security Agency (NSA), Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Attorney General of Nigeria (AGN) and the Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are all Moslems from the North. In the national security area, only the Chief of Defense Staff and the Chief of Naval Staff are from the South and are non-Moslems.

Nigeria’s Rulers

The northern and Islamic presence, particularly by the Hausa-Fulanis, as the wielders of national power in Nigeria is so obvious to the extent that it is almost impossible for any Southern or Central Nigerian (Middle Belt) to stand on his or her own and contest for the presidency without a nod of approval from the Upper Islamic North.  Hence, when the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme wanted to contest as the flag bearer of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), he was not allowed, even after the NPN had agreed to rotate the presidency among the political zones.  During the June 12, 1993 presidential election, as soon as the late Chief Moshood Abiola, a southerner, appeared to be winning the majority of the votes, Gen. Babangida abrogated the election, thereby, preventing Chief Abiola from achieving an electoral victory to become the president of Nigeria.  Following the sudden departure of Gen Babangida as the military head of state due to the June 12, 1993 disaster, Chief Ernest Shonekan , a southerner, was made the head of a caretaker government.  It did not take up to a year before Gen. Abacha (a northerner) tactically kicked him out of the position and took over as the military head of state until his sudden death in 1998.  He was immediately replaced by another northern Moslem military general, Lt. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.

When the military decided to hand over power to a democratically elected civilian government in early 1999, the Southwest preferred the candidacy of Chief Olu Falae but the Upper North preferred the candidacy of Gen/Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.  Thus, it was Gen/Chief Obasanjo, a former military head of state who emerged as the first elected civilian head of state after the departure of the military in May 1999.  Similarly, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner, became president of Nigeria only because President Umaru Yar’Adua, a northerner, died while serving as the president.  While he was the president, many individuals from the Upper North openly declared that they would make the country ungovernable if President Jonathan contested for reelection in 2011 and in 2015.  He lost the presidential election of March 2015, to Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, a former military head of state from the Islamic North.

In fact, the Southwest, South-South, South-East and the Middle Belt want the country to be restructured in order to establish equity in the appointment of high-public officials, create accessibility to national political leadership positions and ensure a fair distribution of national resources. Currently, all major military and police facilities are located in the North.

Oil Wealth in Nigeria

The clearest example of the fact that Nigeria suffers from internal colonialism is that Nigeria depends greatly on wealth generated through petroleum and gas exploration.  In fact, since the early 1970s, Nigeria has largely depended upon the oil wealth.  The oil wealth is produced from the South-South and the South-East zones of the country.  However, since those who wield national power originate from the Non-Oil Producing zones, national policy and decision-making concerning oil and gas exploration and marketing are made by individuals who do not come from the Oil Producing Zones.  Consequently, of all the natural resources in the country, petroleum and gas are the most nationalized.  Individuals from the oil producing zones cannot engage in any form of oil exploration since it is the prerogative of the national government to do so.  On the other hand, minerals such as gold, gypsium, iron ore, lead/zinc, bentonite. Bitumen, coal, lignite, kyanite, columbite wolframite, bentonite, Baryte, magnesium, rutile, marble, tantalite and others are found in other zones of the country; as such, they are not as nationalized as oil and gas.  Apparently, individuals from those zone do engage in private exploration of these minerals.  The feeling in the oil region is that since the zone is marginalized, the citizens are powerless to effect a change in national policy concerning oil exploration

Another good example of the fact that Nigeria suffers from internal colonialism is that since the host communities in the oil producing zones insisted upon being compensated, the Petroleum Industry Bill PIB) which includes a provision for compensating oil-bearing communities,  languished in the National Assembly for 17 years before it was passed (Payne & Eboh, 2018, January 18).  A major reason for the delay was probably influenced by the fact that many legislators from the non-oil producing regions were not enthusiastic about compensating host communities while they needed the oil wealth to run their governments and develop their own states.  The fact remains that any legislation intended for the Northern sections of the country passes very quickly in the National Assembly. The saddest part of the internal colonial situation, as far as oil and gas is concerned, is that while the two resources are treated as national resources, oil stocks (blocks) are given to individuals.  So, in Nigeria, certain individuals are given oil blocks and they make tremendous amount of wealth for doing nothing.  Unfortunately, about 80% of the oil stocks are owned by Northern Nigerians while those from the oil region simply exist.  If the oil blocks were largely owned by individuals from the oil region, the privatization of the stocks would have been stopped by the national government. .

The unfairness in the management of oil and gas resources resulted in an armed opposition in the Niger Delta, starting in the late 1990s and ending in 2009.  Militant opposition to oil exploration stopped only after late President Yar’Adua initiated an Amnesty Program.  The Amnesty Program did not solve the fairness issue, hence, another group of armed youths, led by the Niger Delta Avengers, emerged in 2016 to destroy oil facilities, thereby, contributing to bringing down the economy before regional leaders negotiated with the Nigerian Government to pay attention to the oil region.  The Niger Delta/South-South is one of the most polluted oil regions in the world and the Federal Government of Nigeria does not seem to care about cleaning the mess.  The people are being exposed to biochemical pollutants daily and their health is being impacted negatively.

Violence and Terrorism 

Nigeria has experienced numerous incidents of kidnapping, armed robbery, violent outburst and terrorism.  However, it is detectable that even the Nigerian effort to tame these violent uprisings/incidents are also tactically determined by the political power structure in the country.  In particular, when former President Jonathan wanted to launch an effective military campaign to reduce Boko Haram’s violent attacks, he was accused of trying to kill Moslems and impose the South on the North.  At the time, many top politicians in the North felt that Boko Haram was fighting for Islamic interest in the country, hence, viewed the organization as a freedom fighting movement. As a major leader of a political party, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) insinuated that a war against the Boko Haram was a war against the North (Shiklam, 2013, June 4).  He defended the Boko Haram by asking “the Federal Government to stop clamp down of Boko Haram insurgents, saying Niger Delta militants were never killed or properties belonging to them destroyed” (PointBlank, 2013, June 2).  This allowed Boko Haram to strengthen its ability to inflict serious destruction in the Northeast region of the country.  Not until the organization started killing Moslems and destroying mosques in the North did many powerful individuals turned around to support a war against the organization.  Thus, the same individuals who accused the Jonathan’s administration of waging a war against the North, then, turned around to accuse the same administration of not doing enough to decimate the Boko Haram.

However, the most disturbing part of the Nigerian situation is the unwillingness of the Buhari administration in declaring violent cattle herders as terrorists even though the Global Terrorism Index had characterized the Fulani herdsmen as the fourth deadliest terrorist organization in the world in 2015.  The Federal Government is not eager in curbing the violence perpetrated by the marauding herdsmen who have killed thousands of Nigerians.  All regions of the country have been affected by the violence perpetrated by the herdsmen.   However, the Middle Belt (Central Nigeria) and the southern part of Kaduna State seem to bear the brunt of the killings and destruction of communities. Some Nigerians hypothesized that the Federal Government does not want to take decisive action against the herdsmen because they are Fulanis.  The Fulanis are the foremost power-wielders in Nigeria, hence, there is hesitancy in doing anything about them.

On the other hand, the Federal Government under President Buhari did not waste time in proscribing the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in the South-East zone after the group threatened to conduct a referendum to determine whether the zone should secede as the Republic of Biafra.  Thus, IPOB that has never gone on a killing spree was immediately declared by the Federal Government of Nigeria as a terrorist organization while the deadly herdsmen that have killed thousands of Nigerians in a Janjaweed-style operations, are viewed by the same government as a bunch of mere criminals, even though the entire nation is horrified by the wanton killings of innocent people by the herdsmen. In fact, on January 1st, 2018, the herdsmen launched a violent attack in Benue state resulting in the killing of 73 people.  Even then, the Federal Government remained nonchalant.  This forced Southern Nigerian leaders who were meeting in Enugu to call upon the Federal Government of Nigeria to declare the herdsmen as terrorists. Instead of doing so, both the Minister of Defense and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), maintained that the passing of laws banning open grazing for cows is responsible for the rampage perpetuated by the herdsmen even though it is an historical fact that herdsmen have been attacking farmers and various communities over grazing rights even before the passing of grazing laws.  Moreover, it is a fact that herdsmen have invaded, attacked, killed and destroyed communities in states that have no open grazing laws.  In other words, both the Minister of Defense and the Inspector of General Police are not bothered by the Janjaweed-style of attacks perpetrated by the herdsmen in the country.   This probably contributes to the reason why the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force are rarely deployed before herdsmen launch their attacks.  These security forces are mostly deployed after the herdsmen have carried out deadly attacks against farming communities, perhaps, to prevent the indigenes from carrying out retaliatory attacks against the herdsmen.  So, Nigeria is like Darfur in Sudan, as the herdsmen run amok. Since the January 1, 2018 attack in Benue State, no week has gone by without some Nigerians being killed by herdsmen.  The refusal of the Federal Government to act decisively has led some Nigerians to speculate that the herdsmen are the foot soldiers of a well-articulated plan to Islamize Nigeria.

Due to the perception that the Hausa-Fulanis are the wielders of national power, the Federal Government has hesitated to deploy military forces against Fulani herdsmen, despite their bloody escapades.  Even when it is known that they are mobilizing to launch attacks, the military and the police forces are not ordered to stop them.  Hence, in Agatu in Benue State and Nimbo in Enugu State, both the police and the army did not act until after the herdsmen had carried out their deadly attacks.  On the other hand, the Federal Government did not waste a minute in deploying the military to stop IPOB in the Southeast zone, as indicated above.  Similarly, the Federal Government did not hesitate to launch military exercises in the South-South and Southwest regions.  In March 2017, when some Yorubas and Hausas clashed in the ancient city of Ife in the Southwest zone, resulting in the death of 46 and wounding of 96 people,  the Nigerian Police Force only arrested and paraded the Yoruba suspects and not the Hausas who participated in the violent clash (Omonobi, 2017, march 21).  Similarly, when leaders of northern youth groups ordered the Igbos to evacuate the North, the Nigerian Government did not threaten to arrest them.  Instead, the Attorney General of the country informed the Nigerian public that the police decided not to arrest the youth leaders, fearful that such arrest could have triggered violence in the North (The Guardian, 2017, june 7).  Yet, the Federal Government does not hesitate to arrest IPOB members in the Southeast and youths from the South-south.  If youth leaders from the South had issued an evacuation notice, the Federal Government would have mobilized the Army and the Police to have them arrested and detained.  Meanwhile, Boko Haram members who have been captured by the security forces are routinely released on the ground that they have been rehabilitated.

Third, Cameroon and Nigeria are facing crises of internal colonialism where one or two ethnic groups and regions, supported by former European colonial powers, dominate and impose their will on other ethnic groups and regions

Based on the brief discussion of Cameroonian and Nigerian political issues, it is inferable that the two countries are dancing to the same political tune.  Just as the English-speaking Cameroonians have for decades demanded a restructuring of the country, Southern and Central Nigerians too have been demanding a restructuring of Nigeria.  The reason is that the issues affecting the closely related neighbors are very similar in nature and scope.  In Cameroon, English speakers decry the fact that they are discriminated and shut out of the government and in the distribution of national resources, especially the oil wealth.  In Nigeria, Southern Nigerians maintain that since the second military coup of July 1966, the Islamic North has dominated the country.  As a result, Southern Nigerians are only able to rule the country through accidental circumstances.

In Nigeria, the oil wealth is located in regions that do not wield political power.  However, just as the oil wealth is not distributed fairly in Cameroon, so, it is in Nigeria.  In Nigeria, oil and gas are regarded as national resources but the oil stocks (blocs/shares) are given to individuals.  The regions that produce the oil wealth in Nigeria gets very little.  In Cameroon too, it is those from the French-speaking regions that benefit most from the oil wealth.  Just as there is poverty and underdevelopment in Nigeria’s oil region, there is poverty and underdevelopment in Cameroon’s English-speaking oil region.

As English-speaking Cameroonians demand restructuring, Southern and Central (Middle Belt) Nigerians too are demanding restructuring. In fact, Nigerians, especially the minority ethnic groups started demanding the restructuring of the country even before independence when they requested the creation of states during the Willink’s Commission Hearings in 1957 and 1958. In February, 1966, Isaac Boro and his colleagues took up arms and declared the Niger Delta Republic to inform the country about the unhappy state of affairs in the region.  Following the bloodbath after the second military coup of July 1966, the country spiraled downwards, culminating in the bloody civil war as the Eastern Region attempted to secede as the Republic of Biafra.  Again, like in Cameroon in which the political leadership and those who wield power refuse to listen to the call for changes or a rearrangement, Nigeria’s leadership and those who wield power too have been unwilling to listen. Hence, since 2016, the call for Biafran secession has been reenergized, just as some English-speaking Cameroonians now call for the establishment of the Republic of Ambazonia.

The government of Cameroon declared two organizations that demanded restructuring as terrorist movements and had their leaders detained, Nigeria too declared the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, an organization dedicated to the secession of the Southeast region of the country as Biafra as a terrorist organization and had its leader, Nnamdi Kanu detained.  Just as Cameroon flooded the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions of the country with security forces (military and police), Nigeria too flooded the Southeast and South-South zones of the country with security forces (military and police).  It launched Operation Python Dance and Operation Crocodile Smile 1 and II in an attempt to stop the secessionists and those who oppose oil exploration in the oil region.  In response to the violent clashes between herdsmen and farming communities, Nigeria launched a military exercise code-named  “Ayem A’Kpatuma (Cat race) “ in Central Nigeria.  However, the indigenous Nigerian ethnic groups, especially the Tivs, accused the Nigerian Army of colluding with the herdsmen to kill members of indigenous communities (Jannah, 2018, February 22). The governor and community leaders in Taraba State too have made the same allegation against the Nigerian military.  The allegations have been corroborated by Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), the former Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Defence Staff of Nigeria, who called upon Nigerians to arm and defend themselves (Mamah, E. & et al, 2018, March 26).

Just as the judicial system is tilted in favor of the French-speaking zones of Cameroon, in Nigeria too, the judicial system is tilted in favor of the Islamic North.  In fact, throughout Nigeria’s history, the Islamic North has dominated the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Court.   In Cameroon, English-speaking Cameroonians are subjected to the French legal tradition, hence, depriving them of the ability to get a fair trial.

As Cameroon increasingly move towards a violent confrontation, Nigeria too is increasingly heading towards an armed confrontation.  Almost every ethnic group in Nigeria today has an armed wing ready to defend the interests of the ethnic group.  As the separatists in Cameroon insist on the Republic of Ambazonia, Nigerian groups too are gradually inching towards a point of no-return if the Federal Government keeps insisting that there would be no restructuring.  Thus, as Cameroonian security forces pour into English-speaking regions to stop the separatist movement. Nigerian security forces too are constantly mobilized to patrol the Southern regions of the country.  As a result, many Southern Nigerians increasingly view Nigeria’s security forces as occupation forces since the military institution has been extensively northernized and Islamized.

It is noteworthy that in both countries, those who wield power insist on maintaining the status quo even though there is extensive dissatisfaction with the current situation.  In Cameroon, French-speaking citizens insist on maintaining the status because they currently wield power.  In Nigeria, it is the Islamic North, particularly the Hausa-Fulanis, who oppose restructuring and insist on maintaining the status quo.  In both Cameroon and Nigeria, the power-wielding groups strongly believe that they are capable of using the security forces to clamp down on those who seek restructuring. It is not surprising that the Federal Government of Nigeria decided to hand over Cameroon’s separatist leaders who took refuge in the country back to Cameroon.  This means that the power-wielding group in Nigeria is working closely with the power-wielding group in Cameroon to ensure that their hold on power is not threatened.

Fourth, due to the continuation of the colonial system, it is fallacious to refer to modern African states as “post-colonial” nations at the present time.

African states, including Cameroon and Nigeria are not “post-colonial” states because they have not moved away from the colonial era.   Indeed, they continue to operate and perpetuate the colonial system in the following ways:

  1. Before the supposed granting of independence, the European powers ruled over their colonial possessions directly by superimposing their will upon the traditional African states and governments.  During this time, the African people were answerable to the external colonial authorities.  This period is known as “external colonialism” because foreign powers ruled over their African colonial creations directly.

 

  1. Having supposedly granted independence to the African states, the European powers continued to pull the political strings according to their strategic interests. As a result, in most African countries, political and military powers were handed over to certain individuals, ethnic groups and regions which were most likely to maintain and perpetuate the colonial system.  This is why even in the twenty-first century, no effort has been made by African leaders to readjust territorial boundaries that were arbitrarily established by European powers.  Moreover, African political leaders who took over power on supposed independence, continued to maintain the same political, governmental, judicial, educational, economic and security (military, police and intelligence) systems that the European colonial masters left behind.  The colonial powers also made sure that the so called independent states continue to maintain and perpetuate the same foreign policies that they bequeathed to their former colonies.

 

  1. Likewise, the colonial powers compelled the so-called independent African states to join political, economic and military associations or alliances that reinforce the strategic interests of the former colonial masters. This is why almost all the English-speaking countries that the British created as colonies in Africa continue to be members of the British Commonwealth.  Similarly, all the French-speaking countries that were created by the French and Belgians continue to be members of the French Community.  When Guinea, under Sekou Toure, refused to join the French Community, France punished the country severely.

 

  1. Due to the colonial umbrella in the form of the British Commonwealth and the French Community, the former colonial powers continue to intervene politically, economically and militarily in the affairs of the former colonies by rewarding and punishing those entities that are perceived as either friends or enemies to the colonial system. Hence, even a large country like Nigeria experiences all forms of British intervention. The most recent being the 2015 presidential election in which Britain and United States greatly influenced the outcome because they wanted the incumbent president to vacate the position.  Cameroon does not even pretend to hide its pro-France political orientation.

 

  1. To ensure that their influence remain in their former colonies, before they handed over power to the indigenous political leaders of the colonies, the European powers made sure that certain individuals from certain ethnic groups and regions maintain power. This is why on independence, those ethnic groups and regions that received favorable status emerged as the power-wielding groups in the African states.  The members of these ethnic groups and regions continue to dominate the politics, government, economy, and the security forces, so much so that they end up marginalizing, depriving and under-developing other ethnic groups and regions. Thus, throughout black Africa today, the territories of the favored ethnic groups and regions seem to have the highest level of infrastructural development.  Similarly, the members of those ethnic groups and regions seem to enjoy the resources of the state much more than members of other ethnic groups and regions.  This form of control is known as internal colonialism.

 

However, it must be stated that in Nigeria, the Islamic North has the lowest literacy rate even though its military and political leaders dominate Nigeria. On the other hand, Southern and Central Nigeria have the highest educational rate in the country.  Similarly, poverty seems to be much higher in the North than in the South. This is why some Northern political elites have argued that even though northern military and political leaders ruled the country for decades, it is southern Nigeria that has actually benefited the most and not the North. In Cameroon, the Francophone zone dominates every aspect of the country. However, like in Nigeria, Northern Cameroon has higher rate of illiteracy and poverty than Southern Cameroon.

As can be seen, “external colonialism” was immediately replaced by “internal colonialism.”  This means that European colonialism was replaced by internal African colonialism, in which one or two ethnic groups and or regions dominate each modern African country and render the other ethnic groups and regions powerless, frustrated and angry.  This is why it is maintained here that it is inappropriate to refer to the current status of African states as “post-colonial “era since they are still experiencing colonialism. Cameroonians and Nigerians suffer from internal colonialism in so many ways. This contributes immeasurably to the inability of Nigeria to grow and become a prosperous industrial nation like South Korea, China, Singapore, and so on and so forth.  It takes one step forward and two steps backward due to distrust, frustration, and mismanagement of state resources.  Cameroon, like other African countries, also suffer from the same situation, like Nigeria. Added to that is that Cameroon is more like a one-man political plantation.

In examining the Nigerian and Cameroonian political situations, one is struck by the difference in behavior between Nigerian and Cameroonian citizens.  While Nigeria has encountered numerous successful military coups, innumerable abortive military coups, bloody riots, violent uprisings and a very bloody civil war, Cameroon seems to have escaped such volcanic eruptions of political emotions until recently.

While no English-speaking Cameroonian has ruled the country, the three Southerners who have ruled Nigeria did so through circumstantial accidents of fate.  Maj. Gen. Johnson Aquiyi Ironsi (a southerner) became the first military head of state as a result of an abortive military coup in January 1966.  Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, (a southerner) became a military head of state only after Gen. Murtala Mohammed had been killed in an abortive military coup in 1976. Chief Earnest Shonekan of the Southwest became president of Nigeria momentarily only after Gen. Ibrahim Babangida had been forced out of power following the June 12 1993 presidential election fiasco.  Dr. Goodluck Jonathan became president because President Musa Yar’Adua died while in office.

It is clear that Africa is still under colonialism, hence, it is inappropriate to refer to the present political period of the continent as the post-colonial era.  The colonial era still remains because external colonialism was immediately replaced by internal colonialism as soon as the European powers left the continent.  Internal colonialism is as vicious as external colonialism.  In some cases, ii is even more harmful than external colonialism.   The Rwandan massacre was a product of the struggle generated by internal colonialism.  The same could be said of the Nigerian, Liberian, Ivorian, Sudanese, Ugandan, Congolese (both Congos), Libyan, Algerian, Malian and Central African civil wars.  Thus, many bloody conflicts in Africa are caused by indigenous African political leaders and their ethnic and regional backers who cling to power as if they are mandated by God to rule for ever.

Another way to indicate that Africa, particularly black Africa, has not moved away from the colonial period is that internal colonialists work in tandem with the former external colonialists.  In fact, indigenous African political and military leaders, ethnic groups and regions which claim that they have a mandate to rule often justify their positions by maintaining that the former European colonial powers handed over the mantle of leadership of the African countries to them on independence, hence, they have a right to rule and dominate their states.  There is no doubt that French-speaking Cameroonians believe that they have a right to rule because France handed over power to them. Similarly, Northern Nigerian Islamic leaders, particularly the Hausas and Fulanis, tend to believe that they have a mandate to rule Nigeria because Britain handed over Nigeria to them.  This is why the Islamic North has produced most Nigerian leaders.  This also accounts for why Southern Nigerians can only become leaders of Nigeria through the sanction of Northern political and religious leadership.

Thus, in almost every modern African state, the political and military leaders are tactically supported by the former external colonial masters.  Political and military leaders who do not dance to the musical tunes of the former external colonialists are easily butted out of office and replaced with chosen individuals who are favorably disposed to the strategic interests of the former external colonial masters.  Consequently, colonialism continues to exist in Africa.  It is internal colonialism that is responsible for the perpetuation of the “rule for life syndrome” in the continent.  It also contributes to the zero-sum manner in which politics is played.  Hence, when Southern and Middle Belt Nigerians insist on restructuring, Islamic Northern Nigerians tend to disagree and insist on maintaining the status quo.  This is why President Buhari continues to insist on the slogan “Nigeria is indivisible.”  Similarly, when English-speaking Cameroonians insist on restructuring of the country, French-speaking Cameroonians disagree and insist on maintaining the status quo.

 

Conclusion

For Cameroon, the onus of sustaining a united, progressive and viable democratic country lies with the French-speaking citizens.  Similarly, the onus of sustaining a united, progressive and viable Nigeria lies with the political and military leaders of Islamic Northern Nigeria.  Those who wield power in these two countries must act fast to address the multitude of issues that are causing resentment and restlessness among those groups which feel marginalized and discriminated.  Otherwise, Cameroon and Nigeria could disintegrate.  Already, in Cameroon, tension is very high as English-speaking citizens insist on restructuring or go their separate ways.  In fact, thousands of Cameroonians have fled to Nigeria to escape a potential civil war as some English-speaking Cameroonians resist the status quo militantly.  Similarly, Southern and Central Nigerians are no longer believing and trusting the leadership of the country.  The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that the Federal Government of Nigeria, under President Buhari, has been unwilling to take proactive security measures to contain the rampaging cattle herders who have inflicted destruction and death on thousands of innocent Nigerians.

The notion that one or two groups have a birthright to lord over other ethnic groups and or regions is unacceptable, considering the fact that the Europeans left Africa after colonizing the continent.  If the Europeans were able to let go, there is no reason why any African ethnic group or region can justify the view that it has a perpetual right to dominate other ethnic groups and regions.  Similarly, it is unacceptable when some African leaders and the ethnic groups and regions which back them to say that their countries are “indivisible” despite glaring iniquities in the distribution of political power and national resources.  Moreover, the issue of indivisibility is negated, considering the fact that these African states were established through wars of aggression by foreign powers. Thus, there is no justification whatsoever for any political leader or ethnic group or region to insist on maintaining the status quo in Nigeria or Cameroon or elsewhere in the African continent when these countries have many structural and institutional problems necessitated by their forceful incorporation. It is indeed hypocritical for some Africans to criticize Europeans for colonizing them and then turn around to say it is perfectly alright for one or two African ethnic groups or regions to colonize other African ethnic groups and regions.

If change or restructuring does not take place, then, there is no reason why other arrangements cannot be initiated.  After all, Russia became part of the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union disintegrated and all the former members of the union are now separate countries.  So, Russia has been rejuvenated as the Russian Federation.  Britain decided to leave the European Union.  Scotland and Wales are considering whether to leave the United Kingdom or not.  If Europeans can recreate themselves, why can’t Cameroonians and Nigerians recreate themselves if the existing arrangements continue to fail in meeting the aspirations of all the groups that constitute Cameroon and Nigeria?

To manage the unfolding crises, Cameroon can carefully look at the Canadian and Swiss political systems to fine-tune its political system and make it more representative, democratic and fair.  Nigeria too can do the same by looking at political arrangements that accommodate diversity and ensure equal representation.  Alternatively, Nigeria can adopt the recommendations of the 2014 Constitutional Conference.  If these two suggestions are not satisfactory enough, then, the two countries should hold a national referendum or a National Convention to reshape themselves and become more viable.

Indeed, “Post-colonialism” will take place when the colonially-induced African countries are restructured or reformed or rearranged to reflect their unique African character.

 

 

References

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Cattle Colonies in Nigeria:  The economic, cultural, religious, political and military implications

Cattle Colonies in Nigeria:  The economic, cultural, religious, political and military implications

By Priye S. Torulagha

 

The Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, puts on a very calm face while trying to convince Nigerians about the necessity of establishing cattle colonies.  He strongly believes that cattle colonies is the way to go in order to drastically reduce incessant violent confrontations between cattle herders and farmers. To further calm the nerves of Nigerians who believe that the cattle colony idea is simply a strategic tactic to Fulanize and Islamize Nigeria, the honorable minister added “Cattle colony is not using herdsmen to colonise any state.  It is going to be done in partnership with state governments that will like to volunteer land for it.  The federal government will fund the project and those wishing to benefit from it will pay some fees.”

He further justifies the need for the establishment of cattle colonies by implying that such exclusive settlements would result in increasing the agricultural yield of meat and milk production.  Ordinarily, his reasons for justifying the nationalization of the cattle business seems harmless, however, the consequences of the proposition are far-reaching.  It is argued here that “cattle colony” is a euphemism for the Islamization of Nigeria.

Thus, the purpose of this write-up is to identify the potential economic, cultural, religious, political and military implications of establishing cattle colonies in Nigeria.

Economic Implications

First, the cattle business is a private enterprise carried out by individuals and groups of individuals to enhance their economic wherewithal.  They are in the cattle business to make profit and prosper.

Second, the profit they make in selling and buying cattle is not passed unto the general public as a form of public good to enhance the general welfare of the citizens.  The reason is that it is purely a private enterprise.

Third, the cattle business is primarily dominated by members of a particular ethnic group, the Fulanis.  Thus, the cattle business to the Fulanis is like the retail trade business to the Igbos, Hausas, Yorubas and Urhobos, fishing business to the Ijaws, Ibibios, Itsekiris, and Ilajes, cocoa business to the Yorubas and farming business to the entire Nigerian farming population.

Fourth, the cattle are actually owned by very rich and powerful individuals in Nigerian society.  They exploit the nomadic Fulanis to take care of the cows.  It does not make sense for the Federal Government of Nigeria to subsidize an industry dominated by very rich and powerful individuals who have the financial wherewithal to buy or rent land to establish ranches, as in other parts of the world.

Fifth, if the Federal Government subsidizes the establishment of cattle colonies throughout the country by taking land from their rightful owners, will meat consumption be subsidized to the Nigerian public since the government will be using public funds to subsidize a particular private business that benefits one ethnic group the most?

Sixth, why is the Federal Government so interested in subsiding and promoting a business that is primarily dominated by a particular ethnic group?

Seventh, the Nigerian Constitution guarantees every Nigerian equal rights, justice and fairness.  Therefore, if the Federal Government subsidizes the cattle business, will it also subsidize other businesses owned by Nigerians.  In other words, if the Federal Government subsidies the establishment of cattle colonies, will it also subsidize pig colonies, chicken colonies, retail trade colonies, fishing colonies and farming colonies in order to ensure equal treatment for all Nigerian businesses?

Eight, if the federal government does not intend to establish colonies for other businesses, it might create the impression that the cattle business is being subsidized because it is operated by Fulanis and the president is a Fulani.  In the event of such a perception, Nigerians are likely to imply that the Minister of Agriculture is bent on establishing cattle colonies because the president is a Fulani and the Fulanis are the power-wielders in Nigeria, hence, they can do whatever they want through the exploitation of the national government. It could also lead to the feeling that the Nigerian government is being exploited by rich and powerful individuals who actually own most of the cattle that the Fulani nomads manage daily. In this case, Nigerians could hypothesized that the president is assisting powerful cattle owners to exploit the Nigerian people.

If such a perception were to take place, hostility towards the Fulanis and rich cattle owners might increase, leading to resistance against the Federal Government.

Ninth, which group will have the right to own the lands in which the colonies would be located?  Will the host communities continue to be the rightful owners of the lands or the cattle operators or the Federal Government?  There is a great possibility that the settlers might argue in the future that the lands (catle colonies) were awarded to them by the Federal Government, hence, the lands are legally theirs.

Tenth, a cattle colony, as Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development envisaged, will take a lot of land because he is proposing cattle colonies that might include five to ten ranches in each colony.  This means that as soon as a land has been allocated for a cattle colony, the original owners of the land might forfeit their right to use the land for farming.

Cultural Implications

First, culturally, the proposed cattle colony concept in Nigeria is un-African.  Traditionally, in Sub-Saharan Africa, every piece of territorial space is associated with a particular ethnic group or tribe.   This means that every ethnic group has a right to make decisions about its territory, regardless of the government in power.  Thus, in Nigeria, there is a Yoruba territory, Igbo territory, Hausa territory, Tiv territory, Junkun territory, Igala territory, Ijaw territory, Ibibio territory, Itsekiri territory, Edo/Bini territory, Nupe territory, Kanuri territory, Ikwerre territory, Ogoni territory, Isoko Territory, Bachama territory, and so on and so forth.  In Africa, there is a Masai territory, Akan territory, Ewe territory, Mande territory, Zulu territory, Shona territory, Somali territory, Acholi territory, Kongo territory, Tuareg territory, Berber territory, Fulani territory and so on and so forth.  Here again, every group makes decisions about its territory without interference by another ethnic group.

Second, under African tradition, when an individual from a particular ethnic group visits and or lives in the territory of another ethnic group, the individual must and is expected to respect the customs and traditions of the host group.  Thus, an Ijaw person cannot go to Hausaland to dictate to the Hausas what they should do and not do about their territory and vice versa.  Continentally, it is considered offensive, provocative and insulting for one ethnic group to want to dominate other ethnic groups by attempting to take over land surreptitiously for its own private economic interest. Of course, it is understandable that occasionally, territorial neighbors do fight over a piece of land. However, it is entirely a different story when the national government tries to impose a particular ethnic group on other ethnic groups through land colonization.

Third, in Africa, the land is associated with the ancestors, therefore, it is treated as a sacred gift from them to the living.   Governments have to be sensitive to this cultural reality.  If the culture is violated, then, soon or later, governments would begin to seize or force people to give up their ancestral lands for political reasons.  It is culturally unacceptable for Nigerian government to attempt to persuade Nigerian ethnic groups to give up large parcels of their lands for the private business interest of a particular ethnic group.

Fourth, even though the Land Use Decree vested the governors of the states with the authority to supervise the management of state lands, the decree is unlawful and un-African in the sense that it was passed by a dictatorial military regime.  The military regime did not allow Nigerians to determine whether they want to cede the authority of their lands to the governors.  The governors, whether they are military or civilian, cannot be trusted since they are political animals that could easily be forced through political circumstances to compromise against the interest of the people, as the governor of Plateau State tried to do by supporting cattle colonies in his state without consulting the people first.  Again, in African culture, the land belongs to the ancestors and the living must preserve the land for future generations. It is a sacred duty for almost every ethnic in the continent to treat the land as a sacred gift.

Fifth, this being the case, the “ cattle colony” idea is a proposition by the Federal Government of Nigeria, requesting the 200 to 299 ethnic groups in the country to provide land space for members of a particular ethnic group and cattle business owners to settle and colonize.  If cattle colonies are allowed, this means that out of the multitudes of ethnic groups in Nigeria, one particular ethnic group, the Fulani, will have settlements in the territories of almost every ethnic group in the country.  On the other hand, the other ethnic groups would not be able to spread their business practices with support of the Federal Government to the Hausa-Fulani region of the country.

Such a development could lead to Fulani colonization of entire Nigeria. If that were to take place, it means that other ethnic groups would eventually have to forgo their own cultures, beliefs, traditions and adopt Fulani ways since the Fulanis currently are the premier power-wielding group in Nigeria. They are the only people in the country that continue to perpetuate a politico-religious state that was created through aggressive military conquest and domination of other Nigerian ethnic groups.  Thus, the Hausas and the Yorubas of Kwara State are still under Fulani colonialism, even in the twenty-first century.

There Is no doubt that due to the tremendous political power that the Fulanis wield in Nigeria, especially under the present administration, they would use coercive instruments of the national government to impress upon other ethnic groups to adopt Islamic ways and forgo their traditional cultures.

Sixth, generally, it is culturally unacceptable in traditional African culture for members of one ethnic group to attack and humiliate the traditional leaders of other ethnic groups, especially when there is no war officially declared war between them.  Already, some traditional rulers have paid with their lives for opposing cattle grazing in their lands in Delta, Benue, Plateau and Taraba States and possibly Southern Kaduna.   Such unprovoked attacks in the past would have led to major intertribal wars. It is also a known fact that a major Yoruba leader and the former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falea, has been attacked two or three times by herdsmen.  In one occasion, he was actually kidnapped by cattle herders.  In the most recent attack, they burnt his farm and destroyed many crops.  This means that the herders have no respect for other ethnic groups.

Despite the seriousness of the unprovoked attacks on farming communities, the Federal Government has been unwilling to take proactive measures to clamp down on the herders.  Many Nigerians hypothesized that the cattle herders are able to act with impunity because their man is the leader of the country.  Moreover, since almost all the security chiefs are members of their ethnic group, they are able to get away with launching violent acts against other Nigerians.  In fact, the Federal Minister of Defense, Mansur Dan-Ali blames anti-open grazing laws that some states have instituted for forcing the herdsmen to launch violent attacks (Sani Tukur, Premium Times, January 25, 2018).  The minister ignores the fact that herdsmen’s attacks preceded the enactment of the anti-open grazing laws.  If members of other ethnic groups were openly threatening, killing and destroying members of other communities the way the herders have been doing, the Nigerian Army would have been deployed to stop them.

Religious Implications

The religious implications of granting cattle colonies throughout Nigeria to cattle business operators is far reaching. The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, cleverly avoids discussing the potential religious conflicts that cattle colonies might generate throughout the country and focus only on the agricultural impact of managing cattle herding.  The potential religious conflicts are enormous.

First, Nigeria is a multi-religious country characterized by African Ancestralism, Christianity and Islam.  To ensure that Nigerians worship their chosen religions freely, the country adopts a secular-humanistic approach, so, there is no governmental imposition of religion.  This means that a traditionalist is free to worship Ancestralism just as a Moslem is free to worship Islam and a Christian is free to worship Christianity.  The arrangement could be jeopardized if cattle colonies are created nationally.

Second, if cattle colonies are created in the 36 states, this means that the Fulanis will have territorial space in every state of Nigeria.  As their numbers in the colonies multiply, they would expand to make way for other Fulanis, particularly nomads from other parts of Africa to come in.  As their population expands, they would build mosques in the cattle colonies and bring in religious priests (Imams and mullahs) to preach and mobilize them to expand even further.  Thus, in the midst of Ancestral and Christian territories will be Islamic enclaves.

Third, with a sizable population in the cattle colonies, the cattle herders would insist that since they are Moslems, they are not subjected or obligated to the territorial, cultural and religious beliefs and practices of the ethnic groups which own the territories in which their cattle colonies are located.  Instead, they are likely to insist that since they are predominantly Moslems, they are citizens of the Sokoto Caliphate and are obligated to it and not to the ethnic groups whose lands they occupy.  This argument has already been propounded by Prof. Umar Labdo Muhammad when he said:

Benue State belongs to the Fulani by right of conquest.  This isbecause half of the state is part of the Bauchi Emirate and the other half is part of the Adamawa Emirate.  Benue is therefore, part and parcel of the Sokoto Caliphate.” (Daily Post, 2018, January).

Fourth, as their population increases in the cattle colonies, they are likely to turn their goal from that of cattle raising to attempt to spread and convert the indigenes to embrace their religion and forsake  Ancestralism and Christianity. To facilitate the process, they are likely to seek assistance from other Moslem groups to advance their cause.  This eventually will lead to very violent religious conflicts.  This prediction is quite possible because the Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, had given the command to spread Islam throughout Nigeria when he said:

The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather, Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as conquered territories and never allow them to rule over us or have control over their future.” (Sir Ahmadu Bello October 12, 1960)

Moreover, President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2001, committed himself to spreading the Sharia throughout Nigeria when he said:

I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to

the  Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria.  God willing, we

we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of Sharia in

the (Omokri, 2018, January 17).

Fifth, since the Fulanis are not shy about announcing to the world that they conquered the indigenous Nigerian ethnic groups to establish the Sokoto Caliphate, they would not hesitate to declare a jihad and force all the groups in Nigeria to embrace their religion by force.  The reason is that they are not afraid of provoking other ethnic groups with their conquering mentality, as shown by the cattle herders who now roam the country to destroy farm lands and kill farmers who oppose them.  Already, the herdsmen are operating like the Janjaweed of Sudan by ruthlessly attacking and killing Nigerians in their communities.

Sixth, the possibility of the above prediction taking place is not far-fetched since the Federal government appears to have been Islamized by President Buhari.  It is a fact that the entire Nigerian national security system today is led by Moslems.  It is also a fact that all important federal government positions are held by Moslems.  This means that if the Fulanis in the cattle colonies feel threatened in any form or manner, the machinery of the national government would be utilized to protect the cattle colonies and their human inhabitants by punishing those who threaten them.  This has already happened since the Nigerian Army today is no longer the Nigeria Army that Nigerians are used to.   It is increasingly looking and operating like a foreign military force in the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria.  The reason is that all critical positions in the armed forces are held by Moslems.  Today, it is not an exaggeration to refer to the Nigerian Army as the Army of the Islamic Northern Nigeria. Its interests are increasingly pro-Islamic Northern Nigeria. Thus, Middle Belt and Southern Nigerian soldiers serve at the mercy of Islamic soldiers who make substantive policy decisions about the organization. This is why Southern and Middle Belt military officers rarely speak publicly anymore.  They simply perform their assignments and remain quite.

Seventh, it is quite possible that as soon as the colonies are established, the Federal Government might create special military units to guide and protect them.  With such tactical military support, the cattle herders would be emboldened to increase their population and expand their colonizing tendencies.

Eighth, it is amazing that the Federal government rarely deploys the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force to prevent herdsmen’s attacks against farming communities.  The security forces are only deployed after the attacks have taken place.  On the other hand, whenever cattle herders are threatened with counterattack or are attacked, the federal Government responds very quickly by sending the Nigerian Army, Airforce and the police.  So, the political situation in Nigeria today is akin to the situation in “Animal Farm” where all Nigerians are equal but some Nigerians are more superior to other Nigerians.  For instance, before the Agatu and Nimmo attacks, it was widely published that herdsmen were mobilizing to attack these communities, yet, the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police did not mobilize to prevent the herdsmen from mobilizing and launching their violent attacks.  Even before recent attacks in Dangaji, Unguwar Gajere, Birningwari in Southern Kaduna State, Gazabu, Kungana, Tukun Ruwa, Utsua Daa and Kpenkpen villages in Taraba State and Tomatar, Uemnge, Akor village, Ayilama. Turan, Ngambe-Yiev in Benue States, it was widely known that the attackers were mobilizing to launch attacks, yet, the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force were not sent to prevent the attacks.  Again, only after the attacks had taken place before the security forces were sent. It was reported in the news that even after three weeks following the massacre of 72 people in Benue State, the police units sent to the area are not sufficiently reinforced to prevent further attacks on Benue communities.  Ass a result, many displaced individuals have opted not to return to their communities because it is not safe.  Even the police units posted to the area are afraid of being attacked by the herdsmen.

The above characterization of Nigeria’s response to herdsmen’s attacks is further buttressed by the manner in which the Federal Government responded to the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).  The Federal Government did not hesitate to mobilize the Nigerian Army and the Police to stop IPOB demonstrations in the Southeast zone of the country.  Apart from that, the Federal Government immediately proscribed the organization by calling it a terrorist organization.  On the other hand, the Federal Government is not eager to proscribe the Miyetti Allah Cattle Association for provoking attacks.  Similarly, the Federal Government regards the violent cattle herders as criminals and not terrorists, even though the entire world view them as terrorists, as indicated by the Global Terrorist Index in 2014 and 2015.

Political Implications 

When the potential cultural, economic and religious implications are examined to show the potential conflicts that cattle colonies might generate in Nigeria, the political implications become very alarming.

First, the establishment of cattle colonies would enthrone the Fulanis as the supreme overlords of Nigeria.  They would be the only ethnic group in a country of 180 million people that have the widest territorial presence in the country.  Soon or later, using the machinery of the national government, they would begin to dominate the political leadership of every state in Nigeria, as they have done in most northern states.

Second, the cattle colonies might transform to become an extension of the Sokoto Caliphate, thereby, further expanding the authority of the Fulani ethnic group.  Such a development could lead to the depowering of the Southern ethnic groups the way the indigenous northern ethnic groups have been rendered powerless and voiceless.

Third, using the national security infrastructure and the National Assembly, the Fulanis would be able to influence the passing of legislation that can turn Nigeria into a Sharia-embracing state.

Fourth, since they control the national security system, the National Assembly and the federal bureaucracy, they are likely to pass a legislation that will allow the National Grazing Reserve bill to pass with ease.  The passage of such a law would provide the legal basis for the confiscation of lands owned by indigenous ethnic groups through the proposed National Grazing Reserve Commission, if the cattle colony plan does not materialize due to refusal by various ethnic groups.

Fifth, it is interesting to note that while Nigeria is supposedly operating as a democracy, President Buhari has been able to tribalize, regionalize and Islamize the governance infrastructure with ease.  Increasingly, the South, the Middle Belt and Southern Kaduna State are like colonial appendages to the Islamic Republic of Northern Nigeria, hence, are powerless to stop the president from regionalizing the national government.

Sixth, the proposed cattle colonies could turn the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria into Darfur, Sudan, where the Janjaweed inflicted so much carnage in an attempt to drive away the indigenes and replace the population. Indeed, the cattle herdsmen in Nigeria operates like the Janjaweed in Sudan.  Just as the Sudanese government hesitated to clamp down on the violent group, the Nigerian government too is not eager to clamp down on the herdsmen.  If any Southern or Middle Belt ethnic group operates like the cattle herders, the military would have been fully deployed to stop them.

Seventh, by strategically encouraging the nationalization of the Fulani through cattle colonies, those who wield power in Nigeria seem to be creating the impression that Nigeria is an extension of the Sokoto Caliphate, hence, those who own the caliphate should have the right to own Nigeria.  Otherwise, it is inconceivable why the Federal Government is trying to convince Nigerians to accept the idea that it is appropriate to allow one ethnic group to spread all over the country, at the disadvantage of other ethnic groups through active national governmental support for cattle colonies .

Eighth, by attempting to establish cattle colonies, the president and his inner circle advisers seem to create the impression that they do not believe in democracy and are only using the opportunity to spread a narrow-minded politic-religious agenda.  The reason is that in Africa, every ethnic group is responsible for the management of its territorial space.  Despite this cultural reality, the president and his advisers are trying to impose a particular ethnic group on other ethnic groups through the national government.

Ninth, due to regionalization and Islamization of governmental leadership, Nigeria has materialized into a political animal farm in which all citizens are equal but some citizens are superior to others.  This development is accentuated by the actions of the Federal Government since the APC and President Buhari came into power.  The Federal Government increasingly treats the Islamic North quite differently from the non-Islamic Middle Belt (Central) and Southern Nigeria in the following ways:

 

  1. All critical national government positions have been regionalized and

Islamized.

  1. The national security has been regionalized and Islamized. So, every decision about national policy is made by officials who come from the same region and share the same religion.
  2. Any action that threatens the Islamic North is squashed unhesitatingly.
  3. There is opposition to restructuring.
  4. Northern youth leaders gave an ultimatum to Igbos to evacuate the North. Yet, the Nigerian Government did not arrest them for doing so.
  5. Captured Boko Haram fighters are routinely released from detention to rejoin society without consequence. Many South-South and South-East youths are still in detention for various activities.
  6. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB was proscribed and regarded as a terrorist organization, yet, Fulani herdsmen who repeatedly murder innocent Nigerians are viewed as criminals but not terrorists.
  7. The victims of herdsmen attacks are blamed for provoking the herdsmen.
  8. Following the clash between some Hausa and Yoruba people in Ife, the Nigerian Police Force only arrested the Yorubas and not the Hausas. The police even arrested a traditional Yoruba leader due to the altercation.  Islamic leaders in the North are untouchables, regardless of what they do.
  9. When South-South leaders under the auspices of the Pan-Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF) wanted to hold a peaceful meeting to strategize around October 31, 2017 in Port Harcourt, the Police and the DSS stopped them.
  10. All proposed major railway lines are directed toward enhancing public transportation in the northern part of the country. The president even wants to build a railway line from Kano to his home town (Daura) as well as to the Niger Republic.  Meanwhile, the South-South is still struggling with the Lagos-Benin Road and the East-West Road.  The roads in the Southeast zone too are in a poor state..
  11. All of a sudden, the national discussion now is to empower the Fulani by making sure that cattle colonies are established throughout Nigeria.

Tenth, any ethnic group which accepts the cattle colonies and allow such colonies to be established in its territory would be laying the foundation for its own eventual destruction.  The violence in Southern Kaduna State and the Middle Belt clearly shows what will happen if cattle colonies are allowed nationally.  The settlers would end up acting as if they are the original owners of the land and threaten the indigenes in an attempt to drive them away and create more living space for their own members.

Military Implications

There is no concerted effort by the Federal Government to explain the potential implications of allowing one ethnic group to have settlements in every part of the country, contrary to African tradition.  Similarly, the impression is created that the settlements are only for cows and their owners without mentioning the fact that each colony might attract as much as 2000 to 3000 cow hands (herders).  The sum of 2000 to 3000 herders are mentioned here because the minister is proposing cattle colonies that are super ranches.  This means that each colony will have up to ten ranches.   Since most cattle herders are of Fulani ethnicity, it means that thousands of Fulani herders will be tactically located throughout Nigeria.  This translates into military formations. Why?

First, any general who wants to fight a major war would be so happy to have his men and women strategically positioned throughout the theater of potential war.  This is exactly what the Federal Government wants to do.

Second, the cattle colony idea seems to be the final battle plan for spreading Islam throughout Nigeria, as envisaged by Othman Dan Fodio and Ahmadu Bello.

Third, if the colonies are created, the cattle herders would automatically become the most strategically placed would-be-fighters in Africa.  The colonies would serve as military garrisons to prepare and mobilize fighters as well as equipment for the future conquest of the non-Islamic regions of Nigeria.

Fourth, there is no doubt that the leadership of the herders would use the colonies to store arms.  Already, cattle herders are allowed to carry guns.  In fact, cattle herders are the only Nigerians who can openly carry guns around without being stopped or arrested by the Nigerian Police or the Army.  There is no other private business in Nigeria where people are allowed to carry guns.  Since, Nigeria allows Fulani cattle herders to carry guns, it would only be a matter of time before the cattle colonies begin to serve as armories for dangerous weapons.  This means that the Fulanis would be able to reinforce themselves and store equipment that could easily be used to fight and intimidate host communities.  Already, host communities in Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Enugu, Delta, Ondo, Ekiti, Abia, and Ogun States are regularly threatened with violence by the herders.  This possibility of turning the cattle colonies into armories should not be discounted because in Delta State, it was widely reported that some indigenes reported that helicopters were landing and taking off in some of the herders camps in the state to reinforce their activities.  The Vanguard on March 8, 2017, published a news story titled “Helicopter delivers supplies to herdsmen in Delta community.”  Again, on March 28, 2017, Vanguard published a news report titled “Storm over alleged helicopter supplies to herdsmen in Delta.”

Fifth, as soon as the cattle colonies are established and consolidated, thousands of herders might likely pour in to settle.  This would turn the colonies into military training grounds for fighters who might pretend to be cattle-herders.  This possibility should not be discounted since it appears that the herders are already in possession of training grounds in some parts of Taraba, Benue and possibly Nasarawa States.  Hence, their ability to mobilize to launch attacks against farming communities in those states.

Sixth, the cattle colonies would attract elements from Chad, Niger, Mali and other West African countries.  It is not surprising that Nigeria is not making any serious effort to stop illegal migration of potential trouble-makers/jihadists from coming into Nigeria as cattle herders.  This is attested to by the fact that the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai, had made a statement indicating that he paid some Fulani men from causing trouble in Southern Kaduna.  The story was reported in Vanguard of December 3, 2016, titled “We’ve paid some Fulani to stop killings in Southern Kaduna.”.

Seventh, the “cattle colony” for all intent and purposes, seems to be a tactical way of establishing military garrisons for the final Islamization of Nigeria.  This means that the colonies are simply military depots and the herders would eventually metamorphosed into warriors. As quoted above, President Buhari is a strong believer in the Sharianization of Nigeria.

It should be noted that the Roman Empire used similar tactics to conquer Europe.  Sometimes, instead of launching military frontal attacks, the Romans created business centers.  These centers eventually became major Roman settlements.  From the settlements, the Romans expanded militarily to conquer and colonize.  This accounted for why a considerable number of the major European cities, including London, Paris, Cologne, Barcelona, Florence, Cordoba, Basel, Nijmegen, Mainz, Canterbury, Worms, Zagreb, Montenegro, Zurich, Sisak, Leiden, and so on and so forth, were established by the Romans.  Thus, there is a great possibility that the cattle colonies might eventually become the military bases for attacking, conquering and converting non-Moslem Nigerians by force.

Eight, cattle colonies could create sociopolitical environments that lead to perpetual warfare between the indigenous ethnic groups and the settlers like in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen due to religious extremism. The reason is that if the cattle colonies materialize, Islamic jihadists might infiltrate them and use them to stage constant attacks against host communities.   The jihadists are likely to receive assistance from their ideological bedfellows in various parts of Africa and the Middle East to destabilize Southern and Central Nigeria.  A major motivating factor is the need to turn the most populated country in Africa into an Islamic powerhouse for the spreading of the religion.

Ninth, the battle line was drawn long ago.  It was recently reinforced when Alhaji Aliyu Gwarzo of Kano electrified the agenda for Islamization by saying:

It was either the Koran or the sword and most of them chose the Koran. In return for the good works of our forefathers, Allah, through the British, gave us Nigeria to rule and to do as we please. Since 1960 we have been doing that and we intend to continue (Pointblanknews Magazine, October 2, 2014).

He further declared:

The Christians in the north such as the Berom, the Tiv, the Kataf, the Jaba, the Zuru, the Sayyawa, the Jukun, the Idoma and all others are nothing and the Muslim minorities in the north, including the Kanuri, the Nupe, the Igbira, the Babur, the Shuwa Arabs, the Marghur and all the others know that when we are talking about leadership in the north and in Nigeria, Allah has given it to us, the Hausa-Fulani (Ibid.).

Historical Parallels

It is quite possible for some readers to easily refer to this writer as an alarmist bent on causing ethnic disunity in the country.  However, the aforementioned projections are supportable by historical facts and circumstances.

First, it should be noted that Ireland was a wholly Roman Catholic country.  As part of the effort to dominate the country, starting from King Henry the 2nd and following in succession with King Henry VIII, King Charles 1 and King James I of England, masterminded the gradual  take-over of the country by intentionally creating polices that adversely affected the Irish Catholics.  The policies led to starvation and death, thereby, forcing thousands of Irish people to flee.  As the Irish Catholics flee or are impoverished, Protestants were encouraged to settle in Ireland in large numbers.  When Ireland was split into the North and South with the South becoming the Republic of Ireland, the Protestants ended up becoming the majority in Northern Ireland (History of England, n.d.).  So, even in the twenty-first century, the Protestants are the majority in Northern Ireland and the indigenous Irish Catholics are the minority.  Apparently, the politics of Northern Ireland is dominated by the Protestants who left Scotland, England and Wales to settle in the country through the encouragement of the English Kings.  The Protestant majority is not in favor of uniting Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland because such reunification might render them as a minority group.  This accounted for why Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom and not part of the Republic of Ireland.

Second, in the United States, President Andrew Jackson, under the “Indian Removal Act” initiated a forceful population eviction of Native Americans who inhabited the Southeast region of the country in early part of the nineteen century.  The tragic evacuation/eviction, known as the Trail of Tears, forced  thousands of Native Americans from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina to trek thousands of miles from their homelands to settle in Oklahoma, which was set aside for them.  Then, settlers were allowed to take over Native American ancestral lands in the Southeast region of the USA (History.com, Trail of Tears, n.d.).  In the process, thousands of Native American men, women and children died as they were forced to trek in the middle of the winter months.

Third, Nigeria has a very poor record in terms of managing public lands.  For instance, Nigeria is totally responsible for the exploration and management of oil and gas in Nigeria.  It has a very poor record in managing the oil region.  The citizens in the region are treated as third class citizens and have no voice concerning the exploitation of their territory.  Sadly, Nigeria does not care about its citizens who live in the oil belt, hence, ignores the environmental degradation, economic hardship and the health issues associated with gas flaring and oil pollution.  Thus, the region is one of the most polluted oil regions in the world.  The country’s leaders rarely speak about the need to clean the environmental pollution necessitated by oil and gas exploration.  Even the attempt to clean up Ogoniland, which was recommended by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) is not encouraging since there is no national motivation to do so.   The only thing the country seems to care about is increasing the quantity of oil production to enhance its financial coffers.

Fourth, when Abuja was selected as the new capital of Nigeria, the indigenous people of Abuja sacrificed their homeland to allow Nigeria to build the new capital.  After promising to pay them generously for the sacrifices made, they waited for so long to be appropriately compensated.  Today, rich Nigerians have taken over the place, hence, the original owners can no longer go back to their ancestral homeland because it is very expensive.

Fifth, the people of Maroko in Lagos had gone through a similar bad experience in the 1990s when they were forced to evacuate.  Before the forceful evacuation, about 300,000 people from all corners of Nigeria lived in the area.  Then, during the regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Governor Raji Rasaki of Lagos State ordered the residents to leave the area within eight days. Even before the deadline, bulldozers were sent to demolish houses and force the people to leave hurriedly.  All the promises made by to compensate them did not come to fruition.  This is why the victims of that sad and ugly act continue to remember the day every year (Sahara Reporters).  Today, Maroko is now part of Victoria Island, Oniru Royal Estate and Lekki Phase 1.   Therefore, any ethnic group that surrenders its land for the establishment of a cattle colony would eventually live to regret the decision because Nigeria always fail to keep up with promises made when land is involved.

Fifth, Southern Kaduna, some parts of the Middle Belt and the non-Islamic territories of the Upper North are paying dearly for being technically colonized.  If Southern Nigerians allow cattle colonies in their territories, they would begin to experience the pain that Nigerians in those places are experiencing from cattle herders who are trying to take over their farmlands for cattle grazing.

Thus, as innocent sounding as a “cattle colony” might seem, it could end up devouring the ethnic groups that make up the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria when the colonies are tactically expanded to increase the population of the settlers.  Like Ireland, the colonies could end up being the sources for the final conquest of the entirety of the Nigerian land mass, as was instructed by Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello.

Conclusion 

The cattle business in Nigeria is a private enterprise.  The owners of the cattle are in it to buy, sell and make profit for themselves.  Therefore, the Federal Government has no business whatsoever in wanting to subsidize the industry by establishing cattle colonies throughout the country while discriminating against other private business ventures.    Instead of establishing grazing lands or cattle colonies, the Federal Government should tell the Miyetti Allah Cattle Association and other cattle owners to adopt the globalized practice of ranching,  it is no longer acceptable to allow cows to roam all over the place.  The owners should buy or rent land to create ranches, period.

Nigerians should ask the honorable minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to explain the cultural, economic, religious, political and military implications of enabling one ethnic group to have a foothold in all parts of Nigeria through cattle colonies.  He should also be asked to answer the question of why the Federal Government is so eager to subsidize a particular private business while not making any pronouncement about creating colonies for other businesses.

 

Is it Compatible for Christians to Become Traditional Rulers in Ijawland?

Is it Compatible for Christians to Become Traditional Rulers in Ijawland?

 

By Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

 

Before answering the question with a Yes or a No answer, it is necessary to explore the question critically.  Similarly, before condemning the writer for being anti-Christian, it is necessary to read and digest the story in order to have a full understanding of the compelling reason for writing this article.

Although very controversial, nevertheless, it is necessary to ask whether it is compatible for  Ijaw Christians to become traditional rulers in Ijawland at this juncture of the Ijaw struggle for self-determination. The reason is that many Ijaw beliefs, values, norms and practices are disappearing at a frenetic speed due to the unrelenting ideological crusades mounted by Christian evangelists, pastors and adherents to destroy Ijaw culture and traditions in an attempt to replace it with a Christian culture.  Mr. I. E. Prezi published an article titled “Christian Religion and Loss of Ijaw Traditions and Cultures”, in which he identified some of the rare Ijaw cultural beliefs and practices that are disappearing, following Christianization.  Earlier, Dr. E. J. Alagoa had made reference to the fact that many Ijaw traditions have been abandoned as people convert to Christianity (1999).  Indeed, the destruction of Ijaw culture is proceeding at a pace in which by fifty years from now, the Ijaw cultural world could be reduced to nothingness and replaced with Christian and secular-humanistic ideas.     This means that some of the unique beliefs, traditions, rituals, festivals, songs, masquerades and dances might disappear.  This further means that Ijaw traditional music would be replaced by CHRISTIAN GOSPEL MUSIC.  Already, an increasing number of Ijaw musicians are now singing and producing Christian gospel music.  It is evident that in the future, instead of having the Rex Lawsons, I. K. Belemos, the Sea Gulfs, Robert Ebizimors, Barrister Smooths, Timayas, Pereamas, Dennis Abassas, Allen Alabors, Alfred Izon-Ebis, Fere bon Epebifes, Sistr Ayagbene, and so on and so forth, most musicians would be singing gospel music to demonstrate their Christianity.

The increasing disappearance of Ijaw cultural beliefs and practices is easily detectable by asking young men and women questions about their cultural traditions.  Most of them would not be able to explain why certain things are done in a certain way.  Similarly, most of them would not be able to explain why certain festivals take place.  Most Christianized Ijaws have no qualms about condemning their traditional religion as IDOL WORSHIPPING without even paying attention to the meaning of the word “IDOL”.   The word “IDOL” has been reinforced through classical and operant conditioning methods in the churches and Sunday school to the extent that many Ijaw Christians reflexively respond to the Ijaw religion without thinking about the implications.  A considerable number of the educated Ijaws are not interested even in making an attempt to study and understand the traditional system.  The reason is that since the days of their primary school education, they have been schooled, socialized and educated to believe that the traditional system is ungodly, satanic and devilish, therefore, it is something to be avoided.   Hence, the chorus: IDOL WORSHIP, IDOL WORSHIP, and IDOL WORSHIP in referring to Orukarism.

With this psychological orientation, many, if not most educated Ijaws, do not mind consuming any idea that is associated with Christianity and European cultures and rejecting anything that is associated with Ijaw culture.  The most disturbing part of the continuing decimation of Ijaw culture is that even some Ijaw traditional rulers and elders are beginning to reject their own traditional beliefs and practices by describing Ijaw religious culture as “IDOL WORSHIPING.”  It is understandable when a young Ijaw man or woman makes derogatory statements but when traditional Ijaw rulers and elders say that before Christianity, the Ijaws used to worship idols and not God, it really tells a lot about the intellectual state of Ijaw reasoning concerning religion.

Perhaps, due to the influence of Christianity, some Ijaw traditional rulers and elders no longer seem to subscribe to the notion that the traditional leader is the GUARDIAN, PROTECTOR, ENHANCER, PROMOTER and CUSTODIAN of traditional culture and religion.  This is worrisome because all over the world, whether in China, Japan, India, , Tibet, Iraq, Morocco, Mexico, Vietnam, Yorubaland, Peru, Kikuyuland, Maya, Pacific Islands, Cherokee, Thailand,  Maoriland and so on and so forth, traditional rulers/leaders  and elders are generally regarded as the guardians and custodians of their traditional beliefs, cultures, traditions, religions and ancient wisdom.  As a result, they serve as the protectors, promoters, perpetuators and preservers of their cultures, religions and ancient knowledge of their cultures.  In Ijawland, the role of the traditional ruler and elder is systematically being eroded by some very important personages who subscribe to a religion that has nothing to do with Ijaw culture while serving as traditional rulers and elders.

Based on the utterances of some Ijaw traditional leaders and elders, it is inferable that they really do not care about being the guardians, protectors, enhancers, promoters and custodians of Ijaw culture, beliefs, traditions and religion. Hence, the ease with which they describe Orukarism as IDOL WORSHIPPING while ignoring the fact that all religions, including Christianity and Islam, engage in deification of certain beings, individuals, entities, artifacts, symbols, effigies, and totems. Moreover, Christianity and Islam came to the Nigerian region through military conquest, colonization and imposition.

 

The Declining State of Ijaw Culture and Traditions

It might be necessary to cite some specific circumstances to show the retrogressive state of Ijaw culture as some Ijaws, including traditional leaders and elders, uncritically embrace Christianity, which came to Ijawland through British conquest, colonization and imposition.

1. In 2010, due to the uncontrollable crime rate in Benin/Edoland, the Oba of Benin and the traditional political leadership decided to do something about the situation.  They resorted to the traditional Bini system by invoking their ancestors to punish those who commit crimes.  The Iyase of Benin, Chief Sam Igbe stated:

We are fed up.  This is the way we reacted against this type of things in the past                    and we have just gone back to the ancestors to help us clear them.  So, we                              believe that in order to put a stop to the insecurity, we just have to put a curse,                    call on our gods to put a curse and stop all the activities that threaten lives and                    property (Mmuta, 2010, June 11).

In Ijawland, His Highness, King Francis Ododo of Ikebiri Kingdom in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State decided to get tough with criminals in his kingdom.  Instead of taking the traditional Ijaw path, since he is a traditional leader, as the Bini leaders did, he declared:  “Henceforth, any person linked to criminal activities in the area will be handed over to the security agencies for prosecution’” (African Examiner, 2010 ).

The fact that the Bini traditional political leadership took the traditional African path and the Ijaw traditional leader took the secular-humanistic path does not say much.  However, the boldness by which the Bini leadership decided to adopt the traditional path is what makes the difference.  The Bini leadership did not doubt the efficacy of Bini traditional religious culture.  This means that the leaders strongly believed in their religion.  Hence, the Iyase of Benin further boldly reinforced the Bini religion by saying:

We felt as Edo people we are not Christians, we are traditionalists, we believe                       in God through our ancestors.” (Mmuta, 2010).

The question is, how many traditional Ijaw leaders and elders today would be able to boldly defend the integrity of Ijaw Orukari religion?

2. Around 2015, a Bini son won a local government council election in South Florida.  To celebrate the electoral victory, he decided to hold the event in a university campus.  A traditional Bini religious priest was invited from Nigeria to come and offer prayers for the event.  When the traditional religious priest walked to the stage in traditional Bini attire and explained the intricacies of African Ancestralism to the audience, everyone was awe-struck.  The Americans wanted to know everything about Benin religion.

On the other hand, how many educated Ijaw men and women would be bold enough to invite an Ijaw traditional religious priest to come and offer prayers?   If this son of Biniland was an Ijaw person, it is probable that a Christian pastor might have been invited just to tell the world that the Ijaw son is a Christian and does not believe in “Idol Worshipping.”

3. While perusing through Youtube to find information about Ijaw culture, a very interesting video about Ijaw culture, history and tradition, titled “Art and Culture Ijaw Episode” showed up.  In the video, the traditional leaders and elders of Kabowei (Kabo) Kingdom narrated the history, beliefs and traditions of Ijawland.  The chiefs spoke glowingly and explained the intricacies of Ijaw culture and traditions, including various festivals.  It was very joyous and enlightening to hear very important elders speak about Ijaw traditions and culture.

However, the chiefs also noted that some Ijaw traditions are disappearing following Christianization.  One of the chiefs also repeatedly referred to Orukarism as IDOL WORSHIPPING, thereby, reinforcing the Christian view.  One other noticeable thing about the video is that a Christian gospel song is used as a theme song even though the story of the video is about Ijaw culture and tradition.  It would have been preferable to use a song associated with Ijaw culture to back up a story about Ijaw heritage.  Again, the gospel song simply reinforces the view that Christianity is literally eating away Ijaw culture and people do not seem to pay much attention to it.  In other words, a sizable number of Ijaws are not worried that they are literally destroying their own existence while other ethnic groups in the world are working hard to protect, revive and reinforce their cultures.

4. On June 13, 2017, Emem Ido, a journalist with the Vanguard (Nigeria) newspaper published a report titled “Sabagreia: Bayelsa community where evil, wicked men dread.” In the report, the paramount ruler (Amananaowei), His Highness, Dr. Bokumo Orukari explained the story of Lake Efi Festival.  The story is very captivating and should be told and written about in order to preserve Ijaw cultural heritage.  However, the worrisome part of the explanation is that His Highness said, as reported by the Vanguard reporter:

Life at the time was centered on the idol Efi.

Owing to this constraint, when the fullness of time came, the people and owners of            Lake Efi, renounced idolatry and handed the lake over to the Almighty God.

The last festival in 2013 was the first time it was conducted with new modifications            and alterations to reflect the rededication of the festival to Almighty God.

It is obvious from reading the story that Christianity had much to do with various decisions concerning the lake. Most importantly, the view that Orukarism is based on IDOL WORSHIPPING had a great impact too. This line of thinking is greatly influenced by Christian preaching which continues to maintain the view that Ijaw people in particular and African people in general, did not know God until Christianity arrived at the shores of the African continent.  Thus, the quoted statement seems to create the impression that the people of Sabagreia did not know God, hence, paid homage to an IDOL in the past.  The statement is perfectly acceptable for a Christian audience within Ijawland but does not sound well for the global audience.  The reason is that it creates the impression that the Ijaws did not know God, hence, worshipped IDOLS until the Christians came to civilize them to embrace God.

The fact is that Sabagreia people knew even before the arrival of Christianity that there is a difference between being good and being bad, hence, they named their community Bolouseibokorogha, which translates into “where no evil/wicked person would settle.”  It is ironic that people who supposedly did not know God but worshipped idols, as the Christians claimed, banned evil people from their community even before the arrival of Christianity.  So, if Orukarism is devilish, why would the Sabagreians banned evil people from their community?  Likewise, since Bolouseibokorogha people revered Efi, does it mean that they did not worship God?  If that is the Christian assumption, then, how did they know that there is Woyengi, Aziba, Azibarau, Ayiba, Ayibarau, Oginaere, Tamarau, Tamuno, Temeowei, Temuno and so on and so forth, in the past? Is it not true that the Ijaws know that God exist for thousands of years before the establishment of Christianity? If that is the case, then, where is the justification for spreading the view that the Ijaws only worshipped idols in the past until Christianity came?

5. The fact that some Ijaw traditional leaders and elders are feverishly working to destroy Ijaw beliefs, culture and practices is undeniable. In Aleibiri community, for instance, an active member of the community who is associated with the St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Mr. Golden Garuwa, is allegedly credited for  initiating an action which resulted in the stoppage of the masquerade festival in 2007 (Prezi, 2015, Ocotber 25).  Again, the wonderment is that the traditional leaders, elders and members of Aleibiri community allowed such a rare cultural festival to be disregarded without thinking about the consequences to their sub-culture.  Perhaps, it should be noted that the Anglican Church was established by King Henry VIII in an attempt to seek a divorce from his wife who could not bear him a male heir.  The Catholic Church had repeatedly refused to grant King Henry permission to divorce his wife, hence, he created the Church of England (Anglican Church) to accomplish the goal.  This is why the Anglican Church is regarded as a state church.

6. As part of the ongoing campaign to systematically wipe out Ijaw religious culture, which is the bedrock of the moral foundation of Ijaw existence, a forumite on Ijaw Nation Forum (INF) went as far as to indicate that the word ORU means devil in Ijawland. Of course, the fact is that ORU does not mean devil at all.  ORU is the name of the founding deity, as well as the name of an ancient African ethnic group that is associated with the deity.  Many ethnic groups in Africa today, including the Ijaw, Urhobo, Dogon, Nupe and others claimed to have originated from the ORU nation.  The Ijaws are directly associated with the ancient ORU nation that is why sometimes the Ijaws are referred to as Oru people.

It is not unusual for people to equate their ethnicity directly with the creation deity. This accounted for why the Jews claim to be the children of their God.  Logically, the Ijaws too claim to be the children of their God.  This accounted for why the Ijaws refer to their religion as ORUKARI, which means the worshipping of a deity. In Orukari, there is GOD, gods and goddesses, and ancestral beings. The Orukari religion fits very well with the universal theory of the nine gods/goddesses.  According to this theory, human affairs in the world are regulated by nine gods/goddesses.  Thus, each god/goddess deals with a particular aspect of human affairs.  The Bible also recognizes the multiplicity of gods and goddesses, as indicated below.  Hence, St. Michael is regarded as an angel which protects and fight for justice.  The Christian concept of St. Michael matches the Orukari concept of Egbesu which performs the same role.

 

ORUKARISM

The Orukari religion has stringent rules.  These rules could be regarded as sacred COMMANDMENTS or LAWS.  This is why an Ijaw person can only kill under the principle of self defense.  Anyone who kills must perform a soul cleansing ritual to clean away the sin of taking the life of another.

 

Orukari religion seriously frowns at evil deeds.  Thus, in some parts of Ijawland, any person who has engaged in sorcery cannot be buried in the same cemetery as those with clean hearts.  In some parts of Ijawland, when a person dies, before burial takes place, the OBOBA Bi ritual must be conducted to find out whether the person was a good or a bad person.

 

Thus, every Ijaw person supposed not to violate the sacred rules or laws.  As a result, in Ijawland, there are ABOMINATIONS or SINS.  An abomination is a violation of the sacred commandments or laws.  Evidently, any Ijaw person that commits an ABOMINATION must confess the deed.  It is the only way to wash away the sin.  There is a strong belief that if confession is not rendered, the sin could affect the members of the sinner’s family also.

 

ORUKARISM is based on absolute truth due to the belief that truthfulness is tantamount to godliness. He or she who cannot tell the truth cannot be godly.  This accounted for why no one can lie while entering the shrine. There is a belief in Ijawland that there are no secrets because anything done secretly or clandestinely can be verified through divination.

 

Indeed, ORUKARISM is based on the Worshipping of God.  Consequently, the Ijaws have always worshipped God (WOYENGI, AYIBA, AZIBA, AZIBARA, OGINAERE, TAMUNO, TEMEOWEI, TEMUNO) FROM TIME IMMEMEORIAL.  The Cosmology of ORUKARI Religion, as indicated above, includes God, gods and goddesses, and ancestral beings.  It is from this perspective that the idea of Ancestralism takes place.  This arrangement is not markedly different from Christianity which has God, Jesus Christ, angels and saints. The Christian saints are ancestral beings because they are the deceased members of the Christian religion who have been deified after death.  Therefore, the Christians honor God, Jesus Christ, angels and saints the way Orukarists honor God, gods, goddesses and ancestral beings.  When Christians honor the angels and saints by naming their schools, churches and other important structures after them, they do not say they are paying homage to IDOLS.  For instance, the St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Aleibiri is intended to honor St. Luke, who is a deceased member of the Christian Church.   However when the Ijaws honor gods and goddesses and ancestral beings (dead ancestors), they are referred to by the Christians as IDOL WORSHIPPERS.  Sadly,  many Ijaws meekly buy into this propaganda without thinking about it critically.

 

 

Christianity and Idolism

 

By the way, when Christians claim that they do not honor gods and goddesses, they are either being very forgetful or mischievous since the Old Testament also acknowledges the notion of gods and goddesses.  For instance in Genesis 1:26, it is stated “LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE, AFTER OUR LIKENESS.”  The “our image, after our likeness” shows a plurality of deities.

Likewise, In Psalm 82:1, it is stated “GOD HAS TAKEN HIS PLACE IN THE DIVINE COUNCIL, IN THE MIDST OF THE GODS HE HOLDS JUDGMENT.”  Another way to put it is “GOD STANDETH IN THE CONGREGATION OF THE MIGHTY; HE JUDGETH AMONG THE GODS”.  Here again, there is an acknowledgment of the plurality of deities (gods and goddesses). Of course, most Christians prefer to pay little attention to the fact that there is an acknowledgement of the concept of polytheism (many gods) in the Bible.  So, what is the difference between the acknowledgment of gods in the Bible and in Orukarism?  There is no difference between the two ways, however, the Christians are very good in ignoring facts about their own religion while point fingers at other religions.

 

Christianity, like every other religion in the world, has numerous IDOLS made up of various symbols, effigies, images, and totems.  The following provides a short list of items and activities which constitute reverence for IDOLS in Christianity:

1. The Bible: The Bible is a collection of written materials that span about two thousand years.  Even though it is a book written by human beings to describe and predict their perceptions of God and the state of being godly, today, it is accepted as the WORD of God. This is why it is considered a sacred book.  Thus, to know God through Christianity, it is necessary to read the Bible.  Then, what happens to those who cannot read and write?  Does it mean that those who cannot read the Bible cannot know and understand God? Is it necessary to read a book to know God? The truth is that it is not necessary to read the Bible or any book in order to know God.  Human beings have been worshipping God for thousands of years before the establishment of Christianity ands Islam. This is why the Christian religion borrows extensively from other religions.

 

Moreover, the New Testament of the Bible is not necessarily accepted by the Jews. This accounted for why the Christians have persistently persecuted the Jews for refusing to convert to Christianity.   Additionally, the information in the New Testament only reinforces the orthodox view of the Christian story. On the other hand, it does not reflect the Agnostic view of Christianity.  It is necessary to have both views in order to draw a more objective picture of what actually happened in the days of Jesus Christ.

There are many problems with the Bible

There are many versions of the Bible, including the Hebrew, Greek, Ethiopian and the St. James.  The Ethiopian version is probably the largest or longest because it contains additional materials.

The Old Testament and the New Testament are not compatible. The Old Testament deals basically with Jewish religious beliefs, traditions and culture while the New Testament deals with Jesus Christ and the emergence of Christianity.  The Old Testament God is discriminative, revengeful, punitive, tribalistic and reactive.  The New Testament God is very forgiving and tolerant.  The Old Testament God sounds more like a tribal God while the New Testament God is globalized to embrace all.  The view that the Bible contains two distinct Gods is not new.  Around 142 CE, a man named Marcion, a rich ship magnate, the son of Bishop of Sinope of Pontus, a Pauline Christian who later adopted the Gnostic teachings of Cerdon, argued that the Supreme God is different from the creator God (Cosmocrater or Lord of Creation).  In this regard, the God of the Jews (Cosmocrater) was lesser than the Supreme God.  Cerdon had argued that the God of the Jews was not the father of Jesus Christ. (The Atheist Conservative, 2010, January 2).

Some of the stories in the Bible are contradictory. For instance, the Creation Story in Genesis dealing with Adam and Eve is confusing.  First, it states that God created man and woman equally, then, in the explanation section, it states that God took a rib from Adam to create Eve.  For instance, in Genesis 1: 27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”.  Then in Genesis 22 “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

Some of the stories are incomplete. For instance, Cain is banished from the Garden of Eden to roam the earth.  Then suddenly, the Bible states that he impregnated a woman without mentioning where the woman came from since the Bible had stated that only Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel existed at the time.  Genesis 4:16 states “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” Then in Genesis 4:17, it is stated “And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch”.  Where did the wife come from?  Were there other people?  If Nod was already occupied by human beings, then the story of Adam and Eve being the first human beings is nullified.

Despite these limitations and contradictions, the Bible is viewed as the WORD OF

God.

2. Jesus Christ: Today, there is an unquestionable belief among Christians that Jesus Christ is not only the son of God but a manifestation of God.  In the past, that was not necessarily the case.  There are a few examples to cite from to show that in the past the status of Jesus Christ was highly debated by the early Christians.

For instance, Montanus and his two associates, prophetesses Prisca and Maximilla appeared on the Christian scene between 156 and 172 CE to spread a version of Christianity which devalued the importance of Christ and emphasized the importance of the Holy Spirit (Davis, 1983). This movement shifted the focus of Christianity away from Christ to the Holy Spirit before the Church banned the idea later.

The Council of Nicaea took place in 325 CE. Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire organized the council to develop an official doctrine for the Christian religion. Before this time, the Christians had no official doctrine and preached different things about the religion.  Emperor Constantine invited 1800 bishops to attend the Christian gathering but about 318 of them turned up.

One of the major issues the council tackled was determining the relationship between the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Father (God).  This issue divided the council into two factions.  One faction was led by St. Alexander of Alexandria and the other faction was led by presbyter Arius.  St. Alexander, his assistant Athanasius and their supporters argued that the Son (Jesus Christ) was as divine and coeternal as the Father (God).  Hence, there was no difference between Jesus and God.

On the other hand, Arius and his 22 supporters in the council maintained that the Father (God) was supreme and unique, hence, greater than the son (Jesus Christ).  Arius further argued that the Son (Jesus) had a beginning and did not possess the eternity and divinity of the Father (God).  Accordingly, the Son (Jesus) was made God by the permission of the father (God). This view of Jesus Christ and God is known as Arianism.   The debate about the status of Jesus Christ went on from May 20, 325 to June 19, 325.  This means that it took a month to discuss and resolve the issue of Jesus Christ and God.

St. Alexander and his supporters won the debate.  As a result, the Bible only contains the Alexanderian view of Jesus Christ.  The Church leaders banned the Arian view (Davis, 1983).  As can be seen, the belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God and possesses godly essence as God is a product of human intellectual and emotional debate.  Of course, many Christian pastors in Ijawland, Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the black world rarely read the story of how Jesus came to be referred to as a God.

A careful reading of the Bible clearly shows that Jesus Christ did not write any of the books of the New Testament, yet, Christian leaders and pastors quote him as if he actually wrote those things in person. It is theorized here that St. Mark wrote the earliest gospel based on information provided by St. Peter since he was a discipline of both Peter and Paul.  Thereafter, St. Mathew and St. Luke wrote their versions based on information partially gathered from St. Mark’s writings.

Moreover, it should be noted that there are four versions on the story of Jesus Christ. They are: (1) the Horus version, (2) the Zeus version, (3) the Simon of Perea version and (4) Jesus Christ version. This means that the story of Jesus Christ is not as simple as many Christians tend to believe.

Likewise, Jesus Christ had a human father, mother and siblings. This is often ignored with the argument that he was born by a virgin who was married or betrothed to Joseph. Perhaps, the twisting of the story contributes to why the Jews do not accept the story.

The Bible does not provide much information about the most important person in the New Testament. This is why some people believe that Jesus Christ was actually married to Mary Magdalene. The Islamic Koran refers to him as a prophet, not as a God manifested.

3. The Cross:  The cross is a pre-Christian religious symbol that the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Indians, Irish, and Native Americans used in their religions.  The Roman Empire used the cross to crucify individuals that had been condemned to death.  Thus, Jesus Christ was executed on the Cross, hence, the Christians adopted it.  Now, it is treated as an exclusive Christian symbol and deified.  As a result, the Christian warriors who waged the Crusades against the Moslems carried the Cross as a symbol of protection.

4. Statues:  Statues have become part of the mainstay of the Christian religion.  In many parts of the world, especially in Europe and the Americas, important Christian figures are deified through statues that are honored as if they are gods.

5. Church Buildings: Christians tend to build very large worshipping houses.  There seems to be a believe that the bigger the church, the godlier the structure.   This is why even in Nigeria today, there are huge church buildings sometimes referred to as mega-churches.  Churches are now referred to as God’s houses.

6. Christian Relics: In many Christian churches in Europe and Latin America, the body parts of former church members that have been deified as saints are kept and worshipped.  It is very common for churchgoers to kiss and touch the body parts in the hope of being blessed and protected by the saints.  Similarly, artifacts that are associated with Jesus Christ and other important members of Christianity are treated as sacred objects and revered.

7. Tithe: Tithe has increasingly become a financial mainstay of the Christian church.  Churchgoers are compelled to give one or 10% of their wages to the Church.  Christians are psychologically made to feel guilty and ungodly if they do not give tithe.  Thus, the giving of tithe is now regarded as part of the Christian process for worshipping God. Some pastors exploit the tithe to become very wealthy.  Some of the funds generated through tithe are used for building mega-churches.

It is arguable that Christianity is a product of Afro-Asiatic traditional religions due to the belief that the early Jews were actually black Africans.  A Ghanaian scholar, Nana Banchie Darkwah, in his “The Africans who wrote the Bible” demonstrated the fact that black Africans wrote the Bible.  Darkwah’s position is corroborated by Dr. Ndagi Abdullahi (2017, June 30) who wrote :

 

But the truth of the matter is that the Jewish culture seen among the Ibos is                          seen also  among almost all other ancient Nigerian peoples including the Ibibio,                  the Kalabari, the Ijaw, the itsekiri, Jukun, the Igala, the Nupe, and so on and on.                 All these ancient Nigerian people have been practicing Jewish cultures for                             thousands of years even long before the time of Our Lord Jesus Christ some two                  thousand years ago.

In other words, West Africa was the original homeland of the Jewish people.  Even              Western scholarship is gradually coming to admit that the original Jews were                      Black African Negroes and that Black Negro Africa was the setting of thestories of              the Scriptures – not the Middle East.

Professor Ze’ev Herzog, the Head of the Archeology Department of the University                of Tel Aviv in Israel, wrote a book and purposely convened an international press              conference telling the world that today’s Israel, or Palestine (whatever you call                    it), was not the place where the stories of the Bible took place.

Yes, the original Jews were Black African Negroes and they were resident here in                Middle Africa – that is West Africa, Central and East Africa combined.

 

Therefore, it is inferable that Christianity is a corrupted form of Orukarism and other African religions.  Moreover, the Ten Commandments in the Bible seem to be a shortened version of the 42 Declarations that were the mainstay of ancient African religions, which the ijaws continue to practice under Orukarism.  This is why in Orukarism, there are many abominations or sins, as indicated earlier.  As a result, the Ijaws cannot engage in certain behaviors.  The Roman Empire and the Christian Church Europeanized some of the Afro-Asiatic beliefs to create the current brand of Christianity, which, sometimes, is referred to as “Constantinian” Christianity.

Obviously, these are only a few of the cases where even Ijaw traditional leaders, either knowingly or unknowingly denigrate their ancestral religion in order to justify their Christianity.  If they continue this way, the future generation of Ijaw children will know nothing about their past, apart from being fed stories in the Bible.

 

European Christians and Reverence for their Gods and Goddesses.

Why Are the Ijaws so eager to destroy their religious culture in the name of Christianity when others do not do so? Why is it that even Ijaw leaders and elders are willing at a moment’s notice to give up their beliefs, culture, values and practices when others do everything possible to perpetuate their cultures?

Perhaps, it might be necessary to show that European Christians who brought Christianity to Ijawland continue to pay homage to their pre-Christian religious deities.  They have no problem calling their deities gods and goddesses, just as the Ijaws do under Orukarism.  There are many examples to cite from:

  1. As stated in previous writings, the month of JANUARY IS NAMED AFTER THE ROMAN GOD JANUS.  European Christians have no desire to change the name.  This means that they are happy with honoring their god.
  2. The month of MARCH is named after Roman god MARS. The Europeans do not refer to Mars as an IDOL.
  3. The month of MAY is named after Roman goddess of honor and reverence (MAIESTA).
  4. The month of JULY is named after JULIUS CAESAR (Here, a human being is deified).
  5. The month of AUGUST is named after AUGUSTUS CAESAR (The same thing happens here).
  6. The U.S. spaceship that went to the moon is named after Roman god APOLLO. American Christians have no problem with the name. They do not call Apollo an IDOL.
  7. The U.S. submarine TRIDENT is named after the three-pronged spear that is associated with the god POSEIDON.
  8. The U.S. submarine POSEIDON is named after POSEIDON, the Greek god of the sea.
  9. The PLANETS are named after Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. They are MERCURY, VENUS, JUPITER, SATURN and NEPUNE.  For instance, the Roman god (JUPITER) is regarded as the god of light and sky and protector of the state.  Even Pluto is a name of a European god.
  10. The Saturn spaceship is named after Greek god (SATURN), god of death.
  11. ZEUS is the Greek god of the sky.
  12. The English people, although Christian today, still pay homage to the Stonehenge.
  13. In England, the town of Glastonbury continues to be revered as a sacred site.   As indicated above, European Christians actually glorify their ancestral past by continuing to honor their gods and goddesses while Ijaw Christians refer to their gods and goddesses as IDOLs.  The Europeans who brought Christianity to Ijawland continue to honor their pre-Christian deities while Ijaw Christians are trying very hard to destroy their heritage in the name of Christianity?

The Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese. Tibetans, Native Americans and South Pacific Islanders have God, gods and goddesses in their religions, just like the Ijaws.  They do not refer to their deities as IDOLS.

 

Is it appropriate and Proper for Christians to Become Traditional Rulers in Ijaw society?

The simplest answer to the above question is that it is not appropriate because Ijaw Orukari culture and Constantinian Christianity are incompatible.  Why?

  1. Religion is a product of the culture and the environment.  This means that religion and culture have symbiotic relationships.  The culture molds the religion and the religion molds the culture.  Thus, Ijaw culture is molded by the Orukari religion and the environment.  Likewise, Ijaw culture molds the Orukari religion.  Therefore, to establish morality in Ijawland, the belief and value system must come from the religious culture.
  2. The traditional Ijaw political system is a product of Ijaw culture, religion, environment, and Ijaw ancestors. Therefore, to become a traditional ruler in Ijawland, the individual must be conversant with the traditional religious culture since respect for the ancestor is the core of the system. There is nothing wrong in Ijaw people honoring their ancestors just like the Christians honor their ancestors (saints).
  3. Christianity is a product of Afro-Asiatic Jewish culture and religion, interwoven with European culture and religion through the influence of the Roman Empire.
  4. To subscribe to Christianity is to subscribe to Judeo/European cultures. This is why many Ijaw Christians, like their Nigerian and other Sub-Saharan African counterparts bear Jewish and English names to signify their Christianity. It should be noted that those who are referred to Jews today are different from the ancient Jews.
  5. The Islamic religion is also an Afro-Asiatic product of Arabic culture and religion. Wesley Muhammed, an Islamic scholar, believed that Black Africans were greatly responsible for establishing and spreading Islam in his “Were the blacks who founded Islam really Africans? In Black Arabia).  Therefore, to become a Moslem is to subscribe to Arabic culture. This is why a vast proportion of Nigerian Moslems and their Sub-Saharan African counterparts bear Arabic names, instead of their indigenous African names.
  6. Since both Christianity and Islam have greatly been influenced by Arabic and Judeo/European cultures today, Ijaw Christians must look to Israel for their religious pilgrimage while Nigerian Moslems must look toward Saudi Arabia for their pilgrimage. The fact remains that there are sacred places in every society. There are sacred places in Ijawland.  For instance, during the Isaac Boro rebellion, Nigerian mobile policemen were advised not to step into an area that was regarded as a sacred place but they refused to heed the advice and all the policemen that defiled the place were reported to have perished. Unfortunately, many, if not most Ijaw Christians might not appreciate the fact that Ijawland has sacred places.
  7. The Jewish, Arabic and most European cultures tend to regard God as a masculine entity. Ijaw culture tends to view God as a feminine entity.  Thus, Ijaw culture is more tolerant towards women than Jewish and Arabic cultures.  Apparently, if an Ijaw person inclines towards the Jewish or Arabic culture, he or she is going to view things more from the masculine perspective rather than from a dualistic perspective if the person subscribes to Ijaw religious culture.
  8. If too many individuals with Christian orientation become traditional rulers in Ijawland, they would denigrate the traditional religious culture and transpose Judeo/European religious culture on Ijaw culture. Soon or later, they might end up creating an environment in which a traditionalist would not be able to ascend the political throne.  They would do so by Christianizing the conditions to qualify for the position.  This has already happened in Hausaland where Islam has been transposed upon the Hausa culture so much so that Hausa traditionalists rarely have the opportunity to become leaders in their own land.  The reason is that the culture is so Islamized that the only way to move forward socially, politically and religiously is to become a Moslem. Hence, Hausaland is now dominated by emirs, rather than by Sarkins (the Hausa word for a king).  In Ijawland, the Christians could end up giving Christian names to Ijaw traditional titles.
  9. Therefore, if an Ijaw Christian becomes a traditional ruler in Ijawland, he or she is most likely to view the traditional religious culture as IDOL WORSHIPPING and avoid the rituals that are associated with being a traditional Ijaw leader. By so doing, the individual might tactically begin to kill Ijaw culture by avoiding those beliefs, practices and rituals that are essential for reinforcing tradition.  In fact, in almost every society, leaders are expected to embrace the religion that most people identify with the culture. It might be necessary to cite some facts to explain the point.

In Britain, it is an unspoken fact that the queen or king must embrace Anglicanism.  A British member of the royal family who becomes a Catholic would be encouraged to leave the religion and convert to Anglicanism.

In Italy, the rulers are expected to embrace Roman Catholicism.

In the United States, a would-be-president is expected to identify with the Baptist faith. This is why it is very difficult for a Mormon or a Jew or a Catholic to become a president.  The late President John Kennedy was able to climb the presidential throne due to his family background.

For the Edo nation, to become an Oba, the individual must forego any foreign religious tradition and embrace Bini tradition totally.  The person would be initiated into the mysteries of the traditional religious culture before being crowned.  The same goes for Yoruba Obas. They are initiated into the traditional system before coronation.

Among the Efiks, every male (and some females) must be initiated into the Ekpe (leopard/lion) society. Any Efik male that is not part of the Ekpe Society has less social value.  Thus, the Obong (king) as well as the chiefs are all members of Ekpe Society, regardless of religion.  The head of the Ekpe Society is one of the most powerful individuals in Efikland. The Ibibios expect their traditional leaders and most men to be initiated into the Ekpo Society.  The Abiriba Igbo people expect most of their men to be initiated to the Abiriba Warrior Society, as well as Ekpe Society.  By so doing, the Edos,  Efiks, Ibibios and the Abiriba Igbos are able to institutionalize their beliefs, traditions and practices.

Among the Ijaws, the Kalabari, Ibani, Opobo, Gbaramatu and Arogbo people are noted for institutionalizing their traditions. This is why the Kalabaris celebrate the Owu Aru Sun Festival and actively join the Ekine Society.  They openly celebrate Akaso without apology to anyone.   The Ibani and the Opobo people celebrate the Otam Ebukuma (Nwaotam) Festival with vigour and devotion.  The Gbaramatu and Arogbo people are steadfast in upholding the Agadagba or Egbesu as the core of the traditional religio-political system.  This accounted for why the Agadagba (King) of Gbaramatu insisted that the Nigerian soldiers who stole the Egbesu golden sword must return it or face the spiritual consequences that might follow. Okrika people celebrate the Odum and the Ogwein masquerades with boldness and joy.  The Nembes continue to perform the Ofuruma  (ofirima) masquerade.

Thus, due to the contradiction between Christianity and Orukari religious culture, the only way a strong advocate of Christianity can become a traditional ruler is that he or she must forego Christianity and embrace Okurarism as the religion of Ijaw people.  The Binis, Yorubas, EFiks, Ashantis, and many other ethnic groups put restrictions or conditions that must be met before an individual becomes a traditional ruler.  In fact, the Bini and Yoruba Obas go through extensive retraditionalization before their coronation.  By so doing, they are able to ensure that the traditional religious culture is not corrupted by foreign religious cultures.

If the Ijaws do not put conditions based on the traditional religious culture, soon or later, the Christians might end up taking over all the traditional leadership positions in Ijawland.  If that happens, Ijawland might end up like Hausaland.  In Nigeria, it is inferable that the Hausas are the most colonized people in the sense that Islam has been imposed to the extent that Hausa beliefs and traditions are highly diminished.

The concern about the possibility of Ijaw culture dying out should be taken seriously.  The Urhobos and other ethnic groups face the same danger.  Hence, in Delta State, Prof. Christopher Orubiu and Dr. Emmanuel Biri of Delta State University “condemned the demonization of Urhobo culture under the façade of Christianity” (Egufe Yafugborhi, 2016, January 7).  Likewise, Prof. Olukayode Oyediran , the president of Egbe Atunbi Yoruba believed that the neglect of cultural and traditional values of Yoruba  race” is responsible for the high crime rate in Yorubaland in the current generation (Ogunnesan, 2017, November 8).

Similarly, Governor Rochas OKorocha of Imo State, not too long ago, argued that public officials in Nigeria should swear their oath of office in the name of their ancestors.  He noted “People no longer fear Bible and Quran that are currently being used, because they knew that God is merciful and did not kill instantly.”  Again, he recently stated that traditional rulers in Imo State should not speak English while addressing their people during public functions (Okeoma, 2017, July 12).  Apparently, there is much concern that African cultural beliefs and traditions are increasingly being threatened due to undue conversion to Christianity and Islam and the embracing of secular humanism.

It seems that many Ijaws do not realize that Orukarism is responsible for the Ijaws being fiercely independent and fearless in expressing themselves.  The traditional religion is responsible for enabling the Ijaws to predict or forecast past and future events through Ye bi or Obuba bi (divination) ritual.  In fact, if not for Christian and secular-humanistic influences, the Ijaws would have used Ye bi or Obuba bi to find out who killed Chief Marshall Harry, Chief A. K. Dikibo and Admiral Daniel Ikoli.  Similarly, the religion is responsible for setting the norms and mores that inhibit sinful acts like killing people to sell body parts and producing baby factories.  The necessity to tell the absolute truth is a direct product of Orukarism.  It is the Ijaw religious culture that encourages people to confess and make amends if they violate certain situations.  Lastly, it is Orukarism that is responsible for making the Ijaws to be great fighters.

If the Ijaws destroy their religious culture, they would emasculate themselves and become a mass of helpless human beings who must depend on greedy, cunning, cheating, corrupting and conniving individuals  to lead them. The signs of greediness, cunningness, cheating, corruption and lying are everywhere as some public officials embezzled public funds with total disregard for social and political consequences.  Some Ijaws now hire thugs to intimidate and kill their opponents.   Some youths are no longer afraid of even embezzling community funds that would have been used to develop their own communities.  Self-centeredness is increasingly becoming the norm, thereby, destroying the communal culture that is the hallmark of Ijaw religious world.  Stealing is becoming very rampant because the traditional taboos are being ignored as people claim to be Christians.

No society has operated successfully through Christianity because the Bible is read, analyzed, explained and interpreted differently by different people.  This is why there are so many Christian denominations.  Each denomination seems to think that its brand of Christianity is superior to other Christian branches.  The pastors like to throw mud at each other as they compete to establish the largest and most populated churches in the world.  In Nigeria, for instance, Prophet I. B. Joshua and Prophet Johnson Suleman re not in good terms even though both supposed to lead their Christian flocks to God (Opejobi, 2017, April 3).  An increasing number of Christian pastors in Nigeria engaged in ungodly acts daily as they scramble to accumulate wealth while pretending to be servants of God.

Thus, it is difficult to establish morality and ethics in society when different pastors interpret the Bible differently based on their ideological orientations and self-interest.  The same problem seems to exist in Islam where the Sunnis and the Shiites do not see eye to eye.   Like Christian pastors, Islamic imams and clerics too read, explain and interpret the Koran based on their ideological perceptions and self-interest.  In Nigeria, Islamic leaders and preachers tend to preach a version of the religion that is more applicable to the 13th century, as Emir Lamido Sanusi of Kano noted while the Arab nations are developing their societies with science and technology.

Throughout the world, Christianity is responsible for destroying many indigenous cultures.  In After experiencing heart-wrenching situations in the hands of the Christians,  the Native Americas in North, Central, and South America are now working hard to revive their cultures that Spanish Christians almost wiped out from the face of the earth while searching for gold and silver.  It should be noted that the Spanish Christians almost wiped out all the writings of the Mayan people.  Fortunately for the world, the Christians missed four of the writings.   The four writings were taken to Germany and kept in the City of Dresden.  Today, the Mayan writings are known as the Dresden Codex.  The four writings have shown that the Mayans were very advanced, both scientifically and spiritually and built some of the largest pyramids in the world (World Digital Library, 2017, May 24).  The Ijaws cannot and should not assist, in any shape or form, the destruction of their own culture in the pretense of avoiding the WORSHIPPING of IDOLS.

To safeguard Ijaw culture from total decimation by the Christians, it is necessary for all Ijaw traditional rulers to subscribe to Ijaw culture by serving as the guardians, protectors, promoters and preservers of the culture. In this regard, the Ijaw Traditional Rulers Council or Forum should hold regular meetings and discuss ways of ensuring the preservation of Ijaw beliefs, values, traditions and language.

Finally, in Ijawland, the traditional moral order should be the guiding light to shape peoples’ behavior.  This means that if anyone steals public money, the person should be compel to tell the absolute truth by swearing in the name of his or her ancestors.  It is a fact that neither Christianity nor secular humanism is working effectively in Ijawland, Nigeria and Black Africa.  This is why things are falling apart, as Chinua Achebe predicted in his novel “Things Fall Apart.”

 

References

Alagoa, E. J. (1999)  The land and people of Bayelsa State:  Central Niger Delta. Chioba, Port Harcourt:  Onyoma Research Publications.

Darkwah, B. N. (2002).  The Africans who wrote the Bible.  Roussellville, Arkansas: Aduana

Davis, L. D. (1983).  The first seven ecumenical councils (325 – 787): Their history and theology. Wilmington, Delaware: A Michael Glazer, Inc.

How rich ship owner affected Christianity.  (2010, January 2).  The Atheist Conservative.  Retrieved July 11, 2017, from theatheistconservative.com/20010/01/02/how-a-rich-ship=owner=affected-christianity

Ido, E. (2017, July 6).  Sabagreia:  Bayelsa community where evil, wicked men dread. Vanguard. Retrieved July 6, 2017, from http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/06/sabagreai-bayelsa-community-evil-wicked-men-dread.

Ijaw monarch declares war on violent crime in Bayelsa.  (2010, July 8).  African Examiner.  African Examiner. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from  http://www.africanexaminer,com/ijaw_mona.

Mmuta, C. (2010, June 11). Oba of Benin Leads spiritual warfare against robbers, kidnappers. Compass.  Retrieved July 12, 2017, from www.compassnewspaper.com/NG/index.php?view=article&catid=672%3Atop-store,

Okeoma, C. (2017, July 12). Imo: Gov Okorocha stops Imo monarchs from speaking English at functions. Odili.net. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from http://odili.net/news/source/2017/jul/12/818.html.

Opejobi, S. (2017, April 3). You are too small – Apostle Suleman attacks Prophet T. B. Joshua. Daily Post. Retrieved July 10, 2017, from http://dailypost.ng/2017/04/03/small-apostle-suleman-attacks-prophet-t-b-joshua-vidoe/

Prezi, I. E. ( 2015, Ocotber 25). Christian religionand loss of Ijaw traditions and cultures.  Koris Samuel.  Retrieved November 5, 2017, from https://ikorisamuel.wordpress.com/215/10/25/christian-religion-and-loss-of-ijaw-traditions-andcultures.

Seed, H. (2012). The Bible questions.  IVP Books.  Retrieved July 16, 2017, from https://books.google.com/books?id=raCEI_V56UbUC&pg

The Dresden Codex. (2017, May 24).  World Digital Library.  Retrieved July 31, 2017, from https://www.wdI.org/en/item/11621/

Is it Compatible for Christians to Become Traditional Rulers in Ijawland?

 

By Priye S. Torulagha

 

Before answering the question with a Yes or a No answer, it is necessary to explore the question critically.  Similarly, before condemning the writer for being anti-Christian, it is necessary to read and digest the story in order to have a full understanding of the compelling reason for writing this article.

Although very controversial, nevertheless, it is necessary to ask whether it is compatible for  Ijaw Christians to become traditional rulers in Ijawland at this juncture of the Ijaw struggle for self-determination. The reason is that many Ijaw beliefs, values, norms and practices are disappearing at a frenetic speed due to the unrelenting ideological crusades mounted by Christian evangelists, pastors and adherents to destroy Ijaw culture and traditions in an attempt to replace it with a Christian culture.  Mr. I. E. Prezi published an article titled “Christian Religion and Loss of Ijaw Traditions and Cultures”, in which he identified some of the rare Ijaw cultural beliefs and practices that are disappearing, following Christianization.  Earlier, Dr. E. J. Alagoa had made reference to the fact that many Ijaw traditions have been abandoned as people convert to Christianity (1999).  Indeed, the destruction of Ijaw culture is proceeding at a pace in which by fifty years from now, the Ijaw cultural world could be reduced to nothingness and replaced with Christian and secular-humanistic ideas.     This means that some of the unique beliefs, traditions, rituals, festivals, songs, masquerades and dances might disappear.  This further means that Ijaw traditional music would be replaced by CHRISTIAN GOSPEL MUSIC.  Already, an increasing number of Ijaw musicians are now singing and producing Christian gospel music.  It is evident that in the future, instead of having the Rex Lawsons, I. K. Belemos, the Sea Gulfs, Robert Ebizimors, Barrister Smooths, Timayas, Pereamas, Dennis Abassas, Allen Alabors, Alfred Izon-Ebis, Fere bon Epebifes, Sistr Ayagbene, and so on and so forth, most musicians would be singing gospel music to demonstrate their Christianity.

The increasing disappearance of Ijaw cultural beliefs and practices is easily detectable by asking young men and women questions about their cultural traditions.  Most of them would not be able to explain why certain things are done in a certain way.  Similarly, most of them would not be able to explain why certain festivals take place.  Most Christianized Ijaws have no qualms about condemning their traditional religion as IDOL WORSHIPPING without even paying attention to the meaning of the word “IDOL”.   The word “IDOL” has been reinforced through classical and operant conditioning methods in the churches and Sunday school to the extent that many Ijaw Christians reflexively respond to the Ijaw religion without thinking about the implications.  A considerable number of the educated Ijaws are not interested even in making an attempt to study and understand the traditional system.  The reason is that since the days of their primary school education, they have been schooled, socialized and educated to believe that the traditional system is ungodly, satanic and devilish, therefore, it is something to be avoided.   Hence, the chorus: IDOL WORSHIP, IDOL WORSHIP, and IDOL WORSHIP in referring to Orukarism.

With this psychological orientation, many, if not most educated Ijaws, do not mind consuming any idea that is associated with Christianity and European cultures and rejecting anything that is associated with Ijaw culture.  The most disturbing part of the continuing decimation of Ijaw culture is that even some Ijaw traditional rulers and elders are beginning to reject their own traditional beliefs and practices by describing Ijaw religious culture as “IDOL WORSHIPING.”  It is understandable when a young Ijaw man or woman makes derogatory statements but when traditional Ijaw rulers and elders say that before Christianity, the Ijaws used to worship idols and not God, it really tells a lot about the intellectual state of Ijaw reasoning concerning religion.

Perhaps, due to the influence of Christianity, some Ijaw traditional rulers and elders no longer seem to subscribe to the notion that the traditional leader is the GUARDIAN, PROTECTOR, ENHANCER, PROMOTER and CUSTODIAN of traditional culture and religion.  This is worrisome because all over the world, whether in China, Japan, India, , Tibet, Iraq, Morocco, Mexico, Vietnam, Yorubaland, Peru, Kikuyuland, Maya, Pacific Islands, Cherokee, Thailand,  Maoriland and so on and so forth, traditional rulers/leaders  and elders are generally regarded as the guardians and custodians of their traditional beliefs, cultures, traditions, religions and ancient wisdom.  As a result, they serve as the protectors, promoters, perpetuators and preservers of their cultures, religions and ancient knowledge of their cultures.  In Ijawland, the role of the traditional ruler and elder is systematically being eroded by some very important personages who subscribe to a religion that has nothing to do with Ijaw culture while serving as traditional rulers and elders.

Based on the utterances of some Ijaw traditional leaders and elders, it is inferable that they really do not care about being the guardians, protectors, enhancers, promoters and custodians of Ijaw culture, beliefs, traditions and religion. Hence, the ease with which they describe Orukarism as IDOL WORSHIPPING while ignoring the fact that all religions, including Christianity and Islam, engage in deification of certain beings, individuals, entities, artifacts, symbols, effigies, and totems. Moreover, Christianity and Islam came to the Nigerian region through military conquest, colonization and imposition.

 

The Declining State of Ijaw Culture and Traditions

It might be necessary to cite some specific circumstances to show the retrogressive state of Ijaw culture as some Ijaws, including traditional leaders and elders, uncritically embrace Christianity, which came to Ijawland through British conquest, colonization and imposition.

  1. In 2010, due to the uncontrollable crime rate in Benin/Edoland, the Oba of Benin and the traditional political leadership decided to do something about the situation.  They resorted to the traditional Bini system by invoking their ancestors to punish those who commit crimes.  The Iyase of Benin, Chief Sam Igbe stated:

We are fed up.  This is the way we reacted against this type of things in the

past and we have just gone back to the ancestors to help us clear them.

So, we believe that in order to put a stop to the insecurity, we just have to

put a curse, call on our gods to put a curse and stop all the activities that

threaten lives and property (Mmuta, 2010, June 11).

In Ijawland, His Highness, King Francis Ododo of Ikebiri Kingdom in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State decided to get tough with criminals in his kingdom.  Instead of taking the traditional Ijaw path, since he is a traditional leader, as the Bini leaders did, he declared:  “Henceforth, any person linked to criminal activities in the area will be handed over to the security agencies for prosecution’” (African Examiner, 2010 ).

The fact that the Bini traditional political leadership took the traditional African path and the Ijaw traditional leader took the secular-humanistic path does not say much.  However, the boldness by which the Bini leadership decided to adopt the traditional path is what makes the difference.  The Bini leadership did not doubt the efficacy of Bini traditional religious culture.  This means that the leaders strongly believed in their religion.  Hence, the Iyase of Benin further boldly reinforced the Bini religion by saying:

We felt as Edo people we are not Christians, we are traditionalists, we believe in

God through our ancestors.” (Mmuta, 2010).

 

The question is, how many traditional Ijaw leaders and elders today would be able to boldly defend the integrity of Ijaw Orukari religion?

 

  1. Around 2015, a Bini son won a local government council election in South Florida.  To celebrate the electoral victory, he decided to hold the event in a university campus.  A traditional Bini religious priest was invited from Nigeria to come and offer prayers for the event.  When the traditional religious priest walked to the stage in traditional Bini attire and explained the intricacies of African Ancestralism to the audience, everyone was awe-struck.  The Americans wanted to know everything about Benin religion.

 

On the other hand, how many educated Ijaw men and women would be bold enough to invite an Ijaw traditional religious priest to come and offer prayers?   If this son of Biniland was an Ijaw person, it is probable that a Christian pastor would have been invited just to tell the world that the Ijaw son is a Christian and does not believe in “Idol Worshipping.”

 

  1. While perusing through Youtube to find information about Ijaw culture, a very interesting video about Ijaw culture, history and tradition, titled “Art and Culture Ijaw Episode” showed up.  In the video, the traditional leaders and elders of Kabowei (Kabo) Kingdom narrated the history, beliefs and traditions of Ijawland.  The chiefs spoke glowingly and explained the intricacies of Ijaw culture and traditions, including various festivals.  It was very joyous and enlightening to hear very important elders speak about Ijaw traditions and culture.

 

However, the chiefs also noted that some Ijaw traditions are disappearing following Christianization.  One of the chiefs also repeatedly referred to Orukarism as IDOL WORSHIPPING, thereby, reinforcing the Christian view.  One other noticeable thing about the video is that a Christian gospel song is used as a theme song even though the story of the video is about Ijaw culture and tradition.  It would have been preferable to use a song associated with Ijaw culture to back up a story about Ijaw heritage.  Again, the gospel song simply reinforces the view that Christianity is literally eating away Ijaw culture and people do not seem to pay much attention to it.  In other words, a sizable number of Ijaws are not worried that they are literally destroying their own existence while other ethnic groups in the world are working hard to protect, revive and reinforce their cultures.

 

  1. On June 13, 2017, Emem Ido, a journalist with the Vanguard (Nigeria) newspaper, published a report titled “Sabagreia: Bayelsa community where evil, wicked men dread.”  In the report, the paramount ruler (Amananaowei), His Highness, Dr. Bokumo Orukari explained the story of Lake Efi Festival.  The story is very captivating and should be told and written about in order to preserve Ijaw cultural heritage.  However, the worrisome part of the explanation is that His Highness said, as reported by the Vanguard reporter:

 

Life at the time was centered on the idol Efi……

 

Owing to this constraint, when the fullness of time came, the people and owners of Lake Efi, renounced idolatry and handed the lake over to the Almighty God.

 

The last festival in 2013 was the first time it was conducted with new modifications and alterations to reflect the rededication of the festival to Almighty God.

 

It is obvious from reading the story that Christianity had much to do with various decisions concerning the lake. Most importantly, the view that Orukarism is based on IDOL WORSHIPPING had a great impact too. This line of thinking is greatly influenced by Christian preaching which continues to maintain the view that Ijaw people in particular and African people in general, did not know God until Christianity arrived at the shores of the African continent.  Thus, the quoted statement seems to create the impression that the people of Sabagreia did not know God, hence, paid homage to an IDOL in the past.  The statement is perfectly acceptable for a Christian audience within Ijawland but does not sound well for the global audience.  The reason is that it creates the impression that the Ijaws did not know God, hence, worshipped IDOLS until the Christians came to civilize them to embrace God.

 

The fact is that Sabagreia people knew even before the arrival of Christianity that there is a difference between being good and being bad, hence, they named their community Bolouseibokorogha, which translates into “where no evil/wicked person would settle.”  It is ironic that people who supposedly did not know God but worshipped idols, as the Christians claimed, banned evil people from their community even before the arrival of Christianity.  So, if Orukarism is devilish, why would the Sabagreians banned evil people from their community?  Likewise, since Bolouseibokorogha people revered Efi, does it mean that they did not worship God?  If that is the Christian assumption, then, how did they know that there is Woyengi, Aziba, Azibarau, Ayiba, Ayibarau, Oginaere, Tamarau, Tamuno, Temeowei, Temuno and so on and so forth, in the past? Is it not true that the Ijaws know that God exist for thousands of years before the establishment of Christianity? If that is the case, then, where is the justification for spreading the view that the Ijaws only worshipped idols in the past until Christianity came?

 

  1. The fact that some Ijaw traditional leaders and elders are feverishly working to destroy Ijaw beliefs, culture and practices is undeniable. In Aleibiri community, for instance, an active member of the community who is associated with the St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Mr. Golden Garuwa, is allegedly credited for  initiating an action which resulted in the stoppage of the masquerade festival in 2007 (Prezi, 2015, Ocotber 25).  Again, the wonderment is that the traditional leaders, elders and members of Aleibiri community allowed such a rare cultural festival to be disregarded without thinking about the consequences to their sub-culture.  Perhaps, it should be noted that the Anglican Church was established by King Henry VIII in an attempt to seek a divorce from his wife who could not bear him a male heir.  The Catholic Church had repeatedly refused to grant King Henry permission to divorce the wife, hence, he created the Church of England (Anglican Church) to accomplish the goal.  This is why the Anglican Church is regarded as a state church.

 

  1. As part of the ongoing campaign to systematically wipe out Ijaw religious culture, which is the bedrock of the moral foundation of Ijaw existence, a forumite on Ijaw Nation Forum (INF) went as far as to indicate that the word ORU means devil in Ijawland. Of course, the fact is that ORU does not mean devil at all.  ORU is the name of the founding deity, as well as the name of an ancient African ethnic group that is associated with the deity.  Many ethnic groups in Africa today, including the Ijaw, Urhobo, Dogon, Nupe and others claimed to have originated from the ORU nation.  The Ijaws are directly associated with the ancient ORU nation that is why sometimes the Ijaws are referred to as Oru people.

 

It is not unusual for people to equate their ethnicity directly with the creation deity. This accounted for why the Jews claim to be the children of their God.  Logically, the Ijaws too claim to be the children of their God.  This accounted for why the Ijaws refer to their religion as ORUKARI, which means the worshipping of a deity. In Orukari, there is GOD, gods and goddesses, and ancestral beings. The Orukari religion fits very well with the universal theory of the nine gods/goddesses.  According to this theory, human affairs in the world are regulated by nine gods/goddesses.  Thus, each god/goddess deals with a particular aspect of human affairs.  The Bible also recognizes the multiplicity of gods and goddesses, as indicated below.  Hence, St. Michael is regarded as an angel which protects and fight for justice.  The Christian concept of St. Michael matches the Orukari concept of Egbesu which performs the same role.

 

ORUKARISM

The Orukari religion has stringent rules.  These rules could be regarded as sacred COMMANDMENTS or LAWS.  This is why an Ijaw person can only kill under the principle of self defense.  Anyone who kills must perform a soul cleansing ritual to clean away the sin of taking the life of another.

 

Orukari religion seriously frowns at evil deeds.  Thus, in some parts of Ijawland, any person who has engaged in sorcery cannot be buried in the same cemetery as those with clean hearts.  In some parts of Ijawland, when a person dies, before burial takes place, the OBOBA Bi ritual must be conducted to find out whether the person was a good or a bad person.

 

Thus, every Ijaw person supposed not to violate the sacred rules or laws.  As a result, in Ijawland, there are ABOMINATIONS or SINS.  An abomination is a violation of the sacred commandments or laws.  Evidently, any Ijaw person that commits an ABOMINATION must confess the deed.  It is the only way to wash away the sin.  There is a strong belief that if confession is not rendered, the sin could affect the members of the sinner’s family also.

 

ORUKARISM is based on absolute truth due to the belief that truthfulness is tantamount to godliness. He or she who cannot tell the truth cannot be godly.  This accounted for why no one can lie while entering the shrine. There is a belief in Ijawland that there are no secrets because anything done secretly or clandestinely can be verified through divination.

 

Indeed, ORUKARISM is based on the Worshipping of God.  Consequently, the Ijaws have always worshipped God (WOYENGI, AYIBA, AZIBA, AZIBARA, OGINAERE, TAMUNO, TEMEOWEI, TEMUNO) FROM TIME IMMEMEORIAL.  The Cosmology of ORUKARI Religion, as indicated above, includes God, gods and goddesses, and ancestral beings.  It is from this perspective that the idea of Ancestralism takes place.  This arrangement is not markedly different from Christianity which has God, Jesus Christ, angels and saints. The Christian saints are ancestral beings because they are the deceased members of the Christian religion who have been deified after death.  Therefore, the Christians honor God, Jesus Christ, angels and saints the way Orukarists honor God, gods, goddesses and ancestral beings.  When Christians honor the angels and saints by naming their schools, churches and other important structures after them, they do not say they are paying homage to IDOLS.  For instance, the St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Aleibiri is intended to honor St. Luke, who is a deceased member of the Christian Church.   However when the Ijaws honor gods and goddesses and ancestral beings (dead ancestors), they are referred to by the Christians as IDOL WORSHIPPERS.  Sadly, the Ijaws meekly buy into this propaganda without thinking about it critically.

 

 

Christianity and Idolism

 

By the way, when Christians claim that they do not honor gods and goddesses, they are either being very forgetful or mischievous since the Old Testament also acknowledges the notion of gods and goddesses.  For instance in Genesis 1:26, it is stated “LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE, AFTER OUR LIKENESS.”  The “our image, after our likeness” shows a plurality of deities.

Likewise, In Psalm 82:1, it is stated “GOD HAS TAKEN HIS PLACE IN THE DIVINE COUNCIL, IN THE MIDST OF THE GODS HE HOLDS JUDGMENT.”  Another way to put it is “GOD STANDETH IN THE CONGREGATION OF THE MIGHTY; HE JUDGETH AMONG THE GODS”.  Here again, there is an acknowledgment of the plurality of deities (gods and goddesses). Of course, most Christians prefer to pay little attention to the fact that there is an acknowledgement of the concept of polytheism (many gods) in the Bible.  So, what is the difference between the acknowledgment of gods in the Bible and in Orukarism?  There is no difference between the two ways, however, the Christians are very good in ignoring facts about their own religion while point fingers at other religions.

 

Christianity, like every other religion in the world, is filled with IDOLS made up of various symbols, effigies, images, and totems.  The following provides a short list of activities which constitute reverence for IDOLS in Christianity:

 

  1. The Bible: The Bible is a collection of written materials that span about two thousand years.  The materials were written by about 66 writers.  Even though it is a book written by human beings to describe and prophesied their perceptions of God and the state of being godly, today, it is accepted as the WORD of God. This is why it is considered a sacred book.  Thus, to know God through Christianity, it is necessary to read the Bible.  Then, what happens to those who cannot read and write?  Does it mean that those who cannot read the Bible cannot know and understand God? Is it necessary to read a book to know God? The truth is that it is not necessary to read the Bible or any book in order to know God.  Human beings have been worshipping God for thousands of years before the establishment of Christianity. This is why the Christian religion borrows extensively from other religions.

 

Moreover, the New Testament of the Bible is not necessarily accepted by the Jews. This accounted for why the Christians have persistently persecuted the Jews for refusing to convert to Christianity.   Additionally, the information in the New Testament only reinforces the orthodox view of the Christian story. On the other hand, it does not reflect the Agnostic view of Christianity.  It is necessary to have both views in order to draw a more objective picture of what actually happened in the days of Jesus Christ.

 

Problems with the Bible

 

  1. There are many versions of the Bible, including the Hebrew, Greek, Ethiopian and the St. James.  The Ethiopian version is probably the largest or longest because it contains additional materials.

 

  1. The Old Testament and the New Testament are not compatible. The Old Testament deals basically with Jewish beliefs, traditions and culture while the New Testament deals with Jesus Christ and the emergence of Christianity.  The Old Testament God is discriminative, revengeful, punitive, tribalistic and reactive.  The New Testament God is very forgiving and tolerant.  The Old Testament God sounds more like a tribal God while the New Testament God is globalized to embrace all.  The view that the Bible contains two distinct Gods is not new.  Around 142 CE, a man named Marcion, a rich ship magnate, the son of Bishop of Sinope of Pontus, a Pauline Christian who later adopted the Gnostic teachings of Cerdon, argued that the Supreme God is different from the creator God (Cosmocrater or Lord of Creation).  In this regard, the God of the Jews (Cosmocrater) was lesser than the Supreme God.  Cerdon had argued that the God of the Jews was not the father of Jesus Christ. (The Atheist Conservative, 2010, January 2).

 

  1. Some of the stories in the Bible are contradictory. For instance, the Creation Story in Genesis dealing with Adam and Eve is confusing.  First, it is stated that God created man and woman equally, then, in the explanation section, it is stated that God took a rib from Adam to create Eve.  For instance, in Genesis 1: 27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”.  Then in Genesis 22 “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

 

  1. Some of the stories are incomplete. For instance, Cain is banished from the Garden of Eden to roam the earth.  Then suddenly, it is stated that he impregnated a woman without mentioning where the woman came from since the Bible had stated that only Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel existed at the time.  Genesis 4:16 states “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” Then in Genesis 4:17, it is stated “And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch”.  Where did the wife come from?  Were there other people?  If Nod was already occupied by human beings, then the story of Adam and Eve being the first human beings is nullified.

 

Despite these limitations and contradictions, the Bible is viewed as the WORD OF

God.

 

  1. Jesus Christ: Today, there is an unquestionable belief among Christians that Jesus Christ is not only the son of God but a manifestation of God.  In the past, that was not necessarily the case.  There are a few examples to cite from to show that in the past the status of Jesus Christ was highly debated by the early Christians.

 

  1. For instance, Montanus and his two associates, prophetesses Prisca and Maximilla appeared on the Christian scene between 156 and 172 CE to spread a version of Christianity which devalued the importance of Christ and emphasized the importance of the Holy Spirit (Davis, 1983). This movement shifted the focus of Christianity away from Christ to the Holy Spirit before the Church banned the idea later.

 

  1. The Council of Nicaea took place in 325 CE. Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire organized the council to develop an official doctrine for the Christian religion. Before this time, the Christians had no official doctrine and preached different things about the religion.  Emperor Constantine invited 1800 bishops to attend the Christian gathering but about 318 of them turned up.

 

One of the major issues the council tackled was determining the relationship between the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Father (God).  This issue divided the council into two factions.  One faction was led by St. Alexander of Alexandria and the other faction was led by presbyter Arius.  St. Alexander, his assistant Athanasius and their supporters argued that the Son (Jesus Christ) was as divine and coeternal as the Father (God).  Hence, there was no difference between Jesus and God.

 

On the other hand, Arius and his 22 supporters in the council maintained that the Father (God) was supreme and unique, hence, greater than the son (Jesus Christ).  Arius further argued that the Son (Jesus) had a beginning and did not possess the eternity and divinity of the Father (God).  Accordingly, the Son (Jesus) was made God by the permission of the father (God). This view of Jesus Christ and God is known as Arianism.   The debate about the status of Jesus Christ went on from May 20, 325 to June 19, 325.  This means that it took a month to discuss and resolve the issue of Jesus Christ and God.

 

St. Alexander and his supporters won the debate.  As a result, the Bible only contains the Alexanderian view of Jesus Christ.  The Church leaders banned the Arian view (Davis, 1983).  As can be seen, the belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God and possesses godly essence as God is a product of human intellectual and emotional debate.  Of course, many Christian pastors in Ijawland, Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the black world rarely read the story of how Jesus came to be referred to as a God.

 

  1. A careful reading of the Bible clearly shows that Jesus Christ did not write any of the books of the New Testament, yet, Christian leaders and pastors quote him as if he actually said those things in person. It is theorized that St. Mark wrote the earliest gospel based on information provided by St. Peter since he was a discipline of both Peter and Paul.  Thereafter, St. Mathew and St. Luke wrote their versions based on information partially gathered from St. Mark’s writings.

 

  1. Moreover, it should be noted that there are four versions on the story of Jesus Christ. They are: (1) the Horus version, (2) the Zeus version, (3) the Simon of Perea version and (4) Jesus Christ version. This means that the story of Jesus Christ is not as simple as many Christians tend to believe.

 

  1. Likewise, Jesus Christ had a human father, mother and siblings. This is often ignored with the argument that he was born by a virgin who was married or betrothed to Joseph. Perhaps, the twisting of the story contributes to why the Jews do not accept the story.

 

  1. The Bible does not provide much information about the most important person in the New Testament. Why? This is why some people believe that Jesus Christ was actually married to Mary Magdalene.  The Islamic Koran refers to him as a prophet.

 

  1. The Cross:  The cross is a pre-Christian religious symbol that the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Indians, Irish, and Native Americans used in their religions.  The Roman Empire used the cross to crucify individuals that had been condemned to death.  Thus, Jesus Christ was executed on the Cross, hence, the Christians adopted it.  Now, it is treated as an exclusive Christian symbol and deified.  As a result, the Christian warriors who waged the Crusades against the Moslems carried the Cross as a symbol of protection.

 

  1. Statues:  Statues have become part of the mainstay of the Christian religion.  In many parts of the world, especially in Europe and the Americas, important Christian figures are deified through statues that are honored as if they are gods.

 

  1. Church Buildings: Christians tend to build very large worshipping houses.  There seems to be a believe that the bigger the church, the godlier the structure.   This is why even in Nigeria today, there are huge church buildings sometimes referred to as mega-churches.  Churches are now referred to as God’s houses.

 

  1. Christian Relics: In many Christian churches in Europe and Latin America, the body parts of former church members who have been deified as saints are kept and worshipped.  It is very common for churchgoers to kiss and touch the body parts in the hope of being blessed and protected by the saints.  Similarly, artifacts that are associated with Jesus Christ and other important members of Christianity are treated as sacred objects and revered.

 

  1. Tithe: Tithe has increasingly become a financial mainstay of the Christian church.  Churchgoers are compelled to give one or 10% of their wages to the Church.  Christians are psychologically made to feel guilty and ungodly if they do not give tithe.  Thus, the giving of tithe is now regarded as part of the Christian process for worshipping God. Some pastors exploit the tithe to become very wealthy.  Some of the funds generated through tithe are used for building mega-churches.

 

It is arguable that Christianity is a product of Afro-Asiatic traditional religions due to the belief that the early Jews were actually black Africans.  A Ghanaian scholar, Nana Banchie Darkwah, in his “The Africans who wrote the Bible” demonstrated the fact that black Africans wrote the Bible.  Darkwah’s position is corroborated by Dr. Ndagi Abdullahi (2017, June 30) who  wrote :

 

But the truth of the matter is that the Jewish culture seen among the Ibos is also seen

among almost all other ancient Nigerian peoples including the Ibibbio, the Kalabari, the

Ijaw, the itsekiri, Jukun, the Igala, the Nupe, and so on and on.  All these ancient

Nigerian people have been practicing Jewish cultures for thousands of years even long

before the time of Our Lord Jesus Christ some two thousand years ago.

 

In other words, West Africa was the original homeland of the Jewish people.

Even Western scholarship is gradually coming to admit that the original Jews

were Black African Negroes and that Black Negro Africa was the setting of the

stories of the Scriptures – not the Middle East.

 

Professor Ze’ev Herzog, the Head of the Archeology Department of the University

of Tel Aviv in Israel, wrote a book and purposely convened an international press

conference telling the world that today’s Israel, or Palestine (whatever you call it),

was not the place where the stories of the Bible took place.

 

Yes, the original Jews were Black African Negroes and they were resident here in

Middle Africa – that is West Africa, Central and East Africa combined.

 

Therefore, it is inferable that Christianity is a corrupted form of Orukarism and other African religions.  Moreover, the Ten Commandments in the Bible seem to be a shortened version of the 42 Declarations that were the mainstay of ancient African religions, which the ijaws continue to practice under Orukarism.  This is why in Orukarism, there are many abominations or sins, as indicated earlier.  As a result, the Ijaws cannot engage in certain behaviors.  The Roman Empire and the Christian Church Europeanized some of the Afro-Asiatic beliefs to create the current brand of Christianity, which, sometimes, is referred to as “Constantinian” Christianity.

 

Obviously, these are only a few of the cases where even Ijaw traditional leaders, either knowingly or unknowingly denigrate their ancestral religion in order to justify their Christianity.  If they continue this way, the future generation of Ijaw children will know nothing about their past, apart from being fed stories in the Bible.

 

European Christians and Reverence for their Gods and Goddesses.

 

Why Are the Ijaws so eager to destroy their religious culture in the name of Christianity when others do not do so? Why is it that even Ijaw leaders and elders are willing at a moment’s notice to give up their beliefs, culture, values and practices when others do everything possible to perpetuate their cultures?

 

Perhaps, it might be necessary to show that European Christians who brought Christianity to Ijawland continue to pay homage to their pre-Christian religious deities.  They have no problem calling their deities gods and goddesses, just as the Ijaws do under Orukarism.  There are many examples to cite from:

  1. As stated in previous writings, the month of JANUARY IS NAMED AFTER THE ROMAN GOD JANUS.  European Christians have no desire to change the name.  This means that they are happy with honoring their god.
  2. The month of MARCH is named after Roman god MARS. The Europeans do not refer to Mars as an IDOL.
  3. The month of MAY is named after Roman goddess of honor and reverence (MAIESTA).
  4. The month of JULY is named after JULIUS CAESAR (Here, a human being is deified).
  5. The month of AUGUST is named after AUGUSTUS CAESAR (The same thing happens here).
  6. The U.S. spaceship that went to the moon is named after Roman god APOLLO. American Christians have no problem with the name. They do not call Apollo an IDOL.
  7. The U.S. submarine TRIDENT is named after the three-pronged spear that is associated with the god POSEIDON.
  8. The U.S. submarine POSEIDON is named after POSEIDON, the Greek god of the sea.
  9. The PLANETS are named after Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. They are MERCURY, VENUS, JUPITER, SATURN and NEPUNE.  For instance, the Roman god (JUPITER) is regarded as the god of light and sky and protector of the state.  Even Pluto is a name of a European god.
  10. The Saturn spaceship is named after Greek god (SATURN), god of death.
  11. ZEUS is the Greek god of the sky.
  12. The English people, although Christian today, still pay homage to the Stonehenge.
  13. In England, the town of Glastonbury continues to be revered as a sacred site.

 

As indicated above, European Christians actually glorify their ancestral past by continuing to honor their gods and goddesses while Ijaw Christians refer to their gods and goddesses as IDOLs.  The Europeans who brought Christianity to Ijawland continue to honor their pre-Christian deities while Ijaw Christians are trying very hard to destroy their heritage in the name of Christianity?

 

The Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese. Tibetans, Native Americans and South Pacific Islanders have God, gods and goddesses in their religions, just like the Ijaws.  They do not refer to their deities as IDOLS.

 

Is it appropriate and Proper for Christians to Become Traditional Rulers in Ijaw society?

The simplest answer to the above question is that it is not appropriate because Ijaw Orukari culture and Constantinian Christianity are incompatible.  Why?

  1. Religion is a product of the culture and the environment.  This means that religion and culture have symbiotic relationships.  The culture molds the religion and the religion molds the culture.  Thus, Ijaw culture is molded by the Orukari religion and the environment.  Likewise, Ijaw culture molds the Orukari religion.  Therefore, to establish morality in Ijawland, the belief and value system must come from the religious culture.

 

  1. The traditional Ijaw political system is a product of Ijaw culture, religion, environment, and Ijaw ancestors. Therefore, to become a traditional ruler in Ijawland, the individual must be conversant with the traditional religious culture since respect for the ancestor is the core of the system. There is nothing wrong in Ijaw people honoring their ancestors just like the Christians honor their ancestors (saints).

 

  1. Christianity is a product of Afro-Asiatic Jewish culture and religion, interwoven with European culture and religion through the influence of the Roman Empire.

 

  1. To subscribe to Christianity is to subscribe to Judeo/European cultures. This is why many Ijaw Christians, like their Nigerian and other Sub-Saharan African counterparts bear Jewish and English names to signify their Christianity. It should be noted that those who are referred to Jews today are different from the ancient Jews.

 

  1. The Islamic religion is also an Afro-Asiatic product of Arabic culture and religion. Wesley Muhammed, an Islamic scholar, believed that Black Africans were greatly responsible for establishing and spreading Islam in his “Were the blacks who founded Islam really Africans? In Black Arabia).  Therefore, to become a Moslem is to subscribe to Arabic culture. This is why a vast proportion of Nigerian Moslems and their Sub-Saharan African counterparts bear Arabic names, instead of their indigenous African names.

 

  1. Since both Christianity and Islam have greatly been influenced by Arabic and Judeo/European cultures today, Ijaw Christians must look to Israel for their religious pilgrimage while Nigerian Moslems must look toward Saudi Arabia for their pilgrimage. The fact remains that there are sacred places in every society. There are sacred places in Ijawland.  For instance, during the Isaac Boro rebellion, Nigerian mobile policemen were advised not to step into an area that was regarded as a sacred place but they refused to heed the advice and all the policemen that defiled the place were reported to have perished. Unfortunately, many, if not most Ijaw Christians might not appreciate the fact that Ijawland has sacred places.

 

  1. The Jewish, Arabic and most European cultures tend to regard God as a masculine entity. Ijaw culture tends to view God as a feminine entity.  Thus, Ijaw culture is more tolerant towards women than Jewish and Arabic cultures.  Apparently, if an Ijaw person inclines towards the Jewish or Arabic culture, he or she is going to view things more from the masculine perspective rather than from a dualistic perspective if the person subscribes to Ijaw religious culture.

 

  1. If too many individuals with Christian orientation become traditional rulers in Ijawland, they would denigrate the traditional religious culture and transpose Judeo/European religious culture on Ijaw culture. Soon or later, they might end up creating an environment in which a traditionalist would not be able to ascend the political throne.  They would do so by Christianizing the conditions to qualify for the position.  This has already happened in Hausaland where Islam has been transposed upon the Hausa culture so much so that Hausa traditionalists rarely have the opportunity to become leaders in their own land.  The reason is that the culture is so Islamized that the only way to move forward socially, politically and religiously is to become a Moslem. Hence, Hausaland is now dominated by emirs, rather than by Sarkins (the Hausa word for a king).  In Ijawland, the Christians could end up giving Christian names to Ijaw traditional titles.
  2. Therefore, if an Ijaw Christian becomes a traditional ruler in Ijawland, he or she is most likely to view the traditional religious culture as IDOL WORSHIPPING and avoid the rituals that are associated with being a traditional Ijaw leader. By so doing, the individual might tactically begin to kill  Ijaw culture by avoiding those beliefs, practices and rituals that are essential for reinforcing tradition.  In fact, in almost every society, leaders are expected to embrace the religion that most people identify with the culture. It might be necessary to cite some facts to explain the point.

 

  1. In Britain, it is an unspoken fact that the queen or king must embrace Anglicanism.  A British member of the royal family who becomes a Catholic would be encouraged to leave the religion and convert to Anglicanism.

 

  1. In Italy, the rulers are expected to embrace Roman Catholicism.

 

  1. In the United States, a would-be-president is expected to identify with the Baptist faith. This is why it is very difficult for a Mormon or a Jew or a Catholic to become a president.  The late President John Kennedy was able to climb the presidential throne due to his family background.

 

  1. For the Edo nation, to become an Oba, the individual must forego any foreign religious tradition and embrace Bini tradition totally.  The person would be initiated into the mysteries of the traditional religious culture before being crowned.  The same goes for Yoruba Obas. They are initiated into the traditional system before coronation.

 

  1. Among the Efiks, every male (and some females) must be initiated into the Ekpe (leopard/lion) society. Any Efik male that is not part of the Ekpe Society has less social value.  Thus, the Obong (king) as well as the chiefs are all members of Ekpe Society, regardless of religion.  The head of the Ekpe Society is one of the most powerful individuals in Efikland. The Ibibios expect their traditional leaders and most men to be initiated into the Ekpo Society.  The Abiriba Igbo people expect most of their men to be initiated to the Abiriba Warrior Society, as well as Ekpe Society.  By so doing, the Edos,  Efiks, Ibibios and the Abiriba Igbos are able to institutionalize their beliefs, traditions and practices.
  2. Among the Ijaws, the Kalabari, Ibani, Opobo, Gbaramatu and Arogbo people are noted for institutionalizing their traditions. This is why the Kalabaris celebrate the Owu Aru Sun Festival and actively join the Ekine Society.  They openly celebrate Akaso without apology to anyone.   The Ibani and the Opobo people celebrate the Otam Ebukuma (Nwaotam) Festival with vigour and devotion.  The Gbaramatu and Arogbo people are steadfast in upholding the Agadagba or Egbesu as the core of the traditional religio-political system.  This accounted for why the Agadagba (King) of Gbaramatu insisted that the Nigerian soldiers who stole the Egbesu golden sword must return it or face the spiritual consequences that might follow. Okrika people celebrate the Odum and the Ogwein masquerades with boldness and joy.  The Nembes continue to perform the Ofuruma  (ofirima) masquerade.

 

Thus, due to the contradiction between Christianity and Orukari religious culture, the only way a strong advocate of Christianity can become a traditional ruler is that he or she must forego Christianity and embrace Okurarism as the religion of Ijaw people.  The Binis, Yorubas, EFiks, Ashantis, and many other ethnic groups put restrictions or conditions that must be met before an individual becomes a traditional ruler.  In fact, the Bini and Yoruba Obas go through extensive retraditionalization before their coronation.  By so doing, they are able to ensure that the traditional religious culture is not corrupted by foreign religious cultures.

If the Ijaws do not put conditions based on the traditional religious culture, soon or later, the Christians might end up taking over all the traditional leadership positions in Ijawland.  If that happens, Ijawland might end up like Hausaland.  In Nigeria, it is inferable that the Hausas are the most colonized people in the sense that Islam has been imposed to the extent that Hausa beliefs and traditions are highly diminished.

The concern about the possibility of Ijaw culture dying out should be taken seriously.  The Urhobos and other ethnic groups face the same danger.  Hence, in Delta State, Prof. Christopher Orubiu and Dr. Emmanuel Biri of Delta State University “condemned the demonization of Urhobo culture under the façade of Christianity” (Egufe Yafugborhi, 2016, January 7)

Similarly, Governor Rochas OKorocha of Imo State, not too long ago, argued that public officials in Nigeria should swear their oath of office in the name of their ancestors.  He noted “People no longer fear Bible and Quran that are currently being used, because they knew that God is merciful and did not kill instantly.”  Again, he recently stated that traditional rulers in Imo State should not speak English while addressing their people during public functions (Okeoma, 2017, July 12).  Apparently, there is much concern that African cultural beliefs and traditions are increasingly being threatened due to undue conversion to Christianity and Islam and the embracing of secular humanism.

It seems that many Ijaws do not realize that Orukarism is responsible for the Ijaws being fiercely independent and fearless in expressing themselves.  The traditional religion is responsible for enabling the Ijaws to predict or forecast past and future events through Ye bi or Obuba bi (divination) ritual.  In fact, if not for Christian and secular-humanistic influences, the Ijaws would have used Ye bi or Obuba bi to find out who killed Chief Marshall Harry, Chief A. K. Dikibo and Admiral Daniel Ikoli.  Similarly, the religion is responsible for setting the norms and mores that inhibit sinful acts like killing people to sell body parts and producing baby factories.  The necessity to tell the absolute truth is a direct product of Orukarism.  It is the Ijaw religious culture that encourages people to confess and make amends if they violate certain situations.  Lastly, it is Orukarism that is responsible for making the Ijaws to be great fighters.

If the Ijaws destroy their religious culture, they would emasculate themselves and become a mass of helpless human beings who must depend on greedy, cunning, cheating, corrupting and conniving individuals  to lead them. The signs of greediness, cunningness, cheating, corruption and lying are everywhere as some public officials embezzled public funds with total disregard for social and political consequences.  Some Ijaws now hire thugs to intimidate and kill their opponents.   Some youths are no longer afraid of even embezzling community funds that would have been used to develop their own communities.  Self-centeredness is increasingly becoming the norm, thereby, destroying the communal culture that is the hallmark of Ijaw religious world.  Stealing is becoming very rampant because the traditional taboos are being ignored as people claim to be Christians.

No society has operated successfully through Christianity because the Bible is read, analyzed, explained and interpreted differently by different people.  This is why there are so many Christian denominations.  Each denomination seems to think that its brand of Christianity is superior to other Christian branches.  The pastors like to throw mud at each other as they compete to establish the largest and most populated churches in the world.  In Nigeria, for instance, Prophet I. B. Joshua and Prophet Johnson Suleman re not in good terms even though both supposed to lead their Christian flocks to God (Opejobi, 2017, April 3).  An increasing number of Christian pastors in Nigeria engaged in ungodly acts daily as they scramble to accumulate wealth while pretending to be servants of God.

Thus, it is difficult to establish morality and ethics in society when different pastors interpret the Bible differently based on their ideological orientations and self-interest.  The same problem seems to exist in Islam where the Sunnis and the Shiites do not see eye to eye.   Like Christian pastors, Islamic imams and clerics too read, explain and interpret the Koran based on their ideological perceptions and self-interest.  In Nigeria, Islamic leaders and preachers tend to preach a version of the religion that is more applicable to the 13th century, as Emir Lamido Sanusi of Kano noted while the Arab nations are developing their societies with science and technology.

Throughout the world, Christianity is responsible for destroying many indigenous cultures.  In After experiencing heart-wrenching situations in the hands of the Christians,  the Native Americas in North, Central, and South America are now working hard to revive their cultures that Spanish Christians almost wiped out from the face of the earth while searching for gold and silver.  It should be noted that the Spanish Christians almost wiped out all the writings of the Mayan people.  Fortunately for the world, the Christians missed four of the writings.   The four writings were taken to Germany and kept in the City of Dresden.  Today, the Mayan writings are known as the Dresden Codex.  The four writings have shown that the Mayans were very advanced, both scientifically and spiritually and built some of the largest pyramids in the world (World Digital Library, 2017, May 24).  The Ijaws cannot and should not assist, in any shape or form, the destruction of their own culture in the pretense of avoiding the WORSHIPPING of IDOLS.

To safeguard Ijaw culture from total decimation by the Christians, it is necessary for all Ijaw traditional rulers to subscribe to Ijaw culture by serving as the guardians, protectors, promoters and preservers of the culture. In this regard, the Ijaw Traditional Rulers Council or Forum should hold regular meetings and discuss ways of ensuring the preservation of Ijaw beliefs, values, traditions and language.

Finally, in Ijawland, the traditional moral order should be the guiding light to shape peoples’ behavior.  This means that if anyone steals public money, the person should be compel to tell the absolute truth by swearing in the name of his or her ancestors.  It is a fact that neither Christianity nor secular humanism is working effectively in Ijawland, Nigeria and Black Africa.  This is why things are falling apart, as Chinua Achebe predicted in his novel “Things Fall Apart.”

 

References

Alagoa, E. J. (1999)  The land and people of Bayelsa State:  Central Niger Delta. Chioba, Port Harcourt:  Onyoma Research Publications.

Darkwah, B. N. (2002).  The Africans who wrote the Bible.  Roussellville, Arkansas: Aduana

Davis, L. D. (1983).  The first seven ecumenical councils (325 – 787): Their history and theology. Wilmington, Delaware: A Michael Glazer, Inc.

How rich ship owner affected Christianity.  (2010, January 2).  The Atheist Conservative.  Retrieved July 11, 2017, from theatheistconservative.com/20010/01/02/how-a-rich-ship=owner=affected-christianity

Ido, E. (2017, July 6).  Sabagreia:  Bayelsa community where evil, wicked men dread. Vanguard. Retrieved July 6, 2017, from http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/06/sabagreai-bayelsa-community-evil-wicked-men-dread.

Ijaw monarch declares war on violent crime in Bayelsa.  (2010, July 8).  African Examiner.  African Examiner. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from  http://www.africanexaminer,com/ijaw_mona.

Mmuta, C. (2010, June 11). Oba of Benin Leads spiritual warfare against robbers, kidnappers. Compass.  Retrieved July 12, 2017, from www.compassnewspaper.com/NG/index.php?view=article&catid=672%3Atop-store,

Ogunesan, T. (2017, November 8). Neglect of Yoruba culture, reason for high crime rate – Prof.  Vanguard. Retrieved November 9, 2017, from http://odili.net/news/source/2017/nov/8/604.html.

Okeoma, C. (2017, July 12). Imo: Gov Okorocha stops Imo monarchs from speaking English at functions. Odili.net. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from http://odili.net/news/source/2017/jul/12/818.html.

Opejobi, S. (2017, April 3). You are too small – Apostle Suleman attacks Prophet T. B. Joshua. Daily Post. Retrieved July 10, 2017, from http://dailypost.ng/2017/04/03/small-apostle-suleman-attacks-prophet-t-b-joshua-vidoe/

Prezi, I. E. ( 2015, Ocotber 25). Christian religionand loss of Ijaw traditions and cultures.  Koris Samuel.  Retrieved November 5, 2017, from https://ikorisamuel.wordpress.com/215/10/25/christian-religion-and-loss-of-ijaw-traditions-andcultures.

Seed, H. (2012). The Bible questions.  IVP Books.  Retrieved July 16, 2017, from https://books.google.com/books?id=raCEI_V56UbUC&pg

The Dresden Codex. (2017, May 24).  World Digital Library.  Retrieved July 31, 2017, from https://www.wdI.org/en/item/11621/

 

 

 

Evangelical Christianity and the Struggle for the Spiritual Soul of Haiti

Evangelical Christianity and the Struggle for the Spiritual Soul of Haiti

Priye S. Torulagha

Torulaghareports.com

priyet@hotmail.com

 

 

Introduction

After the Haitians launched a successful Voodoo inspired revolution to gain independence in 1804, Christian missionaries poured into the country in an attempt to purge the country of the ancestral-based religion.  It was unthinkable for the Christians at the time to accept the view that any other religion could be successful enough to overwhelm a Christian-based state.  As a result, the Christians have continuously mounted religious campaigns to get rid of the African religion in the country.

To justify the need to get rid of the ancestral-based religion, Evangelical Christians, in particular, tend to attribute every problem that has besieged Haiti since independence, to the view that the country suffers from a curse because Haitian revolutionaries made a “pact with the devil.”  By implication, the Evangelical Christians are saying that Haitians will continue to suffer until they totally forego their traditional religion.  This further means that Haitians will stop suffering as soon as they convert to Christianity.

Following this line of thinking, when Port-au-Prince suffered a very destructive earthquake in January 2010, some Christian groups, including Rev. Pat Robertson of Club 700 fame, floated the idea again that the devastating earthquake was God’s punishment for Haitian worshiping of Voodoo rather than Christianity. According to him, the Haitians:

were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever.  And they got together and swore a pact to the devil.  They said “We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.  And so, the devil said ok, it is a deal (CNN, 2010, January 13).

Since the devastating earthquake in 2010, some Evangelical Christian groups, while offering humanitarian assistance to the victims, started launching an unrelenting religious campaign to convert those Haitians who are still worshipping Voodoo to embrace Christianity.  As part of the campaign strategy to justify the need for conversion, they reinforced the Robertsonian view that Haitians will continue to suffer because Haitian revolutionaries signed a “pact with the devil” in order to free themselves.

This religious struggle, which could technically be regarded as a Christian crusade in the twenty-first century, is indeed amazing.  It is equally amazing that millions of Haitians, including some respectable Evangelical Christian priests, have also accepted the propagandized view of the unfortunate situation that Haiti has found itself.  The religious struggle for the control of Haiti was recently brought to the attention of the world by Reza Aslan’s television documentary titled “Believer,” which was presented on CNN Channel 202 on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 10:00PM.  Mr. Aslan did an excellent job in presenting the different perspectives concerning whether Haitians should convert to Christianity and forsake their ancestral religion or not.

 

Purpose of the Article

The purpose of this article is to accomplish the following goals: (1) explore the issue of whether the supposed Haitian “pact with the devil,” as Christians claimed, is the cause of suffering in Haiti; (2)  determine whether if Haitians convert to Christianity en masse, their suffering will stop; and (3) find out whether there are alternative explanations for the situation.

To accomplish these goals, it is necessary to gather data by examining important political, religious and historical facts, events and circumstances in Christendom in order to ascertain whether societies that have converted to Christianity have never suffered in their history, following the Evangelical Christians’ claim that Voodoo is the cause of Haitian suffering. In particular, Europe provides an excellent historical laboratory to gather appropriate information concerning the Christian experience.  Likewise, important events in other parts of the world are also taken into consideration, depending on their relevance to the discussion.

 

Hypotheses

Based on the goals of the article, the following hypotheses are drawn:

(1) There is no correlation between the suffering in Haiti and the worshipping of Voodoo religion. (2) Conversion to Christianity will not stop suffering in Haiti. (3) Societies that have converted to Christianity suffer as much as societies that subscribe to other religions.  (4) There are extraneous factors other than “a pact with the devil” that contribute to the situation in Haiti.

 

Political, Religious and Historical Facts and Events about Christianity and the European Experience

First, in 311 CE, the Roman Empire declared neutrality towards Christianity, thereby, giving it an official status as a legitimate religion in the state.  Emperor Constantine eventually converted to Christianity.  This allowed Christians, for the first time, to worship their religion openly without fear of persecution (Barrow, 1979).

Second, the Roman Empire officially adopted Christianity in 378 CE during the reign of Emperor Theodosius (Ibid).  This led to the conversion of Roman colonies into Christianity and the incremental spreading of the religion to various parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Third, the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 410 CE when Germanic tribes (Vandals, Franks, and Visigoths) whom the Romans had persistently exploited, turned around to invade and ravage Rome.  The fall of the Western Roman Empire led to the collapse of central authority in most of Europe.  The Eastern Roman Empire became the Byzantine Empire.

Fourth, to fend off the criticism that Roman conversion to Christianity was responsible for the downfall, St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) argued that Christianity had nothing to do with it.  Rather, he blamed the Romans for their downfall.  The reasons he gave for the fall of the Roman Empire included: (a) that Romans were corrupt and deserved to be punished, (b) that if it were not for the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, Rome would have been totally destroyed, (c) that Rome had many problems even before the empire converted to Christianity, (d) that if Roman gods were so good, they would have protected Rome against its enemies, and (e) that Rome was not a true Republic because it was united by the love of pride and not of God (Tannenbaum & Schultz, 1998).  It is obvious that the Evangelical Christian argument that Haiti is suffering because many Haitians worship Voodoo and not Christianity is very similar to the Augustinian argument that Rome suffered destruction because Romans worshipped pagan deities.  By implication, St. Augustine maintained that if the Romans had worshipped Christianity, then Rome would not have fallen.  Thus, like St. Augustine, Evangelical Christians are maintaining the view that if Haitians convert to Christianity, their suffering will stop.

Fifth, the Islamic religion emerged in Saudi Arabia in 600 CE and spread very quickly resulting in the capture of Jerusalem and other parts of the Middle East. In 711 CE, the Moslem forces, moving from Morocco, captured Southern Spain.  Around 730 CE, the Moslems advanced towards France from Spain.  The Christians viewed the Islamic expansion as a crusade against them.  The Islamic expansion frightened the Christian leadership in Europe to the extent that it desperately sought a savior to stop the Moslems.   King Charles Martel, a great military leader of the Franks stepped in and fought to stop the Islamic capture of France and other parts of Europe.  By defeating the Islamic forces, he saved Christian Europe from Islamic conquest.

Sixth, the collapse of central authority, coupled with the uncontrollable civil wars, the rampaging war lords, and the Islamic threat forced many Europeans around 730 CE to convert to Christianity, believing that such conversion would help them through their suffering.  Thus, the massive Haitian conversion to Christianity following the earthquake of 2010 is similar to the massive European conversion to Christianity during a time of hardship, unpredictability and hopelessness.  When King Charles Martel passed away, his son, Pepin III inherited the throne.  Pepin III divided the throne between his two sons (Charles and Carloman) before he passed away in September 24, 768. Pope Stephen anointed the two brothers in 754. However, Carloman died in 771 CE, thereby, allowing Charles to consolidate his power over the throne Encyclopedia.com, 2003).  It should be noted that some people suspected that King Charles the Great (Charlemagne) killed the brother in order to consolidate his political authority over the territory his father conquered.

Seventh, In 800 CE, King Charles the Great (Charlemagne) expanded his territory profusely to cover most of Europe through brutal military conquests.  As a major politico-military leader of Europe, the Christian Church had to create a political space for him since he fought, like his father, to preserve Christianity, especially the papacy.  In particular, his proactive intervention to stop the rebellion against Pope Leo III endeared him so much to the pope.  Hence, he was crowned as the Emperor of the Roman Empire on Christmas day in 800 CE and given the name of Charles Augustus (Graves, n.d.).  To avoid conflict between the Pope and King Charles the Great, the Pope devoted himself to spiritual matters of the church and the king served as the politico-military head of state of the empire.  King Charles the Great (Charlemagne) forced the Europeans he conquered to embrace Christianity.  For instance, in one of his military attacks against Saxon pagans, he demanded that they convert to Christianity.    About 4000 Saxons who refused to convert to Christianity were beheaded (Griotto, n.d.) in one day.  Therefore, millions of Europeans were compelled to embrace Christianity through bloody wars of conquest carried out by powerful militaristic kings and the church. In fact, the vast state that Charlemagne and his ancestors created was referred to as the Carolingian Empire (BBC, n.d.).

Eighth, even though most Europeans had converted to Christianity, they were not saved in their hour of need when the Vikings, around 793 CE, rose up from Scandinavia and ransacked many parts of Europe through destructive military attacks.  The Vikings invaded, destroyed, killed and looted even Christian monasteries (James, 2011, March 29)).  Here again, contrary to the Evangelical Christian premise that Haitians are suffering because many of them worship Voodoo and that their suffering will stop if they convert to Christianity, the European conversion to Christianity did not stop pagan Vikings from invading, destroying, killing, looting  and occupying many Christian territories in Europe.  Although, the Vikings suffered a defeat in the hands of King Alfred the Great of England, nevertheless, they continued their raids until about 1066 (ibid.).

Ninth, the end of the Viking era did not stop the disheartening situation in Europe as the Europeans continued to suffer from unnecessary bloody military conflicts and wars of conquest.  Due to lack of jobs, local political leaders engaged the services of military veterans to cause problems in the continent.  The veterans formed the Medieval Knights.  The knights invaded, destroyed, killed and pillaged various communities to make a living. Europe was a living hell for millions of people.  Therefore, the assertion that Haitian suffering will cease as soon as Haitians forsake Voodoo and convert to Christianity has no historical support since conversion to Christianity did not stop suffering in Europe for centuries.

In an attempt to stabilize the situation, the Christian Church developed the Christian Doctrine of War.  Consequently, the church issued the Peace of God and the Truce of God in an attempt to stabilize the continent.  The Peace of God (Pax Dei) was initiated in 1027 by the Christian church and later adopted by civil authorities to protect church properties, pastors, women, merchants and non-combatants during war (Callahan, 2007, August 27). The Truce of God ( Treuga Dei) was also part of the church’s effort to control war by ensuring that warfare was suspended during certain days of the week as well as during religious festivals or events    (Britannica, 1998, July 20).

Tenth, in 1095, threatened by Islamic expansion and a desire to redirect the violence in Europe, Pope Urban II called for a Holy War against the Moslems who had captured many Christian territories in the Middle East, including Jerusalem.  He declared the Crusades and called it “God’s Will It.”  The Christian crusades enabled thousands of military veterans who had been causing problems in Europe to form a Christian Army and launched attacks against the Moslems in an attempt to recapture Jerusalem and other Christian territories. The Christians and Moslems ended up fighting three major crusades.  The Christians won the first crusade, the Moslems won the second crusade and they fought to a draw in the third crusade, led by King Richard the Lion-heart. If the hypothesis advanced by Evangelical Christians that if Haitians convert to Christianity, their suffering will stop, then, why did the Christians and the Moslems fought to a draw in the third crusade? The draw indicates that the Christian God is not superior to the Islamic Allah, otherwise, the Christians would have won all the crusades against the Moslems. Similarly, if the Islamic Allah is greater than the Christian God, then the Moslems would have won the three crusades handily against the Christians.

Eleventh, one of the groups that took part in the crusades against the Moslems was the Teutonic Knights.  The group was established as a military order from the Hospitallers of Holy Mary in Jerusalem by German crusaders. On returning to Europe, they settled in Transylvania, Hungary in 1211 through the invitation of King Andrew II. They helped him to protect the kingdom against pagan Cumans (Coppernickers, June 2008).  However, they were forced to leave as they grew stronger, thereby, threatening the Hungarian kingdom in 1225.  Duke Conrad of Mazovia of Poland invited them to help him fight against Prussian pagans.  He promised to give them the Chelmno lands as well as any land that they could capture from the Prussians.  Pope Gregory IX sweetened the offer by decreeing that any property that the Teutonic Knights conquered would be granted to them in perpetuity.  They settled in Livonia.  However, their effort to conquer Russian territory failed when Alexander Nevsky defeated them in Lake Peipus in 1242. Thereafter, they concentrated their attacks against Prussia, Lithuania and Poland (Medieval Times, n.d.).

Due to incessant warfare against the Polish and Lithuanians, the Samogotians revolted against the Knights and asked for military assistance.  The Lithuanian Grand Duke Witold and the Polish King Ladislaus Jagiello responded to the Samogotians request by forming a united military force.  They fought the Teutonic Knights in the Battle of Tannenberg/Grunwald in 1410.  They defeated the Knights and killed their leader, Grand Master Ulrich von jungingen.  The defeat was described as a slaughter as the Teutonic Knights lost about 18,000 men and 14,000 prisoners in comparison to the 5,000 deaths and 8,000 prisoners that the Lithuanians and Polish incurred (Haywood, 2002).

Since the Teutonic Knights felt that they were sacred warriors because they were fighting to convert pagans into Christianity, their defeat in the Battle of Tannenberg/Grunwald was psychologically devastating to members of the organization.  As a result, those who survived the battle felt that God had abandoned or deserted them.  After that battle, they were no longer a formidable military force.  As can be seen, the Haitian defeat of Napoleon’s forces is similar to the Polish/Lithuanian defeat of the Teutonic Knights in the sense that a non-Christian military force was able to defeat a Christian force.

Twelfth, the Catholic Church which became the most dominant religious and political entity in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa found it impossible to tolerate other Christian denominations.  Hence, the church did not hesitate to wage war to destroy other Christian movements.  Consequently, perturbed by the popularity of the Cathars (a Christian sect) in Southern France, Pope Innocent III ordered a crusade against them in 1208.  Thousands of crusaders, mostly from Northern France enlisted, having been promised by the Pope that those who killed Cathars would be assured of the highest place in heaven.

Evidently, the Christian Crusaders arrived at Beziers on July 22, 1209, near Languedoc.  The Cistercian commander of the crusaders, in response to a question about how to identify the Cathars from the townspeople, ordered, “Kill them all – the Lord will recognize his own.”  The crusaders killed, destroyed and pillaged the place (Counterblast, 2006-8).

Thirteenth, the European Renaissance started around 1341 in Italy and lasted until the 17th century.  The Renaissance was instigated by  a number of circumstances, including the excesses (inquisitions, destruction of scholarship, crusades and killings of heretics) and failures of the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire, the break-up of the feudal system and the rise of nationalism among the people.  Eventually, the suffocating political and spiritual environment that did not allow free expression of scientific and intellectual thought prompted scholars and thinkers to call for the revival of the classical world of Greece and Rome (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2015, April 17).  Apparently, the European Renaissance resulted in the tactical rejection of Christianity and the revival of pre-Christian Greek and Roman traditions.  The Europeans realized that Christian thought, practices and politics, as perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Church, were impediments toward intellectual and scientific learning and advancement.  The Renaissance resulted in the separation of church and state and the institutionalization of secular humanism.

This is why all Western nations today operate their governments on the philosophy of secular-humanism and not through Christian theocracy.  Perhaps, the only entity in Europe today that continues to operate through Christian theocracy is the Vatican.  Due to Western colonialism and global influence, a vast majority of countries in the world today operate their governmental systems based on secular-humanistic ideas and practices.

Fourteenth, the Bubonic Plague struck Europe from 1347 to 1352.  It should be noted that at this time, many European societies had converted to Christianity.  Thus, the conversion to Christianity did not prevent the Bubonic Plague from wiping out a large proportion of the European population.  About 25 million people died from the plague (National Geographic, n.d.).  However, some estimates put the number of people who died from the plague at about 40 to 50 million.  Following the assertion by Evangelical Christians that If Haitians had converted to Christianity, the devastating earthquake would not have taken place, then, how do they explain the fact that Europeans who converted to Christianity were not spared from the ravages of the Bubonic Plague.  More people perished as a result of the plague than the number of Haitians who died as a result of the 2010 earthquake.

Fifteenth, after Christopher Columbus’ epic journey in 1492 landed him in the Americas rather than in East Indies, he inadvertently initiated the bloody Spanish conquest of the Americas.  Hernan Cortes led the Spanish force which invaded and destroyed the Aztec Empire in early sixteenth century.  In 1532, Francisco Pizarro led the Spanish force that invaded and conquered the Incan Empire in Peru.  In fact, his men kidnapped Incan Emperor Atahualpa and promised to release him if gold and silver were exchanged for his freedom.  The Incans agreed and gave them gold and silver.   After receiving the treasures, the Spanish conquistadors still kill the emperor.  (Quijote, 1986).  Although Christians, the Spanish conquistadors inflicted so much pain and suffering by killing Native Americans and destroying their societies to the extent that even in the 21st century, they are still struggling to survive.  In addition, the diseases they brought with them decimated the indigenous population.  It is very doubtful whether Native Americans will ever regard Christianity as a religion of salvation.  It is not surprising that many Native American ethnic groups today are reviving their ancestral religions.  The Christian God did not save them at all from the ravages of the Spanish Christians.

Sixteenth, as the most dominant force in Europe, the Catholic Church became very corrupt.  It got to a point where a member of the church, Martin Luther, a theologian and a monk, could no longer tolerate the hypocrisy and ungodly practices that were being carried out by the Catholic Church to enhance its revenue.  In particular, the notion that some individuals could pay money to the church and had their sins forgiven irked Luther so much so that he compiled the 95 theses in 1517 and pinned the list at the door of a church in Wittenberg for all to see.  The leadership of the church was very angry.  Pope Leo X issued a papal bull in July 1520 that declared Luther’s teachings to be heretical.  Luther was given 60 days to recant and he refused.  Due to his refusal, he was excommunicated from the church in January 3, 1521.  His supporters hid him away.  While in hiding, he translated the Bible into German (History, n.d.).  The effort resulted in the spreading of literacy as people began to read the Bible in German rather than in Greek.

The dispute between the church and Martin Luther resulted in the Protestant Reformation. Europe was thrown into another around of bloody conflicts as the Catholics and the Protestants battled for the control of Christianity.  The struggle eventually led to the Thirty-Year War between the Catholics and the Protestants. Led by European monarchs, the war started in May 23, 1618 and ended in May 15, 1648.  About 20% of the German population died as a result of the conflict between the two Christians groups.

Seventeenth, after the Spanish conquest of the Americas and the scramble by various European states to exploit the resources, one of the worst cases of human brutality took place when the Atlantic Slave trade was initiated in the 16th century.  The forceful deportation of millions of black Africans lasted for four centuries (15th to 19th centuries).  According to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, about 12. 5 million Africans were forcibly transported to the Americas (Gates, n.d.) However, some estimates put the number of Africans shipped to Europe and the Americas at about 25 to 30 million people (UNESCO, n.d.).

The Christian establishment and many Christians justified the slave trade by using the Ham’s curse in the Old Testament of the Bible to imply that it was an acceptable act.  Thus, black Africans were equated with being the descendants of Ham, thereby, meriting their enslavement since they were cursed, as Noah did to Ham in Genesis 9:25 “And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren”.  The Ham’s curse continues to serve as the basis for racism directed against black people in the world, even today.

The Christian establishment went further in justifying the slave trade when the Catholic popes issued papal bulls authorizing the Portuguese and the Spanish to import slaves from Africa.  In particular, the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 resulted in the demarcation of global territory into Portuguese and Spanish spheres of influence.  Consequently, starting at 370 leagues, which is about 800 miles, west of Cape Verde, Portugal was given an area involving West Africa, the Indian Ocean, and Brazil.  On the other hand, Spain was given control of the Mediterranean, East Asia and the Americas (Nazeer Ahmed, n.d.).

Eighteenth, it could be said that the Christian Church also contributed directly and indirectly towards the colonization of the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and a sizable part of Asia.  For instance, the Treaty of Tordesillas n 1494, as indicated above, literally laid out the plan for the Portuguese and Spanish colonization of various parts of the world.  It is not surprising that Spain became the colonial master of a territory stretching from the tip of the USA to the tip of South America.  Since Brazil was given to Portugal In the treaty, it is the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America.

Colonialism led to the forceful establishment of agricultural and political enclaves (colonies) where people in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Middle East were forced to embrace.  Likewise, through military conquest and political and religious colonization, many indigenous ethnic groups in the world were compelled to forego their traditional religious cultures and embrace Christianity through education and religious campaigns.

Nineteenth, in 1825, after French slave-owners submitted detailed reports of their losses to the French Government, following the Haitian revolution in 1804, King Charles X demanded that Haiti pay an “independence debt” to the former colonists.  To ensure Haitian payment of the debt, France mounted a naval blockade and demanded compensation totaling 150 million gold francs.  The amount was ten times more than Haiti’s annual income. The figure was later reduced to 90 million gold francs.  Fearful of re-enslavement and recolonization, the Haitian government agreed to pay the “independence debt.”  The interest on the loan borrowed from a French bank to pay the debt was exorbitant.  Not until 1947 was Haiti finally able to pay off the debt (Macdonald, 2010, August 16; The Guardian, May 12, 2015). The debt payment imposed an unbearable financial and economic burden on Haiti, thereby, contributing to the socioeconomic woes of the country.

The action that the French took in Haiti despite their Christianity, resembled the action that the victorious Allied Powers took against Germany after the First World War.  Even though all the countries that fought the war lost so much, the victories powers in the Treaty of Versailles, signed on June 28, 1919, in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, inflicted a very high price on Germany as a compensation for causing the war.  The compensation package was so steep that Germany lost 10 percent of its population and territory to the victorious powers.  Likewise, its overseas colonies were taken over by Britain, France and Japan.  The treaty took effect on January 10, 1920.  The Germans were displeased and criticized the treaty very bitterly (Encyclopedia Britannica. 2015, June 9). The severity of the Treaty of Versailles, perhaps, contributed to the massive suffering in Germany that eventually led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.  Thus, anger following the treaty contributed to the 2nd. World War because Germany wanted to pay back in kind for the humiliation it suffered in signing the Armistice after the 1st World War.

The French action against Haiti is also similar to the action it took against the Republic of Guinea, following a referendum in 1958.  In the referendum, Guinea voted against membership in the Community of French Overseas Territories, as proposed by President Charles de Gaulle and decided instead to go its separate way.  The decision suddenly resulted in the country gaining independence from France.  The French reacted angrily against the Guinean decision by taking measures which threatened to cripple the country.   The editors of Encyclopedia Britannica noted:

“The French were particularly vindictive in their break with the country, destroying

valuable equipment and files, suspending all aid and technical assistance, and stopping

almost all investment in Guinea’s mining operations.”  (Gate, 2005).

 

There is no doubt that the French contributed immensely to the economic and financial strangulation of Haiti through the “independence debt” that the Haitians had to pay for their freedom for decades.  France, the Germans felt, contributed to their suffering and anger that eventually resulted in the Second World War.  The feeling of anger probably persuaded Adolf Hitler to force the French to sign the instrument of surrender after Germany captured the country during the Second World War in the manner in which the Germans were forced to sign the instrument of surrender after the First World War.  The National Geographic noted: “The Fuhrer dictated that the surrender be formalized at Compiegne, the very spot where Germans had signed the Armistice ending World War I on 11 November 1918 – Just 22 years earlier.” (National Geographic, 2015, November 11).

 

Twentieth, the struggle for power and influence led to the Crimean War, in which Turkey, Britain, France, and Sardinia aligned against Russia.  The war started in October 1853 and ended in February 1856 after Russia decided to withdraw.  The war took place because Russia attempted to expand its geopolitical influence in the Danube region and the Black Sea.  Turkey opposed the idea since Russian expansion directly threatened its area of influence in the region.  Fearful that Russian expansion as well as its naval enhancement could threaten their geopolitical interests, Britain and France joined Turkey against Russia.  About 200,000 people died in the conflict (Murphy, March 7, 2014).

Twenty-first, by the turn of the twentieth century, most of Europe had converted to Christianity. As a result, a vast majority of the Europeans claimed to be Christians.  Despite this fact, they could not control their nationalistic and geopolitical tendencies, hence, the greatest war ever fought in the history of the world came in 1914 when the First World War started.  By the end of the war, about seventeenth to twenty million people perished.  The scale of destruction was incomparable.  Even biochemical weapons were used to inflict maximum pain and destruction among the competing powers, despite their Christianity.

Twenty-second, quite contrary to the view that Haitians are suffering because they made a pact with the “devil,” the conversion to Buddhism, Christianity and Islam did not stop the Influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 from afflicting most of the world.  About one third of the world’s population (500 million people) were infected by the deadly disease.  Out of the number of people infected, about 40 to 50 million were estimated to have died.  The influenza affected both humans and swine.  (Taubenberger and Morens, (2006, January).

Twenty-third, political and military leaders as well as scholars thought that the First World War would be the “War to end all wars.” However, in European Christendom, a more deadly conflict erupted in 1939 when Adolf Hitler and the Nazis launched the Second World War.  This war made the First World War looked like a child’s play.  The scale of destruction, suffering and killing surpassed that of the First World War.  As a result, about 50 million people perished.  The conversion to Christianity did not prevent the hegemonic struggle for the control of Europe and the world. Thus, Christians have no hesitation in killing other Christians, as the Second World War indicated.

Twenty-fourth, the amazing thing about Europe is that it is probably the most militarily fortified continent in the world.  The entire continent is dotted with military fortifications and castles, thereby, indicating that destructive wars had taken place quite frequently in the past.  Many of the castles and military fortifications were built after the institutionalization of Christianity.  This meant that the religion did not lead to the cessation of hostilities among rival communities and ambitious military and political leaders.  On the other hand, Sub-Saharan Africa that is often maligned by Christians for being the center of devil worshipping due to the prevalence of Ancestralism, has fewer military castles and fortifications.

 

Twenty-fifth, apart from events that took place in Europe, in the Americas, conversion to Christianity did not make any difference regarding the occurrence of destructive events. In Christian United States of America, a bloody civil war took place, starting in 1863 and ending in 1867.  New estimates now indicate that about 750,000 people died in the American Civil War (Guy Gugliotta, 2012, April 2).  One of the issues that prompted the southern states to secede from the union was slavery.  Even though both regions were Christian, the north wanted to abolish slavery while the south wanted to perpetuate it.  Even after the civil war, blacks in Christian USA continued to suffer various forms of discrimination.  For Native Americans in the USA, it is doubtful whether they will ever be convinced that Christianity is a source of their salvation, following the military campaigns that resulted in the dispossession of their lands.

To ensure equal treatment of all Americans, the United States Government has been very active in passing legislations to reduce discrimination and human and civil rights violations.  Apart from the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution), the U.S. Government passed the 13, 14, 15, 19th and 26th Amendments. Likewise, it also passed the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1871, 1875, 1957, 1964, and 1968.  Similarly, to ensure the equal right to vote, it passed the Voting Rights Acts of 1965 and expanded it in 1970, 1975 and 1982.  Added to this is the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (Dye, 2007).  Thus, the US is a shining pillar in the effort to address racial, ethnic, class and gender issues in the world.

Compared to the progressive tendencies of the United States Government, Latin American governments, on the other hand, have been lukewarm in passing legislations that could guarantee equal rights for all citizens, including Native Americans and Afro-Latinos.  In fact, many Latin American countries, including Mexico and Peru, find it difficult to acknowledge their black populations, despite their Christianity.  The blacks exist in a state of political, religious and socioeconomic invisibility.  The Christian leadership and the Christians generally does not feel comfortable in discussing the iniquities concerning the treatment of blacks in Latin America but they are very eager to judge the Haitians because of the Voodoo religion.

Twenty-sixth, it should be noted that a major volcanic eruption took place in Martinique in the Caribbean on May 7, 1902.  The Mount Pele eruption resulted in the total destruction of Saint Pierre.  Only two individuals survived the eruption, including a prisoner who was locked up in an underground cell. Thus, Saint Pierre which was referred to as the Paris of the Caribbean ceased to exist.  The fact is that the volcanic eruption took place in an island that had converted to Christianity (History, n.d.). This shows that natural disasters can take place anywhere irrespective of religion.

Twenty-seventh, again, in the Caribbean region, the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat Island erupted in 1995.  The eruption forced about two-thirds of the residents of the capital to flee, even though no one was killed.  Then, in 1997, the volcano erupted again, this time, killing 19 people and forcing the citizens to abandon half of the island. The volcanic eruption took place regardless of the fact that the citizens of Montserrat were Christians (Huffington Post, 2013, October 13).  Here again, there is no basis to infer that a natural disaster was prompted by a religious belief system.

 

Determining the Outcomes of the Hypotheses

Having identified important political, religious and historical events that have taken place in Christendom, it might be necessary now to determine the outcomes of the four hypotheses of the article.

(1)   There is no correlation between the suffering in Haiti and the worshipping of Voodoo religion.

Based on the facts enumerated above, there is no correlation between the suffering in Haiti and the worshipping of Voodoo in Haiti.  By extension, there is also no correlation between the worshipping of Ancestralism and suffering in Africa or elsewhere.  These are the reasons:

  1. Europe converted to Christianity, starting from the time the Roman Empire officially converted to Christianity in 378 CE. Yet, throughout the reign of the Church in Europe, there was much suffering.  The Dark Ages, in particular, was characterized by killings, destruction, pillaging and much more killings.   The Dark Ages was followed by the Christian crusades and the Viking invasion.
  2. The situation even affected advancement of knowledge as classical Greek and Roman scholarly works were destroyed.
  3. In an effort to make Christianity the only religion in the continent, the Catholic Church, working with the Holy Roman Empire, carried out crusades and inquisitions, burnt thousands of people to death, killed and imprisoned heretics and annihilated other branches of Christianity as demonstrated by the liquidation of the Cathars in France.
  4. Despite conversion to Christianity, the greatest wars ever fought in the history of the world took place in Christian Europe. The major wars included (1) The Christian crusades, (2) the Thirty-Year war, (3) the Crimean War, (4) the First World War and (5) the Second World War. Thus, the heart of Christendom witnessed the greatest human disasters, in terms of warfare.
  5. The conversion to Christianity did not prevent the Bubonic Plague and the Influenza from infecting Ancestralists, Buddhists, Christians, Moslems and members of other religions in the world.
  6. Indeed, the facts, as enumerated above, show that there is no correlation between the suffering in Haiti and the worshipping of Voodoo religion. The data show that Christian Europe has experienced much more pain and suffering than any other continent due to the mammoth nature of the wars that had taken place in that continent.
  7. Quite contrary to the stereotypical characterization of Voodoo as a devilish religion, it is like any other ancestral-based religion.  It is based on the worshipping of God through ancestral deities.  It has gods and goddesses, just like other African, Asian and Native American traditional shamanic religions.  It is considered a very sacred religion, hence, the priests and priestesses are called directly by divine entities to serve.  It is based on absolute truth since truthfulness is equated with godliness.  The gods and goddesses in Voodoo are equivalent to the Christian and Islamic angels.  The ancestral deities can be equated with the Christian saints.  Therefore, St. Michael in Christianity is equivalent to Ogun in Yorubaland and Egbesu in Ijawland.
  8. Thus, God and not the devil is at the core of all traditional African religions, including Voodoo. This is why the Acholis refer to God as Lubanga, the Kikuyus as Ngai, the Ijaws as Tamarau or Ayiba or Woyengi or Temeno, the Efiks and the Ibibios as Abassi, the Igbos as Chineke or Chukwu, the Yorubas as Olodumare (Olorun) or Oluwa, the Kongos as Nzamba a Mpungu, the Akans as Onyamea or Boreborea and many others, the Shonas as Mwari, the Zulus as u Thixo or Unkulukulu, the Oromos as Waaqi or Waqi, the Mandes as Mangala, Mandingos as Ndamanso or Mmariyo, the Hausas as Ubangidi, the Tivs as Aondo, the Urhobos as Ogene, the Edos as Osanobwa, the Nupes as Soko., and so on ans forth. Thus, there is a Supreme God, followed by various gods and goddesses that specialize in various aspects of existence and ancestral beings.  This is similarly to Christianity with a Supreme God, followed by angels and saints.  Therefore, it is utterly incorrect to assume that Voodoo is tantamount to worshipping of the devil.  Unlike Christianity and other globalized religions, African traditional religions, including Voodoo and Rastafari are not imperialistic.  This means that they do not force people to convert.  The religions are considered sacred because the religious priests and priestesses are chosen by godly entities and not by human beings.  Hence, the Haitians, Bakongos, Igbos, Kikuyus, Luos, Maasais,  Ijaws, Yorubas, Oromos, Afro-Cubans, Ambundus, Afro-Dominicans, Afro-Brazilians, Ovimbundus,  Hayas, Rastafarians, Chaggas, Mbutis, and so on and so forth, have never gone on religious crusades to convert people by force to embrace their  traditional religions, including Voodoo, Santeria, Trinidad Orisha, Palo,  Candomble, Quimbanda, and Umbanda.   These ancestral-based religions do not depend on written texts or the readings of sacred books to understand God since the godly essence manifests to those pure in heart at its own choosing.  Adherents can achieve a very high spiritual state of consciousness through spirit-possession.

 

2)   Conversion to Christianity will not stop suffering in Haiti, as the Christians claim

Based on the political, religious, and historical facts as enumerated above, Haitian conversion to Christianity will not make a difference regarding whether the people suffer or not.  The same applies to Sub-Saharan Africans since Voodoo is one of the African traditional religions.  These are the reasons for taking this position:

  1. Europeans converted to Christianity, yet, they underwent centuries of unimaginable suffering, involving unrestrained military warfare, rampaging, looting, killing and destruction.
  2. Europeans converted to Christianity, yet, they lost millions of people to the Bubonic Plague. Later, like the Africans, Asians, and Americans, Europeans also suffered from the Influenza epidemic of 1918-1919.
  3. European suffering started to diminish with the conquest of the Americas, Africa, and some parts of Asia due to the wealth confiscated from those territories. The Congolese paid dearly as King Leopold of Belgium exploited the resources and inflicted pain and destruction on the people.  Native Americans too paid dearly.  Thus, the wealth taken from different parts of the world helped to create wealth that eventually led to industrialization and economic development in Europe.  Thus, Christianity did not contribute to political and social stability in Europe.  It actually made life very difficult.
  4. The Europeans rejected Christianity and opted for secular humanism, which allowed progressive thinking and freedom to bloom in the continent. This accounted for why even in the twenty-first century, the church is still separated from the state in all Western countries, except the Vatican.
  5. The United States was founded based on Christian principles, yet, slavery dragged on even after the civil war. Native Americans paid dearly and are still suffering.  Minorities are still fighting for political, economic and judicial equality.  Actually, ideas originating from secular humanism have been responsible for enhancing progress in human and civil rights in the United States of America, Canada and Australia and not Christian ideas.
  6. While humanistic ideas are responsible for the progress made in the United States and other Western nations, Christianity has not changed the status of blacks in Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Indeed, Afro-Mexicans are still treated as a non-existing group of people.  Alexis Okeowo (n.d.) noted when he visited Mexico:

The notion of race in Mexico is frustratingly complex.  This is a country where many are proud to claim African blood, yet discriminate against their darker

countrymen.  Black Mexicans complain that such bigotry makes it especially hard for them to find work.

 

Afro-Mexicans are among the poorest in the nation.  Many are shunted to remote shantytowns, well out of reach of basic public services, such as schools and hospitals.

In Peru, it was in 2009 that former President Alan Garcia Perez rendered an apology to black Peruvians for centuries of discrimination and racism.  He pleaded with public and private institutions to eradicate exclusion and racism (Guerra, 2009, December 8). Former President Alan Garcia Perez, who happened to be a Native American, made the apology. As a Native American, he knew the suffering that his people and black Peruvians have undergone in the country.  The World Bank noted:

Half of Afro-Peruvians have been insulted at least once on the street whereas

four of every 10 have felt discriminated against in their workplace or in shops

or other public spaces.

 

These figures are from the Center for Afro-Peruvian Studies and Promotion,

Which reports that despite some progress, Afro-Peruvians continue to be

Invisible to the government as well as much of society.

 

The country’s international image is tied mainly to its Inca heritage, to the

Machu Picchu and to the indigenous population. It is an image that ignores the

diversity and complexity of the human geography of Peru, especially

Afro-Peruvians (The World Bank, 2013, October 13).

In Brazil, despite the huge Afro-Brazilian population, a vast majority of blacks live at the periphery of society due to discrimination.  Brazilians, Mexicans, Peruvians, and other Latin Americans countries have converted to Christianity but Christianity has not stopped racial discrimination and neglect of Afro-Latin Americans.  They continue to remain generally invisible, in terms of education, health care, employment and political inclusion. Most blacks in Latin America live at the mercy of God, because the states do not care about them.

 

  1. Therefore, if Haitians convert en masse to Christianity, they would continue to experience some of the pain that they are going through now. The reason is that the Voodoo religion has nothing to do with their plight. There is no evidence of conversion to Christianity contributing to happiness anywhere.  Afro-Latinos and Native Americans are living witnesses to their marginalization and neglect, despite their conversion to Christianity.
  2. The clearest evidence that conversion to Christianity will not make any difference is Italy. Rome, which is in Italy, is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.    Despite its Christianity, Italy is dotted with earthquake fault lines.  This means that the country experiences earth tremors regularly. The fact that the country is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church has not prevented earth tremors from taking place.
  3. Obviously, the 27 points identified above show that conversion to Christianity would not prevent or stop natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes from occurring. Moreover, Christians have never been in peace with themselves.  Hence, despite the fact that all Christians read the Bible and follow the teaching of Jesus Christ, they are highly factionalized.  They are factionalized to the extent that Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholic Christianity are still in a state of cold war.  The Roman Catholics and the Protestants actually fought a hot war for thirty years (Thirty-Year War).   If the Christiansare at war with themselves, it is impossible for Christianity to stop suffering anywhere, including Haiti.

 

(3) Societies that have converted to Christianity suffer as much as societies that subscribe to other religions.

Many people in the world do not realize that Ancestralism, the worshipping of God through ancestral deities, is the most widespread religion in the world, not Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.  Although different societies use different names for their brand of Ancestralism but the main tenets remain the same.  Generally, it is possible to identify an ancestral religion by examining cultures which practice communalism and have strong respect for elders and ancestors.  Thus, Native Americans, Vietnamese, Thais, Chinese, Haitians, Nigerians, Gabonese, Ivorians, Togolese, Kenyans, Indians, Senegalese, Mongolians, Indians, Tanzanians, Togolese, Fijians, Hawaiians, Australian Aborigines, Samoans, Maoris, and so on and so forth, pay homage to their ancestors.  This is why it is an abomination to lie in the name of the ancestor in the aforementioned societies.  Therefore, not only in Haiti but in many parts of the non-Western world, underneath the façade of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, there is an ancestral-based religion like Voodoo whereby God is worshipped through the ancestors.  The ancestral religion often serves as the foundation for society’s morality, norms and mores. Apparently, any shamanic-oriented religion is an ancestral-based religion.

In this regard, it is not the case that wherever Ancestralism is worshipped as a religion, the people suffer.  By implication, Haitian difficulties have nothing to do with the Voodoo religion or the signing of a “pact with the devil.”  After all, Japan, experiences earthquakes regularly. The fact that Japan experiences earth tremors regularly does not mean that the Japanese worshipping of Shintoism and Buddhism is the cause.  Similarly, Chile experiences earthquakes regularly because it is located in an earthquake- prone zone.  Therefore, the frequent occurrence of earth tremors in the country cannot be attributed to Christianity.  Why is it that only in Haiti and in black Africa that unpleasant circumstances are attributed to the traditional religious culture while other societies that worship similar religions are not blamed when unfortunate situations happen?

Likewise, there is no evidence to support the view that conversion to Christianity will stop the suffering of the Haitian people.  The following provide a short list of instances in which Christianity has not lead to stability or happiness:

  1. Christians were at war with themselves in the formative years of the religion for the ideological soul of the religion, so much so that there were different factions preaching different ideas about the religion. Emperor Constantine decided to end the ideological warfare by convening the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.  In the council, there was division of opinion concerning the status of Jesus Christ in relationship to God.
  2. Despite the fact that all Christians worship the same religion, Orthodox Christians and Agnostic Christians are not ideological bedfellows. Hence, the King James Version of the Bible represents the Orthodox view of Christianity and not the Agnostic view. This means that the Bible, especially the New Testament, does not represent the totality of Christian views about Jesus Christ and Christianity.
  3. Similarly, despite their Christianity, the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church have been in a state of cold war for a long time. The feud between the two branches of Christianity has lasted for about a 1000 years. In fact, in February 2016, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill and the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis met in Cuba in an attempt to resolve their differences (Yardley, 2016, February 12),
  4. After the Martin Luther rebellion in 1617, the Protestant Reformation resulted in a split in the Catholic Church, leading to the establishment of Protestant Christianity.
  5. Today, Evangelical Christianity is spreading all over the Christian world as exponents vigorously campaign to win converts. Haiti, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are battle zones as the evangelicals want to convert even Catholic Christians into their ranks.
  6. Even though Ireland is a Christian country, the Irish people have had problems since the Christian Church split into the Catholic and Protestant branches. The religious conflict magnified when Henry VIII of England had a dispute with the Catholic Pope.  He renounced Rome’s authority and made himself the head of the Anglican Church in 1536.  The Catholic faith was suppressed while the Protestant faith was encouraged.   Hence, Protestants were encouraged from England and Scotland to settle in Ireland in an effort to dominate the Irish Catholics.  Following the crushing of the rebellion organized by the Earl of Tyrone (O’Neill and Earl of Tyrconnell (O’Donnell) in 1603, Irish lands were gradually confiscated while Protestant English and Scots were encouraged to settle in large numbers.  Thereafter, strong-arm military tactics were used to institute a tighter control over Ireland (Holloway, June 2005).  Peace came to Northern Ireland in the twentieth century between the two politico-religious factions. However, even today, the peace in Northern Ireland is very shaky.  Any misstep, either by the Catholics or the Protestants, can turn Northern Ireland into another bloody war zone again.  Thus, it could be said that Christianity has not helped the Irish at all. It magnified their problem by dividing them into two ideological camps.
  7. Christian Europe could be said to have suffered more than any other part of the world despite conversion to Christianity, as indicated by the historical facts above.
  8. Despite conversion to Christianity, many people continue to suffer from poverty and violence in Central America, just as in some parts of Africa.
  9. Finally, the 27 political, religious and historical points identified above indicate clearly that all nations go through challenging periods in their history, regardless of their religion.

 

 

(4) There are extraneous factors other than “a pact with the devil” that contribute to the situation in Haiti.

Rather than blame the Voodoo religion, it is more appropriate to look for other factors that might be responsible for contributing to the problems in Haiti.  The following might help to clarify the position taken:

  1. Haiti is a political victim of its successful revolution.  Even in the twenty-first century, there are Christians who find it difficult to accept the fact that Haitians relied on the spirituality of their ancestral religion to stage a revolution that led to their freedom from enslavement and colonialism in the early nineteenth century.
  2. The success of the revolution neutralized the Christian view that Christianity is the purest and most godly religion in the world. Thus, the success of the Haitian revolution  is a blight on the superiority of Christianity and the Christians are working very hard to clean that history by stigmatizing Voodoo.  Apparently, the struggle for the control of the spiritual souls of Haitians is similar to the struggle for the control of the spiritual souls of the Angolans, Dahomeyans (Beninois), Cameroonians, Chadians, Ghanaians, Congolese, Guineans, Kenyans, Nigerians, Malians, South Africans, Tanzanians, Ugandans, Zambians, Zimbabweans and so on and so forth.  In other words, the Christian war against Haitian Voodoo is a war against African Ancestralism. The Jews have been fighting to stand on their religious faith for about two thousand years now and the Christians have been making it exceedingly difficult for them to be Jews. Jews are constantly victimized by violence perpetrated by Christians in the West.
  3. Due to the fact that Haitians overthrew a highly regarded European leader, the West still continues to be hostile towards them. This is why successive Western interventions in Haiti have tended to drag it backwards, thereby, stunting political and economic development while increasing the suffering and pain of the people.
  4. Thus, Haitian experience in dealing with the West is similar to Sub-Saharan African experience in dealing with the West. Just has nothing good is spoken of Haiti, nothing good is spoken of Sub-Saharan Africa.  Just as most Westerners routinely refer to Haiti as a poor country, so most Westerners refer to Sub-Saharan Africa even though the facts are not necessarily correct. Most Westerners are not aware that Sub-Saharan Africa is highly urbanized with large cities.  The cities of Lagos and Kano in Nigeria and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for example, have populations that are larger than the populations of the cities of New York, London, Cologne, Berlin, Barcelona, and Paris, yet, sub-Saharan Africans are generally viewed as “poverty-stricken, disease-ravaged wild game hunters and gatherers.” Haiti, like other Caribbean Islands, is located in both an earthquake and hurricane prone zones of the world.  This means that once in a while Haiti will either experience an earthquake, such as the one that took place in January 2010 or a hurricane, such as the one (Mathew) which struck on October 4, 2016 in Southwest Haiti, near Les Anglais.
  5. The Haitian situation, in regards to natural disasters, is not unique. For instance, Italy has experienced more than 100 magnitude 4 or more earthquakes since 2000.
  6. The most plausible reason to explain the difficult situation in Haiti is the “independence debt” that France imposed on the country after its independence. Forced to take a loan with a high interest rate, Haiti completed paying the debt in 1947.  The second most plausible reason is foreign interference, which severely inhibits the country’s ability to develop and modernize both politically and economically.

 

Conclusion

Firstly, it is obvious, based on the political, religious and historical facts enumerated above, that there is no correlation between the worshipping of Voodoo religion and suffering in Haiti.  Apparently, there is no iota of evidence to support the view that a “pact with the devil” is the cause of Haitian suffering. Secondly, there is no historical evidence to indicate that conversion to Christianity will stop suffering in Haiti.  In many parts of the world, Christianity actually contributes to religious and political problems which culminate in suffering.  Thirdly, all societies have suffered in one form or another, regardless of whether they subscribe to Voodoo or Buddhism or Christianity or Islam.  History shows that European societies which converted to Christianity have fought some of the most destructive wars since human existence.  Fourth, it is much more appropriate to attribute the problems Haiti faced to the “independence debt” and foreign interventions to dominate the country.  After all, Haiti (pre-independence colonial name – St. Dominique) was the richest French colony in the Caribbean before the inglorious debt wrecked the socioeconomic fabric of Haitian society.

It is inferable that Haiti is being punished for its revolutionary success in 1804 and not through a “pact with the devil,” as Evangelical Christians seemed to imply.  It is apt to conclude this article by quoting Jean-Marc Bouchet, a water trader in Haiti, who said:

We Haitians know that a big reason why we are suffering today is because we were

forced to pay France for our freedom.  If we were not punished for our independence

long ago, we would have had a better time” (The Guardian, 2015, May 15).

 

If Evangelical Christians are serious about enhancing the quality of life in the country, they should lobby the French government to pay back the “independence debt” it collected from the Haitians and not waste unnecessary time blaming the ancestral religion.  The United Nations, the European Union and the United States of America too should put pressure on France to return the funds it collected from the Haitian people.  It is superfluous in the twenty-first century for any group to insist that one religion is superior to another

 

 

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The Riddle of the Abducted Chibok School Girls

The Riddle of the Abducted Chibok School Girls

 

By Priye S. Torulagha

Torulaghareports.com

priyet@hotmail.com

 

If there is one issue that continues to boggle the mind, it is the case of the abducted Chibok school girls in Northeastern Nigeria.  The reason is that the more an individual makes attempt to comprehend the dynamics of the unfortunate incident, the more the person is left with a greater sense of bewilderment about how the matter unfolded.  It is like a story in a Greek tragi-comedy.  Hence, the story is filled with riddles, thereby, necessitating the asking of endless questions about what really happened in order to get to the bottom of the story. Unfortunately, the story never ends, thereby, adding further to the mystery.

It should be recalled that about two hundred and seventy six students from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok were abducted by the militant Boko Haram Islamic sect on April 14, 2014.  The abduction gained world-wide news coverage, resulting in demonstrations and the demand for the Nigerian Government to do everything possible to free the girls from their captors.  About 57 of the girls were able to escape from captivity in the immediate aftermath of the abduction.  However, a majority of the girls were not able to flee, hence, remained in captivity until security forces started to free some of them incrementally.  Former President Goodluck Jonathan was criticized by many Nigerians and some foreign governments for not acting fast enough to rescue the girls.  As a result, prior to the presidential election of March 28, 2015, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) party promised to expedite the rescuing of the kidnapped school girls, as soon as they get into power in Nigeria if they win the election.  The promise to act with military precision convinced many voters in the country to vote for Gen. Buhari and the APC party.  Eventually, Dr. Jonathan lost the presidential election and Gen. Buhari won.

Based on the campaign promises, Nigerians had high hopes that the girls would be speedily freed from captivity with Maj. Gen. Buhari serving as the president of the country and the All Progressives Congress (APC) ruling as the dominant political party.  President Buhari was sworn in as the head of state on May 29, 2015.  Again, like a riddle, despite the campaign promises, there has never been any speedy freeing of the girls as the Nigerian armed forces waged war to destroy the Boko Haram.  Instead, a few number of the girls were rescued through military operations while the majority of them remained in captivity.  Then, on October 13, 2016, 21 of the girls were freed Boko Haram through a negotiated deal Involving Nigeria, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government. The freeing of the 21 girls raised hopes again in Nigeria and throughout the world that the sad incident would come to an end soon.  Again, like a riddle, nothing else happened and the fate of the remaining girls are still unknown, thereby, raising much concern about their whereabouts.

The political pressure to resolve the matter compelled the Nigerian military to intensify its military operations.  It decided to attack the Sambisa Forest, which has been the major hideout of the Boko Haram from the group.  Eventually, on December 24, 2016, the Nigerian military was able to retake the forest, thereby, forcing the Boko Haram to flee in different directions.  With the retaking of the Sambisa forest, Boko Haram finally lost the last of its territorial stronghold in its self-declared Islamic caliphate.  Again, like a riddle, even the retaking of the Sambisa forest has not resulted in freeing of the remaining Chibok girls.  In short, the girls were not found in the forest.  If the Sambisa Forest was the stronghold of the violent group and no Chibok girls were found, then the question as to where they are looms large again.  So, where are the remaining Chibok girls?  Perhaps, some of them might have been killed during military operations.  However, what about the others?

It should be noted that Nigerian, Cameroonian, Chadian and Nigerien military forces have rescued thousands of abducted civilians.  Despite the successes in doing so, the remaining Chibok girls are still in captivity somewhere that the military forces and intelligence agencies have not been able to locate.

Were the Girls actually abducted or Not?

When the heart-breaking news of the abduction of the students of Chibok Government Girls Secondary School captured the attention of the world, there was a debate about the authenticity of the abduction.  In Nigeria, the debate was very intense.  Some Nigerians strongly believed that the kidnapping was a politically staged event intended to create the impression that former President Jonathan was a weak, clueless and incompetent leader.  The doubters insisted that the staged event was part of the tactical actions taken by some very powerful political leaders in the country to make the country ungovernable so that President Jonathan and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) could be defeated in the presidential election that was scheduled for March 2015.  Following this line of thinking, the doubters continue to maintain that the girls are kept in safe houses owned by powerful political and religious individuals who are working with the Boko Haram to score political points and create personal sources of wealth.

On the other hand, those who believed that the abduction in April 14, 2104 was an actual event, maintained that Boko Haram took the action single-handedly to embarrass the government and to impress upon Nigerians that it was winning the war against the armed forces.  The believers castigated those who viewed the kidnapping as a staged event for being too cynical.  They hoped and prayed that the government would take whatever action deemed necessary to free the remaining students from bondage.  They continue to maintain that the kidnapping was real and should be treated as such. 

The Logistics of the Kidnapping Operation

For those who doubted the authenticity of the abduction, the logistical capability of Boko Haram to plan and execute the operation so swiftly without any hitch, seemed to bother them the most.   At the time of the kidnapping, Boko Haram had not established a protective territorial base. This meant that they were operating in a classic guerrilla fashion, moving from place to place and attacking different targets.  Thus, without a permanent territorial base, it was logistically impossible for a mobile guerrilla force to plan so ambitiously to attack a school and kidnap more than 250 people at the same time, considering the fact that at the time, the Northeast region was under military emergency.  People wondered about the capability of the Boko Haram to abduct the students and drive them away in a number of vehicles without being seen by any branch of the Nigerian armed forces and the police that were posted to the region?

Moreover, the doubters questioned the ability of the group to capture and keep in custody over two hundred human beings.  The reason is that it takes a lot of money, food and other necessities to provide for more than two hundred people on daily basis.  Moreover, under normal circumstances, the toilet needs of the captives would make it exceedingly challenging for a guerrilla force to keep such a large number of people for any length of time without tactical support from some members of the community.  Indeed, even a regular conventional military force might find it challenging to capture, keep and maintain two hundred people.  Therefore, the issue of logistics tends to create doubt about the capability of Boko Haram to carry out such an operation by itself at that time without getting support from some powerful individuals in society who provided money, housing, food and health care to the captives.

The Effort to rescue the Girls

The effort to rescue the Chibok girls too is filled with riddles, thereby, confounding the matter.

First, initially, the Nigerian military was powerless to create an immediate impact militarily since it was penetrated by elements that were sympathetic to Boko Haram.  Fifth-columnists within the armed forces enabled the Boko Haram to operate without fear, hence, it was able to strike at any target it wanted, especially in the northern parts of the country.

Second, many Nigerian soldiers felt that the situation was hopeless due to poor and unworkable equipment.  Some actually ran away and refused to fight, claiming that it was suicidal to confront the Boko Haram without effective weaponry.  It was this period that enabled Boko Haram to capture a large territory and declared the Islamic Caliphate.

Third, the search for the abducted girls did not proceed at a pace many Nigerians expected.  There were too many political and logistical obstacles that disadvantaged the Nigerian military while providing advantage to the Boko Haram.

Fourth, it took a change of army leadership for Nigeria to make progress in pushing the group back. Thus, before the presidential election of March 2015, the Nigerian Army, under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, became very successful in actually recapturing territory from Boko Haram.  This allowed the citizens of the region to vote in the presidential election of March 28, 2015. Thus, by the time Dr. Jonathan left office, about 50 to 70% of the territory that Boko haram occupied had been retaken from the group.

Fifth, despite successful military effort to drastically degrade the capability of Boko Haram, under the Army leadership of Lt. Gen.  Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the Army has not been able to locate the remaining abducted girls.  As a result, the 21 girls that were rescued took place through a negotiated effort and not through military operation.  Some Nigerian believed that the federal government paid fabulously, in addition to releasing a number of captured commanders of the organization before the girls were released to the International Committee of the Red Cross.  The government denied any payment but doubting Nigerians wondered why Boko Haram released 21 captives without any precondition. The question of whether money was paid or not added to the mystery surrounding the Chibok girls.

Sixth, the most surprising riddle about the effort to rescue the Chibok girls was the sudden departure of the United States, Britain and France from the search effort after volunteering to do so.  The US and the other Western countries left without informing or explaining to the world the information they gathered about the kidnapped girls.  The sudden departure forced some Nigerians to speculate that, perhaps, the US, Britain and France might have discovered that the kidnapping was a staged political event, hence, they packed and left. Sadly, up till today, no explanation has been given for the sudden departure from the search effort by the United States.  The suddenness of the departure simply adds to the mystery of the abducted school girls.

The Rescued Girls and the Great Silence

Another interesting aspect of the Chibok girls riddle is the unwillingness of those who are familiar with the case to speak publicly about it. Generally, in any kidnapping or abduction situation, as soon as the victim is released from captivity, the media would try to conduct a personal interview in order to get the full story out.  Sometimes, it is the victim who decides to hold a press conference to explain what happened.  In the case of victims involving minors, the parents often make the effort to inform the world about what happened to their children while they were in captivity.  For instance, in the kidnapping cases involving minors such as Ese Oruru, Ifeoma Odugusi, Habiba Isyaku, Progress Jacob, Blessing Gopep, Linda Christopher, Lucy Ejeh,  and Patience Paul, the parents spoke to the  press and informed the world about their painful experiences.  Yet, in the Chibok girls’ case, no one is willing to speak openly about the matter.  The silence is a great mystery that defies common logic in dealing with abduction cases.

First, the few Chibok girls who were rescued through military operations were never allowed to speak directly to the media and explain their experiences during captivity after they had been debriefed by the military and intelligence agencies.  If the girls had been allowed to speak to the media and narrate their experiences, the doubt about the authenticity of the kidnapping would have disappeared.

Second, the 21 girls who were released from captivity through a negotiated deal have not been allowed to speak about their personal experiences in an open manner.  After a group picture of their release was taken, they were immediately whisked away and made to remain very quiet about their ordeal.  The 21 girls are now free but remain psychologically imprisoned by being compelled to remain invisible and voiceless.  Why?

Third, a very baffling thing is that the parents of the girls that have been rescued are not eager to speak to the media in an open manner.  Generally, parents always want to speak and inform the world about what happened to their children while they were in captivity.  In the case of the Chibok girls, the parents are almost invisible. They also remain voiceless, like the children.  The silence on the part of the parents tends to create the impression that there is more to the story than the public is made to believe. It appears that neither the children nor the parents are at liberty to speak about their experiences. This creates the impression that there might be other explanations.

Fourth, Chibok is an African community with communal traditions. This means that when something happens to the community, the leaders of the community would speak to clear the air.  In the case of the Chibok girls, the Chibok community does not seem to act in a communal manner to protect the community.   The community leaders remain voiceless and are not eager to explain to the world the experiences of their children.  This is contrary to the behavior that happens elsewhere.  In the Agatu, Nimbo and Southern Kaduna killings, community leaders and the victims spoke about their personal experiences to the entire world.   They even gave specific details about what precipitated the killings.  In the case of the Chibok community, the leaders, like the parents of the girls and the victims, remain speechless and voiceless.  The speechlessness further adds to the riddle about the authenticity of the abduction.

Fifth, the federal government too behaves very strangely.  Generally, when security forces are able to successfully carry out an operation to rescue victims of kidnapping or terrorism, the military branch that was responsible for carrying out the operation will hold a press conference and speak about the operation.  While addressing the press, the rescued victims are allowed to speak briefly about their experiences before taking the next step.  In the case of the Chibok girls, neither the military nor the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture is willing to allow the girls to address or speak to the media.  The 21 girls were released in October 2015 and Nigerians still have not heard directly from them about their experiences.  The world is still waiting anxiously to hear directly from the mouths of the victims.  It seems that they are in a protective custody.

The Media

The riddle of the Chibok girls is further reinforced by the fact that even the Nigerian media are not too eager to interview the girls. Ordinarily, journalists would have been crawling all over the Chibok area in an attempt to get first-hand information from the rescued girls about their ordeal. By now, reporters and editorial writers would have made comments about the difficulty of speaking to the girls on first-hand basis. It is amazing that Nigerian journalists made strenuous efforts to speak to victims of other incidents in the country, yet, do not seem to show any concerted effort in speaking either to the girls or the parents of the girls directly.  Why?  Is anything preventing them from interviewing the girls directly about their ordeal? Even during the heydays of armed opposition in the Niger Delta, both national and international journalists took the risk to find their way to speak to the fighters in the creeks.  Similarly, the Niger Delta armed groups allowed journalists to take pictures of their captives.  Yet, in the Chibok case, it is a journalistic no-go-area.

Civil Society Organizations

Like the Nigerian media, civil society organizations too seem to behave in a manner that creates a feeling of doubtfulness about the matter.  When the abduction took place, demonstrations and protests were mounted by various groups to put pressure on the government to free the girls.  In particular, the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group captured the attention of the world by mounting demonstrations and speaking in various venues to highlight the unfortunate issue.  However, since some of the girls gained freedom from captivity, suddenly, the civil society groups too have not been eager or interested in speaking to the girls directly and informing the whole world about what happened.  Why are they also maintaining silence? This is puzzling indeed.    

Captured Boko Haram Fighters as Sources of Intelligence about the Girls

There is no doubt that Nigerian, Chadian, Nigerien and Cameroonian military forces have captured thousands of Boko Haram fighters.   Some of the individuals captured were probably top military commanders of the group.  This means that by now, Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon should have been able to obtain reliable information that would have resulted in locating the places in which the remaining abducted girls are kept.   The reason is that, generally, captured enemy troops are always excellent sources of reliable information for unraveling the secrets of the enemy.  This has always been the proven methodology in every war that has been fought throughout the history of the world.  Yet, the war against the Boko Haram seems to turn a common military practice for gathering intelligence upside down.  Why is it so difficult to locate the remaining girls when the Boko Haram movement, as reported by Nigerian authorities, has been degraded to the point of defeat?  It is very difficult to accept the view that the armed forces and intelligence agencies of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon have not been able to obtain critical intelligence from some of the captured enemy fighters.  The lack of appropriate intelligence after almost two years of engaging the Boko Haram, further adds to the mystery of the Chibok girls’ case.

The rescued Girls as Sources of Intelligence

Apart from gathering critical intelligence from captured enemy fighters, another way in which information could be obtained is through speaking to those civilians that have been rescued through military operations.  It is a fact that military operations conducted by Nigerian, Chadian, Nigerien and Cameroonian military forces against the Boko Haram have resulted in rescuing of hundreds, if not thousands of abducted children and adults.  There is no doubt that some of those who have been rescued through military operations have important information about the hidden operational bases of Boko Haram.  Therefore, it is befuddling that critical intelligence that can lead to the location of the remaining Chibok girls has not been obtained from those freed from captivity.  Again, this defies common military tactics to gather intelligence for waging war.

Negotiating to Release the Remaining Girls

Not only Nigerians but quite a substantial number of people in the world are baffled that Nigeria is still negotiating with Boko Haram to free the remaining girls after the federal government announced that the group has been defeated, following the retaking of Sambisa Forest. Again, this defies a common military practice.  Generally, when an enemy has been defeated, it would make concessions in return for a better treatment of its fighters by the victorious side.  If Boko Haram has been defeated, then, it is the responsibility of Nigeria to set a condition that all the remaining Chibok girls must be returned by the group before Nigeria decides to reintegrate its fighters into society and rehabilitate them without severe punishment.

Thus, it is a contradiction to indicate that Boko Haram has been defeated and yet, continue to negotiate with it as if it is still a durable force. The fact that Nigeria continues to negotiate with the group, almost on an equal basis, indicates that the group has been degraded but not defeated.  This is why Nigeria is still powerless to rescue the remaining girls without entering into serious negotiations with the group.  Apparently, contrary to the notion that the group has been defeated, Boko Haram has increasingly become very tactical and effective in targeting Nigerian military officers. Here again, the Chibok girls matter creates conditions for people to scream and scratch their heads in bewilderment.

Conclusion

Based on the points identified above, the behavior of the actors/stakeholders in the Chibok girls affair tends to becloud the authenticity of the abduction.  This is unfortunate, considering the pain that the girls, their parents and their communities have undergone. The entire world is waiting anxiously for the facts to be released to the public.  Snap-short commentaries by government officials and civil society groups are not sufficient to calm worried nerves of those who continue to sympathize with the girls.

Thus, when the aforementioned riddles are combined with the reports that N500 million that was budgeted to build the Government Girls Secondary School under the Safe School Fund cannot be accounted for, in addition to the reports that many refugees in the Internally Displaced Program (IDP) camps are starving and being malnourished, it is obvious that current official explanations are not sufficient to douse the view that there must be other explanations. Additionally, the unfortunate bombing of the IDP camp in Raan by the Nigerian Airforce, further adds to the multitudes of questions that need answers.

It is indeed unfortunate that the more an analytical attempt is made to comprehend the abduction, the more questions seem to pop up.  Apparently, the Chibok girls’ abduction issue will not go away, even if all the girls are rescued or released, until the truth of the matter is released to the global community about what really happened. At the moment, the girls who have been rescued are still in captivity even though they are supposedly free.  The reason is that they are not free to express themselves publicly and must remain in great silence like captured prisoners of war. They and their parents are forced to exist in a state of invisibility.  It is sad and painful.

 

 

 

 

 

The International Criminal Court: A Review

The International Criminal Court: A Review

Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

Torulaghareports.com

 

The Necessity for the International Criminal Court

It has always been problematic in enforcing International law since independent states have sovereignty. Moreover, it was generally assumed in the past that political leaders of the states had sovereign immunity, therefore, they could not be easily arrested, indicted and prosecuted as other citizens due to their special status, even when they committed crimes against humanity. Added to this was the fact that there was no designated international agency or organization that was responsible for enforcing international law as it is the case in national or domestic law. In order to solve the problem, 160 countries met in Rome on July 17, 1998 to draft a treaty for the establishment of a permanent international criminal court. The treaty became the Rome Statute of the Permanent International Criminal Court.

Eventually, the ICC was established in 2002. Its main purpose is to deter and prevent the occurrence of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide or mass atrocities by investigating, prosecuting and trying individuals accused of committing such crimes.   The ICC came into existence at the most pressing time since there was a need to fill a void that existed in the international law arena, as indicated above. Although, after the 2nd World war, trials were carried out against German and Japanese political and military officials for war crimes and crimes against humanity, however, there was no formalized institution geared towards arresting, charging, and prosecuting individuals who committed unspeakable dastardly acts against people.

Thus, the ICC is to ensure that individuals who violate human rights face prosecution, just as those who commit crimes under domestic or national law face arrest, prosecution and possible imprisonment.

Consequently, due to its noble duty, the ICC received immediate approval and support globally as soon as it was established. Indeed, the birth of the ICC increased hope and assurance that finally, political and military leaders, public officials and non-state public figures who commit monstrous acts against people would be compelled to answer questions in the court of law, regardless of their position in society. It is notable that the Thirty-year War (May 23, 1618 – May 15, 1648) in Europe between the Catholics and Protestants and led by European monarchs contributed to the deaths of about 20 percent of the German population. The First World War claimed more than twenty million lives, including combatants and non-combatants. The atrocities committed during the First World War paled in comparison to the heinous crimes committed during the Second World War. About fifty million people died during this war. The abuse of women and children in conflict situations escalated during the middle and later part of the twentieth century. Likewise, the later part of the twentieth and early part of the twenty-first centuries experienced an increase in the use of children to fight bloody wars.

Apart from atrocities committed during wars against combatants and non-combatants, many political and military leaders, especially in the Third World, have been very horrendous, due to a desire to remain in power for life or enrich themselves through massive looting of public resources. They abuse human rights of their citizens by unleashing security forces against them and act with impunity to create fear by unnecessarily arresting, detaining, imprisoning and killing opponents or those they regard as “enemies.” The Balkan wars of the 1990s and the Rwandan genocide in 1994 increased the impetus for prosecutorial action. Therefore, an international court capable of bringing to justice political leaders and individuals who abused human rights was necessary and overdue. Hence, the great appreciation in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Europe when the International Criminal Court was established in 2002.

HOW the ICC Operates    

To ensure that the court is able to operate without undue political interference, the International Criminal Court is an autonomous body. This means that it is not an agency of the United Nations. Hence, it does not need a special mandate from the U.N. to operate. However, since the ICC and the U.N. need to harmonize their relationship so that the court can become much more effective and efficient in carrying out its duties, both signed an agreement to govern the institutional relationship between them in October 4, 2004.

Similarly, to ensure judicial objectivity and avoid undue influence by its financiers, the ICC receives funding through multiple sources, including states and voluntary contributions from international organizations, individuals, corporations, and governments.

To minimize impinging on the sovereignty of the states, the ICC exercises its jurisdiction on the states that signed the Rome Statute of Permanent International Criminal Court. This means that those states that signed the treaty are obligated to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the ICC on crimes stipulated in the Statute. However, states that are not party to the Rome Statute may also allow the court to carry out its jurisdictional activities in their territories if individuals from those states commit crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. States that are not party to the Rome Statute may also choose to allow the jurisdiction of the ICC extended to their territories in order to abide by the prevailing custom of upholding international law, and subscribing to various conventions and protocols.

The ICC supplements the services of national or domestic courts and is not to replace them. Thus, it helps to strengthen the ability of the national or domestic courts in carrying out their duties in areas dealing with human rights, war crimes, child protection, women protection and other crimes against humanity. If national or domestic courts are able to carry out their responsibilities in an effective manner without intimidation or threat from individuals or political and military leaders of the states, the ICC may not intervene by extending its jurisdiction. However, if national or domestic courts are not able to fulfill their responsibilities due to threats from political and military leaders and powerful individuals within the states, then the ICC may extend its jurisdiction and ensure that perpetrators of various violations are brought to justice while at the same time protecting the victims from retaliatory attacks.

Additionally, the ICC’s jurisdiction is time-bounded in the sense that it cannot get involved in cases which took place prior to its creation. Consequently, it only investigate cases that started after its statute of creation took effect in July 1, 2002. Therefore, victims of human rights incidents that occurred prior to July 2002 must seek other means to address their grievances. This stipulation prevents the ICC from trying cases retroactively.

The ICC has about 34 judges and over 700 staff. It operates on an annual budget of about $166 million. Some people believe that the ICC is an expensive operation and is not cost-effective when its conviction rate is measured against its annual operational expenditure. Some people have argued that instead of spending so much money on the ICC, the funds should be granted to the states to strengthen their national and local courts and judicial institutions.

The Limitations (Weaknesses) of the ICC

Structurally and operationally, the ICC is a cutting-edge legal instrument designed to enforce a global standard for respecting human rights of individuals and groups, based on the principle of natural law. However, despite the nobility of its creation, the court has some limitations that tend to inhibit its ability to enforce human rights universally. The following attest to the court’s weaknesses:

  1. Some of the states in the international system appear to operate outside the jurisdiction of the ICC, regarding human rights. Therefore, countries like the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and so forth, seem to be above international law concerning crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. As a result, individuals from these countries that have been alleged to have committed crimes against humanity are rarely arrested and prosecuted by the ICC. The ICC does not seem eager to extend its jurisdiction to such countries, even if there is a compelling evidence to do so.
  2. Following the perception that the aforementioned countries are technically above international law, the ICC tends to behave like law enforcement agencies and prosecutors at the national or domestic level. It seems very selective in filing charges against political and military leaders, high-level public officials and public figures accused of committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. It does so by targeting individuals from mostly the less developed world and ignore those from the developed and powerful military countries. This pattern of selective prosecution is common in domestic law where law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in almost every country in the world tend to apply the full weight of the law against those in society who are powerless politically and financially to mount effective legal defense against them. On the other hand, they tend to avoid cases in which they are less likely to win without putting a considerable amount of effort. This is why throughout the world, it is mostly members of the middle and lower classes which fill up the prisons.   In the US, the president-elect, Mr. Donald trump, clearly demonstrated the fact that the rich can get away with so many things while those in the middle and lower classes cannot when he said publicly during the presidential debate that he avoided paying taxes because the system allowed him to do so.
  3. Similarly, the ICC seems very hesitant in threatening and filing charges against political and military leaders of Third World countries who have strong ties with Western nations. On the other hand, it does not hesitate to threaten, file charges and possibly arrest the political and military leaders of countries that have little or no ties with Western nations.
  4. Since Sub-Saharan African countries do not seem to have any measurable influence in the international political, military and economic arena, they are treated as semi-autonomous political entities rather than sovereign states. As a result, their political and military leaders, public officials and public figures always face a high probability of being indicted, arrested and prosecuted for alleged abuse of human rights by the ICC. The court is always eager to extend its jurisdiction to Sub-Saharan African countries at the slightest rumor or allegation of human rights violation.
  5. Following the perception that cases of human rights violations are selectively investigated, the ICC does not seem much interested in filing charges and prosecuting political and military leaders that have been responsible for the destructive and bloody wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Syria. , Even the maltreatment of Rohingya Moslems in Myanmar did not catch the eye of the ICC when they were driven away from their communities through violence to flee into neighboring countries. On the other hand, in Africa, any slight rumor or allegation of human rights abuse is immediately investigated in an effort to file charges against someone for crimes against humanity.
  6. Due to the selective manner of enforcing of its statute, the ICC seems to redefine crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in such a manner that if a Western nation engages in such acts, the crimes are treated as non-felonious crimes, but if any country in the Third World, especially in Africa, engages in such acts, the leaders are immediately threatened with arrest. The perceived double standard prompted Gambia to withdraw from the court.
  7. Reuters reported “The government of Gambia said on Thursday it was withdrawing from the International Criminal Court , accusing the world body of ignoring the ‘war crimes’ of Western nations and seeking to prosecute Africans.”
  8. The ICC does not seem to treat the unnecessary killing of civilians through collateral damage inflicted by manned and unmanned aircrafts as constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity. As a result, Afghan, Syrian and Yemeni civilians are paying a terrible price for lack of action by the ICC to reduce the incidents of collateral damage.
  9. The apparent double standard tends to create the impression that some countries have sovereignty while others do not.   As a result, the less powerful countries are easily subjected to the jurisdiction of the ICC as soon as an allegation is made against them. Similarly, individuals from the less powerful countries, especially in Africa, are easily indicted for crimes against humanity. This is why the list of individuals that have been charged with crimes against humanity is mostly filled with African political and military leaders, public officials and public figures. The list includes: 1. Bahr Abu Garda (Darfur, Sudan, 2. Abdalah Banda (Darfur, Sudan, 3. Omar al-Bashir (Darfur, Sudan, 4. Ahmed Haroun (Darfur, Sudan), 5. Abdel Rahim Hussein (Darfur, Sudan, 6.Saleh Jerbo (Darfur, Sudan), 7. Ali Kushayb (Darfur, Sudan), 8. Mohammed Ali (Kenya), 9. Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), 10. Henry Kosgey (Kenya), 11.Francis Muthaura (Kenya), 12. William Ruto (Kenya), 13. Joshua Sang (Kenya), 14. Jean Pierre Bemba (Central African Republic), 15. Germain Katanga (Democratic Republic of the Congo DRC), 16. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, DRC), 17. Callixte Mbarushimana (DRC), 18. Sylvester Mudacumura Bosco Ntaganda (DRC), 19. Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui (DRC), 20. Charles Ble Goude (Ivory Coast), 21. Laurent Gbagbo (Ivory Coast), 22. Simonne Bgagbo (Ivory Coast), 23. Muammar Gaddafi (Libya), 24. Saif al-Islam (Libya), 25. Abbdullah Senussi (Libya), 26. Joseph Kony (Uganda), 27. Raska Lukwiya (Uganda), 28. Okot Odhiambo (Uganda), 29. Dominic Ongwen (Uganda), 30. Vincent Otti (Uganda), 31. Ahmadi al-Mahdi (Mali). Of the list, three individuals have been tried and convicted after trial in courts organized by the ICC. Those convicted are: Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (DRC), 2. Germain Katanga (DRC) and 3. Jean-Pierre Bemba (CAR). Of course, President Omar al- Bashir of Sudan is still a wanted man by the ICC.
  10. The performance of the court, so far, also tends to create the impression in the minds of many Africans that it is a tool by Western nations to control their former colonies and countries that are not friendly to the Western world. Thus Russia, like the African countries, is increasingly viewing the ICC as a tool for the extension of Western geopolitical strategic interest. Following the perception of selective enforcement and prosecution of crimes against humanity by the ICC, three African countries, namely, Burundi, South Africa and Gambia have decided to withdraw from the court. To justify its withdrawal, South Africa indicated that the Rome Statute is in conflict with its law, which gives diplomatic immunity to sitting leaders. It should be recalled that South Africa had objected to arresting President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, as required by the Rome Treaty, when he visited the country despite an ICC arrest order. Russia too has decided to withdraw from the court. To justify the withdrawal, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that “the court did not justify hopes assigned to it and failed to act as a truly independent authoritative body of international justice.” There is no doubt that other countries might decide to vacate the ICC, strongly believing that it is biased against them. Kenya and Uganda too are in a contemplative stage, wondering whether to quit the ICC or not. The African Union too is worried of the lopsided manner in which African leaders and personalities are targeted for indictment and prosecution.

Should the International Criminal Court be Abolished?

In light of the selective manner in which cases involving crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide are developed, should the ICC be abolished? The answer is definitely No. Despite the limitations identified above, the ICC is very essential to the development, modernization and institutionalization of democracy, human rights and governance in the world, especially in Africa. While statistically, African political and military leaders, public officials and public figures have been the most targeted for indictment, arrest and prosecution dealing with human rights violations by the ICC, African leaders have not been very helpful to themselves. In other words, the behaviors of some African leaders tend to create the need for the ICC to go after them. It is a fact that more than any other continent in the world, especially in the early part of the twenty-first century, it is in Africa and the Middle East, where political and military leaders try to institutionalize themselves as leaders for life. Some African and Middle Eastern leaders have ruled for more than twenty years and continue to remain in power. Some of the leaders want to create political dynasties by making sure that their children replace them as political leaders after they vacate their public offices. Some have no qualms about changing the constitutions of their countries in order to allow them to run for office repeatedly. Some encourage tribalism and regionalism by filling critical government positions with officials from particular ethnic groups and regions and clamping down on other ethnic groups and regions. Some promote one religion against other religions and marginalize those who do not belong to the chosen religions. Some use political thugs during elections to cause violence and intimidate the opposition.

A considerable number of African and Middle Eastern leaders rely excessively on security crackdowns to maintain themselves in power. As a result, they spend substantially on security and ignore other important sectors of society in their budgetary allocations. In many countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, minority ethnic groups are marginalized and discriminated. The behavior of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh clearly demonstrates the view that African leaders are sometimes their worst enemies. After initially accepting an electoral defeat following the presidential election of December 1, 2016, the Gambian ruler changed his mind and refused to step down to allow President-elect Adama Barrow to take over the leadership of the country. Now, members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are threatening to remove him by force if he does not vacate the presidential office voluntarily. The Gambian situation is similar to the situation in Ivory Coast which warranted the international community to use military force to evict former President Laurent Gbagbo from power. Mr. Jammeh’s behavior dampens the spirit of statesmanship demonstrated by former President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and President John Mahama of Ghana who conceded defeat after losing presidential elections to their opponents.

Due to the tendency to abuse power in the continent, in addition to the fact that many African countries have weak governmental institutions, the only institution capable of protecting and speaking for defenseless citizens is the ICC. Therefore, it is absolutely critical for the International Criminal Court to remain in force. Without the ICC to watch over misbehaving political and military leaders in the world, those victimized might not have anywhere to go to seek justice for crimes committed against them. Therefore, it is understandable why many human rights and legal groups in the continent are pleading with South Africa to return to the ICC since it is a major country in Africa.

Thus, while it is possible to accuse the ICC of being biased and selective in enforcing human rights in Africa, on the other hand, it is arguable that the high number of African cases might have been prompted by the high number of petitions and allegations made by African citizens and governments. Thus, it appeared that out of nine cases that the ICC looked into, African governments brought six, the United Nations brought two and the ICC brought one. This indicates that most cases of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide that the ICC investigated were instigated by African governments. Apparently, the ICC could be pardonable of the charges that it is biased.

Suggestions for Enhancing ICC Performance

Indeed, it would be a mistake to get rid of the ICC. The world needs it to serve as the sheriff to guard behavior and encourage respect for human rights. However, there are certain measures that could be taken to make the ICC much more representative in enforcing human rights.

  1. All cases of human rights abuses must be treated equally, regardless of the country or region. This means that if an African political or military leader or public official or public figure is accused of committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, the individual should be called upon to answer questions in the court of law. Similarly, if a Western political or military leader or public official or public figure is accused of committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, the individual too should be called upon to answer questions in the court of law. The ICC can no longer close its eyes toward crimes committed by Western leaders and their allies in the Third World while subjecting other leaders to undue threats of arrest and prosecution.
  2. The ICC should extend its jurisdiction all over the world since under natural law all human beings have natural rights, regardless of whether their countries signed the Rome Treaty or not. This means paying a closer attention to all regions of the world and being willing to take appropriate action if any case of human rights violation is alleged.
  3. It is necessary for the ICC to investigate clandestine activities that foreign powers engage in through proxy wars that lead to massive violation of human rights in many developing countries. There is no doubt that many conflicts in Africa, Middle East, Latin America and Asia are tactically sponsored by foreign states. Therefore, in conflict situations, apart from arresting military commanders on the ground who are accused of violating human rights, it is necessary to investigate those who sponsor the conflicts, in the first place.
  4. The ICC need to extend its jurisdiction to enable it to prosecute arms dealers who encourage bloody conflicts so that they can sell their arms and make huge profits.   This is very important because causative factors for instability are as important as the symptoms. So far, the ICC seems to be only treating the symptoms while ignoring the causative factors that breed conflict, which ultimately results in the violation of human rights in many developing countries. The United Nations too could be accused of ignoring the causative factors while dealing with the symptoms.
  5. Additionally, if a foreign power supports a dictator or an authoritarian leader who violates human rights of its citizens, the leaders of the foreign power should also be held accountable as the dictator since the dictator is encouraged through the support of the foreign power to act in ways that lead to the violation of human rights. This is one area of international politics that needs to be explored juridically in international law.
  6. African political and military leaders should think critically before signing any international treaty or protocol or convention. International or multilateral treaties, protocols and conventions should only be signed after carefully weighing the implications.
  7. African leaders, from now on, should make the effort to ensure that any proposal for international treaty or convention or protocol includes a language that reflects African cultural perspective before signing such a proposal. Quite often, African political and military leaders sign many bilateral and multilateral treaties, conventions and protocols without paying attention to the cultural and political implications. This is why the African point of view is rarely given credence by the international community before drafting binding resolutions, conventions and protocols that carry the weight of enforceable law.
  8. The ICC must take proactive steps to eradicate the impression that it is discriminative in the selection of cases involving crimes against humanity, otherwise, it might end up with no credibility and defeat the purpose of its creation.

 

References

Ba, Oumar. (2016, February 3). Who is Laurent Gbagbo and why is he on trial at the ICC. The Washington Post. Retrieved on December 30, 2016, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-c

Chan, S. and Simons. (2016, October 21). South Africa to withdraw from International Criminal Court. The New York Times. Retrieved on December 30, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/22/world/Africa/

U expresses regret at Russia’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (2016, November 17. Premium Times. Retrieved on November 17, 2016, from http://www.premiumtimesng.com/foreign/world-f

Gambia announces withdrawal from International Criminal Court. (2016, October 26). Reuters. Retrieved on December 30, 2016, from http://www.reuters.com/article/us-gambia-icc-idU

Origin and purposes of the ICC. (2012, April 5). Invisible Children. Retrieved on November 18, 016, from http://www.invisblechildren.com/blog…/origin -and-purpose-of-the-international-criminal-court.

Understanding the ICC. (n.d.) ICC. Retrieved on November 18, 2016, from https://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/pids/publications/uicceng.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Syrian Conflict and the Difficulty of Defining Who is a Terrorist

The Syrian Conflict and the Difficulty of Defining Who is a Terrorist

By Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

torulaghareports.com

 

Introduction

The purpose of this article is to explore the relationship between the Syrian conflict and terrorism by identifying and analyzing the non-state armed groups that are fighting for or against the Syrian regime, and the countries that support them. In doing so, the definitional problem of determining who is a terrorist and which group is a terrorist organization is discussed. It is strongly believed here that the Syrian civil war is going to produce a large number of highly trained and experienced military veterans that might fill the ranks of future non-state armed groups. It is also believed that the Syrian conflict is going to generate enormous quantities of arms that would eventually end up in the arms of Al Qaeda, ISIS and other violent non-state armed groups if the situation is not well managed.

Indeed, the ongoing Syrian conflict has brought to the fore the complexity of dealing with terrorism. While terrorism can be defined as the use and or repeated threat of using violence to achieve a goal, it is much more difficult to identify or determine who is a terrorist and what entity constitutes a terrorist organization.

The reason is that terrorism is like beauty in the sense that it is in the eye of the beholder. While one individual might view the use and or the repeated threat of using violence to achieve a political or religious or an economic end as terrorism, another individual might view the same act as an instrument of liberation or freedom. Similarly, while an individual who uses violence or the repeated threat of using violence to achieve a political or religious or an economic goal could be regarded as a terrorist, another individual might view the same individual as a freedom fighter who is fighting to bring change or free people from political or religious or economic bondage. Likewise, while an organization dedicated to using violence to achieve a political or religious or an economic end might be viewed by an individual as a terrorist organization, the same organization could be regarded by another individual as a freedom fighting entity. As a result, while some people might regard Al Qaeda, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Boko Haram, Al Shabab, Taliban, Hezbollah, Houthie Rebels, and so on and so forth, as terrorist organizations, those who support them tend to regard them as freedom fighting organizations.

Thus, there seems to be no middle ground in approaching the issue of terrorism. Hence, an individual who uses violence to achieve a political or religious or an economic goal is either a terrorist or a freedom fighter. Due to the zero-sum manner in which the subject matter is dealt with, historically, it has always been a great challenge to resolve or eradicate terrorism. It continues to be so in the twenty-first century.

Hypotheses

1.The Syrian civil war dramatically shows the difficulty of defining who is a terrorist and which entity constitutes a terrorist organization. (2) The war against international terrorism is not winnable since the countries that fight the war also indirectly contributes to its proliferation, as the Syrian situation clearly shows. (3) The Syrian civil war is likely to contribute to the proliferation of sophisticated military weaponry in various parts of Africa, Middle East, Asia and Europe.

The difficulty of determining which group is a terrorist organization and who is a terrorist is demonstrated by the disagreement between the United States and Russia over the characterization of the non-state armed groups in the Syrian conflict. The disagreement arose following Russian effort to assist Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s National Defense Forces (NDF) to push back rebel forces that threaten his hold on power. To reinforce the NDF, Russian Airforce planes started bombarding rebel positions in September 30, 2015 (Zorthian, 2015, October 7). It turned out that some of the rebel forces that the Russians targeted in their military operations were members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The FSA included some rebel groups that the U.S. recruited, trained and armed to fight against the Syrian regime and the ISIS. The US reacted to the Russian bombing by saying that the Russians were bombing moderate Syrian rebel forces rather than the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

In response to the accusation, Russian officials replied that they were attacking terrorists. The Russian response indicated that it regards all militant or armed groups fighting against the Syrian regime as terrorist organizations. On the other hand, the US tends to view the armed groups it supports as moderate rebel forces rather than terrorist groups, hence, was puzzled that Russia bombed them, instead of ISIS fighters. Again, in June 2016, Russian Airforce was accused of attacking rebel forces supported by the United States. The U.S. Defense Secretary, Mr. Ash Carter, reacted to the Russian attack by saying “Here’s a case where they actually attacked forces that were fighting ISIL. And if that was their intention, that’s the opposite of what they said they were going to do, if not, then it says something about the quality of the information upon which they make airstrikes” (Schleifer &Starr, 2016, June 17).

On the other hand, the US military carried out an air strike that ended up killing 60 or more members of the Syrian military forces around September 16 or 17, 2016 when a cease-fire was supposed to take place. On realization that it had struck a Syrian military force rather than the ISIS or al Qaeda, the United States immediately rendered an apology through the Russian government to the Syrian state (Fox News, September 17, 2016). In reaction, Russia decided to invite the United Nations to investigate the matter, perhaps, suspecting that the bombing was a tactical effort to gain rebel advantage over Syrian forces during the cease-fire. Here again, it is evident that the Syrian conflict is increasing mutual suspicion between the two most powerful military states, thereby, reinforcing the Cold War between them.

The disagreement between the two great military powers concerning which group should be treated as a terrorist organization and which group should be regarded as a rebel force sharpened the discussion and brought to the fore the lack of global agreement on who is a terrorist and which organization constitutes a terrorist network. It also showed why the Syrian conflict is very complicated and difficult to resolve. Indeed, in Syria, the military situation is so muddled up that it is difficult to make any sense of the conflict as the parties to the conflict continue to unleash violence and destruction, thereby, forcing millions of Syrians to flee as refugees.

The Armed Groups Fighting in Syria and Possibly Iraq

It might be necessary to identify some of the groups fighting in Syria and their backers in order to shed light on the complex situation. The multitudes of armed groups fighting in the civil war can be divided into six main factions: (1) The Free Syrian Army (FSA), (2) Predominant Syrian Islamist Groups, (3) International Islamist Groups, (4) The Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), (5) The Shia Groups, and (6) the Syrian Democratic Forces.

  1. The Free Syrian Army : The Free Syrian Army was the first armed group to challenge the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Many Syrian military officers and men who deserted the Syrian regime joined the FSA. It was supported by Qatar, Turkey and some Western governments. Despite the hope placed on the FSA to help topple the al-Assad regime, it was unable to do so due to squabbles among various factions and men within the FSA. Eventually, the Islamists became dominant militarily within the FSA and eventually split to launch their own effort to overthrow President al-Assad.Syrian Islamist Groups
  2. Syrian Islamist Group:  As stated above, the FSA included Islamist groups. Around 2013, the Islamists became the most successful groups in fighting and capturing territory from the Syrian government military forces. The success led them to become the most dominant opposition armed groups in Syria. They split from FSA and started waging war against President Bashar al-Assad. Some of the Syrian based Islamist armed groups include Martyrs of Syrian Brigade, Northern Storm Brigade, Ahrah Souriya Brigade Islamic Front, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh Al Islam, Suqour al-Sham. (BBC News, 2013, December 13). These groups are Sunni by religious orientation, hence, their support by the Arab Gulf states of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and possibly Turkey.
  3. The International Islamist Groups: The three main international Islamist groups fighting in Syria are the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Nusra Front and Jaysh al-Muhajirin wa al-Ansar. The Nusra Front split from ISIS in 2013 and is an affiliate of Al Qaeda. The ISIS seized territories in Iraq and Syria to declare an Islamic caliphate which it is running as a government. The ISIS offers the biggest military threat, not only to Syria and Iraq but throughout the world as it continues to expand its operational areas to Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and so forth. It also has an alliance with Boko Haram in Nigeria and possibly with Al Shabab in Somalia and militant Islamic forces in Mali.  The ISIS is globally considered as the most threatening terrorist organization, considering its violent tactics. However, in 2015, in an attempt to consolidate the Sunni groups fighting against the Alawite regime of President Bashir al-Assad, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey established a unified group known as the Jaish al-Fateh (the Army of Conquest). Both the Ahrar al-Sham and Nusra Front became part of this coalition. The coalition is fighting against the Syrian regime as well as the ISIS and Shia-related armed groups.
  4. The Shia Groups:   While the groups described above fight with the intention of overthrowing President al-Assad, there are Shia-affiliated groups that are fighting to protect and sustain him. The Shia affiliated groups support him because they share a common strategic interest in maintaining Shia beliefs and influence in Syria, Iraq, Yemeni and some parts of Lebanon.  (a)  In Syria, two main Shia groups come to mind. They are the Liwa Assad Allah al-Ghalib (LAAG) and Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas. Other groups fighting to support the Syrian regime are the National Defense Forces (NDF), Ba’ath Brigade and others (Friedland, Jawad al-Tamimi & Landis, 2016). (b) Shia armed groups from Iraq that are involved in the Syrian civil war include the Kataib al-Imam Ali (KIA), Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), Harakat Hezbollah al-Nulaba (HHN), Badr Organization, Kataib al-Muqawama al-Islamiyah fi al Iraq, Kataib Aimmah al-Baqiyah, Kataib al-Ansar al Willahay and so on and so forth. ( c)The main Shia armed group from Lebanon that is heavily involved in the Syrian conflict is the Hezbollah organization. It has about 20,000 to 30,000 fighters.  (d)There are also Shia armed elements from Iran that are fighting in Syria to support President al-Assad. The most notable are the Al-Quds Force and Basij Militia (Friedland, Jawal al-Tamimi & Landis, 2016).
  5. The Kurdish Groups:  In the Syrian conflict, Kurdish fighters contribute immensely toward fighting against the regime of President al-Assad and the ISIS, in both Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, the Peshmerga (Iraqi Kurdistan forces) has been very active fighting to contain and push back ISIS. It participated in some of the major battles to retard the expansion of ISIS. In Syria, the Kurdish Peoples Protection Unit (YPG) has also been contributing extensively in pushing back ISIS from the territories it captured (Zavadski, 2015, October 15). Likewise, there is also the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) which has been battling Turkey to create a Kurdish State. There are concerns that the YPG might join the PKK to fight and create a territory in some parts of Turkey and Syria to establish a Kurdish state after the Syrian war ends.
  6. The Syrian Democratic Forces(SDF) :  The Syrian Democratic Forces receive aerial military support from the United States. The SDF are particularly associated with the battle which drove out the ISIS from the city of Kobane (Lund, 2016, January 22).The Syrian Democratic Forces are a coalition of armed groups made up of Kurdish, Sunni Arab and Syrian Christian fighters. However, the SDF seem to be dominated by Kurdish elements known as the Popular Defense Units (YPG). There is also a women’s unit known as the Women’s Defense Units (YPI). There is a strong belief that the Syria Democratic Forces are affiliated with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) which is also fighting to create a Kurdish state.

These are only a few of the multitudes of armed groups fighting in Syria. Some estimate put the number of non-state armed groups in the hundreds while the number of fighters runs into more than one hundred thousand (Sinjab, 2013, December 13).

Apparently, the Syrian civil war is like a mini-world war due to the fact that many states, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, the United States, France, Russia, China and others are involved either directly or indirectly in supporting, financing, training and arming assorted armed groups. Each state does so with the sole purpose of enhancing and reinforcing its strategic interests in the Middle East. The states compete fiercely for hegemony over Syria and the region. For instance, while Turkey supports Sunni-affiliated armed groups which are opposed to President al-Assad, it is wary of the Kurdish armed groups, due to fear that they might grow in strength and redirect their military effort at creating a Kurdish state. On the other hand, U.S. and its Western allies support the efforts of the Kurdish armed groups. Turkey is also antagonistic to the Shia-affiliated armed groups since the Syrian war tends to pit the Sunnis against the Shiites. Iraq and President al-Assad tend to share the same strategic interests as they fight to maintain a Shia presence in both Iraq and Syria. Thus, they are opposed to the Sunni-affiliated armed groups. Iran is aligned with Iraq and Syria and have a common interest with Russia, China, and the Hezbollah organization in Lebanon because they want to sustain the presidency of President al-Assad and the Shia dominance of the political landscape in Syria. The Arab Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Sunni-oriented states, including Turkey, want the hegemonic predominance of Sunni Islam in the Middle East and North Africa. Jordan bears a huge burden in catering to a large number of Syrian refugees. It is working frenetically to prevent a spill-over of the Syrian conflict into its territory.

Consequently, the Syrian civil war is a four-headed strategic monster. First, President Bashar al-Assad wants to remain in power and ensure the Alawite predominance of the political landscape of the country. Second, there is an intra-Islamic power struggle between the Sunnis and the Shiites. The religious struggle is extended to Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, and possibly Nigeria. In Nigeria, the majority of the Moslems are Sunnis but there is a growing Shia presence. In fact, in a clash involving the Nigerian Army and a Shia group in December12 and 14, 2015 (Bamgboye, 2015, December 23), over three hundred Shiites were killed, thereby, compelling Iran to make a comment about the massacre. The leader of the Shia group in Nigeria, Ibrahim Yaqoub El Zakzaky, is still in detention. Saudi Arabia and Iran are the two major backers of the ideological divide between the two branches of Islam. Third, al Qaeda and ISIS are engaged in a power struggle to become the most dominant international Islamic jihadist movement. They are extending their tentacles everywhere, including the Middle East, Africa, some parts of Asia, North America, and Europe. Fourth, the United States and Russia are reenacting the Cold War as they compete to establish their preeminence in the Middle East. China technically is on the side of Russia while France and Britain are on the United States side.

In this titanic struggle to control the heart of the Middle East, using Syria as the theater, the states are pouring in arms, training and supporting multifarious armed groups. Each state hopes that the non-state armed groups it support would prevail militarily to enhance its strategic advantage over other states. As a result, they do not seem to pay attention to the fact that they could be setting in motion, non-state armed elements that could turn out to be the next groups of fighters threatening the peace of the world.

Thus, it is almost impossible to define who is a terrorist and what group is a terrorist organization in the Syrian conflict. The reason is that each state regards those armed groups it supports as freedom fighters and not terrorists. Although, ISIS and al Qaeda are generally regarded as terrorist organizations, nevertheless, it is not easy to describe the other armed groups in such terms because the states that support them do not agree that they are training, arming and supporting terrorist organizations. This is why they call them rebel forces. The inability of the states to define who is a terrorist and what group is a terrorist organization creates an environment that allows more armed and dangerous groups to emerge, not only in Syria but also in other parts of the Middle East, North, East and West Africa, and Asia.

Since the countries, including the United States and Russia, could not agree in categorizing which armed group constitutes a terrorist organization, the United Nations attempted to solve the definitional problem by setting up a committee made up of European and regional countries to define, determine and establish criteria that could be used in doing so (Hassan, 2016, January 10). However, it is doubtful whether even this approach will solve the problem since sovereign states have a tendency to define their national interests in a manner that makes it difficult to establish unanimity in dealing with global terrorism.

Implications of the Syrian Conflict

The implications of the Syrian conflict are far reaching. First, due to the fact that various non-state armed groups fighting in Syria are being supported in one way or another by various countries, a sizable number of individuals have been trained in the use of military weaponry to fight either conventionally or unconventionally in the Middle East and elsewhere. Second, based on strategic and ideological reasons, various countries are motivated to intervene in the Syrian conflict by training, arming and supporting various armed groups to extend their influence. Third, a sizable quantity of highly sophisticated military weaponry has poured into the Middle East, some parts of Africa and Asia through Syria. Fourth, an increasing number of young men and women have graduated as military veterans in the Middle East, Africa and Asia following their recruitment to fight for various factions of non-state armed groups. Fifth, there is no guarantee that some of the individuals and groups that have been trained to fight in Syria and possibly Iraq would not resort to terrorism in the near future. It should be recalled that both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda were organized, financed and trained as freedom fighters (Mujahedeen) to fight against the Soviet Union during its occupation of Afghanistan. During that time, the two groups were not regarded as “terrorist organizations” by Western and Islamic nations, but they are now treated as such. Sixth, the signs are beginning to show that many of the armed groups in Syria would go their separate ways, thereby, developing their own agenda and operating like the al Qaeda, Taliban and ISIS. In fact, it was reported that a U.S. supported and trained group known as Division 30 refused to fight against al- Qaeda despite being encouraged to do so by the United States in 2015 (The Guardian, 2015, August 15). It was also widely reported that some rebels backed by the U.S. and its allies were not comfortable with the cease-fire deal arranged by the United States and Russia recently (Associate Press, 2016, September 11). Some groups referred to the cease-fire as a ‘trap.’ This means that the countries that are training, financing and arming the armed rebels are not fully in control of the groups. Seventh, even if the Syrian conflict, as well as the Iraqi situation end today, there is no guarantee that there will be peace in the region as thousands of young men and women would be left to roam the region, some parts of Africa and Asia looking for ways to utilize their vast military expertise. This means that the ending of the Syrian and Iraqi wars might not put an end to the possibilities of terrorist incidents taking place as thousands of trained military veterans roam about looking for ways to make good use of their military skills. Eighth, the Syrian conflict has generated enormous quantities of arms for non-state armed groups fighting in the country. These arms would eventually find their way into other parts of the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Ninth, as can be seen, the more the states make attempt to fight terrorism, the more they create circumstances that breed the proliferation of non-state armed groups that engage in terrorist acts. The reason is that as the states recruit, train and support various elements to fight against supposed terrorist organizations, the more they inadvertently create more terrorist producing opportunities. Tenth, therefore, the war against international terrorism is not likely to end in victory since the war requires recruiting, training and arming non-state armed groups to do the fighting since most countries do not want to commit their own armed forces to get directly involved in the war. Eleventh, the more non-state armed groups are recruited, trained and armed by various countries to fight the anti-terrorist war, the more terrorism thrives as arms and fighters profligate to feed the scourge.

Conclusion

Obviously, it is a catch 22 situation, as far as the war against terrorism is concerned. It is impossible to solve a problem when there is no general agreement about defining what constitutes a terrorist organization and who is a terrorist. Similarly, it is impossible to win the anti-terrorism war since the same countries that are fighting to eliminate the scourge are also indirectly responsible for germinating it through the sponsorship of non-state armed groups that have no loyalty to any country. The Syrian civil war has provided ample opportunity for many non-state armed groups to acquire sophisticated military weaponry that might spread to other parts of the world. Indeed, the Syrian war is like a witches brew with very complicated alliances.

To solve the problem of joblessness that might arise after the Syrian and Iraqi conflict end, the countries that have been responsible for creating, training and arming various non-state armed groups should prepare a plan of action to strategically demobilize, disarm, rehabilitate and retrain the military veterans so that they can adjust to civil society peacefully. Failure to do so might result in the repeat of what happened in Afghanistan after the Soviet Union withdrew. It should be recalled that in Afghanistan, the veteran Islamic fighters were left to take care of themselves as soon as the conflict ended. Well, the fighters regrouped and formed the Taliban, Northern Alliance and al-Qaeda. The al Qaeda in Iraq later changed into the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

References

Bamgboye, A. (2015, December 23). Zaria clash –civil society urges Army to chief to step aside. Daily Trust. Retrieved September 25, 2016, from http://allafrica.com/stories/2015122305.

Fox News. (September 17, 2016). US conveys ‘regret’ for anti-ISIS strike that killed Syrian forces, official says. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/09/17/us-halt.

Hassan, H. (2016, January 10). Iran won’t surrender militias that conduct Assads war. The National Opinion. Retrieved June 23, 2016, from http://www.thenation..

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Scarborough, R. (2016, February 3). U.S. finds Russia focusing fight on Syrian rebels, not Islamic State. The Washington Times. Retrieved June 15, 2016, from http://www.washingtontimes-

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It is Time to Restructure Nigeria

Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

torulaghareports.com

 

More than any other time in the history of Nigeria, this is definitely the time to restructure the country territorially and constitutionally in order to legitimize it as a true sovereign state.  It should be noted that since about 200 to 300 ethnic groups were forcefully put together by the British, Nigerians have never been allowed to decide the manner in which the country should be structured and governed.  Therefore, technically, Nigeria is not an independent country despite the claim of sovereignty until the ethnic groups which constitute it are allowed to freely decide the nature and fate of the country. “Independence” will only take place after Nigerians freely determine Nigeria’s existence.

Nigeria has not been able to move forward due to the fact that it has many structural and governance problems that inhibit its growth. As a result, whenever it takes one very positive step forward, it ends up taking three steps backward.   This is why Nigeria is still being described in terms of its potential rather than by its actuality.  The following provides the reasons why restructuring is absolutely essential for the development and modernization of the political, economic and social institutions and governance of the country:

  1. Nigeria is a product of British military conquest.  Thus, 200 to 300 ethnic groups were forcefully incorporated by the British without their permission.  Obviously, Nigeria, like a vast majority of the modern African states, is a jail house or a detention center where 200 to 300 African ethnic groups are detained against their will. As far as the ethnic groups feel detained or trapped in a cage, they are not likely to cooperate in building a harmonious country.
  2. The Sir Arthur Richards 1946 constitution turned Nigeria into a tribal and regional confederacy. The 1946 constitution embedded a mechanism which has inhibited the country’s ability to create a homogenous united nation out of the diverse ethnic groups.  This is why there is not one Nigeria but many Nigerias, depending on ethnicity, religion and regional affiliation.  As result, every national policy issue is looked upon from a zero sum perspective with one side winning and the others losing.  For example, the South-South and the South-East wants resource control and the Upper North opposes it.  The South-East, South-West, South-South and the Middle Belt want a national referendum and the Upper North is not willing to go that route.  The South and the Middle Belt insist on true federalism but the Upper North seems to be inclined towards the unitary system where the national governments is in total control and the states are given less freedom to maneuver. The Christian and traditional South and the Middle Belt incline toward the Western world and the Islamic North inclines towards Arabia and the Islamic world.  This creates a problem for Nigeria’s foreign policy.  The Upper North wants national grazing reserves for one ethnic group to do cattle business and the South-East, South-West, South-South and the Middle Belt are not eager to grant such a wish to a particular ethnic group to have the right to settle in every territory of the country.  Thus, there is rarely a national consensus on anything.  Sir Richards and the British colonial strategists, perhaps, did not want Nigeria to succeed as a vibrant political, economic and industrial power, hence, a constitutional tool was used to tactically disunite the country through the 1946 Constitution.
  3. Geographically, the manner in which the country is divided into the North and South is flawed. It is only in Nigeria where a country is physically divided into the North and South in such a manner that one region is much larger than the other.  Generally, when a territory is divided geographically, it is supposed to have equal territorial space, using the North, South, East and West configuration.  In other words, it is weird to have regions where the North is two times larger than the South.  This is a fundamental structural flaw in the distribution of territorial land mass.  If those who created Nigeria had wished the country well, they would not have established a country in which one region is twice the size of the other region.  It is obvious that the Middle Belt would have been part of Southern Nigeria.  In this case, states like Kogi, Kwara, Benue, and Plateau would have been placed in Southern Nigeria to create a geographical balance between the North and the South.  The physical imbalance in the distribution of the regions creates distrust, frustration and instability as the Northern region seems to overshadow the Southern region.
  4. Another geographical flaw in Nigeria’s physical structure is that the smaller South is further divided into the East and West with a Mid-West sub-region while the giant North is allowed to stand alone as one region, even though the Middle Belt does not belong to the North.
  5. Before independence, the smaller ethnic groups insisted upon the creation of states during the Willink Commission’s Hearing. The suggestion was rejected. So, the small ethnic groups became vassals of the large three ethnic groups.
  6. On independence, Nigeria adopted federalism which in theory, requires the sharing of power between the national and regional governments. In practice, the country operated as a confederacy in which the regions functioned almost independently. This was why the regional premiers were almost as powerful and influential as the national prime minister. An individual like Ahmadu Bello was even more powerful that the prime minister of the entire country.
  7. When the military came after the January 15, 1966 abortive military coup, the military adopted a unitary system of government which took away the powers of the regions and later the states to make independent decisions. The unitary system centralized political and administrative power at the center and made the states dependent upon the national government. Even while the military regimes centralized political and administrative authority, they still pretentiously viewed the country as a federal entity.  Thus, like in the First Republic, the military era too continued the practice of calling Nigeria a federal state while suffocating federalism through excessive centralization of power.
  8. During the First Republic, since the three major ethnic groups dominated the three regions, national resources were distributed based on derivation. The regions were largely responsible for producing and generating income for themselves using the resources in their territories.  However, as soon as oil became a major economic commodity and it was found mostly in regions dominated by minority ethnic groups and the Igbos, the Petroleum Act was passed by the military regime of Gen. Yakubu Gowon. This deprived the ethnic groups in the oil region the ability to make decisions about the exploration and management of oil and gas in their territories.
  9. As stated above, due to the geographical imbalance between the North and the South, the South is compelled to serve as a junior partner, rather than as an equal partner in the political management of Nigeria. The North dominates the entire country in so many ways.  For instance, Lagos States is more populated than Kano State.  Recent statistics indicate that Lagos City has a population of about 21 million people.  However, Kano State has 44 local governments while Lagos State has 20 local governments.    How did this come about?  It is exceedingly difficult to explain or rationalize why Kano State with a lesser population has more local governments than Lagos State with a much larger population.  Similarly, due to the fact that the North is two-third of the entire country, in terms of geography, it has 19 states and the South has 17 states. Additionally, out of the 774 local governments in Nigeria, the North has 419 while the South has 335. Of course, the fact that the North is physically larger than the South does not mean that it has more people than the South.  There is a general believe that the South is actually more populated than the North, yet, the North has more local governments.
  10. Following the geographical imbalance, the North tends to act as the dominant region in the country. This is why most of the country’s leaders have originated from the Islamic North.  It is much more difficult for someone from the South to rule the country.  For instance, whenever, an individual from the South tries to serve as the leader of the country, the person is expected to unduly appease the North as if the individual does not have a constitutional right as a Nigerian citizen to rule the country like someone from the Islamic North.  A would- be-presidential candidate from the South must pass the North’s Litmus test, otherwise, the individual has no chance of succeeding.  Moreover, the Upper North can literarily reject a Southern presidential candidate if the person does not dance to the strategic interest of the North.  As a result, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo from the South-West never had a chance to rule the country.  Similarly, when Dr. Alex Ekwueme was supposed to be the presidential candidate of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), there was opposition from the Upper North.  Hence, he was dropped from consideration as a presidential candidate, even after serving as a vice president.  When Chief Moshood Abiola appeared to be winning the presidential election of June 12, 1993 against a Northern candidate, the election was abrogated.  In other words, the Upper North (Islamic) did not want Chief Abiola to become the president.  When the military decided to quit the political business and return to barracks in 1998, the preferred candidate of the South-West region was Chief Olu Falae.  The North opposed Chief Falae and selected Chief/Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo as the presidential flag-bearer of the Peoples’ Democratic Party PDP). When he became the president, he had to give three critical ministerial positions to the North as the region demanded.  Being a Southerner, former President Obasanjo was powerless in stopping the Sharianization of some Northern states.  Thus, Sharia Law was installed without any legislative discussion in the National Assembly.  When Dr.  Peter Odili decided to contest the presidential election of 2007, he had to spend vast sums of money to attract support from the North and the Southwest.  Even then, he was unceremoniously dropped as the presidential flag-bearer of the PDP.  When the late President Umaru Yar’Adua got sick, the Upper North refused to allow the vice president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to take over the leadership of the country.  As soon as he eventually became the president, threats of making the country ungovernable started to saturate the media.  Jonathan had to spend a considerable amount of time and effort in appeasing the Upper North while attempting to run for reelection.  He actually devoted more time throughout his tenure to persuade the North than the South to support him, yet, various tactics of ungovernability were deployed to shipwreck his administration.  Alhaji Aliyu Gwarzo, a prominent Fulani leader from Kano, did not hide the intention of the Upper North when he said “No Goodluck or anyone else will stop us from taking back our power next year.  We will kill, maim, destroy and turn the country into Africa’s biggest war zone and refugee camp if they try it” (Pointblanknews Magazine, October 2, 2014)
  1. As a result of the predominance of the North, the South is increasingly looking like a conquered territory of the North since most critical national decisions tend to favor the North. This is why Southern legislators in the National Assembly are almost voiceless and inactive.  They are seen but rarely heard from.  The governors and religious leaders in the Upper North have tremendous national influence while the governors and traditional rulers in the South have very little national influence. In fact, due to the overbearing influence of Northern political elites in the country, Southern political elites are very cautious in expressing themselves, fearing that if they talk too much, they could be punished.
  2. Apart from the pre-January 15, 1966 period, the Nigerian armed forces are dominated by the North, so much so that Southern military officers are barely noticeable.  Almost all critical military and national security positions under President Muhammadu Administration are held by officers from the Upper North.  In some circumstances, some junior military officers from the Upper North have more influence than some senior military officers from the South.  A Southern military or police officer, to safeguard his or her job, would not take any action without getting approval from an officer from the Upper North.  This was why former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Solomon Arase did not mobilize the police to stop marauding herdsmen from mobilizing and attacking Agatu community in the Middle Belt and Nimmo community in Igboland, even though everyone knew in advance that the herdsmen were about to invade those communites.  The same reason could also be given for why the army remained quiet. They did not act because they did not get clearance from President Buhari to prevent the invasion, killing and destruction of Agatu and Nimmo communities.
  3. A vast majority of the military and police training and educational institutions are located in the North. Similarly, it is much easier for someone from the North to join the armed forces than someone from the South. A letter from an Emir can make a whole difference whether someone is admitted into the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) or get a lucrative employment.
  4. The fear of Islamization is a constant worry among non-Moslems in Nigeria. This follows a statement made by the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, to the Moslems to spread Islam throughout the country. He was seconded by the late prime minster of Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar Tafewa Balewa.  Alhaji Aliyu Gwarzo, electrified the agenda for Islamization by saying:

It was either the Koran or the sword and most of them chose the Koran.  In return                   for the good works of our forefathers, Allah, through the British, gave us Nigeria                    to rule and to do as we please.  Since 1960 we have been doing that and we intend                   to continue. (Ibid.).

  1. Even though the population is almost evenly divided between Christianity and Islam, Nigeria is not a member of any international Christian dominated foreign political or economic or religious alliance.  On the other hand, Nigeria is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the D8 – an organization of Islamic countries, the Islamic Development Bank and the Islamic Coalition against Terrorism, otherwise, referred to as Islamic Military Alliance.  This means that even though Nigeria supposed to be a secular state, it is incrementally being Islamized through tactical joining of Islamic organizations.  Therefore, when some Northern politicians introduced a bill which intends to nationalize the Fulani cattle business by granting land for cattle grazing in every state of the country, Southerners and Christians oppose the idea, suspecting it to be a ploy to spread Islam in the South by creating permanent Islamic enclaves throughout the country.
  2. Since Northern and Southern Nigeria were amalgamated in 1914, riots resulting in the killings of Southerners, Christians and non-Moslems have taken place in the North.  It happened in 1953 and has continued into the twenty-first century.  On the other hand, Southerners have never caused riots that lead to the killing of Northerners.  Whenever an anti-Northern riot takes place in the South, it is always in reaction to the killings of Southerners in the North.  Thousands of Nigerians have been killed and maimed due to the riots.  How can the North and South co-exist since the lives of Southerners, Middle Belters, Ancestralists and Christians are always endangered by northern riots.  Thus, for most Southerners living in Northern Nigeria, there is always the danger of being killed through religiously and politically motivated riots.
  3. Nigeria is made up of 200 to 300 ethnic groups, yet, there are some individuals from two ethnic groups who believe that they have an exclusive right to rule the country because the British gave them the mandate to rule the country. Without mincing words,  Alhaji Gwarzo stated:

When I say that the Presidency must come to the north next year I am referring to                   the Hausa-Fulani core North and not any northern Christian or Muslim minority                     tribe (Pointblanknews, Ibid.).

  1. Petroleum started to become a major source of national wealth immediately after the Nigerian civil war in 1970.  By 2015, Nigeria had almost totally depended on oil and gas for its national wealth.  Oil and gas are found mostly in the Niger Delta/South-South, some parts of Igboland and the South-West zones).  However, due to the fact that oil and gas are totally nationalized, the citizens of the oil region are very poor.  On the other hand, the greatest beneficiaries of the oil wealth are Nigerians from the non-oil producing regions. In particular, oil shares (blocks) are owned mostly by individuals from the Upper North.
  2. While for about forty-five years now, Nigeria has almost totally depended on the oil wealth, the country has refused to carry out any environmental cleaning of the region.  As a result, the South-South region is highly polluted with oil leakages, pipeline fires and gas flaring.  Even the Nigerian plan to clean Ogoni land came by way of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP).  Thus, Nigeria is not interested in cleaning the polluted environment but wants to exploit the oil and gas with total disregard for the feeling of the inhabitants of the oil region.
  3. The 1999 Constitution was put together through the supervision of the military. Therefore, it was not a product of democratic discussion involving the ethnic groups that make up the country.  This accounted for why an immunity clause was included to protect military officers who had engaged in misappropriation of public funds.  Sadly, elected officials since 1999, have relied on the same Immunity Clause to protect themselves from prosecution for misbehavior while in office.  Similarly, all the decrees and acts passed during various military regimes were imposed arbitrarily without the consent of the Nigeria people.  To have a very representative democratic constitution, it is necessary to have an open debate involving all stakeholders in the country.  Perhaps, the closest exercise to a representative constitutional debate was the National Conference of 2014 because individuals from different parts of the country participated in the exercise.
  4. The coming into power by President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC political party in May 2015 has deepened the desire for a national referendum to discuss the fate of the country. The demand became strident when President Buhari made a statement that he was going to favor the 95% that voted for him against the 5% that did not vote for him.  After making that statement, he seems to have tactically decided to ignore hiring people from the South-East and the South-South zones of the country.  Even the South-West zone which voted for him in large numbers has been neglected.  In addition, he has tactically recruited individuals from the Upper Islamic North to occupy critical positions in the Federal Government.  Meanwhile, he has not taken any active step to contain the violence perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen.  President Buhari war on corruption seems only to be targeted at the officials of Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and the members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) while corruption perpetrated by members of the All Progressive Congress Party (APC) are ignored and treated as non-crimes.  His style of leadership creates the impression that he is northernizing and Islamizing the country to fulfil the dream of the late Ahmadu Bello.  Hence, some people in the South-East and the South-South have revived the call for the creation of the Republic of Biafra and the Republic of the Niger Delta.  Similarly, militant opposition to the exploration of oil and gas in the oil region has been reactivated.  Thus, President Buhari’s actions tend to deepen the feeling that Nigeria is increasingly being treated as a country dominated by one ethnic group, despite the fact that it is made up of 200 to 300 ethnic groups.
  5. Due to the dysfunctional nature of the country, creativity and innovation are stifled, hence, Nigeria has not been able to develop as an industrial nation capable of competing in the global marketplace to sell finished industrial goods and services.    It is interesting to note that Nigeria tends to kill motivation, creativity and innovation.  This is why creative and innovative Nigerians tend to do very well in their professional fields outside the country but seem to do poorly inside the country.  The reason is that inside Nigeria, the politics of ethnicity, regionalism and religion intercedes to dampen motivation.  Moreover, the politics of personalism tends to force people to become “LOYAL” boys and girls to political godfathers and godmothers.  The godfathers and godmothers are only interested in how much political power and financial wealth they can acquire.  This is why loyalty is more important than creativity and innovation.
  6. As Nigerians become increasingly dissatisfied with the contradictions, imbalances, and unequal distribution of power and resources,  the level of patriotism declines.  Lack of patriotism feeds the desire to embezzle public funds recklessly to the detriment of the Nigerian nation.

Based on the enumerated points above, it is obvious that an increasing number of the Nigerian population  are no longer satisfied with the current state of the country.  Consequently, there is a need to conduct a referendum so that Nigeria’s 200 to 300 ethnic groups can discuss the fate of the country freely in a democratic manner.  Therefore, the view by President Buhari and others that Nigeria is indivisible is not a convincing one.  The argument for indivisibility of Nigeria has been shattered by the fact that the United Kingdom (UK) which is a member of the European Union (EU) decided to quit the union as its citizens felt suffocated by the policies and actions of the EU.  Based on the desire of British citizens, Mr. David Cameron held a referendum to decide whether the UK should remain in the EU or leave.  The citizens voted to quit the EU.  If the British people who created Nigeria during the heydays of the British Empire can decide to quit a political arrangement which does not seem to satisfy their need, why can’t Nigeria’s 200 to 300 ethnic groups do the same if a political arrangement created through military imposition is suffocating them?  By allowing the referendum to go through, the UK has opened the gate for the Scottish and Irish people to decide in the nearest future whether they should continue to remain in the United Kingdom or go their separate ways.

Indeed, President Buhari should adopt the attitude of Mr. David Cameron by responding to the wishes of a large segment of the Nigerian people and hold a referendum and or implement the recommendations of the National Conference of 2014.  The Indivisibility of a forced union in which some Nigerians are treated as overloads while others are treated as serfs or conquered citizens cannot hold.  A nation in which the citizens of one section of the country constantly use violence against the citizens of the other section of the country cannot be indivisible.  An imposed political association in which one section of the country feels it has a mandate to rule the country cannot stand the test of time.  This is why a referendum is needed.  A referendum does not necessarily mean the dissolution of the country, rather, it is a means to restructure or redesign the country to the betterment of all Nigerians.  Of course, some groups might decide to opt out of the Nigerian arrangement and form their own separate countries, if need be.

Indeed, a referendum is needed in Nigeria to avoid Alhaji Gwarzo’s view that:

The Christians in the north such as the Berom, the Tiv, the Kataf, the Jaba, the Zuru,             the Sayyawa, the Jukun, the Idoma and all others are nothing and the Muslim minorities in the north, including the Kanuri, the Nupe, the Igbira, the Babur, the Shuwa Arabs, the Marghur and all the others know that when we are talking about leadership in the north and in Nigeria, Allah has given it to us, the Hausa-Fulani (Ibid.).

A country made up of 200 to 300 ethnic groups can only stand united as a sovereign nation when all groups are treated equally, regardless of ethnicity, region, and religion. Nigeria must be restructured to satisfy the aspiration of all Nigerians, not just one or two groups.