E O EkeFriday, June 3, 2016




n 30 May 2016, a group of Igbo youth in a church in Onitsha, peacefully marking the anniversary of the Civil war and remembering the over 3 million dead, were set upon by members of the Nigerian army and police. 52 Young people were shot dead in cold blood, more than 400 wounded and more than 300 arrested.

This is part of the brutal repression if the people of south east Nigeria by the Sunni Islamic north in the pursuit of northern Fulani hegemony, which has worsened since Buhari came to power.

Nigeria has been entrapped in a cycle of terror, impunity and brutality starting with the emergence of Boko Haram, when Buhari lost the penultimate election. The aim is to frighten, weaken, subdue and dominate.

The effect is that such constant exposure to terror and injustice erodes trust and desensitises the people who come to accept brutality and gruesome barbaric acts as fact of life. The outrage ceases and the people become dehumanised with a sense of helplessness and suspiciousness.

Nigerians, especially those from the east, have been subjected to this abuse since the end of the civil war and this has worsened since president Mohammadu Buhari came to power one year ago.

Igbo youth are saying that Igbos are tired of paying the blood price of one Nigeria. They have rejected discrimination that has see many of them excluded from admission into federal government schools and jobs, when less qualified students from the north are disproportionately admitted and employed. They have rejected marginalisation, which has seen the Igbo regions systematically underdeveloped and wish to be free.

This latest killing is coming on the heals of the massacre at National High school Aba, Enugu, and the Ezu river massacre.

The following day, 31 May 2016, a group of Igbo politicians met with the president Mohammadu Buhari in Abuja and their picture and that of the smiling president was all over the media.

This was as many families in Igbo land were mourning the loss of their loved ones. The picture of these Igbos with president Buhari, when the army and police the President commands are on killing spree in Igbo land could not be more incongruous and insensitive.

I condemn in the strongest of words, the continued use of lethal and disproportionate force by Nigerian security agencies to confront citizens of Nigeria, who are going about their aspiration in a lawful and peaceful manner.

I deplore the continued, and systematic cold blooded killings of Igbo youth, who protest the injustice of the existing Nigeria contraption, which make them second class citizens. I state that the actions of the army and police are crimes against humanity, which the perpetrators should expect to be held accountable in due time.

It cannot be acceptable that there there can be a reason in a democracy for a professional army and police to behave in the barbarous and murderous way and manner the Nigerian army and police behave in Igbo land.

No army or police should have a licence to kill unarmed civilians, when they can arrest them and bring them to justice.

No army or police should have the right to physically abuse suspects the way Nigerian soldiers and policemen do. No country, where such crimes are allowed to go unpunished, can claim to be a democracy under the rule of law.

It cannot be right that the lives of Igbo youth is without value in a country, which wants them to be part of her.

Igbos can no longer continue to pay the blood price of one Nigeria and the Nigerian army and police free to kill them with impunity. This pogrom must now come to an end. It is unlawful. It is immoral. It is unjust and unjustifiable. It can only sow the seeds of intractable conflict.

Nigeria is supposed to be a democracy under the rule of law, where citizens have rights, including of self determination and, not an estate ruled by a dictator, whose army kill at will.

Why should Nigerian soldiers and policemen behave like soldiers and policemen in Uganda during time of Idi Amin, just because Buhari wishes to run a sectarian presidency, punish those who did not vote for him and ensure the implementation of sharia law all over Nigeria?

The soldiers and police officers responsible for these crimes are immoral and medieval in mindset. They lack discipline and professionalism required of men and women working in security agencies and have no business being in the army and police.

They do not deserve to be in their post and the least the government can do under the circumstance, if indeed, the government is honest and has no hand in these crimes, is to withdraw the soldiers and policemen from Igbo land, end the military occupation of Igbo Land and bring them to justice.

I also condemn in no uncertain words, the Igbo leaders, whose silence, complicity and cowardice have emboldened the perpetrators of these atrocities and all those, who are colluding with the Nigerian state to commit this crime against humanity, in Igbo land.

How any Igbo with moral conscience, would find it in his heart to celebrate with the president, under whose watch this evil is unfolding, is beyond belief.

When some Fulani herdsmen were killed in Oyo state, Buhari, as president of Cattle Breeders Association, visited the governor to show his disapproval.

Not a single Igbo leader, has found the courage to tell Buhari that what the army and police are doing in Igbo land under his watch, is unlawful and unacceptable and should cease.

I am not saying that Igbo politicians should not visit the president. However, under the circumstance, where Nigerian soldiers and policemen have just murdered several Igbo youth, one expected them to wear a sombre look to reflect the time and circumstance.

The Igbo politicians and governors Obiano of Anambra and Okorocha of Imo state, who have made some statements that did not recognise the right of the protesters to peaceful protest and which seem to justify the unlawful actions of the army and the police should be very ashamed of themselves.

Their action is a betrayal of the people they were elected to protect. They are a disappointment and disgrace to democracy, courage, honest leadership, justice, sensitivity and Ndi Igbo, under the circumstance.

It would seem that their political ambitions have blinded them to the injustice of armed soldiers and policemen attacking unarmed protesters with lethal force. One wonders what value they put on the lives of the youth cut in their prime.

This is why many people have come to believe that the killing of Biafran protesters is going on with the overt and tacit support of some Igbos in political positions.

In the attempt to get into the good book of president Buhari, these Igbo leaders are prepared to play 'useful idiots' to dishonour the memory of the Biafran dead and accept the unprovoked slaughter of Igbo youth. Even Judas, would not have stooped that low.

Where is their sense of justice as fairness? Where is their courage? Where is their honesty, when as men in position to prevent murder and ensure justice, they justify abuse of power and cold blooded murder of the innocent they are supposed to protect? I find the behaviour and conduct of some of the current crop of Igbo leaders beneath contempt.

Igbos need leaders, who will rise up to the occasion to work with other progressive Nigerians to find the way out of this quagmire.

Unless Igbos get a leadership that is honest, courageous, articulate and dissociated enough in its beliefs to navigated the ethnic and religiously infested, greed laden murky waters of Nigerian politics, Igbos face a precarious feature in Nigeria and the call for Biafra would grow louder and more desperate.

The way forward can only be a negotiated peace which accommodates the following:

1. The immediate withdrawal from Igbo land of the blood thirsty sectarian minded soldiers and policemen from the north, who are behind these killings.

2. Bringing the soldiers and police men behind these crimes to justice

3. Affording IPOB members opportunity to continue their agitation through peaceful means, without intimidation by the army and police and to be part of the political process.

4. For government to end detention without trial of all arrested IPOB members by releasing them or present for trial in court.

5. Ending discriminatory treatment of Igbos and Igbo land by the present government.

6. Immediate implementation of the recommendations of the national conference to achieve regional autonomy and a policy of even development that would enable east Nigerian cities like Enugu, Calabar and Port Harcourt develop like Lagos, Abuja and Kano and bringing the air and sea ports in this cities to the standard of those in the cities in the north and west Nigeria.

7. Ending the pursuit of Islamic and northern domination agenda of the Buhari government by ensuring equal representation.

Without pursuing policies that will turn Nigeria into a secular democracy under the rule of law and ensure justice as fairness and peaceful coexistence, the agitation for Biafra will grow louder, killing Protesters will only recruit more people to the cause they represent, which will make break up of Nigeria inevitable.

No one should be expected to accept injustice in a country, which he calls his own. Nigeria needs change, a new Nigeria is needed.