On December 5, 2015 I wrote a piece The Deathly Silence of Nigerians – Do Nigerian Lives Matter? I addressed the mass killing of Biafran demonstrators first in Port Harcourt and then in Onitsha Niger Bridge head. I lamented the silence of Nigerians especially my internet colleagues. Not one voice was raised.
Even in Nigeria there was silence from the leaders of SS and SE and a feeble reaction by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); silence from the Human Rights groups except another not so forceful reaction from the Onitsha based Human Rights group. I truly missed the old Gani Fawehinmi of Ondo and Lagos. He would have protested so hard that President Buhari would have sent him back to jail where he had a reserved cell. Not a word from Nigerians.
Nigerian governors from SS and SE where the massacres occurred were silent as if nothing happened in their territories and to their people. One would think that their duties included the protection of all residents in the state. Was it cowardice? Was it a tactical support to the military for their “bravery” in killing unarmed civilians? One will never know. How about elected representatives of the people? How about the protectors of the constitution? Not a word from any of these.
Less than two weeks later the same Nigerian army massacred more Nigerians this time of Islamic faith. A few voices has been raised by the Islamic community, a voice much more forceful that the murmurings from CAN. Mr. El Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state where the massacre occurred, did what a true leader should do. He expressed grief and had a meeting with the military authority. Not much. But better than Obiano of Anambra. Better than the senators and congress men/women from SE/SS.
Here is what Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) said:
A top official of the NSCIA, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to disclose the meeting to the media, said the NSCIA called the meeting because it was “shocked by the silence of both the government and the human rights community over the massacre”.
“Where is our humanity, how can a people be so massacred and we all remain silent as if it is normal,” he said. “Today it is the Shiite, tomorrow, it could be me or you,” he said.
NSCIA echoed what I had said earlier which is an echo heard after the holocaust, see Martin Niemöller: “First they came for the Socialists…”
Is it too late for Nigerians to rise up to their true nature? I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the Nigerian dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed. That men and women will rise up and condemn evil because it is evil and not cover it up because it was committed by “my people” against our common enemy.
But to get to that El-Dorado we must do a few things as individuals and as a people:
1. We must demand the ouster of both the army and police leaders as “unfit to command.” Leaders that first shoot before asking questions are by definition unfit to command. Leaders that are unable to arrest unarmed civilians for trial are unfit to command. Leaders that are disrespectful of our system of justice are unfit to command. They must be ousted for peace to reign.
2. We must understand that an attack on one is an attack on all of us. Massacring Biafrans and getting away with it led to the massacre of Muslims because it left the impression that the army can do as it pleases without consequences. Today it is the Shiites, the Sunnis cannot believe that they are safe, the Protestants need to be fearful. The Catholics are warned. As it is among the religious camp is in the civil society. It started with Boko Haram when the murder of their leader was ignored, it has now moved to the Biafrans. Oduduwa people may be the next. The time to stop all these nonsenses is now.
3. We have a constitution that allows for freedom of assembly and speech. If this constitution is abridged, then someone ought to be called to order. PMB is the one who swore to uphold the constitution and if he is not doing so, he too ought to be impeached. The first duty of commander in chief is to protect the lives of Nigerians if he is turning his army against the peaceful citizens, the legislature as the representatives of the people ought to take notice. Why has nobody in the National Assembly raised a voice in protest?
4. Although these massacres are internal Nigerian affairs, they are by extension world issues as they violate International Human Rights ordinances which Nigeria is a signatory to. We have a duty to refer the matter to international human rights commission. May be even to drag President Buhari to The Hague.
President Buhari may have bought some peace by slaying a few Igbo agitators. There have not been any more agitations since he killed two in PH and 11 in Onitsha. But has he? Biafra was defeated in 1970 and in 2015 it is raising its ugly head again. It may require more than 11 souls for the soul of Biafra to rest in another 47 years of peace. The children might be ready to continue where their fathers left off.
A wise man learns from the mistakes of others. The Yar’Adua administration killed the former leader of BH and here is where we are. Jailing Nnamdi Kanu and killing his followers might buy two weeks of peace. I hope that the current administration does not give us another BH by the name Biafra.
It is not too late yet
God be with Nigeria.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba, Boston, Massachusetts