Monday, 4 January 2010

News Release: Truth And Reconciliation Now Can Save Nigeria

                              [Christian Church Service]

(Statement by the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria [CSMN] on Christian/Muslim Relationship in Nigeria)

We sympathize with all Nigerians both at home and in the Diaspora over their profound disappointment regarding the terrorist act on Christmas Day 2009 by a Nigerian. This singular act should not be attributed to Nigerians as a whole because 99% of Nigerians are law abiding citizens and the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria [CSMN] having been involved for eight years with the study and analysis of Christian/Muslim relationship in Nigeria, we are of the view that most Nigerians may not have been aware of past incidents concerned with terrorism in Nigeria. The Bible says "and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" John 8:32. It is on this basis that we of the CSMN must recall two incidents in 2002 which suggested our country's involvement with terrorism. This is not to promote antagonism between Christians and Muslims, but to show the need for dialogue between Christians and Muslims and indeed Nigerians so that we can begin to look for the way forward, as we are also convinced that the truth will help to make our re-branding exercise stick.

Recruitment for Afghanistan:
We were at a CSMN meeting in Lagos some years ago when a Church leader from Ibadan complained that while at a Nigeria Inter-religion Council (NIREC) meeting, a Radio Station in Ibadan, Oyo State had been broadcasting an advertisement calling for Muslims who want to fight in Afghanistan to come to a designated venue for enlistment. He then said that he demanded from the then Sultan of Sokoto, late Sultan Macido who was joint Chairman of NIREC how this came about but his question was never answered.

Nigeria's first Suicide Attack?
The other one was a publication in the Vanguard of Tuesday, December 19, 2003 on page 33 as reported by Ochercome Nnanna, part of which reads
"A couple of weeks ago in our new capital city, Abuja the unbelievable happened. It is unbelievable because these are some of the things that people would say "cannot happen" in Nigeria. But from the information I gathered from the brother of one of the surviving victims in my recent trip to Abuja, Nigeria may have recorded its first incidence of suicide attack, the daily diet of terror in the Middle East. Chief Foster Ogbalu, a middle aged man from Abagana in Anambra State sat in a city transit bus with about fifteen other commuters. He was traveling from Gwagwalada to the University of Abuja to fill the forms for his post-graduate studies when, on the way, tragedy in human form, wailed in. The bus pulled up at a bus stop and presently, a man holding a covered plastic bucket entered the bus. He made sure he was the last person to enter. Then, he bolted the door. The driver, conductor and some of the commuters were still wondering what the strange man was up to, when he uncovered the bucket and threw the contents of the bucket-- petrol! - Around the bus. Most of the passengers were partially or wholly doused in the deadly inflammable liquid. There was utter confusion. The man next reached into his pocket and brought out a box of match. That was when Ogbalu knew that the lives of everyone in the bus was in danger. He raised the alarm. "it is petrol! Run! He hollered". A stampede ensued. People rushed towards the only open door. Ogbalu realized that if he as the nearest person to the maniac also attempted to run away and the man struck that match he would surely go up in flames, for he was one of those almost completely wetted by the fuel. So, in a desperate move, he went after the man. He grabbed him from the back, but unfortunately, one of the man's hands was free. As they struggled and Ogbalu edged them both towards the driver's open door, the man did not even try to shake loose from Ogbalu's grip, He concentrated on striking the match. He eventually succeeded. Fire immediately engulfed him, Ogbalu and the bus. Ogbalu let go of him and scampered out of the bus, a human torch in full conflagration. It was like something you saw in the movies. The difference, though, was that the fires in the movies are faked. The actors come out of their routine without a scratch. But the fire on Ogbalu was real enough. Today he is lying critically ill at the National Hospital, Abuja, all peeled up but now out of danger list. The only part of him that is free from the burns is the hollow of his eyes. There is not a single hair on his head. The attacker died in the inferno, burnt beyond recognition and identification. --- Nigeria looks very much like a very attractive haven for agents of terrorist outfits, which are ready to part with huge sums of money. Illiteracy, poverty and the eagerness of politicians to exploit religious sentiments to score against their opponents; added to the already existing religious bigotry, are factors that can attract trouble makers. In addition, the nation is just porous, so porous that foreign nationals form cells of soldiers of fortune and make themselves available for hire by those who have an axe to grind with their neighbors. The question is whether the authorities even bother themselves with this kind of problem. Are we waiting until (heavens forbid) something really earthshaking happens? This is a wake-up call for all Nigerians."
We wrote to the Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun in December 2002 who confirmed the incident and informed us that the incident was under investigation. We heard nothing further about this incident, and we are not in a position to say whether the man acted alone or is a member of an organization or group.

Religious Disturbances:
We have identified below incidents of religious disturbances in Nigeria between 1980 – 2009, to show its frequency and the fact that thousands of Nigerians have perished. They include: Zaria May 1980, Yan-Awaki Ward in Kano December 1980, Bullumkutu October 1982, Kano October 1982, Dobeli Ward Jimeta-Yola February 1984, Pantami Ward, Gombe April 1985, Ilorin March 1986, Ibadan May 1986, Kafachan March 1987, Kaduna March 1987, Kaduna February 1988, Katsina April 1991, Tafawa Balewa (Bauchi State) April 1991, Kano October 1991, Kaduna May 1992, Funtua January 1993, Kano December 1994, Kano May 1995, Abule Taylor (Lagos) May 1995, Kaduna February 2000, Aba February 2000, Kaltungo (Gombe State) September 2000, Hadejia (Jigawa State) December 2000, Jos September 2001, Onitsha September 2001, Kano October 2001, Gwantu Crisis (Kaduna State) November 2001, Jos Mayhem May 2002, Yelwa Shendam Mayhem (Plateau State) May 2002, Kaduna November 2002, Langtang North Wase and Kanam L.G.C. of Plateau State March 2003, Yobe State January 2004, Makarfi April 2004, Bakin Chiyawa April 2004, Yelwa Shendam May 2004, Kano May 2004, Numan (Adamawa State) June 2004, Limankara (Borno State) September 2004, Ipakodo (Lagos State) January 2005, Kano 2007, Maiduguri 2009, Bauchi December 28, 2009. After the Judicial Commission of Inquiry to the 1984 in Jimeta-Yola headed by Justice Uwais of the Supreme Court, and two others in Plateau State headed by Justice Niki Tobi in 2002 and now Justice Bola Ajibola 2009, inquiries are not usually held and when they are, no white paper is ever published thus condemning these religious riots. Mr. President assured Nigerians that the report of the investigating pance to the execution by the police of two leaders of Boko Haram in Maiduguri, yet no report was made public.

Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN):
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) as a result of the above approved the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN) in 2001 as its social wing so that Christians can have a joint action in social issues. Unfortunately, our success has been limited by some church leaders most of whom have either been co-opted into the rulership of the country or are attached to the party of the rulers, being the method that has been adopted over the years to hold down Nigerians in their own country.

We must however add that a majority of Muslims in the country are as opposed to Muslim fundamentalism as Christians yet both Muslims and Christians are powerless because of intimidation, coercion and co-option employed by the security and intelligence agencies of Nigeria government. This also explains why the South especially the South/South that is predominantly Christians are short changed in the contribution and distribution of Revenue.

Niger Delta as a Colony of Nigeria
Chief Olaniwun Ajayi in his latest book titled "Nigeria: Africa's Failed Asset?" provides the table below on:
Zone Contribution and Allocation Received as at September 2005
North-Central Nil N45.811billion 7.48%
North-East Nil 46.213 " 8.00%
North-West Nil 44.488 " 8.31%
South-East 2.75 33.476 " 5.48%
South-West 3.97 42.502 " 7.43%
South-South (Niger Delta) 91.54 145.171 " 17.30%

Distribution of religion in the population of these regions is as follows:
North-East and North-West are predominantly Muslims, South-East and South-South are predominantly Christians while North-Central and South-West are mixtures of Christians and Muslims. There are other minor religious groups throughout the country. Prominent amongst which are traditional worshippers.

The implications of the above include the following:
a. that those who contribute nothing to the Federation account got between 7% and 8% of allocation based on questionable principle of land, landmass, terrain, population, population density etc, all to protect these assets, and the Niger Delta has to pay for this notwithstanding the fact that the land especially in these areas are put to agricultural use with the South being the major importers of the products so generated at prices that boost the income of those regions;
b. that those who contribute between 3% and 4% get between 5% and 7% also based on the questionable assets protection principle, this has been going on for over 40 years;
c. that those who contribute 92% lost 75% of their contribution. Why in the circumstance should Niger Delta contribute to the Federation account when they get only 17% of their contribution and 3 zones that contribute nothing get a total of 23%. In fact, an attempt is being made to reduce this allocation to the Niger Delta to 10%;
d. that the South contribute to the distribution pool while the North contribute nothing;
e. the only way to subjugate the same more educated South is to subject them to poverty and through internal insecurity by the armed forces during military dictatorship and presently by violence promoted by the security and intelligence community numbering millions who now dominate the polity including the three arms of government, the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, commerce, religion and politics;
f. that the South/South is treated in every respect as a colony of the rest of Nigeria and as colonized subjects to aspire to the post of Vice President but not for president that is reserved for citizens.
It is pertinent to note that some Christians from the North, East and West and even the South-South Zones do not see anything wrong in contributing nothing and collecting 23% in allocation. They also do not see anything wrong in Niger Delta contributing 92% and to be given back only 17% especially when they become members of the ruling elites and/or members of the party of the rulers.

Incompatibility of Democracy and Sharia:
All attempts by CSMN to get foreign or national assistance to organize a national conference on religion, truth and reconciliation have proved impossible. It is our hope however that Nigerians especially those in the diaspora will come together to help promote democracy in Nigeria because Democracy and Sharia appear incompatible and some Hausa/Fulani Nigerians in position of authority who have dual citizenship of Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, practise the strict Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia. They hold the view that Democracy cannot co-exist with Islam. The CSMN very much suspect that the 12 Sharia States in Nigeria is Nigeria's "Pakistan" in the making especially because of the amount of corruption and reckless looting of the country's treasury and the total disregard of section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution which provides that: "The Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as State Religion". These Nigerians also promote the contradictions in the Constitution and in its application as for example, in the situation where the President can be away indefinitely and the Vice President cannot act for him.

It is time that the issue of religion should be a matter for conference, seminar, colloquium etc so that we can all as Nigerians, Christians, Muslims, Animist etc come together to chart a uniform approach to the perennial problems by fundamentalism.

It is obvious from the above that this deceit by the ruling elite cannot go on for too long notwithstanding the activities of the various Armed Forces in the past, the Police, State Security Service [SSS] Customs, Immigration, Road Safety, Civil Defence, Vigilante of Nigeria, Traffic Warden and even Boko Haram designed to intimidate, harass and co-opt uninformed Nigerians. The present world view of Nigeria as a failing state that co-operates with terrorists has made the situation precarious and urgent. It is very clear from the experience of the militias of the Niger Delta that the Federal Government is not the only custodian of violence in Nigeria. Violence will be unnecessary if only the Federal Government will appreciate that this is the 21st century when unjustified violence against its own people will attract sanction as Darfur and Guinea experiences are examples. Why therefore can Nigerians not discuss in whatever type of arrangement – National conference, National dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation, Colloquium etc especially because the game is up and the world now knows how our leaders have misled us over the years. If we must separate (God forbid) we can do this at a conference table not in a war theatre. We pray that "God that has made Nigeria the most religious nation on earth, would prevail on us so that we can have peace and justice in our land and in our time. Amen"

For more information and activities of the CSMN, see our website:

Happy New Year

Solomon Asemota, SAN
Chairman Governing Council (CSMN)

Article: Religious Crisis, Terrorism, and Our Security

                                          [Aftermath of Religious crisis]

This must be a very difficult time for Nigerians and Nigeria itself, especially with recent events such as; Bauchi crisis (Kala Kato), the attempt to blow up flight 253 by Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, the second Nigerian who caused a security concern on the same flight no 253 to Detroit (though he was truly sick), the bomb blast at the Superscreen Television Station, our sick president, fuel scarcity, fire at African Independent Television (AIT) station and farmers/herdsmen crisis in Nasarawa State (a lot of people died while many were displaced).

These are not very good image projectors of our country. It’s simply a public relations disaster for all. Please make no mistake about it, Nigeria and Nigerians will surely pay the penalty for all these image problems. To me, image is every thing. The re-brand Nigeria Project championed by Madam Dora Akinyili (Information Minister) should now be allowed to finally rest in peace, because recent events have rubbished it.

When I wrote about Boko Haram crisis, I prayed to God that, let this be the last time I will write about religious crisis. I don’t know if I should repeat that prayer here. However, I wish to express my sympathies to all the innocent Nigerians who were displaced, or who lost people or properties due to this crisis. I condemn all kinds of crisis be it religious or otherwise. I also condemn all acts of terrorism. I will ask all Nigerians to unite and condemn all acts of terrorism and all kinds of crisis (religious etc). In crisis, just like in terrorism, many innocent people die. I am sure Nigerians will agree with me that these twin evils (religious crisis and terrorism) are amongst the biggest threat to us (Nigerians) and all human races.

We have a duty to fight these menace and other societal evils. Alhaji Mutallab (father of the flight 253 bomber; Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab) has given us a clue on what all of us should be doing. Alhaji Mutallab reported his son to the American Embassy and the Nigerian Security Services when he suspected the strange behaviors of his son. This singular act should be emulated by all Nigerians. Its worthy of commendation. This approach should be used to fight other crimes in Nigeria . Please report any one you’re not sure of his or her motives. This should be applicable to all top officials in both the public and private sector. I was glad when a friend told me, that he went to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) office personally to hand in a petition about a certain government official.

I remember the tenure of ex Governor Buba Marwa of Lagos State . He launched Operation Sweep (an outfit of the Lagos Police Command tasked with fighting crimes in Lagos State) he asked people living in Lagos (Lagosians) to volunteer information anonymously if they are afraid to mentioned their names. Thus people started volunteering information without their names and it helped the crime fighters (Operation Sweep). In the same manner, Nigerians should volunteer information if possible without their names. This will surely help to fight crimes. If we fail to act, we might end up being the victims. I urge Nigerians in Diaspora to volunteer information on where the wanted bank chiefs are staying in abroad. It might be helpful for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

If the other passengers traveling with Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab (flight 253 bomber) had failed to act, all of them would have died. That is the more reasons why, we Nigerians have to volunteer information that will prevent crime(s), corruption, bad governance etc. A better way to know what people are doing might be through surveillance and spying. We can borrow the techniques used by the former East German Secret Police (Stasi). In the former East Germany , people were spying each for the good of the state. Cuba used similar method at the early days of Fidel Castro’s revolution. This method has the potentials of reducing crimes drastically. No sacrifice will be too much for the security of Nigerians. “Security for few is insecurity for all” Nelson Mandela.

On this note, may I inform our people that I have concluded research and now have details of a company here that, deals on specially made security and surveillance cameras. These cameras are ideal for the following purposes; election monitoring, investigative journalism, individual/community protection, home protection, private investigators etc. I recommend these cameras for all those hoping to monitor elections in Nigeria especially the Anambra State governorship election coming up in February 2010. Also these cameras are a must for all Nigeria ’s investigative journalist(s).

Talking about accountability and as a starting point, Dr Rilwanu Lukman (Petroleum Minister) should tell Nigerians the reasons why he should not be sacked for leaving Nigeria at the heat of the fuel scarcity. This is despite the warning given by the Vice President (Goodluck Jonathan), that the Petroleum Ministers (Dr. Rilwanu Lukman and his junior counterpart Mr. Odein Ajumogobia) should not travel for the Christmas holiday due to the fuel crisis. He (Rilwanu Lukman) violated the order given by the Vice President. By so doing, he disrespected the office of the Vice President. I suggest his removal as a minister. Fuel scarcity creates insecurity for people.

Rilwanu Lukman has truly shown his insensitivity to the plight of the suffering Nigerian masses. He and his likes should understand that Nigeria and Nigerians have changed. Insensitivity of this kind might make people take laws into their hands. Not too long ago, there was a failed attempt to kidnap the Education minister (Dr Sam Egwu). One of culprits claimed that they wanted to kidnap Sam Egwu because of his inability to resolve Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike. Thank God, the strike has been called off. Remember some Nigerians hijacked a plane when June 12 1993 election was annulled. This was in protest to the annulment. Our “rulers” have to be very careful now. Times have changed. No more taking Nigerians for granted.

Finally, I wish to appeal to Nigerians to participate and join the fight against global warming. Turn off your electrical appliances/lights when not in use. Plant a tree or sponsor one to plant on your behalf. Government and companies should send less paper work and do more email, telephone, and sms. May God bless Nigeria .

By Chinedu Vincent Akuta.