Thursday, 23 August 2012

U-Report: Broaden Inquiry Into Miners Killings

Women Carrying placards Protest Killings; Photo Credit: Reuters

Report By: Human Rights Watch

The South African government should ensure that the Commission of Inquiry into the killings of the Lonmin miners in Marikana on August 16, 2012, is independent, impartial, and investigates the underlying circumstances that led to the killings, Human Rights Watch said today. The inquiry should not be limited to whether the use of lethal force by police was lawful, Human Rights Watch said.

The South African government should ensure that the commission is established speedily and that its terms of reference include a fact-finding mission on the background and underlying events leading to the violence in Marikana.

“President Zuma has acted swiftly in deciding to establish a Commission of Inquiry, but an effective inquiry should include a comprehensive review of the background of the most recent violence, including the deaths of police at the hands of miners,” said Cameron Jacobs, South Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should also explore the broader issues that have led to violent protests in the country.”

The government needs to show political leadership in helping to resolve the ongoing labor dispute, Human Rights Watch said. The tragedy raises issues about the general conditions of workers and their rights and why the normal channels for dispute resolution have not been effective in addressing workers’ rights and wage issues.

Thirty-four people were killed on August 16, when members of the South African Police Service opened fire on protesting miners armed with machetes, large sticks, and rocks at Lonmin Platinum Mine in Marikana, North West Province. The miners were demanding higher wages. On August 17, President Jacob Zuma announced that he would establish a Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances that led to the killings. The Commission of Inquiry’s members and terms of reference have yet to be announced.

In the week before the tragedy on August 16, workers were involved in a violent standoff between rival trade union members triggered by a demand for better wages. During the standoff, 10 people, including two police officers, were killed. Media reports indicate that the Lonmin management asked the police to restore order.

Over the past couple of years, South Africa has witnessed a number of extremely violent strikes and protests partly due to worsening poverty, increasing social inequality, low wages, and poor social service delivery. Police have struggled to maintain order during these strikes

South Africa’s Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has also initiated an investigation into the incident at Marikana. In the light of the overlap of the subject matter between the two bodies, the terms of reference for the Commission of Inquiry should clearly set out the relationship between the two and ensure that the investigations complement each other.

The IPID inquiry should report publically on whether the evidence indicates that police officers acted in compliance with the law when they resorted to the use of lethal force and whether the use of lethal force under the circumstances was proportionate and justified, Human Rights Watch said.

“The police have the duty to ensure law and order, but the use of force must be proportional to the imminent threat of violence,” Jacobs said. “The IPID needs to investigate whether other alternatives to the use of live ammunition were exhausted before they resorted to deadly force.”

The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force by Law Enforcement Officials require law enforcement officials, in carrying out their duty, as far as possible, to apply non-lethal force before resorting to firearms in violent protests. In any event, firearms should not be used against people except when strictly necessary in response to an imminent threat of death or serious injury, where it is strictly unavoidable in order to protect life. All use of force must be exercised with restraint and in proportion to the seriousness of the offense and the legitimate objective to be achieved; and shall minimize damage and injury.

Section 49 of the South Africa’s Criminal Procedure Act states that force must always be reasonably necessary and proportional in the circumstances, and that deadly force, including shooting, may in addition be used only if the suspect poses a threat of serious violence to the arrestor or another person or persons.

News Report: Nigeria Islamists Rule Out Peace Talks

Credit: Reuters

Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram ruled out on Thursday holding peace talks with the government and threatened to strike media houses it said fight the group "with the pen".

The local press and at least two foreign news organisations have reported that talks are going on between the government and the militants who have been staging an insurgency against it, citing unnamed sources.
Information minister Labaran Maku declined comment on Wednesday on the talks, citing government instructions not to discuss the issue.

Since launching an insurgency against the government in 2009 with the avowed aim of turning all or part of religiously-mixed Nigeria into an Islamic state, Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people in near daily gun and bomb attacks.

"We are telling the government to understand that if it is not ready to embrace sharia (Islamic law) and the Koran as the guiding book from which the laws of the land derive, there shall be no peace," the sect's spokesman Abu Qaqa said in a written statement in the northeast city of Maiduguri, the heart of the rebellion.

Boko Haram has replaced militancy in the creeks of the oil-producing Niger Delta as the biggest security threat to Nigeria, Africa's top energy producer. A flurry of efforts to start talks followed accusations early this year that President Goodluck Jonathan was treating the crisis too narrowly as a security issue.

But attempts at dialogue are complicated by Boko Haram's shadowy nature and the fact there sometimes appears to be more than one faction. The main one, led by Abubakar Shekau, has never shown any overt interest in dialogue.

Qaqa also threatened media houses, recalling the sect's dual bomb attack on local newspaper ThisDay in the capital Abuja and northern city of Kaduna in April that killed five people.
"They should understand that for us there is no difference between those fighting with arms and with the pen," he said.

Failed Talks:
A group of governors from Nigeria's largely Muslim north set up a committee on Wednesday tasked with trying to reach out to the Islamists. The committee is chaired by Bagangida Aliyu, the governor of Niger state, which has been plagued by insecurity.

It would aim to "get to the root of the security challenges and ... dialogue with any identified groups with a view to negotiating the way out of the menace," it said on Wednesday.

However, the outcome of any such initiative remains uncertain. Though Boko Haram's anger is directed towards the southern Christian-dominated central government, it also rails against the northern elites, whom it regards as corrupt and unIslamic.

The closest the militants have come to talks with the government was in March, when a former ally of Boko Haram's founder Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in police custody in 2009, called Datti Ahmed attempted to establish links.

The talks fell apart within days.

"Ever since that attempt at dialogue was aborted there has not been any move for dialogue that we agreed till date," Abu Qaqa said in Thursday's statement.

The group has been weakened by recent arrests and the deaths of senior figures, analysts say, and has not managed to launch a massively deadly coordinated attack since one that killed 186 people in Kano in January, though it remains a lethal force.

The sect claimed responsibility for violence in Jos, in Nigeria's volatile 'Middle Belt', that killed 63 people last month, although security forces blamed local ethnic rivalries.

Qaqa rejected a report in a U.S. newspaper that government officials had met a Boko Haram commander called Abu Mohammed in Saudi Arabia, denying the man even existed.

"We've heard about those who go about using our names in order to collect huge sums of money from the government. We are warning you," he said.

News Release: Mayhem Averted In Imo State House Of Assembly

Benjamin Uwajimogu: Speaker, Imo State House Of Assembly

The attention of the Imo State House of Assembly has been drawn to a press conference organized by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the 22nd of August 2012 at 4pm. In the said press conference, the PDP accused the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu of deliberately postponing the inauguration of Mr. Eugene Dibiagwu, member elect for Oguta State Constituency on the 22nd of August 2012.

The PDP also among other allegations said that Rt. Honourable Benjamin Uwajumogu is the rubber stamp of the Executive Governor of Imo State, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha and that his failure to inaugurate Mr. Eugene Dibiagwu as an Honourable member has exposed him as an incompetent speaker who must be impeached.

For the records; Mr. Eugene Dibiagwu was communicated to in writing by the Imo State House of Assembly few days ago that he would be sworn-in on the 22nd of August 2012. This was followed up by the Rt. Honourable Speaker’s Press briefing on Thursday the 16th of August 2012 where he reiterated the resolution of the House of Assembly to inaugurate Mr. Eugene Dibiagwu on the 22nd of August 2012. This was published in numerous newspapers, announced on the state radio and television stations. It was also covered in camera. Unfortunately the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was accused by the APGA leadership in the state of planning to cause Mayhem and crisis of unimaginable proportion in the state. There were also reports that the Imo State House of Assembly will be destroyed and that the state owned Orient radio/television station would also be burnt down. On the other hand, the PDP leadership in the state asked Imo People to hold APGA responsible should breakdown of law and order take place on Wednesday 22nd of August 2012.

In this situation, the Imo State House of Assembly became the battle ground for the two political parties to settle their differences. As a law abiding organ of government, the Imo State House of Assembly was set to perform its legislative, administrative and inauguration functions on the 22nd of August 2012, when reports filtered in that buses carrying thugs and hoodlums from Oguta Local Government Area and from Neighbouring states had indeed arrived the state capital Owerri in the evening of 21st of August 2012.

On the 22nd of August 2012, these hoodlums from Oguta LGA stormed the Assembly complex and barricaded the gates (both in front and at the back of Imo State House of Assembly) with guns, machetes and other weapons threatening to burn down the Imo State House of Assembly complex if Mr. Eugene Dibiagwu was not inaugurated. They were above 1000 in number. These hoodlums prevented Staff, political appointees and even elected Honourable members from entering the complex. Infact Hon. Barrister Obinna Okwara (member representing Nkwerre State Constituency) was humiliated when he tried to drive through the gate. The APGA people were also seen marching towards the Assembly complex. It is very symbolic to note that vehicles of political appointees and staffs were vandalized and their tyres deflated. Windscreen of moving vehicles and tricycles were heartlessly smashed. We have all these in camera.

Therefore, in order to avert an impending Mayhem which definitely would have led to several loss of lives and properties and desecration of the Assembly complex by the hoodlums from Oguta, the Imo State House of Assembly graciously postponed the inauguration of Mr. Eugene Dibiagwu to the 29th of August 2012. This strategy was to allow the effervescent of confusion, violence and political hatred to settle down. Also as a proactive measure, the police and other security agencies were quickly deployed to protect the Assembly complex.

It is therefore very erroneous for the PDP to accuse the ebullient and peace loving Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Chukwuemeka Uwajumogu of deliberately postponing the inauguration of Mr. Eugene Dibiagwu. It is equally not right to label Speaker Uwajumogu a rubber stamp. Indeed, it is a hatred taken too far by calling for the impeachment of Speaker Uwajumogu, a man known and acknowledged universally as a man of peace and love.

The question now is; do you swear in somebody at gun point in a democratic setting? The answer is definitely capital No. Let us give peace a chance to reign. Let us practice love for one another. Let us
indeed embrace Unity irrespective of political party affiliation, so that Imo will continue to be better.


Hon. Citizen Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha (FCAI)
(Media Department (Office of the Speaker)
Imo State House of Assembly

Communiqué: Communiqué Issued At The End Of An Extra- Ordinary Meeting Of South-East Development Agenda (SEDA) Held At Enugu On 22nd Of August, 2012

Late Ojukwu; Icon Of South-East Struggles

South East Development Agenda (SEDA), a human rights and pro democracy group of activists and professionals committed and working for the promotion of good governance and sustainable development in the South East of Nigeria met in an extra ordinary emergency meeting held in Enugu on 22nd of August 2012 to review and consider some critical issues of the zone.

Mindful of the need to sustain the principles of democracy and unimpeachable Igbo value for hard work, justice and equity and, conscious of the fact that the people of the zone has always lost out in the power equation of the country principally due largely for the lack of committed and focused leadership, and desirous of mobilizing a coordinated and principled effort towards giving the people of the zone a sense of security, pride and belongingness, the forum held that:

· That the selfless, courageous, and patriotic life of late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu is unsalable and represents the ideal of good leadership qualities and true Igbo values of success and patriotism.

The forum further resolved that:
·  That the sacking of Nigerian public servants of Igbo extraction from Abia State is wicked,  parochial, unacceptable and an affront to Ndi Igbo and our collective psyche, and the ideal the late sage stood for.

·    That the said sacking of Nigerian public servants of Igbo extraction from  an Igbo speaking state known to have been developed by non indigenes, went on without condemnation from Igbo leadership and Nigerian government is curious and regrettable.

·     That the National Assemble, the Igbo leadership and indeed all stakeholders in the Nigeria project should see, pursue and support the creation of an additional state for the South East as a legitimate entitlement of the zone and a necessary condition for peace and security in Nigeria.

·    That the issue of state police should not be politicized but rather seen as a legitimate and genuine panacea for lasting security question in Nigeria in line with the principles of federalism.

·   Urged Governors Rochas Okorocha, Peter Obi and Sullivan Chime to maintain their principled, pro active, focused and people oriented development of their people without minding all the distractions of dislodged and selfish politicians who have kept our people in perpetual underdevelopment and misery.

Consequently, the forum affirmed:
    That Civil Society Organizations should continuously and proactively drive the process that ensures that government remains accountable to the people, especially on issues of security and good governance.

1. Barr. Sylvanus Ibechiodo
Human Rights lawyer, Umuahia

2. Chinedu Nwukwu
    Save Abia Now (SAN)

3. Concerned Abia
Citizens, Lagos State Chapter

4. Chibuike Allison
     Society for Economic Rights & Justice (SERJ)

5. Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor
     Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy
    & Development (FENRAD)

6. Louisa Eikhomun
     Echoes of Women in Africa Initiative (ECOWA)

7. Bright-Chuks Ogbonna
     Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Abia State

8.  Duru Catherine
      Echoes of Women Africa Initiative (ECOWA)

9.  Chukwudi ozor
      Civil Liberties Organization, Abia State

10. Comrade Godson Umelo Ibekwe
       Center for Popular Participation & Local Initiative (CENPPALIN)

11.  Comrade Emenike Ogba
       State secretary, Campaign for Democracy (CD)
       Abia state chapter

12. Comrade Chuka. P. Okoye
       South East Youths for Development & Good Governance (SEYDGG)

13. Eusebio Substance
       Save Nigeria Group
       Abia State Chapter

14. Comrade Nwafor Ebi Eke
      National Publicity Secretary
      National Youth Alliance for Democracy (NYAD)

15. Comrade Henry Nwaigwe
       Movement for Peace & Development in Niger-Delta (MPDND)
       Abia State Chapter

16. Comrade Onyekachi Uche
       Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC)

17. Onyemachi Oji
       Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Centre

18. Mike Opia
      Centre for Development & Civic Education.

19. Chigozie Ubani
      Abia Indigene & Public Analyst

20. Adindu Chinwuba
      South-East Budget Network, Abia State Chapter

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