Thursday, 19 June 2014

Photonews: Ekiti State Election Materials

Photo Credit: Nelson Ekujimi
Photo Credit: Nelson Ekujimi
Photo Credit: Nelson Ekujimi

Photonews: Police Takes Over Streets Of Ekiti State Capital

Photo Credit: Nelson Ekujimi
Photo Credit: Nelson Ekujimi
Photo Credit: Nelson Ekujimi

News Report: Nigerian Military Arrest Senior Boko Haram Member

Boko Haram Leadership

Credit: Reuters

Nigerian security forces discovered a senior member of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram among a convoy of nearly 500 travellers arrested this week in the southern state of Abia, a military spokesman said on Wednesday.

News of the arrest comes as militants are killing civilians almost daily, particularly in the largely Muslim north. At least 14 people were killed on Tuesday when a bomb tore through a venue in the northeast where fans had gathered to watch a World Cup match.

The presence of a senior Boko Haram member in Nigeria's south would stoke fears Islamist militants are pushing into regions well beyond their northern stronghold - including in the mainly Christian south.

It would also raise concern the group, which drew worldwide attention in April when it kidnapped more than 200 girls from a school in northeast Nigeria, could eventually attempt attacks in the oil-rich Niger delta.

Officials said on Monday that nearly 500 people believed to be northerners had been arrested overnight while travelling through the south in convoy of more than 30 vans.

"The army is screening the 486 persons being held in Abia state," defence spokesman General Chris Olukolade told Reuters on Wednesday. It had identified a "kingpin belonging to Boko Haram" among them, he said.

The army did not release the suspect's name or photograph.

Some of those arrested had said they were headed for southern city of Port Harcourt to look for work, the government has said.

Further stoking fears that militants are targeting the south, police in neighbouring Imo state defused three bombs found at a Christian church over the weekend, a local police spokesman said. Six people have been arrested, he said.

Boko Haram has shown its growing reach in recent months by moving beyond its heartland in Nigeria's weakly governed northeast. At least 118 people were killed in devastating back-to-back bomb blasts in the central city of Jos last month.

World Cup Blast
On Tuesday, at least 14 people, including young children were killed, when a bomb targeted a venue in the northeast town of Damaturu where fans had gathered to watch the World Cup on television.

Some people at the scene told Reuters an attacker dropped a device in front of the venue, while others said it was the work of a suicide bomber.

No one claimed responsibility for the blast, but Damaturu and the surrounding Yobe state are at the heart of the five-year-old insurgency by Boko Haram.

The group was blamed for a an attack on another venue screening soccer matches in the northeastern state of Adamawa that killed at least 14 people and wounded 12. 

A Reuters reporter at Damaturu's General Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital counted over a dozen people dead - including small children - and at least 20 wounded.

Police on Wednesday confirmed that the death toll had risen to 14.

The Nigerian government has advised people to avoid gathering in public to watch the World Cup, concerned about potential attacks. Many fans in soccer-mad Africa rely on informal venues - often open-sided structures with televisions set up in shops and side streets - to watch live coverage of the sport. Boko Haram - whose name roughly translates as "Western education is sinful" - has declared war on all signs of what it sees as corrupting Western influence. The group has killed thousands since 2009 in its push to create an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria.

News Release: Call For Human Rights Friendly Environment During Ekiti State Election

A civil society group, HURIDAC is calling for “a human rights friendly environment before, during and after the Ekiti election.”

HURIDAC is seriously concerned about the threat to peace and security in the State and the potential denial of the internationally recognized human rights of the people of Ekiti State.

The Gubernatorial election in Ekiti State is slated for June 21st. However, the build up to the election has been marked by violence and threat to human rights. Death has already been recorded, security has been beefed up, and the general environment in the state is already tense and militarized.

While many civil society organizations are coming to Ekiti to monitor the election, one organisation, the Human Rights Advancement, Development and Advocacy Centre (HURIDAC) is employing a new approach of monitoring the election from a human rights perspective.

“HURIDAC’s role in monitoring the election is advancing and advocating for a human rights friendly environment for the election. This will enable the citizens of the state to exercise their rights to participation in their political affairs. It is important that people are not disenfranchised due to the tense and violence-prone environment, as this will invariably violate their right to vote. The right to vote is an important element of citizens’ rights to participate in their own government,” said Ayodele Ameen, HURIDAC’s Executive Director.

The organisation is therefore calling on all stakeholders to contribute to ensuring a human rights friendly environment for the election. An environment that will not only guarantee a ‘free’ election, but also guarantee the ‘fairness’ of the election, which is an essential precondition for good governance and respect for the rule of law. This election must guarantee the exercise of freedom of opinion, association, expression, non-discrimination, and the use of the secret ballot box system. “The election needs to be ‘fair’, and in doing that, the environment must be conducive for the encouragement of the ‘one person, one vote’ system, for non-discrimination and positive measures, and for a genuine election,” Ayodele Ameen further stated.

A few days to the election, cases have been reported of intent for electoral fraud. The security agencies claimed that some people have already been arrested. According to HURIDAC’s Executive Director; “Though the Electoral Act made provisions for the prosecution of electoral offences, election tribunals should move beyond just adjudication on electoral results, and should consider harsh punishment for evidence of electoral fraud. The government should stop impunity around electoral fraud.”

The success of this gubernatorial election will be determined by how professionally the security forces dispense their duties. “The security forces have a bigger role to play. The police and other security agencies should be independent and give assurance to all parties that the police will protect them all. If voters observe that the utterances or body language of the police are suggesting bias or doing the bidding of one party or candidate, this will undermine their trust and confidence in these institutions, create political apathy, and ultimately infringe on peoples’ right to participate.”

International standards suggest that the police should balance between their role to maintain law and order during elections and the importance of non-interference with human rights and the existence of an environment free of intimidation. According to the United Nations Code of Conduct for law enforcement officers (art. 2); “law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons”. The UN has stated that; “police agencies that do not respect fundamental human rights has the potential to create an intimidating atmosphere that will inhibit the electorate and subvert the genuineness of the election outcome”. The UN further stated that any; “police presence at places of polling should be discrete, professional and disciplined. Police and security personnel should be posted in the minimum number necessary to ensure security in a given location. They should never be positioned in such a way that will impede legitimate access, intimidate voters or discourage them from participating.”

HURIDAC further stated that human rights should not be compromised during this election, that the organization will be gathering information on cases of human rights violations and abuses, and that these will be forwarded to appropriate quarters.
The citizens should ensure that their right to vote is exercised and defended during this election, said the Executive Director.
Ayodele Ameen
Executive Director,

News Release; Arrest Of 486 Nigerians Labeled “Boko Haram Terror Suspects”

Boko Haram Leadership

The attention of the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety has been drawn to the reported arrest in the blue hours ( of Sunday, 15th of June 2014 of 486 Nigerians at Abia and Imo portions of the Port Harcourt-Enugu Dual Carriage Way, Southeast Nigeria. According to media, military and government reports, the 486 Nigerians in the age categories of between 16 and 24 years were being conveyed in 35 buses with undisclosed identities when the military road guards intercepted them and later impounded 33 out of the 35 buses carrying about 486 Nigerians of northern origins. The remaining two buses reportedly escaped. The sources labeled them “Boko Haram suspects” and transferred them to the nearby 144 Battalion of the Nigerian Army where they were detained and later paraded before the media and further tagged “ Boko Haram suspects”. In another Southeast Nigerian State of Imo, two unexploded bombs were said to have been uncovered at the Living Ministry-Winners Chapel. The bombs were said to have been planted by unknown people.

For us at Intersociety, the labeling of the arrestees as “Boko Haram suspects” without establishing preliminary facts about them is too hasty. This is likened to 76 indigent Igbo-Nigerians rounded up and deported in July 2013 to Onitsha Upper Iweka by the Government of Lagos State, which labeled them “mentally challenged/destitute”. The 76 Igbo-Nigerians under reference were crammed in buses provided and escorted by the Government of Lagos State and dumped in Onitsha at about (hours of the blue law). Investigations later revealed that they were traders, hawkers and others begging for alms in the streets of Lagos or “lands created from lagoons” originally by Benin warriors as war camps (Eko) and later by Portuguese settlers for urban dwellers.

Every civil or criminal investigation is usually composed of preliminary and tertiary elements. Conclusions drawn outside the two are usually speculative, unverifiable and unscientific and any labeling and actual punishment originating therein amounts to jungle justice or trial by ordeal. The preliminary findings that ought to accompany the official public pronouncements on the arrestees under reference should have included the names of the arrestees, their particular northern States and LGAs of origin or residency, their religions and marital statuses. Others are their venues of convergence and dispersal, the identities of buses conveying them as well as those of the drivers of the buses and those who hired or arranged for the buses. It is only when the arrestees have failed to furnish those carrying out these preliminary findings on them that it can validly and safely be concluded that the arrestees have malicious intents. Unfortunately, those who paraded the arrestees and tagged them “Boko Haram suspects” did not publicly give out these basic facts about them. That they were being conveyed in the hours of the blue law is not a valid excuse to tag them “Boko Haram suspects” especially if they are IDPs escaping insurgency zones.

Until recently, not many Nigerians are aware that most of the killing sprees and abductions embarked upon by the Boko Haram murderous squads in northern Nigeria are targeted and directed at communities with large Christian populations. It took the courage of a Christian Pentecostal Church leadership to publicly reveal that out of 180 of the 276 Chibok girls abducted by the violent Islamists on 14th April, 2014, 165 are Christians and only 15 are Muslims. The governing authorities in the insurgency areas including the authorities of the Nigerian security forces have for long hidden and refused to disclose the ethnic and religious identities of those abducted or felled by the violent Islamists’ bullets or bombs.

In view of the fact that there have been a steady mass movement from northern parts to southern parts owing to ceaseless killings, maiming and property destructions under reference, caution must be applied to avoid infringing on the fundamental rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing from insurgency zones so as to safeguard their right to life and other constitutionally guaranteed liberties. We are aware that Christian northerners and other non northern Christians are fleeing their residences for safety. A number of them have re-settled in many Southeast cities including Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi, Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Nsukka and Owerri. We are also in the know that a number of innocent young Muslims from the insurgency areas have relocated to southern cities and rural areas. It is to our knowledge as well that selected leaders of Christian communities and socio-political community leaders have been making efforts to facilitate relocation and possible evacuation of residents of minority Christian communities particularly young male population to areas considered safer so as to save them from Boko Haram’s well coordinated ethno-religious cleansing and genocide targeted and directed at northern Christian communities and residents. In the last Gwoza Christian community massacre of June 2nd, 2014, for instance, all the male Christian citizens caught by the violent Islamist sect were nearly mass murdered.

These explain why we hold a strong view that it is totally hasty, speculative and fallacious for the governing and security authorities to label the 486 citizens under reference as “Boko Haram suspects”. Besides, in modern military and warfare science, it is a total blunder for Boko Haram bombers and fighters to be conveyed in such manner, timing notwithstanding. In asymmetric war technology, which the violent Islamist sect has adopted against Nigerians and the State of Nigeria, it is toyish to apply such method. But for the fact that rooms are still given for war blunders, the impoundment of the 33 buses and arrest of the 486 citizens is not out of place. What is out of place is the hasty manner in which they were so maliciously labeled, which can earn them official mass murder (torture, enforced disappearance and extra judicial killing) or stigmatization in the hands of the host civil populace.

Our firm position is that they should be diligently investigated and if they are found to be those fleeing insurgency areas or refugees or IDPs, they should be apologized to and publicly quartered pending when they harmlessly integrate with the host civil populace. Profile of each of them should be built and kept by the government and relevant authorities of the Nigerian security forces for security reasons. We call upon leaders of Christian churches or communities, who may have been responsible for relocation of endangered Nigerian citizens from insurgency areas to safe areas to come out and speak concerning the subject matter under reference. If such an arrangement is made by moderate Muslim communities, we also call upon them to speak publicly as well. If the arrestees make it difficult to be investigated by refusing to volunteer useful information about themselves and circumstances of their blue law hour conveyance, then there can be reasonable grounds to imply that they are security risk, and as such, they should be sent back and be monitored round the clock.

They can only be tagged “Boko Haram suspects” if there are pieces of credible evidence linking them with the activities of the violent Islamist sect, upon which they can be charged to court of competent jurisdiction within times allowed by law. A recent statement by the Nigerian military sources to the effect that one of the arrestees “has been found to be one of those wanted for terrorism or linked with Boko Haram terror” may still be hasty and questionable and require further independent confirmation. Even if the statement is confirmed to be true, it is still an isolated case, which cannot be a valid premise to mass-label all the arrestees as “Boko Haram suspects”.

We also wish to caution politicians particularly the top elected public office holders representing the Southeast zone at State and federal levels not to politicize the insecurity in the Southeast particularly by compounding the fears and apprehensions created by Boko Haram terror and threats. We understand that the 2015 general polls are around the corner and politicians of Nigeria extraction have world record of expertise in the politics of the graveyard. They are also artistic in human misery merchandise. Politicization of insecurity by these malicious public office holders is usually accompanied by steady bloated increases in security votes and creation of artificial insecurity all for selfish political goals or advantages. The politically oiled abductions and armed robberies in Abia and Anambra States in the immediate past are a clear case in point.

However, we wish to warn those radical Islamists and leftist northern politicians oiling the Boko Haram terror to steer clear of the Southeast zone and other parts of the south. If the rumor making the rounds that Boko Haram reins of terror will soon visit the Southeast geopolitical zone and other southern parts, holds water, then the Rwandan type of genocide is imminent in Nigeria. The country will be sunk and consumed in such a manner that at the end, there will be nothing left to be Islamized, not to talk of conversion of the Aso Rock into Boko Haram Sultanate. If a country of approximately seven million people could lose one million to genocide in hundred days, it will be thunderous and deafening to mention how many million lives that will be lost if Nigeria with approximated population of  170 million is plunged into a genocidal war of Rwandan category. Such genocidal war defies formal and modern warfare approaches as well as humanitarian control and truce until there are few people left to be killed.

The governing authorities in Nigeria must quarantine and trounce Boko Haram menace and threats otherwise they, likewise Boko Haram commanders and sponsors will become casualties and refugees overnight if Nigerians are provoked under genocidal circumstances.

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
 International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety
41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge-Onitsha 430003
Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria
+2348100755939 (text 24/7, call, Mon.-Friday office hours)