LETTERS To USAfricaonline.com Editors

Nigeria's Human Rights Commission; more of the same?
By Francis Nnamdi Elekwachi

Special to USAfricaonline.com and NigeriaCentral.com

Thank you very much for your informative and analytical piece on the USAfricaonline.com HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY series, titled "How far, how deep will Nigeria's Human Rights Commission go?" By Chido Nwangwu. Some of the very important issues raised by some of community members, including such persons as Ejike Okpa II and Ken Okorie, regarding the Commission's terms of reference and enabling legislation have been substantially clarified in your article.

Thanks to your expose, if any thing, at least we now know that the entire exercise is much more than a mere "talk-shop" - in deed, it is a hurried whitewash, if not an attempt to cover-up and gloss over the real issues of rights abuses in Nigeria - individual, group and genocidal.

A necessary deduction flowing from your said article is that, the fact that a "Truth Commission" was relevantly suitable to South Africa's circumstances do not necessarily make similar approaches fair and equitable in the case of Nigeria or any other country.

The African majority in South Africa at least were able to retrieve political power into their "hot little hands". That was their ultimate aim and their sons, daughters and friends did not die in vain. If you like, that was arguably adequate reparation or compensation for the inhumanity they had had to contend with. They also needed to be able to progress, service and maintain their fairly complex and sophisticated economy, which the African majority was ill-equipped to manage on their own alone. In this regard, the approach adopted in South Africa was necessary in order to retain their valuable, largely skilled citizens of European decent, in addition to retaining the confidence of the West.

The last thing Igbos and other colonised Nigerian nationalities need is a "talk-shop" which does nothing to redress the inequities in the polity and leaves intact, the ill-acquired benefits, the very machinery, instruments and sources of those same human rights abuses and genocide. In the end, the rights abusers retain all the gains of their inhumanity, while the abused continues to bear their loss, suffering further loses in consequence, ad infinitum. How do Igbos recoup their lost self-determination, lives, properties, bank deposits, businesses, jobs, natural resources, environment, culture, unity etc, many of which loses the abusers have retained and many of which loses continue even as the Commission is in proceedings?

Therefore, who needs the Justice Oputa Panel? Certainly, neither the Igbos, nor the colonised nationalities.

Your write-up has been able to open up the entire ignoble agenda: they will say sorry and our people are supposed to say okay, and the beat goes on! I think they have to tell that to the marines!
Elekwachi is a researcher on legal and public policy matters regarding Nigeria

Nigeria's Human Rights Commission should ask Obasanjo, Danjuma some questions, too
By Ambrose Ehirim

Special to USAfricaonline.com and NigeriaCentral.com

Regarding the column by Chido Nwangwu "Human Rights and Democracy: How far, how deep will Nigeria's Human Rights Commission go?" which appeared on USAfricaonline.com on October 24, 2000, I am glad you brought point up, to Igbo Forum. It is an excellent piece.

The Oputa Human Rights Commission Panel is another rhetorical balderdash established by President Olusegun Obasanjo and his colleagues, retired Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, included, in an attempt to call it even with their nemesis--Sani Abacha's henchmen. Hamza Al-Mustapha, Ishaya Bamaiyi, James Danbaba, Bala Yakubu, and Mohammed Rabo Lawal have been accused of criminal activities during Abacha's reign of terror. Their crime: attempted murder on the publisher of The Guardian Alex Ibru, several terrorist style bombing engagements, assassinations of numerous NADECO stalwarts, and the murder of Kudirat Abiola.

All along, these celebrity, media-hyped, "Orwellian drama" indicates Obasanjo's personal vendetta. The ridicule here is, Abacha is dead. The irony is Obasanjo, Danjuma, et al. are no saints. My only concern here is that Obasanjo and Danjuma have in the past committed crimes against sections of the Nigerian humanity. On the other hand, it is really a waste of time and resources just for the fact that nothing whatsoever will come out of it. Obasanjo and Danjuma defending human rights? Give me a break. In the case of Danjuma, we are talking about the worst possible case of sacrilege, treason, and disloyalty that a soldier or even a man could be guilty of. Danjuma was, as you recalled, late Gen. Aguiyi-Ironsi's aide de camp -a confidential and trusted assistant to the Head of State. For those who do not know, the duties of an aide-de-camp requires that he surrender his own life to protect the life of the senior officer he is assigned to protect. Danjuma abandoned his duties and collaborated with the Hausa/Fulani mutineers and their Yoruba counterparts in a plot that murdered Ironsi and his host, Fajuyi, the most brutal of circumstances.

Now that they have selected their investigators and panel of judges, amazingly, all Southerners to seek justice and recommend crimes committed against humanity since 1966, the obvious question here is, would Danjuma and Obasanjo be also tried for murder and series of human rights violations they may have committed in the past? Would justice prevail if other crimes against humanity are not adequately addressed, as well?

On Obasanjo, we all know he took over the command of the Third Marine Commando where he pursued helpless children and exhausted women into the bushes. What's the difference between what Abacha's men are accused of and what Obasanjo and Danjuma did in the past? Even recently, was the plunder of Odi not carried out on the orders of Obasanjo and Danjuma ?

We shouldn't be moved or rejoice over this brouhaha. We are still being used as guinea pigs and we shouldn't allow these dubious machines affect us gain. But while the aura and periods were different, the potential consequences seems and likely to be the same--double standards--using us as "guinea pigs."
Ehirim is a Los Angeles-based writer.

How far, how deep will Nigeria's human rights commission go?


Index of Viewpoints and Commentaries by USAfricaonline.com columnists and contributors


Colbert I. King, Washington Post columnist, writes what is, so far, easily the most expository and insightful commentary on the disregard of Africa by Republican George Bush and Vice President Al Gore, as the country counts down to the November 7, 2000 elections. Especially, Colbert queries whether Bush is applying the "Pinky" foreign policy doctrine?

Will religious conflicts be the time-bomb for Nigeria's latest transition to civilian rule?
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Achebe turns 70; to celebrate with Mandela, Morrison, Soyinka, Thelwell, world's leading arts scholars in New York in November at Bard College. Meanwhile, the Nobel committee has, again, chosen a relative less known (globally-speaking) Chinese novelist, Gao Xingjian, rather than Achebe for the Literature prize. Achebe was seen as a top favorite for the 2000 award. What the Swedish Nobel committee will not give, Achebe has, for well over 30 years, won in the hearts of millions in 53 languages. By Chido Nwangwu

National Libraries in an African Renaissance conference holds October 31 -November 2, 2000 in Pretoria
Yoruba Forum blasts Obasanjo as puppet of "Hausa-Fulani sponsors" for arresting OPC's leader, others