Emmanuel Onwubiko is a former Federal Commissioner of the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission and the National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (Huriwa). He spoke on the ongoing terror-related violence in the north and challenged the President to go after the real sponsors even if they are in the ruling party. He hinted about the resolve of his group to approach the united nations on the violence that has claimed several thousands of innocent lives.
On Huriwa’’s positiion on the armed insurgency in the north
We are worried by the lingering insecurity in some parts of Nigeria, especially in states of the north, especially Borno and Yobe states.
We have watched with trepidation, the unfortunate spread of the mass killings of mostly civilians and we have taken pains to scrutinize the findings of the international non-governmental organizations like the Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty International. We align ourselves with the reports which were recently released to the effect that the Joint Military Task force and the armed non-state actors commonly identified as boko haram are responsible for one of the worst atrocities and crimes against humanity in the country’s history.
How do you react to the claim by the Borno state government that the political opposition are the targets of the incessant attacks?
We are shocked at the emerging pattern of targeted assassination of politicians belonging to one of Nigeria’s leading opposition parties; the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), and particularly friends of the immediate past governor of Borno state. It is shocking to deserve the strident effort by members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Borno state to rope in the person of the immediate past governor, even when there are pointers to the effect that their people are more likely culprits. Available pieces of evidence indicate that the issue of Boko Haram has more to do with local politics, than a mere ideological rebellion. It may be recalled that a former National Security Adviser to the current President was once quoted to have laid the blame for the emergence of the insurgency at the doors of the PDP, emanating from its politics of exclusiveness. the world can see that, attempts at blaming the immediate past governor or others, are clearly a diversionary tactic. It is clear that the Federal Government of Nigeria has failed to activate non-partisan and intelligence-driven mechanisms to find lasting solutions to the ongoing killings in the north eastern segment of the Nigerian nation and other major flashpoints in the north west and north central. We believe that the best way to resolve this crisis is for the Federal Government to show a high sense of impartiality and to dispassionately bring all those responsible for this lingering crisis irrespective of their belonging to the ruling peoples Democratic Party to book. The federal Government should stop chasing shadow and take action to end these seemingly unnecessary waste of precious lives of Nigerians.
What is your response to the allegation that former Borno state governor was behind boko haram?
Security reports obtained by us absolved the government, the anpp and the former governor, while recent developments indicate that the top echelon of the pdp in Borno state may be involved, given the fact that two of the party’s serving senators have been fingered as the alleged master minds. Available data also show that the pattern of targeted assassination affect more members of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (anpp) of which the immediate past governor who was recently elected as the chairman of the board of trustees belongs. It is therefore preposterous, illogical, fallacious that the armed Islamic insurgents could now selectively target friends and political followers of the former governor of Borno state and at the same time for the Peoples Democratic Party members to now point accusing fingers at the same person. Ali Modu Sherriff has been facing unrelenting violent attacks from the same armed non-state actors identified as Boko Haram. From independent body of evidence, it is abundantly clear that the immediate past governor can not be responsible for the violent insurgency that has now caused him more harm than good.
Recently, former President Olusegun Obasanjo criticised the current president for being soft with Boko Haram, what is your take on this?
We agree that the current government has failed to protect the lives and property of Nigerians from these violence that has caused thousands of lives. We hereby call on the Commonwealth of Nations, the Economic Community of West African States [ecowas], African Union (AU); the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council to compel the Federal Government to take immediate, comprehensive and dispassionate actions to bring to an end the vicious cycle of killings of innocent Nigerians in the north. The international and municipal obligations that the Nigerian state owe to the citizenry in compliance with the African charter on human and peoples rights; the international covenants on civil and political rights and the universal declarations of human rights which have all been domesticated by the National Assembly of Nigeria and therefore are local laws that are binding on Nigeria. The most fundamental provision that runs through all of these international humanitarian laws is the right to life guaranteed to the citizenry. Several specific provisions of these international legal framework make it mandatory that the federal government owe Nigerians including political minorities like the members of the All Nigerian Peoples Party, protection of their lives and property from targeted assassination and terror-related violence because of their political platform.
Does your organization plan any international action to seek an end to these killings in the North East?
We are also using this opportunity to bring to your attention of our determination to send this intervention to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Chairmen of both ECOWAS and the AU, as a petition, so that, the wrong impressions being created about the actual master minds of boko haram are corrected beyond our shores.
From our extensive findings, we have arrived at the conclusion that rather than being a sponsor, the immediate past governor of Borno state, Ali Modu Sherrif is a victim of the ongoing sectarian and terror-related violence and in no way can be logically or rationally linked with it even remotely with the sponsorship of the ongoing violence in parts of north east because we know too well that no sane political leader can unleash terrorism on his political terrain whereby his political party members control the political hierarchy.
What did the former governor to prevent escalation of the armed insurgency.
There are incontrovertible facts to show that as the then governor of Borno state, Ali Modu Sherrif set up different high powered investigative panels on the boko haram insurgency. These courageous efforts of the immediate past administration in Borno state clearly exonerates the immediate past governor as remotely connected to the sponsorship of the violent insurgency in Borno state.