Posted by News Express | 10 February 2021 | 747 times
Certain, apparently, British-based news blog, which calls itself Pink News, published an article with the above title, dated January 15, 2021.
The publication resulted from a press conference that yours faithfully as the National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) delivered a few days prior to the above stated sensational and jaundiced publication by the so-called Pink News.
The above piece is a total misrepresentation of what was read at that press conference, which I will include in this rejoinder to show that this news blog slanted their report to paint me as a homophobic. Moreover, the position I read out is our institutional position.
Far from it, I and my team members are not homophobic; neither do we subscribe to homophobia because we believe that whatever someone does with his sexual life is his/her private matters.
Also, I do not subscribe to the persecution of anybody on the basis of the lifestyle or sexual orientations that the person has chosen.
However, I am not a believer in gay rights nor do I subscribe to same sex marriage (just like the HURIWA does not subscribe to this belief system of gay rights, too) because of the fact that by nature, I am an African.
I and my team members believe that sexual relationship should be between a man and a woman.
This is our belief system and we don’t have to apologize to anyone for this.
The press briefing was to alert Nigerians that Amnesty International has publicised its 2021 objectives to include promotion of same sex marriage and abortion rights.
These objectives are at variance with our African culture, traditions and Ideology. We did this because Amnesty International operates in Nigeria.
Again, we do not support the persecution of anyone on the ground of his/her professed sexual orientations.
But, as Africans, we will do all we can within the bounds of logic and the law to defend our African belief system. This does not in any way make me or my team members homophobic, because we have many friends who are gay even within our organization.
The following is the text of that Press Conference which has been mischaracterised by Pink News to achieve a sinister motive:
"No doubts, Human Rights have been identified as encompassing and embracing the rights of all humans which are entitled to. These rights, amongst others, include civil and political rights such as the right to life and liberty, dignity, equality before the law and freedom of expression.
The framers of the Nigerian constitution are conscious of the fundamental obligation of government to promote, preserve and protect our cultures and traditions, which informs the inclusion of the safeguards against abuse of our cultures in section 21 which provides that: ‘The state shall –
Article 16 of the Universal Declarations of Human Rights recognises these constitutional provisions on our cultures when it states thus:
1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
2) Marriage shall be entered into only with free and full consent of the intending spouses.
3) The family is the natural and fundament group unit of society and is entitled to protection by the society and the state.
On the one hand, cultural rights protect the rights for each person, individually and in community with others, as well as groups of people, to develop and express their humanity, their world view and the meanings they give to their existence and their development through, inter alia, values, beliefs, convictions, languages, knowledge, etc.
Because culture affects all aspects of human life, cultural rights illustrate the indivisibility and interdependence of all rights in a more comprehensive fashion than any other rights. At the same time, cultural rights are often in a state of tension or conflict with other human rights.
The recent Amnesty International’s goals published on its Facebook account, which includes: making same-sex relations legal in all countries, making abortion legal in all countries, and abolishing the death penalty in all countries has once again raised concerns over the issue of globalisation and indigenous concept of sexuality and abortion, which forms the fulcrum of this paper.
Suffice it to mention that the scope of this paper is not to attack the unfortunate reality of same sex relations and abortion, but to query in concrete terms, the deliberate struggle to rebrand a known fault vis-à-vis the African value on the sanctity of life and the sacredness of marital union, culminating in the decimation of a fundamental truth which facts are so crystal clear and even known by inveterate fools, that human rectum is not for sex.
Sexuality And Sexual Relationship In African Traditions.
Through the African eyes, homosexuality is a high pedestal immoral act, best imagined or possibly practised exclusively by animals. Even, it is rated an inch higher than incest between close relatives, such as brothers and sisters, sons and mothers or daughters and fathers. Myriads of such sexual misconducts are categorised among the taboos of the land, and must be avoided with total disdain.
The strong censorship is to allow decency, respect and sexual morality to thrive as necessary ingredients for the survival of the ideal African society. The family remains a microcosm of the larger society and, therefore, harbours core values, which transcend the family boundaries and permeate the whole society, for the business of activating moral values in all facets of life. (Idio, D. Dimensions of Gay Struggle: The African Perspective.)
According to African Scholars, the African moral world-view is tied to the workings of the Natural Law, which defines the morality of an act in relation to the significance of its related creation. ‘Nothing just is, everything exists for something.’
Every piece of creation and its intricate features are naturally designed to serve an end. No matter the obvious complexity, nature is systematically kept in harmony and mutuality, with certain features to allow adaptability and compatibility for the overall benefit of man.
Africans strongly believe that natural phenomena obey the laws of nature itself, and where it fails (if at all), it becomes an issue of question and panic – just because it is unusual and unnatural. For instance, the sun is known to rise from the East and set in the West, following its natural course on daily basis. If it eventually travels the opposite direction, it becomes abnormal and disillusioned.
In the African setting, marriage is known to be a union of a man and a woman or women, who by mutual consent of themselves, their families and communities, enter a life-long relationship to love and raise a responsible family for succession and growth of the community.
The African marriage deigns itself along the line of nature’s plan by bringing the man and woman (or women) together for procreation. The so-called Gay marriage defies this natural pairing and, instead, encourages the union of same-sex individuals in what they call ‘marriage.’ It shows nothing but extremism in the abuse of nature; it further deconstructs the African family template.
In recognition of this natural phenomenon, Nigeria, which prides itself as the Giant of Africa and the most populous black nation, since the colonial era, had had certain laws to check ‘unnatural’ sexual behaviours among her citizens.
The laws were embedded in the two major penal statutes – The Criminal Code as applicable to Southern Nigeria, and the Penal Code which was enforceable in Northern Nigeria, enacted to retain Nigeria’s diverse cultural and religious beliefs.
Throughout sections 214, 215 and 217 of the Criminal Code, perpetrators of the ‘unnatural’ crime are adjudged as being ‘guilty of felony’ and any crime related as felony is sufficiently very serious to attract the death penalty or a reasonable jail term. The key issue is that same-sex relations is a capital crime, though the Criminal Code peaks its penalty at fourteen years imprisonment.
In the Penal Code of Nigeria, as applicable to the Northern States of Nigeria, Section 284 captures categorically the punishment for committing Sodomy thus: ‘whoever has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years and shall also be liable to fine.’
However, following the lack of specific legal mechanics to address today’s gay marriage evolution that spreads its tentacles to grasp the African thought pattern, the Nigerian Senate and the Federal House of Representatives passed the Anti-Gay Bill in December 2011 and July 2013 respectively with a unanimous vote.
The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act finally received presidential assent on 30th December, 2013, criminalising gay marriage and related practices with fourteen years imprisonment for defaulters, against five years as proposed by the initial bill.
The Mystique of Life in African Culture
The foundation and purpose of the ethical perspective of African Religion is life; life in its fullness. Everything is perceived with reference to this. It is no wonder, then Africans quickly draw ethical conclusions about thoughts, words, and actions of human beings, or even of ‘natural’ cosmological events, by asking questions such as: Does the particular happening promote life? If so, it is good, just, ethical, desirable, and divine. Or does it diminish life in any way? Then it is wrong, bad, unethical, unjust, and detestable.
This most basic understanding of morality in African Religion or tradition is incorporated systematically into people's way of life. It is expressed in their traditions, ceremonies, and rituals. It constitutes what Africans perceive as the mystique of life. (Magesa, L. African Religion: the Moral Traditions of Abundant Life.)
With the above, it is only natural to see why abortion has no place in African Religion and traditional society. Admittedly, ‘Abortion is an emotive issue and cultural and religious values have always made it taboo, only permissible if the life of the mother is in danger.’
It Is Our Belief That Amnesty International, Which Has Authored Many Damning Reports Against The Nigerian Army, Is Not A Fit And Proper Organization To So Do Given Their Now Advertised Notorious Trilogy Of Anti-African Cultural Objectives, Such As Promoting Recognition Of Same Sex Relationship, Promoting And The Abortion Rights.
We Are Now Convinced That The Aim Of All Of These Reports Are Targeted At Destroying Nigeria Or Blackmailing Nigeria To Unban Same Sex Relationship And Permit Abortions, Which Are Offensive To Our Core Constitutionally-Mandated Obligations On Government To Preserve, Promote And Uplift Our Cultures And Traditions Which Are Not At Variance With International Human Rights Law. We Ask Our Members Who Are Members Of Amnesty International To Denounce Such Affiliations; And We Will Ask The National Assembly To Pass A Resolution Condemning These Stated Objectives Of Amnesty International. However, We Have No Problem With Them Operating Here Since There Is Freedom Of Association. But We Are Asking Anyone Who Loves Nigeria To Stay Away From Amnesty International, Because Their Stated Objectives Are At Variance With Our Constitutional And Cultural Norms.
Evaluations and Conclusion
Task Before African Leaders
Examining the various areas of same sex relations and abortion argument in their mythical, historical, religious, scientific and legal dimensions, there is no doubt that the conditions exist and people really practice these acts. But most disturbing is the difficulty in comprehending why they choose to practice such dirty and ever-controversial lifestyle.
Michael Foucault, a French philosopher and historian, confirms the social foundation of same sex struggle. He reveals that homosexual lifestyle was tactically and intentionally plotted in the deconstructionist philosophy, to create a new class of novel sensual pleasure for people. Foucault added that the sex category called ‘homosexuality’ was created and nurtured to gain the prominence accorded it today.
One of the myths established by pro-gay advocates is the strong political emphasis that homosexual acts are ‘good’ and ‘natural,’ with incontestable moral value as normal sex. Unfortunately, we are still faced with the existentialists’ question of what really constitutes what is called ‘good.’
If it is ever true, that man is a natural being and he inhabits a natural world of natural principles, then the accurate judgment that could determine the equilibrium of truth on the gay struggle controversy, is the simple question whether homosexuality is in conformity with nature or not.
So far, it is established beyond doubt that nothing is natural or good about same sex and abortion (except when the life of the mother is in danger, in the case of abortion). For a man to find sexual pleasure in the anal tract of a fellow man is an ostracised artificial incongruity that ridicules the good of an all-important creation and gift of God – sex.
Therefore, the struggle for same-sex relationship and abortion is really a much strayed politics that has no identity in the African cultural and religious landscape. No true African culture can recognize or accept the strange habit of sniffing for sexual pleasure in the anus of a fellow human.
Even if the anal sex lifestyle is a western conspiracy for global birth control, it is seriously stepping on the toes of African core values and the belief system of most religions of the world. After all, birth control is a matter of self-discipline by married couples, which can better be achieved through gradual family education.
Hence, African leaders need not be reminded that Africa is unique and would only accept values that would promote the good of the black continent; because, today’s decisions would become tomorrow parameters for Africa’s moral standing.
African leaders must see it as an obligation to protect Africa against the invasion of these Anti-African Lifestyles by bracing up to the challenge of protecting the African values in their custody, and also projecting same to the consciousness of the generations yet unborn.
Thus, in the African context, no matter how same sex relations and abortion lifestyle is fortified by fabricated laws, there is no known moral or ethical justification for same sex and abortion struggle.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed that it was making effort to ascertain what internal steps are being adopted by the Nigerian state to investigate and treat those allegations. To this, the Army said it has done a lot to redress any of the reported cases of human rights violations.
We will return to the International Criminal Court’s story. But let me also state that I am satisfied with the robust response the Nigerian Army has made regarding the mainstreaming of respect of human rights in internal military operations.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, established the first-ever nationwide remedial and redress institution that tackles the issues of human rights violations committed by the army.
HURIWA has studied the Human Rights department of the Nigerian Army and can report authoritatively that salient landmarks and phenomenal milestones in the area of promotion and protection of fundamental human rights of Nigerians have been attained under the watch of the professional soldier and army chief – Tukur Yusuf Buratai.
We must admit that there remain so many challenges that ought to be drastically addressed before we can relax and sing praises to the Nigerian Army as a national institution that fundamentally respects human rights. But, if we must be fair and objective, Buratai deserves some loud accolades.
The International Criminal Court thinks differently and says Nigerian security forces (NSF) have committed war crimes against humanity.
In a report sent to local media, the ICC said it has received ‘a total of 169 communications’ from Nigeria; and its assessment has shown that security forces in Nigeria have committed war crimes varying from murder, torture, and intentionally attacking the civilian population.
‘Specifically, the Office found a reasonable basis to believe that the NSF committed the war crimes of murder pursuant to article 8(2)(c)(i); torture, cruel treatment pursuant to article 8(2)(c)(i); outrages upon personal dignity pursuant to article 8(2)(c)(ii); and intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population,’ the ICC said.
Fatou Bensouda, the ICC prosecutor, in her annual report on preliminary examination activities (2018), also said the ICC found reasonable basis to believe that Boko Haram also committed war crimes against humanity.
‘Furthermore, the Office found a reasonable basis to believe that Boko Haram committed the war crimes of murder pursuant to article 8(2)(c)(i); cruel treatment pursuant to article 8(2)(c)(i) and outrages upon personal dignity pursuant to article 8(2)(c)(ii).’
The ICC added that Boko Haram was ‘intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or against individual civilians pursuant to article 8(2)(e)(i); intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to education and to places of worship and similar institutions pursuant to article 8(2)(e)(iv); pillaging a town or place pursuant to article 8(2)(e)(v); rape, sexual slavery and sexual violence pursuant to article 8(2)(e)(vi).’
The office of the prosecutor added that the ICC met with Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), to further investigate eight potential cases of war crimes against humanity.
ICC says several ‘files pertaining to alleged violations by members of the army were submitted to the Office (of the prosecutor). These files relate, to a limited extent, to the two potential cases identified by the Office.’
‘Of the 27 files provided to the Office, 24 either lacked information to determine their relevance for the admissibility assessment or did not appear relevant.’
The ICC complained that ‘other information specifically requested by the Office, which was assessed to be potentially relevant to the admissibility assessment, has yet to be provided by the Nigerian authorities.’
The criminal court added that since 2017, the Nigerian authorities appear to have ‘taken concrete steps toward fulfilling their primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute ICC crimes.’
‘While there seems to be a tangible prospect of further proceedings against members of Boko Haram, including high-level commanders, at this stage the same cannot be said of the NSF, in particular, since the Nigerian authorities tend to deny any allegation against the latter.
‘While acknowledging the cooperation of the Nigerian authorities in the course of the preliminary examination, the Office will require, for the purpose of expediting its complementary assessment, further information and evidence demonstrating that relevant national proceedings are being or intended to be conducted without delay.’
The ICC made these findings about the same time that a team of researchers from Human rights Writers Association of Nigeria made the following findings based on scientifically-tested and proven interview process with the military general in-charge of the civil and military relations department, which houses the Nigerian Army’s Human rights desk.
Below are our findings in a question and answer format:
What is the essence of establishing the Human Rights Desk of the Nigerian Army?
To discuss the essence of the Human Rights Desk of the Nigerian Army, there is need to first give a little background of the desk. The Nigerian Army Human Rights Desk was established under the Army Headquarters Department of Civil-Military Affairs on February 17, 2016, by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, in response to alleged human rights violations by troops of the Nigerian Army, both in Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency and Internal Security Operations in the country. These allegations range from extra-judicial killings, torture, unlawful arrest and detention, etc. The main essence of establishing the Nigerian Army Human Rights Desk is to receive and facilitate investigations of human rights abuses against military personnel. The Desk is also required to speedily treat allegations of human rights abuses against troops and to recommend the appropriate action(s) to be taken. In addition to that, the desk is also saddled with the responsibility of facilitating greater Civil-Military cooperation and collaboration with various stakeholders. The mission of the Human Rights Desk is to project a professionally responsive Nigerian Army through human rights collaboration with the civil populace. In essence, the desk is out to curb human rights violations and to arrive at an amicable settlement.
What impact has the office made so far and how many petitions have you handled?
The Human Rights Desk made a lot of positive impact since its inception in 2016 and has so far treated over 230 complaints. The Desk, as a matter of routine, engages in sensitization of troops in all Nigerian Army formations and schools on human rights and humanitarian laws and the need to observe them during operations. These have drastically reduced the cases of human rights complaints recorded at the Desk. Among the over 230 petitions we have recorded, over 80 per cent has been treated; about 10 per cent was unsubstantiated, and the remaining 10 per cent is still under investigation. We also render progress report to the appropriate superior authority, accordingly.
The efforts put in place in addition to our collaboration with stakeholders - such as the National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Bar Association, etc - have led to tremendous commendations and feedback, especially from numerous complainants and those affected who have also thanked the Chief of Army Staff for establishing the Human Rights Desk. It is noteworthy that our activities receive wide coverage. For instance, Army Headquarters Department of Civil-Military Affairs host a weekly programme on Armed Forces Radio Service FM 107.7, called civil-military hours every Wednesday from 10:30 – 11:30 am, where the audience is enlightened on the activities of the Nigerian Army, especially as it affects the civil populace. Issues bordering on human rights are usually discussed during the programme. The programme also includes a phone-in calls where listeners air their views and seek answers to some pertinent questions. In addition to that, various phone and emergency line numbers through which the Desk can be reached for reporting cases of violations of human rights are usually given out to the general public during the radio programme.
Does the HRD office face any challenge in convincing Nigerians, especially the civilians that it has integrity and credibility to handle their petitions?
It is necessary to state that we do not have any challenge in convincing civilians about our activities. This is due to the way we handle the numerous petitions we receive from them. It would interest you to know that apart from the e-mails sent to our office and the phone-calls we receive, we also get civilians coming to our office directly at No 5 Lekki Close, Garki II, to report violations against them. It is also pertinent to state, for the record, that officers and soldiers of the NA HRD always dress in civilian attire in order to create a conducive and civilian friendly environment, so that the issue of intimidation does not arise. We have handled and treated petitions successfully. So, it is more like a referral and this is because of the confidence reposed on us while carrying out our tasks.
Does this office handle cases of domestic violence within your ranks?
The answer to that question will be in the affirmative. There are barely cases of domestic violence within our ranks, but the complaints we usually receive are cases of abandonment and neglect of spouses and children as well as refusal to pay spousal support. In line with section 211 of the Armed Forces Act, a brief has been written to the Chief of Army Staff for the approval of deductions from the erring personnel’s salary so as to cater for abandoned spouses/children. I am happy to announce that this request has been approved by the Chief of Army Staff. Currently, we have less cases of the occurrence of human rights abuses.
This could be attributed to the occasional visits, seminars and workshops conducted by the Desk in various NA formations and units across the country, to educate own troops on the importance of adherence to Rule of Law and the Rules of Engagement during operations. This is important because military personnel are subject to the doctrine of compact (meaning that in accordance with sections 114 of the Armed Forces Act), military personnel are subjected to both civil and military laws; and the need to maintain a happy home-front cannot be over emphasized.
Does the Nigerian Amy HRD plan to set up sexual violations offenders register?
I want to say that we already have in existence a sexual violation offenders’ register. Based on this, I can categorically tell you that from the breakdown of alleged human rights violations and the percentage of crimes from inception, sexual harassment and other related matters were 6 per cent. This is because we often have few cases of sexual harassment. To be honest with you, since I took over the Human Rights Desk office in August 2018, we have not had cases of sexual harassment and other related matters, so the 6 per cent was recorded and treated before I took over the office. The cases that have high percentage are assault (17 per cent), extortion, trespass on property and unlawful arrest (12 per cent). The sexual violations offenders register enable us to monitor the names in order to checkmate or ascertain if a name appears more than once and to treat accordingly.
Do you handle cases of human trafficking, if they occur within the barracks?
It is important to highlight the nature of the cases that we often receive. Apart from those highlighted above, other cases include murder, impersonation, financial crime, unlawful arrest and enforced disappearance. Others are unpaid salary/allowance or gratuity and pension, unlawful seizure, breach of contract, unlawful dismissal, torture and extra-judicial killing. However, we have never had cases of human trafficking and I doubt if such occurs in the barracks. The military is a highly organized body which is based on discipline and regimentation. It would be difficult for human trafficking to take place, and I doubt if such occurs in the barracks.
What are the aspirations and projections of the Nigerian Army HRD in the next five years?
Our aspirations and projections in the next years and beyond are numerous. I would mention but a few. We aspire to be bigger and better by continually improving or enhancing our performance. We also want to ensure that cases are reduced to barest minimum. We also hope to expand our mandate, which is to protect human rights by ensuring its spread worldwide. To that end, we intend to equip the Desk with modern reference materials and to upgrade capacity and competences of the staff of the Desk in terms of training and re-training, especially in areas of conciliations, mediation and conflict prevention, among others.
Finally, how many partnership agreements have you entered with stakeholders in the human rights organised community?
We have entered into a lot of partnerships in form of collaborations and cooperation with various non-governmental organisations, international organizations, civil society organisations and a host of others. And these are unwritten. For instance, we deal closely with the National Human Rights Commission, CLEEN Foundation, the Nigerian Bar Association, and a host of other stakeholders. We collaborate with these agencies and organisations to ensure effective tackling of human rights violations and abuses. We intend to further expand the scope of our partnership and collaboration with other related agencies and associations, such as the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), the Legal Aid Council, and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
HURIWA rates the Nigerian Army above 70 per cent performance in the area of respect for human rights.
We Demand the Constitution of the Governing Board of the National Human Rights Commission in line with the Amended Enabling Act. The Continuous Operation of NHRC without a Board is Unconstitutional and Illegal. If NHRC is Independent as the Law Prescribed, it would be in a Vantage Position to carry out thorough Investigation into all Allegations of Human Rights Violations by Armed Forces During Internal Security Operations, which are worth Investigating and the Culprits Severely Sanctioned by Courts of Law.
•Comrade Onwubiko, National Coordinator, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, blogs @www. huriwanigeria.com, email@example.com, www.thenigerianinsidernews.com.
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