Bilateral and mutual lack of commitment on addressing terrorism: A critique of the 2021 US Report on Religious Freedom in Nigeria, By Lawrence C. Nnoli

Posted by News Express | 4 May 2021 | 487 times

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•Lawrence Nnoli

 

On “The Key US Policies”

Exempting Nigeria from partaking in the sanctions provided for countries designated under CPC has made of no use the acclaimed designation of Nigeria as a country under CPC. What is the essence of including Nigeria in the CPC group when there are no concomitant sanctions at least against identified perpetrators (and conspirators inclusive) of the Christian genocide?

The resolution arrived at the US-Nigeria co-hosted meeting wherein US affirmed its commitment in defeating Boko Haram and ISWAP is yet to be implemented. US’s commitment is yet to be seen.

The individual views of Commissioner Gary L. Bauer largely demonstrate the utmost urgent attention that the ongoing Christian genocide in Nigeria demands. “Nigeria is not quickly becoming a killing field for Nigerian Christians”, Nigeria has become a killing field for all Christians.

On the “Recommendations to the US Government”

Providing financial support to the Nigerian government so as to obligate them in tackling violations of citizens’ freedom of worship DOES NOT sound like a good idea. This is so because the present Nigerian government has not hidden its sympathy for the supporters of the very ideals being pushed by Boko Haram and ISWAP. Indeed some key officials of the present Nigerian government are all known Islamic extremists. Not long before the current president of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari became president, Boko Haram appointed him as its chief negotiator for meetings between it and the Nigerian state.

Secondly, funding has largely not been the reason why the activities of Boko Haram and ISWAP have not been effectively quashed by the Nigerian government. The current president and the immediate past president of Nigeria, President Buhari and former President Jonathan respectively have never listed funding as Nigeria’s problem in its fight against Boko Haram, ISWAP and other Islamic fundamentalist groups. Rather Nigerian Christian soldiers on the battlefield have voiced out their concerns of how their war strategies against Boko Haram, ISWAP and other Islamic fundamentalist groups have on countless times be sabotaged by ‘insiders’ who are sympathetic to the cause of the Islamic terrorists. On 26th April 2021, scores of Nigerian soldiers on the battlefield against Boko Haram were reported to have been “mistakenly” bombed by the Nigerian Air Force jet fighters.

Thirdly, for the past twelve years that the fight/war against Boko Haram and ISWAP has been going on, no captured terrorist who have been prosecuted by the Nigerian government have been handed the maximum death sentence prescribed by law for terrorism. In some cases, the extreme light sentences handed by the trial courts have beclouded the very nature of the offence of terror for which those suspects have been tried and convicted. The Nigerian Terrorism Prevention Act of 2013 (as amended) has provided a minimum of ten years imprisonment for individual - suspects who unknowingly aided acts of terrorism. That same Act has prescribed a minimum fine of One hundred million naira (N100,000,000) for body corporates found to be involved directly or indirectly in acts of terrorism. Till date, no body corporate has been arraigned or if arraigned, has been convicted and sentenced accordingly despite the fact that terrorism - the kind that is seen in Nigeria cannot happen without the involvement of finance houses.

Recently six Nigerian Islamic fundamentalists were convicted by an Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal UAE, for terrorism and for being members of Boko Haram. Two of the convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment for being members of Boko Haram while the rest were handed a ten years imprisonment for facilitating funding for Boko Haram. During investigation and trial of these six Nigerians, it was discovered that two other named Nigerians resident in Nigeria one of which was rumoured to be a government official did transfer misappropriated Nigerian funds to Boko Haram. Till date, the Nigerian public is yet to be informed by the present Nigerian government of what it has done concerning those jaw-dropping disclosures involving these other two named persons.

Again, it is not news in Nigeria that the present government of Nigeria headed by Muhammadu Buhari right in the middle of its much trumpeted war against terrorism has set up ‘Operation Safe Corridor’ which is a programme that facilitates the grant of amnesty to captured terrorists.

Enhancing training for Nigerian officials and law enforcement agents on countering hate speech based on religious identity, responding to sectarian violence, reporting on violence against religious communities etc cannot be an ideal solution. The fact remains that the Nigerian government is heavily compromised and cannot be relied on to tackle the war against Islamic fundamentalism. The recent discovery of the involvement of Dr Isa Pantini (Nigeria’s current minister of communications and digital economy) with Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda and Taliban and the subsequent attitude of the Nigerian government in shielding him from further public scrutiny have corroborated a well known fact that the current Nigerian government is in bed with the Islamic terrorists.

 Promoting access to justice is a welcome development. The US can weigh in its voice in support of voices of reputable Nigerian CSOs that are calling for a proper constitutional review. Without a proper constitutional review, Nigeria is heading for disaster. Nigeria’s present structure of government imposed on the Nigerian people by the last military dictator/head of state, General Abdusalami Abubakar who coincidentally is a muslim must be re-examined in the interest of the Nigerian people.

•Lawrence is a lawyer and a Public Interest Advocate. He can be reached via lawrence.nnoli@gmail.com


Source: News Express

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