Posted by News Express | 8 March 2017 | 2,387 times
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has rejected the recent comparison made by the Archbishop of Jos, Reverend Dr. Ignatius Kaigama, of IPOB and Niger Delta militants to the terror group, Boko Haram rated as the deadliest terror gang worldwide and credited with the mass killing of over 26,000 innocent citizens and the total destruction of the North Eastern Nigerian communities including Churches and Mosques.
The rights group faulted the Archbishop's lack of prompt, decisive and courageous response to the numerous cases of extralegal killings of members of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) even when European groups such as the British rights group - Amnesty International took her time and invested substantial resources to forensically ascertain that indeed Nigerian armed forces committed atrocious mass slaughter of civilian protesters in the South East.
In a statement by the National Coordinator of the association, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and its National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, the rights group said there is a world of difference between the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), the militants and the terrorists “in the sense that whereas IPOB and Niger Delta militants have never targeted civilians, and in the case of IPOB the members totally abhor violence but the Boko Haram terrorists have actually not only demonstrated overwhelming interest to unleash blood cuddling violence of unfathomable extent but it went as far as annexing parts of Northern Nigeria for months.
“We are disappointed that such a high profile opinion leader like the Church leader from Jos Plateau State that has witnessed attacks by armed Fulani terrorists can abuse his privileged position by engaging in semantic gymnastics and prevarication especially when even the Amnesty International of the United Kingdom had compiled damaging evidence of mass slaughter of over 200 unarmed members of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) who were shot and killed by soldiers and the Police in Anambra, Abia and Rivers states last year and this year just for participating in a peaceful assembly, which is guaranteed under chapter 4 of Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended). Why couldn't his Grace the Archbishop condemn these atrocities before advocating for the so-called peace which at best is Peace of the Graveyards because any act of primitive cruelty unleashed by armed forces of Nigeria that remains unaddressed and uninvestigated while the perpetrators move freely and still wielding weapons of mass destruction is unsustainable and must be confronted legally either locally or internationally.
“Why is the Church not advocating the immediate and comprehensive prosecution of all the detained Boko Haram terrorists and their masterminds including those who slaughtered old people, children and women in Churches and Mosques? Bringing justice to all those innocent citizens killed by Boko Haram terrorists and armed Fulani terrorists should be the focus of the Lenten Message from the persecuted Nigerian Catholic Church and not this diplomatic dramatisation.”
HURIWA recalled that the President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, has said secessionist and violent groups in the North East, South East and the Niger Delta will lose and experience the sad effects of war, if they engage the country in violence.
HURIWA quoting news sources said Archbishop Kaigama stated this in his Lenten message, made available to the media, in which he made a passionate plea for peace and dialogue as the country faced violence, crippling economic crisis, and the threat of famine.
He said: “When we hear of youth from the North East, South East and the Niger Delta area threatening to destroy the economy, the unity and the corporate existence of this nation, the question is do they know the implications of war? The knives, swords, the bombs and guns have not brought victory to anyone. [In spite of] all their boasting, no one has really won a war in this country.
“We are all losers after every war. Any war we fight will only take us back socially and economically to those dark days of survival of the fittest.”
HURIWA, however, criticised the Catholic prelate for failing to show leadership because even when armed soldiers invaded a Catholic Church in Onitsha, Anambra State in search of IPOB members and opened fire leading to the killing of over a dozen worshippers, this Archbishop failed to speak out.
“We wonder why the Clergyman is now making wrongheaded comparisons which may even instigate further and more vicious attacks against peaceful campaigners of self-determination. Is Archbishop Kaigama not aware of the provisions of the Universal Declarations of HUMAN RIGHTS (UDHR) regarding prohibitions of extralegal executions in Article 3 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article one which clearly states that: ‘All people have the right to self-determination?’ By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
HURIWA said although it was not opposed to peaceful and constructive dialogues but insisted that all allegations of extralegal executions must be properly investigated and the perpetrators named, shamed, prosecuted and punished just as it called on government to decisively continue its war on terror and to bring mass murderers to justice rapidly.
“The church runs the danger of losing her courageous members if some of her leaders with access to the mass media like the President of the Catholic Bishops Conferences of Nigeria and the controversial Enugu based Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka will prefer to play selfish politics with their advantageous positions even when the government is inflicting harm on the common people including members of the Church.”
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