Ethnic/religious cleansing in Nigeria

| by Osita Ebiem
( March 27, 2012, Abuja, Sri Lanka Guardian) It is a known fact that in the last 50 years there has not been any other group of people in the world who has suffered more genocidal murders or ethnically/religiously cleansed than the Igbo/Biafra ethnic group. The Igbo/Biafra Genocide (also known as Biafra Genocide or Nigeria Genocide in Biafra) is broadly divided into two periods. For a more detailed study it is further divided into more periods. But for the sake of this discussion we shall restrict ourselves to the two broad divisions. The first period is known as the colonial genocidal era which took place in two separate years and in two Northern Nigeria cities. The first one happened in 1945 in the city of Jos and followed by the 1953 massacres in Kano. Nigeria was still a British colony and tens of thousands of Igbo children, women and men were murdered by the Islamic peoples of Northern Nigeria on the two occasions.
File Photo of Poeple in Darfur, Sudan.
Then there is the post-independence or post-colonial period. This period runs from May 1966 till the present time, March 2012 and the end does not seem to be in sight yet. In this period it has been established that the Nigerian state and its citizens have so far murdered 5 million Igbo/Biafra ethnic peoples. This later period is also described as the pogrom/genocidal period because the Nigerian state has continued to actively participate in the brutal torture and murder of peoples who are supposedly its citizens.
Let’s not just rush off to continue reading to the end of this article. Let’s pause for a minute; for those who believe in the sanctity of every human life without minding whose life it is; we are talking about the crime of the most heinous kind here. And we may need to interject here that at no time should anyone ever become flippant or make light of the seriousness of the crime of genocide. When we talk of genocide or ethnic/religious cleansing its terribleness is only better imagined than witnessed. It is the killing of fellow human beings for none other reason than fear and hatred or prejudice. We shall attempt to give us a mental picture of what happened to Igbo/Biafrans in these periods of horror we are talking about. It always starts with mobs and or Nigerian state agents who meet their Igbo/Biafran victims on the streets, in their houses, at schools, in the market place and they kill them for who they are rather than for anything they have done. Let’s take a moment and pause again because that is how the 5 million fellow human beings we are talking about here were murdered.
If we try to run this figure through our minds for even a brief second the sheer horror of it will never fail to shock us. It usually leaves a chill in the spine of even the worst uncaring sadist. Just the thought of it sobers and indeed frightens anyone with a mere casual interest. This is more so when we consider the fact that the victims included little children and their mothers. Suckling babies and pregnant women were beheaded, stomachs of the women were cut open and the fetuses were brought out and smashed hard on the ground. That is how Igbo/Biafra pregnant women were killed by Nigeria and Nigerians. Some were burnt alive along with their houses; men, children, women, their dogs and children’s toys were all burnt in this way. Others were used to fill up both dry wells and wells with water and big stones were rolled over the mouths. Those that were taken to jails and detentions were fed feces and urines while others were skinned alive and subjected to slow painful death. The lucky ones were bombed, strafed, shot and shelled to death while they watched or in their sleep, and in their hospital beds. Igbo/Biafra women were raped by Nigerians, then bayoneted or pierced through with crude sticks and left to die, slowly. Some Igbo/Biafrans were buried alive after digging their own graves.
This is just a few of the many methods through which Igbo/Biafran ethnic people were and are still being tortured and cleansed out of Nigeria by the Nigerian state and its citizens. (To learn more about the horrific ways through which Nigeria and Nigerians killed Igbo/Biafran peoples, please read the two novels by Ben Okri; Dangerous Love and The Famished Road, they are both excellent depictions of the Biafran Story). The horrors are still so fresh and haunting not only because they are yet ongoing but that so many people who witnessed firsthand the beginning of these shameful acts of inhumanity of man against their fellows are still alive and still being tortured by the painful memories. Yet the perpetrators have shown no remorse or any sign of remission. So, the least that Igbo/Biafrans can do is to seek for a legal redress to stop Nigeria from further harming them and to mitigate their pain and suffering. They should take Nigeria and Nigerians to the International Criminal Court, ICC in The Hague.
Before going any further, let’s try to put the 5 million-figure of the murdered Igbo/Biafrans in the perspective of some familiar societies in other places. The European nation of Switzerland has a population of 7.8 million and Norway is 4.8 million. Simple logic tells us that if such Islamic jihad as is going on against the Igbo/Biafran ethnic peoples had taken place in the country of Switzerland, about two thirds of that population would have been wiped out while the people of Norway would have been annihilated almost twice over. We definitely feel very uncomfortable, even disgusted to make such comparisons but sometimes the import of such atrocities only becomes clearer when we try to look at them from the angle of what is as against what could have been. The population of Igbo/Biafra ethnic group that have been wiped out by Nigeria’s Islamic jihad in the past 45 years is nearly three times the population of the African state of the Gambia which is 1.7 million.
In the light of this most heinous crime against humanity, the worst of its kind anywhere in the modern time, it becomes hard to imagine if there is anyone who still has any doubt on the need for a responsible world to urgently take steps to stop the Nigerian state and its citizens from doing more damage to their victims? The world must make serious efforts to stop Nigeria and Nigerians and hold them accountable for the crimes. We are going to give us a few more reasons here why the rest of the world community cannot continue to fold their hands and watch while this evil continues. In the past few years the world community has been witnessing spillovers of the Nigerian Islamic jihad across its borders. In the recent time, not only has Nigeria impudently continued to murder Igbo/Biafran ethnic peoples within its borders, they have been posing serious dangers to other people outside. The Nigerian state has become a sponsor of Islamic terrorism around the world; it has turned its territory into a fertile breeding ground for the most dangerous kind of radical Islamic terrorists. In other words, Nigeria is now one of the most dangerous centers of world Islamic terrorism. For anyone who cares to find out about the global implications of the Nigerian problem, let them ask the Israelis who are victims of hundreds of katyusha rockets that fall all over their cities on a regular basis. They will tell you how the weapons are being rerouted from Iran through Nigeria to the Gaza Strip. Then there is the Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab the infamous 2009 Christmas Day Underwear Bomber episode in Detroit, United States. The incident remains fresh and vivid on the collective memory of the world. On 26 August 2011 there was the Suicide Bombing of United Nations Headquarters in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja, 30 people were killed. And it was carried out by the Nigerian indigenous Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram. (The group is fighting to establish an Islamic state out of the current Nigerian state). And only a few days ago this March 2012 the same Islamic jihadist group, Boko Haram beheaded two British and Italian construction workers in Sokoto Nigeria. They had kidnapped and held the two men since May of 2011.
In more sense than one the world, our world has increasingly become a global village and it comes with several opportunities and challenges. But it seems like the greatest challenge facing our world today as a result of this new order is the resurgent global Islamic terrorism. And no other people on Earth have suffered more from this scourge than the Igbo/Biafra ethnic peoples in the hands of their supposed fellow citizens and country, Nigerians and Nigeria. As we have explained earlier the rest of the world is being called on to quickly address the situation because gone are the days when what happens in one remote corner of our world hardly has any negative or positive impact on the other parts. Today our world is virtually so interconnected that the space between persons and societies in one remote corner of the world from the others at the other end of it has been reduced to mere fractions of seconds and minutes by the interconnectedness of the World Wide Web, intercontinental ballistic missiles and intercontinental supersonic jet travels.
As the program of Islamic ethnic/religious cleansing of Igbo/Biafrans from the Nigerian society continues unabated, so will the call to the international community to step up and play a responsible role in arresting this Nigerian threat to world peace and security continue to be relevant. Yet, though the call is quite in order, but we also know that the direct victims of the crime have even a greater responsibility: The Igbo/Biafran ethnic peoples, as we have said already, must take the initiative in this matter. Let them go to court as it is part of their fundamental human rights to fight and defend themselves both through the law courts and or take up arms in their self-defense.
The International Criminal Court, ICC as the name depicts is an international criminal justice system which was established by the world community to cater to the judicial rights and interests of peoples of various nations who otherwise would not obtain justice in their native places. ICC is headquartered in the European city of The Hague, Netherland. Oppressed peoples all over the world such as Igbo/Biafrans have the privilege to take matters to this court and expect fair hearing and justice so long as the state that oppresses them is a signatory to the founding charter of the court. And the Nigerian state happens to be one of the signatories to the charter that established the court.
When Biafrans go to court they should ask the court to order the conduct of a referendum to ascertain the opinion of the peoples in this matter. The Igbo/Biafrans must put up a strong case for separation from the Nigerian union. Let them take back their sovereignty and govern themselves independently. The 2011 Sudan and South Sudan example is very recent and should serve as a guide. The only sensible and justifiable redress for the victims of Nigeria’s intolerance and lack of cohesive threads that make a state worth its name is the separation and removal of the victims far from the reaches of the persecuting and brutalizing establishment. Right now the Nigerian state is already a de facto Islamic state by every standard. About half of the country is fully practicing the Islamic sharia legal system as opposed to the country’s constitution which provides that Nigeria is a secular state. Igbo/Biafrans are Christians and Animists who under no condition will accept to live under the Islamic sharia.

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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