Human Rights Abuses And Amnesty Intl. | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Columnists, Conversation of an Angryman

Human Rights Abuses And Amnesty Intl.

Posted: Jun 15, 2015 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


Before he died, celebrated writer, Prof Chinua Achebe contributed a controversial masterpiece with the title, “There was a Country,” to the literary world and the ire of a cross section of Nigerians.  It is a compelling account of his recollections of Biafra (the breakaway republic which did not survive the Nigeria Civil War). It talks about its emergence and death. The story is told with the same simplicity, forthrightness and directness, which were the hallmarks of that giant of letters. He is right that there was a country.

But there was another country called Nigeria. It had the likes of Fela Anikulakpo-Kuti, Sunny Okosun (Ozzidism), Victor Uwaifo, Ebenezer Obey, Bongos Ikwe etc. Those were the days when men were men, and women were married by the men who deserved them. It also had gladiatorial fighters like Gani Fawhehinmi, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Ken Saro-Wiwa etc. In that country music was a form of social commentary and an instrument of philosophy.

Fela was an iconic figure in that country. One of his songs was “Teacher Don’t Teach me Nonsense.”  I remembered it as I read the damaging Amnesty International report about Nigeria’s Armed Forces’ violation of the human rights of Boko Haram members. Hear what Fela had to say in that song:

Let us face ourselves for Afrika
Na de matter of Afrika
This part-ee of my song
Na all the problems of this world
In we dey carry, for Afrika
Wey no go ask-ee me

He was saying that all the problems of this world is being carried by Africa – and you should not ask him. Human rights abuses are occurring in America and Britain but Amnesty International would rather make it look like it is an African problem.

What happened to that country of Fela and company? Like an old soldier it did not die, it just faded away as that entire generation filed out in death one after the other. They left behind a confused generation in which young men use earrings but cannot hear and young girls wear micro mini with minimal brains. We still have a country, but without men and women like Fela. Says Jumbo, the old soldier, “then we had a country and the right men. Now we have the country and the men who try to bow out to interlopers.”

Jumbo is concerned that Amnesty International is indicting Nigeria for human rights abuses by the Nigerian Armed Forces against Boko Haram. Says Jumbo, “On whose side are they on? Are they on the side of Boko Haram or Nigerians?”

I pointed out that they were on the side of justice and the respect of human rights.

Jumbo stuffed some snuff into his nostrils and snorted, “Nonsense!!! In America and the West they have advanced technological support for investigations. You arrest a bandit in America and you immediately fingerprint him and pull out his record from the national archives. The Unabomber just left a fingerprint in one crime spot and that was used to arrest him. They have security cameras everywhere and when they exploded a bomb in the marathon, a camera had pictures of the culprits. From the picture they were instantly identified and action taken. So how can you detect and investigate in Nigeria when a camera is only found in phones? More so Boko Haram do not exactly like taking pictures as evidenced in their usage of hoods. America has denied us these technology yet they when you catch Boko Haram, they expect you to use public relations to get the truth from them and move on. Arrant nonsense!!!”

He paused to gather his breathe. I noted that the army guys had a penchant for rough handling civilians.

“Yeah! But Boko Haram is an army,” he retorted. “They bear arms and wage war. Amnesty International cannot hold us to the same standard as America in terms of policing our society. Have you ever seen the Nigeria police fingerprint a crime scene? The Nigeria Police Force has no fingerprinting department in state headquarters – I doubt they even have it at the national headquarters. They do not even have police dogs. They do not use any item associated with ICT in police investigation and detection. The same for the army! So if you catch a Boko Haram member and need information on the movement of other Boko Haram members with respect to freeing some innocent women whose lives are in danger, what do you do? Amnesty International expects you to caution then and ask them to speak up in the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? They will never talk. Ask the families of those who have lost their loved ones and they would tell you to take quick action to get at the truth. This is the sane thing to do. Amnesty International do not have loved ones in Nigeria and they can talk about such things because to them Boko Haram is like a passing ambulance. But to Nigerians, the ambulance comes for us everyday.”

I pointed out that President Mohammadu Buhari has committed himself to respecting the Amnesty International report.

Jumbo grunted. “Well if he wants to run Nigeria with foreign opinion, fair and good. It is his cup of coffee. So Amnesty International is chronicling the human rights abuses in Nigeria, eh? Why have they not chronicled the human rights abuses of African Americans in United States of America? They should chronicle the police killing of blacks. From the one as young as twelve, to the an unarmed man trying to escape police torture with a stun gun who was shot in the back. They should chronicle the choking of a man to death for selling cigarette, while the victim was begging, ‘I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!!!’ He made this plea eleven times before dying in the hands of the cruel policeman. Yet the cruel policeman was not indicted and Amnesty International looked the other way.”

I figure that human rights abuses, like eye pencils, are everywhere – just that it sounds stereotypical when it is about Africa.