The Independent People of Biafra, IPOB, has declared a sit at home protest for September 14, 2018, against suppression by the Federal Government of Nigeria and its allied forces. In swift response, the federal government has mobilized all security agencies, through the Army, Navy, Air-force, Police and the Department of State Security, DSS, to quell the protest, at all costs.
The right of self determination, by ethnic groups, is guaranteed under the United Nation’s Charter and indeed the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, all of which Nigeria is a signatory.
Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution guarantees freedom of expression to all citizens of Nigeria, while section 40 grants the right of association.
To this end, a decision by any citizen of Nigeria, or some group of persons, to sit at home, is covered and protected under sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution, so long as it is peaceful and orderly.
There is thus no need for any show of strength or display of military might, by the allied security forces of Nigeria, supposedly against unarmed civilians, as is currently going on in all the States of the South East. If the people of that region decide on their own volition, to lock up their shops, close their schools and churches and Mosques for just one day, I don’t see how that can be the business of government, to warrant the mobilization of war planes and military artilleries, by the government, against its own citizens that it was elected to protect.
At the same time, I’m well aware that the Federal Government recently secured the order of the Federal High Court, to declare IPOB as proscribed, and the case is still ongoing. To that extent, it would amount to self help and a negation of the rule of law and respect for the noble institution of the judiciary, for IPOB to openly defy the court and proceed on its sit at home protest. This could well be achieved or piloted through another organization. And the government can as well respond to this, by invoking the disciplinary jurisdiction of the court, to deal with any issue of contempt of court, if established.
The experiences of the recent past show clearly that most ethnic agitations are fueled by marginalization and neglect. It took the election of Olusegun Obasanjo to pacify the South West and it was not until Professor Osinbajo got to the saddle of power that Oodua People’s Congress mellowed in its agitations. The bombings, kidnappings, vandalizations and general unrest in the Niger Delta region subsided only after Professor Osinbajo’s historic tour of that zone.
There is therefore an urgent need for government to engage all the relevant stakeholders in the South East zone, given the glaring neglect and marginalization that has been the lot of the Igbos, after the civil war.
I therefore urge the President to call the security agencies to order, in line with his promise to the international community, to respect the rights and freedoms of all citizens.
The pythons have danced enough; let them go back to the forest! The government should forthwith withdraw the massive deployment of troops to the South East and address all issues through the rule of law and due process.
God bless Nigeria.
Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, Esq.,