Emeka Umeagbalasi, Obianuju Igboeli, Chinwe Umeche, Ndidiamaka Bernard and Chidimma Evan Udegbunam
Nigeria is likely the next target of the second coming genocide on African Continent unless the country reverses itself through its present central political leaders from another ‘bloody match to Kigali’. Intersociety holds that the circumstances or factors that led to the Rwandan Genocide of April to July 1994 are very much visible in Nigeria under the present political dispensation.
Genocide in the world over does not erupt overnight; rather it is hatched over a long or short period of time until it explodes. It can be protagonist or antagonist and in the case of Nigeria, there are already silent antagonist genocides ongoing. They emanate from the central Government of Nigeria through deliberately designed hash policies targeted at certain ethnic nationalities and religious groupings and Government backed non state actor violent entity-the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen.
Specifically, there are Government genocidal policies against Shiite Muslims, Northern Christian minorities and citizens of Eastern Nigeria; all perpetrated through the hydra headed monster policies of structural, physical and cultural violence. Such Government genocidal policies are systematically executed through policies of structural, physical and cultural violence including political exclusion, imbalanced security appointments, militarization, militarism, racial profiling and discrimination-and cultural or identity stigmatization or degradation.
There is also Government backed non state silent genocide through systematic massacre by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen of members of Christian faith in Northern Nigeria. In all these, the affected ethnic nationalities and religious groupings are likely in a verge of exhausting their patience and toleration. Running out of patience and toleration could catastrophically and calamitously lead to radical vengeance or reprisals; leading to war of anyone’s enemy against anyone or everybody’s enemy against everybody (genocide); defying controls through Government and its military and even humanitarian agencies until it reaches a point of exhaustion. The above symbolizes the Rwandan Genocide of April to July 1994.
Therefore, the 2019 25th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide is unique in Nigeria not only because it raised domesticated awareness and concerns in the country, but particularly because of the crocodile tears shaded by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The 25thAnniversary was marked with the Government of Nigeria sending its Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to Kigali to join others in saying “never again to genocide in Africa”; yet signs are obviously everywhere that the same central Government of Nigeria is warily or unwarily breeding or condoning the breed of same genocide in the country.
Having studiously followed the patterns and trends of the Rwandan/Burundian politics since 1990s through our Board Chair (with verse knowledge in international affairs), Intersociety is not a newcomer in matters that caused the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 and the pre Genocide massacres or killings that took place in Rwandan and Burundi dating back to 1966 after their partitioning and independence from Belgium in 1962 and afterwards. We are aware, too, of the violent roles of the military in the political crises of Rwanda and Burundi and acutely disproportionate gaps between the population of Hutus (84%) and Tutsis (15%) and devastating roles played by the former using “population superiority” and consequent “balance of terror” strategies adopted by the latter using asymmetric military superiority and domination.
We are also fully grounded with circumstances that led to the abolition of monarchies in the two countries few years after their independence, the existing identical tribes of Hutu, Tutsi and Twi in Rwanda and Burundi, the favoritism policy of the Belgian colonial masters towards Tutsis owing to their reported historical links with the Israel’s Ham tribe, the ancient agrarian rift between the Hutus (crop farmers) and Tutsis (cow and livestock farmers) and regimentation, militarization and radicalization of the rift by Hutu and Tutsi political extremists; the disadvantageous economic, political and military structure control by Tutsis courtesy of the Belgian colonial masters, to mention but few.
In the Rwandan Genocide proper, which saw the death of 800,000-1m Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days (7th April-21st July 1994) and additional post Genocide death of over 200,000 mainly in neighboring refugee camps owing to diseases and rival rebel attacks; Intersociety is not unaware of the conspiratorial roles of “the three musketeers” (France, UK and Belgium) as well as the Catholic Church through its heartless nuns in the Genocide. The butchery was so brutish, total and exhaustive that the then Commander of the RPF rebels, now President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, told a foreign radio station that had asked him to explain why the killings suddenly stopped “that the killings have stopped not because of changing of heart but because there are few people left to be killed”.
Genocide Does Not Erupt Overnight
The Rwandan Genocide was bred or hatched over a long period of time with decades of butcheries caused by Tutsi and Hutu led coups and counter coups, election rigging crises, political segregation and exclusion as well as acute domination of economic resources and political offices. The undue favoring by the Belgian colonial masters of the Tutsi population and their elevation to the two countries’ plum positions including key military posts had forced the majority Hutu population to resort to group violence-leading to structural, physical and cultural violence against the Tutsi population. The Tutsis were stigmatized (cultural violence) as “cockroaches” that must be cleansed or wiped out (“nettover”).
The Tutsis retaliated through their stronghold of the military by launching several military coups and putsch killings targeting Hutu political and military leaders and officers. There were counter retaliations and massacres organized by Hutu political leaders and extremists, forcing Tutsi population to flee en masse into Uganda and other neighboring countries where they settled as refugees. Such massacres were reported to have taken place in 1966, 1972 and 1978; running into 1980s. While in refugee camps, Tutsi and Hutu refugees formed or joined rebel groups in countries like former Zaire (Congo DRC) and Uganda.
In Uganda, the generation of current President Paul Kagame of Rwanda had belonged to Rwandan Tutsi citizens who fled their country to escape the 1972 and 1978 Hutu organized massacres and settled as refugees in Uganda; from where they were conscripted into the National Resistance Movement (NRM) of the then Ugandan Rebel leader, but now President Yoweri Museveni and assisted him to overthrow the then Ugandan military Government of Generals Tito and Basilo Okello in 1986.
The Tutsis were so visible in the Museveni’s NRM that his earliest Chief of Army was a Tutsi refugee and senior rebel/military colleague of current President Paul Kagame, who rose to become a Brig Gen in Ugandan Army under Museveni. Together they formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) that ended the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 through their “famous match to Kigali” from the Ugandan-Rwandan borders; forming the present economic reformative but dictatorial Government headed by him in Rwanda since July 1994, a period of 25 years.
From the above, therefore, factors that led to the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 are also very visible in Nigeria; meaning that Genocide is loading in the countryunless such destructive factors are constructively addressed or totally eliminated. It is a clear case of crocodile tears for hatchers of state actor and non state actor genocide to join the rest of the world in marking the remembrance of one of the most calamitous human tragedies of the recent times in far away Rwanda. Religocide and ethnocide are the most dangerous and intractable types of genocide; more dangerous and intractable than war genocide. And the two are being hatched in Nigeria under the present central Government headed by Retired Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari and Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
Under the Buhari/Osinbajo Administration since June 2015, Nigeria has become one of the most dangerous countries for professing Christianity and Traditional Religion. Right to ethnic identity including ethnic minority is also under serious threat in Nigeria. The Administration has provided insecurity and other unsafe conditions for Christian Ethnic Minorities in Northern Nigeria. The Administration has also encouraged or directly introduced imbalanced citizenship including lopsided constituency delineation, creation of scanty polling centers, voter deprivation and intimidation and disproportionate security or police protection ratios, etc against Nigerian citizens of Northern Christian origins and southern Christians residing in Northern Nigeria particularly those of Eastern Nigeria comprising Southeast and South-south.
The just held 2019 Presidential Poll has also thrown up or singled out Nigeria as one of the most dangerous countries to cast a presidential vote as a minority Christian or Igbo Christian residing in the North or Southwest. The Poll saw the places dominated by Igbo Christians in Lagos and other parts of Southwest as well as Kano and Nasarawa’s Sabon Gari, Jos, Jalingo, Maiduguri, Kaduna and other Igbo Christian dominated areas of the North being heavily militarized leading to Government hired thugs and brigands raining the areas with sundry electoral violence including burning of polling centers, tearing of ballot papers, snatching of ballot boxes, prevention and intimidation of voters, etc.
It was so bad that Government and its officials or its movers and shakers came out boldly to claim responsibility and even went to the extent of shutting down major Igbo dominated markets; threatening them with death and loss of properties (wares) unless they vote for Government candidates or stay away from voting. During the Governorship poll in Lagos, for instance, many, if not most Igbo registered voters stayed away from voting to avoid death or loss of their properties. In Plateau State, Igbo traders in Jos stayed off their shops for several days, if not weeks for fear of Government oiled post election violence; likewise in Jalingo, Taraba State, to mention but few.
The national security policy of the present central Government of Nigeria is only comparable to that of a failed State. The policy not only defies modern day definition but it is also analogous and genocide friendly. Despite human security concept that rules modern democratic world, Nigeria’s national security concept begins with militarism and militarization and ends in ethnic chauvinism and religious bigotry. The Buhari and Osinbajo’s national security policy is so downgraded that mental-man-machine security which rules today’s securitization world, is strange and alien to the same Government or Administration.
Over 17,850 lives have been lost since the present central Government of Nigeria came to power in mid 2015. The deaths involve 2,403 Government killings (Christians, Shiites and Xian/Muslim Women and Children), 6,250 (Xians killed by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen), 4,600 mostly Muslims (killed by Zamfara Islamic Bandits including 3,526 killed in Zamfaraand over 1000 killed along Birnin Gawari and its environs in Kaduna) and 4,600 Christians and collateral Muslims deaths killed by Boko Haram insurgents and allied others.
The number of those killed under street criminal activities such as armed robbery, abduction/kidnapping, murder, campus and street cultism, rape and preventable industrial and auto crashes is in thousands annually and tens of thousands since June 2015; likewise numbers killed in communal strife and those who died owing to excessive use of force by the Police especially the operatives of Police special squads like SARS, CID, Anti Cult, etc. Put together, they are in tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands since June 2015.
Genocide in the world over erupts when hatched by non state actor elements and encouraged by the sitting Government such as in the case of present Nigerian Government and its protected Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen. Genocide can also erupt when bred by a sitting Government using and skyrocketing ethnic divisions and religious bigotry all layered in the policies of structural, physical and cultural violence.
Structural violence is represented by political exclusion and segregation while physical violence is a Government policy of using deadly or excessive force against targeted unarmed and defenseless citizens on the basis of their ethnicity and faith; leading to their mass death and maiming. Cultural violence is done through Government hate speech or cultural policy including false labeling or stigmatization of particular citizens on the ground of their ethnicity or religion or degradation of their citizenship to “second or third class”. In all these, the present central Government of Nigeria headed by Buhari and Osinbajo is fully or inescapably liable.
Emeka Umeagbalasi is the Senior Official/Head of Organisation, Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law; Obianuju Joy Igboeli is Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program; Chinwe Umeche is the Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program; Ndidiamaka Bernard is the Head, Int’l Justice & Human Rights Program; and Chidimma Evan Udegbunam is the Head, Campaign & Publicity Department.