…Urges FG to provide for six million people affected by Boko Haram
A United States (US) based rights organisation, Washington Working Group on Nigeria (WON) is calling on the United Nations (UN) to refund the $30m (about N4b) paid it by the Nigerian Government for reconstruction of its building that was bombed by the Boko Haram insurgents, insisting the payment was insensitive, unfair to Nigeria, and its people who have been paying their dues to the international body.
A member of the group, Emmanuel Ogeben who spoke after a meeting with some of the victims and relief organisation in Abuja also lambasted the UN for failure to designate Boko Haram as International Terrorist Organisation despite the atrocities being committed in the Northern Nigeria by the sect affecting about six million people between 2009 and 2014.
The US, United Kingdom and Canada have already designated Boko Haram as Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO).
“We are asking that the UN should refund the N4b because we believe that an international organisation of that class should have the resources to fix the building. The fact of the matter is that Nigeria should not foot the bill of an international organisation funded by all countries of the world and then, poor people who have nothing will loose their houses, churches and the Nigerian Government will not provide for them.
“It is only obligatory that Nigeria pays its dues, and we have even gone far to provide peace keeping troops. We have paid our dues even with the lives of some officeers, and now we have an atrocity like this, instead of the UN to take care of the building and allow us have resources to take care of ourselves,” he stated.
Ogebe who recalled how his group led the initiative that made the US Government designate Boko Haram as FTO by testifying in the US Congress, said: “UN Building was bombed by Boko Haram and UN lost 24 people spread across several of its agencies has not designated Boko Haram as international terrorist organisation whose finances should be tracked and frozen around the world. It is incumbent on the UN to do so.”
Ogebe who said the meeting would afford international partners like his know what areas to assist the victims of the insurgency, also called on the Federal Government to make adequate provisions for the six million people who are affected by the insurgency, some of whom now take refuge in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
“The figure we have received concerning the people who have been impacted by the crisis is approximately six million in northern Nigeria. We did this meeting so that we as an international partner who wants to assist will know how best to approach them,” he stated.
The letter dated January 6, 2014 reads:
January 6, 2014
His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary-General
New York, NY 10017
Dear Secretary-General Ban,
On behalf of the Washington Working Group on Nigeria, we would like to thank you for your service to the global community in promoting international cooperation, peace and security. The Working Group on Nigeria is a coalition of U.S. organizations working in the U.S., the U.N., I.C.C. and other fora advocating for peace, justice and humanitarian assistance in response to the insurgency in northern Nigeria.
Pursuant to our efforts, on November 13th, 2013, the U.S. government designated the Nigerian jihadists group Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The United Kingdom, Canada, and Nigeria have also designated Boko Haram a Terrorist Organization. By designating Boko Haram a Terrorist Organization, these nations have placed financial sanction on Boko Haram and their affiliates.
Boko Haram’s 200+ body count in the January 20, 2012 massacre was the highest single death toll in any conflict worldwide exceeding Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Pakistan and tied only with Syria. The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) reported that Boko Haram was the second most deadly terrorist group for the year 2012 ranking only behind the Taliban – and ahead of Al Qaeda.
• As you are well aware, thousands of lives have been lost in this largely silent slaughter in Nigeria at the hands of Boko Haram including members of your own staff in the 2011 U.N. bombing.
• Nearly one-third of the religious institutions targeted globally in 2012 were located in Nigeria, where Boko Haram overwhelmingly attacked churches.
• There were more attacks on religious institutions in Nigeria than there were attacks on diplomatic embassies around the world combined (diplomatic institutions including the African Union, the European Union, the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the UN as well as consulates, embassies, and diplomatic personnel)
The time has indeed come to help bring an end to what you have described as “senseless violence” and to aid those that have lost so much especially as it has now assumed international humanitarian dimensions with thousands of refugees in Cameroun, Chad and Niger.
Regrettably, there is currently no victim compensation fund for the victims of these massacres as Nigeria’s President announced that he would not provide compensation. Apart from the limited relief efforts some of our members are undertaking, we are not aware of any support by multilateral or international donors to victims in Nigeria.
However, the Nigerian government is reportedly spending over 30 million dollars to repair the U.N. building in Abuja after it was bombed in 2011. Over 100 churches have been destroyed since the U.N. bombing in 2011, about 3 mosques attacked and thousands of homes, farms and businesses as well, yet the Nigerian government has offered no restitution for the victims.
These victims are desperate. Desperation and destitution in the face of impunity are potential drivers for retaliation and escalation. This needs to be urgently mitigated.
On this 2nd anniversary of the Mubi Massacre of January, 6, 2012, we the undersigned organizations join Ike Nzeribe, the sole survivor of that attack, and urge the U.N. to repay at a minimum the equivalent amount of the renovation costs towards a Victim Compensation Fund. We consider it unfair for the world’s top diplomatic institution, which is funded by national governments to derive a benefit from the Nigerian government when Nigeria’s own indigent citizens who lack the social welfare safety net and perquisites of diplomats are deprived of the same.
Our data shows that in 2011 attacks around Nigeria’s capital city, Boko Haram first bombed the Police HQ in June, ACFM church in July, the U.N. building in August and St. Theresa’s Catholic church on Christmas day – all fatally. Recently, our fact-finders visited St Theresa’s and found a mother who lost her husband and three children in the bombing, struggling to care for a 13-year old son who survived but still has shrapnel in his skull – 2 years after. People like this would benefit from a VCF.
We also urge that the UN Security Council impose global terror finance sanctions on Boko Haram as an AlQaida affiliate.
Finally, we would like to formally request a meeting with you to discuss these issues.
We thank you for your repeated statements on the situation and ask you to take actions reflective of the concern you have expressed.
We look forward to your prompt attention to this letter.
African Christian Fellowship USA
Christian Association of Nigerian Americans (CANAN)
The Institute on Religion and Democracy
The Igbo League
Justice for Jos
Red Eagle Enterprises
Religious Freedom Coalition
The Westminister Institute
Andrew E. Harrod, Ph.D
Independent Researcher and Writer
Victim and Sole Survivor of Boko Haram’s Mubi Massacre (January 6, 2012)
2. National conference won’t produce any result, says Ifa priests
PRACTITIONERS of African Religion in the country have predicted that the forthcoming national conference would amount to nothing and end in futility as according to them, anything built on pretence, self-deceit and hypocrisy cannot and will not stand.
They described the exclusion of African Religion in the planned conference as not only unacceptable, deplorable and unthinkable but demeaning and self-abnegating.
The President of International Council for Ifa Religion, Professor Idowu Odeyemi who spoke in Abuja on Wednesday stated that practitioners of African Religion in the country totally rejected the list of delegates to the conference as presently constituted.
He noted that the exclusion reinforced the shaky, unworkable and neo-colonial foundation on which the barely 100-year old Nigerian nation was built.
According to him, the official pretence, hypocrisy and self-deceit were reflected in the composition of the National Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) which is made up of only Muslims and Christians to the deliberate exclusion of African Religion.
Prof. Odeyemi maintained that African Religion was neither envious of nor at war with its Muslim and Christian compatriots but simply seeks to be placed on the same pedestal as the others.
The president of International Council for Ifa Religion observed that whereas the constitution clearly outlaws the state sponsorship or promotion of any religion, it is sad that today, the federal, state and local governments with the exception of Osun State openly sponsor only Islam and Christianity as weapons of mass deception and tools of political manipulation.
He further observed that political appointments in the country were made, not on individual merit, but to appease entrenched religious interests.
According to him, billions of taxpayers’ funds were spent to sponsor Muslims and Christians in total abnegation of African Religion and Spirituality and rather than engender religious harmony, governments had inadvertently promoted socio-religious mistrust, friction, strife and disharmony.
He said, “In spite of pretentions to the contrary, several millions of Nigerians neither go to mosques or churches but instead practise African Religion in a quite and unobstructive manner
“A great irony in all these is that these Muslims and Christians daily consult practitioners of African Religion for physical, spiritual and political assistance. Yet, they openly deny the relevance of African Religion in their lives.
“Indeed, is there any state, local government or village in Nigeria in which African Religion is not practised? Yet, entrenched colonial interests collude to exclude African Religion from the socio-political and religious space in Nigeria. A nation that so blatantly deceives itself puts its continued existence in mortal danger
“As part of this entrenched neo-colonial conspiracy, it is worthy of note that our own president, President Goodluck Jonathan, in his media chat a fortnight ago, studiously evaded the question of the exclusion of African Religion at the conference. Also our appeals routed through the office of the secretary to the government of the federation went unheeded
“We note that, as in several instances of life, when entrenched conscienceless power confronts powerless conscience, the former laughs first, the latter laughs last. We are clearly confident that practitioners of African Religion will laugh last in this matter and we eagerly await the outcome of the national conference.”