By Sam Eyoboka
THE National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, which submitted a written evidence to the UK Parliament over the state of insecurity in Nigeria, yesterday debunked the rebuttal submitted by the Buhari Administration arguing that it was not based on facts and should be ignored.
A rejoinder, “Re: NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT LETTER TO UK APPG IFoRB DENIES PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS” and signed by NCEF chairman, Elder Solomon Asemota, SAN, on behalf of eminent Nigerian Christian elders including Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (rtd) (Vice-Chairman), Prof. Joseph Otubu Dr. (Mrs) Kate Okpareke, Dr. Ayo Abifarin, Gen. Zamani Lekwot (rtd), Elder Moses Ihonde, Elder Nat Okoro, Gen. T. Y. Danjuma (rtd), Elder Matthew Owojaiye, Hon. Justice Kalajine Anigbogu (rtd), Elder Shyngle Wigwe, DIG P. L. Dabup, Sir John W. Bagu, Dr. Saleh Hussaini, Elder Michael Orobator, Hon. Justice James Ogebe (rtd), Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Dame Priscilla Kuye, Dr. S. D. Gani, Mrs. Osaretin Demuren, Prof. Yussuf Turaki, Lady Mariam Yunusa, Prof. (Mrs) Deborah Enilo Ajakaiye, HRM Oba Dokun Thompson, Dr. Taiwo Idemudia (Diaspora) and Pastor Bosun Emmanuel (Secretary) made available several facts and advised the British Parliament to discountenance the government submission.
“In response to the request of the All Party Parliamentary Groups of the UK Parliament for “written submissions” for an Inquiry “into the on-going violence between farmers and herders in Nigeria”, the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) made a submission on June 3, 2019. In response to this submission of the NCEF which was reported in the media on June 27, 2019 that the Government of President Buhari, through the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, wrote to the British Parliament denying persecution of Christians in Nigeria.
Excerpts from the rejoinder: “While we concede that the Government of Nigeria is at liberty to contact the British Parliament, we are concerned that any information relayed to the UK Parliament should be based on facts and not deliberate dissimulation. It is on the basis of this concern that we issue a follow-up to our submission of June 3, 2019.
FACTS OF DISCRIMINATION
While trying to deny culpability in the wanton murder of Christians in Nigeria, the Buhari Administration could not hide its hostility and sectional discrimination against other ethnic nationalities that are not from his northern part of the country. In October 2017, the President of the World Bank, Mr. Jim Yong Kim revealed that President Buhari informed the World Bank to concentrate projects in the North of Nigeria.
It is permissible in Islam for a Muslim to lie, especially to non-Muslims, to safeguard the Muslim or to protect Islam. This is called “Taqiyya”. This culture seems to have extended to Christians in an Islamic dominated Federal Government of Nigeria.
It is rather unfortunate that due to political patronage, for culture change, Christians in the Buhari Administration are also practicing dissimulation. The Vice President of Nigeria, a Pastor, regularly dissimulates on the issue concerning the persecution of Christians as well as the genocide going on in Nigeria. The Vice President of Nigeria was in the United States where he made statements that many people considered inaccurate and gross denial of reality.
According to news report, “A former Acting Asst. U.S. Secretary of Defence, Mr. Frank Gaffney accused Nigeria’s Vice President of “shamelessly” lying about the killings of Christians in Nigeria. … ‘Mr. Pence’s visitor is a man who should be on their side. After all, he’s one of the very few Christians in a Nigerian government otherwise dominated by Islamist Fulani tribesmen. Unfortunately, he is instead part of the problem’”. The report continued: “He lies shamelessly – including this weekend in New York – about the anti-Christian persecution his government is at least tolerating and, at worst, enabling.”
The VP’s own tribe has sharply repudiated him for doing so.
“The socio-cultural group of the tribe of the Vice President called ‘Afenifere’ said, “All the reports provided clear indications of failure of the state as the security forces are largely incapable or unwilling to safeguard the lives of our people against these criminals as we are not aware of any of them that has been arrested or is under trial at the moment just as all the Federal Government has done so far is to make excuses for the Boko Haram and Miyetti Allah groups (Fulani Herdsmen) that have been accused of so many crimes against the people of Nigeria.”
“It is against this backdrop that the meeting was scandalised by the opportunistic and provocative utterances of the Vice President in New York on Sunday dismissing the danger we are faced in Yorubaland as well as by other zones in Nigeria as being “politically motivated.”
“As if he is unaware that we are in a digital world, which explains why America and Britain have issued travel directives to their citizens not to travel to more than 2/3 of Nigeria, the VP without much thought for his integrity stated that: “With respect to general kidnapping which we have seen in parts of the country, again, this is not entirely new. In fact, some of the kidnapping stories you read or listen to are simply not true anywhere, some are fuelled by politics.”
Describing the alleged Vice President’s comments as unfortunate, Afenifere alleged that the Vice President had shamed the Yoruba people with “his very cheap politicking with the lives of Nigerians”.
NCEF DEMAND FOR ANSWERS IN 2017
On September 6, 2017, the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) asked the leaders of Islam in Nigeria for answers to the following questions. To date, no leader of Islam has ventured an answer. The Buhari Administration, being overtly Islamic in deeds, may do well to consider the questions rather than dissimulate at the UK Parliament.
The questions are as follows: 1. Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, in one of his video releases, said in 2012, “…This war in not political. It is religious. It is between Muslims and unbelievers (arna). It will stop when Islamic religion is the determinant in governance in Nigeria or, in the alternative, when all fighters are annihilated and no one is left to continue the fight. I warn all Muslims at this juncture that any Muslim who assists an unbeliever in this war should consider himself an unbeliever and should consider himself dead.”
If this statement is not a declaration of Jihad, could Muslim leaders explain what this means?ii. In 1989, Islam in Africa Organization (IAO) held a Conference in Abuja and amongst many other decisions, released a Communiqué tagged Abuja Declarations 1989 in which it affirmed that its purpose was “To eradicate in all its forms and ramifications all non-Muslim religions in member nations. Such religions shall include Christianity, Ahmadiyya and other tribal religions. (In the original Declaration, the word Christianity was underlined.) Since Nigeria is considered a member nation, could what is going on be an implementation of this decision? Or could we be corrected that the Conference never held in Abuja in November 1989 or such Communique was never released? We are also unaware of any rebuttal of the same statement by Islamic leaders.
iii. In a 154-page Research Report conducted by Arne Mulder in 2015, the researcher affirmed that over 13,000 Christian places of worship (Churches) have been destroyed in Northern Nigeria as at December 2014. Under what condition do Muslim insurgents destroy Churches if not Jihad?
- On February 4, 2017, the United States Congress affirmed that the most dangerous nation on earth for anyone to be a Christian is Nigeria. The implication is that Nigerian Christians have become endangered species in a country in which they constitute over 50% of the population.
- According to the Global Index on Terror, the first and fourth most terrible Islamic Terrorist organizations in the world operate in Nigeria. Boko Haram is first while the Fulani Herdsmen is fourth. If these terror organizations are not fighting Jihad, what then are they doing in Nigeria?
- Under the present administration, every key and sensitive position in National Security is held by Muslims from the North, in outright violation of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution. Also early in the life of this administration, we recall that more than 95 per cent of senior army officers retired from the Military were Christians. In NNPC, only recently, more than 95 per cent of the new appointments into senior management positions are Northern Muslims. Taking these developments in conjunction with the lopsided appointments in National Security, is one not confronted with the inevitable conclusion that there is a deliberate attempt to emasculate Christians, Southerners and other non-Muslim population of Nigeria verifiably by intimidation and force which are stealth Jihad?
vii. Despite unconstitutionally appropriating all security positions to the Muslim North, the Fulani Herdsmen operate with impunity in mostly Christian areas, killing, maiming, raping and destroying without any arrest, without any prosecution. If this is not complicity of the Muslim dominated Security Services, are we then to conclude that the Nigerian security units are so incompetent that they cannot successfully engage insurgents after the Nigerian Army successfully prosecuted a Civil War?
viii. We recall that in 2011 in Harvard, USA, his eminence the Sultan of Sokoto who is also the President of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, was reported to have said during a public function, “I do not recognize any Nigerian Constitution and the only Constitution I recognize is the Koran” By virtue of Section 38 (1), the Constitution guarantees freedom of Religious conviction while Sharia through its law of “Ridda” forbids it with capital punishment. It is clear there is a huge conflict between the Democratic values of the Constitution of Nigeria and Sharia in the 1999 Constitution. The Late Justice Mohammed Bello said, at a lecture in Kaduna, “Section 38 (1) of the Constitution ensures for every person the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, whereas under Sharia, “ridda” is inconsistent with Section 38 (1) and by virtue of Section 1 is unconstitutional”
Therefore, when the President of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs said in a foreign land (which is in itself a treasonable statement) that he does not believe in the Nigerian Constitution (which guarantees freedom of religious conviction), but he believes only in the Koran (which forbids freedom of worship through Sharia’s “ridda”), could not the statement of the Sultan be interpreted as an endorsement of Jihad?
- Added to the above are the big questions begging for answers. Who is funding and equipping the Islamic insurgents? And more importantly, who is shielding them from prosecution?
- We would not wish to belabour these issues but rather appeal to the distinguished leaders of Islam, who have stepped forward to be identified, to join us in putting Nigeria first.Nigeria is a Secular State according to Section 10 of the Constitution, but a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. The diversity in the country should be harnessed for progress and prosperity and not resisted thus leading to disintegration of the country. It is wishful thinking for anyone to imagine the possibility of imposing one religion or one culture on 389 Ethnic Nationalities.
In June 2018, the Amnesty International also accused the Nigerian Government of encouraging the killings going on. The report stated: “Rights group, Amnesty International, says the failure of Nigerian government to hold murderers to account is encouraging them and fueling rising insecurity across the country. The group made the observation on Thursday through a statement signed by its media officer, Isa Sanusi. It said independently verified estimated figures showed at least 1813 people have been murdered in 17 states in the country this year, double the 894 people killed in 2017”.
“According to the group, the death tolls reflect killings as a result of farmers-herders conflict, communal clashes, Boko Haram attacks and banditry. “We are gravely concerned about the rising spate of killings across the country, especially the communal clashes between farmers and herders and attacks by bandits across at least 17 states,” the statement quoted Osai Ojigho, Director Amnesty International Nigeria. “The authorities have a responsibility to protect lives and properties, but they are clearly not doing enough going by what is happening,” Mr Ojigho said.
Open Doors International Organization said: “Open Doors raised the issue of escalating violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt where, because of the violence and the doubling of fatalities, villagers have started to abandon their homes and flee for safety. In the Plateau State, 1,885 Christians were killed by the Fulani herdsmen. The atrocities of the Fulani herdsmen were declared ‘genocide’ by the Nigerian House of Representatives in 2018. However, despite this designation, the Nigerian government has not taken any decisive steps to address the situation and the attacks continue to this day”.
JUDGMENT ON OPEN GRAZING
The Federal Government’s letter was also said to have indicated that “the issues of grazing routes is historically central to these conflicts …”
*Hon. Justice Adewale Thompson’s 1969 Judgement on Open Cattle Grazing – Suit no AB/26/66*
Hon. Justice Adewale Thompson held on April 14 1969 “that he the Judge did not accept the contention of Defendants that a custom exists which imposes an obligation on the owner of farm to fence his farm whilst the owner of cattle allows his cattle to wander like pests and cause damage. Such a custom if it exists, is unreasonable and I hold that it is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience and therefore unenforceable…in that it is highly unreasonable to impose the burden of fencing a farm on the farmer without the corresponding obligation on the cattle owner to fence in his cattle.” Sequence to that I ban open grazing for it is inimical to peace and tranquillity and the cattle owners must fence or ranch their animals for peace to reign in these communities.”
The NCEF can confirm that the demand for grazing land predates Amalgamation, and the introduction of Certificate of Occupancy was a contraption by the British to identify and protect the Land of indigenes who were driven from their lands by Fulani Jihadists before Amalgamation. When the above is considered along with the concept of “Sacred” Space in Sharia, that land already conquered by Muslims as well as any space ever granted in the past are “Waqf” and considered sacred ground endowed by Allah to Ummah-Muslim people forever, for which Muslims can wage a Jihad.
This explains why Fulani in West Africa now claim ownership to land in Nigeria as they form part of the Ummah. Other Fulanis in West Africa are on Jihad in Nigeria, which explains why an adviser to Buhari advised Nigerians to give up their lands to the Fulani for grazing rather than be killed. The inference is that we have two choices, keep the land and be killed or vacate the land and live. This is Jihad.
Nigeria therefore remains a target of the Islamists with respect to ownership of land by the forces of Jihad with intent of returning land to the Dar al-Islam. We Elders know the Islamists would not succeed. However, NCEF want a change of policy by the Buhari Administration to stop this Jihad to save lives and properties and above all the unity of an indivisible Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In our petition of June 3, 2019 which we titled “Competing Ideologies of Democracy and Sharia”, we listed the nuance understanding of the drivers of the conflicts in Nigeria, which included: The man on the spot for Amalgamation – Lord Lugard; Verses of the Quran; Role of religion; Evidence of organized co-ordination; State support; Disproportionate number of victims; Finance and weapons; Evidence of collusion; Actions to be taken to prevent further conflicts; Fake news and concluded that and The conflict is primarily ideological – Democracy Vs Sharia.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK in his reply on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria was not forthcoming and was downright evasive. The NCEF cannot understand why the High Commissioner who is of age bracket with NCEF members with an average age of 70 years most of whom are known to him, if not all the members of the National Christian Elders Forum. They are made up of champions in the Military, Police, the Judiciary, Business industry, Bureaucracy, and others who were in the colonial service before independence. To suggest that NCEF represent Elders of only the North and not the whole of Nigeria even though our petition was written on NCEF letterhead is “Taqiyya” – deceit. We stated the Church Groups which each member belongs, including one of our members who served with the High Commissioner as Supreme Court Justice throughout the period the High Commissioner was a Justice of that court.
The undersigned Solomon Asemota, SAN who also signed the earlier petition to the APPG on IFoRB appeared before the High Commissioner when he was Justice of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. His Excellency knows that Solomon Asemota, SAN is not a Northerner and the Asemotas are Edos from the South South region of Nigeria.
NCEF does not know where the High Commissioner got his Northern Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF) in answer to such an important issue confronting Nigeria – conflict of ideology that has consumed thousands of lives and displaced millions of people.
The NCEF can only attribute the conduct of His Excellency to culture influence. The High Commissioner and most other members of the NCEF were part of manpower development established by the British for Nigeria’s independence that formed the nucleus of the three arms of government – Legislative, Executive (including the Armed Forces, Police and Civil Service) and Judiciary at independence in 1960.
President Buhari was not in this category in that he joined the Army in 1962 after independence. The High Commissioner was a student at Independence in 1960.
As a group, NCEF was able to appreciate fully where Nigeria got it wrong. The High Commissioner in his letter tried to downplay the status, importance and influence of the members of the group by reducing them to representing a section of the country by changing the word National to Northern. By this act, we are clear in our minds that the High Commissioner did not appreciate he too is part of the group of Nigerians, who the Islamists, who regard western education as a sacrilege (Boko-Haram), refer to as “useful idiots”.
We do not expect that culture influence would change a learned friend and brother from common law culture to Sharia law culture that made His Excellency to reduce an ideological problem to a lesser one of riot between Muslims and Christians. His Excellency the “High Commissioner” was reported to have said “the Northern Christian Elders Forum had made allegations against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari whom this group said was practising bigotry”.
President Buhari’s administration is far more than bigotry that in a country with equal number of Christians and Muslims in population that constitute over 80% of Nigeria’s total population, that Muslims should occupy the following key and strategic offices including Ministers of Interior, Finance, Defence, Justice, National Security Adviser, Chief of Army, and Air-Force Staff, Inspector General of Police, Director General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Director General, Department of State Security, Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission, Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, President Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Chief Judge High Court of Federal Capital Territory.
If this is not bigotry, then it must be “Stealth Jihad” by President Buhari, the same stealth jihad which seemed to have caught up with His Excellency, the High Commissioner of Nigeria to the UK who we knew was once an erudite scholar and judge. He seemed to have succumbed to the influence of the culture of Sharia now being imposed on Nigeria.
How NCEF wished that the High Commissioner had used his intellect, training and knowledge to bear, on the conflicting ideologies of Democracy and Sharia in Nigeria and how it is affecting the country, men and women and what may happen to future generation of Nigerians. Educated Christians must change the perception of “useful idiots” to “useful neighbours”. We must all – Christians, Muslims and Animists ensure that our education reflects in our day to day life. In the case of a lawyer, we must be learned at all times.
It is very clear that the above facts constitute Jihad on a section of the Nigerian populis – non-Islamists that which include Christians, non Islamist Muslims and Animists. There are two types of Jihad: A Conventional Jihad which meant the constant state of war since 1914 that must exist between the Dar-el-Islam and Dar-el-Harb since the 8thand 9th century. “Fight in the name of Allah and in the “path of Allah”, “combat those who disbelieve in Allah”. Conventional Jihad fits Boko-haram and Fulani Herdsmen based on available evidence contained in this presentation.
A Stealth Jihad which is the same as violent jihad. The object of stealth jihad is the same as conventional jihad – subjugation of Dar-el-Harb which will result in non-Muslim world being subsumed under Dar-el-Islam. Some of the actions enumerated earlier suggest stealth including actions of the present administration such as refusal to sign the Electoral Act authorising the use of Card Readers for election purposes, especially in the known fact that Sharia law is incompatible with democracy because one tenets of Islam provides that “any system of man-made law is considered illicit under Islamic law for whose adherents Allah already has provided the only law permitted which is Sharia”.
ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY
Islam and Democracy cannot co-exist in harmony. (Kamil Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, The Islamic Text Society 2003). This explains why democracy has been very difficult to operate in Nigeria. RUGA is another Stealth Jihad by the Buhari Administration among many other attempts to subjugate non-Islamists in Nigeria.
To determine the scope of this Jihad, there is need to appreciate that Nigeria has only two races (Negros and Negroids) – The Negros who are over 300 ethnic nationalities outside the three Negroid tribes of Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri. The three religions of Christianity, Islam and Animism shaped the predominant cultures in Nigeria.
As at today, it would appear that the Animist culture has lost out to Christianity and Islamic cultures. As Islam is losing out to Christian western cultures, attempts are being made to stem this trend by strict application of Sharia law in 12 states of the Federation contrary to the provision of the Nigerian Constitution on Human Rights. It is very clear that Sharia law is incompatible with the Human Rights provisions and this has also been established by the European Union.
In Nigeria, this fact of incompatibility notwithstanding, the present administration has decided to turn Nigeria to a country where Sharia and the Quran are alternative sources of legislation and to make matters worse, this administration has decided to use Jihad, both conventional and stealth to turn Nigeria from a Democratic country under the rule of law to a Sharia caliphate country.
In matters of such magnitude, it makes sense to invite a third party, in this case, the United Kingdom to mediate, not in the form of an Arbitrator but as a friend of Nigeria. The type of mediation envisaged is a meeting place outside Nigeria where the issue for discussion would be “whether sovereign nation state is in compatible sovereignty of Allah and primacy of Ummah.” It is very clear that economic development is responsible for shift from authoritarianism to democratic practical system. It will be unfortunate for Nigeria to shift from democratic practical system to authoritarian caliphate system. In other words, the United Kingdom should help us to bring back, if you like, help solidify democracy in Nigeria.
It is clear from our history that the British helped to plant democracy in Nigeria the way they did in conjunction with the United State of America to plant democracy in Spain and Portugal, many Latin American countries, the Philippines, South Korea, etc. It is pertinent to say that all the points raised above were appreciated by the British and the founding fathers of Nigeria as can be deduced from pre-independence conference papers.
Our founding fathers however were convinced that with time, democracy would supersede any other system. Little did they know that oil wealth from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria would promote the politics of Sharia. We agree completely with what Sir Ahmadu Bello said in the House of Representatives in 1953 “Sir whatever Nigerians may say, the British people have done them a great service by bringing all the different communities of Nigeria together”. If Britain does not intervene, they should prepare for an influx of Nigerian refugees into Europe and Great Britain in particular.
The NCEF is convinced that the Islamists like those that strive to establish a modern caliphate in Iraq and Syria will fail but all that the Christian Elders are trying to do is to stop the ongoing Jihad in Nigeria so that it will not leave a quake of destruction as it did in Iraq and Syria after the Islamists murderous adventure in the name of culture. Democracy is the answer not Sharia. The Jihad has extended to ensuring that Sharia trained Lawyers i.e. Lawyers with LL.B Sharia are appointed into sensitive positions in the Legal Profession. The former Attorney General majored in Sharia. The Head of the Nigerian Law School, was one time Professor of Islamic Studies. The present Acting CJN was one time Judge of the Sharia Court of Appeal whose ambition then was to be Grand Khadi of Nigeria. This is a country where Lawyers that majored in Sharia constitute less than 5%, and the other over 95% are Common Law Lawyers. The over 95% of Common Law Lawyers must speak out and not feel intimidated by the less than 5% Islamists in their midst.
Finally, no one should put asunder what God through the instrumentality of the British had joined together since 1914 and Nigerians re-affirmed this vow with blood in the Civil War of 1967 – 1970 to keep Nigeria one.
God save Her Majesty the Queen, and God bless Nigeria,” the letter concluded.