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One week after, I am yet to recover from watching the gruesome videos published by Amnesty International in a damning report that implicated Buhari and the Nigerian army in the cold blooded murder of hundreds of peaceful pro-Biafra/IPOB protesters. I have been traumatised by a video that was both macabre and chilling. In scale and scope, the video evidence represents the greatest possible constitutional abdication by the Buhari administration. It is also evidence of the utmost inhumanity and decadence of the infamous Nigeria army. Without question, the cold-blooded extra judicial execution of peaceful protesters is a moral obscenity that assaults the very concept of our common humanity. 

It is a crime against humanity that violates not only the most fundamental dictates of the Nigerian constitution but also the United Nations Charter and the African Charter on Human and people’s rights. It is exactly for such heinous, unconscionable, reprobate and dastardly crimes that the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established. What kind of an army would relish the killing of its own unarmed citizens for exercising their constitutional right to dissent and peaceful protests? What kind of a democracy would utilise the army to suppress by lethal force the right to differences of opinion expressed through peaceful assembly and protests that underpins the very essence of democracy? What kind of a nation, leadership and army would chose to address the grievances of its citizens by killing them?  

What kind of a cowardly and barbaric army, trained and paid by the citizens would turn around and take so much pleasure in killing the same citizens? Why would the peaceful and democratic demand for the right to self determination: a right recognised by the UN and African Charters and the same right with which we got independence from British Colonial masters without a fight be a reason to kill your own citizens? In 1995, Quebec settled their demand for independence from Canada through a democratic referendum. 

In 2014, Scotland settled their demand for a right to self-determination from Britain through a democratic referendum. In 2015, Britain settled their demand to exit the European Union/ federation through the “Brexit” referendum. Neither the Canadian government, the British government nor the European Union with some of the most powerful armies in the world resorted to killing its own citizens to stop those who sought independence or self-determination. Buhari and the Nigerian army for what it is must understand the right to self-determination.  

It is a fundamental as well as a democratic right for all peoples as enshrined in the UN and African Charters. Nigeria is signatory to these conventions and is bound by them. Killing your own citizens as Buhari and the Nigerian army is disposed as a means of suppressing dissent and the right to self determination is not only a crime against humanity—such methods have never worked anywhere. More often than not, history teaches us that repression leads to armed revolt. The continuing mishandling of IPOB separatists will assuredly lead to more crises.  Were force of arms alone enough to stop secessionist movements, we wouldn’t have IPOB, MASSOB, Niger Delta Avengers, MEND and other such self determination groups in the aftermath of the Biafra-Nigeria war. 

This is a fundamental lesson Buhari and the Nigerian army is yet to learn.  No nation can ultimately succeed or enjoy enduring peace when it is run as a colonial or Apartheid state. Nations endure and succeed by nation building, justice, equality, the rule of law and more importantly based on fundamental democratic freedoms. It is not an accident that nations where all fundamental rights are given rarely if ever disintegrate. On the contrary, practically all states where conflicts, separatist groups and general violence are prevalent are states where the instruments of state, i.e. the army and police are used to violently suppress dissent or any agitation for self-determination.  Consequently, such nations are locked in endless conflict, most often becoming failed states. 

Colonialism and Apartheid is the only fitting description for a regime that so callously kills its own citizens for espousing different opinions. When in June 1976; the South African Apartheid regime unleashed its police on protesters killing many in Soweto; a shocked and outraged world condemned it. Incidentally, Nigeria voiced its criticism of the Soweto massacres. But today; the Nigerian army in a supposed free state can kill hundreds of peaceful IPOB protesters in cold blood, kill hundreds of peaceful Shiites in cold blood, hold Nnamdi Kanu, El Zakzaky and other peaceful agitators in detention against court orders and practically act as it deems fit. The sadistic killing spree of the Nigerian state under Buhari has become worse than a colonial and Apartheid state put together. This is a no win route that will lead nowhere other than to further balkanisation of Nigeria.

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