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Capitol Hill And A Salute To Nigerian Military – By Philip Agbese 

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Quite incredible!  In a twinkle of an eye, four persons kissed death during and in the aftermath of the invasion/desecration of Capitol Hill by pro-Trump extremist supporters. Capitol Hill, America’s most powerful symbol of democracy and civil authority, transmuted into an artefact of sorrows, wails, death and blood.

It is an understatement to say, the world is stunned to its marrow! Trump protestors defiled every moral sanctity and the gods of American democracy. They audaciously despoiled the serenity and sacredness of Washington DC, America’s federal capital with reckless impunity.

Enraged American rioters violently broke police barricades to access the Capitol Hill building, smashed window windowpanes, doors, attacked and sparred with security agents so brazenly. The sinister motive was to fart on America’s democracy by disrupting the ceremonial Congress confirmation of President-elect, Joe Biden. The demonstrators schemed to snatch the ballot boxes of the joint Congress session before the gavel descends in the authentication of Joe Biden. They crudely sought to re-enact the Nigerian scenario of inconclusive elections.

But American Police were impatient. They tolerated the remonstrators only for a while. Their gentlemanliness in the face of provocation in line of duty soon dissipated and hobnailed anger. It led to unimaginable security breaches and pandemonium, regarded as the first and worse in American democratic history in over 200 years.

 A woman in the crowd of protestors had a bullet pierced through her luckless body. She was fatally shot point-blank, in the chest, in broad daylight and killed right inside the Capitol Hill building by the police. The trigger-puller cop never gave her a chance to confess her sins. Or probably, seek forgiveness from God Almighty, her Creator, before the journey to eternity. She died instantly.  Rest in peace, “Madame.” You are one of the unfortunate victims and martyrs of American democracy.

Three others, another woman and two men, also gave up the ghost from the fracas after fruitless battles with life in concomitant protests medical emergencies. What? So, America, the global landlords of democracy and respecter of “law and order,” could have security agents spill blood this carelessly?  This is unbelievable! Oooh, American pride nosedived into the odious ditch of partisan extremism akin to familiar African experiences.

The blood of Republican President Donald Trump, America’s outgoing President must have a tinge of African descent. He planned an electoral coup in 2020; but as master of manipulations, he held unto the daisy dais until January 2021, before the coup failed. He must have been a brave man in negativity. He exudes the democratic credentials of most African civilian despots.

Shockingly, though, before the mob violently broke into the Capitol Hill building with the intent of snatching congress ballot boxes, President Trump had urged his acolytes at a rally held in Ellipse park days earlier, never to concede defeat.

A furious Trump yelled; “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”  And his supporters chanted; “Trump won the election.” That’s the spirit of African modern democrats, in every exactitude. But finally, America and her peoples triumphed against President Trump.  The will of the majority of Americans prevailed and it did not matter as Trump puts it, whether the presidential election had been “rigged” by “radical democrats” and the “fake news media.”

Nonetheless, four Americans paid the supreme price, in partisan-induced protests, which morphed into violence. The deaths came because the rioters resorted to violence, overwhelmed and overpowered the police with barbaric or undemocratic force.

President Trump supporters were ravenous. They pulled down the American flag at the Capitol Hill and replaced it with Trump’s flag. It was an audacious and very determined assault on American democratic heritage.  The cops on duty could not stomach it anymore and everyone had to contend with his unwarranted or senseless bellyache. Security agents did the needful; they resorted to aggressive force to restore public law and order; much as the dignity of nationhood.

America, like Nigeria, are all democratic nations. The haters of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration campaigned vigorously about the imaginary violation of human rights of Nigerians in the #EndSARS protests.  This was even after the demonstrators turned violent, in killings and arsons. The pro-#EndSARS exponents or promoters condemned and faulted every action of Mr. President in containing the violent protests, but were blind to the contraventions of the violent demonstrators.

The godfathers of #EndSARS protesters foraged everywhere to find conjured evidence to smear and taint the Buhari Presidency over the protests but found none. Unrelenting, the #EndSARS agitators feebly held unto the Lekki Toll Gate alleged shootings by soldiers of the Nigerian Army. They spun a serial web of fake news and tales, claiming various casualty figures from shootings which irritatingly resisted conformity.

The target was to rub mud on President Buhari’s face for alleged abuse of the basic tenets of democracy and also, nail the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. TY Buratai over counterfeit claims that soldiers shoot and killed unarmed and defenceless protesters at Lekki. But their surfeit of crafted tales got them more confused than the personalities they desperately sought to malign or defame and it faded with time.

History is a silent bookkeeper and humanity’s reminder of events. Today, the same Nigerians who falsely whined over fictitious tales of Lekki shootings, copiously citing America’s perfectness, have been nicely shamed by the episode of Capitol Hill’s violent invasion by protestors in America.  But the innocent are always vindicated, if not by man, certainly, by God Almighty.

Gen. Buratai does not joke with unprofessional conduct by soldiers. He has a special and unfading passion for Nigerians. He perceives every Nigerian as a member of his larger family and treats everyone in the course of his duties like his blood brother or sister. That’s why the COAS is very impatient with any confirmed trace of human rights abuses of Nigerians allegedly perpetrated by soldiers on special assignments anywhere in the country.

It explained his instant establishment of the novel Human Rights Desk in all Army Divisions in the country. Under his leadership, soldiers accept the civil summons and appear in conventional courts to defend themselves over charges of alleged human rights violations. Nigerian soldiers are very conscious of the strictness of the Army Chief on human rights violations and dare not provoke his sensibilities in this direction.

Soldiers assigned to restore public law and order at the Lekki Toll Gate also performed the assignment professionally and creditably. They imposed peace without firing a shot at any protester. What propels the passion of Nigerian soldiers today is shared humanity with all Nigerians. It is conspicuous and it is verifiable. Soldiers performed this difficult assignment professionally and commendably.

Therefore, the shadow of innocence which hovers on their heads is the divine reason for their exculpation from the malicious and vindictive persecutions by troubleshooters in Nigeria, as exemplified by the latest Lekki incident. Those who assemble in dark chambers to concoct all manner of lies and instigate public hatred on soldiers have never succeeded, but rather end up disgracing themselves.

Nigerians should count themselves lucky to have been gifted with a brilliant, humane and compassionate soldier like Gen. Buratai as leader of the Nigerian Army at this point in history. Those who intentionally oppose or seek to disparage him may be understandably blind to the substance of his leadership. But events and time would continue to exonerate and upraise him.

The outside world also appreciates Gen. Buratai’s modest contributions to the Nigerian Army; like millions of other impartial and unbiased Nigerians. This is why Gen.  Buratai’s initiative to have a Human Rights Desk for the Nigerian Army in every Army Division has paid off. It is beneficial to both Nigerians and the country, visible in improved foreign relations. Nigeria has become a beacon of hope to other nations on how the military should best handle violent protests.

If an enraged cop in a violent protest milieu could shoot point-blank at the chest of a woman in America; what would have been expected of soldiers in Nigeria under the same scenario? But Gen. Buratai has tamed them; they are no longer the brutish and cruel personnel of the days of yore, but a decent and patriotic Army of global acclaim.

May the malicious campaigns of the #EndSARS promoters and acolytes against the COAS and soldiers keep chorusing requiem songs for the antagonists. A big salute to the Nigerian Military, especially, the Nigerian Army.

Agbese is a human rights activist based in the United Kingdom.

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Opinion

Sahara Reporters And Dearth Of Investigative Journalism – By Philip Agbese

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Pro-protest and pro-terrorist news blog, Sahara Reporters, has maxed out its usefulness and may just be on the last lap of its viability going by the nature of the sub-par news items it is now pushing out in the name of exclusives or investigative reports.
The latest of such impaired offering from Sahara Reporters was sensationally headlined, “EXPOSED: Buratai, Olonisakin, Two Other Service Chiefs Get Eight Flashy Vehicles, Over 40 Soldiers, More As New Retirement Benefits”.

To start with, there is mischief written all over the headline, which leveraged basic arithmetic to create a sense of impropriety. By lumping the cars for four military chiefs together it promoted the impression that each of the chiefs would get 40 cars when they retire as opposed to the four they are actually getting. Granted that there is the tyranny of the headline, which allows publication to be attention seeking, the body of the story did nothing to clarify this lumping together of the number of cars.
It also omitted to fairly disclose that the cars that goes to each retiring office holder are not necessarily situated in the same city. To have a sense of this, a person of the calibre of a military chief would use a staff car, a pilot and back-up at the very least. The gruesome murder of a former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Barde (rtd) is a lesson to how and why military commander of that status need security and logistics provided as part of their pension.
In my opinion thy the Chiefs deserve what is legally allotted to them even if it is 20 vehicles each and a private jet. Though I know that the modesty of these people will not permit them to have more than two vehicles. Also add that Buratai as COAS still attends public hospitals with his family anytime he requires medical attention.

Interestingly, the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers (HTACOS) that Sahara Reporters based its malicious publication upon was revised in 2017, which leaves one wondering how that is a big news. It is farcical how the news blog attempted to make it look like the Military chiefs were self-serving by unnecessarily drawing attention to how the HTACOS was revised under their watch. It shows the depth to which the discredited news platform will sink in its quest to tarnish the standing of certain people in Nigeria.

One would have expected that Sahara Reporters would have included in its report the retirement benefits of the counterparts of these service chiefs from other countries of corresponding means. Unfortunately, the web rag failed to do this basic investigation and comparison that would have rubbished its supposed exposé. It would have likely end up with a story that reveals how Nigeria is unable to keep up with other countries in the care of those that risked most of their productive lifetime in safeguarding the rest of the population. The bet is out as to if Sahara Reporters if ever capable of publishing such a report and that is assuming it has the capacity to be objective enough to do same.

Bottom line, the shallow report is a continuation of a tradition that is guaranteed to destroy Sahara Reporters as a news source. Emphasis is on news source because one dare does not qualify that phrase with the “credible” because it is an expression that should not exist in the same sentence with the name of that web rag.

It would be a pipe dream to expect that Sahara Reporters will turn a new leaf to embrace objectivity where Nigeria’s military is concerned. Its desperate bid to hurt that institution and the people that lead it is legendary. This makes it pertinent to counsel the military and its leadership not to waste any effort in addressing the mischief that is replete in that shabby piece. Joining issues with Sahara Reporters is akin to wrestling a hog, one would invariably come out of the tussle all soiled with mud even when one defeated the hog.

What the military chiefs should rather do is to continue to deliver to Nigeria the superlative performance that has been the source of the publication’s anger. The military should continue to decimate the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists that Sahara Reporters is beholden of while sustaining the denial of space to other terrorist outfits that the news site is working for. They should continue to frustrate the foreign partners that collude with this evil platform to torment Nigerians by routing for the ascendancy of terrorism in the land.

For Sahara Reporters, we are assured that nothing will stop its death spiral as it is increasingly glaring that its publisher, Omoyele Sowore’s ambition of being named as a member of an interim government that would arise from the illegal sack of the current government by mob action is what is driving the dearth of investigative journalism in that publication. The only favour the publication owes Nigerians as it were is to speed up its own demise and it will achieve this by publishing the kind of junk referenced in this piece. It is a matter of time before its shallowness finally turns away those that had endured its lies for some time now.

Agbese is the CEO, TheNigerian News and wrote from Abuja

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Opinion

Nigeria And Her Betrayal By Diaspora – By Thomas Uzah PhD

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Interventions on the political and economic fronts by Nigerians in the Diaspora have been anything but complimentary of our leaders, systems and policies.

It is as if once our intellectuals find their feet in other shores, they develop a contemptuous mindset towards their country and anything happening in the country is viewed from negative prisms.

These Diasporans become perpetual critics whose thirst for castigating Nigerian leaders and their policies is hardly satisfied.

This posture had made many patriotic citizens to conclude that most of these Nigerians living in foreign countries are driven by regime hate hence are not capable of critically and objectively dissecting the situation they choose to interrogate not to talk of proffering  positive solutions.

Rather than come up with ideas for the political and socioeconomic upliftment of their people, Nigerians in the Diaspora have constituted themselves into a nation of nay sayers, cynics and pessimists trying hard to drag the Nigerian state down. 

It is typical of comments from there to reduce every economic breakthrough to happenstance, every good policy to a mere mistake while challenges are elevated as the norm.

While the nationals of other countries seek ways to better their country through researches and pooling of funds from their host countries, the Nigerian Diaspora community is more interested in seeing itself as an opposition party. 

In the 70s, it was a group of Malaysians in the Diaspora who stumbled on the Nigerian palm fruits  and through researches, were able to extract pure vegetable oil from the fruit which they now export to other countries.

But decades after we have sent our sons and daughters to the most technologically advanced countries, our mothers and sisters are still using grinding stones to grind pepper while our men are still using raffia to climb palm trees.

Good and commercially viable agricultural products still perish on their ways to the market because there’s no means of preserving them.

While they have failed in their patriotic duties of using their experiences to help in the development of their country, they appear unrelenting in the bid to rubbish whatever progress Nigeria is making.

This was why when Nigeria was categorised as one the fastest developing economies in the world, it did not make an impression on these set of intellectuals, neither have they said anything since our military turned the tide against terrorists and insurgents that have been disturbing the peace of the country.

Unofficial reports state that there are about 15 million Nigerians in the diaspora and can be found in most countries of the world especially the United States and the UK, followed by South Africa, UAE and other European countries such as Italy and Spain. 

The largest Nigerian Diaspora community is in the US with around followed by the UK.

A survey conducted in the US indicated that Nigerians in the US are one of the highest educated migrant groups.

The survey found that 29% of the Nigerian diaspora older than 25, held a master’s degree, Ph.D. or an advanced professional degree compared to 11% of the US population overall. 

It is said that no country in Sub-Saharan Africa receives more remittances than Nigeria, estimated by the World Bank at around 24.3B per year and 6% of GDP.

This makes Nigeria the sixth country in the world in remittance inflows. 

This ordinarily should have been celebrated as it is quite huge, but the benefits of such potentials are hardly seen at home. This id because they are only channelled towards luxurious and personal interests. Hardly are the inflows invested into the Nigerian economy with a view to ensuring a multiplier effect.

They are remittances through family ties and have not been substantial enough to jump start any aspect of the economy, let alone develop one.

Even the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, which “has the responsibility to coordinate and organize Nigerians in and from the Diaspora to contribute human capital and material resources, including their expertise, for the development of Nigeria and its constituent states,” has not been forthcoming in that regard. 

Worse still, many of the Nigerians in the Diaspora, wreak havoc of the image of Nigeria by their involvement in crime across the continents.

A release by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for America in year 2020 showed that Nigerian citizens are among the leading nationals in crime.  

Clearly, they have become bad influences on their home country by becoming emergency activists who go out to ruin the peace of the country . 

It has even been alleged that some of their unpatriotic interventions are sponsored to destabilise Nigeria for which they receive financial gratification. 

But these have got to stop. Nigerians abroad must start seeing the good in their country and project same to the world. They must serve as the catalyst for technological advancement and steer clear of the underground moves to use them to destabilise their own country .

Uzah PhD is Head, Mass Communication Department, Kwararafa University Wukari.

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Opinion

ICC: Understanding The Insurgency Within Insurgency – By Richard Murphy

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Nigeria has for over a decade been enmeshed in an intractable insecurity mess due to the unfortunate conspiracy against it by notable international bodies like the ICC and Amnesty International among others, and kowtowing the script of the renegade and insurgents on its soil.

This is indeed a very unfortunate and dreadful situation, as the plot of these people is to ensure a systematic breakup of the country, after it has inexplicably defied all their wicked predictions.

What is unclear or absurd to some, is how it is taking the Nigerian Armed Forces so long to totally bring the insurgents to a complete halt. Given the dare-devil and mindless mindset displayed by these faceless groups, such people are unaware of the huge obstacles strewn on the paths of the Armed Forces in curtailing internecine wars.
In the first place, the Armed Forces of every country is primarily trained and conditioned to wage wars against external aggression and defend its territorial boundaries only.

So, the Nigerian Armed Forces are saddled with a task that they were never prepared for, against their professional ethics to turn their guns against the very citizens they are supposed to protect. This is made more complex when one notes that the insurgents and terrorists are mingled with the civilian population, while the troops are in clear view of the renegades to pick out as guinea pigs.

It is indeed a very sad and miserable situation the Nigerian Armed Forces have found themselves in.
It is therefore most uncharitable for hitherto respected international bodies like the ICC and Amnesty International, to always rise up to the defense of the insurgents, any time the scale of balance is tilted against them.

It is a monumental shame for ICC that ought to know better to allege that the troops are either using excessive force or committing crimes against humanity, when routing the same insurgents that could stop at nothing and deploy any means to prosecute their macabre insidious agenda.

While it is understood that the Armed Forces are under obligation to ensure civilian casualties are minimized in the course of their operations, there is no justification for setting any standards for the Nigerian troops, unless to incapacitate them, faced with the potent danger like terrorism and insurgency.

It is absurd and lamentable that the ICC and its cohorts rather than call these deranged elements to order, or chart a path to ease the crisis, would prefer to stoke the embers of the inferno and tactically fuelling the insurgency further. Less we forget, the International Criminal Court is an international organization and as well a Tribunal that sits in The Hague, in Netherlands, is the first and only permanent International Court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

It is in every material fact intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore exercise its jurisdiction, only when National courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute such crimes.
Against this backdrop, the antics of ICC and it’s cohorts to level allegations of excess force or crimes against humanity on Nigerian troops, smacks of deep hatred for the Nigerian people and a deliberate ploy to frustrate the Government from overcoming this scourge. If the ICC is sincere in its obligation to protect humanity and human rights, what stops it from condemning the posture of the insurgents and terrorists who are bent on rubbishing Nigeria’s Sovereignty?

It is evident and crystal clear that the ICC’s claims must be aimed at discrediting the gains being recorded by the Nigerian troops, which according to the National Coordinator of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, (CNM) Patriot Sabo Odeh, is a vivid attempt to undermine the efforts of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

This explains why ICC and Amnesty International, always abashedly raise their voices to stop the momentum in their nefarious bid to not only prolong the insurgency war but to as well demoralize the Nigerian troops and invariably embarrass the Government.

It is in the light of these facts that the Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai and the CNM boss , earlier urged the troops to discountenance ICC allegations and remain focused on the task at hand.

ICC, Amnesty international and their cohorts have no moral fabric to question how Nigeria deals with its internal security challenges, not after they have demonstrated times without court that they mean to derail our territorial integrity, rubbish our sovereignty and have openly displayed their contempt for our heterogeneous setting.

So, Nigeria needs to brace up to decisively tackle this scourge regardless of empty charades of the promoters and sympathizers of the terrorists and insurgent groups. God is always on the side of the just and would surely see Nigeria through these harrowing hard times.

It is therefore imperative to now know the enormity of the task at hand. We must all rise up to the challenge and speak with one voice, because ICC, Amnesty International and their cohorts are only exploiting our fault lines to achieve their nefarious plot against our collective wellbeing.

Since ICC has abandoned its statutory mandates and takes delight in compounding our insecurity challenges, it is inevitable to embark on concerted efforts to woo well meaning international power blocs to see reason and check-mate this evil plot.

The international community should put its searchlight on ICC and it’s co-travelers, as they have derailed, compromised and doing the bidding of face-less paymasters.
The insecurity challenges in Nigeria really appear daunting, but with resolute determination, valour and dynamism we can overcome this malady.

The agents of destabilization have perfected their inglorious plans to make a mockery of our democracy.
Nigeria can no longer afford to treat the ravaging insecurity challenges with kid gloves, since our troops understand the danger posed to our democracy by this intractable insurgency, we should rally round them and give all the support they need to check this debilitating menace.

All those either colluding or conniving with these renegade elements do not deserve any sympathy or mercy. Anyone feigning support for the insurgents and terrorists, are in all material fact enemies of our dear fatherland and should be so treated. As an international organization that courts global relevance, ICC cannot and should not be seen to be with the hunt and the hunted.

The territorial integrity of Nigeria supersedes any veiled inordinate ambition of any group, no matter the immense resources at its disposal.  There is no doubt that ICC, Amnesty international and their ilk have hidden agenda and would stop at nothing to play out their given scripts, but we must resist them stoutly, with total vehemence and bravado.

Thank God, the whole world is keenly watching and we should press for overhauling of the structures in ICC, to ensure the intendments that necessitated its existence, are duly served.
Institutions may be noble in frame work but the human angle if left unchecked, could mar, imperil and rubbish its essence.

This is the crass state the ICC has presently degenerated into; hence the UN as a family must save ICC from itself.
The leadership of ICC having derailed since, are now overwhelmed with scheming to appear playing to the gallery while in fact acting out given scripts of their paymasters to the detriment of the sacred responsibilities, they ought to be upholding.

In such a scenario, ICC stands discredited, compromised and lacks the moral fabric to question how Nigeria prosecutes this nauseating insurgency strife. It cannot be working in partnership with our enemies and yet expect us to take it seriously, this is simply because ICC is yet to come to terms with the stern stuff Nigerians are made of.
In the light of the foregoing, Nigerians must eschew tribal-religious differences and work concertedly to stamp out the insurgency threat.

As it is, Nigeria is facing the terrorists cum insurgents at the war front and in the same breath being distracted at will by ICC and Amnesty international, whenever the scale of balance tilts against the renegades.
Since the infractions of ICC and Amnesty international are getting bolder and unceasing, it is imperative to change our approach to the manner of dealing with this itch.

ICC and Amnesty international must not wish us well before we survive. Our survival is from God, who has ordained our existence and weathered all our storms, so it is high time we called the bluff of ICC and its cohorts.
Nigeria is indeed destined for greatness. To attain such a height is a matter of dint of hard work, overcoming all obstacles with total focus on the goals. The present insurgency scourge will in no time fizzle out, once our leaders summon the political will to do the needful. What is fueling the insurgency craze is ineffective planning of our affairs and now that Government is tackling the issue frontally by ascertaining who every Nigerian is, we are sure to soon get there and ICC and its cohorts can go to blazes.

Murphy is a security expert based in Calabar.

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