Wednesday, 17 November 2010

June 1969: Documenting a crime against humanity

Thankfully, for the interest of posterity, the Igbo genocide, perpetrated by the Nigeria state, is one of the most documented crimes against humanity. Leading university and public libraries across Europe (particularly in Britain, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden and Denmark) and North America have invaluable repositories of books, state papers (including, crucially, hitherto classified material now declassified as part of mandatory timeframe provisions and freedom-to-information legislations), church papers, human rights/anti-genocide/anti-war groups’ campaign papers, reports, photographs and interviews, Red Cross/other third sector papers, reports and photographs, newspaper/newsmagazine/radio/television/video archives and sole individual depositories, some of which are classified as “anonymous contributors”.

These data variously include extensive coverage of news and analyses of varying features of the genocide between 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970 as well as still photographs and reels and reels of film footage of the devastating impact of the genocidist’s “starvation”-weapon attack on Igbo children and older people, the genocidist air force’s carpet bombings of Igbo population centres (especially refugee establishments, churches, shrines, schools, hospitals, markets, homes, farmlands and playgrounds) and the haunting photographs and associated material that capture the sheer savagery of the slaughter of 100,000 Igbo in north Nigeria towns and villages and in the country’Lagos/west/midwest region during phases I-II of the genocide, 29 May 1966-5 July 1967.

(New York Art Quartet plays Charlie Parkers composition, “Mohawk” – personnel:  John Tchicai, alto saxophone; Roswell Rudd, trombone; Reggie Workman, bass; Milford Graves, drums [recorded: Nippon Phonogram, New York, 16 July 1965])

Maniacal insouciance, Prospero, Caliban

A stream of these archival references has flowed steadily unto the youtube website as well as other internet outlets and much more material on the genocide will be available online in the months and years ahead. On the whole, these documentations are a treasure-trove for the conscientious scholar and researcher on the genocide.

For the would-be- prosecutor of the perpetrators of this crime, they couldn’t have wished anything more for that crucial resource base to embark on their historic enterprise. A total of 3.1 million Igbo, or a quarter of the nation’s population at the time, were murdered in the genocide, the worst in Africa since the 19th century.

Quite auspiciously, the genocidists’ own record on the genocide makes no pretences whatsoever about the goal of their dreadful mission – such was the maniacal insouciance and rabid Igbophobia that propelled the project. The principal language used in the prosecution of the genocide was Hausa. Appropriately, the words of the ghoulish anthem of the genocide, published and broadcast on Kaduna radio and television throughout the duration of the crime, are in Hausa: Mu je mu kashe nyamiri/Mu kashe maza su da yan maza su/Mu chi mata su da yan mata su/Mu kwashe kaya su (translation: Let’s go kill the damned Igbo/Kill off their men and boys/Rape their wives and daughters/Cart off their property).

The Hausa word for war is yaki. Whilst Hausa speakers would employ this word to refer to the involvement/combat services of their grandfathers, fathers, uncles, sons, brothers, other relatives and friends in Boma (reference to World War II Burma [contemporary Myanmar] military campaigns/others in southeast Asia, fighting for the British against the Japanese) or even in the post-1960s Africa-based “peace-keeping” military engagements in Cameroon, Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Sudan, they rarely use yaki to describe the May 1966-January 1970 mass murders of the Igbo people. In Hausaspeak, the latter is either referred to as lokochi mu kashe nyamiri (past tense: “when we murdered the damned Igbo”) or lokochi muna kashe nyamiri (past continuous tense: “when we were murdering the damned Igbo”). Pointedly, this lokochi (when, time) conflates the timeframes that encapsulate the three phases of the genocide (29 May 1966-3 January 967, 4 January 1967-5 July 1967, and 6 July 1967-12 January 1970 – for detailed analysis, see Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, Biafra Revisited, 2006), a reminder, if one is required, for those who bizarrely, if not mischievously, wish to break this organic link.

Elsewhere, genocidist documentation on this crime is equally malevolent and brazenly vulgar. A study of the genocide-time/“post”-genocide era interviews, comments, broadcasts and writings on the campaign by key genocidist commanders, commandants and “theorists” and propagandists such as Adekunle, Danjuma, Gowon, Obasanjo, Katsina, Haruna, Rotimi, Awolowo, Enaharo and Ayida underscores the trend. A brief review of Obasanjo’s contribution (published in his My Command, 1980) that focuses on his May 1969 direct orders to his air force to destroy an international Red Cross aircraft carrying relief supplies to the encircled and blockaded Igbo is hugely illustrative.

Obasanjo had “challenged”, to quote his words, Gbadomosi King (Nigeria genocidist air force pilot), who he had known since 1966, to “produce results” in stopping further international relief flight deliveries to the blockaded Igbo. Within a week of his infamous challenge (5 June 1969), Obasanjo recalls nostalgically, Gbadomosi King “redeemed his promise”. Gbadomosi King had shot down a clearly marked, incoming relief-bearing International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) DC-7 plane near Eket, south Biafra, with the loss of its 3-person crew.

Obasanjo’s perverse satisfaction over the aftermath of this crime is fiendish, chillingly revolting. He writes: “The effect of [this] singular achievement of the Air Force especially on 3 Marine Commando Division [the notorious unit Obasanjo, who subsequently becomes head of regime for 11 years, commanded] was profound. It raised morale of all service personnel, especially of the Air Force detachment concerned and the troops they supported in [my] 3 Marine Commando Division”.

Yet despite the huffing and puffing, the raving commanding brute is essentially a coward who lacks the courage to face up to a world totally outraged by his gruesome crime. Instead, Obasanjo, the quintessential Caliban, cringes into a stupor and beacons to his Prospero, British Premier Harold Wilson, to “sort out” the raging international outcry generated by the destruction of the ICRC plane...

Twitter@HerbertEkweEkwe

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Andrew Young, Obasanjo and the Nobel

(originally published in nigeriaworld.com, 5 March 2007)

The recent declaration by Andrew Young, the US-based pro-Obasanjo lobbyist, confidant and business associate, that he and other members of his obusonjoist lobbying/contracting outfit are campaigning for Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s head of regime, to be awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize for Peace is arguably the most outrageous intervention in African affairs of the past 12 months. For the Nobel awarding committee to even begin to consider giving its distinguished peace prize to any leader of Africa’s genocide-states is utterly inconceivable. This is more seriously the case if the leader being so considered is from Nigeria, the continent’s primer genocide-state and inaugurator of the grave emergency that threatens African existence currently. The Nigeria state carried out the Igbo genocide of 1966-1970 in which 3.1 million Igbo people were murdered. Since then, 12 million other Africans have been slaughtered in genocidal rampages and other murders sponsored/perpetrated by African regimes and their allies from Sierra Leone and Liberia in the west, through to the Sudan, Rwanda and the Congos in the centre and Uganda in the east.

One would be forgiven if one thought that this “Obasanjo-for-Nobel” initiative was the brainchild of the founder of a neo-Broederbond executive, who gloated over the dreadful existence that African peoples have been reduced to by the ruthless African-led regimes in their midst, and not by a close ally of Martin Luther King, one of the most outstanding African leaders of all time.

It should be recalled, to underscore the irony that interpellates the very nexus of the Andrew Young-Olusegun Obasanjo relationship of 30 years, that as Young marched alongside King and other great Africans across US towns and cities 10 years earlier heroically proclaiming and demanding freedom and liberation for America’s oppressed African populations, Obasanjo and his pulverising league of sergeants and brigadiers and corporals and colonels and majors and troopers and the like at the other side of the African Atlantic were engrossed in the encirclement and the fire-storming of Igbo towns, cities, villages, everything “that moves or doesn’t move”, to quote the outburst of one of his notorious comrades-in-arms at the time: murdering, raping, burning, looting, wasting 3.1 million Igbo lives in four long years of genocide not seen in Africa since Belgian King Leopold II’s ravages of the countries of the Congo basin during the 19th century. The Young-Obasanjo pact is therefore a relationship that the venerable Martin Luther King would have viewed with horror; he would have denounced it outright … It is an association that has undoubtedly inflicted an incalculable damage on trans-Atlantic African relations. In the light of the above, Young cannot fail to contend with the distinct possibility that instead of his business associate heading for the European city with the spelling that starts with the alphabet “o”, Oslo, to collect his coveted “peace prize” later this year, he could well terminate his journey at a different city further south – still in Europe, but name beginning with “t”, The Hague: to answer charges at the international criminal court house situated there for genocide and crimes against humanity, committed during the Igbo genocide of 1966-1970. Given Young’s three decades of friendship with Obasanjo, it is not unlikely that either the prosecution team or indeed the Obasanjo’s defence panel might wish to summon Young to The Hague to testify as witness during proceedings.

So, as Young prepares his Obasanjo-support dossier for the Nobel award committee, it is unthinkable that he would omit the cardinal features of the Obasanjo legacy in 40 years of “public life” deeply embedded in the Igbo genocide. Young must ensure that he covers the following areas of his subject’s life, as this will be of immense interest to the committee:

1. What is the nature of the Mathew Olusegun Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo-Andrew Jackson Young relationship since it began in the 1970s?

2. What is the nature and extent of Young’s business interests in Nigeria since the 1970s?

3. What does Young know of the infamous fertiliser-import scandal in Nigeria of the 1970s?

4. As Obasanjo’s friend and confidant for 30 years, what does Young know about Obasanjo’s involvement in the Igbo genocide of May 1966-January 1970?

5. In May 1969, at the height of the Igbo genocide, Captain Gbadamosi King of the Nigeria air force, who was attached to an Obasanjo-led rampaging unit in south Igboland, deliberately shot down an International Committee of the Red Cross plane carrying urgently-needed relief supplies to the encircled Igbo, killing all crew on board. Obasanjo, who had known Gbadamosi King for three years before this outrage, remembers the latter with nostalgia – a “dare-devil-pilot”, as Obasanjo notes, quite affectionately, in his memoirs (see, Olusegun Obasanjo, My Command [Lagos and London: Heinemann, 1980], p. 78). Prior to Gbadamosi King’s destruction of the ICRC aircraft, Obasanjo had “challenged” the pilot, as the former recalls sardonically (My Command, p. 78), that Gbadamosi King should “produce results” to stop further international relief flights to break the Nigerian blockade of the Igbo, a crucial plank of the genocidal campaign, to which the pilot “promised to do his best”. A few days after the request, “within a week”, Obasanjo reveals meticulously, “[Gbadamosi King] redeemed his promise” (My Command, p. 79). In the end, Obasanjo’s response to Gbadamosi King’s grim crime was that of perverse satisfaction as he, himself, recalls in My Command: “The effect of [this] singular achievement of the Air force especially on 3 Marine Commando Division [name of Obasanjo-commanded slaughtering unit] was profound. It raised morale of all service personnel, especially of the Air Force detachment concerned and the troops they supported in [my] 3 Marine commando Division” (p. 79). Has advisor Young ever read Obasanjo’s My Command? What does he think? What does advisor Young think should be the world’s response to those who plan and/or approve of the destruction of a clearly marked Red Cross aircraft on a humanitarian mission? What does advisor Young think should be the world’s response to someone who acknowledges the staggering crime of ordering the destruction of a Red Cross plane with such grotesque relish in his memoirs? What does advisor Young think should be the world’s response to Obasanjo and his fellow Nigerian perpetrators, military and civilian, who carried out the Igbo genocide between May 1966 and January 1970?

6. What does advisor Young know of Obasanjo’s pernicious anti-Igbo socio-economic and military programme of 1999-2007? What has been Young’s advice on this policy, which singularly defines the catastrophic tenure of a vile regime?

7. Young has been an unofficial advisor to Obasanjo since 1999. He has an elaborate executive office located at the head of regime residency in Abuja. There is no local (Nigerian) legislative oversight involved in the appointment or maintenance of this position or over the resultant benefits in cash or kind. How much has Young received for these services since Obasanjo was sworn in as head of regime of Nigeria in 1999? Is there a fixed or a more flexible salary? From what budget provisions has he been paid? Who has approved this budget? Whilst Young was an elected 2-term mayor of the US city of Atlanta, could he have appointed a foreigner, say from Turkmenistan, as advisor without approval and oversight from the city council? If not, why not? Could a US president appoint a foreigner, perhaps an Azeri, as his/her advisor with a well-furnished office and support staff at some wing of the White House in Washington without any oversight from Congress and the wider democratic institutions of the US? If not, why not? Would Andrew Young be able to procure his Abuja-brand appointment in Pretoria, Dakar, Gaborone, Brussels, London, Nouakchott, Ottawa or Alma Ata? If not, why not? What is it about Nigeria and/or Olusegun Obasanjo that ensures that such a crass anti-democratic and illegal process of public office abuse could prevail with impunity?

8. Young is an Obasanjo lobbyist in Washington. How much is he paid annually for his service? How much has he been paid since this assignment began? What exactly does this job entail?

9. In 2005, Obasanjo launched a so-called presidential library in his hometown in west Nigeria. Millions of dollars’ worth of “donations”, including from corporate organisations especially in oil and engineering-contracting firms located in Nigeria, were raised. Was Young involved in this project? Is Young still involved in this project?

10. Obasanjo has been Nigeria’s minister of petroleum – the key ministry in regime day-to-day business – for most of these eight years of his 2-term tenure of his regime. Does advisor Young know how the hundreds of billions of dollars that accrued to the Nigeria treasury have been spent?

11. Since 1999, 10,000 people have been murdered in Nigeria by the state and its allies. These include a number of prominent public figures such as intellectuals (Chimere Ikoku, Victor Nwankwo, Victor Uchendu) and politicians (Ayo Daramola, Bola Ige, Funsho Williams). In 2003, Chuba Okadigbo, an ex-head of senate and leading Obasanjo critic, died suddenly. Okadigbo’s family has still not ruled out the possibility that the senator was the victim of another political murder of the era. In 2004, Obasanjo ordered an armed attack on the Anambra region of Igboland. It was led by Chris Uba, a self-confessed obusonjoist-operative, during which every conceivable asset of the region’s executive, legislative, judicial, information/communication infrastructure was destroyed. The total cost of this rampage ran into millions of dollars. 30 Igbo people were murdered during the brigandage. Since then, the regime has placed the entire Igbo country under a quasi-state of siege. Of those 10,000 murdered during the life of this regime, the overwhelming majority, possibly 9,000, are Igbo. Does advisor Young know the circumstances of these murders and brigandage?

12. What does advisor Young know of Obasanjo’s expansive plot during 2005-2006 to illegally extend his 2-term regime duration? According to reports in the Nigerian media at the time, the regime resorted to bribing members of the central legislative assembly (US$500,000 for senator; US$400,000 for member of lower house) for the enterprise. The venture collapsed ultimately due to sustained countrywide opposition. Did Young support or was he opposed to the Obasanjo extension scheme?

13. As these lines are written, Obasanjo is feverishly engaged in rigging the forthcoming (April 2007) head of regime elections for his self-appointed “successor”. He had earlier rigged the results of the 2006 countrywide census. Obasanjo has already tagged these elections, quite ominously, as a “do-or-die” affair. Is advisor Young aware of these developments? What does he know? What doesn’t he know?

Andrew Jackson Young must now inform an eagerly awaiting world of what his behind-the-scene role has been in the cataclysm that is Nigeria during this long-drawn out age of pestilence – particularly in its obusonjoist 1999-2007 phase.