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Opinion: Can Nigeria avoid repeating past mistakes? By Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani:

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Of all the stories I have heard of the day when Nigeria gained independence from Britain on 1 October 1960, the most memorable is the one told by my friend’s father, Onye Kamanu, who had spent the preceding night at Tafawa Balewa Square in the then capital, Lagos.

Sitting on the surrounding walls and bare ground were thousands of Nigerians, who, like him, could hardly wait to usher in the day that their country would finally be free from colonial rule.

‘Joy and pride’

With tears in his eyes, Mr Kamanu recalled the occasion, describing the deafening bellow of triumph that went up from the teeming crowd when the British Union Jack finally went down and the green-white-green Nigerian flag was hoisted.

Nigeria’s then Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa captured the mood of the entire nation during his Independence Day speech.

“This is a wonderful day and it is all the more wonderful because we have awaited it with increasing impatience. Words cannot adequately express my joy and pride at being the Nigerian citizen privileged to accept from Her Royal Highness these constitutional instruments which are the symbols of Nigeria’s independence,” he said.

“It is a unique privilege which I shall remember forever, and it gives me strength and courage as I dedicate my life to the service of our country,” he added.

Shortly after witnessing the historic event, Mr Kamanu received a scholarship to study at an American university. Throughout the journey by sea, he was fed little else but macaroni and cheese, hence his subsequent lifelong abhorrence of the meal.

‘Full splendour’

Once in the US, he boasted to his classmates about the future of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous state.

“Nigeria is going to be a world power in the next few years,” he said. “Oh, you just wait and see.”

Mr Kamanu was certain that, with the coloniser gone and with the advent of self-rule, Nigeria would soon bound forth like a racehorse released from its stall.

That same year, a total of 17 African states celebrated their independence from the UK, France and Belgium.

I understand that a cartoon at the time depicted the map of Africa as a growing giant bursting out of its chains.

Clearly, Mr Kamanu was not the only one with high hopes. Others also expected that a continent, blessed with natural resources and hard-working people, would arise in her full splendour and shine.

About 40 years after independence, Mr Kamanu travelled from Nigeria to attend his college reunion in the US. His classmates remembered how loudly he had boasted.

“I thought you said Nigeria was going to be a world power?” they asked, giggling and nudging one another. “So, Onye, what happened?”

A lot happened.

Within six years of his emotional speech, Mr Balewa was assassinated in a coup.

About a year later, Nigeria plunged into a civil war after member of the Igbo ethnic group tried to secede and form the breakaway state of Biafra in the south-east.

Three years of war eventually ended and three decades of coups and dictatorships followed.

Human rights abuses and pillaging of the nation’s vast resources by those in power carried on with little restraint.

Nigeria finally found her way back on to her feet with the return to democracy in 1999.

The giant of Africa leaped several steps forward in March 2015 when the government of Goodluck Jonathan was voted out, the will of the people prevailing, for the first time, over the power of an incumbent.

That historic election of President Muhammadu Buhari led many Nigerians to be as optimistic as Mr Kamanu was in 1960 about the country’s future.

But barely two years later, some of the forces that derailed Nigeria then are once again flashing their sharp talons.

Particularly alarming are the ethnic agitations sounding from almost all parts of the country, especially from the south-east where clashes between the military and the separatist group, the Independent Peoples of Biafra (Ipob), have led to the loss of life and property.

In the media and in daily conversation, Nigerians continue to express their fears about how much more ferocious the crisis could become if not handled with immense care.

This is one déjà vu that Nigeria cannot afford. The giant of Africa has marched too far to be suddenly crippled by the same old mistakes.

As my country celebrates her 57th year of independence, my prayer is that the Nigerian government will handle these agitations with compassion and great wisdom.

Surely none of us wants to look back at this era of hope and struggle to answer the question: “What happened?”

 

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Op-Ed

Op-ed: THE 1967 NIGERIA-BIAFRA WAR EXODUS, by Nnedinso Ogaziechi

Some Igbos betrayed their kinsmen for filthy lucre – the notorious saboteurs who always ended badly despite their acquisitions, some accused others of greed, but yet, those who sang for him and encouraged him were not necessarily from the East

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Nigerian-Biafra-war

“ Joe de abukide takikwojawa” he sang and danced in all his elegance. He was the tallest man I saw growing up; he was the first ‘journalist’ I met and ‘interviewed’. He was in love with current affairs; he was up to date with the news. He was a good storyteller. He was an entertainer, and more than two decades after his death; he is widely quoted around his community. He was well admired; he was the quintessential man of integrity that was as compassionate as he was firm. He was my father….

The Igbos-the exodus

The opening sentence here is in the local language of his host community, he sang it often and danced in that his elegant form, he belonged to different village dance groups like the Ogene group, a group whose music was almost elitist at the time, they only sang at notable and remarkable ceremonies and at funerals of important chiefs and kings.

So growing up, he always sang this particular song and danced at times he felt depressed. Of course, we had that father/daughter bond, so I asked him the meaning …then he tells me;

 “I’m still the same Joseph that I was before the war” He smiled and sat down. 

 “That song, Nne nwa m, was sang by the men and women I lived with in the North before the war. They sought me out after the war and and they all came here to visit and sang that song and danced. They were happy I survived and I’m still the old Joseph they knew” The song means, Joseph is still the Joseph that we knew before the war. What they did not know was that the song they sang was an elixir for a former wealthy man who the war stripped naked materially, but he was happy to have survived with his family and some dependants , but many did not…

Biafran Girls at the battlefront
Biafran Girls at the battlefront

He had businesses and houses in the North, at the beginning of the war, he was scared for his family, apprentices and the larger Igbo community. He was an ardent BBC fan and so followed the pre-war news about the coups and countercoups and the attendant pogrom in the North. He called the Igbo community to urge them to get ready to leave because he was following the news and knew they were not going to be safe. His hosts at the time gave him assurances that they would protect him but he wondered, what of my people, what of those who depended on me for survival? He made arrangements to take as many people as he could back home amidst protests from his amiable hosts.

“I have investments here, I have houses, I have many debtors so I will always come back after the war. I have lived here since adulthood, most of my investments are here and not in my ancestral home. I will surely return but let me secure as many lives as I can first,” He told them.

Nigerian-Biara-civil war
Nigerian-Biara-civil war

The prognosis of events he was hearing on radio was not heartwarming. He was particularly disturbed by the radio speeches of an Emeka Ojukwu, the son of his business partner at the time, Sir Louis Ojukwu. For my father, it was an emotional but a survivalist decision to head East before danger enveloped him and the people he cared about.

So in August 1967, he hired a big truck to take as many people as it could accommodate home. So when Joe, as he was addressed made the trip out, the other nay-sayers knew that really, danger loomed…he continued to make arrangements for those willing to get back home…many left on his prompting.

But even the home was soon invaded…one of his houses demolished and his vintage Stone House building turned into Nigeria Soldiers Senior Officers House…it was stripped bare of all furniture and ornaments acquired over the years.

So he told me the war was a cocktail of humanity and the individual idiosyncrasies, he saw love, kindness, compassion, wickedness, sadism, narcissism and all sorts…In war and peace, humanity thrives, he told stories of resilience, of perseverance, gratitude and friendship across Nigeria.

Some Igbos betrayed their kinsmen for filthy lucre – the notorious saboteurs who always ended badly despite their acquisitions, some accused others of greed, but yet, those who sang for him and encouraged him were not necessarily from the East. They were Northerners who took him in as family. The contradictions of a nation caught in the throes of political intrigues across ethnic and religious lines and the grass that suffer when many, not two elephants fight…

The story of Nigeria-Biafra war is as diverse, intriguing, heart wrenching and devastating as every war story…but the essence of history is to look back and learn from mistakes of the past…we must document our tiny pieces for humanity…

 In memory of all the dead, the maimed and the dispossessed, we must raise our voices. In Igbo language, there are names like Ozoemena – let evil not be repeated, Agha Egbune – let war not consume, Osondu – the race for life etc. All these are snippets of oral and enduring history we must document and preserve.

The war has been described as a rain that fell on all roofs, we would all contribute our stories for prosperity…

 The coming days will have other stories…🙏🏼

 Pic: Google.

 ©Nnedinso

 May 27th, 2020.

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Op-ed. Biden Can Beat Trump … if He Doesn’t Blow It, by Charles Blow.

This is not the first time Biden has lied about his relationship to the black community. He has repeatedly lied over the years about marching in the civil rights movement, even though advisers warned him to stop it. And, he repeatedly said that he was arrested in South Africa trying to see imprisoned anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

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Biden-Trump

Biden Joe being stuck at home during an election year may turn out to be a good thing.

As the United States’ death toll raced toward 100,000, Donald Trump went golfing.

The number of deaths never had to reach such a staggering figure — and it will surely climb far beyond it — but it did because in the early days, Trump made excuses for the Chinese response, dragged his feet on an American response, and repeatedly made statements that defied truth and science.

Joe biden and trum
Joe being stuck at home during an election year may turn out to be a good thing.

Trump put politics, his own political fortunes, over the lives of the American people, and the result has been catastrophic.

As CNN has reported, researchers at Columbia University created a model gauging transmission rates from March 15 to May 3, and found that if the United States had started social distancing just two weeks earlier, it could have prevented 84 percent of deaths and 82 percent of cases.

But Trump had spent the previous week downplaying the severity of the virus and blaming growing coverage of it and alarm over it on the media.

On March 10, when there were 959 confirmed cases and 28 deaths, Trump said to reporters after a meeting with Republican senators: “We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

The very next day the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic, but it wasn’t until March 13 that Trump declared the virus a national emergency, and it wasn’t until March 16 that he announced social distancing guidelines.

But, that may well have been too late. The virus wasn’t aware of the politics of the moment. The virus wasn’t aware that he had been lying and deflecting. The virus wasn’t aware that it should wait until the American president was cowed into correct action. It was doing what viruses do: It was spreading and it was killing.

Trump dragged his feet, trying to con his way through a pandemic, to rewrite reality, to pacify the public until the virus passed, and that has led to untold numbers of people dead who never had to die.

There is not only blood on Trump’s hands, he is drenched in it like the penultimate scene from the movie “Carrie.”

No amount of deflecting blame to China or Obama or the governors can change this. No amount of playing to people’s impatience about reopening and optimistic desires that the worst is behind us can change this.

In America, this is Donald Trump’s plague, and he is yoked with that going into the election in November.

Joe Biden needs to do little, despite what many pundits may think. He doesn’t need a daily presence in the news. He doesn’t need to “own the internet.” He doesn’t need large rallies or even that much sizzle.

In fact, his being stuck in his house and giving limited interviews from his basement may be the best thing to ever happen to his campaign.

Biden is a well-known gaffe machine. Every time he speaks, there is the very real chance that he will do more damage than good. America doesn’t need that. We just need a person to replace Trump who is, for one thing, not so cavalier about deaths connected to his poor response or poor policy — whether they be hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, children separated from their parents at the border or victims of a virus.

But, Biden continues to commit unforced error, like the hubbub he created and later apologized for when he said at the end of an interview with The Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne tha God: “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

It was so cavalier and comfortable that it was shocking. Biden doesn’t get to define blackness nor excommunicate anyone from it.

But that wasn’t the only problem in the interview. He said just seconds after that statement that “The NAACP has endorsed me every time I’ve run.” That never happened, and the NAACP had to release a statement to clarify that it “is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates for political office.”

This is not the first time Biden has lied about his relationship to the black community. He has repeatedly lied over the years about marching in the civil rights movement, even though advisers warned him to stop it. And, he repeatedly said that he was arrested in South Africa trying to see imprisoned anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

None of this ever happened. What gives? None of this is necessary. Compared to Trump’s avalanche of lies, these may seem small, but for black voters, particularly younger, more leery ones, they are baffling and off-putting.

Black voters rescued the Biden campaign and likely delivered him the nomination. These kinds of Breakfast Club flubs have the potential to dampen enthusiasm among “the one that brung you,” as we say in the South.

Biden has a good chance to beat Trump in the wake of his disastrous pandemic response, if Biden doesn’t blow it.

Charles Blow joined The Times in 1994 and became an Opinion columnist in 2008. He is also a television commentator and writes often about politics, social justice and vulnerable communities.  @CharlesMBlow 

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op-ed. It’s not obesity, it’s slavery-Sabrina Strings

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Black People

About five years ago, I was invited to sit in on a meeting about health in the African-American community. Several important figures in the fields of public health and economics were present. A freshly minted Ph.D., I felt strangely like an interloper. I was also the only black person in the room.

One of the facilitators introduced me to the other participants and said something to the effect of “Sabrina, what do you think? Why are black people sick?”

It was a question asked in earnest. Some of the experts had devoted their entire careers to addressing questions surrounding racial health inequities. Years of research, and in some instances failed interventions, had left them baffled. Why are black people so sick?

My answer was swift and unequivocal.

“Slavery.”

My colleagues looked befuddled as they tried to come to terms with my reply.

I meant what I said: The era of slavery was when white Americans determined that black Americans needed only the bare necessities, not enough to keep them optimally safe and healthy. It set in motion black people’s diminished access to healthy foods, safe working conditions, medical treatment and a host of other social inequities that negatively impact health.

it is not obesity
The era of slavery was when white Americans determined that black Americans needed only the bare necessities, not enough to keep them optimally safe and healthy. It set in motion black people’s diminished access to healthy foods,

This message is particularly important in a moment when African-Americans have experienced the highest rates of severe complications and death from the coronavirus and “obesity” has surfaced as an explanation. The cultural narrative that black people’s weight is a harbinger of disease and death has long served as a dangerous distraction from the real sources of inequality, and it’s happening again.

Reliable data are hard to come by, but available analyses show that on average, the rate of black fatalities is 2.4 times that of whites with Covid-19. In states including Michigan, Kansas and Wisconsin and in Washington, D.C., that ratio jumps to five to seven black people dying of Covid-19 complications for every one white death.

Despite the lack of clarity surrounding these findings, one interpretation of these disparities that has gained traction is the idea that black people are unduly obese (currently defined as a body mass index greater than 30) which is seen as a driver of other chronic illnesses and is believed to put black people at high risk for serious complications from Covid-19.

These claims have received intense media attention, despite the fact that scientists haven’t been able to sufficiently explain the link between obesity and Covid-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42.2 percent of white Americans and 49.6 percent of African-Americans are obese. Researchers have yet to clarify how a 7 percentage-point disparity in obesity prevalence translates to a 240 percent-700 percent disparity in fatalities.

Experts have raised questions about the rush to implicate obesity, and especially “severe obesity” (B.M.I. greater than 40), as a factor in coronavirus complications. An article in the medical journal The Lancet evaluated Britain’s inclusion of obesity as a risk factor for coronavirus complications and retorted, “To date, no available data show adverse Covid-19 outcomes specifically in people with a BMI of 40 kg/m2.” The authors concluded, “The scarcity of information regarding the increased risk of illness for people with a BMI higher than 40 kg/m2 has led to ambiguity and might increase anxiety, given that these individuals have now been categorised as vulnerable to severe illness if they contract Covid-19.”

Promoting strained associations between race, body size, and complications from this little-understood disease has served to reinforce an image of black people as wholly swept up in sensuous pleasures like eating and drinking, which supposedly makes our unruly bodies repositories of preventable weight-related illnesses. The attitudes I see today have echoes of what I described in “Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.” My research showed that anti-fat attitudes originated not with medical findings, but with Enlightenment-era belief that overfeeding and fatness were evidence of “savagery” and racial inferiority.

Today, the stakes of these discussions could not be higher. When I learned about guidelines suggesting that doctors may use existing health conditions, including obesity, to deny or limit eligibility to lifesaving coronavirus treatments, I couldn’t help thinking of the slavery-era debates I’ve studied about whether or not so-called “constitutionally weak” African-Americans should receive medical care.

Fortunately, since that event I attended five years ago, experts focused on the health of African-Americans have continued to work to direct the nation’s attention away from individual-level factors.

The New York Times’ 1619 Project featured essays detailing how the legacy of slavery impacted health and health care for African-Americans and explaining how, since the since the era of slavery, black people’s bodies have been labeled congenitally diseased and undeserving of access to lifesaving treatments.

In a recent essay addressing Covid-19 specifically, Rashawn Ray underscored the legacy of redlining that pushed black people into poor, densely populated communities often with limited access to health care. And he pointed out that black people are overrepresented in service positions and as essential workers who have greater exposure than those with the luxury of sheltering in place. Ibram X. Kendi has written that the “irresponsible behavior of disproportionately poor people of color” — often cited as an important factor in health disparities — is a scapegoat directing American’s attention from the centrality of systemic racism in current racial health inequities.

Evaluating the inadequate and questionable data about race, weight and Covid-19 complications with these insights in mind makes it clear that obesity — and its affiliated, if incorrect implication of poor lifestyle choices — should not be front and center when it comes to understanding how this pandemic has affected African-Americans. Even before Covid-19, black Americans had higher rates of multiple chronic illnesses and a lower life expectancy than white Americans, regardless of weight. This is an indication that our social structures are failing us. These failings — and the accompanying embrace of the belief that black bodies are uniquely flawed — are rooted in a shameful era of American history that took place hundreds of years before this pandemic.

Sabrina Strings is an associate professor of sociology at the University of California at Irvine and the author of Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.

Sabrina Strings is an associate professor of sociology at the University of California at Irvine and the author of Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.

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Op-Ed: State-Backed Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen And Shuwa Arabs Now Occupy 350 Igbo Communities And Villages-Intersociety.

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Herdsmen problem in Nigeria

Special Report: 27th May 2020
Intersociety, Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria
 
There are not less than 350 Igbo communities, villages and other locations now invaded and permanently occupied by the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and ‘imported’ Shuwa Arabs, also called ‘Cowmen’ in Arabic. The number of Igbo communities forcibly occupied by the Jihadists has recorded exponential increase from about 139 in August 2019 to alarming 350 in May 2020. The jihadist occupation is vicariously, if not directly aided by the Government of Nigeria and its security agencies especially the Army and the Police. By the combined accounts of the Association of the Eastern Town Unions, the Alaigbo Dev Foundation and the Eastern Outlook Newspaper, “as at August 2019, 139 Igbo communities, villages and locations have been occupied by Fulani Herdsmen, out of which Enugu State has the highest number with 56, followed by Anambra with 24, Imo 17, Ebonyi 12 and Abia seven. In Igbo areas of Delta and Rivers, there are 15 in Delta and nine in Rivers”.
 
But in our recent detailed review and update, the number has exponentially increased from 139 in August 2019 to not less than 350 in May 2020, out of which 318 were factually located and presented below while 38 others were added as ‘dark figures’ or “factually existing but not captured figures”. The ’32 added dark figures’ are likely to be found in Imo and Ebonyi States, with a fraction in Enugu State. The breakdown of the current figure of 350 invaded and occupied Igbo Communities show that Enugu State has the largest number with 72 communities, followed by Anambra with 70, Imo 61,  Abia 43, Ebonyi 36, Igbo Delta 21 and Igbo Rivers 15; totaling 318 and 350 when added with a ‘dark figure’ of 32.
 
The geographical and geopolitical implication of this is that the Jihadist Herdsmen have roughly invaded and violently occupied two States in Igbo Land. This is on account of the fact that Enugu and Anambra State have total of 368 autonomous communities; with 187 in Enugu and 181 in Anambra, as against 350 of them already occupied by the Jihadist Herdsmen. In grand summary, while most of these 350 Igbo communities, villages and other locations have been invaded and violently occupied, some are already under attacks or on a verge of invasion and violent occupation.
 
The Research Did Not Include Northern “Economic Refugees” In Igbo Land
Granted that there presently are hundreds of thousands of “economic refugees” of Northern extraction now flooding the cities and towns in Igbo Land; some of them surviving victims of Boko Haram/ISWAP, Ansaru, ‘Zamfara/Birnin Gwari’ Bandits and Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen anti Christian butcheries in the north; but they are strictly not included in our research categorization of invading “Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and Shuwa Arabs”. In other words, those engaged in meaningful means of livelihood in Igbo cities and towns are not included; even though some, if not many of them are potential security threats to Igbo Land and her indigenous natives and their properties.
 
Appreciation
We must thank in special way Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD (Awka North & South), Odikpo Mmadubueze (Anambra East & West and Ayamelum), Mr. Oselloka Obaze (Ogbaru), Eric Eyituche (ADF, Enugu), Emeka Obi, PhD (Chukwuemeka-Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam),Comrade Paschal Oziri (Imo), Comrade Samuel Kamanyaoku (Abia & Ebonyi), Hon Abia Onyike (former Commissioner for Information in Ebonyi), Ndidi Ndudi (Asaba), Kenneth Odenigbo (Ezeagu, Enugu), Ifeanyi Uzoma (Orlu, Imo) and Samuel Okoro (Uzo Uwani, Enugu). Their contributions and assistance in the course of our field data collection and authentication are remarkable and commendable.
 
 
Purposes Of This Research Report
Following serious concerns especially the fear of imminent jihad recently expressed by the general Igbo population of ‘home and abroad’; on account of organized movement or flooding of mostly uneducated and radicalized young Islamists (dubbed Alamajirai) to different parts of old Eastern Nigeria mainly Igbo Land using the cover of ‘COVID-19’; we have deemed it necessary to set the record straight to the effect that: though the general fears and their ascribed intents are well understood, but the current worrying situation did not start with the said ‘COVID-19’ movement of Alamajirai. It started way back in 2016 with the full knowledge and conspiracy of the Igbo Govs and community (traditional rulers and town unions’ presidents) and church leaders.
 
Not setting the record straight at this point in time would expressly mean creating escape routes for the Govs and community leaders. Another purpose of this research work is to intellectualize the consciousness of the general Igbo population to the effect that such violent invasion and occupation are not ordinary. They are done with clear jihadist intents and defy all geographical and geopolitical excuses. It is also one of the purposes of this research work to expose the conspiracy of the Igbo Govs and community leaders and the hypocrisy of the today’s church leaders (today’s ‘faith profiteers’) in Igbo Land. This work is further intended to alert the ‘attentive’ Igbo public (policy makers, political actors and the educated class) and the ‘un-attentive’ Igbo public or larger population to be on extreme alert, as the old saying goes “Hausa abatago Awka”. Setting the record straight in this respect will further make the general Igbo population to be in the know of those who have abominably compromised to sell the Igbo Nation out to jihadist enemies.
 
Finally, the research work is a clarion call on those in charge of Nigeria’s Presidency and security establishments to immediately retrace their steps from their steady match toward breeding of ‘war of anybody against anybody’ or religious war and throw in towel if they are tired of piloting the affairs of the country. From the way things are speedily unfolding, the country is likely to be thrown into the Rwandan style genocide and other forms of mass bloodletting. We demand and insist that the country be strictly governed with full forms and characteristics of modern limited government where citizens must enjoy their inalienable liberties and be allowed and protected by the State to freely and constitutionally practice religion of their choice outside the confines of state aided jihadism.
 
Renewed Jihadism Is Sweeping Across Christian West, East, Central & Southern Africa
As never recorded in recent times, Islamic Jihadism is now ravaging the Christian West, East, Central and Southern Africa. It looks like a regional project with powerful sponsorship and state protection where jihadist elements are in charge of political and military powers. Today in Congo DRC, a country with largest Catholics in Africa, there is ongoing jihad. In Central African Republic, a country with dominant Christian population, jihadists are substantially in charge. Similar situations are found in Burkina Faso, Angola, Mozambique, Congo Republic and Togo; to mention but a few. Like in Libya in 1969 and Sudan in 1989, the jihadists are penetrating and gaining grounds, aiming at capturing state power and changing the socio-legal secular status quo to brutal Sultanate and Shariah regimes.
 
Unmasking The Fulani Herdsmen
The militant Fulani Herdsmen are the armed terrorist and Islamic jihadist department of Fulani Herdsmen in Nigeria, the country’s primitive cattle herders. They were created and funded and are still funded by some extremist Northern politicians and security chiefs and made more devastating and jihadist in 2010. The formation and funding of the now world’s fourth deadliest terrorist group were achieved using the draconian and age-long Fulani rural cattle grazing networks in Nigeria. The jihadist branch of the Fulani Herdsmen in Nigeria is also strongly believed to have been joined by ‘imported’ jihadists made up of ‘Shuwa Arabs’ or ‘Cowmen’ from Chad and Sudan, etc.
 
The Fulani jihadist group is likened to ‘Sudanese Janjaweed’ and different from ‘machete and dagger-armed’ wandering cattle herders or the ‘Fulani Herdsmen’. The age-long grazing networks of the Herdsmen, spanning the country’s rainforest regions of Southeast, South-south, Southwest and North-central including Christian parts of Northwest and Northeast, will in the nearest future, if not months away, serve as area intelligence and grounds for full scale jihadist attacks or violence in old Eastern Nigeria and other Christian settlements in the Southwest, FCT, etc.
Under these, too, the country’s four main Jihadist groups: militant Herdsmen, Boko Haram, ISWAP and Ansaru; and even embryonic “Zamfara/Birnin Gwari” Terror Bandits with state cover and protection can successfully launch jihadist attacks anywhere in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, the Fulani Herdsmen in the country are today serving as ‘rain forest intelligence suppliers’ to the four main jihadist groups. It must also be remembered that the movement for formation of jihadist department within the ranks of the country’s primitive cattle herders or ‘Fulani Herdsmen’ was dated back to 2001, two years after Nigeria returned to civil rule in 1999.
 
Difference Between Fulani Jihadists & Herdsmen
The major difference between the Fulani Herdsmen and their jihadist component strictly lies on their modus operandi and the role of the state actors. The original Fulani Herdsmen operated and still majorly operate with machetes and daggers used in cutting foliages and clearing bush paths for their cattle and guarding their cattle against malicious attacks especially from their rival farmers and cattle rustlers. They also engaged in seasonal grazing usually during dry seasons and hardly settle or live in their host communities. The Fulani Herdsmen are well known serial wanderers (Fulani Daji) and different from sedentary Fulanis or ‘Fulani Ngida’. The clashes between Fulani Herdsmen and farmers before now were usually rag tag and seasonal; with zero state actor involvement except in settling disputes between them and their host farmers or other rivals.   
 
However, the malicious state actor regimentation, militarization and radicalization of militant segment of the Fulani Herdsmen or formation of their jihadist department in Nigeria started rearing their ugly heads from the year 2001, with Jos area of Plateau State as one of their earliest crime scenes. They were among those fingered as malicious actors in the orgy of sectarian violence that ravaged Plateau State in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2008. They moved closer to full jihadism in 2010 and got fully transformed with state backing, cover and protection in mid 2015, following the emergence of Mr. Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s sixth President. It was also from that period that southward movement of Fulani Herdsmen increased with rapid speed to the extent of the Herders becoming ‘sedentary in foreign land’, strictly for purpose of supplying area intelligence and grounds for their jihadist brothers.
 
Aided by forests’ mapping exercise reportedly carried out by the Nigerian Army in 2015, it has become much easier for the jihadist Herdsmen to infiltrate and occupy (using night movements) the marked Southern bushes and forests including those located in Southeast and South-south. These they now do with alarming speed with backing from malicious members of the country’s security forces. Since then, they have become ‘untouchable’ and vicariously, if not directly aided by the state to invade, confiscate, loot, plunder and takeover any land(s) or property(ies); and abduct, torture and kill any person or group of persons or rape and sexually abused (including forced pregnancies for jihadist intents) any woman or group of women of sexually active age bracket. It must be recalled that the Nigerian Army had reportedly carried out forests’ mapping throughout Nigeria in 2015, originally for purpose of ‘effective counterinsurgency operations’. Critics say the exercise was later found to be reportedly done for religiously malicious motives.
 
Nigeria’s Fulani Herdsmen presently operate under the three major umbrellas of ‘the Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria-MACBAN’, ‘the Miyatti Allah Koutal Hore Association of Nigeria’ and ‘the Fulani Nationality Movement-FUNAM’; all federally registered organizations in Nigeria. ‘MACBAN’, for instance, was registered on 12th Feb 1986, while ‘Fulani Koutal Hore’ got registered around 2010. The jihadist intents of the Fulani Herdsmen took another dimension in 2018 when they announced the renaming in Fulfulde and Arabic and formal occupation of indigenous communities and villages violently attacked and seized from Christian dominated populations in Plateau State mostly between 2010 and 2015; with eight others earlier seized in 2001. In the Vanguard Newspaper report of 30th June 2018, no fewer than 54 communities mostly belonging to Berom Tribe were renamed. Also renamed were eight communities in the State attacked and seized between September 7 and 10, 2001. In Southern Kaduna (32 villages lost between 2016 and May 2020), Plateau and Benue States, no fewer than 300 Christian communities and villages have been devastatingly attacked and razed by the Fulani Jihadists.
 
 
 
State Aided Movement Of Fulani Jihadists To Old Eastern Nigeria
The movement of Fulani Jihadists commenced in 2016, but reached its peak between 2017 and 2019. The movement had involved: non state actor ‘move in and settle or occupy’ and state actor ‘security forces aided yearly movement’, facilitated through the Nigerian military’s annual regional exercises, usually held between Sept and Oct-Dec. The exercises, which first commenced in 2016, were initially code named: ‘Python Dance’ for Southeast and ‘Crocodile Smile’ for South-south; and later renamed in 2019 as ‘Atiliogwu Udo’ for Southeast. Through the combination of the reported Nigerian Army forests’ mapping of 2015, state security forces aided movement of the jihadists and the existing Fulani grazing routes and networks throughout the country’s rainforest regions, not less than 350 communities, villages and other locations in Igbo Land have been invaded and violently occupied by the Fulani jihadists as at May 2020.
 
Vicarious Involvement Of The Nigerian Government & Its Security Agencies
First is the fact that Igbo Land has the least land allocation in Nigeria with 29,525km2 and estimated 20,000 others for her outpost population; as against a Northern State of Niger that has 76,363km2; roughly three times more than that of the entire five States of the Southeast. So land issue is out of it. Second is the fact that the Buhari Presidency had in the same 2016 when the movement for jihad in old Eastern Nigeria started, requested to govern Nigeria with ‘emergency powers’; thereby tending to castrate the Constitution including its Human Rights Chapter. Since then, the 1999 Constitution has been applied in such mode alongside the country’s various treaty laws. Third is that the Nigerian Army had in same 2016 announced the introduction of ‘Army Ranching’ throughout the country’s military formations. This was how Fulani Herdsmen seemingly became a branch of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies.
 
Fourth was the establishment by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2017, 2018 and 2019 of ‘RUGA’ or ‘Rural Fulani Settlement’ and the ‘National Livestock Transformation Plan’; a grand disguise to forcibly facilitate the movement of the Jihadists who hide under ‘cattle herders’ to force themselves into indigenous populations and violent takeover of their farmlands and forests throughout Nigeria. Sixth is the grossly lopsided composition of the country’s top security positions at Federal, regional and state levels. These are to the extent that as at Sept 2019, 18 of the country’s 22 security, policing & justice positions were occupied by Muslims; out of 26 top military commanders manning strategic formations in the Southeast, 18 were Muslims; out of six senior police commanders in the Southeast, four were Muslims and out of five State directors of SSS in the Southeast four were Muslims.
 
In the South-south, out of 22 senior military commanders manning key military formations in the region, 14 were Muslims; out of its eight senior police commanders, five were Muslims; and out of its six State directors of SSS, four were Muslims. It was so bad that wherever there was new Fulani Herdsmen settlement in any part of Igbo Land during the Military Python Dance/Atiliogwu Udo, there must be established a new military or MOPOL roadblock near such settlement. A typical example took place in 2017 in Umu-Ura Forest (in Ogwe Community) Ukwa West LGA of Abia State where an Army roadblock was created by the corner of the thick forest hosting a new Fulani settlement.
 
Conspiracy Of The Igbo Govs & Community Leaders
It must be clearly understood that violent invasion and occupation of not less than 350 Igbo communities, villages and other locations by Jihadist Herdsmen has the trio of state and security backing and conspiracy of Igbo Govs and most of the community leaders. Community leaders include traditional rulers and presidents general of the town unions and the Government appointed or selected chairmen of various local government areas. The Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen movement Southward is also heavily funded clandestinely. Such conspiratorial involvements of the Govs, community leaders and council chairmen include ‘conspiracy of silence’,  inaction, cover-up, ‘donation’ of lands or procurement of same through moles or compromised third parties, receiving criminal cash sums from leaders of the Jihadists or collection of monthly royalties, and exhibition of fears and cowardice, among others.  As a matter of fact, the Igbo Govs saw all these coming but covered same up so as to ‘retain’ and ‘finish their office tenures’.
 
 
 
There are only few instances in Igbo Land where community leaders including traditional rulers and presidents general resisted and still resist them. These few communities include Arondizogu in Ideato South LGA (ikpa-ocha debacle), Issele-Ukwu in Aniocha North LGA (Delta) and Umuchu in Aguata LGA. In Issele-Ukwu, a mole was hired to procure and ‘donate’ a parcel of land for “private Hausa Market” but the Community stood its ground in the contrary.  In Umuchu, a group of violent Fulani Herdsmen, accompanied by an Army officer, were caught recently negotiating a forest path in the Community in a bid to settle in same. The police authorities in the areas were alerted and on interrogation, they claimed to have come from ‘Abia’ and after a phone call with the Abia State Police Command, they were ordered to be returned to Abia State while the Army officer was picked and taken to Anambra State Police Command headquarters, Awka for further investigation.
 
In Umuzu, Ogbaru LGA of Anambra State, a sum of N200, 000 was recently paid to Fulani Herdsmen for ‘their two missing cows’. In Umunnachi, Dunukofia LGA of Anambra State, a highly placed citizen and personality of international repute recently told Intersociety that the Fulani Herdsmen have just invaded and settled at the top of a hill from where they monitor local maidens and young married women farming in the farms for possible abduction and sexual violence including rape and forced pregnancies. It was also found that some times, the natives and leaders of concerned Igbo communities are taken unawares by the Jihadists, only to wake up one morning to discover that their distant farmlands and forests have been taken over by the Jihadist Herdsmen. News of their occupation only breaks out when some of their natives are reported missing, or abducted, or raped, or killed.
 
In furtherance of their sexual violence, the Jihadist Herdsmen use three malicious methods: enticement with cash sums where necessary and false promises where necessary; use of charms where necessary and use of violence where necessary. Once succeeded in forcing their victims to be pregnant, they will insist on ‘inheriting both the forcibly impregnated local maidens or young married women and their pregnancies or children. A number of these young girls and married women are strongly believed to have fallen victim to them in Awka (Agu Awka), Ayamelum, Uzo Uwani, Ezeagu and some parts of Ebonyi State; and when rarely complained to Christian or community leaders or Government actors, they would be told to retire to their fate so as to ‘to avoid being hacked to death or have their families or villages wiped out’.  Many, if not most of the church leaders in Igbo Land, on their part, have also become more of ‘faith profiteers’ than ‘defenders of faith’. They are busy chasing after money while the House of Jesus crumbles under their watch.
 
Names Of Occupied 350 Igbo Communities And Villages
Enugu: 72 Locations: Ibite Ogbaku, Akpugo, Achi, Inyi, Nachi, Ukpabi-Nimbo, Ukpata, Akegbe-Ugwu, Ugwuoba, Eka Aku, Igbo-Etiti, Amagunze, Amaechi Idodo, Ugwu-Onyeama, Egede, Adada, Nkpologwu, Afa, Uvuru, Ugwu Aboh, Waziri Estate-Nsukka, Enugu-Ezike, Neke-Uno, Akpogasi, Ugwuogo, Ekpebe, Madonna University Layout, Ihuokpa-3-Corner, Akwuke, Industrial Layout-Emene, Unity Layout, Ibagwa-Nike City Layout-Amokwe, Heritage Layout-Oyoho-Nike, Odo Rice-Emene, New Zion State Layout-Ugwu Onyeama, Phase 11, Independence Layout, 4-Corner (Enugu), Redemption Layout (Enugu), Amokpo, Ugbaka-Nkanu, Aninri, Umuabi (near FRSC Regional Training Headquarters in Udi), Awgu, Nenwe (in Aninri LGA) and Amiri Village in Nkanu West LGA. Others are: Eziani (Nsukka LGA), Ugwuogo-Nike, Oyoho Village (Nike), Ngwo, Ibeagwa Community (Enugu East LGA), Amaoji (Enugu East LGA), Okutu (Enugu North) and Akwegbe-Agu (in Igbo-Etiti LGA); Imezi-Owa, Umuna-Ndiagu, Umuna-Ndiuno, Oha-Ndiagu, Okpogho-Mgbata, Amankwo-Ndiagu, Amansiodo-Ihuonyia and Owa Communities; all in Ezeagu Local Government Areas; and Adani, Igga, Urobo, Ugbene-Ajima, Nkpunator-Nkpologwu, Umulokpa, Adaba, Opanda, Ojor and Asaba in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Areas.
 
Anambra: 70 Locations: Nteje, Ogbunka, Ndiukwuenu-Obaeze (location of Mamu River Forest), Amaetiti, Ufuma, Ezira, Umunze, Ozubulu, Oba, Umuchukwu, Akpu, Ndikeilionwu, Ogboji, Ndiowu, Mmiata-Anam, Achala, Ebenebe, Ogbunike, Ihitte (Orumba South), Umunnachi (hilltop), Okija, Ihiala, Dunukofia, Agulu, Neni, Ogbu, Awkuzu and 3-3 Area of Nsugbe. They have also violently settled in Atani, Akiri-Ogidi, Akiri-Ozizor, Aminyi, Mputu, Obeagwe, Ohita, Ogbakuba, Umuodu, Ossamala, Ogwu-Aniocha, Umunankwo, Umuzu and Ogwuikpere; all in Ogbaru LGA (using Odekpe/Atani/Oba/Ozubulu Forest Swamp as their main base).
It is strongly suspected too that the Herdsmen have infiltrated and settled in Ukpo, Lilu, Akwa Ihedi and Unubi (in Nnewi South LGA); all owing to their difficult terrains or topographies. Other Anambra Communities involved are Amanuke, Ugbene, Ugbenu, Amansii, Urum, Ukwuru, Isu Aniocha and Mgbakwu, all in Awka North LGA; and Umuawuru, Awka, Isiagu, Ntoko, Ndikpa and Nibo in Awka South LGA. In Anambra East LGA, they have infiltrated and settled in Aguleri, Nando, Nsugbe and Igbariam and in Aghamelum (Ayamelum) LGA, they forcibly settle in the whole eight communities of Anaku, Omor, Umueje, Omasi, Igbakwu, Umumbo, Umuerum and Ifite-Ogwari.
 
Imo: 61 Locations: Onuimo, Ehime and Isiala Mbano, Ndegwu and Orogwe in Owerri West, Ogbaku in Mbaitoli LGA, Amakaohia-Ubi and Obokofia (Owerri West LGA), Obudi-Agwa Community (Ohaji/Egbema LGA), Okohia Village of Umuduruodu-Okwelle (Onuimo LGA), Ejemekwuru, Eziorsu, Izombe and Agwa Communities (Oguta LGA), Nkwerre, Eziama, Obaire, Amaigbo and Umozu in Nkwerre and Nwangele Local Government Areas, Oru (Ahiazu Mbaise), Ikpa-Ocha (Arondizogu-Ideato South LGA) and Agbala Community (Owerri North LGA), Umuekune-Irete Community (Owerri West LGA), Umuchima, Ugwuaku-Ezinnachi and Umuowa-Ibu (Okigwe LGA), Umuoma (Ihitte Uboma LGA), Naze Cluster (Nekede) and Nekede Old Road Forest.
 
They also include: Osina, Obinze (near Military Barracks); Umundugba, Nkume and Abba Communities in Orlu Local Government Areas; Mbieri and Ubomiri in Mbaitolu LGA; and Agbabo Village in Umulolo and Mechanic Village; all in Okigwe Local Government Area; Uratta (Owerri North), Emeabiam and Amakohia-Ubi in Owerri West,  Umuanyim Village (Onumiri) in Ngor-Okpala LGA, Achicha Community in Ngor-Okpala LGA, Olokwu na Umusu Village in Owerri West, Umunakara Village in Ngor-Okpala LGA and Ngwuru Village in Ngor-Okpala LGA.  
 
Also out of the 24 Communities in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area, over half of them or at least fifteen are now occupied by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen. They are Umuagwo, Oloshi, Umunkwaku, Umapu, Obile, Obitti, Opuoma, Mgbirichi/Abakuru, Assa, Awara, Ikwerede, Umuokanne, Obiakpu, Oroba, Obosima, Abackeke, Abaezi, Ekugba, Obeakpu, Obiakpu, Mgbara, Umuoji and Mmahu-Opuoma. The Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen violent settlement in the area follows high presence of military and police roadblocks mounted because of crude oil exploration; to the extent that from Obinze/Umuagwo to Elele in Rivers State, there are no fewer than 44 roadblocks including at least ten military (Army and Navy) roadblocks. The route to Port Harcourt is a journey of not more than one hour under normal circumstances.
 
Abia: 43 Locations: Leeru, Ohambele-Ndoki (Ukwa East), Nkpa, Ohafia, Bende, Ubakala and Owerre-Nta, Obohia-Ndoki (Ukwa East LGA), Aru Umuonyeukwu in Aru-Ngwa (Osisoma LGA), Umuora/Umuchichi (Osisioma LGA), Owaza Village (Ukwa West LGA), Ebem/Okagwa Ohafia (Ohafia LGA), Ihechiowa (Arochukwu LGA), Ututu Village-Arochukwu (Arochukwu LGA), Lokpanta (Isuochi LGA), Eberi Omuma (Abia State), Umuenye Village (Isiala Ngwa LGA),  Ama Oji, Isiokporo (Isiala Ngwa LGA), Abiriba-Uzo (Ohafia LGA), Igbere (Bende LGA), Ugwueke (Bende LGA), Abam (Bende LGA), Alayi (Bende LGA), Item Village (Bende LGA), Omuma-Uzo (Ukwa West LGA), Umuorie (former site of old Imo Airport) Isiala Ngwa South LGA), Ozu Item and Ozu Abam (Bende LGA), Obeaku City (Ukwa West LGA), Amaeke-Abiriba (Ohafia LGA), Ndiebe Abam (Bende LGA), Mkpa Community (Bende LGA), Uzuakoli (leprosy center) Bende LGA, Alaojii Village (Obingwa LGA), Assenentu Village (Ugwunagbo LGA), Umuakpiti-Nkara (Isiala Ngwa LGA), Umuokpo Village (Obingwa LGA), Mkpuko Ohuhu-Ala (Isiala Ngwa LGA),  Umuako Nsirimo (Umuahia South LGA),  Umuakuma Umueze (Isiala Ngwa South LGA),  Umumba Nsirimo (Umuahia South LGA) and Umuerim Nsirimo (Umuahia South LGA).
 
Ebonyi: 36 Locations: Emoha, Nkalagu, Afikpo, Izzi, Ezza, Ezzaegu, Ezamgbo, Ukpo, Ekeimoha, Akpoha, Abomege, Onicha, Ohaukwu, Umuogudu-Akpu, Ukwagba-Mgbo Community (Ohaukwu LGA), Uburu (Ohaozara LGA), Okposi (Ohaozara LGA), Aga Village (Ohaukwu LGA), Ama Nguzu in Nguzu Edda (Afikpo South LGA), Ama Oso Edda (Afikpo South LGA), Eziedda (Afikpo South LGA), Amangwu Edda (Afikpo South), Oso Edda (Afikpo South LGA), Owutu Edda (Afikpo South LGA), Agharosa Village (Izzi LGA), Ndiohia Iboko (Izzi LGA), Ezza Egu Ndebo (Izzi LGA), Ishiagu (Izzi LGA), Amuzu Igeagu (Izzi LGA), Nkaleke Igbeagu (Izzi LGA), Ndu Nwanphu Igbeagu (Izzi LGA) and Uzashi Igbeagu (Izzi LGA), Ndiakpurata Oguzereonwiya (Igbeagu) in Izzi LGA, Ndiegbe-Onuebonyi, Igbeagu (Izzi LGA) and Nwanwu-Igbeagu (Izzi LGA).
 
Delta (Anioma Land): 21 Locations: Agbor, Olor, Ewulu, Okpanam, Iselleukwu, Oshimmili, Onicha-Ugbo, Ndokwa, Umunede, Ogwasiukwu, Ibusa (forest), Kwale, Obiaruku and Igbo-Akiri (boundary Igbo towns with Edo), Asaba (rural), Ella, Ubulu-Ukwu, Ubulu-Unor, Abor, Akwkwu-Igbo and Issele-Azagba. While they have infiltrated and lived in the named 21 communities, they violently operate in 20 Delta Igbo communities spread across Aniocha North, Aniocha South, Oshimiri North and Oshimiri South LGAs of the State.
 
Rivers: 15 Locations: Onuimo, Ugurunta, Omoku, Ahuada, Omuha (Umoha), Emeoha, Okehi, Isiokpo, Oleh, Umuechem, Agbomchia Farm Road/Pipeline, Eleme, Emeagwa Int’l Airport area, Ubima/Nval War College (Isiokpo LGA) and Elele
 
Signed:
For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law
 
Emeka Umeagbalasi
Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies
Master of Science, Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution
Board Chair
 
Amaka Damaris Onuoha, Esq., LLB, BL
Head of Campaign & Publicity
 
Chinwe Umeche, Esq., LLB, BL
Head, Democracy & Good Governance
 
Ndidiamaka Bernard, Esq., LLB, BL, LLM (Cyber Law)
Head, Int’l Justice & Human Rights
 
Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq., LLB, BL
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law
 
Comrade Samuel Kamanyaoku (HND)
Head, Field Data Collection & Documentation
 
Contacts:
WhatsApp/Mobile: +2348174090052
Email: info@intersociety-ng.org
Website: www.intersociety-ng.org

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