We appear to be witnessing a renewed turn to bloody repression by the Nigerian state, probably meant to divert attention from its glaring lack of capacity to meet the December 31 deadline it set itself, for defeating the Boko Haram insurgency. Last week, hundreds of Shi’ite Moslems were killed in Zaria, ostensibly to prevent the Army boss, General Buratai from being assassinated. Sheikh El-Zakzaky, leader of the Shi’ite Islamic Brotherhood of Nigeria was also arrested.
On Saturday, 5 members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) were also shot dead, and not less than 7 seriously wounded at Onitsha. This is coming up after an earlier killing of IPOB members last month.
UAD unequivocally condemns this wave of macabre repression. It is an ill wind that blows us all, as poor working people, no good. The frequency of killings in this short period is a grave cause for concern. And the reasons adduced in each of these cases, are equally spurious to say the least. If the Nigerian state has any respect for the lives of poor people, who are those that have been felled with its accursed bullets, the blood of these citizens would not have been shed.
It also appears to have learnt nothing from recent history. The army’s arrest of Sheikh El-Zakzaky and subsequent handing over of the Islamic cleric to the police is reminiscent of the developments in 2009 that led to the lethal phase of Boko Haram’s militancy. Mallam Mohammed Yusuf, the sect’s leader had equally been arrested by the army and was handed over to the police, only to be killed whilst in custody.
The continued detention of El-Zakzaky is in no way justifiable. UAD thus calls for his immediate release and the establishment of a judicial commission of inquiry into the Zaria killings which should include the trade unions and civil society movement.
UAD stands for the unity and struggle of working people across the length and breadth of Nigeria, and indeed across the world, with the aim of system change. The right of nationalities to self-determination must however be held sacred by all who stand for justice. Detaining or killing persons who stand for the secession of “Biafra” is in no way a solution to the secessionist agitation which is now rife in the South East.
The reason why the idea of “Biafra” is now very popular is because the Nigerian state and the class of bosses who control it, including those from the South Eastern states, have failed the generality of common women, men and youth. Repression will not muffle their cries which are being articulated in different -and at times refracted- ways. We call for a referendum in the South East and for the right of “Biafran” secession to be respected if such plebiscite endorses this as the popular sentiments.
We however enjoin working class-people in the South East and all other regions and states in the country not to lose sight of the problem: the bosses’ class of looters who feed fat on the wealth our labour produces, from Enugu to Maiduguri, and from Sokoto to Lagos. United we are stronger to defeat them all, and build a better society.
REINSTATE ALL SOLDIERS CONVICTED FOR “MUTINY” NOW!
United Action for Democracy is shocked that the death sentence by firing squad, passed on 66 soldiers in the first quarter of the year has been merely commuted to 10years, in the wake of shocking revelations of the “armsgate” that confirm the correctness of their actions!
The ill-equipped soldiers protested when sent to face Boko Haram insurgents with just 30 bullets each and no food rations. This was when, as we now know, over $2.2bn meant to purchase arms and equipment for their use, was being siphoned by the bosses, who are likely to get off with less than 10 years each through plea bargains!
UAD thus calls for the unconditional pardon and full reinstatement of the 66 soldiers as well as the other 579 soldiers secretly tried for the same reasons in May. Anything short of this is rabid injustice and utterly condemnable.
United Action for Democracy (UAD)
Issued: December 21, 2015