Authors: Elochukwu Nicholas Ohagi: Philosopher, teacher and activist and Robinson Afamefuna Ambrose
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is known for his perverse bigotry. But we witnessed the height of this bigotry on 24 September 2021 when Muhammadu Buhari called on the United Nations to work for a two-state solution for Palestine.
We can trace Buhari's bigotry back to 2012. Today, the Nigerian President, General Muhammadu Buhari, enjoys presenting himself to the West as a fighter against the Boko Haram movement.
However, we must not forget that Buhari’s previous statements on Boko Haram have shown him to be a partisan and staunch supporter of one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups.
Recall In a 2013 interview with a progressive Hausa station in Kaduna, General Buhari made no secret of his attachment to Boko Haram when he criticised the imposition of a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states and the Johnathan government's subsequent military offensive against the Boko Haram Islamist sect. The fight against Boko Haram, he declared, was a fight against the North.
And as early as 2001, the Boko Haram leadership named Buhari, then the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, as one of six prominent northerners to mediate between the group and the Goodluck Johnathan government.
President Buhari, who had drawn much criticism the year before for an alleged statement that Muslims should vote only for Muslims in future elections, also promised in 2001 to work for the full implementation of Sharia law throughout Nigeria.
Muhammadu Buhari’s double standards are evident in his coddling of Boko Haram and the crackdown on the IPOB freedom movement and his sidelining of the southeastern geopolitical zone in terms of infrastructure and economic empowerment and financial inclusion.
While in the name of infrastructure in Nigeria, Buhari’s government borrows money from Western countries, which it will now use to build railway lines in Mali.
It is hard to reconcile with justice when Buhari, in his speech at the United Nations, calls for the freedom of the Palestinian people. But, at the same time, his leadership kills and imprisons Biafrans for demanding self-determination.
In his speech at the recent UN session in Washington, the Nigerian president said that the Palestinian people deserved justice, fairness, and equality. However, this appeal by Mohammadu Buhari would be autistic if the Nigerian government did not kill and imprison Biafrans seeking a referendum to restore the sovereign state of Biafra.
Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was abducted by the Kenyan Special Police at the international airport on 18 June 2021 and subsequently taken to an unknown location under inhumane conditions. He was unlawfully detained in Kenya for a good eight days before being transferred to Nigeria.
The same kind of inhumane treatment was meted out to many IPOB members by the Nigerian government. Their only sin is that, like the Palestinians, they demanded a free state of Biafran through a referendum.
Buhari’s bigotry is also evident in the extrajudicial killing and abduction of young Biafran men and women. Yet, at the same time, he turns a blind eye to the criminal activities of the Fulani herdsmen and Miyetti Allay linked to Buhari.
The Buhari government was quick to classify IPOB as a terrorist organisation. However, it never did so in the case of the Miyetti Allay and the Fulani herdsmen, despite categorising them as the fourth most dangerous terrorists in the world.
Interestingly, the Buhari government has classified the IPOB organisation as a terrorist group, giving its government the moral justification to kill innocent Biafrans.
However, in his speech at the UN, he did not call them terrorists. The only group Buhari described as terrorists are the Boko Haram insurgents.
IPOB members do not carry weapons and are not known for their violent activities. The only weapons they seem to have are Biafran memorabilia such as the Biafran flag, T-shirts, bracelets and capes with Biafran logos that they wear at IPOB meetings. And yet, under Buhari’s regime, most IPOB members are arbitrarily arrested and killed en masse.
For example, at Aba Community School, IPOB members who had gathered for prayer were brutally murdered by a Nigerian team of soldiers and policemen. A similar case of extrajudicial killing occurred on the streets of Onitsha, the commercial capital of Anambra State when a group of soldiers stationed at Head Bridge Market opened fire on one of the jubilant crowds that flocked to the market in 2015 to celebrate the trial victory of Nnamdi Kanu.
The most recent extrajudicial killing of Biafrans occurred when the Nigerian army launched a war-like attack on the Oyigbo community in Rivers, killing many residents and injuring many others. According to the human rights organisation, at least 115 people were killed by security forces between March and June 2021. Biafran youths are abducted and held in secret locations to identify with Biafra, while Madrodan Fulani herdsmen with a K47 continue to commit crimes with impunity.
Even as Biafrans celebrated the election of former American President Donald Trump, they were killed by the Nigerian police; the police opened fire on them. There are also reports of arrests and extrajudicial killings in Onitsha, Umuahia and Mkpor. In these places, Biafrans gathered and were shot dead by the Nigerian army.
And this is in a country where Boko Haram members are recruited into the military as repentant terrorists.
Before he could demand justice for the Palestinian people, the Nigerian president should have done the same in his own country.
He cannot hold IPOB leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu without trial and at the same time demand justice for the Palestinian people. You cannot open fire on peaceful protesters in Nigeria to demand justice for people who live far away from you. The indigenous people of Biafra need the same justice, fairness and equality as Nigeria.
Buhari’s media spokesperson, Femi Adeshina, reports that 400 Boko Haram have been arrested. Yet, the public has no report of any of them being convicted. There are no names of convicted Boko Haram members.
Given this, many believe that Buhari is using the insecurity caused by Boko Haram as bait to push his Islamisation agenda.
Six years after Buhari claimed he would crush Boko Haram, the number of terrorist offshoots in Nigeria has multiplied.
Buhari is playing a game of distraction.
While Boko Haram is committing genocide in the south of Kauda and turning that place into a desolate area, Buhari sends Nigerian forces to the east where there is no unrest.
With Nigerian armies abducting and killing young Biafrans, both boys and girls, Buhari is creating unrest exactly where there is none.
These unnecessary military operations are his way of distracting people from the real horrors of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria.
It is also a treacherous means of concealing the evil caused by the Fulani herdsmen and Miyatti Allah.
The assumption is that people would essentially have little or no time to discuss the evil caused by the Fulani herdsmen across the country as long as there is an extensive discussion in the media about the military actions in Biafraland.
The distraction is another way Buhari, the great promoter of Boko Haram, wants to give the impression that unrest is in the North and the south.