By Edward Omaga
Amnesty International seems to have its operational headquarters in Nigeria. The organization loves Nigeria because the Nigerian platform is that which it uses to gain popularity with its half-baked annual reports that smacks of a mockery of what a report should look be.
I am a fan of Amnesty International for just one reason. They are easily predictable. I mean, you could quickly tell when they are mobilized to carry out a hatchet job. They usually go full blast with statements that defeat and defile all sense of decorum and professionalism. One of such instance is the recent statement credited to AI, where it stated that the Federal Government had failed families of the 640 recaptured Boko Haram detainees reportedly killed by soldiers.
I want to start on this note. Let’s assume the figure is correct. Let’s also assume these terrorists were killed. Let’s also assume that they indeed have families that were expecting justice for them, and let’s also assume that these 640 recaptured Boko Haram fighters have never held guns and killed innocent women and children all the while they were actively engaged in the war front.
Given the above assumptions, the statement by Amnesty International might make a bit of sense if indeed these groups of people have not spilled the blood of innocent and unarmed women and children, and if they have also not rendered many children fatherless and many women widows.
The big questions for Amnesty International are; Is Amnesty International ignorant of all the atrocities committed by the Boko Haram terrorist group since 2009 when they began a violent campaign in Nigeria? Are they also aware that since 2009 it is estimated that millions have been displaced and hundreds of thousands killed by the group? Is Amnesty International aware that 276 young and innocent schoolgirls were abducted from their hostels in Chibok by the same group? Are they also aware that the Boko Haram group also kidnapped 110 schoolgirls aged 11–19 years old?
Just maybe Amnesty International is feigning ignorance; the Boko Haram insurgency ran a boot where children as young as five years old learned to handle assault rifles and march through the woods in flip-flops. And this is just normal and not a violation of the rights of these young children, I suppose.
Back to the crux of the issue, Amnesty International is indeed an organization of unscrupulous elements that thrives in causing disaffection anywhere they find themselves. And history is replete with tales of how the supposed human rights organizations have been engaged in actions that compromise the sovereignty of countries in fulfillment of their overarching objective of ensuring that conflict thrives in most countries.
In Nigeria, Amnesty International has stayed true to these objectives through its annual reports that aim to destabilize the Nigerian Military in operation in North-East Nigeria. It has continuously churned out falsehoods against the government. It has often cried wolf where none exists as this recent posturing of accusing the government of not acting with regards to the killing of a supposed 640 Boko Haram fighters.
I think that Amnesty International trusts the efforts of the government when it suits the purpose of its paymasters. As an aside, AI has elected to be the official defense organization of militant groups in Nigeria. This is manifest in its vicious defense of the activities of the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).
Amnesty International was indeed shameless in its defense of the nefarious activities of non-state actors that have brought tears and sorrows to innocent Nigerians. I recall that Femi Falana represented IMN in one of the futile defense of their nefarious activities. They went as far as mobilizing lawyers from abroad to defend all her allegations. Yet these are organizations that have consistently violated the rights of unarmed Nigerians and subjected them to untold hardships. There is nothing wrong in the eyes of AI.
I think the Nigerian government has indeed been tolerant of the activities of AI in Nigeria even though their actions are suspect and a source of concern to well-meaning Nigerians. Indeed Nigerians must see through the veil and understand that AI is on a mission to destroy Nigeria and nothing more. They have consistently supported the activities of militant groups in their violent campaigns in Nigeria. But when the Nigerian government attempts to protect the citizens from these violent groups, Amnesty International rises to their defense to the absolute bewilderment of all and sundry.
Yes, this is what Amnesty International, in their wisdom have elected to do. They accuse the Nigerian Military of human rights violations and praise the Boko Haram terrorist group to high heavens for killing innocent and unarmed civilians. If this is not insane, I don’t know what else to call it.
The activities of Amnesty International in Nigeria are quite despicable. They have indeed, through their actions, displayed that the definition of human rights violations is subjective and for sale to the highest bidder. And since these militant groups are paying the bills, they are duty-bound to continue to protect them at all times. This is the starkness of the reality confronting Nigeria.
Nigerians must be careful not to fall for the AI propaganda. Nigerians must begin to ask critical questions if we are desirous of making progress as a country and understand that AI is on a mission, and that mission is to see that that war against terrorism and other violent acts does not come to an end.
The recent posturing by Amnesty International on the 640 Boko Haram fighters is one of those instances aimed at causing a distraction in the polity in fulfillment of their nefarious mandate. It is one day one accusation with Amnesty International. I am of the considered opinion that the government and the Military need to be vigilant because once we are making progress in the war against terrorism and other militant groups, we are bound to see these enemies of progress coming up with false claims to discredit the Military, and as well as causing a distraction.
I recall that in times past, there have been calls for the expulsion of Amnesty International from Nigeria. I believe that there is no better time than now because, for as long as they remain in Nigeria, we shall not know peace. They would continue to discredit the government and the Military. This is not what we want as a people and as a country now.
Stating that the federal government has failed families of some 640 recaptured Boko Haram detainees reportedly killed by soldiers in 2014 is the height of insanity because there is no evidence to substantiate this. This is an anomaly that is typical of the Amnesty International mandate to bring Nigeria to ruins. But I doubt if Nigerians would be quiet this time around. Enough is indeed enough. Nigerians must rise in defense of our country, sufficing to state that the media has a critical role to play.
The media must, as a matter of urgency, join hands with the government in the quest to protect Nigeria from the activities of dangerous organizations like Amnesty International that mean no good for the country. Nigeria must come first at all times, and we must do well to understand AI’s fuss with Nigeria.
*Omaga is the Legal Adviser of Save Humanity Advocacy Centre (SHAC) and writes from Abuja*