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Rehumanisation of the Nigerian life

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Suspected Fulani herdsmen paraded by the Guards Brigade in Abuja…yesterday PHOTO: KARLS TSOKAR<br />

In the political annals of Nigeria, this is only the first time that Nigerians in their large numbers are slaughtered by well-armed militia who share ethno religions affiliations with the holder of the office of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria.

The Fulani speaking nationality has become notorious for the reason that some of its rogue members have armed themselves with sophisticated weapons similar to the type used by any military of a modern day nation and these militia are on the rampage all across Nigeria in what is regarded as a quest to dispossess farmers of their farms so as to fend for the growing numbers of their cattles.

For these emerging killer gangsters who seems to be enjoying Federal Government tacit approval, grazing of their cows are much more elevated in the hierarchy of scales than respecting the sanctity of human life. 

What makes the scenario remarkably historical is that both President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo are busy rationalising these cocktails of mass murders either expressly or  through their political surrogates even as the killings are becoming unabated. 

The lackadaisical tendencies of the heads of all the security institutions who do nothing whilst these killings go on are making people to believe that these killings are officially licenced. The unfortunate thing again is that the killings which go on without concrete mechanisms to stop the trends and bring decisive justice to the perpetrators has exposed a serious lacuna in which should be corrected.

The overwhelming powers of command and control ceded to the holder of office of President over the Armed forces should be shared amongst the federal legislative body and the head of the Executive so that if as it were, if convincing evidence abound to show a lack of willingness on the part of the Presidency to authorise immediate and effective crackdown of such insurrection and mass killings as are committed by armed Fulani herdsmen, the Senate can convoke and direct the Armed forces to play their constitutional role.

Even as we debate the zero response level of the current administration to these mass killings, it must be borne in mind that the theatres of these grand mass killings orchestrated by Fulani herdsmen have now shifted to Southern Kaduna State, Benue State and Adamawa State. 

There are reports of revenge killings of Fulanis in a part of Taraba State by another counter force. These killings therefore calls for a sober reflection with the aim of proffering lasting panacea to end these episodes of blood cuddling violence of epic proportions which on the last count has resulted in the untimely and gruesome hacking to death of over 10,000 innocent Nigerians by armed Fulani herdsmen.

What makes it more compelling that Nigerians must rise up and collectively demand an end to these killings, is the fact that officials of government are busy providing some irrational excuses for these bands of mass murderers who are apparently being treated as persons who are above the laws of the land.

The constitution is the sum total of the laws of the land and in a very unambiguous provision in Section 32 (1) states that all lives are sacred and sacrosanct and must not be taken extra-legally.

Legally speaking, the offence of murder is a very serious crime. In a technical sense, murder is also called culpable homicide. The Black’s Law Dictionary defines homicide as the killing of one person by another and criminal homicide as the act of purposely, knowingly, recklessly or negligently causing the death of another human being.

Coke C.J equally defined homicide as: “When a man of sound memory and age of discretion, unlawfully killeth within any country of the realm any reasonable creature in rerun natura under the king’s peace, with malice aforethought, either expressed by the party or implied by law, so as the party wounded or IN the political annals of Nigeria, this is only the first time that Nigerians in their large numbers are slaughtered by well-armed militia who share ethno religions affiliations with the holder of the office of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria.

The Fulani speaking nationality has become notorious for the reason that some of its rogue members have armed themselves with sophisticated weapons similar to the type used by any military of a modern day nation and these militia are on the rampage all across Nigeria in what is regarded as a quest to dispossess farmers of their farms so as to fend for the growing numbers of their cattles. For these emerging killer gangsters who seems to be enjoying Federal Government tacit approval, grazing of their cows are much more elevated in the hierarchy of scales than respecting the sanctity of human life. 

What makes the scenario remarkably historical is that both President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo are busy rationalising these cocktails of mass murders either expressly or  through their political surrogates even as the killings are becoming unabated. 

The lackadaisical tendencies of the heads of all the security institutions who do nothing whilst these killings go on are making people to believe that these killings are officially licenced. The unfortunate thing again is that the killings which go on without concrete mechanisms to stop the trends and bring decisive justice to the perpetrators has exposed a serious lacuna in which should be corrected.

The overwhelming powers of command and control ceded to the holder of office of President over the Armed forces should be shared amongst the federal legislative body and the head of the Executive so that if as it were, if convincing evidence abound to show a lack of willingness on the part of the Presidency to authorise immediate and effective crackdown of such insurrection and mass killings as are committed by armed Fulani herdsmen, the Senate can convoke and direct the Armed forces to play their constitutional role.

Even as we debate the zero response level of the current administration to these mass killings, it must be borne in mind that the theatres of these grand mass killings orchestrated by Fulani herdsmen have now shifted to Southern Kaduna State, Benue State and Adamawa State. 

There are reports of revenge killings of Fulanis in a part of Taraba State by another counter force. These killings therefore calls for a sober reflection with the aim of proffering lasting panacea to end these episodes of blood cuddling violence of epic proportions which on the last count has resulted in the untimely and gruesome hacking to death of over 10,000 innocent Nigerians by armed Fulani herdsmen.

What makes it more compelling that Nigerians must rise up and collectively demand an end to these killings, is the fact that officials of government are busy providing some irrational excuses for these bands of mass murderers who are apparently being treated as persons who are above the laws of the land.

The constitution is the sum total of the laws of the land and in a very unambiguous provision in Section 32 (1) states that all lives are sacred and sacrosanct and must not be taken extra-legally.

Legally speaking, the offence of murder is a very serious crime. In a technical sense, murder is also called culpable homicide. The Black’s Law Dictionary defines homicide as the killing of one person by another and criminal homicide as the act of purposely, knowingly, recklessly or negligently causing the death of another human being. Coke C.J equally defined homicide as: “When a man of sound memory and age of discretion, unlawfully killeth within any country of the realm any reasonable creature in rerun natura under the king’s peace, with malice aforethought, either expressed by the party or implied by law, so as the party wounded or hurt, etc. die of the wound or hurt, etc. within a year and a day after the same.” Legal scholars therefore say that homicide is the legal term of killing a man or human being whether lawfully or unlawfully.

In the Law repository of Nigeria, the law blogger affirmed that it is with the development of mens rea doctrine that there came into existence the distinction between lawful and unlawful homicide as well as different degrees of liability for unlawful homicide. 

The blogger recall that what qualifies as a human being capable of being killed is provided for by Section 307 of the Criminal Code as follows: A child becomes a person capable of being killed when it has completely proceeded in a living state from the body of its mother, whether it has breathed or not and whether it has an independent circulation or not, and whether the navel-string is severed or not.” A central statutory law in Nigeria called the Criminal Code provides that any person who causes the death of another, directly or indirectly, by any means whatever, is deemed to have killed that person, except in the cases explicitly provided. 

A case in point is encapsulated in the English case of R. v. Dyson, the accused who inflicted injuries upon the deceased more than a year and a day before the date of death, as well as further injuries within that period that accelerated the death, was charged and convicted of manslaughter, but had his conviction quashed on appeal for misdirection, because the trial judge directed the jury that they might find the accused guilty even if they thought that death resulted solely from the earlier injuries. So why and how come the current administration seems to be handling the ongoing bloody violence by armed Fulani herdsmen with kid gloves even when the President swore to an oath to protect the constitution?

Shehu Sani, a former activist and current senator representing Kaduna Central seems to have attempted the resolution of the aforementioned conundrum.  In his book appropriately titled, The killing fields: Religious Violence in Northern Nigeria, he wrote as follows: “Nigeria is a country with appropriate credentials for dysfunctional conflicts.” He argued also that Nigeria has since the end of the civil war continued to have a recurrence of violent ethnic and religious conflicts that have scarred the nation’s socio-political landscape. 

Sani affirmed that many of the conflicts in Nigeria are long-standing feuds that have been surfacing from time to time and never fully resolved.  Again, Sani has located many of these conflicts as wholly brought about by the structured problems of the country.

Importantly, he blamed militarisation of the political space for the blood cuddling violence. The Nigerian society, he said,  has been deeply traumatized by successive military dictatorships and it will take many years of consistent work to rebuild trust, faith and integrity. 

Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA). 


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