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Friday, October 23, 2015

We saw nothing, heard nothing, did nothing

By former President Olusegun Obasanjo

Chief Olusegun Okikiola Obasanjo, GCFR
Chief Olusegun Okikiola Obasanjo, GCFR, former military head of State and former president, delivered this lecture entitled The Rwandan genocide: We saw nothing, we heard nothing and we did nothing as a Keynote Message at the Public Presentation of Rwandan Genocide: Historical Background and Jurisprudence authored by Segun Jegede; at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos On Wednesday, October 13, 2015.

WHENEVER I contemplate the Rwandan Genocide, in my capacity as a former President of Nigeria, or as a former Army General or just simply as an African, I always feel that, in a profound sense, the contemporary state system, at the national, regional or international community levels, needs to be radically rethought. The reason for this cannot be far-fetched: the global community had seen nothing. It has heard nothing. It has done nothing that can suggest that genocide has been thrown into the dustbin of history. Consequently, the world and its current democratic values are still under threats of political uncertainties and irrationality.

What led to Genocide?
The question that continues to elicit attention is simple: how did Rwanda get to the point of commission of acts of genocide? Rather than being the disparate ethno-cultural groupings which the Tutsis, the Hutus and the Twas are said to be, history clearly shows that ethno-cultural, as well as socio-political cleavages in Rwanda, were markedly insignificant, if not non-existent.

In fact cultural, linguistic and religious homogeneity overlaid the indigenous vocations of pastoralism, agriculture and hunter-gathering vocations.
It is known, however, that it was colonial intrusion which served to disrupt in very profound ways the hitherto existing inter-communal harmony and amity. Arbitrary classification of social groups, based on their material status and conditions, was the colonial and post-colonial considerations which informed the evolution of the Rwandan state, as well as the processes of its subsequent political development.

We find in Africa diverse manifestations of this kind of arbitrariness, which on the whole has driven wedges between and among communities and in the process fuelled distrust, hate and above all the ambers of internecine conflicts between and among groups. The Rwanda crisis is only but an illustrative instance of the enduring realities of colonial legacies which in several contexts, have exacerbated the problems associated with asymmetric access to economic resources and to political power hastening the descent to dismal levels of depravities such as war and the genocide that is the subject matter of the book under consideration.

To my mind, the Rwandan Genocide challenges African people and political elites to rise to the billings of seizing their destinies in their hands and initiating far-reaching processes of socio-political (re) engineering. It goes without saying of course that economic equity, as well as socio-political integration and inclusiveness remain critical to this process.
A keynote address on this subject must not fail to address in significant parts the international dimensions of the issues at stake. Clearly the Rwandan Genocide can, without any equivocation, be said to remain blight on the conscience of humanity. For under the very watch of the international community, a total of over 800,000 people were massacred in a period of about just 100 days. The monumental scale of the social dislocation that accompanied this unparalleled African tragedy raises one critical question about many others begging for answers: why was the reaction time of the international community so incongruous with the intensity of the mayhem that was being unleashed on defenseless civilians mainly of the Tutsi extraction?

A civil war, an ethnic cleansing process actually, had been ongoing in Rwanda in 1990. The halting attempt at peace, after three years, under the Arusha Accords of August 1993, did have all the trappings of a workable roadmap for a resolution of the conflict and, perhaps the realization of sustainable peace: the creation of demilitarized zones, the demobilization and integration of the opposing armed forces, the phased deployment of the UNAMIR (the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda), and most importantly, the establishment of a Broad Based Transitional Government.

But even while a section of the international community was celebrating the Accord, it was clearly obvious that the political will, as well as state capacity to implement it was just simply not there. That much was evident even to the casual observer. Yet the world stood akimbo as the streets of Rwanda turned crimson with the blood of the defenceless.
Yes, the Rwandan Genocide has led to the consideration and adoption of the International Responsibility to Protect (IR2P), a principle now widely accepted as providing a valid basis for bypassing the sovereignty of states that fail to protect their citizens from mass atrocities and gross human rights violations, including genocide, ethnic cleansings, war crimes and other crimes against humanity.
The IR2P necessarily complements the December 9, 1948 Genocide Convention. In this regard, the rationale for the IR2P is largely predicated on two basic principles. First, 'state sovereignty implies responsibility and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies with the state itself.' Secondly, it is considered that 'where a population is suffering serious harm as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure and the State in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non- intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.'

Perhaps more interestingly, the IR2P is made up of three responsibilities: responsibility to prevent by addressing the root and direct causes of internal conflict and man-made crises; responsibility to react by responding 'to situations of compelling human need with appropriate measures; and the responsibility to rebuild by providing 'full assistance with recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation' after military intervention and by 'addressing the causes of the harm the intervention was designed to halt or avert. '

Thus, the international community could so intervene under such circumstances via any appropriate means, militarily if need be. This is indeed a radical, but absolutely necessary, reformulation (some would say assault) on the principle of sovereignty. To my mind, the most critical issues in any humanitarian crisis situation, especially anyone that will warrant the eventual recourse to the principle of IR2P, are timing and the mechanism for intervention. The point has been made earlier about the inauspicious time lag in the global response to the Rwandan Genocide. Preemptive intervention, no doubt, is the most moral and politically expedient thing to do.
But what are the most propitious point and time of intervention? Who decides when this moment has been arrived at? Assuming even that efficient early warning systems deployed across the African continent could effectively flag off the onset of potentially deleterious conflicts within or between states, can we be agreed on the set of objective criteria (and the relative weight or significance of the constituent variables) the presence of which would signal decisive intervention? The high political consequences of intervention dictates that these questions be approached with seriousness even as we are agreed that, in themselves, they are not enough to keep us fixated while conflicts fester and degenerate.

The twin component of this concern pertains to the mechanism for intervention. In the case of UNAMIR, the verdict is self-evident: It was too little too late. I am however somewhat consoled by the several multilateral efforts in Africa, over the past two decades since the Rwandan Genocide, to ensure that there is no respect of self-annihilation. Beginning from the most recent and walking backward in time, you will all recall that Nigeria, the ECOWAS and the AU have been actively involved in either outright conflict situations or the decisive nipping in the bud all manner of potentially combustive political situations.

JUST a few weeks ago, Mr. President nominated me as his Special Envoy to Guinea Bissau; last month, in Mali, Nigeria and other ECOWAS leaders stood true to their commitment to a zero tolerance for unlawful takeover of government, a situation which, as the case of Cote d' Ivoire has shown, easily degenerates into civil strife and internecine conflicts and wars, to mention but just a few. What these illustrations and their accompanying successes suggest is that regional and continental multilateral intervention mechanisms have only been able to rise to the challenges of peace and security at the level of reaction, and not prevention.

In other words, I am by no means suggesting that we have arrived. It is far from it. There are myriad of technical, economic, as well as politico-diplomatic issues that either exist or could crop up in the process of attempting to rise to the billings of generally safeguarding peace and security in Africa or particularly discharging the Responsibility to Protect Africa's peoples. And it is in this vein that this book on the Rwandan Genocide, by Mr. Jegede for whom I have a lot of respect, will prove very useful. Segun Jegede engages impressively with the historical background, as well as the jurisprudential dynamics, and the subsequent trial of the dramatist personae of the Rwandan Genocide. The author writes persuasively, with the lucidity that comes only to one who combines a profound appreciation of theory and practice with privileged insider knowledge.

Without scintilla of doubt, the 20th Century is on record to be the most violent in human history, especially with the two World Wars. Genocide which was coined in 1944 by a Polish-Jewish legal scholar, Raphael Lemkin, to describe Hitler's attempts to exterminate the Jews and Roma of Europe, is not simply about repression, slaughter, massacre, carnage or torrent of violence. It is about extermination. It is a resultant from human capacity to destroy in the 21st Century. Genocide is extreme wickedness. If the capacity to destroy in the 21st Century is increasing and genocide is also enabled by increasing capacity to destroy, what is the future of genocide in Africa? Is the challenge really the capacity to destroy or the political will not to take advantage of the capacity? Is the solution not to avoid the politics and policy of hate for one another? Is violence really avoidable? If it is, which category of violence is preventable?

As noted in the Report of the Secretary General on the Establishment of an International Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the Genocide in Rwanda and the Surrounding Events (CM/Dec.379 (LXVII), former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, noted on 20-21 November 1997 that 'Africa's ability to move forward will always remain in vain and fatally crippled unless and until the continent manages to develop the capacity to anticipate conflicts and the ability to prevent them before they occur.' Can African leaders, as at today, beat their chest and say they have the ability and capacity to prevent conflicts before they occur? Can Africa prevent conflict-inducing genocide? Can the people of Nigeria and Africa learn from the historical and jurisprudential analysis of the Rwandan Genocide? These questions clearly show the relevance and importance of Mr. Segun Jegede's book, The Rwandan Genocide: Historical Background and Jurisprudence.

More significantly, Article 1 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide says 'genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law,' which the Contracting Parties ;undertake to prevent and to punish.' In this regard, genocide is any act 'committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.'

Consequently, the Genocide Convention not only sanctions under Article III, genocide but also 'conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide,' as well as 'complicity in genocide.' What should also be noted is that Article IV of the Convention says 'persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.'

Genocidal acts are often tried by a Competent Tribunal in the territory where the act is committed, 'or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction. In fact, the seriousness with which the international community takes genocide is now to the extent that' genocide and the other acts enumerated in Article III shall not be considered as political crimes for the purposes of extradition.

Mr. Jegede has not only provided an analysis of the historical background to the Genocide in Rwanda and the rationale for the establishment of a tribunal to try genocide and other related crimes, but has also explicated the issues involved in the trial, especially criminal responsibility, the admissibility of evidence, the right to fair trial, double jeopardy issues, as well as cumulative charges and cumulating convictions.

In conclusion, therefore, I earnestly commend Segun's effort and recommend for further discussion all the issues raised in the book because it has brought to the fore some of the ground breaking, but very little known, decisions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the court that tried the masterminds of one Africa's darkest crimes against humanity. Even more importantly, the further discussion and exposition of the issues has the potential to provide insights and lead the way towards other locus classicus in the prosecution of crimes against humanity. It is by so doing that we can make the future of genocide bleak and preventable in Africa.

Before concluding, let me also note that Africa cannot be free from toga of irrationalities and genocidal crimes if lessons are not learnt from the Rwandan experience. The doctrine of African solutions to African problems cannot but remain at best a myth, especially if greater emphasis is not seriously placed on strengthened democracy-induced good governance and promotion of international cultural understanding as a framework for the conduct and
management of international affairs in Africa. Africa will need to quickly go beyond reacting to international crimes. The derivative factor for urgent attention now should be how to prevent genocide.

On this note, I thank you all for your kind attention.

No comments:


I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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