Sanctity of Truth


Nigerian News papers

Boko Haram: The commander-in-chief in the shadow of war crimes

Boko Haram: The commander-in-chief in the shadow of war crimes

“The fumes of the dead are in the air like poison. The plague, more cruel and more pitiless than war, descended upon us. A pestilence, that would leave half of our kingdom dead. Where did it come from? What carried its germ? The priests told us it was God’s punishment. For what sin? What commandment must we break that could earn this? No, we knew the truth. This was not God’s work, but devilry. Or witchcraft. But our task, to hunt down a demon, was God’s cure.” – Anon


Those charged with the awesome duty have endeavoured to hunt down the demon. The demon has fought back. The demon’s cheerleaders have also enrolled into the combat, fighting with propaganda, blackmail and outright defamation. The callousness has been breathtaking and the cynicism far beyond common apprehension.

There is a direct correlation between the threat to prosecute the military officers, particularly General Azubuike Ihejirika, the former Chief of Army Staff, who courageously went after Boko Haram insurgents and the dramatic escalation in the demons’ savage butchery.

It is inconceivable that the child murderers and baby snatchers have not drawn inspiration and impetus from the grossly ill-advised crusade of some northern figures to jail the former Chief of Army Staff for spurious allegations of war crimes right in the middle of an increasingly attritive war. In obedience to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and in defence of the realm against all enemies – in this instance, both domestic and foreign – the worst enemies of our men in uniform turns out to be unarmed civilian abetters, sympathizers and, possibly, collaborators and facilitators of the enemy.

Boko Haram is a political weapon that has transmuted into one monster of a boomerang, now bouncing off dangerously against the walls of northern elite’s pretensions, arrogance and hard of hearing indifference.

If key northern elders, the governors, legislators (state and national), the emirates, the sultanate and the intelligentia unite and impose upon themselves a singular obligation of ridding the northeast of Nigeria of Boko Haram, they have the capacity to do so seven times a week and twice on Friday. They have the reach, the influence and the method. What they lack is the necessary self-motivation, sincerity of purpose, political will and moral fibre.

Instead, they are sworn to the prosecution of General Azubuike Ihejirika, for a variety of bogus charges connected with war crimes and or crimes against humanity. A man who put on the line his own life and the lives of young Nigerian men and women in uniform in defence of his country? It is clear that nobody has paid any real attention to the inverse implications of this reckless and mendacious agenda. Those negative implications portend a degree of danger that must concentrate the minds of thinking Nigerians.

If you prosecute the General sent into the battlefield for war crimes or for crimes against humanity, you must also prosecute his Commander-in-Chief who sent him forth. The Commander-in-Chief is the hand that rocks the cradle. In common law, this would be referred to as corporate attribution or directing mind – where culpability for corporate crimes is attributed to the chief executive of the company and not just to the ordinary worker who directly committed the offence.

In international law, when we deal with war crimes we deploy the concept of command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard. In layman’s terms, we are simply dealing with the idea of superior responsibility – the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes where culpability is assigned not just to the warriors in the battlefield but to those who gave the orders, right up to the highest authority, civilian or military (refer to the Nuremberg trials or the General Pinochet debacle or the Charles Taylor misadventure).

It is now common knowledge that the peddlers of the war crimes and or crimes against humanity agenda have invested more time and effort compiling evidence against the Commander-in-Chief and his service chiefs than they have invested in sourcing enduring solutions to the insurgency.

And yet, they would seek to put fire on the President’s arse to rush to Maiduguri and assail Boko Haram in double quick time. A Commander-in-Chief he is. A superman the President certainly is not. They divided the country along tribal and religious lines. They have nurtured that division with a combination of violence, red hot rhetoric, manipulation of the legal and constitutional architecture of the country, including population census, military and paramilitary apparatuses, et cetera. The division they nurtured brought about ruination, paralysis and now, at last, dissipation. Anarchy has overtaken them in some parts of their stronghold.

The northeast shrivels under imminent apocalypse – threatening the annihilation of that great land of the Al-Kanemi. And yet the genuine arbitrators of peace are fiddling and playing undergraduate politics. Through nepotistic sectionalism, they perverted the ethos and best traditions of the military by recruiting and promoting not the best but the favoured.

Thus, now that push has come to shove, merit is abroad and mediocrity is wilting in the heat of battle. And yet, responsibility is lifted from where it ought to lie and placed elsewhere. The very same people that are calling for the scalp of the former Chief of Army Staff are equally the ones who are most obligated to rise to the upheaval of war and help win peace and stability. This obligation comes primarily from the imperatives of history and politico-social status.

But they have shamefully abdicated that responsibility and instead are gaining notoriety for kindergarten tantrums and melodrama. What have they done by way of remedial action? They have blamed President Goodluck Jonathan for being slow to fix their mess, heal the wounds of division, bring harmony to historical discord and rid the northeast of the very nihilism they wilfully and wickedly brought upon it.

A Commander-in-Chief in the shadow of war crimes and or crimes against humanity is an encumbered and shackled Chief. The outrage is to be found in the double standards of those who have deliberately created this operative circumstance at a time when a modicum of patriotism would have greatly aided the Chief in his onerous duty of securing the peace and territorial integrity of the republic.

This laughable blackmail should cease forthwith because it amounts to nothing more than a staggering pile of hypocrisy married to a dangerous politics of thoughtlessness.