For me, the on-going saga of the formation of a parallel Bar Association by lawyers from the Sharia States of Northern Nigeria could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. In fact, it may turn out to be the last straw that may lead to the redemption of the Nigerian State, as we know it. It could turn out to be the catalyst that will lead to the final solution of the age-long quest for a new political order for the Nigerian state. It is a signal which gives hope that the present political impasse and chronic state of insecurity and bloodbaths in Nigeria, is about to be challenged vigorously by those in legal profession.
This means that people of good conscience should not worry so much about this latest development, which for me is part of the unfolding drama of the present administration’s Islamization and Fulanization agenda of Nigeria. The threat by the lawyers from Northern Nigeria Sharia States to discontinue their membership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and to form what they call “New Nigerian (Sharia States) Bar Association” (NNBA), should not worry anybody with sense of history. My prayer is that the Northern Muslim lawyers concerned should go ahead and make good their threats. A threat, methinks, is not unconnected with the recent dis-invitation of governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State to address the on-going 60th Annual Conference of NBA.
Since that dis-invitation letter from NBA was issued, it would appear heavens have been left loose for those who hold the Word captive in the Nigerian State. The governor himself, and his fellow Northern lawyer-sympathizers, instead of accepting in good faith, as true patriots and statesmen, the explanation given by the Chairman of NBA for the dis-invitation, have chosen the inglorious path responsible for the present disaffection, divisiveness, seeds of discord between the Northern Sharia States lawyers and the general body of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
Is this type of behaviour not a confirmation of one of the intricacies and considerations that made the NBA in the first place, to disinvite the governor from speaking at the NBA 60th Annual Conference 2020? Is what is unfolding since that dis-invitation was issued not a replica of the actual situation of disaffection and mistrust we see today between the Kaduna State government and indigenous ethnic-communities of Southern Kaduna? There are well-founded grievances of the indigenous ethnic-communities of Southern Kaduna over the on-going killings and destructions of their villages and towns by the rampaging dreaded Fulani killer-herdsmen (a.k.a. bandits) and the federal and state governments’ unwillingness to provide the indigenes of Southern Kaduna with adequate security of lives and property in their ancestral lands.
The government, rather than putting to stop the killings and destructions in Southern Kaduna and other prats of the country, chose instead to justify the carnage each time it occurs, calling it “herders-farmers’ clash.” How can one with sense of humanity in him/her be calling as farmers-herders’ clash, what is clearly a terrorist invasion of indigenous ethnic-communities ancestral lands by the marauding killer-herdsmen? These are dreaded Fulani-herdsmen who roam around towns and villages of indigenous ethnic-communities, with AK47, killing people, destroying houses, farmlands, and raping women without any provocation? And which the government of the day has refused to arrest, prosecute or imprison any of the perpetrators. The government to complicate the matter all the more, tells the world that the killers are not Nigerians, but rather Fulanis from other African countries. But the government has never said a word about who invited or allowed them free entry into every nook and corner of the country? Neither, has the government categorically, told the world who their sponsors are?
The question is, ‘How come it that the government and security operatives of the federal republic of Nigeria have allowed foreigners of Fulani-ethnic extraction who roam around with AK47, people from other African countries to invade the country, killing and destroying ancestral homes and farmlands of Nigeria’s indigenous ethnic communities, unchallenged?’ This is the one billion Naira question! Unfortunately, most commentators on this ugly situation, instead of asking these hard questions have chosen instead to toe the government one-sided deceptive narrative and lies, thus emboldening the terrorists and their sponsors.
For instance, since the recent feud between the governor of Kaduna State and NBA gained national attention, the powers, that be, have contracted some journalists, newspapers and media proprietors, most of whom are nowadays publishing articles trying to justify the government one-sided narrative of the carnage. These ‘brown envelope’ journalists, as they are often called, have embarked on the usual tactics of ‘balancing the terror.’ That is, trying to justify the government’s inaction by claiming that not only indigenes of the indigenous ethnic-communities are killed, but that also Hausa-Fulani Muslims living in the area are in turn being killed in reprisal attacks by the fleeing natives of Southern Kaduna.
Everyone knows that, to hold to such a view of ‘balancing the terror’ is an oversimplification of the carnage that is actually taking place in Southern Kaduna today, as well as in other parts of the country, heavily under the herders’ attacks and killings. Nothing can be far from the truth than such a devilish claim of authors of ‘balancing the terror!’
The fact that most of the natives of Southern Kaduna have deserted their ancestral homes because of the on-going carnage, and are now refugees in the neighbouring states and towns, does not worry those propagating the doctrine of ‘balancing the terror’? Again, the fact that prominent Christian traditional rulers of Southern Kaduna and other vocal politicians and intellectuals from the area have either been killed, kidnapped or sent on self-imposed exile because of the ongoing carnage there, makes no sense to agents of ‘balancing the terror?’
Furthermore, the fact on the ground today, in the midst of all these, is that the state government is busy replacing the Christian traditional rules and Chiefdoms in the largely Christian Southern Kaduna with Fulani Muslim Emirates and Emirs! How these ugly development of things in Southern Kaduna under the present dispensation do not worry those hired authors of balancing the terror, is very unfortunate.
People of good conscience, not driven by politics, religious and ethnic clannishness, or monetary inducement, would consider these lies being propagated against the traumatized indigenous ethnic-communities of Southern Kaduna by authors of ‘balancing the terror’, as sufficient reasons to justify the dis-invitation of the governor by the NBA. Only a Bar Association that lacks sense of humanity and respect for sacredness of human life, would fold its arms, and watch a people of a particular region or regions of the country it serves, subjected to a systematic threat of extermination as the indigenous ethnic-communities of Southern Kaduna are facing today, without taking an action of disapproval?
The fact that the government in power both at the federal and state levels, are not doing anything tangible to stop the carnage in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country, should be a major source of worry to any right thinking person or group of persons like the NBA. Again, the fact that the government in power appears disinterested, not seen to be on the side of the victims of the Fulani killer-herdsmen attacks and killings in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country, should worry any right-thinking person!
That this scenario of bloodbaths and destructions in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country took a dramatic shape, and has lasted for over five years now, since the present regime came to power 2015, is the most worrisome aspect of the whole thing. Again, the present feud, setting up Northern Fulani Muslim lawyers against the NBA because of the dis-invitation of the governor, follows exactly, the same tactics used in setting up Fulani Muslims against the indigenous ethnic-communities in Southern Kaduna.
What we are dealing with here is the insensitivity of the so-called rulers and political gladiators with their inborn ‘divisive spirit’, conquest ideology and agenda of religious and cultural domination of indigenous populations of Nigeria. Put them anywhere, they must set-up one group against the other, using the parameter of primitive divisive elements of religion and ethnicity. When in power, they use government machinery to achieve their sinister agenda of conquest and domination.
The question is, ‘why has this government not gotten the courage to express at least, a sincere outrage over the ongoing bloodbaths perpetrated by the marauding killer-herdsmen? Why has this government refused to declare these killer-herdsmen and their Miyetti-Alla sponsors, a terrorist group? Why? If not that the government itself, is implicitly, behind the carnage being perpetrated by these terrorists, as some have, rightly or wrongly, alleged?
Suffice it to mention the massacre of over 1000 Shia Muslims in Kaduna by the Nigerian military, and the continued ethnic-cleansings of Christians and indigenous ethnic-communities in Southern Kaduna, all happening under the watch of the present regime. Yet the regime does not want the people to feel outraged? Again, the worse thing is that till date none of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against humanity in Southern Kaduna or elsewhere in the Middle Belt and Southern states, has been arrested, prosecuted or imprisoned by the present regime, both at the federal and state levels?
Another disturbing thing is that the government itself has never for once, sincerely and truly, commiserated with the victims. Rather, what the government does is to embolden and provide state and military protection for the terrorists, killer-herdsmen and bandits doing these killings and destructions in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country. And to go after any individual or group that dares speak against the heinous crimes and killings of innocent citizens going on in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country? Government spokespersons, both at the federal and state levels, would each time these carnages happen, try to justify them by blaming those who express outcry against the ugly situation. The recent government harassment of Dr Obadiah Mailafia, former deputy governor of CBN, since he granted an interview to a Lagos-based FM radio station, in which he decried the killings of his people of Southern Kaduna, is a case in point.
The Rationale behind the Northern Lawyers’ “New Bar Association”
There is no doubt that the same rationale propelling the harassment of Dr Obadiah Mailafia by the Nigerian security operatives, for decrying the Southern Kaduna carnage, is also behind the present threat by lawyers from the Northern Sharia states to discontinue with their membership of the NBA. As lawyers, which they claim to be, one would have expected the Northern Sharia States lawyers to come up with a position paper condemning the killings of Christians and indigenous ethnic-communities in Northern Nigeria. But this never happened. Rather, the Northern Sharia States lawyers are quick to point an accusing finger to their colleagues from other parts of the country who want to vent their disapproval for the ineptitude manner the state government is handling the genocide against Christians and indigenous ethnic-communities in Southern Kaduna.
In other words, for the Northern Sharia states lawyers, the lives of people of Southern Kaduna, being slaughtered on daily basis by the killer-herdsmen, do not count! What counts to these Sharia states lawyers from Northern Nigeria, is the interest of the present administration, at both state and federal government levels, which is the protection of the killer-herdsmen, and not the lives of indigenous ethnic-communities of Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country, being slaughtered on daily basis by the killer-herdsmen! Quo vadis?
This is why many people of good conscience think that the Northern lawyers’ threat to form their own Bar Association with ethnic agenda to serve the Muslim Fulani North, may be a blessing in disguise. It may be the beginning forever of redefining a new path for Nigeria’s rebirth. After all, who should bother so much, if people with that type of mind-set, decide to leave the global body of NBA to form their own clannish Sharia States Lawyers’ Bar Association? Because their presence in the global Nigerian Bar Association breeds violence, hatred, injustice, lopsided leadership, insecurity, nepotism, and bloodbaths to the generality of the country.
Moreover, why should one worry about their leaving the NBA? After all, the Northern Sharia States have long left the country since the year 2001, when they adopted Sharia legal and political systems for their zones. The only worry now, is that today, they have taken over the complete control of the federal government and have embarked on a vigorous mission of total Islamization and Fulanization of the whole country. They have transformed the whole federal government machinery and leadership structure into Islamic and Fulani hegemony. The Nigerian judiciary, legislature and the executive arms of the Federal government under Buhari administration are already Northernized, Islamized, and Fulanized.
This means that if Northern lawyers and their kith and kin want to leave Nigeria to form their own political and legal state, they should be encouraged to do so. Let them go and form their own version of Bar Association that will serve the interest of their own people or rather their “new government” to emerge, which perhaps, sooner, or later, will be localized to their own part of the world? When that happens, know that the liberation of the indigenous ethnic-nationalities in this British contraption Nigeria is near at hand, so to speak. Because it will pave way for the total liberation of the rest of the people of the country from many years of servitude and ineptitude leadership by people with that type of mentality and mind-set.
The Nigerian Armed Forces – Army, Air Force, Navy, Police, as well as the Customs, Immigration, Road-safety, and all the Paramilitaries, etc., are already under the full control of Northern Fulani Muslims. So are all the important organs and parastatals of the present Federal government. The entire security operatives, governmental structure and machinery of the Nigerian State are today under the complete control of Fulani Muslims from the North. It is as if Christians and indigenous populations of the country no longer exist. So, the earlier Fulani Muslims of Northern Nigeria decide on their own to form their own associations and leave the rest of Nigerians in peace, the better for us all.
Presently, the regime at the federal level is in a desperate effort to install as governors in all the Southern and Middle Belt states, those politicians from these states that agreed to be used as ‘willing-tools’ by the regime for the Islamization and Fulanization of the predominantly Christian states of Southern and Middle Belt regions of the country. Where they found a strong resistance as happened in Imo State during the 2019 governorship elections, they will use the federal might, the Sharia Judge Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, to install their stooge. The on-going political wrangling in Edo and Ondo States for this September governorship elections in those states, will not be different. They want to install states governors of their choice that could be used as “willing-tools” for their Islamization and Fulanization agenda of Nigeria. And there is nobody on the ground in the country today, capable of stopping them from installing those stooges in office as governors in Edo and Ondo States.
Moreover, unless a miracle happens and Nigeria survives the present turmoil as an entity, by 2023 elections, the same forces derailing the progress and development of Nigerian state, will make sure that they install their stooges as governors across all the states in Southern and Middle Belt regions of the country. Make no mistake about it: The present-ruling party, APC, is a political party contracted by the OIC, Saudi Arabia and Muslim Brotherhood International, and which is being used in the on-going process of total Islamization and Fulanization of Nigeria.
During the Babaginda ill-conceived transition to civilian rule, the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) was the party the same forces had wanted to use to convert Nigeria into a full Muslim state. During Obasanjo and later Jonathan administrations, they kept these two former presidents of Nigeria under constant tension, using Buhari’s political opposition parties and of course, the Islamists’ terrorist groups, Boko Haram and Killer-herdsmen. But since Buhari became President in 2015, the regime has been doing the bidding of these agents of Islamization and Fulanization of Nigeria. The ruling party APC is the smokescreen they use today in that project. The party is 100% agent of Islamization and Fulanization of Nigeria! Don’t mind, the ‘willing-tools’, who claim to be Christians, they often recruit from the Southern and Middle Belt regions. It is all meant to confuse the gullible. The fact remains that APC is an Islamic political party in power in Nigeria today!
The Implications of Northern Lawyers’ ‘New Bar Association’
In the midst of all these, ‘what are the implications of all the fuss about the formation of a separate Bar Association by the Northern Fulani Muslim lawyers?’ For me, there is nothing new in what the Northern lawyers have chosen to do. After all, that has been the political game Northern ruling class and elites often play and use to get whatever they want in the Nigerian state, each time there is something of this kind.
Was it not how their forbears delayed the independence of Nigeria from Great Britain in 1957 on the pretence that they were not yet ready? And when they claim to be ready for it in 1960, it was to them that Britain handed over the political power of the nascent independent Nigerian State. In addition, the colonial masters gave them an age over other regions of the country through the pre-independence massively rigged population census of 1953, and the colonial regional frontiers’ landmass arbitrary boundary adjustments carried out by the British before they left the country in 1960. Thus, repositioning the North for permanent political control of the country.
In this way, the North was technically, positioned ‘forever’ by Britain to have preponderance in population and number of legislators in the National Assembly, over other regions in Southern Nigeria. Ab initio, Nigeria was an ‘unbalanced union.’ Nigeria was never created by Britain to succeed as a nation state, but rather to continue to serve British neo-colonial imperialism in Africa. This was how the seed of political instability, ethnic-hate and religious bigotry we see today in Nigeria, sixty years after political independence from Britain, was sown. It meant, in principle that political control of the entire country will always be at the hands of the Northern ruling class and the Caliphate. That is, as long as there was no strong resistance from the people of the Southern regions and the Middle Belt.
Therefore, the Northern lawyers by forming their own new Bar Association, separating from the global NBA, are just playing the usual traditional politics of the Northern ruling class and elites in the Nigerian State. But this time around, it will be a great mistake to allow them have their way. This is because many people have died in Nigeria as a result of all these historical facts. The North must be made to understand this.
On this basis, one cannot but appreciate the courage and sense of humanity demonstrated by the NBA leadership by dis-inviting the Kaduna governor. A government or political system which folds its arms, on the basis of ethnic or religious considerations, and watches hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens in his domain, massacred in their ancestral homeland by terrorists, is not worth its salt. Any political system or government that is incapable of providing security of lives and property for its citizens, should be disbanded and replaced with a new political order and administration. Human life is sacred and sacrosanct. Protection of human life comes first in the order of priority of any government and in the fashioning of any political system, worth its name.
Therefore, in the present dispensation, the gladiators behind the newly formed Northern lawyers’ Bar Association should be made to understand, that Nigeria has come of age. No more tolerance of nonsense from any person or group of persons. The Northern ruling class and elites, with all respects, have played this their game for a long time. It is now time to tell them that enough is enough!
This is what they have been doing in all aspects of the political life of the country all these years. The only difference now, is that they have gotten a complete control of the federal government machinery under the present lopsided federal government. A federal government, whose primary objective is the total Islamization and Fulanization of Nigeria. The present federal government is yet to convince majority of the citizens that it cares about the security of lives and property of the indigenous ethnic-communities in the Middle Belt and Southern States of Nigeria.
The Way Out of the Conundrum
Today, as we speak, the entire governance structure of Nigerian State is controlled by one clan, an ethno-religious group from the North, Fulani Muslims. They control the executive, legislative, and judiciary arms of the federal government. In the midst of such lopsided government and political system, of what use is the present structure of NBA? This means that time has come to call a spade a spade and know that Nigerian judiciary, just like the other two arms of the Federal government, the executive and legislature, have been grossly compromised.
The only solution, therefore, is to look for a new paradigm shift, away from what is on board presently in the country. Nigeria Bar Association, as a matter of urgency, needs a new paradigm shift, which must be based on respecting the value systems of each federating units in this British contraption called Nigeria. The present practice whereby only the value systems of a particular ethno-religious group, that is not indigenous to the country, is the philosophy driving the Nigerian legal and political systems is unacceptable.
Thus, as things are today, it is expected that members of Nigerian Bar Association will be in the better position to do the needful, help change the current trend of events in the country before it becomes too late. Nigeria is not a homogenous nation state, and there is no way the type of lopsided federal government structure – the executive, legislature and judiciary arms of government in place today in the country, will ever work. There is no meeting-point between Sharia legal system and the Common Law upon which the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, is claimed to have been based!
It is time therefore for conscientious lawyers, and judges from the Southern and Middle Belt states of Nigeria to begin to think for an alternative way, “return to their people and base, and know that the problem is nothing else, but NIGERIA itself as presently structured.” The country needs to return to its founding story as a nation state. The question is, ‘Is this NIGERIA, in the name of which we are witnessing state-sponsored genocides, pogroms and ethnic-cleansings on daily basis, since the creation of the country by Britain in 1914, … really, the type of country our forbears had envisaged for their children, born and unborn?’ If not, why can’t we tell ourselves the naked truth and resolve to do the needful before it is too late?
Since 2001, the core North 12 states and Northern part of Kaduna State have been practising Sharia legal system instead of the Common Law as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria! It means that Nigeria as it is today is a country practising two parallels, irreconcilable laws and political systems. While the Sharia States of Northern Nigeria follow Islamic law – legal and political systems, the rest of the people in the Southern and Middle Belt regions follow a Constitution of “Common Law”, which was given to them by no less a person than a military junta headed by a Northern Fulani Muslim, Gen. Abubakar Abudulsalami.
This means, in principle, that even the 1999 Constitution is a camouflaged “Islamic Law.” This is why the words ‘Sharia and Islam’ appeared many times in the 1999 Constitution, and there is no mention of even a word of “Christian” in the Constitution. Yet nobody seems to be asking questions about all these aberrations in the 1999 Constitution?
Nigeria is already under total control of Northern Fulani Muslims. The President, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Senate President, and Speaker of House of Representatives, etc., are all Muslims. Even the Nigerian Law School and all the others, are all headed by Fulani Muslims from the North. In other words, the present Federal government is Northern Fulani Muslim-controlled government. In fact, today, before someone from the Southern States or Middle Belt regions is given any federal appointment, the individual is often forced, first, to make a pledge to the Caliphate and the ruling class from the North. Without that, no Christian or Non-Fulani would be appointed to any important position at the federal level. This is how Christians and other citizens of indigenous ethnic-communities survive in the present-day Nigeria.
The painful thing is that all the state governors, other prominent government officials, ruling class and elites are aware of all these. Yet nobody seems to be contesting it. In fact, it seemed all have been subdued by the present regime!
Taking into consideration all these, methinks that the decision of the Northern lawyers to separate from the NBA and form their own regional Bar Association to serve their selfish ends, should be seen by the rest of the country, especially, those from the Southern and Middle Belt, as an opportunity for a political renegotiation of the “failed Nigerian State.” It is needless for any right-thinking person to contest whether Nigeria is a failed state or not. We all know that! In fact, no matter how much you hope that things will get better tomorrow in the country as presently structured, the more disillusioned you will become.
Moreover, since Northern ruling class have demonstrated time and time again, that they cannot live together as equal citizens with the rest of the citizens from the Middle Belt and Southern regions, that unless they lord it over others, nothing will ever move forward in the country, I think it is time to tell them that enough is enough!
Let what is happening today in the country, the general state of insecurity and perennial political instability, be an opportunity to initiate a concrete effort by the ruling class and elites from all the federating ethnic-nationalities, for a new political solution to emerge. This is a call for political renegotiation of Nigerian State, a new political order, so that security of lives and property of indigenous populations and Christians will begin to count in the scheme of things of whoever is in power.
Fr. Francis Anekwe Oborji is a Roman Catholic Priest, is Professor Ordinarius of contextual theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome.
Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in this article is solely the responsibility of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. The image is taken from the internet and assumed to be in the public domain. If this breaches the copyrighted material, kindly note that the break of the copyright is not intentional and non-commercial. The copyrighted material in question will be removed upon request and presentation of proof in that case, please contact me via the following email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org