Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Top American constitutional lawyer publishes scathing open letter to President Buhari

Our Reporter
Tuesday, December 2, 2015

Top American constitutional lawyer publishes scathing open letter to President Buhari



U.S citizen andconstitutional/international lawyer Bruce Fein has pennedan open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari regarding what he considersas the President’s selective prosecution of corruption charges against former officials in the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Fein points out that the current administration’santi-corruption move was not even-handed in the pursuit of justice, advising Buhari to“make the hallmark of your administration justice, not retribution, and you may live for the ages.”

Fein, who served as a senior official in Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department, is a principal in a government affairs and public relations firm, The Lichfield Group, based in Washington, D.C.

See the full text of Fein’s letter below:
Aso Rock, Abuja Nigeria

Dear President Buhari:

When you visited the United States Institute of Peace last July, you pledged that you would be "fair, just and scrupulously follow due process and the rule of law, as enshrined in [the Nigerian]constitution" in prosecuting corruption.

Such loftiness is laudable. As the Bible instructs in Amos 5:24: "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

But to be just, the law must be evenhanded. It cannot, in the manner of Russian President Vladimir Putin, be something that is given to punish your enemies and withheld to favor your friends. If so, the law becomes an instrument of injustice bearing earmarks of the wicked rather than the good.

In the United States, you declared a policy of "zero tolerance" against corruption. You solicited weapons and other assistance from the United States government based on that avowal. But were you sincere?

During your election campaign, you promised widespread amnesty, not zero tolerance. You elaborated: "Whoever that is indicted of corruption between 1999 to the time of swearing-in would be pardoned. I am going to draw a line, anybody who involved himself in corruption after I assume office, will face the music."

After you were inaugurated, however, you disowned your statement and declared you would prosecute past ministers or other officials for corruption or fraud. And then again you immediately hedged. You were reminded of your dubious past by former Major General and President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who succeeded your military dictatorship. He released this statement:

"On General Buhari, it is not in IBB's tradition to take up issues with his colleague former President. But for the purpose of record, we are conversant with General Buhari's so-called holier-than-thou attitude. He is a one-time Minister of Petroleum and we have good records of his tenure as minister. Secondly, he presided over the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, which records we also have.

We challenge him to come out with clean hands in those two portfolios he headed. Or we will help him to expose his records of performance during those periods. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. General Buhari should be properly guided."

You then swiftly backed off your zero tolerance policy because you would have been its first casualty.
You opportunistically announced that zero tolerance would be narrowed to the predecessor administration of Goodluck Jonathan because to probe further would be "a waste of time." That conclusion seems preposterous. In 2012, the World Bank's ex-vice president for Africa, Oby Ezekwesili, estimated that a stupendous $400 billion in Nigerian oil revenues had been stolen or misspent since independence in 1960. The lion's share of that corruption spans far beyond the Jonathan administration.

Your zero tolerance policy seems to come with a squint to avoid seeing culpability in your political friends. A few examples are but the tip of the iceberg.

A Rivers State judicial commission of inquiry found that N53 billion disappeared from the Rivers State Reserve Fund under former governor Rotimi Amaechi. Former Lagos governor and head of your campaign finance team Babatunde Fashola was accused of squandering N78 million of government money to upgrade his personal website. The EFCC has ignored these corruption allegations, and you have given both promotions: the Ministry of Transport to Mr. Amaechi, and the Ministry of Power, Works, and Housing to Mr. Fashola.

In contrast, you have played judge, jury, and prosecutor in the newspapers to convict former PDP Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke of corruption.

Is this evenhanded justice?

United States Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson taught: "There is no more effective practical guaranty against arbitrary and unreasonable government than to require that the principles of law which officials would impose upon a minority must be imposed generally. Conversely, nothing opens the door to arbitrary action so effectively as to allow those officials to pick and choose only a few to whom they will apply legislation and thus to escape the political retribution that might be visited upon them if larger numbers were affected."

To investigate or prosecute based on political affiliation or opinion also violates Articles 2 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is unworthy of a great nation like Nigeria.

Make the hallmark of your administration justice, not retribution, and you may live for the ages.

I am a United States citizen and lawyer. I have no political standing in Nigeria. Some might argue that my speaking about the administration of justice in Nigeria bespeaks impertinence But you chose to visit the United States to solicit weapons and other assistance from my government-a government of the people, by the people, for the people. The United States government represents me. What the United States government does reflects on me. I thus have an interest in addressing the actions of foreign governments that receive United States government aid.

Sunshine is said to be the best of disinfectants.


Bruce Fein
Fein & DelValle PLLC
300 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20001

Friday, November 27, 2015

Excellent writing

Neo-Biafrans and the Nigerian state
Ayo Olukotun

Ayo Olukotun


For much of its history, the Nigerian state has been administrated, rather than governed. Task forces, reshuffles, and the edicts of rulers all implemented with immediate effect have been the familiar languages of Nigeria’s successive administrative rulers.
In short supply is the strategic mindset which sets direction, creates the framework for renewing the federal bargain in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. Related to this is the mantra approach to national unity built on the war-time slogan, “To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done” or “The unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable.” It is this mental framework which explains why our leaders believe that by detaining Nnamdi Kanu, the director of Radio Biafra, which evokes the pirate “Radio Kudirat” of the 1990s, the rising Neo-Biafran groundswell will simply vanish. As is becoming increasingly obvious, strong arm tactics, or even judicial murder, as in the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa, merely postpone the day of reckoning for a nation that refuses to confront its true identity.
A recent book on comparative federalism, edited by influential American political scientists, states in its introductory section that “Nigeria is the only federation discussed in this book whose future is uncertain.” That was not revealing an obscure reality, but pinpoints the vulnerability of a nation state, where the wide play of centrifugal forces is the norm, rather than the exception. Professor Richard Joseph, it was, who not so long ago referred to a statement made by a Northern politician to the effect that several of today’s rulers appear to lack an instinctual understanding of how Nigeria works. That same insight was articulated by a former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the late Ishaya Audu, who remarked jokingly that Nigeria can be likened to the flowing Hausa dress “babanriga”. When you adjust it on the left, the right side of the dress threatens to come unstuck, and begins to flap in the winds.
To be sure, Biafra today is little more than nostalgia for a republic that in reality was far from the ideal which it professed. The youths agitating for it, with a touch of Nollywood eccentricity, contacted Biafra through a garbled version of history mixed with a huge dose of myth, since history is no longer taken seriously in our schools. Biafra, to clarify, was an autocratic state suffused with internal contradiction such as, for instance, the repression of non-Igbo minorities who were forcibly conscripted into its bastion. It aspired to an alluring socialism in the shape of the “Ahiara Declaration”, but backslid, in the end, to a military oligarchy. Founded on ethnic self-determination, it became little more than a showpiece of the ravages of warlordism.
Its contradictions notwithstanding, it represented the aspiration of self-determination, ethnic justice and true federalism in the larger context of a Nigeria which almost routinely denied these rights.
Calling Nigeria a Zoo as one of the Neo-Biafran leaders did may appear unpolished, but it does underline the arbitrariness of successive leaders, the syndrome of rotating power through the whim of autocrats, rather than civilised and agreed procedures. It also underlines the exploitation of techniques of blackmail employed by disaffected ethnic groups in order to force their demands of power rotation on a system lacking firm procedures. In this perspective, the Yoruba, it is said, invoked the June 12 movement and the National Democratic Coalition, to procure a Yoruba presidency, the Niger Delta used the Ogoni struggle and the militancy of their militias to achieve a South-South presidency, the Hausa allegedly employed Boko Haram in its early incarnation to force upon the nation the need to restitute northern marginalisation. In the same vein, or so the argument runs, the Igbo political class are nurturing their own terror instruments to draw global attention to the historic neglect of the Igbo, and to win the coveted price of an Igbo presidency.
In other words, if Nigeria is indeed a zoo, it suggests that the rule of combat is the brandishing of physical strength and threat to employ the Samson option, which is to bring the roof crashing down on everyone, if grievances are not heeded. But Nigeria need not be a showpiece of dysfunction in which disaffection can only be rectified by the invention of terror. Only a political class hooked on short term remedies can afford to live in the kind of squalour in which nothing can be taken for granted. For there is the possibility, that the wild dogs trained for the purpose of raising the social thermometer and compelling attention to grievances, may be impossible to silence, even when the initial objective of resolving a few grievances has been achieved.
Evidently, the cry of Igbo marginalisation and a return to Biafra have been with us for some time. Even the Ikemba of Nnewi, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, in partial recognition of the activities of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, called for “a Biafra of the mind.” Presumably, he meant by this that there was a need to tackle the structural inequities that resulted in the creation of Biafra. Talking about structure, Nigeria would have been a much better and greater country had the Aburi Accord which in effect prescribed a confederal state or at least, a weaker centre with powers devolved to subnational authorities, been implemented. Recall for example, that the competitive regionalism of the First Republic in which the centre was coequal to the regions produced accelerated development and is today seen as the golden age of Nigerian federalism. It is a rebuke of successive leaders that they have failed to engineer consensus around a more federal union, than the country had ever enjoyed.
The exception to this appears to the National Constitution Conference of 2014, which took far-reaching decisions in the direction of a more equitable federalism. It is not a perfect document, as it contains some glaring contradictions, such as the recommendation to create more states. But it remains an important starting point for reinventing and making more equitable, Nigerian federalism. For example, if the centre is weakened, the recurrent agitations by ethnic groups to control the Presidency will go down, while the federating units will become the locus and agency of development. Until this happens, we can expect unending wails about internal colonialism on the part of disadvantaged ethnic groups.
Important too, is the need for leaders, especially the President to reinforce the symbols of nationhood, through gestures, appointments, and policies. There is a link between some of the early appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari, believed to have disfavoured the Igbo who did not vote for him, and the resurgence of the pro-Biafran movement. The point to take home is the need for our leaders to be conscious of the national history of interethnic strife, and a costly civil war. They should also bear in mind that perceptions once formed are difficult to erase.
Finally, the authorities should display a more sense of humour and tolerance in handling dissent, in a democratic setting. Imagine how easily pressure can go down if Buhari were to invite Kanu, for a chat in the Presidential Villa as opposed to the current official belligerence.

Monday, November 9, 2015

It is amazing how tattoos have taking center stage in pop culture.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


While non militant Biafran agitators are being held, murderous Boka Haram prisoners are being released.

Nigerian Army has released 182 Boko Haram suspects from Maimalari Barracks in Maiduguri, Borno state.


Igbos Can Be Free

The Igbo people are not ready to free themselves from Nigeria. The irony is that if you conduct a poll of Igbos you might come with a majority favoring cessation from Nigeria but when real commitment is sort from those that favors cessation only a handful will be open to commit. So Gowon was right when he said that majority of Igbo do not want cessation and Obasanjo has recently made the same statement.  
The way forward
Igbos in diaspora need to seek out ways to establish present in their home States and begin to have dialog with their people on how to develop Igbo land and bring industry and prosperity to the land. Industrial development is the only peaceful pathway to Igbo freedom. We may not have quick political freedom but we can achieve economic freedom which will definitely bring about political freedom. We have to work for it. Let’s look beyond oil and focus in our people and their talents.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"With Biafra it is finished" Do you agree? I feel sorry for Gowon and many who fought on the Nigerian side hoping to win a country that they can believe in only to have a Nigeria that could not care for its people and a military that could not fight Boko Haram. What a waste!
Image result for gowon