The Imagery of Great Britain does not spark enthusiasm in a lot of Nigerians for attestable reasons. Generally, Africans in countries colonized by the British share similar sentiments. For Nigerians, Britain, the former colonial master, is at best, a symbol of exploitation and the underdevelopment of Nigeria.
Even recently, immediate past British Prime Minister (PM) David Cameron invoked passions of hate in Nigerians, when he reminded the people that they are “fantastically corrupt.” It was a reminder that the Britons never laid a good foundation for Nigerians.
But out of evil sprouts good. David Cameron’s successor, PM Theresa May uttered a profound statement in the course of the week. She qualified terrorism among the worse of human evils. It’s an incontestable reality, except that some perverse minds still hold obstinately to it.
The PM was unequivocal that would cause the initiation of an action by the United Kingdom Government to amend its human rights laws, if subsisting legislations rather empowers terrorists to continue to inflict pains and sorrows on humanity. She was clear that new restrictions would be imposed on terror suspects, who hide under the cloak of human rights to oppress people. The British PM was responding to the terror attacks in the UK at London Bridge, Westminster and Manchester.
Precisely, she said; “But I can tell you a few of the things I mean by that: I mean longer prison sentences for people convicted of terrorist offences. I mean making it easier for the authorities to deport foreign terror suspects to their own countries.”
“And I mean doing more to restrict the freedom and the movements of terrorist suspects when we have enough evidence to know they present a threat, but not enough evidence to prosecute them in full in court. And if human rights laws stop us from doing it, we will change those laws so we can do it,” the PM added.
The world is aware of the danger terrorism has posed to the whole of humanity. And individual countries have enacted laws to curb the excesses of terrorism. The United Nations General Assembly (UN) has adopted a resolution on global counter-terrorism strategy, outlining series of measures member-nations should adopt and domesticate in their respective areas of jurisdictions.
But in spite of these measures, terrorism has continued to fester around the world. That is the constant reality of the world today. And the British PM is assertive that terrorism and extremism are twin evils against humanity which should not be handled with any levity.
While humanity appears held down by the bug of terrorism, human rights advocates, civil liberties organizations’ and some laws in most countries are more concerned with preserving and upholding the human rights of terrorists. Ironically though, such human rights activists hardly feel a pinch of concern about the human rights of terror victims that are most brutally and cruelly violated.
It is the dilemma in the battle against terrorism has presented- the gulf between law and the state’s moral obligation to protect the innocent and the defenceless.
It is within this prism that Theresa May’s statement finds potency and would surely open up robust debates around the world and compel actions by some human rights organizations to also take a trip round their mandates for a possible review as the world grapples with the challenge of terrorism. In other worlds, the PM perceives that terrorists, who satanically puncture the human rights of others, should not be clothed in the garbs and protection of human rights.
Since 2009, when Boko Haram Terrorism (BHT) peaked, Nigeria has struggled with its consuming fire. Explosion of lethal weapons; gruesome killings; arson, abductions, displacement of millions of people; destruction of private and public properties and the ensuing humanitarian crisis. It is repetitious to say Nigeria has experienced the worse side of the terror war.
The country remained in terrorism chains until President Muhammadu Buhari came on board and restructured the Nigerian military and re-fortified it to face the counter-insurgency war, which concentrated heavily in Nigeria’s North-east.
The Nigerian military’s fresh assaults on Boko Haram insurgents, led by Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt.Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai effectively conquered Boko Haram terrorism in December 2016. It delighted a grateful Nigerian public which has continued to relish the benefits of the courageous and gallant outing of Nigerian troops against terrorists.
But the twist in the tale is that some international organizations’ like Amnesty International (AI) and Transparency International (TI) have shown overt interest in the bludgeoning of terrorism in Nigeria through resentful acts. AI for instance, released it 2016/2017 report on the state of human rights in Nigeria. The report centered on the Nigerian military’s counter-insurgency war and other acts of terrorism in the country.
However, in the apparently fabricated report, AI alleged unsubstantiated acts of human rights violations by the Nigerian military in its prosecution of the anti-terrorism campaigns in Nigeria. The report in spirit and all intendments rather condemned the Nigerian military, but protected and emboldened terrorists against the Nigerian state and her people.
AI’s report never devoted even a sentence in commensurably expressing concern about the obvious abuses of the human rights of terrorists’ victims. That’s the hypocrisy, manifest in the veiled propagation of an anti-Nigerian agenda, by stabbing the Nigerian military at the back.
In what appeared like acting a shared script, Transparency International also issued a public statement in which it unjustifiably took a swipe against the Nigerian top military officials and alleged false corruption in defence procurement contracts, which proceeds, it claimed, is laundered to acquire properties abroad, as insurgency blossoms in the country.
Though, TI’s Country Representative, Mr. Auwal Rafsanjani later publicly recanted the position of his organization on alleged corruption in the Nigerian military. He described it as false; but the report had already injured the reputation of the Nigerian military and capable of dampening the morale of troops battling insurgency.
The same posture is most times promoted by individuals and civil liberties organizations’ domiciled in Nigeria. Allegations of human rights violations are baselessly leveled against the Nigeria military, in a manner that expose the propagandists as covert agents of Boko Haram terrorists.
It is to these debased minds and organizations’ that British PM is addressing today, with the famous statement of the possibility of amending human rights laws that appear to accord terrorists and extremists the latitude to strike humanity. By implication, the loud cacophonies some human rights campaigners make in favour of terrorists in Nigeria, underscores their limited knowledge and prehensile of the depth of the evil terrorism poses to the country.
The new perspectives of world leaders on human rights and terrorism should be an eye opener to these unfoundedly excited agents of terrorists who hide under the banner of human rights abuses to support the festering of terrorism. They should also learn from the wisdom of America’s President Donald Trump, who once echoed that terrorism is against humanity generally and not against any tribe or religion. Therefore, it is the duty of all humanity, wherever in the world to collectively fight it to a standstill.
The prevailing global consensus as again reiterated by PM Theresa May, reinforces the fact that anyone who stands against humanity in the name of terrorism should face the consequences, without the pleasure of enjoying any dignity . Anyone who does not uphold the life of his neighbor as sacrosanct has no reason to also exist and should not earn the sympathy of any sane mind.
Despite all the distractions, the worthy sacrifices of the Nigerian Military in leading a successful battle against terrorism and extremism in Nigeria remains profoundly appreciated by Nigerians. It is not an easy road to walk.
Nigerians also know that the country has continued to battle with remnants of terrorists because some certain international NGOs are fully in support of their nefarious activities in Nigeria on the plank of human rights violations. But they cannot defeat the determination of Nigerians and the military in fighting terrorism in all its manifest nuances. Whether anybody likes it not, terrorism is now the constant global reality and the world can only deceive itself, if it fails to adjust to this new challenge.
****Agbese, writes from the Middlesex University, London.