May 11, 2014
The Edo United For Homeland Empowerment, a United States-based human rights group, has called on the U.S. government to initiate international efforts to help Nigeria fight terrorism and kidnapping.
In a petition sent to the US government, the organization also appealed to the US to pressure the Nigerian government to fight institutional corruption. In a statement issued from its Boston, MA headquarters, the group asserted that corruption “not only deprives the Nigerian masses of their rights to decent lives, but also constantly militates against effective action by the [Nigerian] authorities.” It demanded sanctions against corrupt public office holders in Nigeria.
The organization described Boko Haram’s recent abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State as “insane and barbaric,” adding, “the threat by the sect to sell the innocent girls must be taken seriously.”
It recalled that Boko Haram has unleashed terror of unimaginable proportion on the Nigerian nation with heavy casualty from a series of suicide bombings, shootings and decapitation of innocent citizens, especially students targeted by the extremist Islamist sect which opposes western education and values.
The organization submitted its petition at Senator Edward Markey’s office located at the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in Boston, Massachusetts. It stated that, if left unchecked, the current situation in Nigeria could rapidly and uncontrollably degenerate into revenge killings and ethnic or religious war, thereby plunging the entire West African region into chaos.
“If this happens, many American citizens of Nigerian origin, innocent Nigerians and other visitors to the country are bound to suffer,” the organization stated in their petition. The group pointed to Rwanda’s genocide in the 1990s, adding that the heavy death toll in that horrific episode was a lesson on the heavy price of inaction, or of intervention that arrives too late to halt the train of ethnic cleansing before it becomes unstoppable. It reminded the US government of its commitment never to let another tragedy like Rwanda’s to recur.
The Edo United organization decried the increased pace of human rights violations in Nigeria, with frequent bombings of civilian targets by Boko Haram, daily kidnapping of individuals by professional gangs and the Nigerian government’s indiscriminate reprisals that leave significant collateral damage on the side of the innocent civilians.
Several members of the group’s board of directors, including its president, Mr. Frank Ekhator, its director of publicity, Mr. Emmanuel Okunmwendia, and secretary-general, Ms. Omolayo Yvonne Moruyi, held a closed door meeting with Kate Machet, a top aide to Senator Markey. They presented to her a catalog of burning issues in Nigeria that need to be urgently addressed.
The petition was signed by all three officials of the group as well as by Sam Edo, the organization’s director of cyber security and research.
The group contended: “America has a duty to protect lives, spread liberty as well as democracy across the entire world.” It argued that Nigeria might slide into another long cycle of anarchy and military coups without external assistance.
“At present, Nigerian citizens, especially women and young school children, are in dire need of protection, but such protection is beyond the competence or concern of corrupt authorities,” the group stated, adding that only pressure and support from world leaders like the U.S. can compel the Nigerian government to fight organized crimes that are running out of control. It pointed to Nigeria’s epidemic of kidnapping, terrorism, sexual violence, human and drug trafficking, economic and political corruption.
According to the Edo United group, “Without coordinated international actions to reverse the trends, today’s Boko Haram insurgents and other gangs of ‘area boys’ will turn Nigeria into a safe haven for terrorists and kidnappers. We must not allow Nigeria to become another Afghanistan. America and the international community must stand with Nigeria to stop this evil.”
Edo United for Homeland Empowerment thanked the United States Senate for its bi-partisan passage of the resolution condemning the abduction of the Chibok female students by Boko Haram. They appealed to Senator Markey to urge the United States Senate and the White House to take more actions, not only to secure the release of the kidnapped girls, but also to help the Nigerian government to urgently improve its approach to securing human lives within the borders of the country.
“For a long time now, insecurity in Nigeria has been the bane of the country, culminating in the United States of America and United Kingdom designating the country as one of the unsafe zones in the world,” the group said.
The members of the group regretted that visits by Nigerians in the Diaspora to their homeland were always a nightmare with the apprehension that they might not return alive. The organization cited the example of a Boston-based Nigerian pharmacist, Paul Egesionu, who was murdered a few years ago during his visit to Nigeria, with no suspects ever arrested and tried for the crime.
They added: “Just early this year, a female American citizen, also from Boston, was kidnapped, brutalized for a whole week and was only released after the family had paid a ransom,” disclosing that no suspects were ever apprehended.
Members of the Edo United organization also visited the office of Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts where they submitted copies of their petition. Other US government officials copied on the petition included Secretary of State John Kerry, Congressman John Tierney, and Speaker of the Massachusetts legislature, Robert Deleo.