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slave trade eye witness account

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Slave Trade:

 

the African Connection, ca 1788

 

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The labor-intensive agriculture of the New World demanded a large workforce. Crops such as sugar cane, tobacco and cotton required an unlimited and inexpensive supply of strong backs to assure timely production for the European market. Slaves from Africa offered the solution. The slave trade between Western Africa and the America’s reached its peak in the mid-18th century when it is estimated that over 80,000 Africans annually crossed the Atlantic to spend the rest of their lives in chains. Of those who survived the voyage, the final destination of approximately 40% was the Caribbean Islands. Thirty-eight percent ended up in Brazil, 17% in Spanish America and 6% in the United States.

 

Young boys wait to be loaded
aboard a slave ship

It was a lucrative business. A slave purchased on the African coast for the equivalent of 14 English pounds in bartered goods in 1760 could sell for 45 pounds in the American market.

A slave’s journey to a life of servitude often began in the interior of Africa with his or her capture as a prize of war, as tribute given by a weak tribal state to a more powerful one, or by outright kidnapping by local traders. European slave traders rarely ventured beyond Africa’s coastal regions. The African interior was riddled with disease, the natives were often hostile and the land uncharted. The Europeans preferred to stay in the coastal region and have the natives bring the slaves to them.

“Most of the Negroes shipped off from the coast of Africa are kidnapped.”

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Dr. Alexander Falconbridge served as the surgeon aboard a number of slave ships that plied their trade between the West African coast and the Caribbean in the late 1700s. He described his experiences in a popular book published in 1788. He became active in the Anti-Slavery Society and was appointed Governor of a colony established for freed slaves on the coast of modern-day Sierra Leone. His service was brief as he died in 1788 shortly after his appointment. We join his story as he describes the process through which the native African looses his freedom:

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“There is great reason to believe, that most of the Negroes shipped off from the coast of Africa, are kidnapped. But the extreme care taken by the black traders to prevent the Europeans from gaining any intelligence of their modes of proceeding; the great distance inland from whence the Negroes are brought; and our ignorance of their language (with which, very frequently, the black traders themselves are equally unacquainted), prevent our obtaining such information on this head as we could wish. I have, however, by means of occasional inquiries, made through interpreters, procured some intelligence relative to the point. . . . From these I shall select the following striking instances: While I was in employ on board one of the slave ships, a Negro informed me that being one evening invited to drink with some of the black traders, upon his going away, they attempted to seize him. As he was very active, he evaded their design, and got out of their hands. He was, however, prevented from effecting his escape by a large dog, which laid hold of him, and compelled him to submit. These creatures are kept by many of the traders for that purpose; and being trained to the inhuman sport, they appear to be much pleased with it.

I was likewise told by a Negro woman that as she was on her return home, one evening, from some neighbors, to whom she had been making a visit by invitation, she was kidnapped; and, notwithstanding she was big with child, sold for a slave. This transaction happened a considerable way up the country, and she had passed through the hands of several purchasers before she reached the ship.

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A man and his son, according to their own information, were seized by professed kidnappers, while they were planting yams, and sold for slaves. This likewise happened in the interior parts of the country, and after pass­ing through several hands, they were purchased for the ship to which I belonged. It frequently happens that those who kidnap others are themselves, in their turns, seized and sold.

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. . . During my stay on the coast of Africa, I was an eye-witness of the following transaction: a black trader invited a Negro, who resided a lit­tle way up the country, to come and see him. After the entertainment was over, the trader proposed to his guest, to treat him with a sight of one of the ships lying in the river. The unsuspicious countryman read­ily consented, and accompanied the trader in a canoe to the side of the ship, which he viewed with pleasure and astonishment. While he was thus employed, some black traders on board, who appeared to be in the secret, leaped into the canoe, seized the unfortunate man, and dragging him into the ship, immediately sold him.

The preparations made at Bonny by the black traders, upon set­ting out for the fairs which are held up the country, are very consider­able. From twenty to thirty canoes, capable of containing thirty or forty Negroes each, are assembled for this purpose; and such goods put on board them as they expect will be wanted for the purchase of the number of slaves they intend to buy.

When their loading is com­pleted, they commence their voyage, with colors flying, and music playing; and in about ten or eleven days, they generally return to Bonny with full cargoes. As soon as the canoes arrive at the trader’s landing place, the purchased Negroes are cleaned, and oiled with palm-oil; and on the following day they are exposed for sale to the captains.

A device used to control
unruly slaves

When the Negroes, whom the black traders have to dispose of, are shown to the European purchasers, they first examine them rela­tive to their age. They then minutely inspect their persons, and inquire into the state of their health, if they are afflicted with any infirmity, or are deformed, or have bad eyes or teeth; if they are lame, or weak in their joints, or distorted in the back, or of a slender make, or are narrow in the chest; in short, if they have been, or are afflicted in any manner, so as to render them incapable of much labor; if any of the foregoing defects are discovered in them, they are rejected. But if approved of, they are generally taken on board the ship the same evening. The purchaser has liberty to return on the following morning, but not afterwards, such as upon re-examination are found exceptionable.

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The traders frequently beat those Negroes which are objected to by the captains, and use them with great severity. It matters not whether they are refused on account of age, illness, deformity, or for any other reason. At New Calabar, in particular . . . the traders, when any of their Negroes have been objected to, have dropped their canoes under the stern of the vessel, and instantly be headed them, in sight of the captain.

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As soon as the wretched Africans, purchased at the fairs, fall into the hands of the black traders, they experience an earnest of those dreadful sufferings which they are doomed in future to undergo. . . . They are brought from the places where they are pur­chased to Bonny, etc. in canoes; at the bottom of which they lie, hav­ing their hands tied with a kind of willow twigs, and a strict watch is kept over them. Their usage in other respects, during the time of the passage, which generally lasts several days, is equally cruel. Their allowance of food is so scanty, that it is barely sufficient to support nature. They are, besides, much exposed to the violent rains which frequently fall here, being covered only with mats that afford but a slight defense; and as there is usually water at the bottom of the canoes, from their leaking, they are scarcely ever dry.”

References:
   This eyewitness account appears in Falconbridge, Alexander, An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa (1788); Curtin, Phillip D. Atlantic Slave Trade (1969); Matheson, William Law, Great Britain and the Slave Trade, 1839-1865 (1967).

How To Cite This Article:
“Slave Trade: the African Connection, ca 1788” EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2007).

 

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Biafra

Fulani Terrorists Continues Their Genocidal Massacre In Ebonyi

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People slaughtered by Fulani Terrorists in Ebonyi State on 4th of june 2021

Again, Fulani Terror herdsmen sponsored, armed, and guarded by Nigeria Fulani-led federal government has continued their genocidal massacre of Biafrans in Ebonyi.

According to a  viral video online, a reporter can be heard saying that the Fulani Terrorists are not relenting in the quest to kill everyone in Ebonyi state.

This is about the 4th time in the last 6 months that Fulani terrorists have gone on the large-scale slaughter of Ebonyi people.

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He called on Eastern Security Network(ESN) to come to the aid of the Ebonyi people.  ESN was formed by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to safeguard Biafrans against marauding Fulani terrorists.

However, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi has been against the formation of ESN and has been working assiduously to eliminate ESN personnel from Ebonyi instead of supporting them.

This led to the creation of the Ebubeagu Security Network to fight the ESN in Ebonyi and other Eastern states. Ebubeagu has never and does not have the capacity to confront Fulani Terror Herdsmen wielding automatic assault rifles given to them by the Nigerian government.

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Conflicts

Egypt – Central Sinai, Anti Terror Military Raid, 7 Killed, 3 Arrested

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The Egyptian military has carried anti-terrorist operations in Sinai on Monday.

The military spokesperson said that the military killed seven terrorists including two “leading members of terrorist groups,” in North Sinai in a statement published on social media.

He also said in a separate statement that three terrorist suspects were arrested in central Sinai.

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In both operations together, the spokesperson said it destroyed vehicles and motorcycles, a tunnel, and cannabis farms, in addition to dozens of “terrorist dens” where they found computers and material used to manufacture explosives.

Several photos of the operations were published. They included one photo of the three arrested suspects and a photo of the tunnel. The tunnel was reported to have been discovered in the border zone, among other tunnels reported to have been destroyed every month.

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In 2014, the military began working on a buffer zone in Rafah by removing residents’ houses with the aim of securing the borders with Gaza and putting an end to terror.

Via Daily News!

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Biafra

Biafra – Another Accused In The Ozubulu Church Terrorist Attack, Kingsley Ekeoma, A.K.A Escoba Clears The Air On Identity Mix-up, Sues Ait & Sun (Photos)

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Ozubulu Church Massacre: Kingsley Ekeoma ‘Escobar’ Not Connected To Incident, Demands Apology From Sun
The Ozubulu church massacre has opened a new discourse about poor journalism in Nigeria. And the rush to publish unfounded and unsubstantiated stories in the media by big and small media houses and even in blogs by bloggers, who most of the time copy from websites of big media outlets, hoping that they have verified their stories thoroughly before publishing.

When the incident happened at St Philip church in Ozubulu in Ekwusigo LGA of Anambra state, every media and the social media users jumped on it like every other news. But sooner than expected the truer picture is beginning to emerge that the two businessmen the media rushed to involve in the incident are not part of it.

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In one of them, another man whose name and the video was wrongly and defame-ably connected to the incident has threatened to sue The Sun Newspaper unless he gets a unreserved apology from the said newspaper firm or else he would proceed to the law court.

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The issue is that The Sun newspaper published a video of Mr Kingsley Ekeoma as the man who was sought after by the killers, who carried out the unspeakable massacre in the house of God on Sunday in Ozubulu.

The problem here is that these stories were never verified before these media outlets went to the air to publish barrages of unsubstantiated information. The stories in so many cases were incoherent and names were badly mangled and got even unsuspecting readers confused as who is the real person and where he is actually from.

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The man, Kingsley Ekeoma, popularly known as Escobar who was alleged by the Nigerian media (Sun newspaper) and the Nigeria Police as the one purportedly involved in the drug dealers cartel which the gunmen that killed worshippers on Sunday were looking for, has come out to deny his involvement in the act.

Escobar has threatened to institute a lawsuit against The Sun newspaper and the police for defamation of character.
According to him, he is neither from Ozubulu nor has he ever visited South Africa in his lifetime.

Hear him: “Am neither the so called Bishop nor from Ozubulu in Anambra State. I have never been to South Africa nor Ozubulu before.

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I hail from Umuahia Abia State but base in Turkey. I am a legitimate businessman (Verified Real Estate Developer in Abuja).

I hereby call on the office of the Inspector General of police, DSS and other security related departments to do proper investigations into the massacre in Ozubulu. As for AIT and Sun Newspaper wait for me.

I know some stupid fools want to tarnish my reputations but I will follow up this case with my team of lawyers till the end.

My sympathy to the bereaved families and the truth must prevail. Please, my beloved friends, Help me and share this report around and viral. God bless you all.”

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Conflicts

IPOB Call For Referendum Is NOT War – Nigeria Never Stopped The War Against Biafra

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While Biafrans have been conducting their activities for restoration of Biafra peacefully; both locally and internationally, asking for a referendum, many one Nigerianists have been scaring the gullible with wars and rumors of war.
 
I want to make it categorically clear to everyone that referendum is not war and that the Biafra war never really ended as Nigerian government has systematically continued to eliminate Biafrans in every way possible and at any given opportunity. The reality is that, while the Biafrans stopped fighting, the Nigerian government have been killing Biafrans in different ways. The following are some of the ways, Nigeria government have been killing
 
1. AN ESTIMATED 90% OF THOSE WHO DIE IN NIGERIAN ROADS DAILY ARE BIAFRANS
 
They made sure that the industries in Biafraland does not function and as a result, Biafrans must travel out of their homeland to make living. They made sure that goods are not imported through Biafran shores so that Biafrans must travel to Lagos to bail their goods at a rate 3 times higher than what the Yorubas and Hausas pay at the same ports. Everyday hundreds of people die on Nigerian roads in different ways. Have you ever asked yourself who are those dying on the roads every day, since there is in existent or accurate statistical data in Nigeria? An estimated 90% of those who die in Nigerian roads daily are Biafrans. The average number of Biafrans who lose their lives in Nigerian highways while trans-versing the length and breadth of the country to make ends meet, far exceeds the number that will die in a well defined war. So stop scaring us with war because we are at war already.
 
2. LACK OR INADEQUATE HEALTH FACILITIES, PERSONNEL AND DRUGS.
 
About 95% of deaths related to illness in hospitals or at home in Biafraland was caused by the lack of modern drugs, no modern diagnostic equipments and because our best doctors and nurses has traveled to Abuja, Lagos and abroad to take care of the sick while our sick ones have no one attend to them. Do you know that many of your dead ones would have been saved, had it been we have a real hospital like the ones your politicians run to in Europe and America?. The worst part is that, this is a well planned strategy by Nigerian government to exterminate Biafrans, but the gullible will never understand this no matter how educated they claim to be.
 
3. EVER ASKED YOURSELF THE OWNERS OF THE VEHICLES BEING ADVERTISED BY CUSTOMS ALL THE TIME?
 
Unfortunately these abandoned properties belong to very hardworking Biafrans abroad. Some of them have committed suicide as a result of the seizure of their hard earned goods. Some have died of high Blood Pressure. Some have gone mad because some of these good equates to decades of savings. Yes, years of hardwork by Biafrans, that is what you see being advertised by devilish Nigerian customs. Sometimes they kill the owners of this vehicles, just because he or she is a Biafran, after all nobody will say anything. Now which other war is greater than this?
 
4. FULANI HERDSMEN ARE GOING FROM COMMUNITY TO COMMUNITY KILLING PEOPLE.
 
Didn’t you hear of Agatu genocide, Uzo-Uwani and other communities in Enugu state that were wiped out by these state sponsored terrorist group? Yet not even a single Fulani Herdsmen has been arrested.What other war are you looking for?
 
5. EVERY NOW AND THEN BIAFRANS WILL BE ROUNDED UP AND MASSACRED IN THE STREETS OF NORTHERN NIGERIA
 
Biafrans are killed daily in northern Nigeria. Women and girls are raped and adopted daily and nothing will come out of it. Yet you think you live in peace times in Nigeria. You think there is a greater war. How about Ezu River, National High School Aba, Nkpor 30th may 2016, Portharcourt 20th January 2017? Go and find out how many lost their lives and how many are still in hospital. Now, define war?
 
6. BIAFRAN PROPERTIES, MERCHANDISE, ARE BURNT AND DESTROYED EVERY NOW AND THEN IN ABUJA, LAGOS AND JOS.
 
Have you forgotten the estate with more than 500 Duplexes at airport road abuja that was leveled by Federal capital authorities in 2013? What about the hauses destroyed by El Rufai During Obasanjo Regime? Who owned those houses? Hausa Fulani or Yoruba? No! answer for yourself. Yet you think there is a greater war than this. How many markets has been looted and burnt in lagos since Ambode came in? Were they allowed to take their goods. Why did they destroy the markets in the middle of the Night? How many times has jos main market been set ablaze? Whow are the merchants in Jos main market? What exacltly is the meaning of war to you?
 
7. ZAKI BIAM AND ODI GENOCIDE BY OLUSEGUN OBASANJO AND BOMBING OF CALABAR WITH NAPALM BOMB BY MOHAMADU BUHARI
 
Ehee! You are waiting for fighters, bombers and missiles before you accept that war has not ended. Now explain to your friends what the meaning of bombing the entire town of Odi in Bayelsa state mean, if not war. Men, women and little children were wiped off the surface of the the earth by the war criminal, Olusegun Obasanjo. Men in Zaki Biam were completely wiped out by same Obasanjo. Napalm is a flammable liquid used in warfare. It is a mixture of a gelling agent and either gasoline (petrol) or a similar fuel. It was initially used as an incendiary device against buildings and later primarily as an anti-personnel weapon, as it sticks to skin and causes severe burns when on fire. First thing Buhari did, immediately he became the president of  Nigeria in 2015, was to bomb some parts of Cross River Biafraland with Napalm bomb. A bomb that is banned by the international community. Now, what other war are you talking about?
 
 
meanwhile, how may people have died in syria war? How many died in afghanistan? How many died in Sudan? Then find out how many Biafrans have died in Nigerian roads this year alone as a result of Nigerian police trying to extort money from them, not including accidents.
 
In conclusion, Biafrans are at war already and need not to be scared with wars and rumours of war. People die daily in war times and many more are dying daily in present day Biafraland occupied by Nigerian forces.

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Nigeria

Boko Haram Slaughter Dozens Of Nigerian Soldiers And Oil Explorers

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The prospects of oil exploration in the Lake Chad Basin of Nigeria in Borno state has suffered a major setback as Boko Haram have on Wednesday reportedly ambushed and attack a team of workers between Magumeri and Gubio on their way back to Maiduguri, security sources have revealed.

The source informed that the workers were ambushed around Borno Yeso area of Magumeri, adding that “security personal providing protection and security to the workers including geologists from the University of Maiduguri were also badly affected in the ambushed.

Another source speculated that out of the ten vehicles that conveyed the oil workers including security, only one ten seater bus returned to Maiduguri with five wounded people hospitalized at the State Specialist Hospital Maiduguri.

The source added that many have been feared dead or taken alive as no contact has so far been made by some of the members of the team during the attack

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There is no official statement from the military command in Borno State and the State Police Command on the attack.

A credible military source also informed our correspondent that some students of the Geology Department of the University, members of the Civilian Joint Task Force and other security personnel were victims of the attack

The Military source regretted that a conspiracy by head of the securities in trying to shield the information from the public.

His words: “As at 9:00 today Wednesday, no rescue plan has been put in place as far as I am aware from either the Nigeria Airforce component from the Theatre.

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“Between Wednesday and today, only ten of the victims can be confirmed to be alive. The five oil workers that escaped the attack Wednesday were hospitalized at the Borno State Specialist Hospital

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“Also this morning around 5:00 precisely five others who escaped also called and told us their location.

“The five victims at the state specialist told us that out of the ten vehicles conveying the team from magumeri, only their vehicle escaped the attack with bullets shots, flat tyres and smashed wind screen.

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“They said the insurgents had chased them for more than ten kilometers adding that most of the vehicle and the persons involved did not make it out of Magumeri,” the source disclosed.

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The Nation recalls that President Buhari last year issued directives to the NNPC to resume the exploration of oil in the Lake Chad Basin and River Kolnami.

In compliance with the Presidential Directives, the GMD of NNPC sent a delegation to Borno State in May this year who paid courtesies on Gov. Kashim Shettima and the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar El-Kanemi with the assurance that the exploration will begin in six weeks’ time as peace was gradually returning to the state.

The latest attack has however cast a dark shadow on the prospect of the continuation of the exploration with renewed Boko Haram attacks and the increasing insecurity in the Lake Chad.

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C.A.R

Chad – Fight Against Boko Haram, The Joint Multinational Force Gets A New Commander

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Several times commander in the military operations against Boko Haram, Major General Leo Irabor is a man full of experiences in the fight against terrorism

Nigeria’s Leo Irabor has replaced his compatriot Lo Adeosun as head of the Mixed Multinational Force (FMM) command. The official change of command ceremony was chaired by the Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), FMM Head of Mission Sanusi Imran Abdullahi, on Saturday, 08 July 2017, at the Headquarters of the Force in N’Djamena.

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Several times commander in the military operations against Boko Haram in Nigeria and in the border countries, Major General Leo Irabor is a man full of experiences in the fight against terrorism. His appointment comes within the framework of the strategies adopted by the Nigerian army in the fight against Boko Haram where several officers were appointed and assigned to military operations nationally and internationally. Major General Leo Irabo is the fourth commander of the FMM since his installation in Chad.

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Founded in 2015, the FMM has genuinely entered into action only from February 2016 when the first major operations were carried out to fight Boko Haram. At least four of them can be mentioned: that of 11 to 14 February 2016 in the Nigerian city of Ngoshe; The 24 February attack in the town of Kumshe in Nigeria near the Cameroon border considered as a rear base of Boko Haram; That of 16 March 2016 in the Cameroonian and Nigerian communities of Djibril and Zamga; And from 10 to 16 March 2016 in the Madawya Forest in Nigeria. Through its presence and actions, the FMM has contributed to a relative improvement in the security situation in the localities around Lake Chad.

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Biafra

Biafra Restoration Gets A Boost As PSquare’s Peter Okoye Joins The Struggle

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Owerri – Peter Okoye of Africa’s most popular Hip hop Band, PSquare berates Nigeria government, talks of dumping his Nigerian nationality and announced that he will have a new nationality soon, which is Biafra.

One of the identical twins and R&B Nigerian singers P-square, Peter Okoye, has announced that he is set to dump Nigeria and become a citizen of another country, adding that he is sometimes ashamed to be called a Nigerian over government’s failure “since 1960.”

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P Square is tired of nigeria

The singer took to his Twitter page on Sunday to voice his anger.

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He wrote: “And our Government been failing us since 1960

“Dear FG, for your information! All the Shame way una dey bring for Ashame to be called a nigerian, p squaredis our country na we dey entertainers dey cover una Nash! Ndi ala

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“Sometimes am ashamed to be called a Nigerian because this people???? Tufia kwa???????? Another Nationality Loading.”

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Conflicts

Yoruba Women Cry Out, Protest Beheadings And Rape By Fulani Herdsmen

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A crowd of women from Yoruba ethnic nationality in Nigeria has cried out to the government to come to their rescue from the hands of  Fulani Herdsmen who incessantly behead and rape them in their farms. The women were carrying placards with inscriptions like “Fulani must go” etc.

Meanwhile, accusing fingers has been pointed on the Nigerian federal government led by Mohammadu Buhari who is Fulani also. There has been a lot allegation that the Nigerian government has been delivering weapons via helicopter to Fulani herdsmen in remote bushes.

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These herdsmen has killed more than 10,000 people in Nigeria since Buhari took over power in 2015. However not even a single of these herdsmen has been arrested.

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Contrarily, there has been cases where youths mobilize themselves to go after these herdsmen only to be arrested and dumped in prison without prosecution by Nigerian Army. Example is what happen in Awgu Enugwu last year where about 70 youths who pursued after Fulani Herdsmen who wrecked havoc in their community were arrested by Nigeria army and were kept in prison in Umuahia for more two months without trial. Similar incident also took place in a community in Delta state this year.

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This underscores the point that Fulani Herdsmen are sponsored by Nigeria government to instill fear into Christian population by so doing Islamize them.

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Cameroon

South Cameroon Freedom Fighters Merge And Becomes A Formidable Force

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Recently, southern Cameroon Freedom fighters who has been pressuring the Cameroonian Government and the United Nation to grant them the independent state of Ambazonia, merged together. Ever since this merger took place, the freedom fighters has recorded tremendous breakthroughs in their quest for freedom.

One of these milestone breakthroughs is the peaceful protest they had recently in Heusten Texas and United Nations Head Quarters in New York. They were also invited by the British Parliament relently to voice their grievances.

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Biafra

Secret Trial – IPOB Warns Binta Nyako To Desist From Any Form Of Sharia Law & Secret Trial

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The Indigenous People of Biafra IPOB has warned the Judge handling the case of their leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, to desist from any form of secret trial or Sharia law as both are unacceptable. See press release below.

IPOB PRESS STATEMENT
NNAMDI KANU’S PROPOSED SECRET TRIAL: JUSTICE BINTA NYAKO SHOULD NOT ALLOW UNCONSTITUTIONAL SECRET TRIAL
Date: 04/04/2017
With Justice Binta Nyako’s determination on the mode of trial for the leader of IPOB Mazi Nnamdi Kanu coming up on the 6th of April 2017 at the Federal High Court 4 in Abuja, we the members of IPOB would like to place the judicial establishment of Nigeria on notice that the integrity of its entire legal machinery hinges on the outcome of this ruling.

It is therefore prudent to remind Justice Nyako and the entire Nigerian public and the world at large that there are existing legal interpretations of the provisions of the constitution of Nigeria regarding the mode of criminal trials in civil courts which cannot be departed from and we quote:

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“The provision dealing with fair hearing under section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria is for the protection of all the parties to a case the plaintiffs and the defendants alike. It will be oppressive to interpret the provision as conferring a protection on just one of the parties to a case.”
Per Oguntade, J.S.C. in Banna v. Telepower Nigeria Ltd. (2006) 7 SCNJ 182 2283

It is no longer news that on the 13th day of December, 2016, the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Abuja Division, presided over by the Honourable Justice Binta Nyako, delivered a ruling in an application brought by the Federal Republic of Nigeria pursuant to section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and section 34 of Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013.

The Prosecutor’s application, in the main, sought for the “protection” of the prosecutor’s witnesses who are said to be security operatives. The security operatives (witnesses) are seeking this protection to enable them testify in secret against no less a person than the Worldwide Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and his co-defendants who were at the time facing various criminal charges verging essentially on treasonable felony, conspiracy to commit treasonable felony and only one person, the second defendant, answering to a minor terrorism charge. It is sufficient to quickly state that at no time during the course of this trial has Mazi Nnamdi Kanu ever been charged with terrorism. Needless to say that the prosecutor’s application was quickly and unconstitutionally granted by Justice Nyako.

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WE ASK, WAS JUSTICE NYAKO RIGHT?

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There has never been any contention or dispute as to the sanctity of the imperishable right of an accused person to be tried in an open court with the public in attendance under Nigeria’s criminal jurisprudence. This uncontested right of a defendant in a criminal trial is indeed inviolate and immutable and admits of no derogation.

There is no arguing the point that the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the fountain and foundation of Nigeria’s criminal justice administration. By its section 36, public /open trial of persons accused of criminal charges is irrefragably ordained. Indeed, it is the bedrock of the criminal justice system in Nigeria that all persons are equal before the law and are therefore peremptorily entitled to the equal protection of the law. The practice of Justice Binta Nyako eagerly seeking to defend the stance of the prosecution especially regarding the masking of witnesses, runs contrary to spirit and letter of the law.

True indeed, the Terrorism (prevention) (amendment) Act, 2013, by its section 34, provides for the protection of the witnesses in trials of terrorism-related offences. Equally true is the fact that the second defendant only had terrorism count in his charge sheet not Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the other two accused persons. This provided the springboard for the prosecution to successfully apply for the Court to protect its witnesses. No doubt, the ruling of Justice Binta Nyako granting the prosecutor’s application was equally impelled by the terrorism charge preferred against Chidiebere Onwudiwe and not the IPOB Leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and two other co-defendants. It is instructive to note that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi never had any element of terrorism in their charge sheets. The question becomes, why would Justice Binta Nyako seek to impose a mode of trial reserved for terrorism cases on Mazi Nnamdi Kanu who is NOT answering to any terrorism charge?

Interestingly, it is most sufficient to note that the IPOB Leader, through his lead Counsel, robustly challenged the validity of the charges preferred by the prosecutor against the Defendants. It is noteworthy that on the 1st day of March, 2017, Hon. Justice Nyako saw reasons in the forceful contention of the IPOB Leader and consequently quashed six out of the eleven count charges against the IPOB Leader and others, affirming that there is no prima facie evidence to sustain the spurious charges against the defendants. Chief among the charges quashed by the court is that same terrorism charge against the 2nd defendant Chidiebere Onwudiwe. Based on the prevailing circumstances, the prosecutor amended the charge to reflect the severance of the spurious counts rightly quashed by the court. Consequently, the defendants were re-arraigned on the amended charge.

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It therefore stands to reason that the same court which ruled in favour of protecting the prosecutor’s witnesses based on the terrorism charge brought against Chidiebere Onwudiwe only, would now make haste to vacate the said ruling since the terrorism charge which impelled the prosecutor to table the application before the court is now no more. Not vacating that earlier ruling would definitely give the court away as a Kangaroo tribunal reminiscent of the darkest days of military dictatorships.

We hasten to reiterate that the constitutional right of an accused person to be tried in public is unquestionably unassailable and must never, under any circumstances, be abridged or asphyxiated by Justice Binta Nyako’s court. We make bold to say that secret trial in whatever form or guise, under the Nigerian criminal jurisprudence, has no constitutional foundation. It is an anathema in every democracy worth its name. What Justice Nyako is attempting to do is to cloth justice in darkness thereby turning her court into a Kangaroo court. The Nigerian Supreme Court has severally warned against this bizarre method.

Justice Nyako should be advised by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to heed this:
“The moment a court ceases to do justice in accordance with the law and procedure laid down for it, it ceases to be a regular court to become a kangaroo court.
The reason for all this is that in the end where procedure is ignored justice is usually at a loss; judiciary, in its image, is worsted in the encounter; and the general public for whom the entire drama was meant to serve ends up with a low opinion of the Judiciary. Experience and the test of time have shown that justice has never profited from eccentric or bizarre methods and that painstaking procedural mode have always satisfied the more, the yearning desires of a just society.”
See: BAKARE v. APENA & ORS (1986) NWLR (PT.33) 1

In fact, the Supreme Court was more emphatic when it handed down this warning which we hereby commend to Justice Nyako:
“A Judge will not adopt a method of adjudication, alien to procedural rules of justice upon a plea that he is actuated by the noblest and an impassioned zeal for justice, which propels him into bizarre methods of arriving at that justice, holding as it were, as a justifying Machiavellian principle, that the end justifies the means.”
See equally: Alhaji Raimi Edun v. Odan Community (1980) 8-11 S.C. 103

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Justice Nyako must draw very hard lessons from history to avoid the pitfalls of the past especially that of prejudice and sentiments in the handling of this extremely sensitive matter before her which has all the potency of making or marring her judicial career.

In signing off this press release, we deem it exigent to graciously put at the disposal of Justice Nyako the immortal and timely dictum of OGUNTADE, J.S.C. in INAKOJU V. ADELEKE (2007) 4 NWLR (pt. 1025) 423 where the erudite justice of the Supreme Court lucidly stated that;
“A Court…must not convey the impression that its judgment is being directed by a desire to heed private or public sentiments. In Onyiah v. Onyia (1989) 1 NWLR (Pt.99) 514 at 532, this Court per Obaseki J.S.C. said that sentiments have no place in the adjudication system. It is in my view that the most unrewarding assignment a Judge could undertake if it tried to give judgment as would please a section of the public. It is like a house built on sand which soon disappears with the approach of the rain. It is argued that even if a judgment is wrong, it is acceptable for as long as it is to public good. That clearly is a fallacy. Public good lies in giving a judgment in accordance with the Constitution of Nigeria and other relevant laws. Public good is an ever- changing phenomenon.”

As 6th April, 2017 draws near for Justice Nyako to rule on the application brought by the IPOB Leader for the court to vacate its earlier ruling on the protection of witnesses, it is hoped that Justice Binta Nyako would not “convey the impression that her ruling is being directed by a desire to heed private or public sentiments”. That, surely, will not promote public good. On the contrary, rather, it would promote anarchy. Public good lies in giving a judgment in accordance with the Constitution of Nigeria which Justice Nyako is under judicial oath to promote and defend without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

Signed:

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Dr. Ikenna Chinaka
Mrs Grace Ukpai

IPOB SPOKESPERSONS

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