Bring the Perpetrators to Book!
For a commission of inquiry composed of elected representatives of the people of Baga community, trade unions, civil societies and rights group to investigate the genocide
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns the horrible massacre of about 187 people in Baga, Borno State on Friday 19 April 2013 by men of the Joint Task Force (JTF). Over 2,000 houses were also reportedly burnt by the rampaging soldiers. This mass killing is by all standards a genocide; a crime for which not only the soldiers who committed this atrocity but also President Goodluck Jonathan as their Commander-in-Chief should be held to account.
The JTF were allegedly engaged in a shootout with members of the deadly Boko Haram sect when this horrible massacre occurred. The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) completely abhors the aims, objectives and methods of the Boko Haram sect which only helps to strengthen the repressive abilities of the state. However this does not in any way justify the ruthless killings and systematic genocide being carried out by the Nigerian State in various part of the North since 2009 under the guise of fighting terrorism.
As many international observers have noted, most of the estimated over 3,000 casualties of this anti-terrorism conflict since 2009 are innocent civilians caught in the fires of both Boko Haram and the JTF. This is aside tens of thousands more arrested and languishing in jail without any clear proof, aside being Muslims or Northerners, of association with Boko Haram or any other violent sect.
The excuse of the army for this horrendous genocide that "the Boko Haram fighters were using civilians as human shields" is very insensitive and ridiculous. It only shows that the "kill and go" mentality of the army elevated to the status of a state policy during the dark days of military despotism still largely remains with us today.
The initial attempts to cover up this crime within the first few hours of the killings demonstrate that President Jonathan's alleged vow to fish out the perpetrators is merely a play to the gallery. Rights groups, media and relief organisations were prevented from gaining access into Baga in the first 24 hours after the carnage. No one should place any trust in a any committee setup by the government to investigate this killing as such committees as usual would only succeed in sweeping this crime under the carpet.
We demand a commission of enquiry to be composed of the representatives of the people of Baga, elected representatives of the labour movement, civil society and rights groups to investigate this carnage and recommend for trial all those involved in this brutal genocide
Taken together with happenings over the last few months in Nigeria including the increasing clampdown on democratic rights, we believe this genocide is a to signal a new step in President Jonathan's clear motive to impose a brutal police-state on Nigeria and Nigerians. At this rate and unless the labour movement intervenes urgently and decisively with actions that can unite Nigeria's working and poor masses across ethnic and religious lines, Nigeria risk being plunged into an internecine ethnic and religious conflict and bloodletting.
This is why beyond issuing occasional press statements to condemn government excesses, the SPN is specifically urging the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to make Baga a special case by naming a day for nationwide rallies and mass demonstrations to protest this genocide and demand justice. We urge all pro-masses organisations including the Joint Action Front (JAF) to publicly condemn this carnage with protest and demonstrations.
The root of the Boko haram insurgency as well as other violent crisis in other parts of the country is the unresolved nationality question as well as the widespread discontent over issues of poverty, unemployment, homelessness and the unbridled corruption of the capitalist ruling elite in a country endowed with vast oil and mineral wealth. Brutal military and police clampdown cannot resolve this crisis, it will only escalate it.
To tackle the crisis of insecurity and ensure the hardworking but poor people of Nigeria have access to a decent, safe and fulfilling existence requires the overthrow of the corrupt, inept and anti-poor capitalist ruling class in power today and the enthronement of a democratic worker and poor masses. For now only the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) has the appropriate political and socio-economic program to tackle the root of Boko Haram insurgency which is the mass discontent over economic inequality and access to education, jobs and decent life. We therefore call on all those dissatisfied with the situation of security in Nigeria coupled with anti-poor policies of the ruling elites which further exacerbate it to join the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) so that we can fight collectively to rescue Nigeria.
Protem National Chairman