Suing President Yar'Adua

On June 23, 2009, fiery lawyer and conscience of the nation, Femi Falana, took the first official step towards bringing President Yar'Adua to justice or taking justice to the taciturn man from Katsina. Mr. Falana has sued President Yar'Adua on behalf of who and what is left of Gbaramatu kingdom. In recent memory, two of Nigeria's past rulers have committed crimes against humanity by levelling entire villages: Ibrahim Babangida destroyed Umuechem; Olusegun Obasanjo destroyed Odi and Zaki Biam. Both men are military tyrants. You do not expect a civilian to outclass them in sensational crimes against humanity. Somehow, in two years of a trypanosomiasis-infested presidency, Mr. Yar'Adua has managed to make Obasanjo and Babangida look like apprentice teenagers in the art of mass killing of Nigerian citizens. Of the three, President Yar'Adua is the only one who even availed himself of the privilege of target practice. Just like the Germans practiced genocide with the Hereros of Namibia before returning to Europe to apply the fruits of their research in Africa on the Jews, Mr. Yar'Adua practiced with the village of Agge in Bayelsa state.

I wrote about it at the time. Somehow, the human and civil rights community went to sleep. Agge didn't make it beyond one or two inconsequential stories buried grudgingly in one or two newspapers. Lessons learnt in Agge proved useful for President Yar'Adua in numerous Niger Delta communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom. But he had to add a Yar'Aduan signature to the crime, something to distinguish him from Obasanjo and Babangida. He ordered air raids! The zombies in his Air Force went to work, raining bombs indiscriminately on everything and everybody in sight in the name of mopping up criminal militants - who truly deserve to be put out of business given the bad name they are giving to a totally legitimate cause.

Mr. Falana's initiative is commendable but must not stop there. To the extent that he is able to secure financial compensation - and an apology - for the aggrieved people of Gbaramatu kingdom years down the road, Mr. Falana would already have done the impossible and the unexpected within the Nigerian system. And in the extremely unlikely scenario that a judge in a Federal High Court would someday find former President Yar'Adua guilty - they will adjourn the case into the second term of President Yar'Adua's successor - and award the ₦100 billion damages Mr. Falana is seeking, we know where the money will come from: more looting and plundering of the Niger Delta's resources to pay the aggrieved. A substantial part of such restitutive payments will, obviously, end up in the offshore accounts of the Ali Babas of Abuja. In essence, the Nigerian state will merely rob Abu of Abu's money to organise a feast for Abu, as a Yoruba adage has it.

Mr. Falana's current move should provide a template for further action against President Yar'Adua. Now is the time for Mr. Falana, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, civil society groups, human rights organisations, public advocacy groups, and concerned individuals to begin the painstaking process of gathering evidence for possible international action against President Yar'Adua whenever he leaves office. I am thinking of the Omar Bashir option. The collection and collation of evidence for future action should not stop at Mr. Yar'Adua. Many members of his murderous JTF - who, apparently, are "obeying orders" and have never heard of the Nuremberg trials - have names that are circulating on the net. Some of them, thankfully, are recording their crimes and videos are circulating on the Internet. If properly and painstakingly assembled by the right people and organisations, there is enough material now circulating that could be actualized to secure indictments from international bodies of justice. Unambiguously, we must state that President Yar'Adua is wholly responsible for the murder of the Boma brothers. Any wonder that someone so apt at constituting clownish Presidential panels of inquiry is yet to even acknowledge the national injury that his depraved orangutans in the JTF have inflicted on us all with the execution of the brothers? This could be the first potentially provable case of ethnic cleansing against Mr Yar'Adua at a future trial  in The Hague: the brothers were executed as soon as the soldiers confirmed their ethnicity.

The rulers of Nigeria have gotten away with impunity and crimes against the people of Nigeria for too long. This would explain President Yar'Adua's self-assuredness in the face of his terrible crimes in the Niger Delta, buoyed by the corrupt sycophants around him. It is time the people of Nigeria made an example of an oppressor. Just one oppressor!