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Monday 11 April 2016


The desperate, yet unsuccessful dubious intents of the Department of Security Service(DSS) to link the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) to acts of terrorism has once again exposed the Service as one under the whims and caprices of President Buhari's oppressive regime of continuous onslaughts on Biafrans in order to undermine the Biafran struggle for self-determination and in a deliberate effort to discredit and render the struggle illegitimate.

The DSS in their official report on 9th April, 2016 was so adamant in labelling IPOB as terrorists in the murder of 5 Hausa/Fulani residents in Abia state and other sundry crimes whereas they failed to produce any shred of evidence to corroborate their so-called discoveries. It should also  be noteworthy that no authentic judicial inquiry has ever linked the incidence or any act of terror on IPOB, thus the DSS is hereby challenged to reveal a full-scale evidence on that if at all it has any.
One finds it astonishing as to why the DSS would go to a desperate length to hurriedly tag an internationally acclaimed freedom fighting body like IPOB a terrorist group but deliberately insist on calling Fulani terrorists, "herdsmen"- a group who moves around with automatic assault rifles and has killed over hundreds of civilians, while peaceful IPOB agitators who are constantly being murdered on daily bases in Biafra land are being proclaimed "terrorists".
On the other hand, Biafrans have been the targets of the "war on terrorism allegations" despite the fact that there have been no tradition of terrorist activities credited to them in the past.

There has been a handful of "unwashable" evidence of state sponsored terrorism against Biafrans seeking for their liberation from the unholy alliance brought about by the forceful amalgamation of the various ethnic nationalities.
President Buhari through the DSS is only seeking to paint IPOB as a terrorist group so that such framework would leave out the critical problem of state sponsored terrorism on Biafrans and as such declare the struggle illegitimate.
Struggles for self-determination are a legitimate part of international relations and should not be linked to any act of terrorism or insurgency as the case maybe.

Perhaps the DSS has not realized that there is a clear distinction between self-determination (liberation struggle) and terrorism, because now there is a renewed interest in evolving some international convention on terrorism... a goal which has so far evaded the international community, despite there being many treaties dealing with specific acts of terrorism. As the world focuses on terrorism, it is tending to ignore a basic principle of international law...that of the right of self-determination.
Yet, the DSS and other sister organizations need to realize that while the principle of self-determination may have lost its allure in the post-decolonisation era, it still remains a peremptory norm of international law(jus cogens).
This norm of self-determination is not only a part of customary international law but is also enshrined as one of the principles of the UN as laid out in Article 1:2 of its Charter.

Self-determination is seen within the context of people fighting against colonialism, unholy amalgamations, foreign occupation and to enforce international commitments made to them by the United Nations. The strength of the self-determination norm is such that international conventions dealing with terrorism have always acknowledged and distinguished between struggles for self-determination and acts of terrorism.

For instance, the international convention against the taking of hostages which came into force in June, 1983, states clearly that the convention "shall not apply to any act of hostage-taking committed in the course of armed conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration on Principles of International Law..." (Article 12).

In a similar vein, the convention on Terrorism adopted by the Organization of Islamic Conference in 1999, also confirms the legitimacy of the right of peoples to struggle against foreign occupation and colonialists and racist regimes by all means, including armed struggle to liberate their territories in compliance with the purposes and principles of the Charter and resolutions of the United Nations(preamble).

Article 2(a) of the convention directly states that "Peoples' struggle including armed struggle against foreign occupation, aggression, colonialism, and hegemony, aimed at liberation and self-determination in accordance with the principles of international law shall not be considered a terrorist crime".

Also, let us consider the 1999 OAU convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism in Article 3(1) which states: "Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 1, the struggle waged by peoples in accordance with the principles of international law for their liberation or self-determination, including armed struggle against colonialism, occupation, aggression and domination by foreign forces shall not be considered as terrorist acts".
Lastly, consider also Article 2 of the Arab convention on the Suppression of Terrorism 1998 which states that: "All cases of struggle by whatever means, including armed struggle, against foreign occupation and aggression for liberation and self-determination, in accordance with the principles of international law, shall not be regarded as an offence".

In fact, within the present system of international law, norms and principles of international relations, no international treaty can be valid which contradicts prevailing peremptory norms of international law.
This has been most clearly enshrined in the Vienna Convention on the law of Treaties(1969), which states: "A treaty is void if, at the time of its conclusion, it conflicts with a peremptory norm of general international law. A peremptory norm of general international law is a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of States as a whole as a norm from which no derogation is permitted and which can be modified only by a subsequent norm of general international law possessing the same character".

The reason for stressing these international legal positions relating to self-determination struggles is that there is a growing and desperate trend to undermine the validity of such struggles or worse still, to try and bring them into the ambit of anti-terrorist actions. While international politics may well be primarily a case of "might is right", nevertheless states need to point out the legality or otherwise of the action of other states. Civil societies in different states also need to know the legality or otherwise of their country's actions.

At present, it is imperative to understand the centrality of the principles of self-determination to any international law because given the present anti-terrorist coalition that is building up, just like the DSS, there might be more desperate moves to link self-determination struggles not favourable to them to terror.
Unless the norm of self-determination is preserved, the fight against terrorism will become devoid of international legality.

Numerous efforts by the present administration to link IPOB with terrorism such as one of the previous charges on its leader, Nnamdi Kanu(POC), has failed, and in the end, it is the Nigerian armed forces that are guilty and identified as the real culprits.
Unfortunately, the Nigerian state has not been very careful on their conduct of campaign of state terror on Biafrans over the months which brings up the whole issue of defining terrorism to include that perpetrated by the state... State terrorism.

Power has tended to undermine respect for international law and the norms it puts forward. Now the limitations of that power are clearly visible. There is a need to develop a new respect for international law, which has evolved out if human experience, and the bitter lessons humankind learnt over the centuries.

Written By Chukwuemeka Chimerue U.
Plublishhed By Ikechukwu Nwaoorisa
For Biafra Writers

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