It is with confounding befuddlement that we read a piece fraudulently ascribed to one mischievous character that choose to be contented with the mask of ‘Charles Ibekwe’ claiming to be of Biafrian descent. But for the susceptibility of many undiscerning members of the public who might fall for his unconscionable antics, we would not have spared an ounce of energy in dismembering his poorly rehearsed tale of raw falsehoods dripping with ghoulish assassination of immutable historical facts.
In 1918 US Senator Hiram Warren Johnson is purported to have said: The first casualty when war comes is truth. However, this was not recorded. In 1928 Arthur Ponsonby’s wrote: That ‘When war is declared, truth is the first casualty’. (Refer to Falsehood in Wartime). It was Samuel Johnson who first confirmed that: ‘Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages. (Refer to The Idler, 1758).
We IPOB, knowing fully well that our decisive struggle to restore the Great Biafrian nation is now at a very critical stage, are not surprised that the sworn-enemies of Biafra will stop at nothing in attempting to derail our avowed course. Be that as it may, we will always continue to be gracious in taking the unrepentant and the irredeemably daft like ‘Charles Ibekwe’, Joe Igbokwe of Lagos and the intellectually incoherent Rudolph Okonkwo of Sharia Reporters to the International law lecture hall. In charting the course of this rebuttal, it is important to stress that all the hullabaloo encircling General Buratai’s kangaroo Army Panel of Inquiry vis-à-vis our quest to restore Biafra can only be properly appreciated from the standpoint of International law and human rights observed and practiced by all civilized nations of the world.
This can only be so because issues touching on secession are borne out of the exercise of the right to self-determination whose provenance is only traceable to international law. The second issue of the kangaroo Panel of Inquiry set up by General Buratai to probe the brutal butchery of IPOB members as graphically exposed by the forensic investigation of the Amnesty International is rooted in human rights law. What is more, these twin issues identified above formed the springboard of ‘Charles Ibekwe’s idiotic tales which, according to the legendary William Shakespeare, is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Instead of addressing his mind to the clear issues raised by the IPOB press release, ‘Charles Ibekwe’ mischievously opted to bifurcate issues through his dubious indulgence in hair splitting in the hope to becloud the thought processes of his poorly educated and undiscerning victims.
It has been said of old that the right to self-determination is a universal one. Historically, in 1966, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Covenants on Human Rights. Both these Covenants have an identical first article, declaring inter alia that ‘all peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status’, while states parties to the instruments ‘shall promote the realisation of the right of self-determination and shall respect that right in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations’. The Covenants came into force in 1976 and thus constitute binding provisions as between the parties, but in addition they also may be regarded as authoritative interpretations of several human rights provisions in the Charter, including self-determination.
The 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations can be regarded as constituting an authoritative interpretation of the seven Charter provisions it expounds. The Declaration states inter alia that ‘by virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, all people have the right freely to determine . . . their political status’ while all states are under the duty to respect this right in accordance with the Charter. (See Malcolm Shaw on The Principles of International law, 6h edition, Pg. 253-257). Resolution 1514 (XV), the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, adopted in 1960 by eighty-nine votes to none, with nine abstentions, stressed that:
“all peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
Even then on the wider plane of international justice system, the International Court of Justice (ICJ, has eloquently put a seal of judicial approval on the foregoing perspicacious proposition of law. For instance, the ICJ in the East Timor (Portugal v. Australia) case authoritatively declared that ‘Portugal’s assertion that the right of peoples to self-determination, as it evolved from the Charter and from United Nations practice, has an erga omnes character, is irreproachable. The Court emphasised that the right of peoples to self-determination was ‘one of the essential principles of contemporary international law’. See: ICJ Reports, 1995, pp. 90, 102; 105 ILR, p. 226.
It is interesting to inform the likes of ‘Charles Ibekwe’ and his paymasters that this universal position of the law has found firm anchorage in advanced democracies of the world. One example will suffice. The issue of self-determination came before the Supreme Court of Canada in Reference Re Secession of Quebec in 1998 in the form of three questions posed. The second question asked whether there existed in international law a right to self-determination which would give Quebec the right unilaterally to secede. The Court declared that the principle of self-determination ‘has acquired a status beyond “convention” and is considered a general principle of international law’See: (1998) 161 DLR (4th) 385; 115 ILR, p. 536
Coming nearer home, the African Union adopted the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. By its Article 20, the right to self-determination is most vigorously entrenched and proclaimed thus;
“All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.”
It is instructive to note that the Nigerian nation not only acceded to this profound international instrument but equally domesticated same in compliance with section 12 of the amended 1999 Constitution. While we graciously concede that Cap. 10 (The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right Act) of the laws of the Federation 1990 does not tower above the grund norm (the Constitution) as contended by ‘Charlse Ibekwe’, we make haste to state that the superior position of this African Charter has been confirmed by no less an institution than the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the celebrated and often cited case of Fawehinmi vs. Abacha (2000) 6 NWLR (Pt.660)228. 2, (2000) 4 S.C (Pt II) 1. 3
We most respectively exhume the late Justice Ogundare who wrote the leading judgment for that Court to teach ‘Charlse Ibekwe’. Hear him;
“No doubt Cap. 10 is a statue with international flavour. Being so, therefore, I would think that if here is a conflict between it and another statue, its provisions will prevail over those of that other statue for the reason that it is presumed that the legislature does not intend to breach an international obligation. To this extent I agree with their Lordships of the Court below that the Charter possesses “a greater vigour and strength” than any other domestic statue.”
The second issue deals with the steely resolve of the IPOB not to be part of the sham proceedings which General Buratai is hastening to organize in his kangaroo Panel of Inquiry. Our reasons (founded on unassailable principles of natural justice which are now of venerable antiquity), still stand like mountain Gilbralter. It is not the practice of civilized nations that an accused person would be permitted to preside over his own trial since the outcome would be a caricature of justice. This plausible summation remains unanswerable by ‘Charles Ibekwe’ and his sponsors.
It is only sufficient to note in passing, before signing off this rebuttal, the utterly denigrating and gutter languages deployed by the said ‘Charlse Ibekwe’ in his narrative which could best be described as a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing (apology to William Shakespeare). Such is meant for the marines and wears all the semblances of one of such fables lifted from ‘Alice in Wonderland’. There must be an end to unconscionable dissemination of blatant falsehoods. We choose to stop here for now.
Dr. Ikenna Chinaka
Mrs Grace Ukpai
SOURCE: The Nigerian Voice (local news)