By Ayo Obe
President, Civil Liberties Organization of Nigeria
December 2, 1999
I could equally draw parallels with Israeli government razing of houses of alleged terrorists (or stone-throwers, or ordinary activists), but even though that is in itself condemnable, it does not amount to the indiscriminate destruction that has been described in Odi, as though the whole town were a criminal conspiracy.
I think that the "elected representatives" of those areas need to be put much more on the spot than they have been, even though it was clear that they were not really "elected" by the people who live there. It may just have been the NTA's editing of what was said and done, but they seemed rather complacent about the matter - I was particularly disappointed by the Member of the House of Reps who said that he was the member for Odi town: the Senate President seemed more outraged than he by what had happened.
The "shoot at sight" order on OPC members has already been the subject of comment by James Rubin, the State Department's spokesperson - thereby underlining the point made by Afenifere that such "red eye" reaction is totally inappropriate as the face which Nigeria presents to the world on the eve of the third millennium. Russian destruction of Grozny (?) is coming after years of illegal activity within Chechenya and only after such activity has spread beyond the Chechen borders to neighbouring republics and is also alleged to encompass terrorism by blowing up residential buildings in Moscow. Yet it is still being widely condemned. Regarding other activity by troops, rape has also been declared to be a war crime when committed in former Yugoslavia. In Nigeria, however, it seems to be handled by a simple assertion that it could not have happened.