Former military Head of State Yakubu Gowon spoke out yesterday against Amnesty International for accusing the Nigerian army of human rights abuses in the war against Boko Haram.
Gowon strangely found his voice on this issue, demanding an apology. Yet, he has lost his voice on an issue that is closer to home for him. Since May over 500 villagers in Plateau State have been slaughtered by Fulani herdsmen. Women and children have been dragged out of their beds at night and killed. Many women have been raped. People are being killed at the rate of about 20 every day. Still, Gowon does not deem this as worthy of comment.
This is despite the fact that he is from the Angas ethnic group in Plateau State, who alongside their neighbours the Berom are the majority of the victims of the attacks.
President Muhammadu Buhari has also failed to comment on the issue, despite media reports, campaigns by the #PlateauSpeaks group, and an online petition calling on him to condemn the bloodshed.
Gowon, like Buhari, are cut from the same Nigerian ruling class cloth. The lives of ordinary Nigerians never mattered to them.
But we refuse to be like them. We are not like Fela Kuti called them “animals in human skin”. We are human beings, and despite their shameful silence, we will continue to speak out against the unnecessary deaths of any Nigerian, anywhere. In the words of Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”