Abuja – “It is an offense against US law to threaten or retaliate against a witness who testified in congress,” says an International human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe who has written a letter to the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Hassan Mathew Kukah, urging him to report the threat by federal government against him to the United States of America.
In the letter dated July 21, 2021, the Washington-based Ogebe, Special Counsel to Justice for Jos Project, advised Kukah, who came under fire from the Nigerian Government following his recent damning testimony before the US Congress.
Below is the text of the letter:
Bishop HM Kukah,
Greetings from Washington.
I wish to commend you for courageously proclaiming liberty to those that are bound. You have been one of the most consistent voices in this effort and you’re greatly appreciated. Indeed I have quoted you extensively in my testimony before several parliaments and was delighted that you were among the pantheon of humanity’s heroic humanitarians who prodded the conscience of mankind.
Please accept my commiseration for the vicious attacks on you even though what you said is the daylight truth.
My personal experience is instructive as I had clear evidence that the Nigerian embassy was in violation of both domestic US law and engaging in conduct incongruent with their diplomatic status under international law by witness intimidation and retaliation for my testifying in the US Congress about human rights in Nigeria.
The Nigerian embassy in Washington at the highest levels authorized my punishment and silencing for/from speaking in “Congress,” specifically stating in a memo, “Mr. Ogebe derives pleasure from trash-talking Nigeria on social media, in the Chambers of the United States Congress and other public places across the United States.”
More worrisome, the Charge d’ affaires (Acting Ambassador) of Nigeria Hakeem Balogun made the following chilling request, “Going forward, to prevent Mr. Ogebe, who is a Nigerian citizen, from making further derogatory comments that are inimical to the image of Nigeria, Government may consider taking punitive action against him, including withdrawal of his privilege to carry a Nigerian passport.”
Please know that this is a criminal offense and in fact conduct incongruent with their diplomatic status.
18 USC 1505 provides in pertinent part that, “Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede . . . the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress— Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.”
Similarly 18 USC 1513 states, “(b)Whoever knowingly engages in any conduct and thereby causes bodily injury to another person or damages the tangible property of another person, or threatens to do so, with intent to retaliate against any person for—
(1)the attendance of a witness or party at an official proceeding, or any testimony given or any record, document, or other object produced by a witness in an official proceeding; or
or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
(d)There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section.“
Should you find any threat to your person by the Nigerian government, please feel free to contact me, the US embassy in Nigeria and the US Congress. The extra-territoriality of the offense means that even acts of retaliation against you in Nigeria fall under US jurisdiction.
Even if they do not face do not face earthly justice, divine justice will never elude them.
The government minister Aisha Alhassan who thought she was god and attacked me for testifying in the US Congress is now no more.
My Lord Bishop Kukah, please take heart. These Egyptians you see today, you will see no more!
Indeed you have been fully vindicated in just one week. An Airforce Jet was downed by so-called bandits for the first time in the nation’s history days after you spoke.
This week, the Emir of Muri more than corroborated your concern over the devastating impact on the north of the banditry in a viral video.
Per Emir of Muri Emirate (Abbas Tafida):
“Our brothers Fulani in the bush (herdsmen). You came to this country, you are our brothers, we accept that you are our brothers, we welcomed you. But I want to ask you – we, We’re Muslims and you that you’re our brothers, are you Muslims or not?
You must answer this question.
If you’re Muslims and living in the bush taking us one by one to pay ransom, you should stop, because Allah does not concur with this. And if you aren’t Muslims, you should let us know. We fought with pagans before and we will fight with them again (referring to the herdsmen if they aren’t Muslims).
So any herdsman in this country, I give him the space of 30 days from now. If they continue to come and kidnap us without you the leaders stopping or discouraging such, we will draw the battle line….
Anywhere we see herdsman, we will kill him. We won’t ask for his name or where he’s coming from or what he comes to do. If we should protect ourselves we should, but the truth must be said. There’s no way a bastard in the bush will come and carry our women to rape her, and I call on all of you to stand against such. Recently, we found out that a ward head is supporting armed robbers.”
The clear meaning of this statement is that being fellow Muslims is supposed to grant automatic immunity from the fate that only infidels should suffer.
Indeed we just received a report today that an ambushed Christian soldier from middlebelt had run to a Zamfara community for safety. Unfortunately the villagers betrayed and handed him over to the Fulani bandits who then executed him.
It is deeply ironic that a regime that continues to employ a cleric who supports terrorism as a minister, dares to criticize a cleric who condemns terrorism like you.
Although we agree with you that the north has suffered disproportionately the effects of insecurity, the data shows that Muslims are not the majority casualties. Responding to our inquiry on this issue, World Watch Monitor stated thus, “ In our joint data project for the period 1 October 2019 till 30 September 2020, the number of Christians killed was around 3,530 and the number of Muslims, including Zamfara state, and mostly killed by other Muslims, was around 1,020. We think more people were killed but this gives an indication, also of the proportion.”
In conclusion, we urge you to reach out to the Emir of Muri in the spirit of interfaith collaboration and in the interest of national security and jointly visit Mjr Gen. Buhari to impress upon him the need for urgent intervention.
The Good Book says: “There is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.” (Eccl 8:9)
This unfortunately has been the unfortunate lot of the north that northern political domination only results in death, misery and poverty.
May the good Lord, guide, guard and protect you and may you not lose your reward for speaking out for the least of these.
Blessings and best wishes.