ORGANIZED CRIME, ORGANIZED RELIGION AND POLITICS
Generally, it is agreed that societal values like respect for elders, honesty, hardwork and respect for the sacredness of life are all but fast disappearing in Nigeria of the twenty first century. This negative tendency is attributable to the inability and failure of the adult generation/population of Nigeria to internalize, and externalize these cultural, traditional and societal virtues/values to become sacrosanct in the daily life of all and sundry. These societal ills are at the private, individual or what I have chosen to call micro level. At the institutional, Governmental or what I have chosen to call Macro level, the collapse of the relevant institutions charged with the constitutional duties of promoting, protecting and enforcing the principle of Rule of law has progressively made Nigeria to become a nation whereby regime of impunity, lawlessness, avarice, greed, political corruption and economic crimes have become increasingly acceptable and/or permissible.
Weighed down by these torrents of existential crises characterized by general state of insecurity and near-anarchy, some rational minds have raised questions on why the situation has so degenerated even when the country habors some of the World's largest concentraion of religiously -inclined people but these same analysts have neglected the notorious fact that some of these problems afflicting the modern day Nigeria could be located appropriately within the framework of organized religion and this organized Religion has conveniently provided the perfect cover for members of the organized crime syndicates who have largely invaded the political terrain in Nigeria and are therefore the persons holding very important offices. The former President who also retired as afull time military infantry General, Olusegun Obasanjo recently informed Nigerians that the National Assembly is populated by "Armed Robbers and Fraudstars". Armed robbers and practitioners of advanced fees fraud  are members of organized crime gangs. Professor Pat Utomi of the Lagos Business school also was reported in the media to have confirmed that a suspect still undergoing police investigation for allegedly duping him of some princely sum is now a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
For the fact that these persons who are members of the organized crime syndicates have found disingenuous and creative ways of masking [masquerading] themselves as patrons and/or members of these organized Religious groupings in Nigeria, the largest population of the Nigerian people who are also professed members of one organized religion or the other can not easily discern the funadmental cause of the crises of underdevelopment, poverty, social crime and general state of insecurity that have enveloped the entire country currently. Nigeria's problems can only be solved when the civil populace resist the invassion of the political environment by members of the organized crime gangs who use organized religions to cover their criminal tracks and confuse the docile public.
Take for instance in Northern Nigeria shortly after the 2011 General election, sporadic riots spread all over the North resulting in the killings of scores of people made up mostly of people from the Southern parts of the country and for more than a year, the Federal law enforcement agencies and its counterparts in the states ministries of justice in active conspiracy and collaboration with some persons in the Nigerian Police Force have spectacularly failed to arrest, prosecute or punish any of the culprits most of whom were caught in the media cameras of the international and local journalists that covered the unfortunate violence.
The grand cover up is a regular pattern whereby persons in high offices at the Federal and state levels use their influential positions to shield culprits indicted for mass murder from eventual prosecution and sanction in accordance with the due process of the law and even when the police and legal authorities decide to arraign the suspected mass murderers, they often walk away free because the inestigative and prosecutorial processes would be so compromised that the judiciary would have no choice but to set all the accused persons free of those heinous crime against humanity. Such is the level of conspiracy and compromise so much so that impunity is increasingly becoming the order of the day and this compromised situation is the tonic needed by persons who have armed themselves with sophisticated weapons of mass destruction including bombs and other improvised explosive devices [IEDS] in Northern Nigeria resulting in the killing of thousands of innocent people who are usually caught up while worshipping in accordance with their religious convictions. Those armed splinter groups who go from Church to Church to detonate bombs or to ram explosive ladden cars into packed Churches in the North have appeared on International and local media to own up saying they are championig the cause of Islam and that they are indeed on a mission to establish Sharia Islamic law across Northern Nigeria. The moderates among Moslems like the Sultan of Sokoto have so far denounced the killings of Christian worshhippers. Such is the extent of the encroachment of organized crimes into the nation's political space hiding under the platforms of organized Religions. In Southern Kaduna state, some persons claimed to have armed themselves with the mission to protect Northern Christians from the incessant attacks of the armed Islamic Religious insurgents. Because the political environment are populated in Nigeria by persons drawn largely from the organized crime World who even rigged the electoral process to capture political offices, these so-called political elite benefit essentially from the ongoing violence and are watching as innocent unarmed citizens are wasted by different armed groups and they can only pretend to be using the armed forces to fight these terror-related crime gangs who are engaged in the orgies of senseless mass killings.
The unfortunate scenario in all of these crises of insecurity and collapse of Rule of law facing Nigeria is that not too many persons are prepared to accept that the root of these problems spring up invariably from the members of the organized crime syndicates who have infiltrated the Political institutions in Nigeria and are hiding under the support of leaders and members of organized religions to unleash these circumstances that give rise to unprecedented insecurity, lack of enforcement of rule of law, impunity, and bloody violence.Organized Crime or criminal organizations, according to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, are transnational, national and local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purposes of engaging in illegal activities, most commonly for monetary profit. The United States Organized Crimes Control Act  defines organized crimes as "the unlawful activities of a highly organized, disciplined associates".
Flowing from the above definitions of organized crime syndicates, observers may note that since 1999 when the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] won elections to occupy most Federal and state political positions like the Presidency and the offices of Governors and Ministers, Nigerians have largely not benefitted from any ideological implementation of policies that are progressive and developmental in orientations even with the huge externally generated revenues from the export of Nigeria's rich mineral resources like Crude oil and liquified natural Gas. What Nigerians have essentially witnessed is the uncovering of one monumental corruption or the other involving most of these high profile political office holders produced by the different political parties including the Peoples Democratic Party, All Nigerian Peoples Party among a few others. These political parties registered under the constitutional provision to seek the popular mandate of the electorate most times fail to understudy the criminal records of the candidates they present during elections and the so-called ruling party at the federal level uses the control it has of the national electoral commission to manipulate the electoral process to put in these misfits some of whom get into political offices and do nothing else but to engage in brazen looting of the resources belonging to their people. To cover up their tracks, these political office holders will in the word of the legendary Musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti will befriend religious, media, Labour unions, civil society and traditional leaders through a carefully coordinated regime of bribe distribution to these key players to buy them over even as these politicians would divert significant amount of public fund to erect places of religious worship to show to their largely docile civil populace that these political leaders are with them in the celebration of their religious beliefs. In Nigeria, the Karl Marx explanation of religion as the 'opium of the people' holds sway and is for real.
Readers can now decipher that Nigeria's problems are located around the negative manipulation of organized religions by people mostly with doubtlful backgrounds and indeed most of these political jobbers belong to one organized crime gang or the other and once they begin to spend stolen funds in building places of worship in their respective states, the people would automatically be carried away forgetting their existential problems of poverty, insecurity and unemployment even when some of these bad politicians fill up their pockets with public funds to the detriment of real development of those states.
In a news report of June 17th 2012, the Niger State Government was quoted to have voted a princely sum of N2.4 Billion to be spent before the end of the year to build two places of worship for Christians and Moslems in the state capital and that these places of worship are aimed at promoting peace in the state. I ask, how can the building of places of worship for only two organized religious groupings promote peace in a federating unit that harbors persons who have chosen to remain Atheists, and/or worshippers of the African Traditional Religion that are largely not organized? Again, why will a state Government that follows the constitution of Nigeria so flagrantly breach section 10 of the constitution by elevating certain religions as state religions? This religious bigotry is at the root of the sectarian violence in the Northern States and these state Governors will never learn to obey the tenets and letters of the constitution. The laughable thing about Niger State is that there are places like Madala, Suleja and other rural communities whereby rural poverty has become serious and the basic infrastructure like electricity, educational facilities and health facilities are all but absent in these areas and the people are left at the mercy of untimely death and crass ignorance. Does the Niger State Government not know that the greatest threat to peace in the society is the lack of social justice symbolized by the total absence of these basic facilities that ought to promote the enjoyment of the provisions of the fundamental human rights as enshrined in chapter four?
At the national level, on the same June 17th 2012, the local media were replete with stories that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party has worked out a blueprint for becoming a commercial venture. The current leadership of the political party that control the Federal Government stated that it would soon metamorphose into a bluechip company and that it would go into obtaining telecommunications and crude oil licences through 'friendly enterpreneurs' and that when they begin these business ventures, the profits would be used to cater for the problems of the political party and the members. Apart from the legal questions that may trail this apparently illegal move by the Peoples Democratic Party, there is also the question of the propriety of a political party in power at the national level whose members are appointed into the banking and other financial regulatory agencies and even the law enforcment agencies such as the governing boards of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, go into business venture and expect Nigerians to believe that when they breach or violate the laws guiding such enterprises that their members who control these regulatory agencies will be impartial and independent in the discharge of their regulatory and enforcement duties? This is like a man becoming both the accused and the judge in a case with his enemy. If the Political party in power is allowed to change into a business concern, what happens to the constitutional provisions that mandates the Independent National Electoral Commission to monitor their incomes when the leaders now championing the proposed commercial ventures for the political party have said that they will use anonymous business executives to run these enterprises substantially? This is like truly transforming the Peoples Democratic Party into an organized crime syndicate similar to the Italian mafia.
Nigerians should speak out in condemnation of this move because this is surely the first step towards making Nigeria a one-party state because the politicians who now have the power to give crude oil licences and the telecommunication licences will simply award the juicest operational platforms to the Peoples Democratic Party and other political parties will simply fizzle out and the people of Nigeria will become slaves in perpetuity.
+Emmanuel Onwubiko, Head, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, writes from www.huriwa.blogspot.com.