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Home / Opinion / RE: SUIT NO :FHC /CS/AWK/115/2017- Nwafili Okwuosa Esq vs. Nigerian Army Council & Attorney General of the Federation. 

RE: SUIT NO :FHC /CS/AWK/115/2017- Nwafili Okwuosa Esq vs. Nigerian Army Council & Attorney General of the Federation. 

*The Nigerian Army has its logo which expresses her motto in Arabic.
* This has raised eyebrows in several quarters as to the propriety of that, taking into cognizance that Arabic is neither an indigenous language nor our lingua franca. It is simply the language of the Islamic Religion.
* Nigeria as a country has its grundnorm – the Constitution, written in English Language. It is the same language that is used to transact official businesses within the country by the three arms of government. Same language extends to businesses at International fora to wit- Economic Community of West African States, African Union, United Nations, etc.
Only in moments of expediency, are our three major languages – Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, deployed.
* The vistas of lingua franca and local languages further poignantly questions the rationale in using Arabic, which is peculiar to the Islamic Faith, on the logo, which logo appears in official documents emanating from the Nigerian Army.
* Viewed from strict legal lenses, this scenario raises the fundamental question as to the constitutionality of the modus operandi adopted by the Army in her use of Arabic; which is a language peculiar to the Islamic Faith.
Is this not in terrorem against Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which forbids the adoption of a state religion?
*  Nwafili Mark Okwuosa Esq, a private legal practitioner in Onitsha, Anambra State and Human Rights, Constitutional cum Political Rights crusader, challenges the constitutional consistency of this act of the Nigerian Army.
* The Claimant has approached the Federal High Court, Awka Division, Anambra State, vide an Originating Summons, seeking, amongst others:
 A declaration that Arabic is not an official language for the conduct of official businesses in Nigeria;
A declaration that the writing of the motto of the Nigerian Army on her logo in Arabic is illegal and unconstitutional, in the light of provision of Section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended); and
An Order compelling the Army to rewrite, in English, the motto on her logo and effect same in all her official documents.
* The suit is billed for hearing on 6/12/2017.
Pix 1- Nwafili Okwuosa Esq.
Pix 2 – Chief of Army Staff – T. Y. Buratai.
Pix 3- The controversial Army Logo with Arabic language used in designating its motto.
Source : Nigeria Lawyers Forum
AmarSim Associations Development Consultants

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One comment

  1. Sulaiman Salisu Danasabe

    The Arabic script: The transliteration of the Arabic script on the Nigerian Army logo is: Nasrunminallah which means Victory Comes From God Alone
    This particular motto was inscribed on the banner under which the Nigerian indigenous forces battled against the invading colonial forces. It symbolizes the fact that the Nigerian Army stands to defend the territorial integrity of the country at all times.
    The motto was formerly that of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio, head of the Sokoto Caliphate. Contrary to what many think, the inclusion of the Arabic motto was not done singlehandedly by General Muhammadu Buhari (now president) or by northern elders but by the British.
    Nowa Omoigui explains thus: “The adoption of the motto of the Sokoto Caliphate, as that of the Nigerian Army, was made by the British – before Nigerian Independence, and long before Major General M. Buhari (rtd) even joined the Army. The Nigerian Navy and AirForce have different mottos from the Army.
    “One of the reasons was that the fall of Sokoto in 1903 – and death of Sultan Attahiru – was (and in some circles, still is) inaccurately regarded by western historians as the last formal battle in the fall of what became “Nigeria”. The highly symbolic Flag of the Caliphate was captured by the British, recaptured by gallant Sokoto Horsemen and recaptured again by the British.
    “It was kept for many years as a British trophy in one of the officers’ messes in Kaduna but returned in a formal ceremony just prior to Nigerian Independence. The myth was spun and sustained by British Tradition.”
    Men of the Nigerian army
    However, “Nigeria” did not really fall in 1903. The Tiv of the middle belt of “Northern Nigeria”, for example, were not militarily or otherwise pacified for at least another ten (10) years. Many pockets of resistance remained in present day “Southern Nigeria” – including Ekumeku and many others. Abeokuta lost its independence in 1914.
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    Nevertheless, the symbolism of the events of 1903 became etched into official memory, as shaped by Dealtry Lugard, which is why the Northern Nigeria regiment and later the combined Nigeria regiment (when Lugard supervised the wedding of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914) adopted the Sokoto motto.
    Many indigenous pre-colonial Nigerian armies and nationalities resisted British rule. They all presumably had their own mottos, but Sir Lugard was preoccupied with his personal legacy as embodied by the subjugation of the Sokoto Caliphate and stabilization of the Anglo-French colonial frontier in the north.
    It is not the making of modern day “Northern Nigeria” or “Northern leaders” or “Leaders of Northern origin” or “Hausa-Fulani oligarchy or cabal” – as various writers suggest, that the motto of the Nigerian Army is that of the pre-colonial Sokoto Caliphate.
    It is one of the many colonial scars in modern Nigeria – and there are many. I have even heard of a cynical interpretation that Lugard privately scoffed at the Sokoto motto “Victory is with God Alone” by saying that he gained victory over the Caliphate by combining God with the Maxim gun. And so to this day, while we are encouraged to wait for God to bring victory, predator nations worship God in the day and make new weapons at night.
    The Army motto can certainly be discussed and debated and perhaps even open to change after due process (if deemed necessary), but we should keep the true historical context and cynical significance in mind. Nigeria is in many ways the way it is because of the legacy of British conquest. Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) did not single handedly or otherwise inscribe the motto of Shehu Dan Fodio into the battle flag and the insignia of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
    The original reason for Arabic was that Frederick Lugard (who was the first Commander of the West African Frontier Force (1897 – 99) and later the first High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria (1899 – 1906); and later the Governor of the protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria (1912 – 1914); and finally the first Governor General of post-amalgamation Nigeria (1914 – 1919 ); identified Arabic the only written “indigenous” language anywhere in Nigeria/West Africa, particularly among the widely spread Hausa trader class across the region. (See Lugard report to Parliament, 1919) Arabic inscriptions were, therefore, used as symbols, not only for currency but even on official West African Frontier Force badges etc… which persist until today in Nigerian Army badges etc…
    In the mind of the British colonial administrators in Nigeria – whose administrative experience was heavily influenced by their military service in Northern Nigeria and other parts of the sahel belt of West Africa – rightly or wrongly, Arabic writing was to West Africa as Latin was to Europe. In addition to English, therefore, they used Arabic to domesticate British instruments meant for local use. The fact that such symbols still exist is one of many scars of the era of colonial rule. However, not all former British West African colonies still use Arabic translations on their currencies as a footnote to history. Nigeria and Gambia do. Ghana and Sierra Leone do not.
    The red colour: This colour depicts the enemy forces, their installations and their activities. Colours used in the Nigerian Armed Forces often follow the NATO military colour code and can stand for the same thing even when used in different places. The Nigerian Army uses a flag that has three vertical stripes (red, black and red), all of the same width. The flag is flown at the Nigerian Army headquarters.

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