By Richard Murphy
There is something obsessive about the way and manner Amnesty International carries on with its mandate as an international NGO in Nigeria. The organization carries on with this “our way or the highway” approach to issues, oftentimes dictating terms for the Nigerian government or agencies with the tone of an imprimatur – the kind of attitude that should come from a supra-national body like the United Nations because even regional supra-national organizations like the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) has not dared behave toward Nigeria in such manner.
While Amnesty International operates in other countries of the world, the kind of power it arrogates to itself in Nigeria is only found in Syria, where the White Helmets, possibly the NGO’s proxy there is practically coordinating the war aimed at toppling that country’s President Bashar al-Assad. A war so misguided that only a few people can still recall what the killing is about while terrorists like the al-Nusra Front has been canonized into sainthood irrespective of the atrocities they have committed or the fact that they are not really disparate from the Islamic State.
The White Helmets’ shady dealing in Syria is provocative to the point where it actively shares intelligence with terrorists, conveniently labelled as “rebels” to confer some degree of legitimacy on the crime they are committing. White Helmets’ operatives have helped to frame attacks targeting al-Nusra terrorists as crime against humanity, in instances when they cannot find actual attacks, they stage some with the help of movie producers and directors. Also, it is not unusual to find the group using its identity to provide cover for the terrorists. It is a situation that leaves a sour taste in the mouth but when big money speaks truth is the first casualty.
Perhaps because it has not found a credible local franchise to play that role, Amnesty International is Nigeria’s own White Helmets. It is the group that helps manage terrorists propaganda by crafting pseudo-reports that absolves terrorists of wrongdoing while criminalizing government troops that are fighting to end a decade-old campaign of terror that has left too many families bereaved and the economy of an entire region shattered in addition to an entire generation that has been lost to the wanton killing that is Boko Haram’s legacy perpetuated and defended by Amnesty International.
Although it is marketed as an international brand, the NGO uses a strategy of engaging indigenous mid-level to management staff supervised by an expat overlord, often a westerner, a situation that has deepened a culture of racism, abuse and harassment. The overlords, often working from the comfort of the organization’s headquarters in London, have the singular role of pressuring staffers into delivering damning reports against the country of operation, irrespective of the reality on ground. The incitement to commit crimes against their country is worded to the staffers in NGO-speak, which they have been indoctrinated to understand, fear and obey; an email with terms like ‘benchmarking, KPI, RoI, appraisal etc’ have meanings other than what people understand them to mean on the streets – they are the trigger words that remind Amnesty International’s Nigerian staffers of how easily they could lose the rare privilege of earning in foreign currency in an economy where such income source is considered as divine gift.
Such toxic work environment has been known in the past to trigger suicides among the NGO’s employees, something that triggered international concern in the recent past. While several top bosses at the charity have been thrown under the bus to create an impression that the problem of toxic work culture has been addressed, the practice of pushing staffers to author misleading reports has not stopped to Amnesty International’s workers remain miserable because they recall at all times the damaging lies they have to tell to earn those dollars. This has not been helped by the knowledge that they are helping terrorists like Boko Haram evade justice.
The only other thing that send Amnesty International staffers into depression worse than its toxic work culture is its finances which is a sure recipe for a moral dilemma in terms of its sourcing and spending; the NGO’s money is mostly sourced from questionable (almost criminal) corporate organizations and spent on terrorists and criminals.
For instance, in 2016 by its own financial report, the Amnesty International earned £68,407,000 from various sources. Pro-imperialist and war dependent groups like Ford Foundation pitched in £468,000 while an “Anonymous Foundation” threw in £667,000 in addition to 236 “anonymous donors” that contributed £725,000. Hiding within the ranks of these “anonymous” donors are the arms dealers, crisis entrepreneurs and mercenaries that have been contracted to overthrow governments in emerging countries or create instability that will have the same result. These kinds of donors are the ones that write the scripts that Amnesty International play out in Nigeria, often it is about emasculating the Nigerian military and build capacity for groups like Boko Haram, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).
Other sub-heads of income sources should give the media and some ‘activists’ sleepless nights. Are they aware that Amnesty International is a profit-making body and that whatever actions it is taking in Nigeria are geared towards increasing donations, improve marketability and boost other revenue sources? Yes. It received £62,751,000 from its offices across 30, mostly western, countries; although it marked these funds as “unrestricted” but who says the donors would not show up with a shopping list of the kind of destruction that should be caused in Nigeria? Even more interesting is an entry like “Activities for generating funds” under which it made £102,000 as Gain on Acquisition of AI Nigeria. It also made some money from Sales of Campaign Materials. Discerning minds should be asking how this transactional disposition tallies with the marketed image of human rights campaigner.
Amnesty International’s 2017 is even more worrisome than its revenue source, irrespective of the fact that it found euphemisms for the nefarious ends to which its financial resources were committed. Its report showed that it spent €290,000,000 in that year half of it, 49.50% expended on Human rights research, advocacy, campaigning, raising awareness and education. In layman’s terms these expressions are respectively: money paid to fake witnesses to procure fraudulent interviews, money spent on recruiting for terrorist groups, money spent on harassing legitimate governments, money given to terrorists to fund their indoctrination and radicalization programmes. Almost a quarter, 23.76%, of its 2017 expenditure went into “Building our support base” and that is another euphemism for “money spent on expanding our terror networks”.
Interestingly, Amnesty International has not stopped “building this support base” or “raising awareness” or providing “education”. It recently ramped up its recruitment drive in Nigeria, asking people to “Join for free”, something that is guaranteed to catch attention and mostly likely encourage action in a country where the ravages of COVID-19 has ravaged the economy and left citizens in want. Those who sign up for this free membership must be warry. This round of recruitment is not likely to be rosy – unlike when the NGO recruited voice actors to pose as anonymous interviewees for its reports meant to discredit Nigeria’s war on terrorism.
This time around, anyone with as many as 100 brain cells should ask question as to why Amnesty International is on a volunteer drive at about the same time that Boko Haram has lost hundreds of its fighters to the ongoing military operation to stamp it out of Nigeria. Anyone that enlists into Amnesty International’s offer of free membership may just find themselves at the wrong end of the gun barrel, especially now that more details are known about the group. The warning is to the Nigerian youth: joining Amnesty International is the same as joining Boko Haram and the consequences will always be dire.
Something else that must be said is the need for the federal government to shake off its complacency where Amnesty International is concerned. The military cannot be given marching orders to wipe out Boko Haram and the government will do nothing when that assignment is being hampered by the well-funded interference from Amnesty International, which now looks set to attempt recruiting new members for Boko Haram. Just at the youth were warned above that this round of enlisting into Amnesty International will land them in the laps of Boko Haram, the government is similarly warned a successful recruitment of terrorists for Boko Haram by Amnesty International will alter the equation as those to be onboarded in this exercise would be educated, savvy and problematic to deal with. The best case scenario is to stop our youth from joining Amnesty International/Boko Haram for free.
Murphy is a security expert and wrote this piece from Calabr.