Nuremberg: A City Of Justice, By Vitus Ozoke - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Sunday, August 18, 2019

Nuremberg: A City Of Justice, By Vitus Ozoke

To the many Nigerians who live in Nuremberg, including the IPOB apologists who assaulted Senator Ike Ekweremadu at the Igbo new yam festival held there this weekend, Nuremberg is just the city they live in Germany. To Ike Ekweremadu, it is a city he will not be in a hurry to revisit. But to the students and scholars of international law and international relations, Nuremberg holds deeper and longer histories that go beyond Ekweremadu and the events of this weekend. Yet, the events of this weekend connect to Nuremberg's most storied accounts in a most cruel twist of ironic symbolism. 

After the atrocities of World War II, most notably genocidal holocaust and other forms of crimes against humanity, the Allied Forces chose the city of Nuremberg for the prosecution of the World War II criminals. In what would come to be dubbed the Nuremberg trials, a series of military tribunals were held under international law and the laws of war. It saw the prosecution of key figures of the political, economic, judicial, and military leaderships of Nazi Germany, who either planned, executed, or otherwise participated in the Holocaust and other war crimes. Any serious account of the history and development of contemporary international law always devotes a full chapter to the Nuremberg trials. 

Nuremberg affirms humanity's collective aversion for man's inhumanity to man and a long resolve to bring perpetrators to deserved justice. It was so serious that some of the political and military leaders of the Third Reich, including Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, committed suicide to avoid capture and trial. Others like Robert Ley committed suicide barely a week into the trial. Heinrich Himmler was captured while still on his first suicide attempt, but succeeded in taking his life just a day after being arrested by British forces.  So Nuremberg is not a fun city. It's not a new yam festival city. Nuremberg is a city of justice - humanity's justice against powerful criminals. It is a city that gave justice to the Jews; a city that gave justice to the families of victims of war crimes. 

I have said it before, and I say it again, I'm still searching for that contemporary Nigerian politician - PDP and APC alike - with a clean record of people-oriented and people-driven service. A politician who went into politics with the people and a desire for service at heart. It has proven a futile search. When people go into politics poor, but turn billionaires in office, there can be only one conclusion: they are corrupt criminals who have stolen from the commonwealth. And this is the story of many a Nigerian politician. And when natural resources, endowed by God to care for his people, are coveted and siphoned into private accounts and coffers, leaving the masses in poverty, while the political elite and their lazy families live in opulence, a crime against humanity is committed, a crime for which Nuremberg is known to have dispensed justice.  

If the 1945 post World War II were 2019, thousands of members of the Nigerian political, judicial, economic, and military leadership class would have been legitimate candidates for Nuremberg trials. And let me be as clear as I can possibly be: Senator Ike Ekweremadu would have been one of them - whether he gets convicted is a different matter entirely. However, one thing a Senator Ike Ekweremadu would not have had to worry about in Nuremberg was mob justice, the type displayed by some IPOB-affiliated rascals at the Igbo New Yam festival in Nuremberg over the weekend. Humanity, even 74 years ago, had moved beyond that level of barbarity. We cannot and should not encourage or condone mob vigilantism. We cannot surrender the delicate task of justice to a mob of self-rationalizing hotheads. That's a principle worthy of paradoxical defense. It is.

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