By Jude Ndukwe
The current administration’s fight against corruption which was one of the cardinal campaign promises through which they rode to power is highly commendable but only to the undiscerning mind. The figures being reeled out so far from the anti-corruption crusade are nothing but the product of political actors who masquerade themselves as anti-corruption fighters. All the suspects so far are nothing but unfortunate scapegoats who have to pay the price for serving in a highly-maligned administration, some, merely for belonging to an opposition party, while others still, for daring to expose and speak out against the draconian excesses of the Buhari administration.
Until convictions are secured, the continued intimidation, harassment, persecution, illegal detentions, flagrant disobedience of court orders, humiliation of the judiciary, selective prosecution etc, will remain nothing but a witch-hunt and banal media razzmatazz spinned to distract Nigerians from worsening economic situation and speedy slide of our social infrastructure into a state of abysmal decline without any known plan to rescue it.
For example, during former president Jonathan era, precisely between 20th July and 20th October, 2014, when there was an outbreak of the dreaded Ebola disease that shook the whole world, in Nigeria, there was widespread criticism from the camp of the then opposition on how the outbreak was handled despite the fact that in a period of 3 months only 7 people succumbed to the disease throughout the federation as the government was very quick and decisive in tackling it despite the reluctance of the international community to assist then. Fast forward to January 2016, the equally dreaded Lassa Fever has claimed 41 persons in just one week under the Buhari administration, and because there is this noise of #Dasukigate in the media used to distract Nigerians from demanding good governance from its leaders, nobody is taking the government up on how it is managing the Lassa fever outbreak and why the disease should kill 41 Nigerians in just a space of about one week.
It is the desire of every Nigerian to see that corrupt people are brought to book and made to account for their deeds. However, in doing so, the provisions of the law made to deal with such issues must not only be followed but must be seen to be followed to the letter. No matter how anyone irrespective of his or her position feels about any crime committed by someone, such a person must be ready to submit himself before the law and prove his case beyond every reasonable doubt in order to secure conviction against those being accused. To do otherwise is to exhibit the worst form of corruption which is tyranny.
In fact, a tyrant cannot fight corruption because in doing so, he/she sets aside the law of the land and goes on a persecution spree using state resources to oppress its citizens. The use of state institutions and resources to oppress citizens who are seen as political foes is not only despotic but also totalitarian.
Furthermore, the use of state institutions and resources to disregard the judiciary while flagrantly disobeying court orders and dealing with citizens according to one’s whimsies and caprices is not only criminal but also an act of war against the state and her citizens.
With regard to the ongoing $2bn arms deal saga, it is clear that government is not only selective in its persecution of suspects, it is also vigorously approaching the matter with vengeance, vindictiveness and vendetta. A situation where Nigerians are randomly hounded and kept incommunicado at the pleasure of a tyrannical leader while whipping up sentiments in the media by declaring these individuals guilty and bandy incongruous humongous figures about to justify such wickedness in high places without taking them to court is undemocratic, condemnable and unacceptable. Beyond the media razzmatazz, one comes to conclude that the only reason why government is failing to do the right thing is simply because it knows that it is only embarking on a frivolous journey of tragic-comedy leading to infamy and eventual self-obliteration.
For example, Nigerians were first told that Chief Olisa Metuh, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, who has fast become one of Buhari’s nemesis as an opposition figure, received the sum of N1.4bn and N4m monthly from Office of the National Security Adviser. This was what the EFCC went to the media with. But on arresting Metuh, the shifty anti-corruption agency then told Nigerians that Metuh was only being investigated for receiving the sum of N400m from the previous administration. If the N1.4bn and N4m monthly allocation to Metuh story is not true, one fears that unless Metuh is properly charged to court and we hear his own side of the story, the N400m story for which he is being charged might also just be the desperate fabrication of an agency doing the bidding of an unsparing ruler. If not, why is the EFCC not charging the man to court running to two weeks after clamping him into detention?
Is it also not laughable, as if we are all unintelligent in this country, to say that Metuh tore the statement he purportedly “voluntarily” wrote by himself after he was presented with it and he saw the weight of the “confession” he made? If Metuh actually wrote the statement himself voluntarily, why was he not asked to endorse it there and then? Why should there be a “presentation of the statement to him for endorsement by an investigative officer”, giving the impression that the document was taken away for some “treatments” only to be returned and presented to the man for endorsement? If he made the statement voluntarily, why did he not also endorse it voluntarily? What is the time lag between when he made the statement and when it was “presented” to him for endorsement? One day, two days, three days, four days etc? We may not know unless the case goes to court. Any more doubt as to why government is afraid of going to the courts?
The threat to file charges against him for “wilful destruction of government property” for tearing the statement is equally laughable. After illegally keeping a man in detention without access to his lawyers and family members and without charging him to court, they should count themselves lucky that Metuh only tore “his own” statement and did not do any further harm to anyone. What these government agents do not understand is that such conditions they tie Nigerians to can make any man more defiant than ever. They would have to prove it in court that it is not the illegal detention he suffered that pushed him to do that. He who must go to equity, must go with clean hands. It is the same situation that has made Nnamdi Kanu of the Biafra Movement defiant to the extent that he said he would rather remain in detention than appear before any court whose orders would not be obeyed after all.
It was the same defiance that the good people of Bayelsa State showed in the just concluded governorship election when men and women stood armed militants and riggers in the face, singing “All die na die, if you wan kill us, kill all of us make we die” while they defended their votes in the face of fatal brutality visited on them by one of the defeated contestants who operated with gusto, Gestapo-style before, during and after the election because of the support he was believed to have received from the powers that be. The same defiance is cutting across the entire nation. If the trend is not checked, it is only a matter of time before the keg of gunpowder explodes.
Is it not in pursuant of same system of arrogating to themselves the powers to investigate, arrest, prosecute, judge and sentence fellow citizens that made the security agencies initially ask for secret trial of Sambo Dasuki so they could do with him what they wished in secret and malign further the judicial process off public glare?
President Buhari should be reminded that he swore to an oath to lead Nigeria according to our laws and protect the law and not do anything that would ridicule it. He swore that he would not allow his personal interest to override national interest. Contrary to belief among supporters of the president, the fight against corruption as is presently being pursued is against national interest. Anything done to denigrate, degrade, humiliate or embarrass our judiciary in the lawful conduct of their duties is against national interest no matter how important the issue is. If Prseident Buhari knows he has nothing personal against those he is currently holding unlawfully, he should allow the rule of law to take its due course. He should present his water-tight evidence against them and argue his case brilliantly. If they are found guilty, let them be jailed. Any process reinvented by proxy and or through the backdoor apart from the one prescribed by our laws through which corruption cases are to be treated is criminal and those who invent and or use such processes are also criminally liable for breaching our laws.
Unfortunately, and is if to confirm the fears of many, an associate of President Buhari, Prof Jafaru Isa, was allowed to go without being prosecuted or even made to appear before a judge for receiving money from Mr Sambo Dasuki to the whopping sum of N170m while those who are on the opposite side of Jafaru are being held indefinitely either contrary to court orders or at the dictate of the dictator.
Those who are speaking up against such recklessness are being called names and accused of siding with corruption when, in fact, what we are doing is restrain our leaders from taking us through this path from which they claimed they have repented as it blows no one any wind of good. If the trend is not checked, it is only a matter of time before all of us become casualties, and those that would cry loudest then as it always is in a nation covered by a cloud of tyranny are those who are asking us to keep quiet now!
Together, we can stop this corruption of tyranny now!
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