Although Adamawa State lawmaker, Senator Elisha Ishaku Abbo has apologizsed for publicly assaulting a nursing mother, there are noteworthy lessons from this ugly experience, writes Shola Oyeyipo
Lately, the Nigerian conventional and new media have been awash with three main trending developments. First was the move by the federal government to implement Ruga Settlement, but President Muhammadu Buhari rescinded the decision in the week following public outcry.
Next was the allegation of rape against Pastor Biodun Fatoyimbo of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, which necessitated his stepping down pending as the senior pastor the determination of the veracity of the allegation against him by celebrity photographer, Busola Dakolo.
The common denominator in these two cases is that Nigerians wanted a redresses and at least, there were immediate actions in each case.
Yet, there is another issue that agitated the minds of Nigerians towards the end of the week and it was the story of a lawmaker from Adamawa State, Senator Elisha Ishaku Abbo (PDP, Adamawa North), who assaulted a nursing woman and was caught on a video that went viral.
This forced the whole o human community to demand his arrest and also prosecution, for obviously not living by example as a public office holder.
But in his well-crafted and somewhat contrite ‘apology letter’ to Nigerians, the Senate, his party, the victim, Bibra and her family, Abbo said: “I personally apologise to Bibra and her family for my action towards her, which has brought immense discomfort in our body polity.
“I have never been known or associated with such actions in the past. Regardless of what transpired prior to my expression of anger, I am sincerely sorry and plead that all men and women of good conscience should have the heart to forgive me. To err is human; to forgive is divine.
“To the Church of God everywhere in the world, I am sorry. As an Ambassador of Christ, much is expected of me. My family and religious upbringing do not give approval to such conduct and for this, as a leader, I seek forgiveness before God and all those who feel offended by my action.
“Indeed, this episode has taught me a very great lesson both as a private citizen and a public officer, particularly as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria upon whom public confidence is bestowed.”
But the lawmaker claimed that the video was distorted. He also noted that unlike what the people were made to believe, the incident just happened, on May 11, 2019, but that was after he had become senator-elect.
Also not oblivious of the rousing public outcry and the huge loss of goodwill that followed the viral video, his party quickly joined him in seeking apology from Nigerians.
The PDP stated that “We also plead with the generality of Nigerians and particularly the female folks to find space in their hearts to forgive, more so, that he has rendered an unreserved apology to the lady in question and her family, as well as Nigerians.”
The views of very many well-meaning Nigerians on the matter were succinctly captured in a Twitter reaction of renowned Nollywood actress, Kate Henshaw. She disagreed with the apology offered by Senator Abbo, but added that the apology was insincere.
Henshaw wrote on her verified Twitter handle, @henshawkate, that the apology was irrelevant. “Your supposed apology smacks of arrogance, Elisha Abbo! You said, ‘No matter what she did to me’. What did she do except tell you to take it easy? Your supposed apology is very insincere.
“You were caught in your own lie. You went to prepare a robust response and came back with this hogwash of an apology. We must as a people see things to a logical conclusion. Examples must be made, impunity in any form, from anyone, is unacceptable.”
From all indications, the lawmaker seemed not to have been conscious that he had become a public figure, whose moral standard is of utmost importance to his new status. He didn’t seem to have matured enough to shed his excesses. But he must learn from this even if his apology turned down.
He also appears to need help. There is a need for him to embark on anger management and become a better version of himself, because there is no denying that he has a very bad temper.
But since he has done what is expected of a civilised person, he also needs to get in touch with the lady and personally apologise to her for a sincere closure.
There is also a general feeling of doubt in how the police deliver justice in such a case, which explained why Nigerians reacted to a recent photograph of Abbo in a cordial discussion with the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu.
The police authority wasted no time to say the photograph was taken on April 30, 2019 and not recent.
“The picture was taken in Governor El-Rufai’s office when the IGP paid the governor a courtesy visit during a security meeting with the northern traditional rulers in Kaduna on April 30, 2019.
“Whatever maybe the motive behind the display of the picture at the time when the senator is under investigation, be it known that the IGP, a public servant, interacts with every Nigerian, irrespective of their status, political leaning, tribe or religion, etc in the course of discharging his duties as the number one cop of the nation.”
IGP Adamu however took the matter a step further by ordering the arrest of the Senator and also directed the Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command, Mr. Bala Ciroma to provide a personal and round-the-clock supervision of every facet of investigation into the matter.
In a statement, the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba said part of the investigation included the forensic analysis of the video and the actions or inactions of the policeman in the video.
According to Mba, “The IGP while assuring citizens of utmost professionalism by the Police in the handling of the matter, promised that the Force will ensure that justice is manifestly done in this case irrespective of whose ox is gored.”
No doubt, the police authority is expected to get to the bottom of this matter. Now that the Senate has also ordered a probe into the development and that the report should be made available in two weeks, attention will also be focused on the National Assembly to see how the matter is handled.
Above all, this is a confirmation of the need for the political class and the electorate to always verify and ensure quality representatives at every level of political office.
This is very crucial going forward otherwise, Abbo would be a saint by the time the political turf is dominated by charlatans.