Shiites’ Bloody Protests and the Nerve of Shehu Sani

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Shehu-Sani

Ring true

By Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521

Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN),continued their bloody protest in Abuja for most of this week, resulting in the death of a senior police officer,DCP Usman Umar, an NYSC member attached to Channels Television, Precious Owolabi and 11 members of the sect. The Shiites are marching violently to protest the detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who had been incarcerated along with his wife, Zeenatudeen since 2015. As predicted, the protests this week were gory. If this government is not careful, the dissents may become worse, because being killed is not a big deal to IMN members.

These deaths are needless. I am not a fan of the Shiites; I abhor violence in any form. I am for peaceful protest at any time, regardless of the provocation. However, I am still holding the federal government responsible for these bloodlettings in Abuja. The Buhari government must listen to the voice of wisdom and obey court orders in respect of El-Zakzaky. We won’t be in this bloody situation if government had allowed the IMN leader out on bail as instructed by the court. Government at all times must take actions that will promote peace. This is the standard in decent societies. Unfortunately, it is an exception in Nigeria.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole had on December 2, 2016, granted bail to the fiery Islamic leader, along with his wife, and imposed a fine of N50 million on the federal government for the incarceration of the duo. The Nigerian Army and the Kaduna State Government had demolished and set their residence on fire on December 15, 2015. As a result, the court also ordered the federal government to provide them a suitable accommodation. But this government refused to obey the court orders. This is the injustice members of the movement have been fighting against since 2015. But I detest going about this fight in a bloody and lawless manner as being done.

The Buhari government is being too clever by half, by getting the Kaduna State Government to arraign El-Zakzaky afresh. This is not the way to go. Just as I said three weeks ago, the Buhari government should be thinking more about a political solution to this El-Zakzaky quagmire instead of holding him endlessly and disobeying the court. This country can’t afford to be plunged into another full blown insurgency. Our security agents can’t handle additional insurrection. They are overstretched by Boko Haram, killer herders, kidnappers and bandits. Now, a government eagerly adds another problem to these loads of problems. It is preposterous.

 

On the flip side, the former lawmaker, who represented Kaduna Central in the Senate, Shehu Sani, showed great courage during the week. Sani, who spoke at a conference for emerging leaders in Kaduna, chastised northern elites for blindly supporting Buhari despite the unending pains in the region. Sani lamented that the North had failed to hold Buhari accountable despite the killings and destruction of property in the North because the President is from the region. He mourned poverty and educational backwardness in the North, calling on the President to urgently intervene.

 

Sani, who said the North must stop tolerating Buhari’s administrative style, added: “The North is tolerant of bad government because Buhari is in government and he is from the North. They believe he is infallible and that he cannot be called to question. When power moves to the South, the North is good at holding leaders to account and when it moves to the North, we keep silent. We are shy. We are cautious.  We are afraid of telling our own that the road in the North is bad. We are more courageous to tell the truth when the President doesn’t come from our region.

“If 50 people are killed in Katsina and the representative of the state is not ready to stand up in the Senate to talk about his people being killed, then it will go on and nobody will know. But if Pa Reuben Fasoranti’s daughter is killed and a representative from Fasoranti stood up and say I Senator blah blah stand up to condemn the murder, the nation and the world will know

“But if your people are dying here and the people you elected are afraid of being embarrassed and they don’t want to be categorised as being disloyal and seen in the bad book, they will kill as many as possible and the perception of people outside is that all is well. So, the North must not be docile because one of their own is in office.

“For this country to survive, President Buhari must listen to the voices of reason. You may not like the face of Wole Soyinka, Balarabe Musa, and Obasanjo, but read through the contents of what they have written and see where adjustments can be made.”

Shehu Sani spoke justly. He is indeed a patriot. This activist has never disappointed me. If Nigeria has more of his type coming out openly to challenge our failed leaders, then this country will begin to make some progress. The biggest threat to the Buhari government is the large number of bootlickers it is dancing with. They are living and thinking in the past, making it impossible for the President to effectively tackle the myriads of problems facing this country. These obsequious people persistently chorus that all is well in Nigeria, when in fact, all is in a mess.

 

I was all tears on Thursday when the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) paraded the six aid workers they abducted in Borno State last week. Yet, they tell us that all is well with the battle against insurgency. The so-called Borno Elders remain tight-lipped while scores of people are killed daily in the state by terrorists. Two female Red Cross workers were abducted and killed in the same region last year. These six Nigerians working for theCharity group, Action Against Hunger, must not die in the hands of ISWAP.

 

Failed Governors as Ministers

Former governors dominated the list of nominated ministers released on Tuesday. This is fast becoming their retirement benefit. There are nine of them on this list -Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom)Chris Ngige (Anambra), Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa), George Akume (Benue), Ogbonnaya Onu (Abia) Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Adeniyi Adebayo (Ekiti State), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).

Regrettably, most of these former governors, who will become ministers in a couple of days, evidently have nothing to offer this country. Their records are appalling. Let’s take on Aregbesola first, whose tenure was all about “half salary and half pension.” His eight years as governor brought unprecedented pain on the people of Osun State. This is a man that could not pay salaries to civil servant while basic infrastructures also degenerated. Under him, Osun people wallowed in hunger, poverty and disease. Public schools, hospital and roads deteriorated greatly under this man.

A judge of the Osun State High Court, Justice Folahanmi Oloyede, wrote a petition against Aregbesola in 2015, detailing the failure of the government in many areas, including non-payment of workers’ salaries and pensions. She was eventually compulsorily retired by the National Judicial Council in dubious circumstances.Oloyede said: “The primary duties of any responsible government are welfare of the citizens and their security. Any government that fails in the two areas has failed woefully in the discharge of its primary duties. Labourers deserve their wages and it is covetousness to spend what belongs to other people. It is a crime to spend pensions and gratuities of the people and deny them their rights. We are not beggars, we worked for the entitlements.”

State retirees were also traumatised by hazardous Aregbesola. They spent eight years protesting non-payment of gratuities and pensions by the Aregbesola administration. Scenes of retirees with walking stick, begging for their rights on the streets were regular. Never in the history of this state has senior citizens been this humiliated. Hundreds died waiting for their pensions and gratuities. Those still living have become walking corpses. A retiree, 78-year-old school teacher, Mr. Joseph Olaoye, slumped during one of such protests.

Aregbesola, who left Osun State in tatters, has now been nominated minister. This is a reward for his glaring ineptitude. What a country!

Akpabio had a huge war chest when he was governor but Akwa Ibom had very little to show for this. He squandered the riches of this state, while his people wallowed in poverty. When Akpabio had an accident, he could not run to any of the state’s health facilities he claimed to have built. He ran abroad for treatment. What pains me the most is that he is being scrutinised for alleged corruption by the EFCC, yet, Buhari, who claims to be fighting corruption, went ahead to nominate him. 

Akpabio first came under inquiry in 2015 following allegations that he diverted over N100 billion from the state’s purse. According to an ostensible interim report, the former governor purportedly transferred N1.4 billion to a bank for unknown reasons. A school in Uyo, supposedly belonging to Akpabio’s wife, was initially seized by the EFCC in 2017. Immediately he joined the ruling party, EFCC suddenly stopped work on his cases.

 

On Sylva, Festus Keyamo was the lawyer hired by the EFCC in 2014 to prosecute him over alleged N19 billion fraud. Scores of buildings were seized from him. Immediately the Buhari government took over, the EFCC developed cold feet and the case was rested. Sylva is now one of the nominated ministers. What a lucky chap. The war against corruption is truly on.

 


Sambo Dasuki on My Mind

It’s almost two weeks since the Court of Appeal in Abuja declared the detention of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, by the Department of State Security illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional and ordered his immediate release on conditional bail. The appellate court held that the DSS and its Director General acted outside their constitutional powers on the detention of a Nigerian citizen and imposed a fine of N5 million on them to be paid to Dasuki as compensation for breach of his fundamental rights.

As usual, this government has refused to allow Dasuki enjoy his freedom. The Buhari government has been holding him without trial for almost four years. Dasuki is being unjustly detained. This only happens in failed countries like ours. This struggle of mine is about respect for our constitution, our laws and the rule of law. All forces of good must rise and fight for Dasuki’s freedom. The plan is to break his spirit. His family is burdened.

History will not forgive all government agents making reckless and unprofessional statements to denigrate the court, violate the constitution and encourage the continued breach of the fundamental human rights of Dasuki.

This government must be compelled to comply with any order of court admitting the former NSA to bail. This is where we would need the support of the British and American government.

The offence for which this former NSA was arraigned is bailable under the Nigerian law. Government must not be seen promoting impunity and disobeying court orders. Functionaries of government must not be seen assaulting the Rule of Law. Unfortunately, this is what has been happening for almost four years with the case of Dasuki. On December 29, 2015, when Dasuki’s bail conditions were perfected, and the warrant of release signed by the court, the operatives of SSS stormed Kuje Prison, immediately rearrested the ex-NSA and clamped him in their detention camp. It was so depressing, yet, Buhari’s cohorts defend this lawlessness.

The Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in a landmark judgement, also declared the detention of Dasuki unlawful, null and void. The court subsequently ordered his immediate release in addition to imposing a fine of N15 million on the government as compensation for the breach of Dasuki’s fundamental rights. The federal government refused to obey this order of the international court, yet, we have a chief law officer defending this anarchy.

Again, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court Abuja on July 2, 2018, admitted Dasuki to bail upon discovery that his detention was a breach of the constitution. Upon meeting the bail condition, the warrant of release of Dasuki on bail was signed by the court and served on the Director General of DSS and the Attorney General of the Federation for their compliance, but they arrogantly ignored it. In fact, the re-nominated Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami confidently declared that the order of the court would not be obeyed by the federal government. Is this a chief law officer? Lawlessness must end in Nigeria if this country wants to make progress.