*A Resurgent Nigeria: Forging greater unity, planting the seeds of togetherness. Discussion with Dr Kusum Gopal
By Philip Probity & Babaji Halilu
As we approach fifty-three years of Independence this October from colonial rule, many Nigerians like us continue to reflect on our nation a region of great potential, given the phenomenal talent, material wealth, being blessed to be part of the great African continent. There is always a commentary on our national deficiencies, be it tribalism, the endemic corruption, failure of the public health system, the weakness of civil societies, and in recent years, the carnage wreaked by the Boko Haram. As a nation Nigeria has been facing many challenges and its unity is being threatened. What can be done to remedy it? Is there a way out? Certainly there is a way out, says Dr Kusum Gopal, who has technical expertise on east/west Africa, the MENA region, the countries of the Indian Subcontinent and Denmark. She has worked on conflict resolution, refugee rehabilitation, social development, public health, gender mainstreaming, and, related humanitarian matters.
Q: There are many concerns. Let us begin first with tribalism. Can we overcome this at all?
Answer: We cannot seek to remedy or, seek to cure without a holistic root and branch understanding of the Why question. Shall we now begin by paying homage to the novelist and poet, Chinua Achebe who died in spring this year? He observed correctly that, ”Nigeria is a nation favoured by Providence”. And, that alone with committed, enlightened leadership and honesty could pull the country from its troubles. He also argued that as former colonisers who have benefited greatly from colonisation during the last four hundred years or so and continue to do so, European countries and the Powers-that-Be have an extremely critical responsibility in negotiating peace and prosperity. This means in most instances, that fresh appraisals by all governments and policy makers who are working with such preconceived erroneous, belief systems is necessary as also, the need to engage in these joint conversations, as it is of moral and ethical urgency.
And, thus it is essential for those in power not just in Nigeria but everywhere, including Euro-America nations and networks to learn to listen, and, to reflect particularly, to the voices of suffering tempered by universal principles of good judgement and accountability: judiciousness is rooted in deep understanding of not just one’s own history and culture, but also, that of another country’s history combined with the specificities of cultural reasoning and pragmatism. In Nigeria for example, the past weighs heavily on the present because like nearly all post-colonial nations, the infrastructure, and bureaucracy and, in this instance, the Black letter law dominate proceedings. Historically, intellectuals on both sides of the divide remain deeply critical of the arbitrary Partition of Africa, the root of all present day strife in this great continent. With reference to Nigeria, the politics of divide and rule between north, west and the east, the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa-Fulani in the main were consequent to the separatist political parties such as the NPC in the north, the AG in the west and the NCNC. There is immediacy, an urgent need for dialogues for a pan Nigerian identity to be set into motion through en masse education- which could also take place under trees in the fields and, communities engage in these discussions at a national level. The role of schools and more necessarily, universities is very important. Academics should be allowed to conduct research uninhibited and by granting freedom of education knowledge could be disseminated. Ultimately the truth always comes out, but often after the cost of immeasurable human suffering; this can be prevented by encouraging education of the mind and the spirit, at a formal and informal level. Publications must be discussed such as Achebe, Soyinka, Isichei, Dr. Chuks Osuji and so many others indeed, these numerous monographs of valuable research must be made available at low cost. Indeed, also discussions must happen on TV and other media on public platforms, an active engagement with civil societies, communities supported by government.
Here, we need to acknowledge dispassionately, without hate or feelings of revenge to evaluate what has transpired during the last two hundred years and, to resuscitate past pre-colonial traditions that fostered friendship, sharing of the environment and other such understandings. These tribal identities need to be discussed again. That is not to do away with any identity but illustrate how people in these regions have coexisted for centuries. We need to understand the roots of the current divide, of suspicion; when did these tribal names originate bearing in mind, a concept of race or tribe is not indigenous to African cultures? What is meant by Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa-Fulani or any of the other identities, all of which are equally to be valued. Differences between people were measured by dialects, languages and attire. And, intermarriage was a common practice. A study of the beliefs illustrate that in West Africa and beyond, within the corridors from north to the south, the timing and performance of critical traditional customs and practices are common. For example, the cults of ancestral spirits, burying the chief of a tribe at midnight, divining for rain; social beliefs about the rearing of babies, rites of initiation during puberty, customs such as bride wealth, marriage, pregnancy taboos, dietary regulations, childbirth, postpartum ceremonies remain the same Thus, making separate and dividing peoples on anthropometric basis of invented tribe schemata measures explicitly negated time honoured customs, how people related to each other, or accepted and understood their environments, or, their mutual interdependence with which these cultures had evolved naturally for millennia with indigenous forms of governance that had worked for them.
The loss of certainty has led to new forms of strife and introduced ‘communal’ conflicts: such estrangement has had the effect of foreclosing and truncating indigenous value systems. We also know that by 1914, 90% of Africa had been divided between seven European countries with only Liberia and Ethiopia remaining partially independent nations. Many of the boundaries drawn up by Europeans at the Berlin Conference still endure today with little regard to natural landmarks or political boundaries established by the Africans themselves. Here the role of Oral traditions and the guidance of Elders and Chiefs in educating people will be invaluable in encouraging a Pan Nigerian identity, indeed a common West African or African identity stressing mutual interdependence and commonalities of shared cultural beliefs and lifestyles.
We must not suppress cultural expressions or seek to dissolve tribal identities as they have now come to exist, but we must emphasise unity in diversity as integral to governance. Every country has its own forms of governance, and institutional systems in place that facilitate not just the decision making processes, but representation through bureaucracies’ facilitations.
Q: Yes, compulsory education is the need of the hour. Could you elaborate on this?
Answer: In every human’s lifetime there is formal and informal education. The most important kind of education would knit these two together and education for Life is essential. It is not necessary to get a PhD or go to university, we just need to get the basics right – understand who we are, why we are the way we are and what can we do to make this world a better place. But to get there, there is the dire need for reforming the education system, in particular through the detailed examination and revision of the school textbooks. The specific histories and cultures of the regions such as the Indian subcontinent and the African continent as indeed, also west Asia prior to the Partitions must be understood. In doing so there is a need to deconstruct the logic of prejudices that are detrimental to mutual understanding - and this can be done through scientific, philosophical and literary anthologies and writings - that take into account oral traditions. This way through education, and by films, negative images of others, religious intolerance, incitement of hatred, violence and contempt for one other could be removed. Teachers must be trained as they are the educators and they must not only transmit knowledge but also comment critically on the transmitted knowledge and its content. Cultural diversity is integral to these regions and has always been. It is important to recognise that personal identities are intimately linked with political processes and that social identities are not a given once and for all, but are negotiated over an individual’s lifetime.
Q: You mentioned the necessity of Ethnographic research in policy making. Could you explain from your work on how it can be applied for Nigeria in for example maternal mortality which is a major problem here?
Answer: Indeed, maternal mortality, neonatal deaths are a terrible scourge – and it is one of the MDG’s. Addressing this would have a ripple effect on many other areas—and providing free basic civic facilities and public hygiene is critical. Yes, whether it is public health, conflict resolution, governance such as the idea of a nation state or any activity engaged by human beings, ethnography can offer not just profound insights but also assist policy making that would be culture sensitive, in keeping with local belief systems. There exist collection of writings on this region—from colonial administrator-scholars- and since then to the present much research continues. For instance, there are rich and powerful traditions of ethno-medicine that has much to offer on reproductive health. In Nigeria for example, I would like to highlight the work done on the Igbo beliefs about reproductive status and health which are vital to a woman’s identity and a girl’s honour – as a defining purpose in life. Significant emphasis placed on witchcraft, curses and oaths as the primary causes of reproductive health disorders according a high value to herbal remedies. It shows the immeasurable value of folk beliefs and we need to incorporate all this knowledge into the health system. So much of it makes sense as the ethnographer Izumgura, has pointed out in Igbo, Oria nwanyi sitere na onumara is a diagnosis of inherited reproductive systems – family and heredity difficulty in conception, retention of placenta or Oria nwanyi buovuru futa uwa which is about understanding congenital reproductive systems –And these beliefs have parallels with modern scientific research! Thus, we need to take into account all local belief systems and give them importance. They are essential in choice of words and language as indeed, much else for communicating and, for successful health practices as they will gain local acceptance. That means not to look down or mock people's beliefs but accommodate them within the wider framework of public health practice.
Q: Often religious differences are being cited as the cause of all the violence. Any thoughts on this?
Answer: It is wrong to say that any religion is a cause of violence as all religions preach peace and beneficence for all human beings. As also, to view religions as monolithic wholes, particularly with Christianity, Islam, indeed, Judaism. There are so many different Christian Churches and sometimes families belonging to one will refuse their daughter or son to marry outside of it. Indeed, hostilities exist within Catholic and Protestant traditions - Northern Ireland for example In Islam there are so many traditions and we see today in Pakistan, Syria and in other countries, the persecution of Shiias. Yet interpreting this as Shiia vs. Sunni or, Salafi vs. Alevis is simplistic and, needs deeper reflection and one must journey back in time while taking cognisance of the present. Take for example, the Ottoman Sunnis who built the beautiful Shiia mosques in Iraq; there was much peace during their reign. Once again the Why question. We know that for millennia syncretic traditions of tolerance prevailed. We find mosques and churches housed in the same buildings with the worshippers displaying reverence without any rancour or violence. Islam and popular animism coexisted along with all other forms of spiritualism along with Christianity that was introduced by the missionaries. It is to this sycreticism or traditions of co-existence that we must turn to. Many scholars who write about Nigeria concur it is poverty, unemployment and rampant corruption that has led to these violent attacks. We know that 90% of Nigeria is extremely poor and living on less than a dollar a day. As is the case in any poor country, violence has become commonplace as dignity and humanity is being trampled upon: most people struggle to live with moral courage and spiritual fortitude, trapped as they are. Will it remain as Achebe notes:” why is it the good among us are so helpless, while the worst is full of vile energy?” Only the government and its power base can initiate such changes.
Development and security are interconnected as former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has been keen to emphasise. We need to begin a discussion on a Road Map for comprehensive system of collective security beginning at a national level. Often there is no acknowledgement that all threats are interconnected. Thus, accounts of human suffering and exploitation are perceived as being caused by differences of power, wealth, sometimes geography; without collective recognition of poverty leading to initiating programmes/response mechanisms for its eradication, strengthening the public health system the state cannot enjoy peace. Given the rich oil revenues, it would be easy to set up social security for every Nigerian: granting free housing, education, health, and food grains be priced to make some profit for farmers –and infrastructures such as good roads, solar power, rain water harvesting – could generate employment -- all can be put to good use.
Q:What about the Boko Haram? How can we understand more about them?
Answer: Before we discuss the Boko Haram, we need to look into forms of vigilantism which has great popular appeal as they appear to target acts of institutionalised injustice and seek quick retribution while also providing protection. There is now as you know, a proliferation of vigilante militias and cult groups such as the Bokassi boys, MASSOB, Ombatse Cult and OPC among a host of others who have been granted general amnesty and co-opted into the regional governments to fight terrorism. The Boko Haram is not unlike any of these groups. It may have had messianic roots as its idealist founder from Maiduguri sought to hearken back to times of’ a just society’, in this case, pre-colonial west Africa. His interpretation of early form of Islam with Sharia laws providing the Ideal state in control of its resources. In its rejection of western education, values and culture, the Boko Haram has come to be perceived also as anti-Christian. Indeed, it has many self-styled leaders who may be acting alone or in groups of three, or five, several criminal elements cover their activities under the garb of Boko Haram. Prof Jean Herskovits has noted perceptively in an interesting article, that the Boko Haram has now evolved into a franchise that includes criminal groups claiming its identity. And, the Nigeria’s State Security Services also identified members of four “criminal syndicates” that send threatening text messages in the name of Boko Haram. Southern Nigerians — not northern Muslims — ran three of these four syndicates. She notes that 25% of the budget has been put aside for police and army and that the brutality of the security forces and the army is much more feared than the Boko Haram: such brutality is counterproductive and unnecessary. It was reported that the security services arrested a Christian southerner wearing northern Muslim garb as he set fire to a church in the Niger Delta. Nor, she observes is the Boko Haram a well-defined, organised terrorist group!Thus she concludes, in Nigeria, religious terrorism is not always what it seems. Many Nigerians are right to advise the government not to use brutal methods to hunt the Boko Haram. They believe that if ameliorating poverty and unemployment are made a priority much of the vigilantism and anti-state insurgencies would simply come to an end.
Q; There is often talk of the North/South Divide and this is extremely worrying as 2014 elections loom around the corner. And, can you list any parallels?
Answer: The classic North South divide was the cause of the great Civil War in the USA; fortunately Mr Lincoln’s side was victorious. Yes, this reading of a Divide stems from another dangerous meconaissance (Bourdieu’s misrecognition) - the Christian’ south’ pitted against the Muslim ‘north’. But as far as I can see there is no divide – there are Christians and Muslims in the north and south residing together. Also, an analysis of the polls of 2011 is enlightening: Mr Good luck’s People’s Democratic Party which has a strong southern base won 40% of the votes in Kaduna, Kebbi and Jigawa. Even in Sokoto, under the Sultan of Sokoto, one of the most important Muslim leaders in Nigeria, the PDP polled over a third. In total 25% votes in the north that re-affirmed him as President. In contrast, the CPC (Congress Progressive Change) in the north gained majorities in Katsina and Niger- only in the far north-eastern corner. Yes, there have been charges of ballot box thefts, vote rigging and much else. Nevertheless, the voting indicates among other things, the unity and deep sense of understanding of national democracy that exists within the state. Federalism is extremely useful as it allows each region/state to administer according to local government laws. In the USA for example, Louisiana has the Napoleonic code and French influence is evident in cuisine, Creole and much else. It is not pragmatic, indeed, democratic to pursue homogeneity of governance or language, when there is such rich cultural diversity be it in Nigeria, Indian Subcontinent or indeed, anywhere else.
Q: What lessons can be learnt from our past?
Answer: We remain in the grip of geopolitics and all peoples are affected by this – it is why we need to work together to make every region, confederation and nations secure. The Biafra war of 1967-1970 killed over three million people, pictures of the famine still shock people. This in itself should be a stark lesson for any further division of Nigeria. It simply could not have happened on its own. We know how it happened and, how it was dealt with. Boundaries serve to separate and to exclude, and yet the incidence of identical cultures on both sides of the boundary cannot be denied – one has to look at the Nigeria Cameroon divide or Benin which has such a powerful Yoruba culture; indeed, any African country or, the ongoing tragedy of the Indian subcontinent. Deep cultural attachments indeed, loyalties compel inter-community relations whether or not the communities are wholly located within a single country or split between countries. For as long as there has been human society based on territoriality and space, there have been boundaries, and where they evolved naturally, there is much peace, and where they have been forced without the consent of people, a false enmity has been created: the wounds of Partition simply will not heal; it is a brother and sister versus brother and sister thing: nothing can improve matters, apart from an acknowledgement of a deeply shared ancient heritage, and births from a common womb. In truth, Partitions of people who for millennia embraced syncreticism amputate the spirit and cultures of people; an outside Africa example would be the seven Partitions of the Indian Subcontinent, the last in particular between India and Pakistan being the bloodiest continues to reverberate with exceedingly tragic consequences.
Certainly, Africa has a great enviable heritage with powerful egalitarian customs that inspired great civilizations. There has always been great respect for the individual, discriminations based on the colour of one’s skin, physical features, ethnicity indeed status were not practiced, nor were philosophies and religions condemned. It is to this heritage we must delve into and draw solutions from in these very difficult times. And, in doing so the role of elders, priests, rulers and Government cannot be emphasised enough.
Q: Any other final thoughts?
Answer: Yes, let us stress that mutual interdependence and unity in diversity. There are so many common spiritual practices, the most sacred in this region is symbolised by gifting the Kola nuts which embodies peace, respect, good-will, acceptability, settlement of quarrel and in fact anything that stands for love and unity. Dr Chuks Osuji has done extremely important research! Is there not a saying,” Yorubas produce it, Hausas chew it the most and Igbo ritualise it the most.” This could be a point of entry for Nigerians, one and all towards recognising what once was a vibrant syncretism with deep connections: the shared use of metaphors in the languages, customs, music, cuisine as evidence. Also, in all discussions and dialogues, traditional forms of conflict resolution in each of these six regions must be brought to bear and, we need to go back to the pre-colonial times to resuscitate indigenous understandings of democracy whilst locating the roots of the present conflicts.
*Femi Fani-Kayode As An Assassin In Government: The Story Unfurls
By Enobong Umohette
This is a true account of Femi Fani-Kayode’s role as an agent of lawlessness during the years he served in former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government. What I am about to relate are eyewitness accounts. For the record, I served as the major security detail to Mr. Fani-Kayode. From my vantage position I saw and heard some of the most despicable acts perpetrated by the ex-chief spokesman of the Obasanjo Presidency who later became a minister—first of Culture and later of Aviation.
The Obasanjo era, from 1999 to 2007, saw the reign of demonic power. Evil thrived in the land and demons were unleashed on our society through perfidy, violence and corruption. The greatest tragedy wrought on our national existence as a country manifested in that calamitous administration that held sway for eight years. It was a period when the powers that be and their shameless minions broke all records in recklessness, rascality and impunity. Fani-Kayode was at the top of the ladder of that regime’s evil agents.
The tragic chapter in our national history has given rise to a new era that is superficially trying to go the opposite direction of the Obasanjo dispensation. But the Umar Yar’Adua government is trapped in the contradiction of the scandalous election that gave birth to it even as it seeks to demonstrate the least semblance of credibility. It has upturned many of its predecessor’s obnoxious transactions, changed policies, and pledged to offer better government. But it has not done much to unmask the evil that the likes of Fani-Kayode perpetrated. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Femi Fani-Kayode (Right)
The two institutions that are now making considerable progress in returning power and confidence to the citizenry in Nigeria are the media and the judiciary. Some people within these two sectors are constantly raising the bar of accountability in the affairs of government and their agents.
In my opinion, the era of hypocrisy clothed in eloquent rhetoric is still far from over, as monstrously dark elements still exist in the Nigerian judiciary and mass media. That is why people like me who witnessed some of the savage acts of those in government owe a duty to speak up, to reveal the truth and unmask evil actors.
On or about August 26, 2006, two of the top representatives of the Nigerian intelligence and law enforcement community appeared before the senate to be grilled on the state of insecurity in the nation. The two were Col Kayode Are (rtd), the erstwhile Director General of the SSS, and Mr Sunday Ehindero, the erstwhile Inspector General of Police (IGP). While the myriad problems facing the Nigeria Police are easy for even a street vendor to discuss, Colonel Are of the SSS, who is known for his eloquence and charisma, must have bedazzled the legislators with fabulous security jargon spiced with befuddling terminologies. One pictures the legislators giving him a standing ovation (the type that was prevalent during the 2007 legislative screening of ministerial nominees). Furthermore, the legislators must have absolved the erstwhile DG of the SSS on the perilous security situation in Nigeria.
But those of us who were members of the SSS itself have a different perception of the erstwhile DG SSS. His beguiling presentation to the National Assembly could not have impressed us or discerning observers.
The fact is that the SSS under Colonel Are was a colossal failure. Under his direction, the SSS he led for eight years was complicit in extra-judicial killings. When he brazenly declared his knowledge of the existence of KILLER SQUADS IN SEVERAL STATES IN NIGERIA, he masked the fact that the SSS he commanded was at the heart of those killer squads.
Colonel Are even asserted that he had written intelligence reports on the topic. He thereby passed the buck to his colleague, the ex-IGP, who claimed he was still expecting such a report despite officially requesting for the said document. The DG of the SSS claimed that the SSS was solely responsible for ‘security intelligence’ while his police colleague was mandated to deal with ‘crime intelligence’. It was balderdash, pure and simple. Is there any threat to security that eventually is not a crime in our statute and criminal code? Does the SSS lack the power to arrest, search, detain, investigate and prosecute? The answer is obvious: the SSS does have those powers as enshrined by the constitution. Its powers are even extended under a statute signed into law by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar on May 23rd 1999. Called INSTRUMENT NO. 1 of May 23rd, 1999, the statute stipulates the roles of the SSS to include ‘SUCH OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES AFFECTING INTERNAL SECURITY WITHIN NIGERIA AS THE PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF MAY DEEM NECESSARY.’ It also gave the SSS POWERS TO COVER CRIMES AGAINST THE ECONOMY, VETTING OF WOULD-BE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, PROTECTION OF V.I.Ps, MAINTENANCE OF LAW AND ORDER, PREVENTION AND DETECTION OF CRIMES AGAINST NATIONAL SECURITY’. Note that the underlined gave the SSS additional functions that intersected with, and in many cases were the same as, those of the police. I am not aware that that statute was EVER REPEALED or AMENDED.
The new DG SSS has lent more credence to the disgraceful and catastrophically woeful performance of his predecessor’s leadership of the SSS as he posited that the “SSS is now positioned to OPERATE WITHIN THE RULE OF LAW AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TENETS OF DEMOCRACY”. It makes one wonder what the SSS was practicing under Col. Kayode Are for eight good years, with billions of taxpayers’ funds at its disposal. Was there no rule of law in Nigeria at the time? Was there no democracy in Obasanjo’s 1999-2007 rulership? Whilst the SSS must have achieved something good in this dark, unfortunate and grizzly era, the agency achieved notoriety on account of all the wars it waged against journalists, media houses and anyone who carried a camera. With countless media men harassed, arrested and whisked away on trumped up charges, the SSS under Col. Kayode Are left a legacy of repression unmatched by even the most dreaded military regime in Nigeria’s history. Yet again, the number of politically motivated UNSOLVED assassinations reached historically unmatched records in comparison with all the previous governments in the 39 years preceding 1999.
The Nigerian media have been awash lately with the sensationally gruesome tales and confessions from the so-called late Gen. Sani Abacha’s killer squad. President Musa Yar’adua has ordered the re-opening of investigation into high-profile unsolved assassinations, of which the assassination of the late Bola Ige, a serving Attorney General of the Federation, topped the list.
Yar’adua has also ordered and re-ordered the withdrawal of police detail attached to VIPs. He has decried the crime wave in Nigeria and has globe trotted seeking aid for the bastardized Nigeria Police Force. There is even talk at legislative quarters of ascertaining the activities of the dreaded Strike Force which was supposedly disbanded at the inception of Obasanjo’s administration but which is now believed to have been in operation and ‘useful’ to Obasanjo’s administration according to the infamous Sgt Barnabas Jabila a.k.a Sgt Rogers.
It beats my imagination how these cold-blooded killers and conspirators somehow managed to find a conscience, confess their evil deeds and become government ‘star prosecution witnesses’ against a select crop of suspects, who incidentally held key positions and roles in the government of the late Gen Sani Abacha.
Were these heinous crimes borne out of the unilateral decisions of the accused persons standing trial? Or were they OFFICIAL EXECUTIVE DECISIONS sanctioned by the regime of Gen Sani Abacha, which drew its strength from the PROVISIONAL RULING COUNCIL (PRC) of which Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, the mid-wife of our current so-called NASCENT/ FLEDGING DEMOCRACY, was a senior ranking and serving member?
Gen Sani Abacha is dead and gone, and now some of the trigger-happy men have miraculously started singing. A lot of the confessing hitmen are not only under Federal Government protective custody but have also implicated a few others. Meanwhile, a Nigerian Federal Court at the instance of the Obasanjo administration barred Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar from making any disclosures on any matter relating to his administration or his predecessor’s. The government’s new desire for secrecy is rationalized by invoking the PUBLIC OFFICER’S PROTECTION ACT, OFFICIAL SECRECY ACT and a plethora of Acts which in themselves use clauses like ‘PUBLIC INTEREST’ and ‘CLASSIFIED MATTER’ to contradict section 36 (1) of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, which gives citizens ‘rights to receive and input ideas and information without interference.’
Should one be surprised that Obasanjo, who himself is widely believed to be a victim of a draconian system of human rights violations, would constitute part of the instrumentality to a suspect OFFICIAL SECRECY?
To my understanding, this very ‘gag order’ issued by that Nigerian Federal Court invariably lent credence to the notion that any and all of the actions in the privy of Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar as Head of State or member of the then PRC, fell under EXECUTIVE DECISIONS AND OFFICIAL ACTIONS OF THE STATE, which included human rights violations and abuses, UNLAWFUL ORDERS and STATE SPONSORED ASSASSINATIONS.
Lest I forget: just recently, the Federal Government of Nigeria, which was not a party to an on-going civil suit filed in the USA against Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar over human rights violations, reportedly appeared on the scene as a knight in shining armor, to rescue the beleagured general by paying an undisclosed amount as settlement to the plaintiffs in that suit. That jumbo payment brought the legal tussle matter to a blissful end.
Perhaps I should give Chief Obasanjo some credit. After all, under his administration, motions were made in passing THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL. Curiously, Obasanjo bluntly refused to sign the bill into law, citing the need to further ‘define’ and ‘delineate’ the aspect of SECURITY. ‘Security’ is no doubt the umbrella under which despotic regimes have hidden to perpetrate all sorts of evil, while shielded by crafty incongruent statutes to avoid being accountable. If many of the so-called ‘security’ or ‘classified’ materials in the government’s custody were to be de-classified with some level of censorship as is done in the USA and many other parts of the world, the public would be treated to hilarious discoveries that border on triviality and ridiculousness. Included under the classified tomes are many mundane matters that are ABSOLUTELY IRRELEVANT AND WITH NO DIRECT CONNECTION TO THE INTERNAL SECURITY OF NIGERIA.
I am an ex-SSS officer turned amateur boxer. In September 2007, I gave an exclusive interview to Saharareporters which provoked presidential spokesman, Mr Olusegun Adeniyi, to term my statements, in one of two of his private emails to me, as ‘libellous’, ‘nonsense’ and ‘allusions’.
I was surprised that he didn’t take his vituperations to the public realm, as many Nigerian government functionaries (both serving and past) are wont to do. I was also surprised that, despite claiming to be scandalized, Mr. Adeniyi did not fire the famous rhetoric or threaten court action to “defend his good name.”
He was proud to declare in his emails to me that Femi Fani- Kayode called him to apologize over the ‘phone stalking and threatening’ incident and one Chief Omisore (a biological cousin of the globally famed senator, Otunba Iyiola Omisore of the Bola Ige murder saga) brought the phone stalker lady in question to his office to beg for her and Femi Fani-Kayode’s behalf. According to Mr. Adeniyi, “that was the end of that matter”.
In my response to Mr. Adeniyi, I praised his public spiritedness over the incident in question, citing where he was quick to use the public as a shield to hold Femi Fani-Kayode accountable for his safety. Yet, when Femi Fani-Kayode apologized in person and sent one Chief Omisore and the lady to reinforce his contrition, Adeniyi conveniently didn’t seem to be under any moral obligation to disclose these apologies to the same public on whose platform, according to him, he “fought and won”.
It is now obvious that Mr Olusegun Adeniyi had answers to some of my earlier ‘allusions’. In my opinion he is a clear example of an individual who needs more education on the concept of ‘PUBLIC INTEREST’, which is randomly debased in Nigeria. My poser to the presidential spokesman was this: I wonder what other disclosures he is yet to make, what disclosures he has conveniently not told the public and what other issues of public concern and interest, he has tidily foreclosed as “end of that matter”. The two well-timed colossal tragedies that visited Mr. Segun Adeniyi’s THISDAY newspaper in the form of an inferno and the cold-blooded assassination of Godwin Agbroko are still begging for answers. Yet, Adeniyi already suggests the “end of that matter”
It seems matters for public knowledge must either be selected for the strategic convenience of government or some powerful interests, or must be censored under obnoxious and incongruous statutes through the courts.
Attached here-in is the contentious back page article that Mr Olusegun Adeniyi wrote on the phone threatening and stalking incident TITLED ASO ROCK AND THE ‘ANONYMOUS’ CALLER. The piece was published on 31st January 2004. When I asked Adeniyi and his THISDAY NEWSPAPER crew for a copy of the column, they could not provide it, despite their pledges to do so. Marked as DOCUMENT 1
Aso Rock and the 'Anonymous' Caller
By Olusegun Adeniyi
On my way home on Thursday night in a taxi (my car had broken down during the day), I got what I initially thought was a routine call. The lady at the other end who gave her name as Funke said she wanted to speak with Olusegun Adeniyi and I replied that she was speaking to him. The first thing she said was : "I read your piece today, I think you are a brilliant guy". I smiled to myself and said "thank you Ma". If a lady tells you that you are brilliant, would you not be happy? That was why I was totally unprepared for what came next. "But you are homosexual and a pagan who God will destroy."
Without waiting for me to recover from the accusation, she went into a monologue of how the devil has been using me against President Olusegun Obasanjo, "anointed by God to rule Nigeria". She said I have never seen anything good in the President and some of his aides who are equally anointed of God, while I had allowed myself to become an instrument in the hands of the devil.
Because I have become familiar with that sort of accusation, I presumed she was a genuine supporter of the President who felt I was being too harsh on the man and there are actually people like that who call me on phone (I don't even know how they get my number) to either abuse or advise me. It is a situation I confront all the time. But this one was different because she was very hysterical. As I tried to defend myself against the charge of being anti-Obasanjo, the lady shouted on me: "keep quiet, you this homosexual bastard. That is why you defended a homosexual in your stupid piece. You claim to be a Christian and you are writing in support of homosexual unbelievers while you attack anointed men of God. God will punish you."
Unable to take it anymore, I dropped the phone. But I was worried. My worry stemmed from the fact that if she indeed is a Christian and she believes I am a homosexual and has been working against Obasanjo, I reasoned that I ought to defend myself. I could sense she was angry about the piece and I tried to see how I attacked the President when I merely reviewed the open letter sent by Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (rtd) to President Obasanjo on his own reading of the state of the nation. If anything, I upbraided Umar for his uncivil language. Many people had indeed called me in the course of the day to argue that Umar was right and I was wrong for 'defending' the President. All my explanations that we should respect the man and his office fell on deaf ears and here I was being attacked for being anti-Obasanjo. You can never win in this business.
Incidentally, shortly before the lady called, I had spoken with Mrs Remi Oyo, Special Assistant to the President on Media Affairs, a thoroughbred professional we all have respect for. She complained that even while it was good for me to highlight that Umar's language was unhelpful, I was not particularly fair to the President while the review of the performance of the administration was not in any way balanced. She particularly took exception to the title of the column, Obasanjo Versus Dangiwa Umar, arguing that the President has, notwithstanding the provocation, deliberately refused to join issues with Umar, hence I ought to have left him out of the controversy. I saw the point in her argument but explained the context of my piece and we ended the conversation on a convivial note. Mrs Oyo is one person who likes to make friends of enemies through the power of persuasion, that is why we all love and respect her and almost all editors do, even though there is also the sentiment that she was our President before she went to Aso Rock.
The lady, my tormentor that is, who was using a number she did not disguise (08034091519), perhaps for me to know she meant business called again to rain more curses on me for being "a homosexual who wants to bring the Obasanjo government down to satisfy some pay masters". The aspect of being paid against Obasanjo did not bother me. In Nigeria, somebody must pay somebody to do something- that is the usual charge when there is no defence to a position. I had, however, been accused of so many things before but never homosexual and it disturbed me. Besides, I don't hate this President, as the lady claimed, and he knows. In any case, I had just spoken with Mrs Oyo. So I decided to send the lady a text message, implying that I am not unfamiliar with those in Aso Rock. I felt she was crying more than the bereaved, not knowing she was actually the 'bereaved'.
At this stage, I was still na‹ve to think I was dealing with an innocent caller. This was the text I sent her leaving out a few things for obvious reasons: "Because you claim to be a Christian, I believe I should educate you about me so you can check me out. I attend Redeemed Christian Church of God, a Worker, married with three kids. Not gay. But my faith does not teach me to judge people I don't know so I would not jump into conclusions about you but then you have created an impression. You even cursed me when you don't know me. Yet you claimed to be a Christian! On the piece, many people from the Villa, including Mrs Oyo have called to thank me. (I stretched the truth here thinking I was dealing with an outsider). Fani-Kayode was not sent and even if Umar is...it is demeaning to use Presidential letter-head for that kind of statement. I believe Christian leaders should be helped as stated in the Bible and I help OBJ. But I don't judge people on the religion they profess because, as I said in my piece, if God were to mark iniquity who can stand?...I am working my own salvation with fear and trembling. You hurt me deep but my God will fight for me. God bless you".
All these transpired while I was still in the taxi on my way home and some minutes after I sent the long message, she called again. I was excited that there was truce at last, I thought she would have seen my point of view, knowing I meant no harm. But I was wrong. The first thing she said was; "I got your message, you this bloody homosexual, you are very stupid to write me and I will get your mail to all the people you are lying about, you idiot". She banged the phone on me. I was so disturbed I did not know what to do because I had not dealt with a situation like this before.
While I was still ruminating on what to do, the lady struck again by way of a long text message. Here it is: "Go to hell and stop disturbing me. You will lose because you are fighting against anointed men. The President is anointed, Fani-Kayode is anointed and all those in the Villa are solidly behind them, including Remi Oyo. If anyone tells you otherwise and you believe them, you are an even bigger fool than I thought. Then you don't know OBJ as I know him. He is a fighter and he takes this Umar's thing very seriously indeed, take it from me. Andy Uba and Fani-kayode are like sons to him now. You are a fool to think otherwise. OBJ can never deny Fani-Kayode because OBJ is a good man. You know nothing about what is going on or what all this is all about. It is bigger than you think and by the way, be under no illusions, you are despised in the Villa. God will punish you for the envy you have for Mr President and Fani-Kayode. Ask THE HOLY SPIRIT (her emphasis)."
With this, I knew I had trouble on my hands and when I got home, everybody could see instantly that something was wrong. I told them immediately and quite naturally, my own family also began to invoke the name of the Holy Spirit to ward off any evil machination from the woman. Before I could settle down, the phone rang and it was the lady again. I put the handset on speaker so everyone could hear the message: "You are a Goliath but our David will destroy you in Jesus name". She rang off.
Then, just as it happens in movies when a mystery is solved at the very end, Mrs Oyo called: "Segun, did you send a text message to a lady? Femi (Fani-Kayode) just showed me a text you sent to a lady where you said I spoke with you."
With that, the jigsaw fell into place. In November last year, when THISDAY published an interview with Mr. Fani-Kayode in the Saturday paper, the editor, in the attempt to show the glaring inconsistencies and opportunism in the position of the man who now occupies the office of Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, also published a write-up the same Mr. Fani-Kayode did in COMET two years ago where he abused and rained curses on the President.
Apparently hurt by the reproduction of what he wrote in the past, he sent a fiery text message to the editor and Mr Eddy Odivwri, the Assistant Editor who conducted the interview, raining curses on them because, as he said, they wanted to destroy the Lord's anointed (meaning himself). But because Eddy replied him by explaining that he meant no harm, Mr. Fani-Kayode followed up with three different text messages which we copied. All were sent on November 8, 2003 from his mobile phone number.
But the interesting aspect is that there was also, on that day, this text message to Eddy from 08034091519, the same person who has been stalking me: "I don't know this man, but you don't know the number of people that are praying for Femi Fani-Kayode. God will surely visit his wrath on you and all others..."
I have done my investigation of that number and the conclusion is that except Mr Fani-Kayode and his alter ego are acting alone, we are back to the dark days of General Sani Abacha. I have the log of all the calls the lady made from her Pay As You Go MTN line Thursday evening (especially the ones she placed in between her five calls to me at 8.23 PM, 8.40 PM, 8.50 PM, 9.41 PM and 9.42 PM) as well as the (same) person she spoke to repeatedly on November 8 last year when she sent Eddy her text message. Because with modern technology, all this childish shenanigan can easily be exposed!
I did not attack Mr Fani-Kayode in my piece which was critical of the language deployed by Umar in his letter to the President and the tone of the response from the Presidency which I considered unbecoming. And I did not in any way attack the person of the President for whom I have tremendous respect.
In any case, Mr Fani-Kayode had said in his lengthy response to Umar for the benefit of all reporters: "If at any time, no matter how big or how small, anyone decides to throw one hundred bricks and insults at Mr. President, I, as his Special Assistant on Public Affairs, reserves the right, if I deem fit, to respond in anyway, at any time and in any medium that I see fit. That is my job. That is what I am paid to do...my position today is: If you attack my principal, you must be ready to be exposed."
This is fair enough. For a man with such conviction, one would expect that if he felt aggrieved by what I wrote and would want to expose the 'fact' that I did so because I am 'homosexual' or paid to write the piece he would take the free opportunity of his "Right of Reply" which we hold sacred at THISDAY to join issues with me. But he did not.
Instead, Mr. Fani-Kayode gave a lady my number to be stalking me. That is a sign of desperation. And desperate people are known to be very dangerous. That is why I am placing the issue in the public domain. In case anything happens to me...
While the confessions of Sgt Rogers and his co-travelers continue to evoke bewilderment, the so-called ex-assassins canvassed many reasons for their criminal involvement in these state sponsored assassinations. The reasons range from FEAR OF BEING KILLED, FEAR OF LOSS OF JOBS, FEAR OF PERSECUTION, LOYALTY TO A SUPPOSED PATRIOTIC CALL and many more. In every regimented organization, be it armed forces, law enforcement, military or para-military, disobedience to a LAWFUL ORDER is a serious offence. However, an UNLAWFUL ORDER is not only void ab initio but UNLAWFUL as the word implies.
From my knowledge of the secret service the world over, its strength is not in might or numeric presence, but in pro-activeness, secrecy and covertness. On the issue of covertness, no security agency would ever assign a covert operation to an operative by fiat. The operative must first display the propensity for various magnitudes of covert assignments and will at his/her freewill nominate to oblige or decline any covert operation, particularly when it breaches the law and when those ORDERS ARE UNLAWFUL.
Is there more to all these confessions than meet the eye? Are there many more deep, dark and grizzly revelations shackled away and guarded by obnoxious statutes, debilitating public access and scrutiny of government affairs? I am certain there are and I am also certain that if any of the accused currently standing trial for the murder of Kudirat Abiola and the attempted murder of Alex Ibru suddenly start singing a different tune (like the type characterized by Olugbenga Damola Adebayo a.k.a Fryo’s volte face in the late Bola Ige murder saga) such an individual may never make it out of custody alive.
In any case, all the reasons they have posited, are reasons and realities that I also faced in the past—and even now face in a different dimension. Yet, I refused to be FEMI FANI-KAYODE’S ASSASSIN.
In March 2003, I was dispatched with another SSS operative on VIP protective duties to Femi Fani-Kayode. It was our understanding that the Director General of the State Security Services (herein referred to as DG SSS) was responding to an assassination attempt on Femi Fani-Kayode who was then a member of the Obasanjo-Atiku campaign organization.
Within weeks of this assignment, Femi Fani-Kayode elected to retain me as his Chief Security Officer (C.S.O). From my background in the SSS, he was aware that I was decorated as OVERALL BEST IN UNARMED COMBAT in my 2000 training cadre, proficient in weapons handling and marksmanship and was twice a security detail to the erstwhile Akwa Ibom State Governor, Obong Victor Attah, and had a record of very challenging operations and assignments I had excelled at in the past.
He was also aware that as a VIP protective detail, it was my supreme duty to ensure his protection and that of his family even if it meant at the expense of my life. This is a professional creed that I uphold as a protective security detail, but in Fani-Kayode’s thinking, this meant ABSOLUTE LOYALTY TO HIM. How mistaken he was.
A few weeks into my service as his C.S.O, things started unraveling one after another. I discovered that the story of an assassination attempt on him as published in the print media was a hoax. It was contrived by Fani-Kayode with the assistance of his friends and contacts in the media. It was his intention to attract President Obasanjo’s sympathy to provide him with elite state protection. Femi Fani- Kayode’s insatiable desire for power was to manifest in much greater magnitude, as I was soon to realize.
Fani-Kayode was later to make a written request to the Nigerian Police. After making calls to the Police Headquarters at the highest hierarchy, the then Deputy Commissioner Operations (D.C OPS), Lagos state Police command, Mr John Haruna, was directed to approve Fani-Kayode’s request for high police protection. Subsequently, mobile policemen were assigned to his residence on shift duties.
Even prior to getting both SSS and police protection, Fani-Kayode was obsessed with personal security. His previous security consisted of four security men (known in Nigerian parlance as‘mai-guards’) of Niger Republic origin who manned his heavily fortified gate; two young daytime security hands courtesy of the Odua People’s Congress OPC (who later withdrew their services in protest); and about nine viciously trained guard dogs that were released on patrol only after midnight.
With this ‘absolute loyalty’ misconception in the mind of Femi Fani-Kayode, next came the task of understanding his thought process. His propensity for violence, his ill temperament and impulsiveness were unrivalled by anything I had ever seen before. Cooks, cleaners, cab drivers, stewards, laborers, craftsmen and employees who dared to ask for their unpaid wages or requested to leave his employment, were thoroughly brutalized by him. In addition, these domestic staff were routinely arrested and detained by the police on trumped up charges ranging from stealing, spying, to posing a ‘security risk’ to Fani-Kayode.
Right inside his physically well-fortified abode, I witnessed the most horrific and bizarre aspect of the man’s twisted mind: torture sessions, which he personally carried out on individuals in his premises. One of the victims is Atkins Fani-Kayode, his biological older brother, a London trained lawyer. Atkins Fani-Kayode had remained a prisoner under Femi Fani-Kayode’s tyrannical imprisonment since 2001, locked in his younger brother’s dingy boys’ quarters and tortured on a weekly basis. Atkins was heavily monitored on a round-the-clock basis and denied access to the outside world. His life, freedom and dignity were simply snatched away from him.
Femi Fani-Kayode would occasionally allow his brother to visit his main living quarters to watch his interviews on national television and interact with his guests. But Atkins’ occasional visits to the main house were done under the strictest and most stringent guidelines. Femi always warned him beforehand to watch his comments. Often, Femi would say, “If you make one stupid comment, I’ll skin you alive.” The trepid gentleman knew the harsh consequences that awaited him if he erred by speaking of his captivity.
On numerous occasions Femi and Atkins Fani-Kayode’s sisters would telephone from London and ask to speak with Atkins. Before Femi handed the phone to his older brother, he would order him, under duress and threat of torture, to speak in a happy tone and to respond in monosyllables to their sisters’ enquiries. He was ordered to state that he was doing okay and that Femi was taking good care of him.
As I write, it is uncertain if Femi did not eventually kill Atkins. I often worry that Atkins Fani-Kayode might have been tortured to death. But if that kind, intelligent and peaceful gentleman is dead, I pray that someone somewhere will ask a court to cause for his body to be exhumed from wherever it has been buried, be it in Nigeria or Ghana (where Femi Fani-Kayode has considerable business investment and had planned to banish his elder sibling to). The least that will be discovered is a couple of broken bones or a cracked skull, even though I am most certain that an autopsy would have already been manufactured, to state the cause of death as an ‘ailment’ or ‘natural’. The full story of Mr Atkins Fani-Kayode’s journey into his younger brother’s (Femi Fani-Kayode) captivity is yet lined up, for another day.
Another victim of Femi’s savagery was a male domestic staff (who will remain anonymous for now, until a later time). He worked and resided in Fani-Kayode’s house, but eventually became a prisoner on forced labor against his will for more than a month. He was often used as guinea pig to test the aggression and combat-readiness of two of Femi Fani-Kayode’s most vicious canines, all for Fani-Kayode’s amusement. The captive young man regularly sustained serious bite injuries from these dogs. That young man’s dramatic escape later provoked the mother of all police manhunts on heavily trumped up charges by Fani-Kayode. That epic story is for another day.
Femi Fani-Kayode’s sordid libidinous degeneracy was another issue. He has an unbridled penchant for housemaids and a perverse impulse for sexual exploitation of young lady-employees in any establishment, no matter how lowly. He entertained himself to sexual orgies on an almost daily basis at various hotels in Apapa, one sharing the same fence with his residence and a couple more just down the street. A quarrel between Femi Fani-Kayode and one of his women of easy virtues in the privacy of a hotel room could lead to a telephone call to the DG SSS, Col Kayode Are (rtd) or the Police H/Q. The attendant consequence was immediate arrests and detentions of innocent people just going about minding their own business. His sexual assaults on his wife’s housemaids were constant. The traumatized victims were summarily branded ‘possessed’ and sent for ‘deliverance’ at the nearby Mountain of Fire Church/Ministries at Marine Road Apapa, Lagos whose members regularly came to offer prayers for Fani-Kayode at his residence. Some of the prayer warriors would soon after be arrested and detained by the police on fictitious charges leveled by Fani-Kayode.
It was indeed a theatre of unfathomable depravity and absurdity. Sometimes I hoped that there would be some respite and logic from Femi’s born again, speaking-in-tongue, cherub-faced, God-fearing, Ghanaian-born wife Regina Fani-Kayode (nee Amoo), a deaconess.
But she was a little terror in her own right. By her decree, no maid/chef dared taste of the food they assisted her to cook, but must feed and purchase their own food from outside. When calls from the Fani-Kayode sisters resident in London, this “deaconess” would be all sweet charm as she lied, “Atkins just went out.”
She was the proprietress of MENU INTERNATIONAL BAR/RESTAURANT situated at No 7 Randle Road Apapa, Lagos, an establishment inherited from the late Chief Remi Fani-Kayode. (The building is now a church). This outfit was another conduit for all sorts of arbitrariness as staff who demanded unpaid wages were branded thieves, accused of misappropriating some bottles of beer, and summarily arrested and detained by Femi Fani-Kayode’s police stooges at the Apapa Area command on the instruction of ‘Madam’ Fani-Kayode. Madam’s ‘holy-holy’ was absolutely at face value indeed.
As a Presidential Special Assistant, Fani-Kayode was a name that provoked panic and terror in Apapa. Directors of SSS could not cross paths with him, and no AIG would decline his request. After all, he was on direct dial with the President and the entire top echelon of the Intelligence community.
There was a case of one Musa Leshi, who worked for ‘Madam’ at MENU INTERNATIONAL. He had been owed wages and was keen on quitting and requested his wages with intention to quit. Incidentally, two environmental sanitation notices were served to ‘Madam’ Fani-Kayode through MENU INTERNATIONAL, which she promptly ignored as ‘rubbish’ and ‘an insult’.
As Musa agitated for his wages, Madam put out a call to Femi Fani-Kayode’s police stooges. Those stooges were on the move to arrest and detain Musa at the instance of ‘Madam’ Fani-Kayode when the hand of fate struck on 28/7/03 as the Lagos State Environment Agency swooped in on MENU INTERNATIONAL with a warrant and arrested Musa Leshi charging him to court instantly for sanitation law violation committed by MENU INTERNATIONAL, which the proprietor ‘Madam’ Fani-Kayode should have been liable for. Madam greeted the news of Musa’s predicament with joy. It was now unnecessary for the police boys to go after Musa as she called them off. As far as she and Femi Fani-Kayode were concerned, he could rot in prison custody for all they cared.
While pretending to be out on a purchase, I raced to the court premises and secured a surety and N5000 cash, just in the nick of time to effect Musa Leshi’s bail before he would be remanded in prison custody awaiting trial. The heavily traumatized Musa Leshi had just encountered a close shave with calamity and could not thank his stars enough for his freedom. A recent AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT on Nigeria seriously lampooned the Nigerian criminal justice system where people are thrown en masse into prison custody awaiting trial for the flimsiest of charges, yet they suffer ‘awaiting trial’ for many years, while many die. Is the reason as exemplified by this incident not obvious? FIND ATTACHED THE ORIGINAL BAIL BOND COPY IN THAT INCIDENT MARKED AS :
Then came another incident in October 2003, when the Lagos State Valuation Office sent an inspection team to Femi Fani-Kayode’s residence. As the official notice from the team reached Femi Fani-Kayode and as the team waited outside to confirm a suitable date for their assignment with the owner of the property, Fani Kayode was incensed at their audacity as he declared his residence a “Presidential building”. He immediately put a call out to the highest police authorities alleging that he was under siege by unknown assailants armed and numbering more than 10. In no time, a crack team of policemen was dispatched to the rescue and en route to his premises. Meanwhile he had ordered the mobile policemen in his premises to be confined as he instructed his dog tender to release two of his most vicious canines on stand-by. While the evaluation team was outside his gate innocently awaiting a confirmation from the owner of the property, they were absolutely oblivious to the dangers they were in on two fronts.
I visualized the disaster that would have ensued, if the trigger happy, combat-ready crack police squad, eager to rescue “Baba’s Boy” had met with the evaluation team waiting outside Femi Fani-Kayode’s gate. The evaluation team would have vehemently and boldly confronted the cops on the confidence that they were performing their lawful duties. As was typical of the Nigerian police, with ‘marching orders to intercept and gun down the ‘UNKNOWN ASSAILANTS,’ there would certainly have been little room for inquiries in such an encounter.
I desperately appealed to Fani-Kayode to allow me dialogue with the evaluation team, which he reluctantly obliged and the dogs were called off. I spoke with the evaluation team outside and hurriedly escorted them back to their office where a later date and time was fixed for Fani-Kayode to go there and provide information to sort out the evaluation of his property. Incidentally, we drove past an unmarked police wagon, filled with the combat ready cops. As the police crack squad arrived, Fani-Kayode maintained that the ‘unknown assailants’ had fled from his gate. A nasty scenario was thankfully averted. Attached is the notice sent by the LAGOS STATE VALUATION OFFICE TEAM that enraged Femi Fani-Kayode marked as :
There were many more horrendous tales during this period April-November 2003, but this piece is about the most sinister sides of this journey where-in many would-be victims did not even know how close they were to their own deaths as a consequence of Fani-Kayode’s psycho–erratic whims.
Barely two days after my first interview with Saharareporters was published, a historically unprecedented event happened. Six of Yar’adua’s cabinet ministers rejected SSS protection, among them the Attorney General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa whose comments and activities upon the inception of this administration continue to evoke bewilderment, shock and consternation all over the globe.
My question to these ministers is this: ARE THESE THE SAME OR EVEN WORSE INDISCRETIONS THAT THEY ARE AFRAID WILL BECOME INTELLIGENCE REPORTS BY THE ASSIGNED SSS DETAILS THEY REJECTED?
I was too smart to write any intelligence report to the SSS on him, for him or about him because it was utterly useless and twice the more dangerous. Fani-Kayode himself, knowing how effective intelligence reports by SSS operatives were, had many at times tried to use me to write intelligence reports that would implicate and cause serious harassment for his enemies (people he had petty libidinous squabbles and trivial disagreements with). He failed woefully as I assured him that his ‘telephone direct line to power’ was faster and more effective than an Intelligence report that would require processing and other bureaucracies. That is how I tactfully wriggled out of the witch-hunting trap.
Seeing how Fani-Kayode had unlimited access to President Obasanjo, the heads of security agencies and the entire intelligence community, whom he was on direct dial to, at any time, on any issue and with any claim, I knew this was the last bus-stop for me. No one who knew Femi Fani-Kayode well enough to witness or know his indiscretions would end a relationship with him without reprisals and consequences. His FEAR WAS EXPOSURE, PARTICULARLY IN THE MEDIA. When Fani-Kayode exploded with rage, he offered and was ready to provide any material resource to enable his rage to be pacified. When a situation arose and he refused to heed my appeal for calm and dialogue, I’d simply step back and maintain an observer status as he deployed his police stooges to fix his would-be innocent victims with harassment, arrests and detentions.
As I make these revelations, I am sure Fani-Kayode who has already vowed to have me and my Caucasian wife killed now knows how and why most of the would-be innocent victims outside his residence managed to evade getting into harm’s way. I am sure his vile friend, the erstwhile DG SSS Col Kayode Are (rtd), must have directed all sorts of security circulars and directives all over Nigeria targeting me for immediate arrest and incarceration, shortly before his sordid reign over the SSS came to an unceremonious end. There are probably a couple of hired guns too with a contract out on me. Whether alive or in the grave, my passion is to expose these unthinkable atrocities and pray that someone somewhere will be bold enough not just to answer the name of ‘reputed Human Rights Crusader’ but will stand up to provoke that Femi Fani-Kayode’s innocent victims, scattered all over the country, be given access to legal representation and counsel, if only for the purpose of pursuing justice for the traumatic afflictions he wrought on them. For my would-be assassins, wherever you see me, please feel free to take your best shot but be rest assured that my dream for justice and retribution for these unthinkable evils will live on, long after me.
With the wrong assumption of blind loyalty and his delusion of grandeur and omnipotence, Fani-Kayode trusted me absolutely and now openly solicited for the murder of some citizens.
The first was Col. Abubakar Umar in mid-2003. He desperately wanted Umar shot and killed for the crime of his incessant attacks on Obasanjo. Next was Mrs. Oluremi Oyo, the Senior Special Adviser to President Obasanjo on Media. Next was Mr Ekundayo Asaju, a journalist who ran GOOFS AND GAFFES, OTHER SIDE OF CELEBRITIES column in ENCOMIUM MAGAZINE
In the case of Mrs. Oluremi Oyo who was the senior special Adviser to President Obasanjo on media, Fani-Kayode not only wanted her job as OBJ’s chief image maker (seeing that a Ministerial Appointment in the post OBJ 2003 re-election was not in sight), he believed he was “doing a better job of being vociferous against Obasanjo’s critics and taking the heat for baba”. In fact, he wanted her assassination to be staged to implicate Gen Muhamadu Buhari by placing a BUHARI ANPP campaign Organization Identity card on the scene where she would have been felled in Abuja.
I convinced Fani-Kayode that to perfect these plots to utmost precision, that I would need several weeks of surveillance, casing, city studying, establishing regular commuting routes/daily lifestyle pattern of the targets, set up of strategic monitoring and surveillance points, exit routes, safe houses, contingency plans and alibi locations. These were all counter- security terminologies that impressed Fani-Kayode but inadvertently gave me enough time to allow his desperation to simmer and with weeks of the vague verbal ‘progress reports’ I was feeding him, overtaking events were creating a necessary distraction to reduce his pressure. I put him under the impression that I had a trusted team which he must NEVER meet, that were scattered all over the country, facilitating the processes for these assassinations.
However, there was a pattern that was regular with the people he wanted me to kill. He had his mistress/lover (before her identity was blown—she is the same woman whom Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi had personally met in company of Chief Omisore) to call and threaten the individual by voice or text messages. He also had a few of his police stooges send threatening phone messages to these individuals too. In the attached November 2004 back page write up by Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi marked as DOCUMENT 2, the writer incidentally mentions two people who probably never knew that they were supposed to be at the receiving end of the barrel of an assassin’s gun in 2003: Col Abubakar Umar and Mrs Oluremi Oyo. Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi in his own words analyzed Femi Fani-Kayode thus: “That is a sign of desperation. And desperate people are known to be very dangerous…” Even the vituperations made by the threatening ‘anonymous Aso-Rock Caller’ (now well known to only Mr Segun Adeniyi) gave very chilling allusions and were quite some food for thought, over the same Col Abubakar Umar.
‘Project Col Abubakar Umar’ was agreed to be a much slower and long-term assignment, which I assured him would be most potent when the media attention on Umar’s dispute with President Obasanjo subsided. So it was supposedly on the drawing board.
At this time, it wasn’t usual to accompany Fani-Kayode on his trips to Abuja. But in view of ‘Project Remi Oyo’ I had to fly in and out of Abuja with him, familiarize with the Aso Rock PROTOCOL UNIT, and commence what Fani-Kayode assumed was a detailed background work on her assassination.
Part of this project included accompanying Fani-Kayode to attend the Appeal Court sessions in the post-2003 presidential election case between Buhari and Obasanjo. I sat within four feet from Gen Muhamadu Buhari at the Court of Appeal Abuja, separated by Chief Don Etiebet at one instance and exchanged courtesies with Gen Buhari and Chief Etiebet every time we were in court. Unknown to them, I was supposed to be on a more sinister plot and the grand prize was to surreptitiously lift any item that could identify Gen Buhari or be traced directly to him, or the identity card of a fair skinned gentleman, who appeared to be Gen Buhari’s aide or security detail—a man in his early 30’s, about 5 ft 10” and weighing about 200lbs. He always wore dark goggles.
I assured Fani-Kayode that I needed more time and applied the usual delay tactic.
The last resort was to lift a Buhari ANPP presidential campaign organization I.D card from any of the ANPP supporters that thronged the court in solidarity with Gen. Buhari and ANPP. The idea was to secure a ‘fall-guy’ for the assassination.
The plot was well defined in Femi Fani-Kayode’s mind. Once that I.D card was pick-pocketed and placed at the scene of Mrs. Remi Oyo’s assassination, the man would be arrested. Need I say that the man’s coerced confession would implicate Gen Buhari, who would have been immediately pounced on? The rest would be history.
A most hilarious incident happened on July 2003 while attending the Election Petition suit at the Court of Appeal in Abuja with Fani-Kayode. It was a unique attendance as most of the PDP governors came in solidarity with President Obasanjo who was served a summons a few weeks earlier to give testimony on the suit.
In my observation of Dr Chris Ngige’s small physical frame, I quipped to Fani-Kayode that I was utterly amazed that Dr Chris Ngige was a man of such small physical stature and I believed he could even be abducted from a moving vehicle un-noticed. It was a comic quip, which turned out to have a huge impact on Fani-Kayode’s thinking.
Barely 48 hours after I made that comment to Fani-Kayode, the international media on the morning of 9th July, 2003 announced the abduction of the same Dr Chris Ngige in a most bizarre and controversial circumstance. This completely bedazzled Fani-Kayode who consistently re-iterated to his inner circle of friends how my ‘abduction’ quip could co-incidentally become a reality barely 48hours after saying it. In fact, he was of the impression that I had prior knowledge of Dr Chris Ngige’s abduction and I must be connected to a “powerful covert inner circle at the highest level within the intelligence community” This was no co-incidence in Fani-Kayode’s mind, but this strengthened his resolve that I was the “perfect hit-man and would deliver his assassination plots with stainless precision.”
In all these Abuja and Aso Rock visits, on the surface I was just a C.S.O accompanying his Principal on outings but what Fani-Kayode had up his sleeve was an entirely different matter.
While my vague verbal progress reports and delay tactics seemed to be working on Fani-Kayode, there was one assassination mission that he impatiently contracted a mercenary group to perfect for him. This was in the case of Ekundayo Asaju of ENCOMIUM MAGAZINE
In Ekundanyo Asaju’s column of Tuesday Oct 14,2003, he rebuked Fani-Kayode for lunching a verbal tirade on national television against the person of Adams Oshiomole in the wake of the 2003 labour action over fuel price hike. In that national Television interview, Fani-Kayode described the NLC president as “ill-bred”. Ekundayo Asaju’s sin was that in his column he made an innuendo about “an addiction”. Fani-Kayode spent thousands of Naira to buy off the magazine from the Apapa news stands that weekend without much luck. FIND ATTACHED THE GOOFS AND GAFFES COLUMN REPORT BY EKUNDAYO ASAJU of 14th October 2003 MARKED AS DOCUMENT 2 (C)
SHAME ON OUR DICTATOR
COMRADE Adams Oshiomhole called off the strike and I was glad that finally our arrogant, know it all dictator President had been humbled. I am glad that the man now knows that Nigeria does not belong to him, that we are bigger than his chickens and eggs that he can order around. Imagine everybody begging one man who believes he knows it all. Again I wonder how we made the fatal mistake of voting him in the first and even a "second" time. If he could spend or waste billions on COJA and CHOGOM why must he take it out on Nigerians? One lesson that this experiment has shown is that OBJ should know that he is just a servant of Nigerians and not our master. Thank God he has been humbled. Watching his drab broadcast to the nation for thirty minutes on Wednesday, October 8, 2003 he looked like a well beaten dog with its tail tucked between his legs, a shame air of an unrepentant dictator in a civilian dispensation.
MY MAIN MAN OSHIOMHOLE
- ADAMS Oshiomhole, due to politics might never be given a national honour (after all Gani just got SANship after over two or three decade of being qualified), but I have made him a Grand Commander of the Nigerian Masses (G.C.N.M). Comrade Oshiomhole has proved that he understands the thinking of Nigerians. He has proved that he has compassion for our people. He has also proved that he is beyond' corruption. I salute this man and I hope that in 2007 despite the clamour for the maradona and Atiku, we shall look inwards and pick Adams Oshiomhole to be our president. We must do away with money politics and stand behind Adams Oshiomhole, G.C.N.M. It worked in Poland.
BIG MOUTH FEMI FANl KAYODE
EACH time I hear this guy Femj Fani-Kayode talk he gets on my nerves. He talks with compassion about his master no doubt, but shows he hates Nigerians. He strongly believes only his master is right. I feel sorry for him because posterity will judge him in the same mould as his oga. The other day on NTA2 Channel 5, he abused our dear Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as a man who was not well brought up and therefore, lacking in manners. But we all know whose background is questionable. No Nigerian can say Oshiomhole has ever been treated for any form of addiction, I know Femi will decode this. It’s shameful that a young man like femi who is in government for the first time after struggling so hard to be inside is abusing a man who is fighting for the Nigerian masses. Before picking the wrong target he had earlier thrown his feeble punches at Afenifere, but that Baba just ignored him I think for his late father’s sake. I wish Femi Fani-Kayode luck. The happy ending is that Femi and his boss lost shamefully on the recent fuel hike while Oshiomhole and his colleges won.
ALL HAIL AIT
I am yet to hear AIT won any awards. But the issue yet again is that AIT is the champion of Nigerian masses. Time and again AIT has shown itself the station that has stood on the side of the Nigerian masses. While the other stations will be looking for sponsors to air public oriented programmes AIT will I cancel its advertised programmes to air masses oriented programmes, most times live. AIT and Raymond Dokpesi: are the champions of our democracy, we need more people like him to move Nigeria forward.
NTA, SHAME ON YOU
I am particularly pissed off at NTA particularly Yinka Craig and Sadiq Daba. They spent over three hours every morning during the build up to the suspended strike talking all kinds of rubbish and they did not think it proper to bring Oshiomhole, the NLC President on air to talk about the illegal price hike. Instead, they brought one descript fellow who says he’s Femi Fani-Kayode who was abusing Adams Oshiomhole and they could not caution him. Yinka Carig and Sadiq, you messed up, big time.
For Mr Ekundayo Asaju; Fani-Kayode had agreed that having him shot will be suspicious and the most preferred way, would be to stage his killing as an accident; two methods came to his mind: ARSON and POISONING the central water supply of his residence where-ever he lived.
Fani-Kayode got exasperated with waiting on my regular seemingly unending ‘progress reports’ and fumed with urgency. During one of his regular libidinous binges in an Apapa hotel, he secretly called up some old-time narcotic-day friends, who recommended some mercenary thugs in Apapa to help him ‘fix’ whoever was troubling him. He gave the impression that he needed the thugs to just beat up and roughen somebody, but my insider amongst the group tipped me off and kept me posted with every move that was made in this grizzly affair. Bottom line is that, Ekundayo Asaju would have been killed on the spot, by whatever violent means necessary.
The plot was to lure Ekundayo Asaju out for a scoop with a fictitious British national who was a regular visitor to Nigeria, who was impressed with the journalist’s work and wanted to meet with him for an interview. The easiest and oldest trick in the book to exterminate a journalist eager to get information.
As this plot was revealed to me, I immediately intervened by secretly causing conflicting telephone calls to go to the journalist and to go to the leader of his ‘mercenary squad’ who was funded and equipped with new GSM phones and lines by Fani-Kayode for this project, by ensuring that there was never a time where the Ekundayo Asaju had met with this “British” national at any agreed rendezvous. Ekundayo Asaju was warned, never to pursue a meeting with any individual unknown to him unless it is in broad daylight in his office.
Within a fiery 3-week period, the mercenary group changed the cover identity of the bait and changed the meeting venues Ekundayo Asaju was summoned to several times. As fast as this change was occurring, was how fast I engineered anonymous warnings to Ekundayo Asaju and caused confusion in this dastardly plot. Femi Fani-Kayode became frustrated with his emergency mercenary squad and their constant failure. After all, this plot was contracted in supposed secrecy from me his C.S.O. My inside informant finally confirmed that the project was terminated and deemed a FAILURE, as it was impossible to lure Ekundayo Asaju to his death. He finally resorted back to my more professional approach to this deadly project, which was always loaded with un-ending progress reports, that did not end with a kill.
One full year later, I personally met with Ekundayo Asaju in the end of 2004 and when I mentioned a few important dates to him, he immediately brought out his diary and his phone, showing me the threats he received, the mysterious calls and warnings and a catalogue of strange events, which he had taken note of. He was only to realize then, for the first time how close he was to his death. I continued to be in touch with him over the years and as eager as he was for me to go public, I assured him that the time would be right someday.
Even the devil is said to come into the presence of God and other celestial beings, as a Christian service at Aso Rock Villa chapel on Sunday 9th November 2003, which I attended with Femi Fani-kayode, comes into mind. President Obasanjo took the scriptural reading for the day and in admiration for his late wife Stella Obasanjo stated “that every new day with her, amounted to marrying her again”, while Professor Jerry Gana read the announcements.
We’re back in November 2003 in the thick of assassinations plots, schemes and counter schemes for Mrs. Oluremi Oyo and Ekundayo Asaju when it met a screeching halt, a day after the Sunday 9th November 2003 service at the Aso Rock Villa Chapel.
Fani-Kayode attends a courtesy call by THISDAY SOUTH AFRICA and THISDAY Nigeria Board to President Obasanjo at the State House Abuja and alights from the meeting distraught and disheveled with a Thisday newspaper copy in his hand.
The newspaper copy of 10th November 2003 reported the incident where he allegedly caused for a man to be detained at the Apapa Police station over faulty mobile phones. ATTACHED HERE-IN IS THE NOVEMBER 10TH, 2003 THISDAY NEWSPAPER REPORT OF THE DETENTION INCIDENT MARKED AS DOCUMENT 3
Fani-Kayode in Power Show
• Detains a man at Lagos police station over faulty telephone hand set
By Godwin Ifijeh
Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, has ordered a man to be detained at a Lagos police station all through last week without bail for allegedly selling a faulty telepone hand set to him.
Fani-Kayode, a police source at the Apapa Police Station, where Mr. Nnamdi Uyanna, Treasurer, Apapa Chapter of the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC), was held since Wednesday last week without bail, had ordered his arrest and detention, leaving strict instruction that the man was not to be released until he so instructed, on the charge that he sold a faulty mobile telephone hand set to him.
As the account had it, the presidential assistant bought the GSM hand set from the hand set dealer in Apapa, used it successfully and sent it back after two weeks to complain that it was faulty. He was said to have told Uyanna to either replace it with a new one or fix it for him, but the PCRC man declined, arguing that he could only have it fixed at his (Fani-Kayode's) expense because he could not tell what happened to it after two weeks of purchasing it from him.
Uyanna's position was said to have angered the president's man, who asked him several times if he knew who he was, before threatening to deal severely with him unless he replaces the hand set or repair it at his own expense.
With the PCRC man not replacing the handset or repairing it, the special assistant was said to have ordered his arrest at the Apapa police station last Wednesday and left strict instruction that the man was not to be released until he so directed.
Realising, who Fani-Kayode was on his arrest, Uyanna was said to have got his people to fix the hand set by last Thursday, but Fani-Kayode's Personal Assistant (PA), who he left behind to monitor the case, was still bent on having the man incarcerated at the station until his boss instructs that he was released.
The man, who was seen behind the canter at the station on Friday afternoon without a dress on, was every inch sombre, and was heard saying openingly: "If I had known that the man was Mr. President's man with powers to make and unmake, I would not have mind even giving him a new hand set, not withstanding the fact that he had used it for two weeks after he bought it before returning to claim that it was faulty and had to be replaced or repaired by me".
Several efforts to reach the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) or the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) on the incident were futile last Friday as both men were said to be unavailable, but a source at the station said the case had become more political than what was reported against Uyanna at the station. The source, who claimed senior officers of the station were not happy at the situation and had told the P.A. to Fani Kayode to reach his boss and end the matter urgently, said the P.A., even though the hand set man had already repaired their hand set, was still coming to the station to threaten to deal with the man openly before policeman. Neither Fani-Kayode nor his P.A. could be reached for their own side of the story as at press time.
As I mused in my mind and chuckled at the fright and panic that had overwhelmed the usually boisterous and arrogant Fani-Kayode, he immediately suggested that we return to Lagos the next day for him to affect damage control measures. Attached here-in are two ADC plane tickets for flight from Abuja to Lagos on 11th November, 2003, for Femi Fani-Kayode as ‘FANI-KAYODE/CHF’ and me under a cover name of ‘WHITE T.’. MARKED AS and :
Unfortunately for the victim in that saga (Mr Nnamdi Uyanna), his overnight detention in the Apapa police cell, the horrific stories by Femi Fani-Kayode’s police stooges of how extremely powerful ‘Baba’s Boy’ Fani-Kayode was, and the refusal of the senior Police officer who effected his detention to release him on bail had provoked him under extreme panic and anxiety, to write a letter of undertaking and an apology to Fani-Kayode over the incident. This letter in question was in my custody and is what formed the crux of Fani-Kayode’s successful ‘damage control measure’ with the media houses that reported that story. I am very conversant with the event and the facts surrounding it and that issue is yet a story for another day. I still have the original hand-written letter by the victim in that saga, but this in itself, is a revealing story, that will name all the Police and SSS contacts at the top, middle and lower echelons, under Femi Fani-Kayode’s servitude, how he used them and the absurdity that actually led to that incident.
With this successful damage control in the media, Fani-Kayode was emboldened once again and was yet about to unleash a series of arrests and detentions for staffs and anybody whom he felt displeased with.
Five months into this theatre of unfathomable insanity, I knew there was no way to cut off from Fani-Kayode without huge reprisals, thus I started accumulating documentary evidence of his indiscretions and prepared myself for the end of this risky journey and the inevitable battle that was bound to ensue. To that effect, I tendered my resignation from the SSS on 11th September 2003 to the SSS at its National Head HQ (NHQ) Annex Lagos, headed by Mrs. A.Z Sule who was a devoted fan of Fani-Kayode. She posited that he was luring me out with money. I refuted her suggestion and maintained that as my letter had stated, I wanted to go back to private life and further my academic pursuits.
I was however ordered to remain as his C.S.O until my discharge was approved and issued. While I awaited that discharge since September 2003, the cycle of events, close calls and adventure continued till the 10th November, 2003 Thisday newspaper report. Just 11 days after that media report and after a successful spin by Fani-Kayode, I had to intervene in one amongst many dicey situations by buying him a hair cream which he initially commissioned to be purchased for him through a Barber at Avondale Thistle Bar salon situated at 36 Marine road Apapa, just adjacent to his house, where-in he had already sent instructions to have the barber arrested and detained for delaying in purchase of the cream but as usual; on trumped up and fictitious criminal charges.
As he headed for Abuja on the 21st of November 2003, I telephoned the SSS NHQ Annex Ikoyi, Lagos and informed them that I am insurbordinating the orders to remain as his C.S.O and was returning to office duties to await my discharge.
I had stepped in too deep, knew too much and had plenty secrets. The usual road out of such a quagmire is flight, imprisonment through all sorts of fabrications or through a coffin.
After Fani-Kayode had failed to get the SSS to compel my return to him by fiat, his first attack came on 2nd December, 2003 when two of his police stooges telephoned me to inform me that they were in the office of the then DC OPS Lagos State Police Command Mr John Haruna who has summoned me to report to his office immediately. I asked them to tell the super cop DC OPS John Haruna, that if he had any issues with me, he should procure a warrant for my arrest, send me a formal invitation in writing or correspond with the SSS formally and that I had nothing to discuss with him and will not honour such a summon.
Since I was unshaken by the purported DC-OPS Mr John Haruna ‘summon’, another strategy was expectedly on the way.
Fani-Kayode intensified his attack a week after that, in a heavily worded petition to the SSS NHQ Annex Ikoyi Office alleging that I extorted money from a Police Officer whom he freely gave a letter of recommendation. FIND ATTACHED AS :
He also alleged that I was involved in the illegal procurement of live ammunition from some policemen and another policeman duly informed him.
Unknown to me, the SSS Director Mrs A. Z Sule on receiving the petition jumped for joy at the chance to “nail that useless boy” as she allegedly retorted and had immediately ordered the SSS Armourer and ballistics expert to examine the fire-arm I had returned to the armoury and to check the live ammunition I returned, to confirm if it bore the unique serial number of all SSS ammunition issued to me. He returned a clean report, stating that the barrel of the weapon I returned was rusty and the weapon was not fired within the time I handled it and the ammunition was SSS standard issue.
I was immediately asked to give a written statement of defense and in doing so I summarily mentioned a range of his indiscretions and maintained that his attack was expected, because I have refused to facilitate his wanton abuse of power and this formed my decision to quit the SSS as evident by my September 2003 resignation still pending. I further stated that I shall not provide any documentary evidence apart from citing the Thisday media report of his abuse of power by causing for the detention of a mobile phone seller unless called upon to do so by the SSS head Quarters Abuja, at which stage I would have already taken the fight to a regular court of law. Then again, I was careful to reveal only some aspects of his indiscretions, for obvious reasons.
In relentless pursuit of an indictment, Mrs A.Z Sule ordered a team of SSS operatives to conduct a search at my 1004 estate residential apartment. My house was thoroughly combed electronically and manually for firearms and ammunition and they found nothing.
By the time my written statement arrived the Director Mrs A. Z Sule’s desk, she was reportedly so dumbfounded and bewildered by the absurdity of indiscretions I mentioned in my written statement.
She was still so eager to impress her revered idol Fani-Kayode that she sent a signal to the Apapa Area Command asking them to investigate me over the petition and I was subsequently accompanied to the Area B Command Apapa by an SSS team.
After my written statement, which bore a few lines, stating that the allegations were baseless and fictitious and I denied committing any such crimes, the Area Commander who was just recently posted there, had an interview with the accompanying SSS team and me. In his remark, he said he could not understand how in the first place, the SSS is asking him (the Police) to investigate their own and why a government VIP could allege that his SSS C.S.O extorted from a policeman, and solicited for and illegally procured live ammunition from a policeman and yet it was another policeman who reported all this to him.
He stated that his policemen had given their statements denying any knowledge of what the petitioner Femi Fani-Kayode was talking about and that he found this whole petition absolutely ridiculous. I thanked the man for his candidness and assured him that the attack was expected because I knew too much about the petitioner and I am not the first and will not be the last victim of his persecution. He bade us farewell and we returned to the SSS NHQ Annex Ikoyi, where the Director Mrs A Z Sule was briefed.
Sources within the higher SSS Hierachy at the NHQ Annex Ikoyi, hinted that Mrs A.Z Sule had telephoned Fani-Kayode and probably provided him with a copy of my written statement of defence. Fani-Kayode obviously knew the statement had some other chilling aspects not included, but it was unanimously agreed that it was damaging enough if leaked to the press. Furthermore, my refusal to include any hard documents and citing only the November 10th, 2003 Thisday newspaper report of the phone seller detention, meant I knew it would be suppressed from exposure once in SSS custody. In summary, I was a few steps ahead of Fani-Kayode. This founded why any previous intelligence reports written ON or FOR Fani-Kayode by me, would have been disastrous. Femi Fani-Kayode’s attack had collapsed like a pack of cards, but I knew the storm wasn’t over and was now preparing to confront the SSS who had many tactics of dispensing with an operative.
When riding on a tiger’s back, one must be prepared to end up in its belly. As narrative as my statement of defense to the SSS was, there was still a whopping lot that I deliberately did not mention for obvious reasons.
A few days later, the drama continued and an associate of Femi Fani-Kayode approached me with the following offers:
1. Not to pursue the issue to Abuja or the courts.
2. To prepare to receive a DG SSS National Award for Bravery and Gallantry, a double promotion and a 4 yr automatic study leave for my first degree with full pay should I decide to remain in the SSS.
3. Should I insist on leaving the SSS, collect a N1m (One Million Naira) cash parting gift from Femi Fani-Kayode.
ALL ON THE CONDITION THAT I TURN OVER EVERYTHING I HAD IN BLACK AND WHITE ON FEMI FANI-KAYODE THAT COULD EMBARRASS HIM OR THE GOVERNMENT IN THE FUTURE.
On issue No.1; I reminded his emissary that I was only responding to his attack and even then, had been economical with the scope of my defense.
On issue No.2; I cast my mind back on one memorable occasion where I displayed bravery and gallantry that even amazed me till this very day and told the emissary this story:
I was barely seven (7) months old in the job as an SSS operative when in 2001, I was amongst a Presidential advance party team to Bayelsa state; where-in President Obasanjo was scheduled for a state visit that was steeped in various magnitudes of security threats. I was armed with a pistol, 16 rounds of live ammunition, and a communication device. On the advice of a veteran crack operative, I was also armed with a poison pill to take my own life should I be captured and faced inevitable death by torture. The operational directive during the briefing in our state command by our Head of Operations was that, we were to ascertain the security threats, neutralized them if possible, but if under siege, first ensure a radio communication that the threat is insurmountable, defend self and flee, but NOT BE CAPTURED ALIVE. This was Obasanjo’s first state visit after the 1999 Odi massacre.
I was assigned under two superior SSS officers of the Police equivalent rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and Superintendent of Police (SP) who incidentally were indigenes of Bayelsa state. The two superior SSS officers refused to disembark from the speedboat to our assigned station in Wilberforce island for fear of being killed. I boldly refused to flee like the two much older men who had about two decades on the job and against the reservation of the COMMANDANT of the SSS operational region covering our assigned station, I headed out alone to the vast land mass of swamp, forest, and desolation, surrounded by an oppressed and impoverished people still wreathing from the pain of the Odi massacre of 1999.
This assignment was one of the first and yet biggest tests of the SSS under Obasanjo as the success of that Presidential visit through a Presidential directive was hinged solely on SSS’s operational leadership and direction. To this effect, the Presidential order superceded rank and para-Military/ force hierarchy and thus in the absence of the two fleeing SSS superior offciers I single handedly assumed tactical command of men of the MOBILE POLICE Mopol squadron 28 Umuahia and men of the 343 Elele Regiment of the Nigerian Army who were deployed there. After a drawing out a full operation order and personally meeting the community leaders, I ensured that the location was set for the Presidential visit within 48 hrs of my arrival there. Simple and subtle diplomacy was all it took to garner the support of the host community towards the presidential visit; as might and brawn would have been offensive and provocative.
The then DG SSS Col Kayode Are (rtd) arrived the site in a helicopter just a few hours before the arrival of the President on the morning of 15th march, 2001. The DG SSS met with me and the other two superior SSS officers who had just returned from hiding, to a completely finished advance party operation.
In his interaction with the three of us, none of the other two senior SSS men had any answers to any of his questions, as they were obviously not on ground to provide any information to the DG SSS. The answers were flowing from the youth amongst their midst, which was me. The DG SSS asked my name and my State Command and was satisfied that everything was under control and boarded the helicopter and took off.
Even when President Obasanjo arrived the site, his security team was amazed at the youth who was entirely responsible for the President’s every move. In fact, the security alert was so heightened that the President would not be allowed to walk on any surface or enter any enclosure unless I did so first, as I virtually led them by the hand.
By the time the visit was done, President Obasanjo was presented with a souvenir pair of construction gloves. We had barely taken a five (5)- meter walk after that presentation when President Obasanjo signaled one of his highly ranked security details to beckon to me. When I approached the Commander-in-Chief, he handed me that souvenir construction glove and smiled. The President and his entourage departed safely and successfully. I couldn’t have been more satisfied with what was accomplished in that visit and this touching yet memorable encounter. This was the second time I was given a pair of gloves as a gift. The first was a 16-ounce boxing glove in 1998 by the young Samuel Peters, who has risen to become the WBC Heavy Weight World Champion and the next, was by the Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in March, 2003.
As if that was not enough adventure, the two senior SSS operatives immediately commandeered the SSS speed boat and abandoned me in Wilberforce island, as I overheard them discussing the pursuit of some ‘moratorium’ promised them by a chairman of a neighboring local government area. This left me with no option than to navigate through the treacherous creeks by canoe and one-engine ferries, through a ten (10) hour overnight ride (on a journey that took only 2 hours by speed boat from Yenogoa), through different ferries via Ogoubiri, Mein- Oyaikiri, Ammasoma and eventually to Yenogoa; risking a 1 in 3 chances of a boat mishap, which claimed lives on a daily basis and which ended the life of one of the Local Government Chairmen, just days before.
I arrived Yenogoa by day-break of 16th March 2001, just on time to halt the S.O.S signal that was prepared to declare me MISSING IN ACTION. This breath-taking adventure, did not earn me a DG SSS’s national award. After-all, I was doing my job. On what basis was this Femi Fani-Kayode’s engineered DG SSS national award going to be? HIDING HENIOUS CRIMES OBVIOUSLY.
On issue No.3, I declined his generous offer and declared that I was still insistent on leaving the SSS, which had now become more mischievous in a democracy than any preceding Military regime.
I knew I was under constant surveillance and the minute any of those documents left my custody, I was as good as a walking corpse. It would take nothing to be taken out and shot dead at any time by government or civilian assassins’.
I declared to this emissary that all the documents that could embarrass Femi Fani-Kayode in my custody were safely in the grasp of an individual with massive world wide media connections and all the events I witnessed as C.S.O to Femi Fani-kayode were documented from my first day on the job and thus, should I disappear and be incommunicado for any 60-day period, or should I be killed under questionable circumstances, those stories and documents will roll out in the media un-inhibited and I would do my damage from the hollows of the grave. As I re-iterated; this was my “INSURANCE POLICY”
Those documents were my only wild card and this was my chance to send a strong message across to purchase enough time to advance my fight to leave the SSS.
With this attack contained and my discharge not issued, I knew I had been MARKED FOR DEATH and the storm was far from over. Many good people with ears on the ground within top SSS hierarchy had advised me to be very wary of JOINT OPERATIONS WITH OTHER AGENCIES, OR EVEN JOINT OPERATIONS WITH OTHER COMMANDS OF THE SSS and I should feign ailment if need be when such assignments arise and avoid them, as those assignments were the type I would NEVER RETURN ALIVE from. Sure enough, one joint operation in each category with the Police and with another SSS command came between December 2003 and January 2004. I tactfully headed out for field intelligence gathering with my phone and walkie-talkie switched off; long before volunteers could be enlisted from the SSS Command I served in.
This is the point where an operative is pushed to the limit to AWOL (Absent Without Leave) and flee. That in itself is a life sentence where-in you will be branded a TERRORIST, SPY, TREASONABLE FELON, OR DEFECTOR, tried summarily in absentia and probably be executed secretly, whenever you materialized. This was probably SSS’s fear, as I was not allowed to leave Lagos, even when the DG SSS lifted embargos on 2003 annual vacations falling at the end of the year and neither was a casual leave approved for me to see my then ailing father; both of which I was entitled to. The noose was tightening and the rope was getting slim as the clock ticked away. Killing me was too costly, yet what to do with me was still under contemplation as my letter of resignation of 11th September 2003 was still on SSS management’s table.
The threat of extermination when one knows too much and when the powers-that-be have one’s life in their hands is real, but when one is determined to break free as a consequence of refusing to partake in a meal of perfidy, such a fight will lead to freedom; even if it is through a casket. Then again, when an individual is compromised and dines in the putrid dish of shedding innocent blood, the world will hear NOTHING and some secrets will transit to the grave or be whispered on dying beds.
I stayed on, watched my back and continued to seek for a chance to provoke the SSS to expel me from its fold. This chance came in February 2004 when I objected to the kind of treatment meted out on an SSS detainee, which on humanitarian grounds caused me to breach security protocols to buttress my point. This was sacrilege in SSS books but I boldly admitted my actions and gave my reasons.
This gave SSS the grounds to have me investigated at the Lagos NHQ Annex Command level where I was eventually taken to the SSS NHQ Abuja to be incarcerated and given an orderly room trial with the hanging penalty of DISMISSAL. At the SSS NHQ the clock of my incarceration incommunicado had commenced yet the contentious issue was not even my actions concerning an SSS detainee, which was resolved within one week of my incarceration in Abuja, but about Femi Fani-Kayode.
WHAT WENT ON WITH HIM? WHAT WERE MY INTENTIONS? AM I STILL LOYAL TO THE SSS? DO I STILL INTEND TO LEAVE THE SSS?
My incarceration went past the one-month mark and I was bombarded with interviews and interrogations and finally taken up to meet some superior officer, whose task it was to specifically determine my risk-level in respect of Femi Fani-Kayode’s issue.
As this huge man of Northern extract (who introduced himself under a generic cover name) sat behind his desk, with a tape recorder concealed behind his table calendar, asking the above questions, his first line was that he was aware that I had tendered a resignation letter to the SSS and that I intended to leave the SSS of which I acknowledged. He stated that being loyal would mean, bringing in all I had on Femi Fani-Kayode and even undertaking at penalty of criminal liability and imprisonment NEVER to talk about Femi Fani-kayode and as a matter of fact, I should assist the SSS to thwart any media exposure on Femi Fani-Kayode that would be embarrassing to Femi Fani-Kayode and the Presidency by extension.
I told the man (and by extension the SSS), that I could not guarantee that any of the victims of Femi Fani-Kayode’s indiscretions would not go public, and that I do not want to be held responsible over what I had no control over. I insisted that I had done my best in national service and desired to return back to private life and my academic pursuits.
The man now gave me the above offer ‘DG SSS national award-double promotion-4 year automatic study leave with full pay option, which I was already given in the eve of Femi Fani-Kayode’s failed counter-attack at me in Lagos, in December 2003. I wasn’t surprised that this DG SSS NATIONAL AWARD OFFER WAS NOW RESURFACING DIRECTLY FROM A HIGH RANKING SSS PERSONNEL AT ITS NATIONAL HEAD QUARTERS IN ABUJA.
I still declined the offer and maintained that I would be happier and at peace outside the service. The man now asked me to narrate these indiscretions of Femi Fani-Kayode’s and before I got a quarter way into the selected story he fell asleep and I glanced right over his desk and read a full page of his interrogation guideline. Then I realized, that the option of NEVER WALKING OUT OF SSS INCARCERATION ALIVE was real. I waited for the slumbering man to awaken and ask for me to be escorted back to the underground cell where I was incarcerated in.
I played a high stake game with the SSS as I swam through very treacherous waters which started on the first day I was assigned to Femi Fani-Kayode and at this juncture, the SSS figured that my DISMISSAL would destroy my credibility to go public as my untimely or suspicious death could blow the lid on Femi Fani-Kayode’s atrocities which he Femi Fani-Kayode had already obviously told them WAS NOT IN MY CUSTODY AND IN AN ANTICIPATED INSURANCE POLCIY TO WREAK MORE HAVOC SHOULD I BE EXTERMINATED.
This was the lesser of two evils and thankfully better than leaving in a casket. As my incarceration in the SSS national Headquarter’s underground bunker was gradually approaching a two month time line, the SSS eventually took a decision and ended my incarceration with a DISMISSAL; Attached here-in is the DISMISSAL LETTER FROM THE SSS MARKED AS :
The SSS detainee on whose account I saw a perfect opportunity to force my exit from SSS in 2004, eventually gave a newspaper interview of his ordeal with the SSS upon his release from detention. It is not surprising that the Publisher of that newspaper was arraigned on 3-count charges of terrorism in January 2007.
Funny enough, it surprises me that the issue of my superficially controversial exit from the SSS, is yet to be canvassed by Femi Fani-Kayode, who spent well over a year after my exit from SSS, threatening me in Nigeria and gloating over what he claimed was his victory over me and causing for me to be under surveillance until sometime in late 2005. It is obvious that the story of that SSS detainee would eventually re-surface, bringing with it a dust of official high-handedness, from an ‘insider’ perspective at a much more damaging magnitude for the SSS at management level.
It makes one imagine what the value or authenticity of SSS ‘security reports’ under the leadership of Col Kayode Are (rtd) was worth. At best, there is only one aspect of these sordid tales that Mr DG SSS was unaware of and yet, Femi Fani-Kayode was given a clean bill of health on the ‘security report’ that cleared him to be screened for Ministerial appointments which he successfully got; three consecutive times. Even the legislative screening committees, could only come up with flimsy questions about Femi Fani-Kayode’s stay in Ghana in the 90’s and a N15million Naira grant to Femi Fani-Kayode’s office as Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs from the Nigerian Maritime Authority (NMA). Femi Fani-Kayode explained it away as being collected under ‘due process’ through a consultancy firm. At a later time, I will provide an insight into the origin of Femi Fani-Kayode’s thievery via NMA grants, which no one has bothered to verify the destination of those grant monies, which are also tax payers.
If at the period in question, Femi Fani-Kayode with all his propensities and at personal expense (without control of huge votes and tax payers monies) had solicited me for the murder of Col Abubakar Umar, Mr Ekundayo Asaju of ENCOMIUIM MAGAZINE in Lagos, and Mrs.Oluremi Oyo in Abuja; pray tell, WHAT DID HE DO/NOT DO AS A FEDERAL CABINET MINISTER UNDER OBASANJO, WITH UNLIMITED INFLUENCE OVER SECURITY APPARATUSES AND DIRECT CONTROL OVER BILLIONS OF NAIRA IN TAX PAYERS MONIES?
Dele Giwa, Pa Alfred Rewane, Kudirat Abiola, Suliat Adedeji, Mama Tejuosho, Harry Marshal, Barnabas and Abigail Igwe, Odunnayo Olagbaju, Hassim Olajokun, Aminosari Dikibo, Andrew Ogom, Bola Ige, Olusegun Oladimeji, Funsho Williams, Ayodeji Daramola, Jerry Agbeyegbe and Godwin Agbroko are amongst many other innocent citizens including few honest and brave Policemen and women, law enforcement officials and members of the armed forces who fell to the assassins bullets and brutality.
With Femi Fani-Kayode’s realization of my continued existence, I am certain that ‘rent-a-testimony’ candidates will avail him at many quarters and records would mysteriously start disappearing, particularly the ones in Police custody but the truth is that, there are so many innocent victims of his absurdity who will remain far away from his reach. As sure as a few lowly corruptible few will exist, there are many, who will want nothing short of justice for the irreparable damage he did to them. While people like Femi Fani-Kayode and many government agents alike are quick to blow hot air about suing to “protect their good names”, they have sufficient resources to sue under several international conventions. I delightfully urge and invite them to please make a date with me in any court, anywhere in the world or in Nigeria, where I will eagerly dispatch representatives and legal counsel to accept service and court proceedings in their bids to clear “their good names”.
It is now common knowledge that the Yar’adua administration is in open fraternity with select leaders and members of armed militia groups, in its wobbling effort to stem the Niger Delta upheavals. Why haven’t these so-called Niger-Delta Militants, who have now been accorded statesmen status, told the public how they were used to butcher innocent men and women, law enforcement officers and political figures in a political system that was funded by “do- or -die” political leaders and their blood thirsty surrogates who are still alive and walking the streets today and who have plenty innocent blood on their hands? These exalted political thugs and blood thirsty criminals who have broken every law pertaining to violent crime, enjoy state protection, dine with Aso Rock’s top echelon and hide under the guise of ‘resource control’, ‘Niger Delta struggle’ and are given kid-glove treatment in the Nigerian Judiciary system, courtesy of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Need I add that genuine democrats, who have broken no law and are not associated with violence but hold divergent views about governance and canvass for self-determination and social justice, don’t share the same fate in our Nigeria of today? Late Tony Ene, a Bakassi self-determination activist, becomes vocal and ends up in a most suspicious car-crash, that can only be likened to the Dreaded Lt. Maliya Mungu’s Idi Amin-style car crashes of people that were termed as “Obote men”
The factuality and accuracy of the recent US Government report on Nigeria could not have come at a better time.
Of what use does ‘Mr President’ Yar’adua order re-opening investigation over unsolved assassinations as when there are neither any untainted crime scenes nor forensic evidence to work with? Are we not back into the same worthless cycle of rhetoric?
If ‘Mr President’ Yar’adua sincerely seeks to resolve the countless assassinations that have riddled the land, HE SHOULD ANNOUNCE TO THE WHOLE WORLD WITH A SIGNED AND SEALED PRESIDENTIAL DECLARATION OF AMNESTY AND PROTECTION (the type now given to Sgt Rogers and his co-travelers on Government prosecution witness list) TO ANY, AND ALL WHO WERE ASSASSINS AND WHO INDEED KILLED AND ARE WILLING TO NAME THEIR SPONSORS.
A lot of big names will take flight, and many more will be mentioned. It is from that backdrop, we the public can now know where to direct intense scrutiny, when our security agencies will foot drag and bungle as usual. Or better still, provide a sincere forum where the victim’s families can have some closure and heal the pain of their tragic losses.
Though the Oputa panel came and went, only few revelations surfaced and that is because there are still several loopholes that could be exploited by the criminal and yet powerful sponsors of crime and assassinations, to eliminate the witnesses, who neither had, nor were guaranteed, special Government protection.
If Sgt Barnabas Jabila (aka Sgt Rogers) and his government assassin’ colleagues were in my shoes; Col Abubakar Umah, Mrs. Oluremi Oyo and Ekundayo Asaju (and probably many more innocent citizens) would have long been assassinated without any trace whatsoever.
Finally, for Sgt Rogers and his co-travelers, who have canvassed many warped reasons for their involvements in cold blooded murders and murder attempts, my story is a first hand real life experience of being in the same situation; a highly trained and highly skilled security operative, lured with money and clothed with disposition to state apparatus to be an assassin. Amidst grave dangers, intense persecution and well-calculated risks still stood for morality and conscience.
The metamorphosis of a Nigerian government assassin starts from a security operative with the propensity to kill for rewards or gain and who has no respect for the sanctity of human life. It then transcends to subservience and complicity to a bloodthirsty and power obsessed boss, who feeds on impunity and has the blessing and support of the government and its agencies. Finally, greed and a perfect opportunity, consummates this diabolic evolution. Even amidst this cycle, still lies the exclusive POWER OF CHOICE.
To all the souls of assassinated Nigerians, may you rest in peace and may your killers continue to know no peace. In addition to that list, I will include late Mr Victor John Uguru, a fine Christian, and bank auditor who was investigating a fraud but was slain in cold blood by a hail of assassins’ bullets in Onitsha in April 1998. He was working for the now defunct All States Trust Bank at an Onitsha branch. This young man was amongst many things, the first child of my mother and my brother. May his gentle soul, rest in peace as the struggle to liberate our society from the clutches of an evil clique, continues.
Enobong Umohette was Chief Security Officer to Femi Fani Kayode He can be reached atb(email@example.com)
*9/11 Horror: Account of a Nigerian Village Boy
By Oluwatade T. Faith
History is not a heroic story, nor memory a block of marble inscribed with imperishable words of grief and rage. In Tony Blair’s account of this act of inhuman cruelty, in his book A Journey (Published: 9 Jun 2011), he wrote "It is amazing how quickly shock is absorbed and the natural rhythm of the human spirit reasserts itself … We remember, but not as we felt at that moment.” How time flies, how terrific time devours our dearest and dreadful memories, how we are striped of realities and left with reflection.
Personally, I remember the shock of that moment perfectly…even though I didn’t watch the live clips of the incidence – I doubt if any Nigerian of my age watched the live streaming anyway…that afternoon I was roaming a flea-market with my mum doing last minutes shopping as I prepared to resume for Senior Secondary school…I recall a ‘now-funny’ exclamation – a market-version of the breaking news. It came from the wheel-barrow pusher who was helping with our grasps.
He said to me as my mum bargained on (in Yoruba) “friend, are you aware the world is ending today?”
“What? How do you know” I asked with my Church mind flashing back at those end time teaching and scary antichrist stories I have heard in Church teachings.
I can’t remember waiting for him to explain; I immediately tapped my mum to gain her attention and tell her what I just heard. In swift successions we noticed quick movement in some session of the market and shops where closing-up.
I wouldn’t have been scared if not for the previous information…shortly, there was this heavy guy that ran across the market shouting “WORLD WAR III, WORLD WAR III, WORLD WAR III…America has been destroyed!!!” he kept shouting those words as he ran across the market.
Shops started to close-up for real, movement became more disorganised. Soon, we were heading home on a charted cab.
Thank goodness, there was powers supply, mum just went straight for the TV, but unfortunately it was not better than the breaking news we heard on the car-radio, as we could not get video clips of the said attack…the best we got was the news and a promise to update us with the latest as it unfolds.
My imaginations were running wild…borrowing from all the “action-films” I had watched. Didn’t even know what is done at WORLD TRADE CENTER…I assumed every country of the world has an office in the building, for international trading and finance.
I was stuck to the TV set for about three hours till the Local TV station was able to relay blurry clips of the horror at the 6 P.M news. I called my lil’bro and mum, who had missed the main news…they looked on as they expected the news-recap.
My attempt to relay what I had seen sounded so fake and abstract; it was unlike all the “action film” I had imagined it to look like. In a short while the news recaps were on…and I was in more shock as I saw Jet dive into the twin tower and the building cracking and falling into crumbles…knowing it was a stale news, I had a hard time imagining what would be happening in the families of the victims of that hijacked plane, the inhabitants of the tower, the environment, the passersby, in beloved NYC and the US as I went to bed that night…I eat though! ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: New York twin towers burning from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.
The night was so long as I look forward to reading and hearing hot-group debates at a newspaper stand two streets away from ours the next morning…I should say I had night mares, which is strange, considering I am not an American and I only witness it on television in an outskirt of Akure, Nigeria. That’s the best a village boy could have of such event. …having said that…
9/11 is 12 years behind us, a stuff for debate, and substance of history and a subject of study. After 9/11, we have had Obama’s Elections, Arab Spring, Afghanistan’s Ransack, Osama’s Execution, Steve Job’s Death, Gadhafi’s Termination, Mid-East/Syria Crisis, Chinua Achebe’s Exit …12 years of bonuses of heart breaking headline news and events… …the world moves on leaping and learning.
Around the 10th year remembrance of the dastard attack, I came across this controverted picture taken by Thomas Hoepker. Hoepker, a senior figure in the renowned Magnum photographers' co-operative, chose not to publish it in 2001 and to exclude it from a book of Magnum pictures of that horribly unequalled day.
“Perhaps the real reason Hoepker sat on it at the time was because it would be egotistical to assert his own cunning as an artist in the midst of mass slaughter.
Today, the meaning of this photograph has nothing to do with judging individuals. It has become a picture about history, and about memory. As an image of a cataclysmic historical moment it captures something that is true of all historical moments: life does not stop dead because a battle or an act of terror is happening nearby… 10 years on, the meaning of this photograph is that memories fade fast. The people in the foreground are us. We are the ones whose lives went on, touched yet untouched, separated from the heart of the tragedy by the blue water of time, which has got ever wider and more impossible to cross. A 10-year-old event belongs to history, not the present. To feel the full sorrow of it now you need to watch a documentary – and then you will switch to something lighter, either because it is painfully clear that too much blood has been spent around the world in the name of this disaster, or simply because changing channels is what humans do. The people in this photograph cannot help being alive, and showing it.” wrote theguardian.com 2/9/11.
Ahead of today’s twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States (September 11, 2001), families, friends, colleagues and others worldwide have in various ways been remembering the victims of the incident.
I dedicate this memoir to Mr. Godwin Ajala, the only officially listed among the deceased. A Nigerian trained lawyer who at the time worked as a post guard at the WTC. Ajala is undoubtedly one of the heroes of the 9/11 attack. One of the best tributes which aptly captures the place of Ajala among the victims of the attack is by a blogger named CarpeDM. “In a world where so many people are looking out for their selves, this man risked his life for others. Who knows how many were saved because of him? Today, whenever I see a flag or hear someone speak about 9/11/01, I will think of all those who died. And I will think of all those who survived because of men and women like Godwin Ajala.”
Oluwatade T. Faith ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
*Nigeria Has The Most Outrageous Corruption – Leaders To Blame
By Dr. James C. Agazie, james
Thanks to C T Nwosu, Chief Okereke, and Dr. Oranika for encouraging me to continue writing after being away from it because I felt readers weren’t giving me feedback. They say: “That they are not giving you feedback doesn’t mean they are not reading.”
To get rid of Nigerian corruption, you must first burn the country down. If you judge African nations by the degree of corruption that goes on at both the governmental and local levels, Nigeria has no equal. To say that there is no corruption in Nigeria is to make an irresponsible statement, despite glaring evidence to the contrary. Pejoratives abound in every discussion about Nigeria which is considered to be the so-called “Epitome of African Corruption.” Epitome is personification or embodiment, and there are pejoratives to describe such a situation. A pejorative is an adjective that has a disparaging, derogatory, or belittling effect on a sensitive person. As a Nigerian, you may be treated like a person with a disease as loathsome as leprosy which reminds everyone around that you are never to be trusted because the country and people you represent are notorious for dishonesty, bribery, sleaze, fraud, and vice? On one of my visits to Lagos, Nigeria, I once got into a serious argument with my host after failing to convince him that giving “dash” (bribery) contributes to corruption in my country Nigeria. My friend admonished me much to my chagrin “If you don’t give bribery in Nigeria, you will never survive here.” “Why?” I asked, feigning ignorance. “Because Nigerians expect bribes and you must give them to succeed.” I shouted at Alex: “You people are corrupt” Alex shouted back: “No , we are not. You just don’t know how to make it over here.” The more I visit my country on subsequent vacations, the more I hate Alex for winning that corruption argument. If making it over there means drinking 12-pack Heinekens every night and developing onyeagba belly, I choose not to make Alex a permanent enemy. I am becoming expert at giving bribes.
There is corruption in Nigeria’s public administration: Public administrators are government officials charged with the responsibility to interact with the public and deliver essential services to the citizens, and many careers in Nigeria fall into the public administration category. Because corruption is a way of life, Nigerian public administrators demand bribes and the citizens feel obligated to give kickbacks to receive services. When my host complained that his N7,000 electric bill was not to his liking, he asked me to accompany him on a visit to the nearest NEPA office to protest. My God, what happened? I saw Alex give a clerk a “dash” and the N7,000 electric bill was reduced to N2,000 ($12). We spent the remaining N5,000 to purchase some fuel for my host’s generator so we wouldn’t be left in total darkness that night and the rest of the weekend. Have you heard of a friend with the PhD in physics from Nsukka who led a group from America to seek permission to establish an NGO in Nigeria to benefit underserved women and children ? The Minister asked members of the proposed NGO to give him half of the money budgeted for the project before permission to establish the NGO could be given. What a dastardly discouraging demand! You could sell the Americans for a penny. It is not over in Nigeria until the bride Miss Bribe sings. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map and Flag of Nigeria
Nigerian leaders would rather fight you than admit there is a corruption problem. In an interview held on Tuesday April 16, 2013, Christianne Amanpour, the CNN’s chief International Correspondent and anchor of Amanpour, asked Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala the Nigerian finance minister questions on corruption, oil theft, and the un-ending power sector problems Dr.. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala responded: Nigeria does have a problem with corruption. And so do many other countries, including developed countries. I don’t like the fact that when people mention the name Nigeria, the next thing they say is corruption. This is a country of 170 million people; 99.9 percent of them are honest, hard-working citizens who just want to get on with their lives and they want a government that delivers for them.
Okonjo-Iweala prevaricates in her answer to Amanpour. To prevaricate is to offer a dressed-up version of “lie;”that implies an evasion of the truth by confusing the issue by telling a half-truth. We called it beating about the bush in primary school. Isn’t it insulting that the finance minister is more interested in softening Nigeria’s world-wide negative image as a thieving nation than she is in taking positive steps to begin to understand why Nigeria is a laughingstock? Okonjo-Iweala appears to be justifying her country’s endemic malady by arguing that “it is alright for Nigeria to be corrupt because other nations are also corrupt.” Okonjo-Iweala makes light of massive robberies of the treasury allegedly committed by her fellow ministers and subordinates, which makes it improbable for the government to deliver services to the “honest, hard-working citizens”. It is alright for Ifekanku to be as skinny as he wants but I need not be on a diet of carrots and celery sticks Mrs. Ifekanku puts her husband on.
Will the honorable Finance Minister explain why Nigeria (50 years into her independence as a sovereign nation) is still inexorably unable to provide 170 million people with such basic services as drive-able roads, clean water, healthcare, and steady electrification? It is childish for the finance minister to complain “ I don’t like the fact that when people mention Nigeria, the next thing they say is corruption.” Will someone explain to this woman that she is a public servant and what matters is what the tax-paying public likes, not what she thinks she likes? Does Okonjo-Iweala think the 170 million people she claims to love enjoy being eaten up by mosquitoes in stuffy, darkened rooms because “light no de”; or that they enjoy being sent home with untreated malarial fever from hospitals because the doctors have stolen government drugs and taken them to private clinics? Corruption is not only found in Nigeria’s oil theft and power failure. Corruption rears its ugly head in every facet of country life..Corruption is the ibi (Igbo term for enlarged testicle and scrotum swelling) one cannot hide under a flowing gown.
There is corruption in Nigerian’s educational system: Money budgeted for education is often stolen or diverted to other projects. The results are outmoded materials and teaching aids, poorly qualified staff, and promotions for students whose parents provide backhanders. Promotion examinations for Nigerian civil servants are subterfuges for bribery in that merit is not considered for promotion. Promotion is simply a sale to the highest bidders. You may pay anywhere between N300,000 and N3,000,000 ($1,900 - $19,000) to get one notch above your pay scale.
There is corruption in Nigerian’s law enforcement: The hungry, emaciated constable at the round-about is there to supplement his meager income by collecting bribes from motorists. “What’s the problem?” I asked the operator of keke nape or keke marwa (a motorized carriage) I was riding on one very hot day near a market in Lagos. The operator had been “arrested” by a constable for not having proper registration documents in his possession and was being taken in for questioning. Because I was being delayed for an important meeting in the relentless heat of Lagos, the carriage operator and I had an emergency meeting and devised a plan. The plan was to forestall the traffic constable’s vociferous and voluble threats by giving him a N400 ($3) bribe. We were let go, and I was soon on my way to keep an important appointment. Bribes work wonders in Nigeria. I often set aside 100 dollars (N15, 850) for various bribes on a visit to my country. I call it thinking ahead.
There is corruption in Nigeria’s banking system: I once went to a Nigerian bank to check on my little savings after misplacing my bank book in America. When I told my host that I could not remember my bank number, his advice was ubiquitously clear: “Give the bank clerk the sum of N400 ($3) to look up any information you need.” I did just that and was out of the bank in no time, thanks to the NBS (Nigerian Bribery System).
There is corruption in Nigeria’s custom service: Nigerian importers complain of paying an exorbitant fee of N1.3 million ($8,200) to the Nigerian customs and clearing agents, thereby forfeiting their profits. No one knows what percentage of this fee is legit and what percentage is the fruit of corruption. And if you don’t pay, your goods will stored somewhere to collect demurrages, added costs.
Conclusion: Corruption is well and thriving well in Nigeria without signs of letting up because (1) it seems to be everywhere, indeed encouraged; and (2) Nigerians are a greedy people with an insatiable appetite for material possessions fueled by a desire to follow their corrupt leaders’ footpath.
Dr. James C. Agazie, james ( email@example.com )
*PhotoNews - Faces At The Signing of Loan Agreement for Biggest Oil Refinery & Fertilizer Plant in Africa
By Citizen Reporters
Governor Peter Obi was there at the signing of $3.3 billion (N512 billion) Petroleum oil Refinery and Petrochemical Fertilizer plant (Africa’s biggest) loan agreement by Dangote Industries Limited (Dangote Group) at Transcorps Nicon, Abuja on September 4.
The $3.3b syndicated fund is part of the $9 billion (N1.4 trillion) total cost for the plants, scripted to sustain the diversification agenda of Dangote Industries Limited. Standard Chartered Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank led the consortium of financial institutions in the fund syndication deal. Others are Fidelity Bank, Diamond Bank, Zenith Bank, Ecobank Nigeria, Access Bank, First Bank, United Bank for Africa, FirstRand Bank of South Africa, First City Monument Bank and Standard Bank of South Africa.
Obi said he attended the function, first and foremost to persuade Alhaji Aliko Dangote to come and invest in Anambra State.
*Eyesore at Indian Embassy and Nigeria's pathetic medical situation
By Osita Chiagorom
On our flight from Owerri to Lagos aboard Aero Contractors on Thursday August 29th 2013, I noticed an old woman and her Children who eventually were the last people to leave the plane on arrival in Lagos. Coincidentally we ran into them again the next morning by 9am at the Indian Embassy at Walter Carrington, formerly Eleke Crescent. I apologized to the woman and her relatives for taking their pictures to post on Facebook but I have to do this to prove a point.
That's why I made sure that their faces never appeared in order not to infringe on their rights. The woman is on her way for medical treatment in India. She was kept at the gate from before 9am till after 11.15am before she was allowed to enter the embassy for her visa. I entered the embassy before her and took the pictures by 11.15am when she was allowed access into the embassy.
I left the embassy by almost 12 noon and hanged around and was around 12.45pm that I saw the woman coming out of the embassy while we were driving out. The woman was lucky to be attended to as there were tens of others outside who were not lucky. I was shocked to learn that more than 60 percent of Nigerian visa applicants to India are medical patients and acquiring the visa has become so hard that some slump or even die on the plane on their way to India. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh inspecting Guard of Honour at a Ceremonial Reception in Abuja, Nigeria on October 15, 2007 during his state visit.
I had thought that medical patients were given quick services so I was shocked in the manner in which they are treated at the Indian embassy and as expected, this is Nigeria where anything goes and nobody bothers. Even the so-called mobile policemen stationed there are ready to manhandle you despite your health conditions.
This is unacceptable. Inside the embassy I was almost moved to tears when I saw a young guy like myself being helped to walk, plus the other pathetic ones. For the first time in my life I was faced with stark naked truth of my country's zero medical condition. I felt like getting together and shooting (pardon for my hard use of language but that's exactly how I felt) all those useless lawmakers and government officials who spend our hard earned money on themselves and make useless laws on how to marry underage girls while our people are suffering in the midst of plenty.
Why must Nigerians be rushing to India for medical attention while Nigerian born doctors constitute a major force in the medical field of some countries around the world? Those at the embassy are the very few ones who can afford millions to travel for medical treatment abroad.
What happens to the farmer, teacher, civil servant or other individuals whose monthly income might not be able to afford them this medical tourism? It worries me that we call ourselves Christians and likely the most prayerful country in the world but still corruption has reigned supreme here.
We are Christians at the Church, but Mormons at our places of work while we watch non-Christian countries like India, China, Vietnam, UAE, etc. prosper. I still insist that Nigeria needs a revolution. A kind of disciplinarian who will close his eyes, roundup and imprison all those ex-leaders who took us for a ride.
This will instil fear into our people and a reminder that someone can still go to prison despite how many years he or she stayed off the hook. With this, discipline will be restored and corruption reduced. Our people need a leader whose “no” will be “no” and “yes” is “yes”.
Phone: 08068683324 Email: Ositac@yahoo.com
*How Yakubu Gowon Caused The Nigeria-Biafra War
By Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
One of the greatest enduring myths in Nigeria is the lie that Yakubu Gowon fought the Nigeria-Biafra war to keep Nigeria united, whereas in reality not only did Yakubu Gowon whose Northern region had originally intended to secede (Araba) after the July 1966 counter-coup cause the unnecessary war through his failure of leadership, his aim for fighting the war was never in the least a genuine desire to keep Nigeria united but purely because of Northern economic interests. The economic interests of the hitherto secessionist North became the principal reason for the volte face from secession to “one Nigeria” after the British government advised the Northern leadership of the economic disadvantages of secession. Thus unlike most civil wars where there is a genuine desire to keep the nation united for patriotic reasons, the Nigeria-Biafra war was an opportunistic war instigated by Yakubu Gowon and the North; not out of a genuine desire for a united Nigeria but for the selfish aims of British imperialism and Northern economic interests which remains the reason and reality of their presence in Nigeria to date.
Every conflict is dogged by lies and propaganda, but history always waits out the intrigues of war in the knowledge, that the truth; no matter how suppressed and how long it waits, will eventually prevail. In the midst of the historical lies and propaganda that trailed the conflict the long suppressed truth is beginning to find life. One emerging fact is the true causes/ intentions of the conflict and the fact that the conflict has by all accounts been considered a needless war. It is already deemed by some to be the most avoidable war of the 20th century. Unlike many unavoidable conflicts, there were many opportunities to avoid the Nigeria-Biafra war which needlessly consumed the lives of some 3 million people, entrenched an un-healing generational bitterness and caused severe social, political and economic dislocation from which the nation is yet to recover. Wars carry with them the worst of human tragedies and scars that endure for all time. It is an evil that must be avoided except it is absolutely necessary. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: Nigeria Ex-Military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon leaving after attending Late Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua's funeral in Katsina, Katsina State May 6, 2010.
In the case of Nigeria-Biafra; there was nothing that made the war in the least necessary. Nigeria as a nation never existed until the British colonialists patched up the contraption of disparate ethnic and religious groups into an unworkable nation to service her imperial interests. From the onset it was obvious Nigeria would be inhibited by her contradictions and consequently doomed to failure. Thus when the pogrom/genocide of 1966-67 demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubts the impossibility of Nigeria, the legal route under international law as enshrined in the United Nations charter was to hold a plebiscite or referendum to determine by democratic means the choice of the majority as it concerns self determination for Biafra.
That route would have solved the problem in a legal and civilised manner as “no war no matter how desirable for the purpose of keeping a nation together is justifiable.” It defies all logic and natural justice to kill people in other to keep them in a nation. It is like killing a woman’s children in order to forcefully keep her in a marriage from which she seeks to exit. Freedom and self determination are inalienable God given rights and nations must be constructed and preserved through democratic consent and not through the barrel of a gun. Any act otherwise, to forcefully create or preserve a nation without the democratic consent of the indigenous peoples is an act of colonialism. Every ethnic group within the Nigerian geographical expression ordinarily retains the same right for which we struggled for independence from the British colonial government. It is thus a usurpation of the right to self determination and independence for any group or groups within Nigeria to wage war or forcefully coerce another into the nation against their will. To that extent the war against Biafra must be understood for what it really was; a war of aggression and colonialism.
Thus for the purposes of history and for generations yet unborn, I have decided to put on record for all time; the truth and injustice of the needless war of colonialism Yakubu Gowon and his allies instigated against Biafra on the lie of a war of unity.
Eastern Leadership And The Historical Championing of One Nigeria
One of the ironies of the Nigeria-Biafra war is how the East and her leadership under Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe who relentlessly championed the very idea of a united Nigeria as against the Northern leadership that harboured deep anti-Nigeria sentiments were forced by circumstances resulting from the pogrom/genocide to exercise the fundamental right of self preservation and opt for secession.
When in 1957 the British colonial authorities offered independence individually to the regions provided two out of the three regions accepted the offer, the Northern region declared they were not ready for that level of political and economic independence, the Western region declared their readiness for independence, the East became the tie to make or break Nigeria; Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe in a historic move, rejected the offer by declaring that “although the Eastern region was ready to assume the responsibilities of regional independence, its attainment without the North would lead to the balkanization of the Nigerian nation and conceivably a break-up of the country. The Eastern region would rather suppress its appetite for independence and the obvious gains it would entail until the Northern region was ready.” By this momentous and in my own opinion mistaken decision, Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe prevented the break-up of Nigeria as offered by the then colonial authorities in 1957. He also stridently opposed the Northern proposal for a right of self determination in the constitution in subsequent constitutional conferences.
These feats alongside the emergence of a Northerner “Mallam Umaru Altine” as the first mayor of Enugu in 1956, amongst so many other sacrifices made by Dr Azikiwe and other Eastern leaders in the course of the evolution of the nation to accommodate the historically “secessionist” North underscores the role the East played in being the biggest champions of a united Nigeria. Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe was not only an advocate of Nigerian unity; he was also highly invested in Pan-Africanism and the campaign for a United States of Africa. It is also noteworthy that in spite of the fact that crude oil was discovered in the then Eastern region in 1956 which gave overwhelming advantages to the East, not a single Eastern leader ever mentioned crude oil in any of their political narratives or sought to take undue advantage of it. Indeed Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe and even the short-lived military administration of General Aguiyi Ironsi demonstrated a diehard commitment to a united Nigeria for which the later ironically paid with his life; killed by the same Northern hypocrites who after accusing him of introducing the unitary system (which he did in his genuine desire to unify the country) ended up consolidating, sustaining and defending to date, the same unitary system for which they killed General Aguiyi Ironsi.
Historical Northern Rejection Of Nigeria
Historically, the North and her leadership were the greatest opponents of the very idea of Nigeria and Nigerian unity. Northern leaders such as Ahmadu Bello, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa amongst others never hid their disdain for Nigeria. The rejection of Nigerian unity at a point became the political ideology of Northern leaders which they variously expressed in public declarations and in the exclusionist policies formulated in the Northern region. In 1948 while addressing the legislative council, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa declared that “Since 1914 the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, in their religious beliefs and customs and do not show themselves any sign of willingness to unite. Nigerian unity is only a British intention for the country.” Undisguised disdain and rejection of the very idea of Nigerian unity is aptly demonstrated by this speech as presented by Tafawa Balewa.
The foremost Northern leader, Sir Ahmadu Bello was even more resentful of Nigeria. In his book and autobiography “My Life” published a year after independence in 1961, he famously castigated the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria as “the mistake of 1914.” Being the premier of the Northern region Ahmadu Bello further demonstrated his opposition to Nigeria by using his administrative powers to create an “Apartheid Northernization policy” which decreed that all available jobs in the North must go to a Northerner and in the event that there is no qualified Northerner should go to Europeans/ Arabs rather than Nigerians from the South. Nothing better demonstrates Ahmadu Bello’s hatred and rejection of Nigeria than his Apartheid Northenization policy that gave preference to Europeans, Arabs and other foreigners than to fellow Nigerians from the South. Segregation of southerners into areas known as “Sabon gari” was also a segregationist policy of Ahmadu Bello designed to keep Northerners separate from Southerners that endures to this day. The whole strata of the North and her leadership was thus never historically interested or invested in the idea of a United Nigeria from the dawn of colonial Nigeria.
The hostility and rejection of Nigeria by the North is also noted in the first riots directed at southerners in Jos in 1945 and subsequently in 1953 in Kano when an anti-independence riot was sponsored by the Northern leadership against Southerners living in Kano. Both of these riots resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Southerners and set the precedent for future riots that later became routine. Most importantly, the riots underscore the historical context of the hostility of the North to the very idea of Nigeria.
Post Independence Crisis:
Perhaps; because the duo of Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello harboured so much disdain for Nigeria, they had no incentive to invest in nation building or to make the necessary sacrifices to consolidate the fledgling republic in her most critical foundational years. They demonstrably advanced only narrow regional and sectional interests at the expense of the rule of law and good governance, thus by 1962 there was already a crisis of rigged census results and infighting in the West that led to the declaration of a state of emergency in the Western region. By 1963, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was arrested and convicted for alleged coup plotting. By 1964, a coalition between Ladoke Akintola the premier of the Western region and Tafawa Balewa resulted in massively rigged elections in the Western region which sparked off violent riots and disturbances (wetie).
In the Tiv Division riots had also been violently put down by Tafawa Balewa’s government using the military, however in the Western region the violence continued unabated until 1966 when the military reacting to the corruption, election rigging, thuggery, tribalism and the sustained violence in the Western region unfortunately struck at dawn in January 1966.
The Pogroms/Genocide And Yakubu Gowon’s Inaction/ Complicity:
A leader must be judged and held accountable for what happens under his watch. Following the injection of tribalism into the January 1966 coup, the North staged a secessionist counter (revenge) coup in July 1966 in which the then Head of state General Aguiyi Ironsi, Colonel Fajuyi the military governor of the Western region and some three hundred Eastern officers were assassinated. Yakubu Gowon who had been the chief of army staff consequently emerged head of state. “The most important constitutional duty of a head of state all over the world is the protection of life and property of the citizenry under all circumstances.” Yakubu Gowon abdicated his most fundamental constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property when he did absolutely nothing while officers and men of the Nigerian army and police who were supposed to protect life and property crossed over from their coup to attack and massacre thousands of Eastern civilians including women and children in the premeditated genocide in the North.
As the mass killings of innocent civilians went on by cowardly Soldiers who crossed over from a political coup to target and kill defenceless civilians, Yakubu Gowon did nothing. He didn’t send in troops or the police to try to calm the situation, he neither imposed a state of emergency nor a dusk to dawn curfew, he also never set-up any investigative panel to probe the killings. To make matters worse, even though the officers and men who were carrying out such heinous crimes against humanity were well known, Yakubu Gowon never reprimanded, arrested, court marshalled or punished any of them, rather the officers were all promoted. It became obvious by his inaction and promotion of the implicated officers that Yakubu Gowon was complicit in both the coup and genocide.
There is no circumstance that can justify the mass murder of innocent civilians while Yakubu Gowon who has a duty to protect life and property under all circumstances refused to act. It is unthinkable to imagine that at the height of the provocation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed more than 3000 Americans by Islamic terrorists; President George Bush would allow the massacre of innocent Muslims in the US. An estimated 50,000 innocent civilians were brutally murdered while Yakubu Gowon as head of state did nothing and indeed tacitly supported the mass killings. It is exactly for those types of crimes that the international criminal court in the Hague and Geneva Convention were established to bring to justice those who commit acts of genocide and other human rights violations. The killings only stopped when there was no one left to kill. Yakubu Gowon failed in his most fundamental duty to protect life and property and this failing created the self preservation scenario that necessitated self determination and consequently Biafra by the East. Since Yakubu Gowon as head of state could do nothing while thousands of innocent civilians were being hacked to death by Soldiers and Police officers who were supposed to protect life and property, the very idea of Nigeria died from that point and the East like any group had no choice but to undertake the natural right of self preservation and thus self determination.
(Araba): Intent Of Northern Secession And the British Government Advice That Changed the equation
The propaganda of Nigerian unity for which Yakubu Gowon and his goons premised their war was patently false for the simple reason that the Northern counter-coup christened “Araba” which means separation in Hausa language was a secessionist coup originally intended to finally break the North from Nigeria. Indeed the flag of the new republic had already been hoisted preparatory to the announcement of secession by the North. Yakubu Gowon informed the then British high commissioner Sir Cumming Bruce of the intention of the North to secede and it was the British in line with their imperialist interests that advised against Northern secession and made strident efforts to dissuade the North from seceding.
In his book “The Biafran War” Micheal Gould p.43 stated: “Cumming –Bruce was able to persuade the Emirs that secession would be an economic disaster”. As the British high commissioner Sir Cumming Bruce himself testified p.43 “it wasn’t on the face of it easy to get them (the North) to change, but I managed to do it overnight. I drafted letters to the British Prime Minister, to send to Gowon as Nigerian Head of State, and for my Secretary of State (Micheal Stewart) to send letters to each of the Emirs. I wrote an accompanying letter to each of them because I knew them personally. I drafted all these and they all came back to me duly authorised to push at once. The whole thing was done overnight and it did the trick of stopping them (the North) dividing Nigeria up.” From the testimony of the then British high commissioner Sir Cumming Bruce in regards to the effort he made to persuade the North not to secede, the deceit, propaganda and opportunism of Yakubu Gowon and his crowd as they lied through their teeth in their false claim of fighting for Nigerian unity when in reality they had originally intended to secede and only changed their mind on the prompting of the British government becomes self evident.
For all the false propaganda spewed to prosecute the needless war and the consequent tragic bloodletting, the British high commissioner’s testimony proves that Yakubu Gowon and the North were never genuine or interested in Nigerian unity. They were only opportunists who turned around to claim one Nigeria because of economic interests linked to crude oil which remains the reality of their presence in Nigeria to date. Had Yakubu Gowon and the North spared us the lie and kept their original plan to secede, the nation would have been better for it as more manageable homogenous units would have emerged and the nation would have been spared the needless conflict that was fought on the great lie of Nigerian unity.
Yakubu Gowon Reneges On Aburi Accord:
“My word is my bond” is a famous phrase that underlines the importance of honesty. For a leader the most important test of character is standing by his word. Yakubu Gowon failed this important test of character when he reneged on an agreement he personally participated in reaching in Aburi. On the 4th and 5th of January 1967 a genuine and final opportunity presented itself to resolve the simmering crisis through a conference in Aburi Ghana at the instance of General Ankrah. Notably Aburi was chosen because following the events of 1966 and the practical disintegration of the army, the security of Odimegwu Ojukwu and other Eastern dignitaries could not be guaranteed anywhere in Nigeria.
Yakubu Gowon, together with his advisers, secretaries and the military governors of the North, Midwest and Western regions were in attendance while Colonel Odimegwu Ojukwu being military governor of the East together with his aides also attended. Given the dire situation at that time, the meeting deliberated exhaustively on the structure of Nigeria. The next day the meeting continued and affirmed a final agreement known as the “Aburi Accord.” Thus for two days, Yakubu Gowon and his aides together with all the regional governors constituted the supreme military council which incidentally is the highest ruling body and reached agreement on all the critical issues, but as soon as Yakubu Gowon arrived in Nigeria he began the process of dilly dallying and reneging on an agreement freely negotiated and entered into in Aburi Ghana.
The question of building good faith and confidence was just as important as the conference itself as a bridge building measure given recent events. Unfortunately Yakubu Gowon almost immediately truncated the opportunity of building good faith by not respecting one of the agreements reached in Aburi concerning the temporary payment of salaries and recovery of properties of Eastern civil servants who had been forced to leave their jobs through no fault of theirs. Decree No. 8; later issued in May, a considerably long time for a conference held on the 4th and 5th January, which to a large extent is evidence of Yakubu Gowon’s dilly dallying and subterfuge, went further by ignoring the security sensitivities of the times, particularly for the Easterners by reneging on the most basic fundamental of Aburi accord which requires concurrence of all 4 military governors in all matters affecting the country when he sneaked in the powers to declare a state of emergency in the country with concurrence from only 3 out of the 4 military governors. The implication of this breach means that Yakubu Gowon and his cabinet could suddenly with concurrence from the other 3 military governors declare a state of emergency in the East and subject the region to military invasion.
Given the context of the time with a mutinous and dysfunctional Nigerian army whose officers and men instigated and actively participated in the genocide that killed officers and civilians including women and children of Eastern origin and while none of the officers or men in the Nigerian army or Police who committed such atrocities were either arrested, prosecuted or removed from the army or Police, it was natural that the Governor of the East needed enough safeguards and guarantees even if temporarily through collective concurrence of all four military governors on issues of national importance as agreed in Aburi to avoid suddenly becoming a victim of a state of emergency and other such insidious plots by the mass killers that still abounded in the Nigerian army/ Police until at least such a time that security and confidence is adequately restored.
It is ironical that the powers to declare a state of emergency which Yakubu Gowon never exercised when it was most necessary during the genocide to stop the mass killings which would have prevented the crisis in the first place was suddenly sneaked into Decree No. 8 with consent of only 3 out of the 4 military governors required in breach of the Aburi accord that recommended consent of all 4 military governors in such matters. Except Yakubu Gowon and his advisers had some ulterior motive as was suspected in the East, there is no reason why concurrence of all 4 military governors as agreed in Aburi for the declaration of a state of emergency in situations of riots or strife should be a problem for a temporary period until trust, confidence and a measure of reconciliation is achieved.
Indeed, reneging on the Aburi accord over the state of emergency issue by Yakubu Gowon was unnecessary as being a military regime, he still ultimately retained the powers under the “doctrine of necessity” in exceptional circumstances to issue an emergency decree that enables the declaration of a state of emergency in the extreme and very unlikely situation where he is unable to get consent of all 4 military Governors for the declaration of a state of emergency. There was thus no practical or logical reason for Yakubu Gowon to renege on the most sensitive and fundamental aspect of Aburi accord that was designed to be a temporary safeguard given the genocide, disintegration of the army and lack of trust until security and confidence is restored.
By disregarding the morbid fear and trauma which the pogroms/genocide had incited in the East thus reneging on the most fundamental aspect of the Aburi accord which would have given the necessary safeguards and created the environment for reconciliation and a permanent resolution of the crisis Yakubu Gowon proved incapable or unwilling to make any temporary sacrifices for peace. As a leader he failed to keep an agreement which he himself had personally participated in negotiating in Aburi Ghana. This failure of leadership and bad faith finally set the nation on the part of an unnecessary war and bloodletting. As a further demonstration of bad faith and insincerity, it is also important to note Yakubu Gowon’s unusual delay from January to May before he issued the diluted version of Aburi accord. This five month delay more than anything else serves as an undeniable indication of Yakubu Gowon’s insincerity in resolving the crisis and his preference for war.
Colonialism And The Right To Self Determination
Colonialism is generally regarded as the total or partial loss of autonomy of indigenous peoples to the coercive or forceful establishment of exploitative/oppressive governing authorities on unequal terms by a people, group or colonial power not ordinarily or historically linked culturally, geographically or linguistically to the colonised. Any group that therefore forcefully subjects another to their authority without democratic consent of the indigenous peoples through a plebiscite or referendum is an act of colonialism. There was nothing like Nigeria until the British in trying to consolidate the commercial interests of Taubman Goldie a British trader whose forays brought him to the region put together a people who mostly never had any cultural, geographic, linguistic or ethnic links with each other. It was from the onset an impossible nation created not for the harmonious existence or interests of the unfortunate subjects who made up the strange and unworkable contraption but for the servicing of British trading interests.
Following strident agitations and the increasing enforcement of the right to self determination as enshrined in the United Nations charter, Nigeria gained independence in 1960 but the subjects within the Nigerian space who had no hitherto cultural, geographic or linguistic links faced their own colonialism within the “geographical expression known as Nigeria” for the many tribes and cultures within Nigeria where just as alien to each other as the British were to them. The manifest injustice of colonialism led to the adoption of the right to self determination in the United Nations Atlantic Charter in 1941 and further consolidated in 1945. It established the right under international law for all indigenous peoples to seek independence through democratic means.
The Nigerian crisis and pogrom/genocide of 1966/67 established beyond all reasonable doubts the incompatibility of Nigeria and opened the opportunity for the application of international law to peacefully determine the status of Biafra through a plebiscite or referendum administered by the United Nations. Nigeria being a nation of alien tribes, Biafra reserved the same right of independence with which Nigeria won independence from Britain on the basis of colonialism. But Yakubu Gowon refused to allow a referendum in line with the dictates of international law as established in the United Nations charter which would have resolved the impasse through a legitimate democratic method that respects the inalienable rights of indigenous peoples to self determination and freedom from internal or external colonialism.
To the extent that the people of Biafra were never allowed to freely and democratically express their choice and right to self determination through a plebiscite, Yakubu Gowon’s war against Biafra and consequent coercive subjugation of the people to the governing authorities of Nigeria was and remains for all practical purposes an act of colonialism.
The Conduct And Aftermath Of War Reveals The Lie Of War Of Unity
7th of July 1967, the Nigerian army attacked Biafra and began the onslaught on an aggrieved and beleaguered people who had in exercising their legitimate and natural right to self defence/preservation opted for self determination in the aftermath of the genocide against innocent Eastern civilians while the head of state refused to act. In prosecuting the war Yakubu Gowon proved his complicity in the genocide by fielding the likes of Murtala Muhammed, Shehu Yar’Adua, Theophilus Danjuma, Mohammed Shuwa and others who ironically are the same cowardly officers who perpetrated the genocide against civilians that created the crisis in the first place. These officers were not just mass murderers they were also rapists who serially committed crimes against humanity in the course of the conflict.
To decipher the true motive for the conflict, certain fundamental questions must be asked; If Yakubu Gowon was genuine about Nigerian unity as the true reason for his war why the North was originally intent on secession until the British authorities advised them not to because of economic interests / crude oil? Why did Gowon as head of state abdicate his constitutional responsibility and stood by when thousands of innocent Eastern civilians were being massacred? Why was Gowon so unwilling to make any sacrifices for the interest of peace and why did he renege on an accord he agreed in Aburi? Why did it take him so long from January to May to issue a decree on the diluted version of Aburi accord? Why was the Nigerian army so invested in massacres, rape and arson as they did in Benin, Asaba, the apostolic church Onitsha and practically all theatres of the war? Why were officers and men of the Nigerian army like Benjamin Adekunle and others making inflammatory statements of their intent on genocide in a supposed war of unity? Why was the notorious radio Kaduna making atrocious statements that urged rape and genocide in a supposed war of unity? Why did balkanisation of Igboland, abandoned property, divide and rule and the seeds of division instead of reconciliation become the policy of Yakubu Gowon’s government before and after the war? Why did Apartheid policies of marginalisation/exclusion become federal government policy after the war if it was genuinely a war of unity as Yakubu Gowon repeatedly lied?
In nations that went through a civil war, driven by a genuine patriotic desire for unity, the end of such conflicts is not followed by policies of balkanisation, abandoned properties, exclusion and marginalisation as has been the case in Nigeria but swift and total reconciliation, reconstruction and re-integration. Vietnam, Angola and post-genocide Rwanda are just some examples of nations that achieved total reconciliation and re-integration in the aftermath of conflict because of a genuine desire for unity.
In the case of Nigeria, the events before, during and after the war in itself provides sufficient evidence for the true intentions of the conflict as a war not borne out of patriotism and a genuine desire for Nigerian unity/ nation building but of economic interests, subjugation and colonialism. On his own part, Yakubu Gowon by not following through with the original intent of the North to secede, by his repeated bad faith, by abdicating his most fundamental constitutional responsibility to protect the lives and property of citizens thus allowing and even enabling mass killings of genocidal proportions under his watch, by reneging on an agreement he personally participated in negotiating in Aburi and by usurping a people’s inalienable right to self determination through democratic means (plebiscite or referendum) as enshrined in the United Nations charter amongst other excesses personally and deliberately caused the avoidable and unnecessary Nigeria-Biafra war and the attendant tragedies associated with the conflict just seven years after independence.
Not only did Nigeria by the events before and during the war pioneer genocide in Africa, the first images of starving children which has now become a permanent fixture of Africa also began from Nigeria. The pogrom and the war more than anything else have come to define Nigeria as a land of monumental injustice and impunity. The war itself was an illegal war and a violation of international law which established since 1945 the right of self determination in Chapter 1, Article 1, part 2 which states that the purpose of the UN Charter is: "To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace." As each successive generation discovers the truth and injustice of that needless conflict, the bitterness is sure to remain Nigeria’s deepest enduring divide.
Nigeria continues to suffer severe social, economic and psychological dislocations as a result of the needless conflict. The nation has since become a disharmonious, dysfunctional and strife torn chaotic failed state Nigeria. Courtesy of Yakubu Gowon, crude oil that was hitherto not an issue during the time of Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe is now an obsessive object of national importance and the only mainstay of the economy. Gowon took away all aspects of federalism and consolidated the unproductive parasitic unitary system together with the creation of unviable states/local governments (without plebiscites) that are dependent only on crude oil allocations at the expense of industrialisation and other productive initiatives, which has in turn encouraged corruption and led to the collapse of the economy.
As the truth of the conflict continues to emerge and as the nationwide campaign for a sovereign national conference gathers steam in a nation that has been awakened to the lie of Nigerian unity, Emeka Ojukwu has been vindicated by Nigeria’s increasing strife, failure and impossibility as a nation. Yakubu Gowon was ultimately an unprincipled, incompetent, bigoted and opportunistic leader whose failure of leadership unleashed the pogroms and unnecessary war that spilled enough blood to fill the bowels of the Niger River. He and his cabinet members who so callously plunged the nation into an atrocious bloodletting will have to live and die with their conscience haunted by the millions of lives they took on the premise of a great lie. Their successive generations will also not be spared.
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ).
*Akanu Ibiam Airport: Beginning of International ID & Socioeconomic Greatness of Ndigbo
Akanu Ibiam International Airport: Beginning Of A Journey For International Identity And Socioeconomic Greatness Of The Igbo-Nigerians
(Public Information: Onitsha Nigeria, 25th of August, 2013)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law is happy to celebrate the news of the launching of the first international flight at the upgraded Akanu Ibiam International Airport located in Enugu, Southeast Nigeria. The Boeing 737-800 Ethiopian Aircraft, marked ET-APL, was reported to have landed at the airport, at about 12.14pm on Saturday, 24th of August, 2013, with fifteen passengers on board and left at about 2.30pm same day. The aircraft has 158-passenger capacity.
Enugu is the old capital of the defunct Eastern Nigeria; one of the original three regions created by the Richards of 1946, on the basis of three major tribes in Nigeria-Hausa-Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba. The creation was done for the purposes of devolution of political powers and decentralization of socioeconomic activities on the basis of equity and fairness. Enugu (hilltop) celebrated its centenary in 2009. The Igbo Race of today is made of sedentary Igbo or home Igbo-represented by the Nri/ Igboukwu and Arochukwu Dynasties with over 1000 years of recorded existence; pastoral Igbo-represented by Agbor Dynasty with over 900 years of existence; and assimilated Igbo or lost Igbo, who collapsed into other tribes scattered in Edo, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Benue and Kogi States and a part of Southwest as well as Ivory Coast, Benin Republic, Togo, Cape Verde, Spain and Portugal.
Sadly, the Igbo Race, fondly called “African Scientists of Development”, has no single international airport and seaport for the past 100 years. Despite this age-long maltreatment, the race still engages in the development of various parts of Nigeria especially Lagos in the Southwest and Kano in the Northwest Nigeria. Also despite the innocuous intents of the race, they are labeled, mocked and hated wherever they go so as to reside and develop peacefully. In Kano, which they entered in 1840s, they transformed an area given to them to live and suffer-called Sabon Gari, yet they ended up labeled “Inyamiri” (an Igbo word meaning-give me water, but bastardized and adopted as scornful word by the Hausa-Fulani race).
Today, Sabon Gari is one of the richest, if not the richest city in Kano State and a major source of revenue for the Government of Kano State. In Port Harcourt, South-south Nigeria, the Igbo People were rewarded with “abandoned properties” maltreatment. Lately in Lagos State, they were labeled “destitute” by the Governor and Government of the State after forcefully deporting dozens of them in the hours of the blue law and during the market hours of the spirit world. The race contributes about 40 percent, if not over 40 percent to the State’s internally generated revenues.
Though, the epochal event that took place in Enugu on 24th of August, 2013 is a welcome development, but it should be seen from the prism of beginning of a long journey. What the Peter Obi leadership of the Southeast zone has succeeded in getting for the Igbo People does not go beyond securing the Federal Government’s license and certification to operate an international airport in the zone with adhoc upgrading and adjustments. Challenges abound. The next step will be “the making of Akanu Ibiam International Airport a reality”. We have demanded and still demand that the Southeast Governors Forum and other core stakeholders should get the Federal Government of Nigeria into making sure that the foreign missions in the country particularly those of Europe, North American, India, China and other Southeast Asia and the Gulf Cooperation Council open their consulate offices in Enugu for visa procession and obtainment and related issues. A demand should be made to the Government of Enugu State to provide a land space or rent facilities for the sitting or location of such consulate offices. These should be geared toward resting for finality the hurdles of traveling to Lagos to obtain visas for international travels or traveling to overseas through same route as well as bringing to an end era of age-long socioeconomic slavery in the hands of the Government of Lagos State and its southwest geopolitical zone.
Extra efforts should be made to equip the airport and make it wear the look of a modern international airport adorned with international aviation qualities. This will make it not to attract cabin coffins but internationally certified healthy aircrafts. Another important task which the Obi-led southeast socioeconomic thinkers should perform is provision and maintenance at all times of access routes to the all-important airport. To this extent, the Onitsha-Enugu and the Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Ways, which are now death-traps, should be reconstructed as a matter of uttermost immediacy. For immediate and effective utilization of the international airport, the five States of the Southeast should jointly fund the reconstruction of the two important roads and seek for refund from the Federal Government of Nigeria later.
Some of the qualities of a modern international airport that Akanu Ibiam International Airport should be adorned with for the purpose of attracting huge patronage locally and internationally, include provisions of sizeable power station, adequate departure and landing wings, underground trains, modern boarding and departure gates, vehicular lobbies, elevators, excavators and manual staircases, electronic boarding pass devices, aviation and access control electronic devices. Others are hygienic and modern restrooms, stretchers and wheelchairs for physically challenged, modern airport clinics, financial houses and shopping malls and sales stores. The service of internationally rated airport maintenance firm should be secured for the round-the-clock maintenance of the airport.
The grand importance of these is need for effective policing including physical, mental and electronic securitization devices, personnel and management. All the routes to the airport and around its premises should be wired. The idea of flooding the said routes and surroundings with armed security personnel should be lowered drastically. This is because it will constitute nuisance and further insecurity, thereby scaring away home and foreign passengers and diminish the potentials of huge resources mobilization needed for further development of the Southeast zone. Instead, intelligence and electronic security should be massively deployed.
Other than the foregoing, there is an urgent need to decongest and decentralize Lagos wharfs. In view of this, conveying container goods to Port Harcourt wharfs, which are more friendly and convenient for traders of the Southeast and the South-south zones, should be encouraged and intensified. There should also be proper dredging of the River Nigeria and construction of medium size wharf in Onitsha. For easy conveyance of goods and services to Onitsha, Nnewi and Enugu, a connecting bridge should be built between the Ogwuikpere- Ogbaru part of Anambra State and the Ndoni part of River State, which, when built, will shorten the distance between Port Harcourt in River State and Onitsha in Anambra State to about one and a half hours. In addition to existing industrial layouts in the Southeast zone, there shall be established new ones to be decentralized and sited in Anambra, Imo, Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi States and they should be provided with modern industrial incentives such as roads, power station, human, physical and policy security as well as tax concessions.
As for the absence of the Governor of Imo State at the historic event, it is shocking. The collective development of the long marginalized Southeast zone ought not to be premised on political party politics. It ought to transcend beyond political party line. Engaging in politics of vendetta or parochial party politics is totally condemnable. This has for years, undermined our collective development as a geopolitical zone.
On the same premise, those who blamed Senator Chris Ngige for not sponsoring a single bill at the Senate since 2011 on the ground of legislative incompetence may be wrong. But blaming it on politics of vendetta and parochial party politicking may not be contestable. Educational capability is not lacking in the Senator. He is more qualified educationally than some Senators from the Southeast zone. But for perceived politics of vendetta and parochial party politicking, he would have sponsored at least ten bills.
By distancing himself and his government from such historic event in Enugu, the Okorocha government and his new party, APC, are losing a rare opportunity available to them to proof critics in many quarters especially in the Southeast zone wrong, to the effect that the All Progressives Congress-APC, largely drawn from the Hausa-Fulani’s CPC and the Yoruba’s CAN, will visit Igbo Race with “Boko-Haram” and “dead night deportation policies”, voted into power at the State or federal levels, either by live or dead votes.
Finally, the efforts of the Southeast Governors Forum led by Governor Peter Obi, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela, Senator Pius Anyim, Ministers Emeka Worgu, Stella Odua, Onyebuchi Madubuike, Senator Ike Ekweremmadu, etc are commended. President Goodluck Jonathan also deserves commendation in this regard. We wish to remind the President that the peoples of the Southeast and the South-south zones are still waiting for the takeoff of the Second Niger Bridge project.
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
Photo Above: Section of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria.
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
*How INEC Failed In Its Statutory Duties On Voters’ Registration Exercise In Anambra
Continuous Voters’ Registration Exercise In Anambra State: How INEC Failed In Its Statutory Duties
(Public Information, Onitsha Nigeria, 24th of August, 2013)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law is deeply concerned about the failure of the INEC-ordered Continuous Voters Registration –CVRs exercise and related issues in Anambra State of Nigeria. The exercise is in preparation for the all-important governorship election in the State slated for 16th day of November, 2013. We had on 15th of August, 2013, raised several issues considered as fundamental determinants of the crucial poll. The issues so raised border on technical and legal bottlenecks needed to be judiciously and simply resolved for the credibility of the poll to be entrenched. On 21st of August, 2013, we spoke out again over the non-resolution of the problems complained of in relation to the ongoing exercise billed to end tomorrow, 25th of August, 2013. Our advocacy campaigns for hitch-free continuous voters registration and revalidation exercise are in line with our Democracy & Good Governance Program grounded in our vision. They are also in accordance with the global democracy best practices anchored on the doctrine of the Universal Adult Suffrage.
Elections stand rigged or brutally corrupted once the register of voters and its processes is tainted and corrupted. The attitude of contemporary CSOs as in monitoring elections only on elections’ day is a major setback to the growth of our democracy especially in Nigeria. Effective poll monitoring starts from this critical period and not on poll’s day. Anything short of this is politically sponsored and procured or a smokescreen approach tended to retire the European and North American generated hard currency accounts with zero public impact.
The issue of the status and credibility of the voters’ register and voting rights is so important that in the United States of America it has continued to dominate her national discourse to the extent that two of the most important issues placed in the country’s apex court for seminal determination are the twin issue of voting rights and immigration. The important issue of Electoral College in the country’s electoral code and culture is predicated on voters’ register, voting rights and voting constituency. The Barak Obama’s path to US presidency is also founded on his successful advocacy and pro bono campaigns for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised black voters, who were disenfranchised on technical and legal grounds.
In Anambra State of Nigeria, INEC’s technicalities predicated on policy confusion as well as high level of unpreparedness have robbed tens of thousands of voting Anambra residents of their justiciable voting rights. INEC’s power to “register voters, compile, maintain, revise and update the voters’ register” “on continuous basis” is not in contention. Rather, what is highly in contention is its ability and competence to do such statutorily assigned duties. The Commission’s public relation management in the State is very abysmal. For instance, members of the Anambra public do not know, till date, how, where and when the Commission conducts its public interest business including “continuous voters’ registration and revalidation exercise”, ordered by Sections 9(1) and 10(1) of the Nigeria’s Electoral Act of 2010. The recent disqualification of Mr. Oseloka Obaze by his political party, from contesting the all-important Anambra governorship poll, on the ground of not having a voter’s card is a clear case in point. The said order of Sections 9(1) and 10(1) is unambiguously meant to capture the likes of Mr. Oseloka Obaze, who might have been outside the country when the parent exercise took place in 2010/2011; but for INEC’s abdication of the public-important duty, which the law ordered it to do on “continuous basis” or non-stop until 60 days to any poll date.
Until few weeks ago, Anambra INEC did not make available for Anambra public the verifiable numbers of polling centers and registered voters in the State. It was also difficult for us at Intersociety to get hold of any for us to verify, simplify and publicize same for the consumption and benefit of Anambra public. What we found online are distorted versions. The Commission’s contact addresses in Anambra State including its physical address, telephone numbers, emails and website cannot be accessed online. This is not to talk of other basic information of Anambra public importance. Till date, the numbers of polling centers and registered voters in the State, which it belatedly gave as “1,711, 061 and 4,608”, respectively have remained independently unverifiable. It is also not independently ascertained whether some polling centers said to be existing in shrines and forests, which INEC says it is verifying, are part of the 4, 608 existing polling centers in Anambra State. In the area of the registered voters, the Anambra State INEC’s REC said that the final figure of 1, 711, 061 came down from initial figure of 2, 011, 746 as a result of subjection of the latter to “Register Optimization Process”, after passing through “data consolidation” using “ Automatic Fingerprints Identification System-AFIS”.
This simply means that a total of 300, 685 names were altered by the Commission from the Anambra list of voters. Yet the status of the 93, 000 double registrants alleged by the Commission to be in the State’s voters’ register as well as other possible double registrants cannot be independently ascertained. Granted that INEC is empowered by Section 9(6) of the Electoral Act of 2010 to designate centers for the purpose of “continuous registration of unregistered voters”, but such centers are not known to most Anambra voting residents as well as leading members of the Civil Society Organizations in the State. The Commission, as a matter of law and policy, ought to name the names and locations of such centers throughout the State and put proximity factor into consideration. It should have also lowered stringent conditions it attached with respect to those lost their voters’ cards to floods or other intervening conditions as well as those who relocated from their previous electoral units or wards.
It may be correct to say that less than 30 percent of the target voting age in Anambra State will be captured in the ending Continuous Voters’ Registration Exercise . The challenges being faced by those wanting to be registered and those that lost their voters’ cards are technically and INEC-oriented. Apart from difficulties in locating the so called “ward registration centers”, said to be located in the wards’ vote collection centers; the distance to be covered by many of the target citizens between their residences and the designated registration centers is found to be very far.
The stringent conditions imposed by the Commission on those that lost their voters’ cards and those that relocated from their previous residencies are another inhibiting factor. They are expected to fill certain forms, get police extracts or court affidavits and come back in 30 days time for reply. In Ogbaru LGA, for instance, the ward registration center for 18 polling centers of Iyiowa and Odekpe areas is located outskirts of the city-Odekpe Central Primary School, which is about 5 kilometers away from the area’s city. It will take an average resident of Acha Street in Iyiowa Layout between N500, 00 and N300.00 to transport him or her to the ward registration center thro and fro. As at noon of 24th of August, 2013, only five persons were registered.
When we went round some registration centers on Friday, 23rd of August, 2013, in company of the State reporters of the Channel and ABS Televisions, the difficulties were barefaced in the areas visited. Many, if not most of the few prospective registrants found on the scene were ferried to same by some politicians for a fee. In other words, politicians appeared to have hijacked the exercise. At Fegge Ward 3, located at Amichi Town, politicians were sighted trying to get their procured prospective voters registered.
A female student of one of the private Catering Schools in Awka told us off camera that their director had three months ago brought some INEC staffs to their school where they were registered for a fee, possibly under the influence of some politicians. According to her, her purpose of coming to the ward was to register again because she did not know if her registration at her school was authentic since she had not been issued with duplicate copy of voter’s card which must bear the date of issuance. At the Onitsha North Ward 9, located at the Eastern Academy, 12 suspected Obosi militant youths stormed the scene at about 11: am to 11:30am and snatched the Commission’s registration materials. They alleged that “Onitsha exercise is being carried out in Obosi territory”. The ward is the registration center for 12 polling centers.
Further instances of INEC’ incompetence and administrative lapses are too numerous. The other day, the Commission shamelessly informed the public on the basis of speculation and administrative confusion that 53 polling centers were missing in the Anambra Voters’ Register. They included 34 in Awka South LGA, one in Ayamelum LGA, two in Anambra East LGA, two in Ihiala LGA, one in Idemmili North LGA, four in Nnewi South LGA and five in NNewi North LGA. The Commission speculated that “it is either that the INEC staff that handled the registration deliberately deleted the names or that the computer system had a virus”. Either of the two reasons amounts to gross administrative incompetence. It is shocking that the Commission did not deem it fit to secure its data with effective anti-virus or back-up devices, which are available and affordable in open markets. The Commission also never cared to investigate same to know what actually caused it; whether human or computer errors.
By Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act of 2010, INEC is ordered to conduct the CVRs exercise for Anambra governorship poll within the minimum of five days or maximum of fourteen days. Though the said provision is in respect of “display for public scrutiny of the voters’ register for Local Government and Wards”, but since it is accompanied by “Contentious Voters’ Registration”, our demand is both popularly and legally grounded. This is also strengthened by Section 9(5) of the Act, which states that the registration of voters, updating and revision of the register of voters under this section shall stop not later than 60 days before any election covered by this Act.
In view of the foregoing, therefore, the ending exercise has failed woefully to capture as many eligible voters as ordered by the Constitution and the Electoral Act. The possibility of popular participation in the voting is hereby grounded to zero. The credibility of the entire voters’ register is also seriously under threat. The remedy available to the Commission in this circumstance is for it to restructure its failed arrangements and extend the important exercise to seven more days, in line with Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act of 2010. Part of the re-arrangements will be to return to all the polling units or designate at least three centers per ward for sake of proximity, convenience and mass participation. There is no provision in the Electoral Act that says that CVRs must be in the LGA’s ward voting collection centers.
The stringencies above complained, should be lowered. Anything short of the forgoing means that the technical rigging of the poll has started. It is also important to urge the INEC to depart from technicalities or use of technical jargons while implementing its policies or dealing with the public. Demographic policies and laws are designed not only for professors but importantly for the downtrodden such as vulcanizers, wheel barrow pushers, Okada riders, petty traders and rural dwellers.
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
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