By Emmanuel Onwubiko
Nigeria has returned to a familiar turf as a society in very deep distress thereby necessitating good Christians and Muslims to embark on wide ranging prayers and atonement sessions to solicit divine intervention.
Only yesterday, the Catholic Church around the country continued with the recitations of the Unique prayer for Nigeria in distress composed by the Nigerian Catholic Bishops Conference during the regime of the military dictator- Late General Sani Abacha.
In Maiduguri, Borno State, report has it that in over 90 mosques, the adherent of the Islamic religion last Friday interceded for the quick recovery and return to work of the Nigerian President who was only recently described by a foreign press as the “missing president”.
Buhari originally travelled to London for a ten days medical vacation but ten days has turned into a full blown Month with no known exact information on when he would be back to the Country.
But the defining moments that reminds us all that Nigeria is in very spectacular distress is the weekend’s illegal arrest, detention and belated release of the young Nigerian entrepreneur Mr. Audu Maikori by the police for alleged incitement following a social media posting he did on the Southern Kaduna Massacres by the armed Fulani thugs.
Mr. Maikori, a lawyer by training and a leading light in the Nigerian Music scenes, was arrested in Lagos around noon Friday by a team of policemen attached to inspector-general monitoring and intelligence team and was immediately transferred to the Force Headquarters in Abuja.
Mr. Mark Jacobs, the Legal Counsel to Maikori said the arrest was in connection with a series of tweets posted by Mr. Maikori about four weeks ago in which he alleged the killing of some Southern Kaduna residents by Fulani herdsmen.
But details of the tweets, which Mr. Maikori said were obtained from his driver, turned out to be false.
Mr. Maikori later retracted and apologized for the false information. A magistrate in Kaduna issued a warrant for his arrest, his lawyer said. But it’s a notorious fact that Mr. Audu Maikori was humiliated by the police on the illegal instruction of the Kaduna state governor only because he is a Christian from Southern Kaduna and because he has consistently condemned the atrocious mass murders of his people by armed Fulani terrorists.
The arrest of this young Nigerian business executive born by Southern Kaduna parents was sequel to earlier threats by the Kaduna State governor that he will order the detention of anyone spreading information about the killings in Southern Kaduna State. It is a well-known fact in a lot of circle that Nassir El Ruffai is an unrepentant ethno-Islamic bigot. He was once quoted to have tweeted a hate message stating that for every Fulani man killed the Fulani will not forgive but will decimate many from the community whereby this killing takes place. El Ruffai is not known to have dissociated himself from this apparent hate message on his tweeter handle. He was quoted in the media to have admitted paying off the Fulani killer squads so they end the Kaduna genocide but when voices of reason condemned him for this clear illegality he then spoke from both sides of his mouth deploying fallacy and illogicality to try to weave the wool of confusions in the eye of the reading public.
The disgusting aspect of all of these shenanigans emanating from the person of the governor of Kaduna State is that during the immediate past administration of president Goodluck Jonathan, the then former FCT minister Mallam Nassir El Ruffai who lost out completely in the power equation became so hostile that he was busy churning out hate messages directed at the person and office of the then President Goodluck Jonathan.
Ironically, the then President tolerated his hate speeches and did not attempt to use his overwhelming Presidential powers to unleash armed police on him and his likes.
But since he accidentally became the governor of Kaduna State in the last two years, the diminutive politician of Fulani extraction has caused the arrests and detention by the police of political opponents for making use of the social media to express their lawful opinion. He even caused the invitation of a very prominent Christian leader Apostle Johnson Suleiman by the Laeal Musa Daura led Department of State Services only because he preached the most commonsensical lesson of self defence to ward off the invading Fulani terrorists.
For instance, in the last couple of years, Mr. Nassir El Ruffai has wielded a non-existent tyrannical authority over the law enforcement agencies and has unleashed the full venoms of the Nigeria Police Force to intimidate and physically torture such dissenting voices like Dr. John Dan Fulani and the Vanguard Journalist Mr. Luka Biniyat. The University don Dr. John Danfulani from Southern Kaduna was detained because he posted a comment on his Facebook page criticising Mr. ElRuffai. Luka Biniyat was arrested and detained for reporting the Southern Kaduna genocide.
The Kaduna State governor has also been reported to have been publicly stoned by irate youth in Southern Kaduna who sees him as both a religious bigot and an Islamic fundamentalist who uses religious sentiments to divide -and -rule over the people of Kaduna State.
The Kaduna State administration under Mr. El Ruffai has also waged internecine political battles with the reputable human rights activist and the Senator representing Kaduna Central Comrade Shehu Sani who incidentally is of same political family with the antagonistic governor. ElRuffai the other time went after the Islamic minority of Shiites Islamic Movement even after hundreds of their followers were mauled down by soldiers in Zaria two years ago. El Ruffai banned the Shiites Islamic Movement in an unprecedented show of lawlessness. The public but illegal ban created animosity between the dominant Sunni Islamic sect and the minority Shiites resulting in the violent confrontation leading to the destruction of the housing assets of the Islamic minority of Shiites Islamic Movement and the death of undetermined number of persons.
The question is why Mr. El Ruffai who became the infant terrible during the last administration by deploying crude and hate language to attack the then Peoples Democratic Party’s produced Southern Nigerian-born President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is now deploying public resources wrongly to intimidate and harass independent voices? Why is the Kaduna state governor using public fund to harass members of the public who don’t share his religious or political views? Why is El Ruffai manipulating the police and the DSS to harass and intimidate his perceived opponents and Christian leaders? Is he assuming the personality of a dictator in a country that practices democracy?
The United States Senator John Mccain has only yesterday stated that “open hatred for press freedom is the first stage towards dictatorship.” El Ruffai’s hatred for media freedoms and pluralism is dangerous and is a worrying signal. His seamless ability to teleguide the hierarchies of the security forces to do his bidding is much more worrying.
So what is manifesting in Kaduna and the whipping up of ethno- religious sentiments as a tool of the state governor to go after perceived political opponents is nothing short of dictatorship.
So why is the governor displaying so much hatred towards the people of Southern Kaduna? Is it because the people voted massively for the People’s Democratic Party or because the people are mostly Christians?
This salient question has become necessary given the ugly fact playing out in Southern Kaduna particularly with the seemingly unending genocide carried out against the People by Fulani armed hoodlums.
Another pertinent question is why the Kaduna State helmsman is afraid of persons who are exercising their Constitutional rights to freedoms of expression, the press and association.
The decision of the police to go after Mr. Audu Maikori only because the police headed by the Niger State born Inspector General of Police Mr. Ibrahim Kpotum Idris who got favorable and indeed extralegal promotion by the All Progressives Congress-led Presidency, was asked to do so by the Kaduna State governor is unprofessional and shameful.
Again, the roadside detention order cited by the Police for detaining the Lagos based entrepreneur Mr. Audu Maikori after been rushed to the Police Force headquarters in Abuja is dubious because the magistracy of Kaduna metropolis does not extend to Lagos.
Why would a local magistrate authorize the arrest of a Nigerian who resides far away from the jurisdiction of that court system? This is totally unconstitutional and this tells the whole story of political witch-hunt only because Mr. Audu Maikori is a Christian of Southern Kaduna origin.
By the way, as I write, there are reports of pockets of armed attacks of some Southern Kaduna Communities and from every indication, the Nigeria police is not ready to put an end to the genocide going on in Southern Kaduna being executed by armed Fulani gangs.
What is going on in Kaduna State can be summed up in the following words: “Totalitarian power stood for the destruction of Civil Society. It tolerated no differences, worshipped violence, encouraged cynicism and practical lawlessness,” (The Life and death of democracy by John Keane; First American edition, 2009).
There is indeed no lawfully justifiable reason for the arrest and detention of Mr. Audu Maikori because there is totally no empirical evidence to ascertain the veracity of the claims of both the police and Governor El Ruffai that his Social media comments on the ongoing Southern Kaduna killings by armed Fulani herdsmen amounted to public incitement.
The police hierarchy should even cover her face in shame going by the fact that they failed to carry out the primary duty of enforcement of the law by preventing the mass killings going on now.
The current Kaduna State governor should take some time to read the classical book by Michael O’shaughnessy and Jane Stadler to appreciate the universal fact that: “Clearly, the media play an important role in the process of representing and communicating Political Policies, Issues and so forth. But in practice there are limits to democracy”.
From the aforementioned we also learnt that: “In most democracies there are only two or thress significant powerful parties, so your voting values is limited to the policies and values they are willing to promote. Because of the need to appeal to the majority of voters, the views of the main parties will invariably be relatively conservative, mainstream positions that are often rendered even more general by the media’s attempts to cater to the largest possible audience” (Media & Society, Fourth edition; by Micheal O’shaughenessy & Jane Stadler, 2008).
In the layman’s language the media is the fourth estate of the realm. So the earlier the Kaduna State governor accepts the valid Constitutional fact that he can’t possibly destroy media freedom in Nigeria, the better for Constitutional democracy.
My take in all of these scenarios is that the police Inspector General runs the risk of destroying the institutional attributes that still keeps us together as a United Country if he continues to dance to the whims and caprices of politicians of especially the party that produced the president.
The National Assembly should wake-up and restructure the police through constitutional amendments. This deeply partisan Inspector General of Police will destroy Nigeria’s plural democracy in his attempts to please his political master by muzzling free press and dissenting voices. Nigerians must speak out now or forever remain silent and fall into the trap of eternal servitude. God forbid!
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs @ firstname.lastname@example.org; www.emmanuelonwubiko.com