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Parade Of Suspects Makes US Primitive



NSA And Nigeria's Security Missteps


Emmanuel Onwubiko

Anyone watching the methodology of policing in Nigeria even in this twenty-first  century, especially if the observer stays in one of the advanced modern democracies, one thing that will automatically flash through the sub- conscious of such an unbiased observer is the level of primitive policing culture in display even in the popular media of mass communication.

This is because, substantial percentage of the crime news shown on major televisions and  carried by mainstream print and online media, are about certain suspects or suspect caught reportedly in one crime or another being paraded  and interviewed.

I must say that this idea or practice of reporting the parade by especially the Nigeria police of suspects and then expecting journalists to direct a variety of incriminating questions at such a publicly disgraced crime suspect, forced me out of the police or crime beat in my active journalism days.

As a trained journalist who is also a human  rights practitioner even as an active reporter with a major mainstream national daily, I had to contend with my conscience about the rightness of joining the mob of reporters to harass poorly treated crime suspects by pouring out so many crafty questions, all in an effort to persuade them to agree to the alleged criminal conducts so I could file my hot sellable stories for my media house.

And for commissioners and the inspector general of police, parading suspects and scoring media mileage is regarded as some of the finest achievements of their careers. A certain assistant commissioner of police from Borno State has become like a folk hero for deeply practising media trials of crime suspects to such an absurd level that he is portrayed as a police hero. Short and simple, that style of carrying out extra-legal trials of suspects and even celebrating extrajudicial executions of crime suspects associated with this serving assistant commissioner of police is so primitive that I doubt if he can go so far as he has done in our lawless nation if he was to join the Metropolitan police of London in the United Kingdom.

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In the UK, some crime suspects’ identities are lawfully shielded from members of the public just so that justice is done and seems to have been done. Not so in Nigeria. Few weeks back this same assistant commissioner of police was seen showcasing fresh corpses of accused persons his squad reportedly slaughtered in Owerri. He was hailed by the federal authority as an achiever for committing extra-legal killings of crime suspects.  Then where is the difference between the crowds of unruly persons who lynch crime suspects to death publicly immediately they are accused of theft? Suspects In Nigeria go through psychological,  emotional,  physical tortures and trauma at the hands of the police to make them own up to the crimes ascribed to them. The other day it was one Chidinma in Lagos accused of killing her married male lover.

She was paraded in the media and she was made to say how the man was gruesomely murdered. This is not how normal society works. Besides, section 36(5) of the Nigerian Constitution is on the presumption of innocence of crime suspects. This norm that ought to be solemn in our grundnorm is bastardised by the law enforcement officials who frequently parade persons accused of all manner of crimes even before the police concludes the investigation.

This weltanschauung if you like, is exactly what makes the society we are in to appear like we live in the primitive era or to borrow from one of the fathers of philosophy-Plato, the practice of parading suspects who have yet to be pronounced guilty by the court of law, before the media, makes Nigeria look like a group of people living right inside a cave.

The elementary excursus or exposition of the Platonic man in the cave, is about someone who is cut off from reality and who lives in an island thereby rendering the person both primitive and unintelligent because in a cave nothing informative and knowledge takes place because of the fact of the absolute darkness that envelopes it.

Why then is government tolerant of a policing methodology that directly offends the principles of rule of law? Is government in existence to promote lynch mob justice?

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Why are the media houses not setting positive and constructive agenda and refusing to play the dirty game with the police who are abusing constitutional norms?

Can we say that the commercial interests made from putting sensational confessions made out of duress by crime suspects in Nigeria are the underlying reason for the persistent connivance of the media with the police?

Be that as it may, the action of the Lagos State house of Assembly in defending constitutional rights by outlawing media public parade of suspects is a welcome idea. It is hoped that other houses of assembly will follow the example already set by the Lagos legislature so we restore the dignity of the Nigerian.

Before we delve into the legal citations on the idiocy of the public parade of crime suspects, let us consider for instance, the global image fiasco that the constant media trials by law enforcement authorities attracts to Nigeria.

Take the case of advanced fee fraud and the methodology and crude operational mode of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in terms of the frequent media parade of hundreds of young Nigerians allegedly caught in conflict with the law. Can we ask the EFCC why it thinks it is a good way of showing that it is effective by displaying young Nigerians over allegations of advanced fee frauds whereas the United States of America whereby the highest drugs- associated crimes occur, you don’t get to see their policing institutions show to the world that American youths are into drugs- induced violent crimes?

In Chicago, the rate of youths’ involvement in different crimes of violence is about the highest globally.

But how many times do we see these crimes shown on Cable News Network or any of their popular media of mass communications?

The United States of America is governed by law and not by brute force and so the rights of their citizens are safeguarded. Similarly,  in much of the developed societies, the law is supreme and nobody is made a criminal even before the competent courts of law say so. That method is only applicable in societies that recognise adversarial forms of law enforcement whereby suspects are deemed guilty until they are deemed innocent by the courts of law. Such cave societies like Iran or Saudi Arabia practice this. But with the Nigerian Constitution specifying the rights of citizens,  every accused person is deemed innocent in the eyes of the law until proven guilty by the court of law and not courts of public opinion. Police ought to be more circumspect and professionally diligent in gathering evidence that will convince the courts to return a determination that is commensurate with such a body of evidence.

We will now read what Al Jazeera wrote about rising crimes in U.S.A and then we will wonder how on earth we have a bunch of people we are paying as policeman whose only interest is to defecate on the constitution by embarking on mob justice.

A story anchored by Crede Newton reports that fears of a bloody summer have become a focal point of New York City’s mayoral race as residents go to the polls in primaries to choose Democratic and Republican candidates amid rising violent crime across the US.

Homicides and other violent crimes that shot up in 2020 are continuing their national rise, and President Joe Biden will speak on Wednesday about what he “is going to do to help address” rising crime, especially gun violence, “as we’ve seen around the country it is a concern of many Americans”, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.

Gun crime has seen a sharp rise in major metropolitan areas, and especially in the nation’s largest city, New York. Shooting incidents rose 73 percent in May 2021 over the previous year, as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes and New York begins to reopen, according to New York Police Department numbers cited by CNN.

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This is weighing on voters minds, according to an NY1/Ipsos poll released June 7 (PDF). The poll found that 46 percent of voters view crime as their primary concern, outpacing affordable housing at 45 percent and COVID-19 at 32 percent.

Democrat Eric Adams, a former New York Police Department captain and president of the Brooklyn borough, has argued he is best-suited to address rising crime rates, and voters appear to be listening.

An Ipsos poll released June 21 found surveyed likely voters viewed Adams as the best candidate to handle the crime increases.
The poll also suggested Adams was leading the pack of 11 Democratic candidates with 28 percent support.

Though far short of the 50 percent threshold needed to win outright, Adams is still well-positioned under New York City’s new ranked voting system, which allows New Yorkers to choose candidates based on preferences, then knocks out the lowest-ranking candidates in several rounds until a winner is selected.

Adams has argued against calls to “defund the police” that gained traction after former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd, saying it was a slogan adopted by affluent white people.

Those who support defunding have called for those funds to be diverted to other social service programmes that focus on crime prevention through bettering people’s living conditions. Black communities do not agree with the approach. Adams, who is Black, has claimed, saying more police are needed.

When popular progressive New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Maya Wiley, who has called to slash the NYPD’s budget by $1bn, Adams released a statement criticising the two for their calls to defund police.

“They are putting slogans and politics in front of public safety and would endanger the lives of New Yorkers”, he said.

But Ernesto Lopez, a research specialist for the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ), told Al Jazeera that while “decreased budgets could diminish police capacity to proactively reduce crime” and “some research suggests that the ‘defunding’ aspect can reduce police officer motivation, thereby limiting more proactive policing”, he is “less confident in that this is driving the increase [in violence]”.

The National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has agreed with Adams’ sentiment and said cities “turned the keys over to the ‘Defund the Police‘ mob”, in an apparent reference to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that arose across the US after Floyd’s death.

FOP tweeted an image on May 25 showing “skyrocketing murder rates” in many major cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon which saw a staggering 800 percent increase in murder rates as of May 2021, FOP claimed.
Minneapolis and Portland were at the forefront of police defunding, but their police budgets were cut by 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Portland’s homicide rate increase is staggering, but the total number of homicides was 10 in May 2021, increasing from two in May 2020, according to city data.This is about a 500 percent jump, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Los Angeles and Chicago cut their budgets to a similar degree, by about 5 percent in LA and 3 percent in Chicago. These numbers came far short of what activists wanted.

Chicago has seen increases in violent crime. Its deadliest day of 2021 was June 15, with eight killed in shootings, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

But crime rates are rising across the US, regardless of whether police budgets decreased, remain steady or increased. There is little evidence to suggest that defunding police departments has increased crime.

Houston and Nashville, two cities run by Democratic mayors, increased their funding for police during the past year. Houston has seen homicides rise by 35 percent and Nashville’s homicides in January and February double over the same period in 2020, according to local media.

Criminologists and other experts warned that increases in crime are caused by myriad factors. Some are structural and have been a part of society for generations. The effects of COVID-19 cannot be ignored, either.

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CJC research specialist Lopez said it “is also worth noting that homicides were approximately 20 percent higher the first quarter of 2020, before the death of George Floyd.”

While some have criticised the “defund the police” model of investing in community-based violence prevention programmes, the Safe Streets programme in Baltimore shows promise.

The Safe Streets programme describes itself as an “evidence-based, public health program to reduce gun violence among youth”. The programme in McElderry Park and Belair-Edison, two historically dangerous neighbourhoods of East Baltimore, is overseen by Living Classrooms.

“Safe Streets employs Outreach Workers to go into the community and mediate disputes before they escalate to violence while simultaneously recruiting troubled or adjudicated youth to be a part of the program,” their website stated.

The programme conducted 661 mediations in 2020 and only four of the 335 homicides in Baltimore that year occurred in the two neighbourhoods, according to its website.

Calls for community responses to crime came as public trust in law enforcement plummeted. Last June, 45 percent of people wanted to “preserve law and order” versus 44 percent who favoured the “right to protest”, an Ipsos poll found.

However, this sentiment has shifted, according to an Ipsos poll from March, where 31 percent of respondents favoured the right to protest and 45 percent wanted to preserve law and order.

Police have long faced criticism in the US. Tensions between police and activists have been consistently tense since 2014, when Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, was fatally shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

The public outcry and protests help launch the BLM movement. Killings have continued, and so have the protests. Trust in law enforcement plummeted in the middle of last year, when the US saw consistent protests against racism and police brutality.

Rather than viewing BLM as a factor in crime increases, it should perhaps be seen as “a reflection of current social conditions”, Lopez said.

“There is a solid body of research that supports as police legitimacy, and even general government legitimacy, goes down, crime can go up”, he continued.

“As legitimacy decreases people simply just comply less with the law”, and “there tends to be less cooperation with police. This impedes the ability of police to investigate crime and apprehend suspects.”

Aside the aforementioned detailed reports of high crime rates in USA, a number of international body if human rights laws speak to the issue of the presumption of innocence of crime suspects.

In a number of international and regional human rights treaties, it is expressed in Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights, Article 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Article 11 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Equality before the law relates to the equal treatment of persons in the application and enforcement of the law. It applies to all public officials, including judges, prosecutors, and policing officials, and requires that they treat all persons equally.

Equality of treatment, however, does not mean identical treatment for all persons. Instead, it means that persons in a like position should be treated in the same way. The right to equality before the law is also related to the right to freedom from discrimination under Article 55.

The document on some of these Human rights also told us that a related but different concept to equality before the law is the right to equal protection of the law, a right which is also contained in Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Article 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

Equal protection of the law relates to lawmaking and requires that all persons be treated equally in domestic laws.

These law scholars say the presumption of innocence is contained in international and regional instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 11), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 14[2]), the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (Article XXVI), the American Convention on Human Rights (Article 8[2]), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Article 7[b]), and the Arab Charter on Human Rights (Article 16).

It is also found in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Rule 84[2]) says that guilt cannot be presumed before the prosecution proves a charge beyond reasonable doubt, and this principle applies until the judgment is made final as defined in Article 266 of the MCCP.

They wrote also that there are a number of ways in which the presumption of innocence can be protected. First, according to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the presumption is breached where public officials prejudge the outcome of a trial Public officials include judges, prosecutors, the police, and government officials, all of whom must avoid making public statements of the guilt of an individual prior to a conviction or after an acquittal. It is permissible, however, for the authorities to inform the public of the name of a suspect and that the person has been arrested or has made a confession, as long as the person is not publicly declared guilty (see the European Court of Human Rights case of Worm v. Austria, application no. 83/1996/702/894 [August 29, 1997], paragraph 52).

Reading through the above researched material prepared by international law scholars,  you then wonder why in Nigeria that even the Federal Attorney General and minister of Justice Abubakar Malami is seen on television passing guilty verdict on Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra even before the Court has finished the hearing instituted by his office? Thankfully,  some civilised people are still in government somewhere in Lagos State.

The Lagos State House of Assembly, recently passed an amended version of the Criminal Justice Law of the state barring the police from parading crime suspects before the media.

According to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, Eromosele Ebhomele, the bill was passed at a sitting presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Wasiu Eshilokun-Sanni, on behalf of the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa.

Section 9(A) of the newly passed bill states, “As from the commencement of this law, the police shall refrain from parading any suspect before the media.”

The bill further stated that the conditions under which a policeman could arrest without a warrant was when a person was reasonably and unlawfully in possession of firearms or other weapons.

A subsection of the bill also barred the police or any other agency from arresting a person “in lieu of any other person in a criminal matter.”

According to the bill, a person who is arrested “shall be given reasonable facilities for obtaining legal advice, bail or making arrangements for defence or release.”

The bill stipulates that a suspect should be “accorded humane treatment, with the right to dignity of person; not be subjected to any form of torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment; be brought before the court as prescribed by this law or any other written law; or be released conditionally or unconditionally.”

After a voice vote, Eshilokun-Sanni directed the acting Clerk of the House, Mr Olalekan Onafeko, to transmit the bill to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for assent.

Already, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has commended the members of the Lagos State House of Assembly for making a law that prevents the police from parading criminal suspects before journalists.

This commendation followed the amendment of the Criminal Justice Law of Lagos which also states that policemen are only allowed to arrest a suspect without warrant when such has been said to be unlawfully in possession of dangerous weapons.

Falana praised the Lagos lawmakers in a statement he signed as the Interim Chair of Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), dated 6th July, 2021.

In the statement titled, ‘Kudos to Lagos State House of Assembly for outlawing Parade of Criminal Suspects’, the senior lawyer said, “The practice of parading suspects is illegal as it constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental right of criminal suspects to presumption of innocence guaranteed by section 36 of the Constitution and article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”

The statement from the erudite Lawyer reads: “The members of the Lagos State House of Assembly have unanimously passed an amended version of the Criminal Justice Law of the state barring the police from henceforth parading suspects before the media.

“Section 9(A) of the newly passed bill states: ‘As from the commencement of this law, the police shall refrain from parading any suspect before the media.

“The bill also stipulates conditions under which a policeman can arrest without warrant, one of which is that a person must be reasonably suspected to unlawfully be in possession of firearms or other such dangerous instruments.

Can the Nigerian media please stop aiding and abetting injustice and mob justice of the Police, the EFCC,  ICPC, NDLEA, NAPTIP, and can the Bar disciplinary Committee sanction Abubakar Malami and other high profile lawyers that indulge in media persecution of political prisoners and opponents of their boss?

Onwubiko is the head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.

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Who Needs Counseling In Nigeria?



Witch Burning, Impunity And Abuses Linked to Witchcraft Beliefs In Benue State
Dr. Leo Igwe

By Leo Igwe

In January, I registered for a professional course in counseling at the Attitude Development Institute (ADI) in Lagos. After my doctoral program in religious studies, I thought I was done doing any other academic course. But I was mistaken. I recently noticed that something was missing in my academic and learning accessories. And I needed to rectify it. So I started this professional diploma program. I embarked on this course in my quest for a more competent way to assist people who contact me for help and support. Many contact me saying that they are tired of life and could not find anything meaningful to do or to earn a living. Many attribute their problems to ‘village people’, witches and wizards, generational curses, evil spirits, jinns, demonic attacks, etc. Many attribute their failures, setbacks and misfortunes to juju or harmful magic. I decided to do this diploma in counseling because I felt that something was lacking in my knowledge and understanding of human beings and human problems.

Last year, a lecturer on guidance and counseling at a college of agriculture in Ebonyi state invited me to come and talk to some of his students. Some of the students wanted to do money rituals and he was worried. This lecturer asked me to come and persuade them against engaging in this futile and criminal venture. But how could I do this professionally and effectively?

I wondered what else to tell these students apart from what I had repeatedly said in the past. That money ritual was a superstition, and the belief had no basis in reason or reality. But will that help? Will that be enough? Will the students be persuaded by that proposition? I asked. I felt that telling them that ritual money was a myth would likely be an exercise in futility. It would likely be inadequate and would not yield effective results. I felt that young people needed a more structured way to get them to change these thoughts and behavior. Anyway, I went to that college of education and met with some students and spent time talking to them, advising and persuading them not to indulge in money rituals. I urged them to try and complete their education and then seek out other evidence-based ways of making money. I do not know if my talk yielded any positive results.

Before and after this incident I encountered many who strongly believed in ritual money, and who, given the opportunity could kill, or use human body parts for rituals. Last year, someone contacted me from Kwara state. He inquired how he could do money rituals. I offered similar advice. Some people have contacted me seeking some other forms of help and support. Someone called from Imo state asking how he could stop gambling. That it was ruining his business and that his friends were pointing accusing fingers at his landlady. They said the woman was a witch and was responsible for his dwindling fortune. I offered him some words of advice. Also, in advocating against witch persecution, I have come across people who had anxiety, and mental and emotional disorders but who attribute these psychological problems and other existential challenges to witchcraft. I have been looking for competent ways to manage witchcraft believers and suspecters. I have been searching for more professional ways to support traumatized victims and survivors. I have been seeking a skillful mechanism to empower, guide and enable entertainers of witchcraft fears and sufferers of witch persecution to heal, recover and take control of their lives.

Beyond that, there are personal reasons. I am the first son in my family. I started dealing with family issues at a very young age without any knowledge of human psychology. I was socialized to help my younger brothers and lead even when I barely knew my left from my right. I was made to manage and resolve family-related issues even when I was a child with barely an understanding of how life worked. I was not self-aware or socially aware. I did not know human personalities and temperaments. I was not allowed to grow like every other child. I was pressured to behave like the first son, the deputy head of the family, and to intervene in family issues including my parents’ marital issues. Even now my father has passed away, I manage family issues and deal with members with personality disorders and untreated traumas, including my siblings who engage in micro/transferred aggressions and other negative behaviors rooted in childhood experiences. They intentionally make life miserable for me; they complicate matters to settle childhood scores, to punish or deal with me for some real or imagined privilege that they thought I had enjoyed as a first son.

In addition, I started teaching at 17 years, I taught at a local seminary and helped in nurturing children. I did not know children and educational psychology. It was like a child teaching children. It was while studying for my bachelor’s in philosophy that I did some psychology courses. I learned about Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Ivan Pavlov and their explanations of human behavior. But it was all theory. Then my focus was on getting good grades and passing examinations, not applying the knowledge to real life and issues. In the course of my humanist work and campaign, I have come across people suffering from religious trauma, and victims of religious oppression and persecution.

I would like to offer them effective help and support. As a humanist celebrant, I help families that are grieving, couples who are getting married, or those celebrating the arrival of a new baby. To provide effective help and services, I realized that I needed some professional training in counseling. I searched online and got some information about one Counseling Association of Nigeria. I contacted them and registered. But I realized that the focus was mainly on guidance and counseling in schools. That is important. But that was not what I wanted. My impression was that the association was mainly for teachers and lecturers. I needed some training that could qualify me as a professional counselor. I went online and saw some information about two counseling institutes in Lagos. They offer professional training.

One is in Ikeja, which is the ADI, and the other is in Victoria Island. I spoke to some counselors and one recommended ADI. After some telephone conversations and WhatsApp exchanges with the director of the Institute, I enrolled in its diploma class. The classes are held once every week. I joined the second week. After my first class, I realized that I was in the right place and that the program that they offered was what I was looking for. It was a twelve-week program, very intense. The courses included the foundations of counseling, counseling theories, and skills, children/teenage counseling, marriage/family counseling, and crisis/trauma counseling. Some of the courses focused on Christian counseling, grief counseling, sex therapy, and mental health. When I started I was worried that the lectures would be bland, another monotonous exercise in issuing handouts, but they were not. The lectures were interesting. And the lecturers were engaging and entertaining. They were very articulate and used so many examples to illustrate their points. The program occasioned some intellectual shocks and dissonance. It has helped me to correct some misconceptions about counseling and counselors. First I realized the importance of counseling and counselors. Look, human beings suffer both physical and emotional injuries. Both injuries are treatable. While medical doctors help treat physical wounds, counselors as therapists help treat emotional and psychological injuries. Again, counseling is widely understood to mean advice. We were told several times that counselors were not advisers. They do not advise their clients. A foremost counselor, Irvin Yalom whose book, Love’s Executioner, we reviewed throughout the course said the task of a counselor was to make himself or herself obsolete. Yes, it is tacitly saying that for the counselee to live, the counselor must die. He noted that the counselor’s role was to help the client take responsibility for making himself or herself better. Instead of advising, counselors support counselees to take control of their healing and living.

Again, throughout the program, the lecturers made it clear that one of the characteristics of a good counselor was listening. A counselor must be a good listener. He or she must have good listening skills. Also, counseling was not meant for some people, some psychologically troubled and maladjusted people. Instead, the lecturers made it clear that counseling was for everyone, for both the counselors and the counselees. In the course of the lectures I kept flashing back and recalling so many people that I have met in life who needed counseling. Everyone is grappling with some trauma or emotional issue at one time or the other. They encouraged the trainees to go for counseling. Each class was indirectly an exercise in group counseling and therapy because the classes provided opportunities for members to pour it out, to draw from their life, work, and family experiences in discussing the topics.

Yes, I realized that everybody needed counseling. And nothing illustrated the need better than a particular incident that happened during the program. Due to some miscommunication, one of the counselors managing the program communicated the wrong date for the class graduation to the management. When she came and informed the class, she was told that she communicated the wrong date. And this counselor became furious(meanwhile her name is also Fu…something). Discussions became quite heated and tense because she continued to insist that she communicated the correct date. The room became very noisy and rowdy because some people were trying to correct her but she refused. At some point, a member of this class set that calls itself, Ignite, raised her voice. She is in this class of women with a huge and imposing stature, looked quiet from the outside, and could be mistaken as phlegmatic. She said emphatically while pointing her five fingers at this counselor and swinging the hand up and down: “You are not listening”, “You are not listening”. At that point, the counselor tried to calm down. A senior management colleague intervened and urged the counselor to leave the room. As soon as she left, another class member said: “She needs counseling”. And some class members chuckled.

So, everybody needs counseling in Nigeria.

Igwe,PhD, is a trainee counselor at the Attitude Development Institute, Lagos.

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Professors On INEC’s Will (4)



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku

    These past three weeks have been three supreme weeks of supreme value to all of us who have been gluing ourselves to this column for the right reasons: No room for lying; no room for deceits; no room for propaganda; no room for vanity. No room, no room, no room for what should not be here. Thoughts of the streams, thoughts of the spheres, music of the streams, music of the spheres enhance the column in diverse ways. 

    Our debaters for the past three weeks have demonstrated this. Each of the professors (all of them, in fact) has demonstrated this in the geometry of their presentations, in the minds of their geo-biographies, in the arithmetic of their convictions and persuasions. They in varying degrees did not support the will of INEC in the presidential election, even though the INEC chair is one of them, a fellow professor in the sphere of the humanities. In going over the longitude and latitude of the flow of our professors, of our debating professors, in their authentic and responsible sphere of spheres the clarity and precision of the geo-biography and nature of patience moved towards me. This may not be the right way of putting it, but I found and still find each debater to be a patient debater. Goodness! How a patiently patient listener and presider over the debate Professor Olu Obafemi was/is! The rhetoric of his ears or of his eyes or of his tongue was/is the rhetoric of the sage. If I imagined this, I imagined it well. His rhetoric was/is not the creation of this recorder, but it is the rhetoric of the music of the shaping of the debate and the words of the debaters who like him are fellow writers and creators. 

    Now I present to our readers the summation of Professor Olu Obafemi who presided over the reported affairs of the literati:

“This debate has gone on very well and quite enlightening. I have learnt quite a lot from the various positions eloquently proffered here. I like to chip in this bit: (1) there will not be much ideological departure from PMB to BAT. We will still operate a neoliberal economy, fraught largely with parasitism and consumerism. It is very likely, from his experience in investment, creative commercialism/commodity consciousness and cosmopolitanism in governance, Tinubu will be a lot more distribution-prone, more productive, and more people friendly than his predecessor; (2) having operated in comprador praxis in the US, Tinubu will engage globalization with discretionary envisioning (these are loaded, unconventional concepts that may require greater elucidation in future; (3) having not operated unitarist governance strategy that we have had since Ironsi till date, and with his governance experience in Lagos, including standing up to OBJ to run a well-structured State in Lagos, BAT will be more of his own man who will surround himself with talent rather than a cabalistic instinct (I am talking here about power delegation as opposed to power relegation); (4) we have good reason to believe that Tinubu will not go for a winner-take-all, conclave-prone governance and will strive to deliver goods and services— democracy dividends more generously/humanely. May the future be better and more tolerable for our people and all of us in this country, and all our fellows and compatriots in foreign lands, that is, the diaspora.”

But the pastor-spirit as well as the track of traditional culture in him elicited from Professor Ademola Da Sylva what amounted to a kind of vote of thanks to Professor Olu Obafemi and the co-debaters in the literati.

“Many thanks, Baba O.O., for your thoughtful, clinical and lucid interventions; and IBK’s, (and others’) too! So palpable and infectious are the feelings of hope, and delight of the innocent, that you have demonstrated in your concluding postings, and my silent response was a loud A-m-e-n! Then I turned to God the Almighty, and said, “Baba-God, these genuine feelings expressed by these great minds, aggregate what is uppermost in the mind of the Nigerian people at this point of our history. Can you, please, do this one last favour for the masses of this country? I believe it is not beyond what you as the Almighty can do for an otherwise potentially great country like Nigeria! Simply protect BAT, from the powers that have constituted themselves into human principalities in the corridor of power; completely and permanently seal the mouths of those demonic lions labelled as Cabals in Aso Rock that have, thus far, truncated Nigeria’s destiny! AMEN!” Perhaps we should remind ourselves that our hope was this high when many Nigerian voters, including yours truly, trouped out to vote in Buhari as President! Now, I remember, “demonic forces” written about by Reuben Abati during the Presidency of GEJ, unfortunately, like some nameless hydra monsters they always rear their ugly heads with every new administration, these Aso Rock principalities. PMB has his good share of them in the Abakyaris, and very familiar ones, for obvious reasons, like the Ngiges, et al, never for once did they allow PMB to be! They took advantage of his visibly infirm state, to take over the reins of governance in what could be described as a “civilian coup” and ran-over the ship of the country crashing against the Aso rock! The reason we are where we are, right now! BAT like PMB, also has a visibly infirm visage/characteristic unless we pretend to not acknowledge it, a new set of cabalistic demons would join forces with the existing ones, after all, it is still the same Political Party, to take advantage of BAT’s current clinical status! BAT of 20 or 10 years ago, isn’t the same BAT today on account of age and health. Yes, unless God Almighty does something about these principalities through His human agents, they might yet soon take over the affairs of Nigeria under BAT too, to do what they know best: to steal, to kill and to destroy, and ensure that the status quo remains as it has always been, in the spirit of Ted Hughe’s very famous poem, ‘The Eagle’!”

Well, well said, O debaters. But let the columnist-terminator and terminator-columnist have the last word. The time won’t be long to ask INEC this simple question: Did INEC lavish allegedly over three hundred billion naira to register the paltry figure or number of voters for the 2023 elections? Did the very small number (below ninety or so million) match the more than very huge sum of money that INEC got for registration of voters and for other election related matters, duties and responsibilities? How much money in millions upon millions did not allegedly go under and distributed to “principalities” and “demonic forces” hovering over Aso Rock and the Presidency of the presidencynologists? Any clear or unclear answers to these questions cannot or may not but tell us that the presidential election in particular was INEC’s will. Our debating Professors will not say on oath that they did not know. Did the presidential and other elections meet the expectations, wishes and will of the people generally? INEC has the answer. And our debating professors will bluntly tell the chairman of INEC this.                                                   

    Because our professors are fellow writers, I must terminate the discourse by drawing their attention to the following poem “For the Consideration of Poets” by Haki R. Madhubuti (original name Don Luther Lee), the 81 years old African-American poet, author and publisher, and a native of Little Rock, Arkansas:

where is the poetry of resistance, 

the poetry of honorable defiance 

unafraid of lies from career 

politicians and business men, 

not respectful of journalists who write 

official speak void of educated thought 

without double search or sub surface questions 

that war talk demands? 

where is the poetry of doubt and suspicion 

not in the service of the state, bishops 

and priests, 

not in the service of beautiful people 

and late night promises, 

not in the service of influence, 

incompetence and academic 

clown talk?

The above lines speak volumes. Let them stay glued to our memories day by day. And may INEC’s chairman become the poet and historian of resistance after finding time to read this!

Terminated for now.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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Iwuanyanwu And The ‘Political Rascals’ Rhetoric 



Nigerian Destiny: In The Hands Of The People
Dr. Promise Adiele

By Promise Adiele

Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play Waiting for Godot avails itself of multiple interpretative tools with a compelling grip on the moral imagination of the audience. As a timeless drama, it thrives on the hopelessness of the human condition dramatized by two vagabonds, Estragon and Vladimir who waited for a mysterious, titular Godot that never came. One of the features of the absurdist literary tradition portrayed in the play is the failure of language in the verbal context as a means of communication. The verbal exchange between the two vagabonds is evident of misinterpretation. One says one thing, the other interprets it differently. Thus, it calls to question the potency of language in the verbal medium as a means of communication. The preceding analogy reminds me of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and his purported insult to the good people of the Yoruba ethnic group. Perhaps, misinterpretation currently manifests as an inexorable content of Nigeria’s absurd credentials.

Last week, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, philanthropist, accomplished businessman, the Balogun Babaguwan of Yorubaland, Ahaejiejemba of Igboland and elder-statesman, while reacting to events that happened in Lagos during the last election when many Igbo people were bloodied and harassed, assured the world that “the Igbo and Yoruba are not at war”. On the heels of that statement came another one “they are Yoruba political rascals”. A syntactic analysis of the two sentences affirms that the Chief never meant to insult the entire Yoruba ethnic group. Rather, he was referring to rascals in Lagos who maimed, killed, and vanquished Igbos, non-Yorubas, and even some Yorubas with Igbo semblance, stopping them from exercising their voting rights during the election. He also said “we know them and we will deal with them”. Language scholars know that Chief Iwuanyanwu did not mean to insult the Yoruba. Sadly, some social nitwits, victims of acute cognitive impairment, went on a rampage to misinterpret and manipulate his statement to suit their treacherous, mischievous purposes. It is absurd. 

 Anyone who knows Chief Iwuaynanwu’s antecedent will never ascribe offensive rhetoric to him. He is soft-spoken, conciliatory and peace-loving. Like every sensible person around the world, not just the Igbo, he was aghast with lurid photos and video evidence of harm against the Igbo in Lagos during the last election. Unfortunately, people who ordinarily frolic in the whirlwind of ethnic hate have seized the opportunity to insult the Igbo ethnic group while using acerbic words on the revered Chief. These people, in their degenerate and diseased mentality, are trying to install a wall of hate between the Igbo and Yoruba. Let me state categorically that the Yorubas are wonderful people whose spirit of brotherliness, conviviality, and tolerance speaks volumes across the world. I have maintained over time that the Igbo and Yoruba share a cordial, interwoven relationship in marriage, business, friendship, association and neighbourliness. The two ethnic groups can never be involved in a conflict. Many Yoruba people have helped many Igbo people to their destinies and many Igbo people have helped many Yoruba people to their destinies too. An attempt for one ethnic group to harm the other will result in serious harm for the two. It is as implicating as that. 

Since the presidential elections, keenly contested by different candidates from different ethnic groups in Nigeria, some people have desperately sought to reduce the entire development to an ethnic affair. It is myopic and at once condescending. Does Peter Obi represent the Igbo? Does Bola Tinubu represent the Yoruba? Does Atiku Abubakar represent the Hausa/Fulani?  These candidates all have supporters across the country. Of course, they will have a preponderance of support from their ethnic base. That is the way of politics. Unfortunately, ethnic jingoists have, in the inerrancy of their bleak convictions, reduced the entire political discourse to an ethnic affair especially Yoruba vs Igbo. These people, stranded in the realm of ethnic hate and communal intolerance, have done everything within their powers to inflame ethnic tension to crucible dimensions. It is wrong for anyone to insult a whole ethnic group in whatever guise. In Chief Iwuanyanwu’s case, he has put the records straight by clarifying what he meant, insisting that he was quoted out of context. But the morbid and decadent will not hear of it. They insist that Iwuanyanwu and all Igbo should be roasted alive. As far as these simpletons are concerned, the Chief spoke the mind of all Igbos. How idiotic and harebrained can anybody be? 

Recently, some people have also indulged in ethnic slurs. Unlike Chief Iwuanyanwu that clarified himself, Bayo Onanuga offered no apology and insisted on standing by his words. Onanuga spoke for himself and couldn’t have insulted the Igbo on behalf of the Yoruba. MC Oluomo, while registering his socio-political disorientation, spoke for himself when he threatened the Igbo on an  election day and went on to make good his threat which the police shamelessly called a joke. FFK has also made inflammatory remarks which were his personal opinion and not the opinion of Yoruba. It is therefore, a function of disabled, primitive awareness for anyone to insult an ethnic group based on the comment of one person. Such insults and abuses expose the quiddity of phenomenal foolishness which, hitherto, was concealed in some people by the façade of education. No, these hate mongers belong to the stone age. Nobody should be deceived by their pretentious liberalism. 

The question is, are there political rascals in Nigeria? Definitely yes! These are the particular people Chief Iwuanyanwu referred to concerning what happened in Lagos during the last elections. Of course, all parts of the country have their share of political rascals. It is not peculiar to one ethnicity. Political rascals are those who walk the streets, snatch ballot boxes, stab people due to their ethnic origin and prevent them from exercising their civic rights. They are not educated. They are thugs, street urchins and never-do-wells employed by politicians to advance nefarious objectives. There are also some educated political rascals. They don’t walk the streets, but demonstrate humane deficiency of unimaginable proportions using social media and sundry news outlets. They spread hate, provoke enmity and fan the embers of war. They incite the uneducated, urging them to bay for the blood of ordinary citizens. Their social media handles are replete with expletives and insults. Abusive engagement allows them to flourish. Another category of political rascals populate government establishments like INEC, the Police and different security agencies. These people compromise the electoral process in exchange for financial inducement and material gains. They are unconscionable, desperate and invidious. Are these people from another planet? No, they are among us. We know them. 

The ethnic hate narrative is a device enunciated by the political class to keep the people divided, breaking their rank and file to unite and fight a common enemy. The opposition LP and PDP are convinced that the election was marred by sharp, underhand practices and therefore have gone to court. Is going to court to challenge the outcome of an election a legitimate practice? If it is, why can’t detractors of equitable process allow the law to run smoothly? The call by some decidedly frustrated fellows in search of relevance and pecuniary patronage for the arrest of the opposition presidential candidates is from the pit of purgatory. The propaganda that there is a plan to disrupt the handover ceremony is a bundle of falsehood from the depths of Hades. Although many Nigerians regard the judiciary with a pinch of salt, people of goodwill should advocate for a peaceful resolution of Nigeria’s political challenges. Ethnic rhetoric should stop immediately. People should sheath their swords. Let us all close the road to Rwanda. 

Adiele, PhD, writes from Mountain Top University.


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