Will he be expelled from the Senate?
Several newspapers carried the story of the gory killings along the notoriously dangerous Nigeria Lagos-Benin Expressway. The summary: At gun-point a driver of a passenger bus was commanded by armed bandits to run over passengers who had no money on them. No fewer than 16 innocent people dead horribly.
To the strong-hearted here is the aftermath in photo. CAUTION: GRAPHIC IMAGE!
Despite the several police checkpoints along the route, the robbers left their sorrowful marks on the asphalt and hearts of several families.
In return, the Nigerian Senate ranted and vocalized some mumbo-jumbo as usual, observed a few minutes of silence in honor of the dead, and promised to do what they do best — set up an inquiry.
And the police? The “whole report about the incident is vague and that the police could not ascertain that the incident actually occurred”, quoting a statement credited to a police high-ranking public relations officer.
There is more than enough documentation of what is not right with Nigeria, particularly the inefficiencies of the Nigerian police force. When is the will to fix the problem going to start manifesting?
The late fire-brand human and civil rights crusader and lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, could have lived a life of absolute luxury free of the dozens of arrest and detention he suffered, fighting for the common good. But he took and walked the rough path, unflinching and determined.
Read a narrative of his prison experience in Gashua, in northern Nigeria, where he was imprisoned for 121 days in 1989:
“Big-man syndrome”, in Nigerian parlance, is a multifaceted social disorder which makes an individual feel ‘above the law’, and pushes him/her to engage in activities that may even run contrary to established protocol or civil ordinances.
This behavioral anomaly can push its victims to be discourteous, or rude to those considered as ‘low status individuals’, and in extreme cases, physical violence may ensue, as was the case between Nigeria’s federal legislator, Hon. Chinyere Emmanuel Igwe (photo), who slapped a ‘lowly’ security guard attached to the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
Who reasonably passes as Nigeria’s own version of the American icon, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., died some hours ago, at age 71. Chief Gani Fawehinmi [ganifawehinmi.com], the most prominent human and civil rights advocate Nigerian has ever had, died from complications of lung cancer.
An indefatigable critic of military dictatorship and corruption, in the process of his crusades for the rule of law, the hopes and aspirations of the poor and the oppressed, he fought many battles against military dictatorship as a result of which he had been arrested several times by the military governments and its numerous security agents. He was dumped in many police cells and detained in several prisons between 1969 and 1996.
In 1993 Fawehinmi was awarded the biennial Bruno Kreisky Prize. This prize, named in honour of Bruno Kreisky, is awarded to international figures who advance human rights causes. In 1998, he received the International Bar Association’s Bernard Simmons Award in recognition of his human-rights and pro-democracy work. In 1994 he and some other notable Nigerians formed the National Conscience Party of Nigeria which exists till today and he stood for a presidential election in 2003 under the umbrella of the National Conscience Party.
Gani Fawehinmi became a holder of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) the highest legal title in Nigeria in September, 2001.
It is a hard knock life for those 27 soldiers court-martialed to jail for life in Nigeria. It would not matter much (to me) if they were found guilty for treason, or committed murder.
No! What the 24 men and three women did was to protest the nonpayment of their allowances during a six month peacekeeping operation in Liberia. Each of the soldier was supposed to have received the UN-approved $1,228 monthly allowance. But their commanding officers sat on the money, or better still, stole the money!
What the protesting solders did was ‘mutinous’ according to the top military brass that tried them. And this deserved life imprisonment. But what about the officers that stole the money? If the mutinous soldiers are getting life imprisonment, are the officers facing the firing squad?
All the thieving officers (Col. A. Awotoye, Commanding Officer of 72 Army Battalion, Makurdi; Lt. Col. Paul Baba, Director of Army Finance; Major Abubakar Shonva, Deputy Director of Army Finance; and Major C. Njoku) got was “a slap on the wrist by losing one rank each”, according to media report.
I think there is every reason to be more concerned about Nigeria’s human rights stance. Under the new dispensation, Bloggers are been detained, a TV station shut, and newspaper editors harassed and offices sealed. The latest harassment happened over the weekend at Kuru during Nuhu Ribadu’s graduation from the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). Ribadu is the former Chairman of the anti corruption outfit under former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Nigerian Guardian reports:
Security operatives yesterday dragged the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, from the graduation ceremonies at the NIPSS. Ribadu, who had successfully completed his course at the NIPSS, was at the Unity Hall of the institute where he and other colleagues were seated, waiting to be conferred with the Members of the National Institute (mni) when the operatives pounced on him.
Ribadu has this to say about his experience:
“They (security operatives) forced me out of the hall with 40 members of my family and friends, who have come to rejoice with me.
“I don’t know why it has to be that way since I was not made aware of the plan on ground not for me to graduate. I was forced out; I don’t know why it has to be like that.
“You (journalists) cannot come even if I said you should come. They (the security men) would not allow you in. They forced me out of the graduation hall and took me to a hidden location within the premises.”
Ribadu has been engaged in running battle with the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and the EFCC.
The NPF had demoted him shortly before he was forced out of the EFCC and made to attend the mandatory course at Kuru. Ribadu not only rejected the demotion, but went to court to challenge the NPF.
The EFCC on the other hand appears to have commenced investigating his activities as the Chairman of the EFCC, a move Ribadu has challenged in court as well.
Whatever the beef is, it certainly does not justify how Ribadu is being treated. These recent happenings are a sharp departure from the picture Mr Yar’Adua painted when he assumed office last year, when he refered to himself as a “master servant” who strongly believe in rule of law.
What happened between then and now, one can only wonder.