President Muhammadu Buhari’s son, Yusuf, wedded the Emir of Bichi’s daughter, Zahra Nasir Bayero, at an elaborate ceremony last Friday. It was a day of glitz, glamour and a showcase of private jets by Nigerian politicians and other affluent citizens. Some media reports say over 100 private jets flew into the Aminu Kano Airport in Kano. Some other reports put the number of the jets at about 50. Whether they are 50 or 100 or even 20 is immaterial. The fact that the Nigerian political elite decided to swim in this stream of ostentation in the face of the economic downturn facing millions of Nigerians shows how insensitive they can be. President Buhari must make sure that all those politicians get the Zuma treatment sooner than later.
Recall that the highest court in South Africa sentenced former President Jacob Zuma to 15 months in jail for contempt last month. Accusations of corruption had trailed Zuma’s time as President. He was summoned to respond to these allegations at an inquiry headed by Justice Raymond Zondo. He testified once and stopped coming subsequently. The inquiry brought the matter before the Constitutional Court, equivalent of Nigeria’s Supreme Court. Zuma thought it was child’s play. He defied the court order to appear at the inquiry.
As acting Chief Justice Sisi Khampepe put it, rather than come to court to respond to the allegations against him, Zuma “elected instead to make provocative, unmeritorious and vituperative statements that constituted a calculated effort to impugn the integrity of the judiciary. I am left with no option but to commit Mr. Zuma to imprisonment, with the hope that doing so sends an unequivocal message…the rule of law and the administration of justice prevails.”
Zuma and his supporters, who are mainly members of the African National Congress’s Umkhonto Wesizwe military wing, felt it was a political witch-hunt. Hundreds of them protested against the court ruling in Zuma’s hometown of Nkandla. Members of the Umkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans Association promised to form a human shield around him and threatened that they would destabilise the country, if he was apprehended. Nevertheless, Zuma eventually gave up resistance and has since started serving his jail term. His corruption trial will resume September 9.
It is interesting that, earlier this year, ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy of France got the Zuma treatment. He was sentenced to three years in jail for influence-peddling, as he reportedly attempted to bribe a judge in 2014 when he was no longer in power by promising him a prestigious job in return for information about a case. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was also jailed in 2016 for fraud and obstruction of justice while a trade minister. Former Peruvian leader, Alberto Fujimori, was jailed 25 years in 2007 for corruption and for commanding death squads that massacred civilians when he was in power.
What these examples show is that, in a civilized and organized society, nobody is above the law. The way Citizen A is treated is the same way Citizen B is also treated. Everybody is equal before the law. But in a society where anything goes, what happened in South Africa, France, Israel and many other countries would be seen as an aberration.
For us, impunity appears to be the cardinal principle of state policy. In January 2019, former chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, did not mince words when he asked members of opposition parties who had severe graft allegations hanging on their necks to join the ruling party so that their sins could be forgiven. “Yes, once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven,” he said.
Since 1999 when this democratic dispensation started, no Nigerian ex-President has been called to account for his stewardship, not to talk of jailing him. This is why somebody like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has continued to pontificate and write damning letters to his successors even when his rule was punctuated by bad governance.
And that is why former President Goodluck Jonathan has been junketing the globe as special envoy for this and that and behaving as if he is a lamb. He has never been called upon to answer to the alleged crimes committed during his administration. Rather, some of his ex-aides and acolytes are the ones taking the bullets for him.
South Africa deserves commendation for showing the way to other African countries. I look forward to the day former Nigerian leaders starting from local government chairmen to state governors and then to the president will be made to face the full weight of the law when they leave office. Yes, we celebrated the conviction of former governors Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State, James Ngilari of Adamawa State, Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, Joshua Dariye of Plateau State and James Ibori of Delta State. But, what about other ex-leaders? Are they all clean? What many ex-governors do is to amass wealth when in power and, when they leave, they use the stolen resources to bulldoze their way to the National Assembly. Only those who have lost favour are witch-hunted.
By the way, what is the update on the Code of Conduct Tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar, who allegedly assaulted a security guard, Clement Sagwak, in Abuja and heaped the blame on Biafran boys? How about the criminal herdsmen who have massacred farmers and others in some parts of the North? Have they faced the music as always promised by the President? How about a governor in one of the northern states whose successor accused of spending N50 million on a single trip to Abuja? Has anybody questioned him for profligacy and corruption? The questions are legion.
But suffice it to say that, if Zuma were to be a Nigerian, he would have been made the country’s special envoy to Mali or Niger Republic. He would have been given military convoys with special siren to scare people away whenever he is passing through any area. He would have got double salary in the name of life pension.
Nigeria needs serious political and judicial reforms. This is to ensure that, no matter what, the Chief Justice of the Federation can look the President in the eye and reject any request that will impinge on the rule of law. The judiciary is the third arm of government. It should be seen to be truly independent in words and action.
Nigeria will begin to make progress the moment we discard ‘big man’ syndrome, nepotism, eye service and contempt for the laws of the land. If we claim to be the giant of Africa, we should lead in all ramifications, including development, transparency and punishment for criminals in the forests and in the offices. Let’s start by questioning the source of income of all those who flew to Kano in private jets. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should do the needful now or forever keep quiet.
South-East and season of extra-judicial killings
Anyone who regales Nigerians with purported civil war exploits as a way of stemming agitations or coercing an aggrieved people to submission instead of engaging the people and righting the perceived wrongs is involved in self-deceit, and is indirectly preparing Nigeria for its ultimate disintegration. Nigerians can only coexist on the foundation of compromise, trust and respect for the rights of others. The oligarchs and their collaborators, in spite of their needless grandstanding, are now aware of the unimpeachable proofs of possible dismemberment of the country. If they are not scared, why do they repeatedly look over their shoulder at any point of their action or inaction of infraction? No country survives two civil wars: the luck of our continuous coexistence must not be overstretched. The elders who witnessed the civil war must learn from the past occurrences. The youth must also draw ample lessons from the war stories they have read from history books if we must stay together as a country. Anymore eruption in Nigeria will result in many countries: this time, it will not just be a South-East affair because we are all casualties.
– Edet Essien Esq., Cal. South, 08037952470
It’s very unfortunate and sad situation what is happening in southeast region. When you don’t have people in authority, things spoil. No one speaks for us. Annoying aspect of it is that international community and other human rights groups are watching the situation in Nigeria without intervention. There is God ooo.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
Dear Casy, the South-East situation within Nigerian setting in this dispensation is like the polygamist with love for one of his wives and her kids while hatred is erected against the other wife and her kids. When the loved wife and her kids cross the RED LINE, their sins are glossed over. Hence, the playing of the ostrich over the marauding activities of Fulani herdsmen and their twin-brothers called bandits, Boko haram and kidnappers. But when the hated wife and her kids cross the YELLOW LINE, their sins are MAGNIFIED and inappropriate sanctions raised. That is the fate of the South-East. Unfortunately, some South-East high-ups that ought to speak out, trade off Igbo destiny in return for selfish bread and butter except the likes of Sen. Abaribe. Given these ill-treatments, the new destiny and name for the South-East is ‘CHIZOBA’, meaning God, save us!
– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731
Dear Casy, the mass murder of eastern Nigerians by Buhari security forces since 2015 till date is the continuation of Gowon’s genocide of 1966 to 1970. Buhari was a young major then and wasn’t satisfied how the Igbo survived the genocide and are still doing good despite the economic war against them since 1970. Most of the Nigerian military generals: Gowon, Obasanjo, evil genius, Abdulsalam and the rest of them had kept quiet while Aso Rock landlord goes on with his evil agenda in the east. Every Igbo man who aided Fulani to destroy his people wouldn’t get the blessing from God.
-E ze Chima C., Lagos, +2347036225495
Casmir, the bedrock of development in any society is security. When there is security, peace and prosperity will be there. Any society that compromises security is bound to be in chaos. Security, however, cannot come when the ingredients are not in place. A society that glorifies injustice, corruption, tribalism, religious bigotry, ill-gotten wealth and dishes merit to dustbin can never know security. Such a society will contend with all manner of insecurities.
In Nigeria today, the government of the day has planted insecurities as one cardinal organ of operations through tribalism, religious bigotry and insincerity in governance. Unfortunately, most state governors have not been open in their governance, thereby finding it difficult to fight insecurity in their states.
To arrest insecurity, restructuring must be in place to provide numerous ingredients for enduring security which eventually heralds a prosperous nation.
– Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922
Dear Casmir, for the law to have biding force, it should be able to punish evil and reward good deeds. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case with ours so we now exist in pseudo anarchy. We should ensure hope of periodic change through free and fair election and end the practice of tribal hatred so as consolidate unity.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +234 909 538 5215
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, August 23, 2021