By Femi Fani-Kayode
Permit me to begin this contribution with a few comparisons. Consider the following. Mr. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was elected President of Ghana in 2016. His father Edward Akuffo-Addo, was one of Ghana’s “big six” nationalists and elderstatesmen who led and fought for Ghana’s independence from the British in 1957. He was a former Chief Justice of Ghana and a former ceremonial President of Ghana. He dedicated his life to the liberation and service of Ghana. Again consider this. Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta was elected President of Kenya in 2013 and again in 2017. His father, Jomo Kenyatta, was the much loved and reverred first President of Kenya and leader of Kenya’s famous “Mau Mau” movement. He led an armed struggle against the British colonial masters and fought for and won Kenya’s independence from colonial rule in 1963.
Finally consider this. Mr. Felix Thishiekedi- has just been elected President of the Congo DRC. His father, Etienne Thishiekedi, was former Prime Minister of the Congo and one of the most courageous, respected and formidable opposition leaders in Congo’s colonial and post-colonial history. He fought gallantly against French and Belgian colonial rule and later the brutal and corrupt dictatorship of the neo-colonial stooge and brutal dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko. He dedicated his life to the liberation and service of the Congo. Nana Akuffo Addo and Uhuru Kenyatta are doing very well as President of their respective countries. They both preside over the affairs of nations where the rule of law is respected, institutions work, human rights are respected and, most importantly, where there is a healthy respect for the principle of separation of powers between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.
I have no doubt that Felix Thishiekedi will do equally well for the Congo and, over a period of time, establish the same ethos of democratic values and good governance in the Congo. Sadly in Nigeria the story is very different. Consider the following. General Muhammadu Buhari, as he then was, led a mutiny against his Commander-in-Chief and toppled a democratically-elected government which was led by President Shehu Shagari, one of those that fought for Nigeria’s independence, a former Minister of Education in the First Republic, a great nationalialst, a humble and gentle patriot and a much-loved elder statesman in 1983. Buhari put Nigeria under his cruel yoke and bondage and was military Head of State for two gruelling and evil years, till 1985 when he himself was toppled in another military coup d’etat by his own Chief of Army Staff, General Ibrahim Babangida. He was elected President of Nigeria in 2015 and he is seeking a second mandate next month. His father, Hardo Adamu, was a nomadic duck-seller from Niger Republic and later a “dogari” (bodyguard) in the Emir of Daura’s palace.
Other than that we know little about Buhari’s background, heritage, lineage and upbringing. What we do know however is that his tyrannical and abysmal record as President speaks for itself. It has been an eloquent testimony to carnage, nepotism, misoginy, corruption, bigotry, strife, sectarianism, division, wickedness, evil, incompetence and the abuse of power. If anyone has any doubts about this they should ponder on the following. Prince Deji Adeyanju, a leading voice of the opposition and a well-known human rights activist, is in custody and is being framed with murder. Senator Dino Melaye, a leading member of the opposition PDP and a Senator of the Federal Republic, is in custody and is being framed with attempted murder.
Dr. Doyin Okupe, a leading opposition figure and a former spokesman to President Goodluck Jonathan is in custody and is being framed with corruption. Colonel Sambo Dasuki, a leading opppsition figure and the former National Security Advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan, is in custody and is being framed with corruption. Sheik Ibrahim El Zak Zaky, a leading oppositiion figure and the leader of Nigeria’s Shiite Muslim community, is in custody and is being framed with murder. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, a leading opposition figure and the leader of IPOB, is driven into self-imposed exile and is being framed with treason. Is this the way to silence all dissenting voices and the opposition? Is that the way to run a democracy?
What about Air Chief Marshall Badeh another leading opposition figure who was President Goodluck Jonathan’s Chief of Defence Staff, who was murdered in the most suspicious and mysterious circumstances and whose Air Force security men either refused or failed to defend and protect him during the attack? Many believe that the state had a hand in his assasination and this is quite plausible given the circumstances of his murder and the fact that many things just don’t add up. One is constrained to ask: is that the way to deal with the opposition in any civilised society?
The latest atrocity is that the Federal Government has directed the Chief Justice of the Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen GCON, to vacate his office immediately. They have also declared their intention to arraign him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal on what I have no doubt will be spurious, bogus and baseless criminal charges on monday. Worse still, one Dennis Aghanya, the author of the petition against Onnoghen was Buhari’s former Media Aide and the former National Publicity Secretary of Buhari’s former political party the CPC. He is the Executive Secretary of the group that wrote the petition against the Chief Justice of Nigeria!
All this in a brazen attempt to intimidate and control the Judiciary before the February 16th presidential election. We are now officially Africa’s biggest and most hopeless basket case and a Banana Republic where one man can thwart the will of almost 200 million people. Yet the truth is that if the legal profession had spoken with one voice, especially the NBA and NJC leadership, in October 2016 after the DSS’s illegal invasion of Judges homes and trials, like yours truly did, we would not have got to this stage.
When agents of the state went after courageous, independent-minded, upright and forthright Judges like Justice Niyi Ademola, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta and so many others and sought to destroy their lives and careers with unproven and baseless criminal charges simply because they refused to bend to their will and be manipulated by them, few of their colleagues on the Bench or members of the Bar expressed outrage. Clearly the chickens are now coming home to roost and, outside of those that have been intimidated or compromised, none of them are safe.
In this context the words of Mr. Dele Okenla, a legal practitioner, are incisive and insighful. He said, “First they came for Justice Adeniyi Ademola, because he dared to give order that Dasuki Sambo their arch-enemy be given bail. Then they came for Paul Usoro (SAN) the NBA President because he seems to be closer to PDP than to APC. Now they have come for the jugular, the Chief Justice of Nigeria himself, the head of a parallel, separate and independent arm of government. These people have no conscience, no inhibitions and no limits. The Judiciary is the last hope of the common man and when they have finished with us, they will surely come for you. As sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, they will come for you the common man. It is just a matter of time”. That is the bitter truth yet sadly few are listening.
Even the traditional media has been thoroughly intimidated and has lost the courage to stand firm, speak out or even publish the articles and comments of those that are prepared to damn the consequences and speak the bitter truth to power. The television networks are even worse.
In view of the situation that we have found ourselves in I urge my compatriots to ponder on the following long and hard. Now that CJN Onnoghen has been ordered to step down please take note that in Nigeria today the the Presidency, the Federal Government, the National Assembly, the Judiciary, Security Agencies, Military, Intelligence Agencies, INEC and even the leading opposition party are all in the hands of northern Muslims. The implications are startling and obvious and the consequences will be dire. Given that, I advise the CJN to ignore this monstrous, self-serving, unlawful and unconstitutional directive and refuse to vacate his office.
I also urge him not to submit himself to the jurisdiction of any criminal court or the Code of Conduct Tribunal without proper reference to and a recommendation for prosecution from the National Judicial Council. Anything short of that will be a capitulation to tyranny, injustice, lawlessness, anarchy and servitude and it would result in dangerous and far-reaching consequences for the unity of our country. Every southern leader worth his or her salt, regardless of party affiliation, ought to ponder on this matter. It is either Nigeria belongs to us all or let there be no Nigeria.
It is either we have a real democracy with a clear delination and separation of powers between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary or let the whole system and country go to blazes. We are not interested in being slaves and we refuse to accept the yoke and bondage of dictatorship. Chief E.K. Clark, one of the most reverred and respected voices of the south and an elder statesman of our nation, spoke our collective minds very well when he said,
“They just want to harass him (Onnoghen) and molest him simply because they want somebody that will be pliable after they have rigged the elections, to appoint tribunal chairmen and members for them to consolidate their rigging. That is all what they are looking for. But I want to warn that this country belongs to all of us. If some people think that they own this country, let them have it and others will have their own country. You cannot treat some people as if they are slaves or second-class citizens in this country. We will never allow it! Not at this time! he harassment is becoming too much!”
Let us hope that those that are hell bent on holding on to power at all costs and enslaving and subjugating our people are listening. For their own sake I hope that that they refrain from treading the dangerous path that they have chosen to take before it is too late because I see dark and thunderous clouds lying ahead.
Sadly I also see what Prophet T.B. Joshua has described as a “stop-over” and “an interruption in our democratic process” unfolding if we are not careful and if we allow this anarchy, chaos, lawlessness and impunity to prevail. As he rightly said, we must pray hard to prevent such a calamity from befalling us. When one compares Nigeria’s fortunes over the last three years and six months with that of Ghana, Kenya and now the Congo DRC one is constrained to ask the following questions.
What happened to us? How did we get to where we are? How did a man like Buhari become President of the largest, most educated, most respected and most powerful country in black Africa? Is our problem spiritual or is it self-inflicted? Who took us to the dark forest and unleashed this plague of bloodtirsty demons and devouring locusts upon us? Who brought our nation to her knees and turned her from being the giant of Africa to the dwarf of the continenent? Who has bewitched Nigeria?
Can someone please ask Prophet TB Joshua, Bishop David Oyedepo, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Bishop David Abioye, Pastor David Ibiyeomie, Pastor Paul Enenche, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Pastor Paul Adefarasin, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Pastor El Buba, Pastor John Kennedy, Apostle Johnson Suleman, Dr. B.O. Ezekiel and all the other great men of God in our country to answer these profound questions? As they say, the first step to solving a problem is to identify its source. May God deliver Nigeria.
His father, Jomo Kenyatta, was the much loved and reverred first President of Kenya and leader of Kenya’s famous “Mau Mau” movement. He led an armed struggle against the British colonial masters and fought for and won Kenya’s independence from colonial rule in 1963. Finally consider this. Mr. Felix Thishiekedi- has just been elected President of the Congo DRC.
His father, Etienne Thishiekedi, was former Prime Minister of the Congo and one of the most courageous, respected and formidable opposition leaders in Congo’s colonial and post-colonial history. He fought gallantly against French and Belgian colonial rule and later the brutal and corrupt dictatorship of the neo-colonial stooge and brutal dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko. He dedicated his life to the liberation and service of the Congo.