By SHAKA MOMODU
Fellow Nigerians, let me tell you from the outset and without equivocation that I voted “against” the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the February 25th presidential election. And if the opportunity arises again, I will repeat the same thing, whether in the rain or in the scorching sun. It was a promise I made to myself that I cannot in good conscience vote for a man who represented and still represents all the character attributes that generations of our forebears preached against.
Yes, I couldn’t turn a blind eye to all the corruption and vices linked to him and pretend they didn’t matter in this new age where we are being force-fed true lies and outright propaganda. A season when Tinubu scorned every attempt to hold himself accountable. His political trajectory tells a grim cautionary tale about a president Nigeria does not need. Voting against him was one of the happiest moments of my life.
Though he was declared president, courtesy of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s magic and has since assumed office, the facts remain that he did not win the election. INEC, which had assured Nigerians that they were ready and would conduct the most credible elections in the country’s history, betrayed us when it mattered most.
You see, my dilemma really, has been where do I begin to tell the story of what happened on February 25, 2023 for the benefit of posterity? How do I preserve the truth and nothing but the truth of what has befallen this land of our fathers? How do I tell my little children that on a day that would live in infamy for eternity, that the electoral commission deliberately sabotaged the free will of the Nigerian people? That day, this land of our fathers called Nigeria finally lost its soul, as evil menacingly triumphed over good and dared us to talk again.
A day, all those precious values and tutelage under which we were raised and coached to be the persons we are today finally crushed to smithereens and thrown into the dustbin. Decades of righteous morality suddenly meant nothing anymore as a man with no known parents, no siblings, no classmates, no record of primary or secondary schools attended became president! Not because he excelled, nor did he even try to impress the people on the campaign trail. In fact, his campaigning was hogwash, a Richter-scale disaster on every level. His speeches were mediocre or gibberish and delivered in a stutter.
And to those who mock us and call us moralists, I ask: of what use is a society without morality? Any wonder why we are failing as a country? It is because of avarice and wickedness have taken over the land of our fathers.
Tinubu refused to debate with other candidates. He dodged every attempt to interrogate his manifesto. His handlers shielded him all through the campaigns, told and propagated lies about his imaginary abilities. But in his dodges and prevarications, his parsing and evasion of scrutiny, one could sense his arm’s-length relationship with the truth.
Many analysts and his supporters appeared to have been groomed or trained as effective apologists and deniers of his many sins – they became the foot soldiers of his renewed hope mantra that has left a nation disillusioned and impoverished. His style has always been driven by reflexes – act first and think later. Sometimes, I wonder what his supporters and defenders teach their children at home. What they tell them not to do, or do. Do they correct them when they are naughty or do they celebrate them for being naughty? What values do they ingrain in their children? I am curious. What manners do they teach their children? I need to know. Do they teach them the difference between good and evil?
Do they raise their children to be like Miss Mmesoma Ejikeme who forged her JAMB score and took the nation on a ride or will they condemn her for falsifying her JAMB result and boldly going on social media to tell the world she was incapable of what she was accused of and that she was traumatised by JAMB’s allegation that she manipulated her score? Someone should answer me.
Now, how do I tell my innocent little children that on February 25, 2023, the electoral umpire, INEC, stole the mandate of Nigerians and handed it to Tinubu, the most flawed character that has ever run for the office of president of Nigeria? The election was stolen by an electoral body we had gradually begun to trust to deliver fair and transparent elections owing to its vigorous campaign that with electronic transmission of results, winners and losers would only be determined by the people.
It boasted that the people didn’t even need to wait for it to know the winners, that they could tabulate for themselves scores of each candidate and know in real time who was winning and who was losing. INEC told the whole world that the safeguards it had put in place were foolproof and that no hacker could gain access to its servers. It succeeded in building confidence and earning the trust of Nigerians. We took its assurances seriously and momentarily lowered our guards, believing it was going to redeem itself of all past failures and malfeasance. I personally believed those assurances, and helped in my own little way by sensitising and winning a few skeptics over to believing INEC’s assurances.
On the D-day of election, this same electoral body wilfully damaged the very same election it had campaigned vigorously would be credible. It wilfully disconnected the transmission of the presidential election results in real time while transmitting the House of Representatives and Senate elections results held the same time. Oh no! INEC! Why did you do this?
If I may ask, why do we have men of such little worth in critical positions in this country? People so easily susceptible to self-gratification? Why are our public officials so demonstrably unpatriotic? All the while, many Nigerians did not know that INEC was actually a participant in that election. It had vested interests and a grand scheme to win the election for a particular candidate, and was merely fooling Nigerians with assurances of free and fair polls. It had it all planned – how it would steal the presidential election and claim there were “technical hitches” and glitches as a reason for deliberately disconnecting its server to achieve its nefarious scheme, while claiming it suspected it was being hacked. On such nebulous pretext, INEC refused to transmit the presidential result real time on Election Day.
Such a suspect explanation strains credulity, since it is so far removed from anything even remotely close to the whole unvarnished truth. And that truth is, INEC, with its own hands, compromised an election that should have been a watershed moment in our history. Its officials deliberately made what should have worked to fail. This gave them room to resort to manual coalition of results which was subject to manipulations and alterations as can be seen in the eventual outcome. Even INEC couldn’t explain how it was able to read scores in heavily blurred result sheets in court. Who will ever trust INEC again? Yet, it allocated figures to the various candidates and declared winners in those instances. Instances too many to call isolated incidences. Of course, this was the plan all along, to deliberately sabotage the electronic transmission and blame it on imaginary technical hitches.
Because that was the only way it could manipulate the outcome in favour of Tinubu who had boasted he would win no matter what. Months before the election, even his aides boasted that they had the formula to win the election.
Fellow Nigerians, it is clear that what they had was a magic formula, a rigging formula. For the first time in our chequered history with elections, a man was able to buy the presidency of Nigeria which even some corrupt politicians of the past had said was not for sale to the highest bidder.
There is no gainsaying that how Tinubu won the presidential election left much to be desired.
I have been reflecting on the future of Nigeria in the hands of the president – it is almost a hopeless situation we find ourselves in. The ironies and contradictions about this man are too self-evident. They make you want to cry and laugh at the same time. Cry for what we have become, laugh to remain sane in our new nightmare reality.
Imagine Tinubu saying he will fight corruption! How does that even sound in his mouth? Or imagine him preaching to young school children not to cheat, lie under oath, manipulate their age or engage in forgery. How will all that sound in his mouth? Who will listen and take him seriously? Will he use the presidential pulpit to preach moral rectitude to the country when the story of his life as we know it tramples on all the core and sacred values that underpin the moral fabric of society?
In the past, character mattered and society frowned on bad behaviour. It never rewarded such and one could easily judge someone’s upbringing from his character. How you were raised would betray itself from your character and the behaviour exhibited in the public space. The character code of society was largely a set of behaviours and conducts handed down from generation to generation through parenting and teaching in schools. The values people were taught to practice and live by formed the moral fabric of society and ultimately, defined them and their ways of life and the value proposition for the next generation – passed on to the next and the next – a kind of 400 metres relay race.
Again, how do I even tell my children that I now call Tinubu president and compelled to accord him the full courtesies meant for that high office? How will I even begin the conversation – that all the societal safeguards to keep people like him at bay failed. The effect is both chilling and psychedelic on our values. Nigeria is not going to recover from this. The damage to our psyche is too profound and everlasting.
Well, I will come back to this in more detail in another article soon. For now, let me march on to address an unfolding development that hints at the incipient danger that is to come under this man as president.
The Persecution of Emefiele
In his inaugural speech, Tinubu tried to rally a country that had become disillusioned owing to the way he emerged as president. He had declared inter alia, “Our administration shall govern on your behalf but never rule over you. We shall consult and dialogue but never dictate. We shall reach out to all but never put down a single person for holding views contrary to our own. We are here to further mend and heal this nation, not tear and injure it.”
Continuing he said: “Nigeria will be impartially governed according to the constitution and the rule of law.” Did you hear that? The rule of law, that is the bedrock of democracy, not the rule of force..
But a leopard cannot change its spots. Tinubu was never going to govern according to the rule of law. That is too civilised for his base instincts to adhere to. He is too dictatorial to accept the rule of law as a governance principle. Each time he mouths rule of law, he is actually referring to the direct opposite. Don’t be fooled by the text of his lofty speeches. They are mere speeches, never designed to drive his actions. They are convenient precepts meant to hoodwink you to letting down your guard. Don’t be fooled.
Tinubu is never going to heal this land no matter how much he tries. Why? He is part of the problems of this country that the Nigerian people are struggling to free themselves from. He is a natural dictator who pretends to be a democrat. He preaches democracy but corrupts the rule of law. Between his speeches and actions, lies a mountain of contradictions and his natural reflexes will always get the better of him. To him, the end justifies the means. He does not believe in free and fair elections to get to power, instead he believes in “snatching,” “grabbing” and running away with it.
The ink on his inaugural statement had hardly dried when his crude and barbaric instincts took over. A mere 12 days after being sworn in as president, he ordered the suspension and illegal detention of the Governor of the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele on the pretext that investigations into his actions in office were ongoing. I chuckled, when I saw that statement and muttered unprintable words to no one in particular. Investigations? Oh my God! Liars!
It is noteworthy that Emefiele was arrested despite a subsisting court order issued on December 29, 2022, barring the Department of State Services (DSS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Inspector General of Police and other agencies of government from arresting, interrogating or detaining him over terrorism and other sundry allegations against him.
Justice Hassan had ruled that “it is further ordered that the fourth respondent, their agents, servants, privies and all officers under their control and command are hereby restrained from instigating, arrest or arresting, interrogating and detaining Mr Godwin Emefiele, in respect of any matter or policy decision on the economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or for any connected purposes except by an order of a superior court”.
The judge had made the order while delivering judgment in a suit filed by the Incorporated Trustees of the Forum for Accountability and Good Leadership. In the suit, the applicant, among other reliefs, had prayed the court for a declaration that the continuous harassment, intimidation, threats, restriction of free movement, abuse of the right of office, surreptitious moves to arrest and humiliate Emefiele by the respondents were vindictive, unwarranted and abrasive.
In a blatant disregard for this judgment of the court, Tinubu, the pretentious democrat and advocate of the rule of law and his gestapo Bichi-led DSS went after Emefiele in the early hours of June 10 and arrested him in a commando-style operation. And have kept him in detention since then. Two other courts have since ruled against Tinubu-Bichi’s continuous detention of Emefiele all to no avail.
Only recently, a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Friday, July 14, to be specific, nullified the arrest warrant on Emefiele procured by the DSS. The court presided over by Justice Bello Kawu, held that the arrest, detention, and interrogation of Emefiele, was in violation of a subsisting judgment and orders of Justice M. A. Hassan. Emefiele through his counsel had prayed the court to set aside and nullify his arrest and detention, saying that it was illegal and a nullity in view of a subsisting judgment of another court which was delivered on December 29, 2022.
Accordingly, Justice Kawu made an order setting aside any warrant of arrest obtained or procured by the respondents, especially the DSS for the arrest of Emefiele in connection with the allegations of terrorism financing, fraudulent practices, money laundering, and threat to national security before any court. The judge also granted an injunction restraining the respondents, particularly the DSS from arresting, detaining, or interfering with Mr. Emefiele’s personal liberty and freedom of movement. The court equally granted an order of injunction directing and mandating the DSS to forthwith release and set free Emefiele from any arrest and/or detention whatsoever.
Despite these definitive court pronouncements, Tinubu and his lawless DSS refused to comply. Instead, the DSS hurriedly filed two nebulous charges of illegal possession of a single-barrel gun and ammunition against him, while still in breach of the various court orders. It is instructive to recall that the drama by the DSS to arrest the CBN governor started late last year when it secretly sought an order of the court presided by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court Abuja, Justice John Tsoho, to arrest and detain him over terrorism charges. The eagle-eyed judge had spotted mischief and rejected the request on the grounds that the Service had not placed any compelling evidence before the court to grant such a request, considering how weighty the allegations were.
Delivering ruling in suit last December, Tsoho posited that the entire affidavit depositions, especially as per paragraph 4 of the supporting affidavit, purport that preliminary investigation had revealed various acts of terrorism financing, fraudulent activities perpetrated by the respondent and his involvement in economic crimes of national security dimension. The chief judge said these are “no doubt, grave allegations, which the applicant has not presented any concrete evidence to support. And the applicant should have taken the court into confidence, while seeking the exercise of its discretion in favour of granting its application”.
He averred: “It is my respectful opinion that the ipse dixit (assertion) of the applicant, standing on its own, is not sufficient evidence upon which to deprive a person of his liberty. The respondent in this application is named as ‘Godwin Emefiele’ without disclosure of his status or position anywhere, not even in the affidavit.
“It is left to speculation if the ‘Godwin Emefiele’ is the same person as the serving Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. If it is, then he is unarguably a high-ranking public official in Nigeria and indeed occupies a sensitive position as one of the key drivers of the nation’s economy. Therefore, an application of this kind should have evidence of the approval of the respondent’s boss, that such measures are authorised to be taken.”
The judge told the DSS in no uncertain terms that his court would not be used to authorise an illegitimate operation. He described the suit as an illegal operation and a ploy by the DSS to deceive the court into granting a frivolous order to help arrest and deprive an innocent man of his personal liberty.
Let me state here without equivocation, in criminal investigations, if you don’t have prima facie evidence, you don’t take a suspect into custody. It is strange that an agency that went to court to seek leave to arrest someone since December last year and finally took the person into custody nearly two months ago, is still “investigating” and trying to come up with an appropriate offence to charge him with. This is indefensible and it is like arresting someone and asking him to prove his innocence. And despite several court orders to release him, the DSS has blatantly refused. For those defending the DSS, let this be your portion someday.
Honestly, I was shocked by the extent these people were willing to go, to destroy a man. And as the judge noted, the DSS did not provide any evidence before the court to support the request to deny Emefiele his freedom. Why? Because there was no such thing. It was all political. It was a hatchet plot to get a perceived enemy out of circulation before the election.
The truth is that the DSS under the current Director General, Mr Yusuf Bichi has become a willing tool in Tinubu’s hands to hound and persecute his perceived political enemies. Chief among those enemies is Emefiele. He became a target, first, for having the temerity and audacity to show interest in the presidency which Tinubu felt was his turn to “grab, snatch and run with it” at all cost.
Emefiele’s second sin and most serious, was the Naira redesign policy and currency swap, which Tinubu openly declared was principally targeted at eroding his chances of winning the election. Many of those in his campaign office then parroted this same line and targeted the central bank governor with all sorts of vile comments, too egregious to repeat here. They boasted then that if they ever got to power, Emefiele would be number one on the list of those to suffer and that he would rot in prison. Even some obnoxious governors were not left out of the vile campaign against Emefiele.
Now, they power, they must exert vengeance. Emefiele must suffer. That is what this is about. Nothing more, nothing less. Pure vendetta.
One of the deranged supporters of Tinubu wrote a nasty diatribe against the governor following his illegal arrest and detention. It didn’t matter to him that the DSS allegations were nebulous and nefarious.
My biggest disappointment in the whole scheme was former President Muhammadu Buhari, who stayed aloof and pretended he was unaware at whose behest Bichi was acting. No responsible government could have tolerated such an egregious breach of security. When an outsider and politician was using a critical security agency to hound a top official of government because of a policy approved by the president he felt was targeted at him.
But then, was Buhari’s government a responsible government? The answer is capital NO! How could any responsible government fail to take action against Bichi for such compromise of his office? Especially when he was motivated by partisan interest. As a matter of fact, it was Bichi’s conduct that posed a grave threat to national security. He was using the powers of his office to execute a political plot for a candidate seeking election.
While the DSS is obsessed with Emefiele and has charged him with possession of a firearm, another real threat to national security is thriving. Asari Dokubo is brandishing AK-47 rifles about unhindered. His well-armed militia army is openly holding training drills unchallenged. But this same DSS doesn’t see him or his militia as threat to national security so long they continue to profess their support for Tinubu. But it sees Emefiele as a bigger threat to national security for terror financing and owning a single-barrel gun! How embarrassing will these people not get? After whipping up public opinion against the governor with imaginary terrorism allegations and charges of financial crimes, all this partisan agency could come up with is his possession of a gun and 23 rounds of ammunition. This is shameful.
The shame and embarrassment got even worse on Tuesday, July 25, shortly after Emefiele’s eventual arraignment and bail hearing. The judge granted him bail and ordered he remain in the custody of the correctional service until he perfects bail conditions. But Tinubu-Bichi’s lawless DSS would have none of that. For daring to resist the forceful abduction of the governor from the custody of the correctional service while still inside the premises of the Federal High Court, DSS operatives manhandled the correctional service operatives. The viral video of the assault sent chills down the spine of every sane Nigerian except those who issued the orders.
But this is what you get when incompetent people man critical state institutions. They reduce such institutions to their own level of incompetence. How did Bichi get this very important appointment in the first place? Factors extraneous to merit. Same factors that have crippled this country’s progress since independence and prevented it from reaching its full potential.
I can bet an arm and a leg that Tinubu is thoroughly enjoying the DSS show of shame. I can imagine him gleefully laughing and beating his chest that “I am now in charge”. He must be surprised by the enormous powers he now wields. That he can order the detention of any Nigerian who he perceives to be his enemy. Power, the old maxim says, corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Nigerians are about to witness the most dangerous man as President. We should prepare ourselves for the most brutal democratic dictator ever.
Just in case we have forgotten, let me remind Nigerians: In early February 2021, Nigeria’s then information and culture minister, Lai Mohammed disclosed at a press conference that the Nigerian government had uncovered 123 companies and 33 bureau de change service providers that were linked to terrorism financing in the country.
He added that an analysis by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), in 2020-2021, revealed 96 financiers of terrorism in Nigeria, 424 associates/supporters of the financiers, in addition to identifying 26 suspected bandits/kidnappers and 7 co-conspirators. The announcement was sequel to the jailing of six Nigerians in the United Arab Emirates over allegations of terrorism financing.
Fellow Nigerians, have you heard anything about these real terror financiers and their supporters ever since? No! Have you heard or seen the DSS charging in the wee hours of the morning to arrest any of the people Lai Mohammed spoke about? No!
Is this not the same Bichi who was the Director General of DSS then? Of he was. If this man was so interested in securing Nigeria from bandits, terrorists and their sponsors, all through the length and breadth of this country, we would have seen it from the record of his achievements in curbing their activities. We would have hailed him if he was man enough to go after those identified terrorists’ financiers. He would have become a hero of sorts of the republic. I would have hailed him. But he never did, for reasons best known to him. I dare say most of those real terror financiers are from a particular part of this country that Bichi protects.
Bichi gives terrorists a free pass and then goes after soft civilian targets for possession of the equivalent of a dane gun. Okay, if Emefiele was involved in terrorism financing, what of Abdulrasheed Bawa, the Chairman of EFCC, who has been detained by the DSS without charge for nearly two months now. Was he also involved in terror financing or is his detention related to his role in the naira redesign policy? The truth is that Bichi is carrying on a vendetta against those identified as arrowheads of that policy to satisfy Tinubu’s anger.
If you don’t trust me on this, then Nigerians should ask Bichi, why he arrested Emefiele in the first place despite a court order barring him from doing so. Was it because of illegal possession of the equivalent of a dane gun? Surely, that was not the reason for his arrest. The gun was discovered after the fact. Tinubu and Bichi arrested him first and then went searching for evidence to charge him with. Is that the SOP of DSS? Emefiele is not just a clerk in an office, he is the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor.
Time will tell where we are headed. Tinubu has been given the opportunity to pick his friends out of history’s crowd. He has so far wasted no time in showing us who his friends and enemies are. His cabinet nominees tell us clearly that there is a reward for bad behaviour. Those who worked in cahoots with INEC to change the votes representing the supreme will of the people in favour of Tinubu have been rewarded with ministerial positions. Of particular blight, the Rivers State presidential election result remains an everlasting stain on INEC. The authentic result on INEC’s IRev was ditched, while manipulated results were declared. And someone is being celebrated for “delivering” Rivers State to Tinubu and the APC – clear message here is that if you rig for him, you will be rewarded with a ministerial position or any other appointment.
Many well-meaning Nigerians are utterly dismayed by Tinubu’s reward for bad behaviour. But can anyone do now? A few days ago, a sparring partner mockingly said that kudos should be given to the president for saving the country’s blushes by not including Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chairman’s name on the ministerial list. But who knows, maybe there is another reward waiting for him.