From about 11pm on Friday the 7th of October 2016 and deep into the dead of the night, the Department of State Security (or State Security Services) raided the homes of several judges: including Justice Sylvanus Ngwunta, Justice Inyang Okoro (both Justices of the Supreme Court), Justice Abdullahi Liman of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Justice Muazu Pindiga, Justice Kabiru Auta and Justice Adeniyi Ademola. This raid comes admittedly in the wake of calls by the public for the judiciary to be sanitised but more following public statements by the President and Commander-in-Chief Muhammadu Buhari that the judiciary is an hindrance to his efforts to fight corruption but more instructively, it comes just two days over a week after the highest Judicial body in Nigeria, the NJC had just retired three judges, with the third (Kabiru Auta) being recommended for prosecution. What the NJC did is how it should be done, constitutionally. What the DSS did was illegal in its entirety and entirely unprecedented in the annals of our Democratic history. But here is what I have learnt from observing the entire situation:
Buhari has a Personal Security Force that he can deploy Anytime, deploy Anywhere, deploy Anyhow, deploy on Anybody
When PDP and several Civil Society Organisations raised the alarm about the call back from retirement and appointment of Lawal Daura as the head of the DSS in July 2015, after he had been retired from the service upon reaching the retirement age of 60 in 2013. Same lawal Daura had since that 2013 openly campaigned for and with the APC and Buhari where he chaired the Security and Sub-Intelligence Committee of the party. This man is a relative of the President, his nephew no less, from the same Daura in Katsina as Buhari himself. Some of his first actions were the retirement of several people within the DSS as well as the redeployment of others, to ensure an hierarchy that was trusted. This hierarchy is conveniently from the same part of the country as the President and Lawal Daura.
What we have in the DSS is a personal security force, reminiscent of those of Ghadaffi and other dictators, that can be deployed without any coordination with any other security agency (because they cannot be trusted), against anybody from former NSA Dasuki and now to Judges of the Supreme Court. This Daura is not above seeking personal vendetta. His security force in blatant disregard of a court judgement barring them from doing so in December 2015 invaded the Lagos home of a former DG of the SSS, Rtd. Col. Kayode Are. Are had between 1999 and 2007 headed the SSS while Daura was a State Director in the service and Are had found cause to demote him by several levels.
Buhari has two ready-made Excuses that he uses to Justify every known Democratic Doctrine
You could guess this one: National Security or Corruption. The arrest of Dasuki was accompanied with the rumour that he was planning a coup against the Buhari Government, that he had enough weapons in his possession two days after his removal as the National Security Adviser to start a “small war” in the country and he had the intent to do so. This was why a siege was laid to his house and that of his father in Sokoto. Dasuki managed to get a bit of his own side of the story out and the second excuse was deployed.
With Nnamdi Kanu, it was National Security. With El-Zakzaky, it is also National Security. But with the judges, Corruption is the mantra. They are corrupt and therefore deserve anything that comes to them – including disregard for due process and the rule of law, disregard for the democratic doctrine of separation of powers, the use of excessive force at ungodly hours. These excuses are similar to those used to justify every evil in a dictatorship: Hitler felt the Jews were an unpure race that had brought hardship to the Germans, xenophobia in South Africa only had to yell “these Nigerians and other Africans are taking all our jobs and women” before the madness was unleashed. Buhari has his ready excuse and has seen above, he has his own personal security force.
Buhari has an Army of Defenders, Enablers and Justifiers
Every single time Buhari assaults Democracy, lays it bare a cold floor and proceeds to rape it with impunity, there is always a group of people who will wait till the act is done and the emperor explains why it was necessary (invoking of course those two excuses against which there can be no law). They then fan out onto social and traditional media to defend what he did and why he did it with only a few of them minding to point out that the mouth of Democracy didn’t need to be gagged along with the nose while the rape was ongoing – then proceed to have a small argument as to why either the mouth or nose would have suffice to be covered so that the victim would only be left gasping not dead at the ened of the ordeal.
These are the enablers – they provide the right atmosphere for this rape to happen again and again and with growing impunity. They did it with Dasuki, they did it with Nnamdi Kanu, they did it with El-Zakzaky, they’ve done it now with judges and they will do it I suspect, more and more times in the future as the corruption and national security excuses are whipped up against other crucial sectors of Democracy, especially the traditional and ultimately the digital media. They are the justifiers – they think of even more than the perpetrators could think of but then jump on afterwards. They analyse for us, how many hospitals the alleged stolen sum of money, found in a soakaway or a septic tank could have built. They point us to other climes where such and such happened. They ultimately appear stupid.
Their psychology is interesting and you have to understand: they cannot bring themselves to criticise the things they would have criticised under the immediate past government. To do so would be an admission that they voted the wrong candidate. It would be an admission of their own ignorance about the records of a former military dictator who ranks with the worst of our dictators in terms of his breach of human rights and disregard for the rule of law. For them, criticising Buhari even when he is clearly wrong will only expose them to gloating from those who had opposed him bitterly. They have inadvertently turned into the zombie army that feeds every dictatorship. Some of them are naive, others are paid by the same administration. History and posterity will remember all they have said.
Buhari’s Govt lacks the Intelligence to Fight Corruption
As with any individual that pays more attention to brute force, intelligent and diligent prosecution is sadly lacking in this Government. From Diezani whom were told singlehandedly wrecked the dollar market to Dasuki whom we were told singlehandedly wrecked the Boko Haram war to even Dame Jonathan who has come out to claim her money forcefully, this Government has not been able to move any case of corruption beyond the first base. Diezani is somewhere outside Nigeria, no request made for her extradition and non-likely just like Obanikoro while even the Dasuki that was the first to be demonised has not been brought forward for trial a record five times in a row, granted bail by three courts of competent jurisdiction including the ECOWAS court. One of the judges arrested by the DSS had had occasion to chastise the DSS for not presenting the accused Dasuki before him or complying with his bail order. He had told them not to bother to come to his court anymore since his authority was not recognised by them.
The recent case of Timpire Sylva is the biggest indictment of this Government on Corruption: an APC chieftain against whom an EFCC case had been ongoing in prosecution led by Festus Keyamo himself an APC member, Sylva was made the Chairman of the Transition Committee by President-Elect Buhari and two days to his inauguration, Keyamo withdrew from the case which was subsequently quashed in two courts supposedly to harmonise the charges and re-prosecute, only for us to hear that he has recovered all his houses that were seized under the previous government.
Based on this record of lack of intelligence and diligence, one can predict how this charade with the judges will end up: in a fiasco. They have ruined their case by not following due process and I will like to see the judges that will preside over the humiliation, assault and abduction of their colleagues when the case opens. If the case opens.
Related to this is that this government values the justice of propaganda more than the conviction of law: tantalising tales of outrageous sums of monies found during illegal raids to justify the illegality of the action is good enough for beer-parlour conviction but not for courts of law.
Government’s Lack of Intelligence in Prosecuting the Corruption War is Deliberate. This Government is Cunning
With accusations of corruption against high-ranking officials of this government largely ignored, with no single loophole of corruption yet plugged to prevent further corruption, it is obvious that this government only uses the Anti-Corruption excuse as just an excuse. The aim of anything it has done has never been to fight corruption but to entrench fear and intimidation in the minds of everybody. Having assailed the rank and file of the opposition PDP to leave only few voices like Femi Fani-Kayode and Governor Ayo Fayose able to speak, the Government proceeded to neutralise the legislative with charges against its leadership, one of which was suddenly dropped as they were brought to heel. It then turned to Judiciary: first the Bar to intimidate a few voices like Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa (whose case was only this week dismissed by a court of law) then the Bench before making a future return to the Bar to complete its rape of Democracy.
This Government has no interest in fighting corruption. This government is only using corruption as an excuse to complete its stranglehold on power with an incapacitated Legislative and Judiciary. It lacks intelligence but is cunning. They want to cow an entire nation into a position of weakness but the last thing we must learn is that…
We will have People. Men like Wike who will defend Democracy
May heavens count us among these people of courage, to be able to stand in our time as our fathers and mothers stood in
Postscript: With a pliable and effective security force in the DSS, ready-made excuses to justify any illegality, an army of defenders, enablers and justifiers, a lack of intelligence but depth of cunning, a motivation to decimate anything that stands in the way of a total and complete hegemony, one can confidently say that the return to 1984 is now complete.
Except People of Courage stand up in Defence of Democracy.
Article written by Demola Olarewaju, a Lagos-based PDP Analyst and Strategist who tweets from @DemolaRewaju on Twitter.