News making the round yesterday revealed that Elisha Abbo, the lawmaker representing Adamawa North Senatorial District, that was caught on camera assaulting a woman in a sex shop in Abuja, is appealing the N50 million settlement an FCT High Court ordered him to pay to his victim on September 28.
Amongst the several reasons that lie at the heart of his appeal, the Senator considers the assault to be “simple” and not one too inhumane to attract a N50 million fine. According to Abbo, the fine awarded to his assaulted victim was “excessive” and the case itself, contentious.
A few questions:
What should happen to a high ranking member of society when they commit a crime?
How much can a man with power get away with in a society like ours where power precedes over truth?
What happens to victims whose oppression are minimised as “simple” and the resolution of their justice “excessive”?
We can make a few guesses from how Nigeria has conveniently excused people, men, with power from accountability.
But aside from the misogynistic edge of this appeal, which remains a constant and important social fight, the language with which Abbo is minimising his victim’s assault is a sad attempt at gas-lighting and a soft masterclass on how to stretch the abuse of power.
It would be convenient to say that Abbo doesn’t fully understand the gravity of what he did. That would fall in line with the numerous excuses society mandates that we come up with. “So many abusive men can still be human,” they say. So that powerful men can still be given a chance and not completely held to account for their deeds. No, it would be too convenient.
However, judging from the intricacies of this appeals, it is clear that the Senator knows exactly what he did. He understands the weight of exercising utmost power over a powerless citizen as a government official. He understands the trauma he must have inflicted on his victim, Ms. Warmate.
He understands the fear and distrust with which she might come to relate with men now. He understands all of this, this is why he did it in the first place and this is we he is minimizing Ms. Warmate’s assault.
We are going to continue to watch how this plays out, but whatever resolution the court finally comes to, we will be reminded that yet again, a man with power is doing what many men with power do; abuse it.
Nelson C.J is a culture writer with works in The New York Times, Xtra Magazine, OkayAfrica, Black Youth Project, AfroPunk, and a few other spaces. You can find him saving dog pictures on Twitter.