Friday, April 20, 2018

OF SEXUAL PREDATOR LECTURERS IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES

The first time I heard about sexual harassment of female students by male lecturers in the university was while in my first year at the University Of Lagos about two decades back. We as medical students had just one year to do on the main campus at Akoka, and there was no reseat option for us; it was either a pass, on to the medical school at Idi Araba or a fail, and repeat the year at the main campus. The albatross for many of us medical students then turned out to be a physics lecturer.
To stand a fighting chance at passing at all, we had to buy a textbook, he coauthored with another physics professor, the head of department at the time, if memory serves me right. By the time the results were about to be released, the studentry was awash with news of impending disaster concerning the yet to be released results. Those who were not sure about passing started paying visits to those they thought could do and undo at the Physics Department, to see what could be done to salvage their situation before the results would be eventually released.


Soon enough, the rumour mill was awash  with names and faces of girls who were said have to given in to the sexual demands of the physics lecturer, to have their marks upgraded to the 40% pass rate. Sadly, the physics lecturer these girls were alleged to have slept with, so they can proceed to medical school, had these maculopapular rashes allover his face, and most likely other parts of his body, and even as I write this, I visualize his face. Luckily I'd no dealings with him (as it was also rumoured that guys parted with money for his favours) besides seeing him lecture in class from the back where I usually sit, without understanding anything he was teaching, confident only in my ability to understand the same lecture at extramural classes a certain TOA (from a set ahead of mine, but in the science department), organized in the evenings, not only for science students, but also engineering students, in maths and physics, that made that lecturers' classes a walkover, save for the fact that one needed a certain number for attendance, to be eligible to write the exams.


In medical school though, not much of that did we hear, though the randy anatomy lecturer was said to have scored a number of girls in my class, but it remained unclear, if it was for marks, as one of the girls failed the exam and reseat, and had to repeat the year. Anyway, my reason for writing this is because of the recently released tape of the voice of a lecturer, Professor Richard Akindele of the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU in Ile-Ife, demanding to have sex five times with one of his female students as a prerequisite to upgrading her marks from 33 to the pass rate of 40. Everyone I've come across concerning the authenticity of the tape, from former OAU students belonging to my secondary schools' alumni WhatsApp group, to friends who attended the school, especially as MBA postgraduate students, confirmed that the voice on tape is distinctly his, and I wasn't surprised that the university has now suspended him, while investigations continue. A very unusual occurrence considering that its difficult to prove such cases as this, especially without video evidence, going to show how peculiar the man's voice is that everyone who hears it, instantly agrees that it is of the man (who is also a high ranking member of clergy in his church) in question.



It is significant that the two incidents I've so far mentioned, happened in federal tertiary institutions, noted for their strictness, and for some level of credibility, concerning their certificates, when compared with state and privately owned universities, where news of this sort have long been the norm rather than the exception. A friend of mine once told me how she was able to pass a course she'd failed, while schooling at a state government owned polytechnic in southwestern Nigeria, by sending her friend and classmate, who was dating the lecturer to help appeal on her behalf, to which the lecturer agreed but only if she agreed to pay a certain amount of money. Eventually, she didn't pay, but still passed because she asked her then boyfriend, who belonged to a powerful cult in school to threaten the lecturer who went on to drop his demands.


Another student at OAU made the mistake of telling the lecturer of a course she'd been carrying from her first year, and had serially failed that she had a deadline to complete her studies, including her project, so she could relocate to the United States. Once the lecturer found that she was boxed into a corner, he made her an offer she couldn't reject. The Saturday she was to be "sacrificed" she washed herself, dressed up, and left sorrowfully to the "abattoir" to be slaughtered. When she returned to her room, after the lecturer had had her way with her twice, she was inconsolable that whole day.


When the case of the OAU lecturer came up recently, many of the females who stormed social media outlets, to air their views, stated that in some instances, the lecturers would ask female students to pay for hotel rooms where they intend to carry out their nefarious activities, including for food and drinks, and several attempts to have these lecturers face the full wrath of justice have met with stiff resistance by lecturers and school authorities, with blames going to the females students for not been studious enough, or for wearing provocative dressings, for which many of the schools in Nigeria have come up with dress codes, targeting females especially, in response.
I had earlier stated my surprise at the fact that this case involving Professor Richard Akindele of the OAU received this much attention from the authorities, when you consider that another case involving an Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma lecturer, who managed to turn the case around in his favour, despite overwhelming video evidence, by claiming he was set up by students who waylaid him, and forced him into a room with a female he hadn't known from Adam, before compelling him to sign a cheque in a bid to blackmail him, abounds amongst several of such cases with yet more compelling evidence, where the offending lecturers still get to walk free.



Many of these lecturers are able to go free of accusations of sexual misconduct because they are usually presented before their peers, who aren't exactly without their own indiscretions with female students, and would only crucify one of theirs when and only if they'd exhausted all loopholes that can be exploited to give their own a soft landing, while crippling the academic career of the female students, who may have gone to extraordinary lengths to gather the guts to bring their predators to book, besides the trauma they may have to silently bear the rest of their lives, because of their ordeal. This angle of exponentially growing cases of
sexual predation by lecturers on female students, remain one of the reasons Nigeria's education system is on a slide, and until it is recognized by stakeholders in the sector as an existential threat, and efforts to curb it systematically highlighted and executed to the latter, our educational system will not be rid of the darkness currently enveloping it. Hmmmmmmn!



Thursday, April 19, 2018

AS PRESIDENT BUHARI DISSES NIGERIAN YOUTHS

Was it not the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who in his masterpiece, "BEAST OF NO NATION", described then Head Of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, as using words such as,
      "my people are useless,
       my people are senseless,
       my people are undisciplined",
on Nigerians, in his first stint as Head of State in the 1980s, after coming to power via a military coup, which many who were of age at the time could quite relate to, as one who was quick to apportion blame to others, and hardly ever taking responsibility for a bad turn of events, which dogged his regime back then, just as awful as it is doing today, on all facets of governance?


Sadly enough, when fortune smiled on him once again, and he was gifted the rulership of Nigeria again (on a platform aimed solely at removing former President Goodluck Jonathan, than it is for any thing he'd rightfully done in and out of power, besides an anticorruption posture, that was vindictive at his first coming, and an act of vendetta against those who denied him power all these years in this second coming), he doubled down on his shameful rhetoric, of demonizing every Nigerian but himself, so much so that by demarketing Nigeria in the early days of his presidency, he caused the country to go into recession, as the people and country he presided over couldn't be trusted by foreign investors, whose funds just before the 2015 elections helped make Nigeria's economy, the fastest growing in Africa. 


At the slightest opportunity,  he would remorselessly take Nigerians to the guillotine, as "cleaners" would be charitable regarding his penchant to talking down on Nigerians, without considering the consequences, especially before a world that's gotten used to not seeing or hearing anything good about his country, sometimes but not many times deservedly so, so much so that he didn't vehemently reject the assertion by former British Prime Minister, David Cameron (a tax defaulter by reason of storing his wealth in tax havens) before his Queen, that Nigeria is "fantastically corrupt", rather seeing such an odious slight on his people as vindication of what he'd always said.


Unfortunately, this same man has in the past few years since coming to power, harbored very corrupt individuals in his kitchen cabinet (the case of the grasscutter, easily comes to mind here), as well as in his main cabinet. Wined and dined with corrupt Nigerians, including those on whose shoulder he rose to power. Enabling them and doing their bidding, against the wishes of Nigerians, and the letters of the constitution. Known fraudulent characters have also found refuge under and within his government. 


But the recent cause of anger amongst Nigerians, especially youths is his recent description of that critical mass of the Nigerian public (which he claimed, at a summit in London, forms sixty percent of the population), as "LAZY", inferring that they have an entitlement mentality, because they say they are from an oil producing country, and therefore should get everything free, and that from a man who'd lived virtually almost all of his life off Nigerians and her oil wealth, who in the same breath as he was casting aspersions on Nigerian youths in London, couldn't hold up his excitement in declaring that "Shell", that serial violator of the rights of oil producing communities in Nigeria, as well as Nigeria's greatest environmental polluter, had intimated him of their intention to invest a huge sum in the oil sector, he swore to wean Nigeria from in an attempt to diversify the economy, only to turn around to stick with oil alone, not just by making himself the substantive petroleum minister, but going ahead to plunge scarce resources into the elusive search for oil in the North, doing exactly what he just accused Nigerian youths of. 


Interestingly, he made this speech at a time his deputy was in Lagos, visiting tech startups, founded by youths, already recognized by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates during their visits respectively to Nigeria. Sadly, only President Buhari failed to see, and hail these landmark achievements by youths, who have gotten so far without any form of assistance from government over the years. Much more unfortunate is the fact that he rose on the backs of many of these youths on social media to power, only to miss a most significant opportunity to laud their works before the international community. Electing to continue in his characteristics bashing of anything and anyone Nigerian, as his custom is, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of discerning Nigerians, who he continues to disappoint and embarrass routinely. 


I wonder, if statements like the one he made in London, is the sort he dishes out when unscripted amongst his sycophantic aides, and which they find so funny as to tag him a "funny man" if only we knew him the way they do. If it is so, then it is quite unfortunate, and indicate of the extent people can carry sycophancy to, enough to laugh sheepishly to expensive jokes made in bad taste, sometimes and probably insulting the sensibilities of those present at such occasions. 


It's unsurprising as well, to find his deluded supporters online and offline, doing their best to justify the latest London misyarn, only to find themselves muddling further already muddled waters, when it would have been better if they just kept quiet in the hope that even this gaffe, like the myriad before it will speedily pass, or be superseded by the next nightmarish news of killings and death across Nigeria (the numbers of which wartorn countries like Syria and Yemen can only attempt to equal on their worst days of battle), that's now become the hallmark of this administration, with the government having no answers or response, aimed at curbing if not bringing an end to the senseless killings either by murderous and marauding herdsmen or the now ever present menace and reality of Boko Haram in Nigeria's northeast, despite several lies by government of their defeat or impending defeat, as the government sadly fails Nigerians in fulfilling its primary responsibility to Nigerians per diem.


President Muhammadu "THE BLAME" Buhari has never shown one of the most distinguishing attributes of a leader, and indeed has never exhibited it, as he can't and couldn't be caught taking responsibility for anything wrong, while at the same time willingly lapping up praises to his exhibition of piety, ascetism and holier-than-thou attitude, built largely on false premise, that's done very little to impact the Nigerian people as he basks in his aloofness in power, like none before him, and maybe and hopefully after him. Unfortunately, many Nigerians fear that the 2019 elections may not signify an end to the  constant verbal abuse at the mouth of their president, as the institutions that ensured his ascension have been intentionally and systematically compromised, in order to make it difficult for him to democratically lose power.


'kovich 

Monday, March 26, 2018

T. Y. DANJUMA'S CALL FOR SELF DEFENCE

What a respectable military should do, is investigate the accusations by former Chief of Army Staff, and also one time Defence Minister,  General T. Y.  Danjuma,  that some members of its organization collude with armed bandits like Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen, to massacre Nigerians, rather than merely responding along the lines of such accusations been unfortunate, and capable of causing anarchy. This isn't the first time such accusations have been made, unfortunately on none of such occasions have any investigation been carried out, by the Defence Headquarters or the Nigerian Government for that matter.

GENERAL T. Y. DANJUMA AT THE MAIDEN CONVICATION CEREMONY OF TARABA STATE UNIVERSITY. 


If the security agencies have been alive to their responsibilities, statements like that by the former General at the maiden convocation ceremony of Taraba State University last weekend, would've been considered seditious by the majority of Nigerians. Unfortunately, the army is now treating the call that's now gone viral on social media, like it was directed against it, when in fact all he called for, was that the people should defend themselves against armed bandits, who now kill Nigerians with impunity, because of alleged bias and "collussion" from the military and security forces, as if they were part of the armed bandits he was referring to.


Unfortunately, we don't have a proactive President in Muhammadu Buhari, who in the face of the security challenges Nigeria is currently facing, should have as a matter of factly, sacked and rejigged the security henchmen and apparati. To bring in officers hungry not just for success but to also write their names on the green side of Nigeria's history. The way these ones have handled the security situation is less than admirable, and has made Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of nations, making the discerning Nigerian wonder what motivation could probably be behind their lackluster performance besides protecting the interest of a few individuals and groups from a section of the country, over that of the generality of Nigerians.


If this government, and those who support it continues to see criticisms as politically motivated, then it means they are immature and unfit to be where they are, and Nigerians shouldn't hesitate to put them where they ought to be come 2019.



'kovich

Sunday, March 25, 2018

BILL GATES FAULTS NIGERIA'S ECONOMIC TEMPLATE

When Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg came to see young IT entrepreneurs in Lagos, and left afterwards, this APC government at the centre, hurriedly returned him to see President Muhammadu Buhari, made him wear a suit (against what he would normally wear) to say nice things about their make belief directionless government, after organizing a sham of a show in the name of an ICT program, where phantom gifts and opportunities were presented to winners of a fake competition that was hurriedly put together to entertain the social media icon, and one of the richest men in the world.


This time around, Microsoft's Bill Gates came for Aliko Dangote's daughter's wedding.
BILL GATES AT THE WEDDING OF THE DAUGHTER OF AFRICA'S RICHEST MAN, ALHAJI ALIKO DANGOTE, IN LAGOS, NIGERIA. 

Again this government, in its bid for validation from no less a personality as the second richest man in the world (after Jeff Bezos) stole him, and made him attend and speak at their economic summit, only for the man to pick holes in the administration's economic template, which he described as not having "the ability to address the unique needs of Nigerians", amongst other expositions. The so called Economic Recovery & Growth Plan, ERGP that Nigerians have yet to feel it's positive impact, and may never do because of it's opacity, in being more like a dark cave, rather than the tunnel with 💡 at its end, further exposed part of the cluelessness which this government is gradually becoming legendary for.


All of a sudden, the Bill Gates they lost sleep over in trying to lure to attend their charade of a meeting, hopefully to launder the image of the government; after "shitting" in their sanctum sanctorum quickly became pariah, and the man who recently paid part of Nigeria's debt, and for years on end funded vaccination in Nigeria for children from childhood killer diseases, they now remembered to be a college dropout, without knowledge of the inner workings of economies in Africa, and Nigeria in particular, amongst other unfortunate comments and reactions from those sympathetic to government in the wake of the billionaires speech. Sadly, it is Nigerians who will not be the better for it, as Bill Gates' message harping particularly on the focusing of government to the development of Human Capital, which interestingly was the theme of the summit he was invited to, and to which he spoke eloquently on, will be ignored, simply because President Buhari's ego wasn't massaged in delivering the truth to power.


Hopefully, Nigerians would learn from this, and in future, refuse to be swayed by a whitewashing and sugarcoating of incapable individuals, who may be elevated to messianic proportions, just to win votes when they have no history or precedence that support their ability to turn things around for good, It is pertinent that we do not allow again this kind of ineptitude portrayed in all aspects and sectors of Nigerian life, to hold sway in the country's highest office, the likes that have seen Nigeria taken back to decades of underdevelopment and arrested development in just three years since the coming to power of this government.


'kovich


PHOTO CREDIT:
- https://www.lindaikejisblog.com

Monday, February 19, 2018

OF HERDSMEN & THE RANCHING OPTION

If it is the matter of desertification occasioned by climate change via global warming that's at the heart of this migration to the South of herdsmen from the North, in search of foliage for their cattle, then a more sustainable solution, other than those already postulated by proponents of grazing reserves, cattle colonies and the likes, without considerations for ranching, is required. To begin with, nothing says that the forests and vegetation of the south wouldn't one day be lost, not only to the forces of nature that had successfully licked up the body of water that used to be where the Sahara desert is today, or that rapidly shrunk the size of the Lake Chad, but also to urbanisation and high population growth rate, besides the fact that wood continues to be a popular source of household fuel amongst the poor due to ever increasing cost of fossil fuels in Third World economies like Nigeria.


There's an ongoing diplomatic conflict between Egypt and her neighbours over issues of rights to the Nile. Under British rule, priority was given Egypt over the other African states through which the Nile also flows. Increased energy demands means that a country like Ethiopia must dam the aspect of the Nile passing through it, with other countries also diverting the waters, sometimes for irrigation purposes, because of existing realities, also because of the realization that not everything the British says or wants is cast in stone, seeing as they don't any longer have dominion, howbeit directly, over these "independent" states.  At one of the meetings organized amongst the affected African countries, Egypt staged a walkout,  but that did very little to change the resolve of the other African countries to insist on their right to do with the aspect of the Nile that passes through their territories as they wish. If the British had always been right, and hadn't done things to suit their own pleasures only, the Middle East would've been at peace, at least to some extent, without the memories of the Sykes-Picot Agreement/Line and the Balfour Delaration for example, in making a case for deflating the notion that just because the British willed something so, it therefore must remain infallible and undebatable, even if it has become illogical and non-consonant with the dictates of our time.


I have raised the above scenario because of the insistence of herder groups like the Miyetti Allah, on grazing corridors allotted

them across Nigeria by the British, a decision that remains doubtful as to how much local input was sought and garnered by the colonising British authorities while they held sway before Nigeria's independence. The reason why those grazing routes have all but disappeared today is because it was never sustainable, and the British aren't gods, that whatever they say, just because it favours a group, must be sacrosanct. The solution therefore cannot be that the farms (to ensure food security) or structures (private or public) or the likes currently sitting on the grazing routes, be removed. It cannot also be that new grazing routes be delineated even if the land is currently being put to no use, seeing as the earlier attempt after many years have failed, and is currently at the root of so much bloodshed, occasioned by constant clashes between farmer and herder communities, many times culminating in attacks on farming communities in Northcentral Nigeria by herdsmen suspected to be of Fulani stock akin to what you find when genocide and ethnic cleansing is committed.


Even that yarn that the breed of cattle in Nigeria and West Africa cannot be ranched holds no water. Are the cattle wild? Does the fact that they can be controlled to move in the direction their herders want not mean that they are and can be domesticated/ranched? The ones been ranched today had ancestors who started off nomadic but had to change their lifestyle to suit the dictates of the time. The only reason I think, why ranching may have not been given the right consideration amongst the stakeholders who currently oppose it, boils down mainly to laziness, as well as that rent-seeking penchant that's almost second nature with Nigeria and Nigerians, that makes improving a product to expand it's value chain, anathema (as typified with the fact that Nigeria currently has no petroleum refinery working to half it's optimum capacity, despite being a crude "oil producing" country). The positives of ranching far outweighs the negative (if any, besides the fact that herders would now be compelled to pay taxes and other dues as a going concern) from ranching, it is even an industry on its own, that is why with all the bloodletting that's associated with rearing cattle in Nigeria via nomadism (which is just scratching the surface of what the whole could entail if ranching is embraced), we aren't even a force to reckon with compared to other nations where ranching is norm and the value chain alone is such that sale of cattle just for the sake of beef consumption (as is with the business in Nigeria) pales in comparison to by-products such as leather, milk, cheese, bone, blood and other derivatives from cattle when ranched, so much so that during one of the episodes of KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS, one of the kids been interviewed by Bill Cosby, erroneously said chocolate is made from cattle, buttressing how so great a role cattle and it's products play in the life of people in the west and developed economies worldwide.


History hardly favours societies that are adamant, unamenable and unwilling to change. If herders in Nigeria, including Fulani, within and outside of Nigeria feel they can have their way by force, and they succeed in wiping out all obstacles till they hit the Atlantic in the south and west of Nigeria and Africa, they will eventually find that they'd still have to ranch, either because the cattle would have eaten up all of the foliage left at some point (at unchecked growth rate, with those who should eat such beef redeemed with the shedding of blood already dead) , or global warming will meet up with them to diminish vegetation in the south. Even in farming, age old culture of leaving land to fallow while moving to another to allow it regain fertility, have given way to fertilizers been used on the scarce resource that land has continuously become, to encourage and promote good yield consistently. The days of depending on nature to guarantee rainfall, has given way to irrigation methods to ensure that even seasonal crops can be cultivated and harvested all year round, capped with storage facilities to assure their all year round availability, so why won't the Fulani and other herders in Nigeria and West Africa change with the times, even to and for their own benefit?


'kovich


PICTURE CREDIT:
- https://www.hipstamp.com

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

NIGERIA IN SECURITY LIMBO

Nigerians woke up last New Year's day to horrific stories of killings in Benue and Rivers State. Those killings were preceded, in that short space of time, by the Christmas Day killings in Southern Kaduna (just days after the state hosted dignitaries from home and abroad, in celebration of the centenary of its founding), followed by the killing in quick succession of two district chiefs/heads, one with his pregnant wife, while his son escaped with injuries meted on him by suspected Fulani militia, before they set their abode on fire. Adamawa, Benue and other states in Nigeria's North-Central region were also not left out. The blood letting continued after the New Year was ushered in, with killings in Benue, Adamawa and Taraba States, with the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, especially in Borno State remaining the ever present denominator of our times in terms of security challenges.


In the New Year Day massacre in which twenty three people returning from a Crossover Night service in Omoku, Rivers State, fingers were quickly and easily pointed to a (former) militant, Johnson Igwedibia, also known as, Don Wani,  known to have submitted himself to the AMNESTY PROGRAM more than once, only to return to his trenches thereafter and continued with his nefarious activities. Within a week, his new location in Enugu (where he was said to be living amongst neighbours, just like any law abiding citizen) was discovered, with the military spokesman stating that Don Wani and two of his lieutenants were shot and killed
when they made to escape through another exit, after they'd been cornered in their rented apartment.


While this is a plus on the side of the security agents, what shouldn't be lost on us, is the origins of the security challenge in Rivers State in particular, and the Niger Delta in general. The unhealthy mix of Resource Control (in this case, crude oil), the Agitation for same between host communities and the oil exploration companies, Cultism (more like gangsterism, that's almost taken in some of the communities to mean a "coming of age" for men), Politics amongst others, makes "Rivers of Blood" an appropriate cognomen for Rivers State, for which unless a holistic view is taken in tackling the issues headlong, the dream of peace in the Niger Delta region will remain but a fleeting illusion. With general elections afoot, the diatribes and counter accusations between the political gladiators (Governor Nyesom Wike and his predecessor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi) in Rivers State, is currently setting a stage for the escalation of violence in the coming days, as both camps strategize to retain or grab power "by all means possible", at state level in 2019.


The other killings besides that in Rivers, is coloured by one factor only and that is the menace that the activities of Fulani Herdsmen have continued to be, to their
hosts, especially in the North-Central part of Nigeria. Sadly enough, it is officially referred to as "Farmers vs Herders Clashes", even when the attackers, have attacked their victims, including women (of which pregnant ones, even had their babies ripped out and killed) and children while they slept, in the night and wee hours of the morning, with subsequent razing of homesteads in the villages attacked. Most Unfortunate was the statement credited to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris that "Communal Crisis" between the different ethnic groups in the area, was responsible for the killings, on New Years' day of over thirty persons in Guma and Logo Local Government areas of Benue State. No mention was made of Fulani Herdsmen, just like the statement from the presidency commiserating with the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, despite a statement credited to the Miyetti Allah cattle breeders association, that the attacks on some villages in Benue State  was revenge for the killings of their cattle by the host communities. Interestingly, the killings continued in Benue State, even after the Inspector General of Police, set up a "high powered" team to beef up security in the "affected areas", with police helicopters overhead to spot movement of armed groups, and act to nip their evil intentions in the bud.


The visibly frustrated Benue State governor, who declared days of mourning prior to giving the victims of Fulani Militia (said to be fourth on the list of terrorist groups in the world) a mass burial, appeared forlorn when he stated his intention to involve stakeholders regardless of political affiliations, to figure out a way forward, seeing that the security agencies have performed miserably in stemming the tide of constant killings in Benue State. To add salt upon their injuries, Benue state indigenes who'd stormed major roads in a peaceful protest, which later turned violent (as it was reported that the governor was pelted with stones), were rewarded with
tear gas and gunshots, that claimed the lives of two protesters (refuted, expectedly by the police), while several others were injured. Many have blamed Governor Ortom (whose convoy was obstructed on his way back to Makurdi after the last Christmas holidays from his village by a herd of cattle, crossing the road he was passing), for trusting security agents he lacked control over even as Chief Security Officer of his state (in one of the warped interpretation of Nigeria's farce of a federation), to execute the "Anti-Open Grazing Law", when in Ekiti State, Governor Fayose set up a task force for the same purpose to some success.


In Taraba State, the local response to the Fulani herdsmen issue, is the Bachama Militia, a reaction to government's reluctance to protect the indigenes, leading to unending cycle of reprisal attacks from both sides, while the security agencies stood aloof and watched, as the situation spilled over, extending even to Numan,
Adamawa State late last year, where some policemen drafted to quell the violence in some parts of the states, were butchered by suspected Fulani herdsmen. The introduction of the Nigerian Airforce into the melee, resulted into accusations by the indigenes, that victim communities were targeted by bombings while the Fulani militant locations were relatively free from bombardments. When reports made the rounds that an airforce jet was shot at by Fulani militia, it was clear to the discerning that the continued treatment of the Fulani militia, with kid gloves by the federal government and security agencies have strengthened the hands of the marauders (who seem to have notched up their horrendous activities since their kinsman became president), and unless something drastic is done to stem the tide, like Boko Haram, this will soon blow up in our faces, as it is becoming clear that there just might be more to what is happening than just "violent agitation" for grazing land and space for cattle. Already, in some sections of the Nigerian society, the word "Genocide" and "Ethnic Cleansing" have been used, and a meeting by some Benue indigenes delivered a communique, where they called upon Continental and International bodies and agencies, like the African Union, AU, European Union, EU, as well as the United Nations, UN amongst others, to come to the aid of the people of Benue. This is not without reason, as unlike the case in Rivers State, where the suspect was killed, not one Fulani herdsman has been brought to justice for any act of marauding and destruction of lives and property across Nigeria, yet when cattle rustling became rampant, President Buhari (dressed in full military fatigues)
went to Zamfara State to personally launch a military task force to tackle those making life hard for the Fulani and their cattle last year.


When the government of President Muhammadu Buhari lists security as one of the achievements of his government since coming to power in 2015, they mention the fact that no piece of Nigeria's territory remains under the control of the Islamic Fundamentalist group, Boko Haram. Reality on the ground suggests otherwise, as attacks by the group have continued unabated, so much so that the the same government which said it had "Technically Defeated" the insurgents (even handing over the flag of the group, recovered by the military from Boko Haram's operational base in "Sambisa Forest" to the Commander-in-Chief as evidence), got governors to approve the withdrawal of a billion dollars from the Excess Crude Account, to continue the war against the extremist group, to the chagrin of Nigerians, before the government changed tact by claiming that the funds will be used to stem security challenges allover Nigeria. Add to all the above, Kidnappings, Armed Robberies, Ritual Killings like the Badoo situation in Ikorodu in Lagos, and it will be quite obvious that security-wise, things have largely deteriorated, a reason why it came as a shock to many, when the President extended the tenures of Military Chiefs, when what is needed is the injection of fresh blood, of different faces at the helm of the security and intelligence agencies, with the view to combating the challenges we're currently facing differently, as apparently the current path we are towing seem not to be heading to that place we wish to be in terms of security, anytime soon.


'kovich


PICTURE CREDIT:
- https://www.informationng.com
- http://scannewsnigeria.com
- http://oliviasgist.com




Saturday, November 25, 2017

BAIL IS FREE

My personal encounter with the Nigerian Police have been very few and far between. The first time was while I was in the university in 2003, when I was nabbed by members of a task force set up by the Lagos State Government to stop pedestrians from crossing very busy roads, especially where there are already pedestrian bridges provided for the purpose. I hadn't used the bridge, and once I made it to the other side, a man walked up to me, and marched me to a waiting "danfo" bus, where I met some others who'd been as unlucky as I have been. Like me, their pleas to our "captors" with promises always to use the pedestrian bridge was like pouring water on a rock, save for the oldest man amongst us, middle aged, who brandishing an inhaler, claimed that his asthmatic condition worsens when he ascends heights, and therefore was let go, especially as he started to tremble and twitch violently, as he pleaded with the members of the task force to let him go on medical grounds.


The rest of us were taken to a Police Station somewhere in Shomolu, from Onipanu where we were arrested, and herded into a crowded cell, where one could only stand, to wait till Monday when the courts open to be charged seeing as it was a Friday afternoon. I had only ₦250 with me, so I couldn't avail myself of the opportunity to call home because the "official" phone lady of that police station charged ₦50 per minute to make a call to relatives or friends for help (those were the days GSM phones had just been launched and still cost an arm and a leg for a poor student like me to own). About an hour after we'd been in detention, towards evening, one of the policemen came by to ask us what we had so he could see if he could help us, to forestall our being in detention through the weekend. When it was my turn I explained to him that I was a student and gave him my wallet that contained my ID Card as well as money. He took the ₦200 and gave me ₦50, opened the cell and let me out. I was the only one that was let out, while the others who had called family and friends had to wait to be bailed. The only good thing that came out of that experience for me, was that while walking a few distance before getting a bus to my sisters' house to ask for money to return to school, I came upon a makeshift structure where registration for National ID Card was ongoing. Seeing that I hadn't been chanced to do that earlier, I used that opportunity to register and went on my way. I doubt I'd have owned one today if I hadn't been arrested on that day, of which I'm grateful considering that stress applicants undergo today to get the same national ID Card, though with advanced features.


My second encounter was months after the first, and my friends and I were returning back to campus after attending a birthday party not so far from school. Yes, it was late and we couldn't get a bus to take us home, so we trekked. All was well till we encountered these policemen a few yards from the gate of our school. Our explanation to them of nothing but the truth about our situation seemed to anger them such that I wasn't sure if one of them in particular was angry with the fact that we looked too young to be medical students, or that we had no right to be happy and attending birthday parties, while they were on the road working, enough for him to threaten to shoot us, and nothing will happen to him. Luckily, we hadn't been too inebriated at the time to try and question their harassment of us, rather the fear of the guns they had on them was the beginning of our wisdom, but I was quite shaken by the way we were verbally harassed and threatened. Interestingly, after they let us go, and we walked into school, then to the hostel area, and to our rooms, we said nothing to each other, and till date I've never asked my co-travelers from Agbe Davies' birthday party, what was going on in their minds while our ordeal lasted.


Yes compared to what Nigerians go through in the hands of the police on a daily, I count myself rather lucky. But I've also seen friends who'd been served the short end of the stick. In one case two years ago, we had to rally round to raise  ₦100,000 to take a friend away from "SARS" detention at Ikeja, where he'd been detained at the instance of his landlord with whom he had a  misunderstanding at the time. The money wasn't even just so he could walk away a free man, but that he could be detained at the normal neighborhood police station, after he began to fear for his life, as the number of detainees (mostly suspected armed robbers and criminals) he was lobbed in with, continued to decrease by the day, not necessarily because they were taken to court, and from thence to prison, but because such disappearances was usually linked with gunshots heard in the vicinity of the detention area in the nights. On yet another occasion involving another friend, who was arrested during "routine raids", in what appeared to be a fundraising activity of the particular police station that conducted the raid, seeing as it was the past Eid El Kabir a few weeks back, each one of the "unfortunates" were made to cough out between ₦20,000 and ₦50,000 after signing an undertaking, stating even things as ridiculous as promising to stop walking about in the night. We paid  ₦20,000 in the case of my friend because we brought the head of the "PCRC" of our area to plead on his behalf, others paid more, and I shook my head as we walked away with him that afternoon of the last Sallah holiday, while the policemen began to gather in their haul for the day, probably to decide with what exactly they'd make a meal of the big ram that was already tied to a tree within the police station's compound.


There are other instances that I will not mention here, but I mustn't stop without adding this one. I'm sure while you're reading this, you'd probably be wondering why we never contacted lawyers in almost all of the cases that my attention was called to. This is because I have found that there are some lawyers that feed off situations like these. They hang around police stations pretending to try to offer help to those in detention, while working in cahoot with the police to fleece the detainees of all they could possibly. More often than not, when those cases go to court, they put up very weak defences, or fail to help protect their "clients" from outrageous bail conditions, that will end up seeing the detainee become a prisoner "awaiting trial" for years in the many gulags scattered allover Nigeria, and not without collecting their charges to the fullest sometimes with threats to abandon the same case they jeopardized right from the onset. The only lawyers that can bring you out of police detention are the top so called SENIOR ADVOCATES, and they can even effect free bail for their clients, unfortunately they aren't usually available for and to the masses, who are usually at the mercies of extortionist members of the Nigerian Police Force and their collaborator lawyers.


When recently the Nigerian Police expressed their disgust to a recent finding that suggested that that outfit ranks the worst in the world, many Nigerians were left wondering in bewilderment. A friend even said it is wrong to even classify Nigerian police amongst the worst in 2017, because they hadn't even arrived here yet, seeing as their crude tactics is still in the seventeenth century. Recently, the police in Rivers State paraded two suspected killers of a staff of Shell Oil Producing company, stating that they were apprehended using DNA and forensic science. Interestingly, it was a case I got to know about from my host when I arrived Port Harcourt hours after the ugly incident had occurred, and I'd written about in one of my blog posts (https://madukovich.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/rivers-state-of-blood/). I learnt later that it was detectives hired by Shell that took saliva sample on the head of the victim to Holland, with which they matched the DNA with some staff of Shell and subsidiaries/oil servicing companies before the culprits were nabbed, because if you'd been to Shell R.A. in Port Harcourt and the company, and seen the security apparatus therein, you'd also agree with the investigating team that the killing of that man was an inside job. Had one of the perpetrators not spat on the head of their victim after their dastardly act, they'd probably would've gotten away with it. Sadly, the police in their statements never mentioned nor acknowledged the contribution of the Shell Police and their local and foreign detectives in their statement.


In fact, it was disbelief at their ability to solve the crime the way they said they did that evoked my desire to find answers. How a police that we saw recently stepping over blood and evidence around a dead bank robber in pictures that went viral following that exchange of fire between gallant policemen and robbers, at a Zenith Bank branch, was beyond my comprehension. A Nigerian police that invited the FBI to help it crack the case of the murder of frontline Lagos politician, Engineer Funsho Williams, only to find fingerprints allover his body,  that may have included that of police personnel, as they flippantly desecrated the crime scene like the civilian family members and sympathizers that thronged the home of the late politician, after news of his gruesome killing spread like wildfire. But I digress, because my focus and all I want to say is that despite so called noise by the police hierarchy that bail is free, the reality on ground is otherwise, and even more notoriously dangerous because innocent Nigerians are losing their lives, or having it truncated temporarily because they cannot afford the huge amounts policemen, on the roads and in the stations are demanding from their "hostages" before they can let them go, boasting that nothing will happen to them even if they shoot and kill their victims, as the hierarchy who are also involved in their own mess (if you consider any of the allegations against the Inspector General of Police by Senator Misau to have some truths in it) at their level, cannot then decree to rank and file what they should do when they haven't come to equity with clean hands.


Despite the very few instances of the Nigerian Police Force rising to check the troubling trend, of cases where hapless Nigerians (mostly adolescents and young people, under the guise of combating cybercrime, with their phones and laptops confiscated, and their online privacy violated all in the bid to dig up incriminating evidence, which in the eye of the uncouth policemen, include legitimate online businesses that many Nigerian youths have turned to, because of the absence of physical jobs to employ them) are arbitrarily rounded up on the flimsiest of reasons, and forced to make withdrawals using their ATM cards, or transfers from their mobile devices, or have families run helter skelter to raise funds, as you'd find with kidnappers demanding ransom. The sad reality is that for every policeman dismissed and tried for these acts of extortion, inflicting of bodily harm and injury on their victims, as well as extrajudicial killing of those who dared to question the authority of the armed policeman to dehumanize him/her, there are multiples of such happening under the radar, so much so that when AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL comes up with figures, Nigerians have come to just read them without any outrage, because of the helplessness and hopelessness of their situation. Even the  Public Relations Department of the Nigerian Police have grown a thick skin, and now hardly responds to new findings, except those that have managed to make it into the international media. When they do respond, they offer some of the lamest of excuses that in no way addresses any of the concerns raised by the bodies that have painstakingly offered testimonies (at the risk of the lives of the victims of police mistreatments) and empirical evidences. Admitting wrong done, talk more apologizing doesn't even come up, and therein lies the motivation for the impunity that continues to stare Nigerians in the face in the name of BAIL IS FREE, when it is absolutely not, at the hands of the police that should protect and serve the people.

'kovich


PICTURE CREDIT:
- http://www.nairaland.com
- https://www.onlyinnigeria.wordpress.com