Several political occurrences have been taking place in Nigeria recently that make patriotic citizens weep in their closets, wondering if our country can be saved and doubting if Nigeria having gone to the dogs can ever achieve greatness under this type of visionless leadership. The recent elections in Bayelsa and Kogi that took many lives presented Nigeria as a jungle. The president and his cohorts celebrating certificates illegally earned through the snatching of ballot boxes, on the blood of citizens they are in power to serve and destruction of properties certainly disrepute Nigeria in the comity of nations. Most ridiculous is the uncouth statement of the Inspector General Police of the country that there were fake policemen who committed atrocities during these elections and his own genuine policemen did not arrest the fake. As if these are not dangerous enough, the protest tagged “FEMI FALANA ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. WE SAY NO TO JUDICIAL BLACKMAIL” was staged by pawns to further disgrace the country. This protest mirrors an absurdity taken too far and presents the civilized world the opportunity to further see us as subhuman and our country as not part of the world.
The fact that the State Security Service (SSS) has not distanced itself from this eyesore act and the presidency has not condemned the senseless protest established the hands of Esau. This then begs the question of the type of the country we are building, if we are building any at all. Mr. Falana represents Omoyele Sowore who has not done anything close to what President Buhari did to get to power. The Court granted his client a bail, the SSS in its skewed wisdom said if Omoyele Sowore is released; a vehicle may knock him down. Falana offered to drive him out of the SSS compound since it appears the vehicle that could hit Sowore has been prearranged by the SSS, a law enforcement agency established to protect Nigerians and not to oppress us on behalf of whomever in government. Falana cried out and exposed the lies of the SSS. What then constitutes a “judicial blackmail” to warrant the sponsor of hungry people to protest and engage in intimidating action against Falana? His principled acts are within the laws of Nigeria and his professional ethics. The Bar Association is in existence to sanction him were any of his acts to have been found contradictory to the professional ethics and illegal. It should be noted that Falana represented President Buhari and his ANPP members who participated in mass protests in Kano against the perceived rigging of the 2003 election to enforce their fundamental rights, pro bono. The then Inspector General of Police appealed the judgment of the Federal High Court. The Court of Appeal in dismissing the appeal held that placard carrying protest is part of the gains of democracy. It is the same peaceful protest which General Buhari engaged in that Sowore and others promoted and carried out on August 5, despite the abduction of Sowore prior to the day of the protest.
Falana, some of my colleagues and I met with President Buhari in Kaduna in 2005 or thereabout. Buhari expressed a great appreciation to Falana for his human rights crusade and fight for social justice. He told him it was an honor to meet him and encourage him to fight on. Falana heeding the advice of the President should not be allowed to be cowed and mowed down by elements destroying Nigeria. The president should therefore encourage him to keep the fight aloft by his actions. We all watched how the President of Ghana dressed down corrupt custom agency in Ghana to send a strong signal that Ghana, under his rulership, would not tolerate corrupt and animalistic behaviors capable of scorning his nation. Recently, at the 85th birthday celebration service of the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, former President Olusegun Obasanjo urged him to thank God for turning 85. The former president opined that anyone who lives that long in Nigeria of today must thank his or her star given the unhealthy situation in the country. President Obasanjo who was a two term president realized that as one lays his bed so shall he sleep on it. So, President Buhari should condemn any act that would add one more principled Nigerian to the lot who are unprincipled and corrupt if he is serious about fight against corruption. The silence of the presidency on these vices would signal that we are heading towards the Abacha regime where government sponsored one million man march.
I urge Falana to file a contempt of Court charge against the head of SSS and if there is any law that frowns at the actions and speeches of the Blabbermouth Peter of the SSS, he should file it to hold them individually responsible for brazen violation of a Court order. If such law does not exist, I call on the National Assembly members to make such law to prevent the nation from further mockery. This government can and would not succeed in gagging and cowing all of us into submission. This is beyond party matter; it is about saving the country from sliding into River Niger. CPC, ACN, AC and ANPP are no longer in existence. We all live in Nigeria made by political parties and not in political parties.
*Ogbeni Lanre Banjo*
*Former Gubernatorial Candidate, Ogun State*