First it starts with foes, then friends, then you and I. At a
time, against better advice I strongly supported the extrajudicial detention of
Radio Biafra boss, Nwannekaenyi Okwu-Kanu. My argument was that, it should not
be because the Department of State Security botched a slam dunk case that it
should allow a dangerous person who had publicly advocated our being
killed and bought weapons to that effect, to be released. I held similar view
for Sokoto Prince Dasuki.
ENDS casuists debated and rebuked me harshly,
explaining the importance of respecting the law. I was warned that I
was speaking on my own and must not include the organisation in
It was not long after that I saw several more Nigerians go down
in unconstitutional detentions and extrajudicial deaths that I
realized how and why I was wrong. It is better to risk releasing and allowing
the escape of a Kanu and a Dasuki than putting 170 million Nigerians in clear
danger of an above-the-law totemic government that feels it has the mandate and
support of the majority to detain and kill extrajudicially without remorse,
repercussion, retribution or even rebuke.
Islamic Movement Sheikh Zakzaky has been held since
December 12th. He was flown abroad without notice or permission of his
remaining family. Whether he is alive or dead and how he is, blind, crippled,
vegetative or otherwise is unknown. No one has seen him since. His lawyers have
been denied seeing their client. It is over two months after. The same is the
story of his wife.
So also, over 190 Nigerian Muslims were detained extrajudicially
and even when at last they were charged two months later, some were not brought
to court and their names not listed and the judge had to go to the prisons in
clear violation of the law to book them.
On February 13th after speaking to the international media,
criticizing the claims by Nigeria's government of a technical defeat of Boko
Haram, which put the people at risk...letting down their guards. And allegedly
for the "offense" of condemning the government for denying when its
soldiers died and being obstinately indifferent when 300 Nigeria's
were killed in Dalori; rtd. colonel Hussiani Mongin was whisked away by State
security agents and his whereabouts remained unknown till we protested his
Hussaini Monguno was finally paraded on rather outlandish
claims, of him and two others picked surprisingly several days after he was,
accused of being heard on the phone, perhaps by phone tapping, planing to
blackmail and extort officials and intending to "misinform" President
Buhari and Nigerians about allegations of corruption among members
of his "perfect" cabinet. Most of the listed charges
were prospective, "thought crimes."
While it is difficult to wade into these claimed charges finally
posted on the Borno prominent son and brave anti-Boko Haram and anti-corruption
activist, one thing there is no doubt of is that there are VERY corrupt people
in Buhari's government who pad budgets, who brazenly steal, or
rather, Senate-lift entire budgets from the "hallowed"
Senate and who are so audacious they can even pad things like the house of the
ADC in Aso compound, add "rent" for Aso villa, intend to rob
millions from the Aso clinic, and list single boreholes under the Ministry of
Works and Housing budget for $700,000.... and that while Hussaini Monguno
has been arrested, these persons are still free.
We doubt it is within the jurisdiction of the DSS to arrest and
investigate Hussaini Monguno and others for allegations within the jurisdiction
of State and Federal police. Under the new administration, Nigeria's agencies
have overridden the police with the army self-declaring as the "defenders
of democracy" and being responsible for
addressing intra-State protests and restoring law and order in
States, and the DSS has become judge and jury for all types of cases in all
departments. The sudden picking up of Kogi's Faleke and Audu's son, is in not
too distant memory.
Once a person has been illegally detained, that person has been
permanently denied justice. It is not reversible or amendable. An extrajudicial
detention is called a kidnap and thus, while the guilt of the suspect is yet to
be determined, the State has committed a crime, that is quite
confirmed. Ben Rawlence, writing for Human Rights Watch said of
similar transgressions by the Kenyan government, "Violating suspects’ rights also risks
alienating and further radicalizing young men. Neither kidnapping suspects nor
locking up those who protest violations will make the region safer."
While we are happy that at last and after two weeks, Hussiani
Monguno is finally paraded and we finally know where he is; we once again bear
witness to the Schutzhaft Gestapo modus of
operations where Nigerians are arrested and whisked away extra judicially and
detained without the required 2 days access to a judge and constitutionally
enforced access to legal representation and visitation.
A recent damning and chilling report by the AP, "People detained by military disappear in northeast,"
described how Nigerians in the Boko Haram-troubled northeast have been whisked
and killed extrajudicially by Nigerians State agents. As can be
expected, Nigerians and the Nigerian media are increasingly becoming
afraid to release reports that may appear critical of the new administration.
December it was Zakzaky. Yesterday it was Hussaini Monguno.
Between, many more have been detained for admonishing the State, in
Kaduna, Borno and elsewhere. Most cases we never hear about. Who knows who it
will be tomorrow. Should we be cowed?
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