Buhari On African Independent Television (AIT)
By Iyoha John Darlington
Repressive rule has only just begun. We do not need a soothsayer to restate the obvious under the existing circumstances. I have often heard Buhari’s apologists say he is a turned democrat and this often makes me laugh preferably in Swahili because I remain firm and unshaken in my conviction that try as the leopard might it could never change its spots.
It would be recalled, however, that Buhari on December 31, 1983 overthrew a democratically elected civilian government. No sooner had he done that than the junta under him embarked on remorseless repression that gave many Nigerians agonizing sleepless nights. It was one vast empire characterized by reign of terror. Many Nigerians were thrown in stir on trumped up charges and in the process Nigeria’s best brains were killed among whom were Prof. Ambrose Alli, the first executive Governor of the defunct Bendel State. Pa Adekunle Ajasin , Dr. Alex Ekwueme Sam Mbakwe and many others were unduly incarcerated for crimes they did not commit while his kinsmen of northern extraction save Dr. Dikko were briefly detained and left off the hook. These are verifiable facts and may Heaven bear me witness this day!
The promulgation of Decree Number 4 empowered him to gag the press and press freedom was withdrawn and the likes of Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor became victims. This took place about three decades ago and the wound inflicted on the minds of Nigerians is gradually being reopened by his recent pronouncements barring Nigeria’s premier private television station, African Independent Television (AIT), a media organization characterized by enlightened personnel practices from covering his activities. This is blunder NO 1 – a clear depiction of a brainless doll who knows next to nothing about governance.
One question that agitates the mind of the writer is: What moral justification has Buhari got to ever rule Nigeria again when he ought to be standing trial for being liable to a number of offences? Is Buhari not guilty after the accessory of fact for murdering three young men of Nigerian extraction by retroactive laws at Bar Beach firing range? Bartholomew Owoh, Bernard Ogedengbe and Lawal Ojuolape trafficked in drugs which was a bailable offence as of the time the crime was committed but Buhari went ahead and promulgated Decree Number 20 had it backdated and executed the above-named. Ay, these three young men were executed. This is MURDER in capital letters and Buhari ought to have stood trial and faced the dire consequences of this irredeemable mortal sin!
This is one impunity enjoyed by military dictators implicated in civilian killings. Nigeria as a country where impunity apparently thrives, Buhari rose from behind to contest Nigeria’s plum job and amid deception and lies the gullible electorates were again bamboozled by an evil cabal who do not mean well for Nigeria. As the incumbent President foresees danger again hanging over our heads like the ancient sword of Damocles he was left with no option but to concede defeat and relinquish his hold on power in the interest of peace. There is doubtless a long road to peace as his behaviour is becoming bizarre following his recent pronouncement barring AIT from covering his activities which has attracted widespread criticisms from the civil populace.
Realizing his folly or out of rude awakening or probably after a deep, soul-searching introspection how things could go wrong we see the charging bull reversing the threat which is being widely reported but fortunately or unfortunately this does not make any difference. The pronouncement has been made and Nigerians have been told what to expect in the coming years; in fact the Rubicon , if I dare say, is crossed! Be that as it may, Buhari must be reminded of tyrant’s places in history and more so that the world has gone past the era tsarist’s repressions.
If Buhari feels aggrieved that the attack on him is libelous the best thing is to seek redress. He is no more a private but a public figure. Here in Western Europe and probably in the rest of the world private lives of public office holders are dug into by the press. Against this background AIT has not erred. If he spotted any falsehood in the purported documentary, the best thing is to sue them for libel and that is better done in a competent court of law in stead of breathing out threats that would further drag his name in the mud. Like I did say treading the infamous path of repression is no longer tenable in today’s world, in fact the incoming Abuja regime must take particular note of this.
Iyoha John Darlington, aka Lington Donovan, a social activist, political analyst and public commentator on national and global events writes from Turin, Italy.
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