Dikko: Bad Reward For A Good Servant
But for the ubiquitous prevalence of mobile devices and growing internet penetration, we may just as well be in 1983 when personal liberties were scant under a complete dictatorship. Recent events clearly show we are inching back to the atmosphere of those dark days. The greatest indication of this yet is the siege laid to the Jabi, Abuja residence of the former Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Inde Dikko by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The invasion that followed the siege was as crude as it was alarming.
Yes. The Abdullahi Inde Dikko in question is the same one that revolutionised the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) within the six years he held sway. The same one that transformed the operations of the service from analogue to digital with consequence that businesses are able to clear their goods in the shortest possible time; he boosted the morale of men and officers; built infrastructures for the service across the country. We are talking about the same Mr Dikko who demonstrated that the chants about diversifying from oil revenue could be a reality when he astronomically increased the revenue generation capacity of the service and was on the way to netting the nation N100 billion monthly.
It was this very same man that the Chairman of the House Committee on Customs, Hon. Sabo Nakudu, recommended to the officers of the Service and just about everyone interested in studying the dynamics of leadership to take a cue from. It was Mr Dikko who voluntarily retired as Comptroller General of NCS to allow a fresh leadership to take the reforms he initiated to a new level.
So at what point was it decided that his abode should be invaded by EFCC operatives like a common criminal?
Several indicators suggest the incumbent regime of President Muhammadu Buhari has not come clean with Nigerians on what is going on. First, why adopt the Gestapo styled raid when it was possible to have invited Mr Dikko to volunteer information that can be legitimately sought and the ones he was in a position to answer before his trip out of the country?
Secondly, the expectation is that law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies would act on the strength of information, credible intelligence and evidence. But the raid on Mr Dikko’s residence apparently failed to yield whatever the invaders were after hence the insinuation that they are seeking other sites to ransack in their quest to have evidence or cook up some. Why invade a person’s residence, particularly in his absence, when there is not adequate intelligence that the objects of interest were on the premises? This spree of evidence shopping is now common place going by the experiences of those presently in incarceration. The EFCC even admitted in some instances that it had no evidence on some of the people incarcerated in the name of conducting investigations after arrests.
Next is the fact that, with Mr Dikko away, his children – reported to be minors, were the ones at home, yet the raid went ahead. The kids were greatly traumatized to the point of being left in tears. One can only wonder about the extent of psychological and emotional damage done to the young ones on account of officers who could have kept the residence under watch until the owner returns but decided to unleash terror on children who had no connection with the politics of the day.
Furthermore, the siege, raid and unleashing of terror were carried out without warrant. What was the hurry that the procedural requirement of showing up with that piece of paper was disregarded? The decision to invade Mr Dikko’s residence without a valid warrant suggests his situation would be another trial in the media and public opinion regardless of what allegations would be brought against him.
He is going to be added to the growing list of the perceived ‘enemies’ of the present government that must be hounded into extinction even if it means pronouncing a guilty verdict at a mob trial since obtaining evidence without warrant is already a sure way to make any case against an accused person collapse.
Nigerians however have cause to worry.
A new dimension is being introduced to the clampdown on personal liberties as the regime seems to be entrenching its autocratic credential faster than anticipated. Those after Mr Dikko, via the kites they usually fly in the media, might have added treason to his supposed crimes in addition to the list of alleged economic crimes they usually charge their perceived enemies with.
Considering that they are having a hard time to perpetually keep their victims in the gulag on account of court interventions, a charge of treason would imply a longer period of incarceration regardless of whether the person would eventually be found not guilty if the case successfully went through trial.
The spectre of dictatorship further looms larger with the reported directive that Mr Dikko should be arrested at any airport he arrives at upon his return from his trip. Does this mean an order to abduct, crate and ship remains a possibility if his errand abroad necessitates not immediately returning home? If the whole idea was to apprehend him, why did the EFCC not closely monitor his movements before and prevent him from travelling?
Nigerians should dispassionately review these happenings and make the necessary interventions. Most citizens desire that corruption and impunity decisively dealt with for us to have a better country. But his should not be misconstrued to the point of gleefully cheering on our rapid descent into dictatorship irrespective of how we personally feel about the persons being hounded.
We should all be rightly alarmed that the FG in an attempt to justify its recent actions would go as far as accusing people who served this nation judiciously with terrorism charges and bogus financial accusations to hang them before any proper trial. Today they go after these people, what happens when they come for us?
Orkuma is a security expert and contributed this piece from Kaduna, Kaduna State.