Enough Of This Impunity
By Colonel Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (RTD)
Since last weekend, following his order on some half a million hapless Nigerians to assemble at numerous stadia across the country so he could test them for a handful of jobs said to be available in his ministry, minister of interior, Mr Patrick Abba Moro, has been running around, offering to probe why so many of the applicants left the stadia dead or severely injured instead. He may probably have to set up a probe panel to find out why Nigerians has been stricken by shock or why there have been such huge outpouring of grief and anguish from all corners of the country. It is likely he has no clue.
There is no question that a diligent investigation of this tragedy is necessary. Yet the long suffering public does not have to wait for any probe to deal with the fact that the minister collected one thousand Naira from each of the over half a million jobless Nigerians (some accounts put the figure at 6.5 million), for jobs that were apparently never available in the first place. In spite of the tragedy and the public outcry, the minister has remained adamant in his refusal to refund anything from what was collected from the victims, “it is a non-refundable deposit” he kept insisting! This clearly suggests that even without any probe, what the minister set out to do was not to help jobless Nigerians get jobs, but to use their joblessness to extort money from them.
Being that as the case, it is no longer possible for any person of goodwill anywhere in Nigeria to stand aside and do nothing. This sort of impunity has to be checked. And this applies not only to the minister of interior, but to all public servants using their offices to fleece the country, including hoisting fraudulent schemes to make profit from the miseries of the people.
And on this subject, we have to mention the case of another department of government, The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), which is gaining a reputation for inventing schemes for extorting the people.
The FRSC has vowed, come June this year, to arrest and impound vehicles of motorists who fail to pay, re-register and obtain new plate numbers for their vehicles. They said they would do the same thing for those that do not pay and obtain for a second time a driver's license, even if their current licenses are yet to expire.
It is a measure of the arrogance and impunity displayed by public officials that the FRSC refuses to offer any explanation or the justification as to why they are compelling millions of Nigerian motorists to pay 35,000 Naira for plate numbers, and another 15,000 Naira for a 'driver's license' they already have.
We feel constrained to call on the authorities to take steps to stop this impunity and fraud. For a start, the Ministry of Interior should refund the money extorted from the job seekers and pay adequate compensation to the victims of the tragedy that happened last week. The FRSC must be stopped from proceeding with their scheme to collect money from Nigerians under false pretences. However, in the event that this fails to prevent the FRSC from proceeding with their scheme of extortion, as was the case in the past, we wish to call on all Nigerians to refuse to pay. If the FRSC has enough detention cells, it will be welcome to arrest and keep all Nigerians in detention with effect from June 2014.
— Umar wrote in from Kaduna