Before The Lynch Mob Disperses
The Bible tells of an encounter that Jesus had with a lynch mob. The mob had stones in their hands ready to stone to death, as the law stipulates, a woman accused of committing adultery. Jesus said to the mob “he who is without sin should throw the first stone.” The Bible relates how the mob dispersed slowly without throwing a single stone.
In the above context stoning a woman caught in the act of adultery was the law. In Nigeria, the Constitution presumes anyone alleged to have committed an offence innocent until his guilt is established and so declared by a competent court of law. Contemporarily, Nigerians are participant observers in “Dasukigate”, with many getting very emotional. Arguments are made that Dasuki is actually a mass murderer because he allegedly converted monies meant for arms to prosecute the war against Boko Haram. If the arms had been procured the thousands of soldiers and civilians killed by Boko Haram may still be alive today. It would not surprise me if Sambo Dasuki is attacked and lynched on his way to court one of these days. The Constitution has had its head upturned. What we are witnessing is a media trial of Dasuki and others while the accused are kept incommunicado and unable to defend themselves. The allegations are weighty and if Dasuki actually diverted funds meant for arms he, and others around him that were privy to the diversion, should be duly punished according to the law.
I am not impressed with the way the Federal Government is going about this business. It is very convenient to whip up public frenzy against a man whose right of stating his own side of the story has been so vilely circumvented. What is the Federal Government afraid of? It regales the public daily of “findings” it has made but would not avail Nigerians the opportunity of hearing from Dasuki. What is even more dastardly is that the Government wants Dasuki tried in secret. Try a man in secret after regaling the public with salacious stories of what the man is said to be guilty of?
What the Government is angling for is to have a pliable judge pronounce Sambo Dasuki guilty after a farcical trial. The judgement is to be procured not on the weight of evidence produced before the court but because General Buhari has pronounced Dasuki guilty and a gullible public has accepted that Dasuki is guilty without hearing from him. What we have playing out is classical mob justice. Lynching is another word for it. It is worrisome that Nigerians have allowed themselves to be led by the nose in this manner. Dasuki was granted bail and despite the cumbersome conditions of the bail Dasuki was able to meet them, yet he is still in prison on the orders of the President. If it were about Sambo Dasuki alone, because of his personal history with Buhari, it might somehow turn out okay, but this is not about Dasuki at all.
Salisu Mamman, said to be a nephew of President Buhari, is cooling his heels in Port Harcourt Prison alongside members of his “gang”. Mamman is said to have leveraged his relationship with Buhari to obtain monies from some businessmen whom he promised to help get crude oil lifting licences. He could not deliver, his victims squealed, and the Department of State Service (DSS) arrested and threw Mamman and his “gang” into the Port Harcourt Prison without first charging him to court and getting a magistrate or judge to order him remanded in prison.
Nnamdi Kanu, leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was arrested in Lagos and subsequently charged to court. The court granted him bail, but again he remains in gaol because the President thinks he may jump bail.
Olisa Metuh, Director of Publicity of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been languishing in detention in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of collection some amount of money from Sambo Dasuki, and that what he was given was part of the money meant for arms procurement. Metuh has not been charged to court but, only recently, the EFCC has vowed to hold on to him until and unless he refunds the money that Dasuki gave to him. If Metuh did collect money, when did it become a crime to collect money from the President, National Security Adviser, or any other person? Only a court can determine, after reviewing facts and arguments brought before it, that a crime was indeed committed and that the money Metuh collected ought to be refunded. It is frightening that EFCC can allow itself to prosecute a trial in the media and to deliver judgement on the same platform.
The public seems to be enjoying the travails of Dasuki and Metuh, who are members of the much maligned and hated PDP. The narrative on Kanu also consign him as a concern of the South East only. The public seems to be blissfully unaware that their own time will come. This Government will run out of PDP officials to try in the media and jail, but the war against corruption and indiscipline must continue. At that stage it will be too late to insist on due process because by that time the war will be on auto-pilot. The whole land mass of Nigeria will be a prison with Nigerians as inmates.
In 1984-85 when President Buhari was a military head of state Nigeria was a prison, and it is easy to see that that is the destination the general has in mind for Nigerians again. Those participating in the lynching of Dasuki et al without hearing from them may just find themselves wondering why no one is interested in their own side of the story when it is their turn.
It is wholesome to fight corruption but the war must not be based on the whims of one man or group of persons. We have laws in Nigeria. As such, what constitute transgression is easy to see. Transgression cannot be what Buhari and or EFCC say it is.
Written by Olanrewaju Aderemi Obafemi.