First Lady Said, Bodyguard Said
Watch-out folks. Hell, hath no greater fury than a First Lady besmirched. Or duped,depending upon your personal perspective. Last week the world’s attention wascaptured by the riveting ‘she said, he said’ drama playing out in the US Senate. If ever there was any doubt, it is now manifestly clear to everyone that there is no greater revenge than that of a psychology professor who managed to escape from the gropingclutches of two drunken teenagers in her youth.
Another ‘she said, he said’ drama is playing out in Nigeria. But there are compellingdifferences between the Nigerian and the American versions. The Christine Blasey Ford vs Brett Kavanaugh circus is between two socio-politico-economic equals who are currently at or near the apices of their respective professions. The Nigerian version is between two individuals who are unequally yoked.
On one hand we have the wife of the President of Nigeria, the rather elegant Mrs. Aisha Buhari. On the other hand, we have Chief Superintendent of Police, Sani Baban-Inna, who has been her aide-de-camp since 2016. As I write this, chances are that Mr. Baban-Inna is still cooling his heels in investigative custody.
He was arrested first by his employers the Nigerian Police Force and later transferred to the Directorate of Security Services (DSS), Nigeria’s rough equivalent of the FBI. His crime? Well his principal, the wife of the President, has accused Mr. Baban-Inna of misusing his good offices bydropping her name or her children’s names while defrauding unsuspecting members of the public of huge sums of money(https://www.thenigerianvoice.com/news/270955/aisha-buhari-denies-ordering-arrest-of-her-adc-over-fraud.html )
And we are not talking of token amounts. By some press reports, Mr. Baban-Inna is accused of having fraudulently obtained up to 2.5 billion Naira (roughly equivalent to US $7 million) from his unsuspecting victim(s).
Initial press reports suggested that the police found nothing incriminating i.e. no smoking gun either during a raid on Baban-Inna’s residence nor during investigation into his bank account(s), whereupon his case was transferred to the DSS for ‘enhanced interrogation’. (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/09/alleged-n-2-5-bn-theft-police-hand-over-aisha-buharis-adc-to-dss/ ).
A couple of days ago, there were reports that the DSS had freed Mr. Baban-Inna, presumably having found nothing against him.(https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/09/alleged-n2-5-bn-theft-aisha-buharis-adcs-family-confirms-release-of-son/ ).
This report was immediately shot down by the office of the Wife of the President which put out a statement asserting that Baban-Inna “is being investigated on allegation of corrupt practices, which is a serious offence. As such, it is unlikely that the DSS would compromise and release him mid-way without completing the investigation.” (https://leadership.ng/2018/09/29/aisha-buhari-denies-release-of-her-adc/ )
Expectedly the only outcome that would satisfy the Office of the Wife of the President is for Baban-Inna to be found guilty, sanctioned appropriately and compelled to return all fraudulently obtained monies to their rightful (or intended?) owners.
Indeed, according to her office “she (i.e. Mrs. Buhari) therefore wishes to use this opportunity to inform the general public that she has never sent any of her staff to collect any favors on her behalf or on behalf of her children and will never do so. She is therefore imploring anyone that has been defrauded by Mr. Baban-Inna to get across to him to retrieve whatever he took from them. Mrs. Buhari wishes to reiterate that she will not condone fraudulent behavior by any of her staff.” (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/09/i-have-no-hand-in-my-adcs-arrest-detention-aisha-buhari/)”
What we have on our hands therefore regarding the Mrs. Aisha Buhari vs. Mr. Baban-Inna imbroglio is a classic “she said, he said” case. Both cannot be telling the truth simultaneously. One of them is wrong. Indeed, four credible scenarios could be at play here.
One is that Aisha Buhari is in the right and Sani Baban-Inna is a fraudulent name-dropper. Two is that Sani Baban-Inna is innocent and is being falsely accused by Aisha Buhari. Three is that both were neck deep in some illegal extortion deal gone wrong due to some ‘irreconcilable differences’. Four is that Aisha Buhari was mis-advised by some third-party enemies of either Baban-Inna or of herself and her husband, who perhaps jealous of the former’s progress and envious of his position in the corridors of power, conspired to falsely accuse him before his principal and pull him down while collaterally bringing her and her husband to disrepute. We will show exactly how this may be so later.
We may never get to the bottom of this uglysituation except Baban-Inna is charged to court and the accuser Mrs. Aisha Buhari is compelled to provide evidence to prove his guilt and her allegation. Without question, if Scenario One is correct, Mrs. Buhari has every right to feel outraged when her name or those of her children have been dragged in the mud by Baba-Inna’s alleged fraudulent antics.
However, Nigeria’s judicial system assumes that an individual is presumed innocent of a criminal act unless he or she is proven guilty. At the barest minimum therefore, what is expected of Mrs. Buhari is to hold her peace and await her day in court when she would be expected to furnish the identities of the people or companies who claim that Mr. Baba-Inna defrauded them in her name (or those of her children) as well as the actual amounts involved.
Once identified, the onus lies on the people so named to provide evidence proving that they are indeed victims of Baba-Inna’s alleged fraud. Specifically, they must furnish proof of how much changed hands, where, when and for what purpose. While doing that they should also provide credible evidence of their legal income(s).
Assuming but not conceding that Mrs. Buhari is right (note that with or without a smoking gun, Baban-Inna can only be convicted by a competent court of law), several troubling conclusions can be drawn. Firstly, it would be a dramatic demonstration of the failure of President Buhari’s war against corruption and a corroboration of the charge that it is a mere gimmick, conceived, packaged and fraudulently sold to the unsuspecting public while serving as a vehicle for attaining and retaining power.
If it were effective, how could a law-enforcement officer working as it were directly ‘under the nose’ of the President, have the temerity to engage in the very same acts of corruption against which this Administration has sworn to combat? This is clearly not possible except if Mr. Baba-Inna looked up, looked down, looked left, and looked right, saw that corruption is rampant within the Presidency, and decided to help himself as well.
Secondly, it would be a confirmation that President Buhari instead of fighting corruption as he claims, has instead taken his eyes off the ball, except where it concerns the opposition. He has been fully pre-occupied with the expansionist agenda of providing homelands for Fulani terrorist herdsmen in other parts of the country. Andcorruption may have gained entrance not only into his Presidency but even into the precincts of his ‘other room’.
Thirdly except Mr. Sani Baba-Inna is non-Fulani, non-Muslim, and non-Northerner, it would be a confirmation that there is no basis for President Buhari’s rabid nepotism and that crime, evil and corruption is no respecter of an individual’s ethnic, religious or geo-political background.
For the sake of her husband’s political propaganda which would otherwise be proven to be without substance, I pray that Mrs. Aisha Buhari’s allegations are wrong. That being the case however, all she may have succeeded in doing, is to make Mr.Sani Baba-Inna potentially a very rich man and a much sought-after object of the professional attention of defamation lawyers.
Anthony Chuka Konwea, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, MNSE, FNIStructE, MNICE.