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REUBEN ABATI: SALUTE TO A MAN WITH INDEFATIGABLE COURAGE

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It was a successful coup of sort when Dr. Reuben Abati was chosen to replace the less affable and dour Ima Niborro after Presidential Jonathan secured his own fresh mandate. Dr Abati’s ascendancy to his present position may have been by providence; perhaps, and perhaps not. That Ima Niborro’s days were numbered was obvious to me after I read the piece titled: “The Speech Jonathan Shouldn't Have Made”, and to quote the salient bit: “If that speech was written for President Jonathan, the speech writer should be suspended, and never allowed to write a Presidential speech again”. That was from a write-up by Dr. Reuben Abati on May 29 2011, castigating Dr. Ebele Goodluck Jonathan about the political faux pas committed three days to his inauguration, where he [Dr Jonathan] had read a speech complaining that four years was too short for the President and State Governors – see http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/reuben-abati/the-speech-jonathan-shouldnt-have-made.html.

Needless to say Ima Niborro became history and enters Dr Reuben Abati. Was Ima Niborro responsible for the speech complained about? Who knows, but suffice it to say that Ima Niborro used to occupy Reuben’s position and the rest, as they say, is history.

The motivation for this write-up is simply to show that, consciously, Dr. Abati, an otherwise reputable Journalist seems to have allowed his stomach to rule his head in accepting to be lured into serving a PDP Government. Yes, somebody has to serve as the Government’s spokesperson, after all, even despicable despots such as the late Sani Abacha [God damn him!] had his own Comical Ali! Having observed Dr Abati lately on TV defending the latest actions of the President in meddling in the affairs of the Judiciary, whilst claiming not to do so, through Reuben Abati, I knew something had given in [or something caved in], in the old Dr. Abati. He’s a good speaker but a terribly bad liar; it was so palpably obvious by his body language & the plastic smile that he was massaging the truth with PDP’s massage oil in attempting to justify what he does not believe in!

Researching Dr Abati, I was most surprised that he had accepted to work under a PDP Government. Not too long ago, this is what Dr Abati thought of the PDP: “...a most irresponsible political party, its continuing success in Nigerian politics, a great oxymoron, but a veritable indication of the putative nature of Nigerian politics marked as it is by insincerity, inequities and injustice.

...the PDP has done great damage to Nigeria and its people. Consistent with the mood of the times in 1998, the founding fathers of the PDP promised Nigerians a political party that will uphold the sanctity of the rule of law, human rights, strong political culture, equitable wealth distribution, minority rights, infrastructural development and high standard of living. They have failed Nigerians on each and every one of these issues”

It is a divided political party, a party where the end justifies all the means and the meanness, and where the party register is full of obituaries. Across the country, there is so much strife in PDP constituencies, In terms of values, the PDP has gone down the scale in the last ten years, and the direction is clearly, permanently Southern. But while the party leaders pretended to be on good terms, they forgot to spare a moment or even a thought for all the victims of PDP's power politics, the men and women whose lives have been sacrificed by ambitious and greedy party members...

But who does not know that the PDP is a party of Godfathers, family members, thugs and ballot box snatchers? It is also a party of corrupt men and women. The EFCC says between 1999 and 2007, 31 Governors were indicted for corruption. These are PDP Governors mainly. The EFCC in its latest report has also disclosed that in the past one year alone, politicians have stolen N21 billion of taxpayers’ money, and again, these are mostly PDP politicians. In PDP states, violence is the principal instrument of dialogue and the graveyard is full of many PDP corpses...”

Reuben Abati, November 2, 2008. http://nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/reuben-abati/the-pdp-is-ten-nigeria-is-ten-years-behind.html Vintage Dr. Abati? Hmm! Did the dog return to its vomit?

So a lot must have changed within the PDP to have persuaded Dr. Abati to hook up with a party previously described By Reuben Abati as ‘People Deceiving People’, ‘Papa Deceiving Pickin’, ‘People Dey Pretend’, ‘Party Destroy People’, ‘People Destroy Party’, ‘Power Determines Process’, ‘Power Drunk Politicians’, etc! To a lot of Nigerians, it is doubtful if a lot, if anything, has really changed with the ‘gang of killers’ and, lately, perverters of the cause of justice. Surely, Reuben Abati now sees something new and revolutionarily different in the PDP that the rest of us, ‘jaundiced’ Nigerians do not see! Shall we further remind ourselves that, according to him, “the average Nigerian remembers the PDP as the party of the late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, Chris Uba, Okija shrine, Marshall Harry, Dikibo, the Odi massacre, the Bakassi sell-out, rising prices, nationwide insecurity, Niger Delta crisis and so on.” [see Nigeriavillagesquare.com, ibid].

Is it not the same Reuben Abati who castigated President Jonathan for conferring on himself the award of GCFR 30 days into office by remarking “And how many more actions would the President be persuaded to take due to overwhelming pressure, or expediency, but more because of his failure to obey his own moral intuition?” He is now strenuously defending the same President, who appears to be a man incapable of playing by the rules whenever selfish interests are concerned? In the piece ‘how Jonathan got his GCFR’, Reuben Abati informs us by vivid imagery about a President Goodluck Jonathan, a weakling who, rather than following the dictates of his conscience, allowed whimsical considerations to overwhelm him and as a result chose the path of ‘business as usual’ - http://nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/reuben-abati/how-jonathan-got-his-gcfr.html.

The first signs that Reuben sold his conscience came when he was asked to defend what he clearly does not believe in, viz the hidden agenda of the Jonathan presidency to extend his tenure, despite the overwhelming preponderance of other pressing issues to address by him. The volte-face about Jonathan not benefitting from the nonsensical tenure elongation was a ruse engendered by the widespread condemnation of the proposal to amend the constitution to satisfy a bunch of self-seeking politicians! Yet Reuben Abati, with his now characteristic plastic smile, tried to defend the indefensible by asking the opposition to come up with superior arguments. It was a very confident Dr. Abati pontificating to the opposition with such nauseating hubris and amnesia on the issue. So does Dr. Abati believe in the argument of the President, his boss, that four years wasn’t enough to make a difference? No! And the proof of the pudding is that on 29th May 2011, Dr Abati wrote: “It is not true that four years “is too short” for a President or a Governor to make a difference. The President didn’t get it, and it is important that he does. The period appears too short because many of our elected Governors and Presidents (well, we have had only a few) begin to think of what to do, only when they get to office. They have no blueprint, no clear understanding of what is required, they do not even listen to the people well enough, and the parties that brought them to power have no manifesto, no plan of action, no defined contract with the Nigerian people. Given such background, the complexity of bureaucracy and the enormity of official powers could prove so intimidating that the typical overnight man of power could find himself or herself completely ill-prepared for high office. But this is what we want changed. In states where the Governors are prepared, we have seen so much done in four years.”

http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/reuben-abati/the-speech-jonathan-shouldnt-have-made.html

The above then is the superior arguments asked for by Dr. Abati, who wrote the above before he was made the Presidential Spokesman on Media and Publicity by the Jonathan administration.

In ‘Sonnet: England in 1819’ the poet Shelley scoffed, inter alia, over:

‘Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling’.

The Nigerian people must feel the same about President Jonathan’s attempt at chasing shadows instead of chasing substance! If President Goodluck Jonathan feels helpless with the four-year term, can’t he just emulate the last Japanese Prime Minister by resigning? I am not unaware that Reuben Abati said we should accept the proposed amendment of the constitution is in good faith, since President Jonathan would not be benefitting from it.

Does Dr Abati think we are kindergarten kids? Wasn’t he the same Reuben Abati who wrote that this President Jonathan is so susceptible to being begged and most likely to capitulate to such emotional massages - http://nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/reuben-abati/how-jonathan-got-his-gcfr.html? In other words, as soon as the Constitutionally is amended there will be the usual sponsored beggars, who would prevail on President Jonathan to contest and benefit from the tenure elongation in order to, wait for it..., consolidate and build on his achievements and to finish what he had started. And it would most likely be the same Reuben Abati lecturing us about the merits of Jonathan being allowed to complete the projects he had embarked upon!

I will dwell a little more on the latest of Reuben’s perfidious tasks to date. It is in relation to the PDP-sponsored shenanigan taking place in the upper echelon of the Judiciary. I would not rehash the facts, as those are already matters of public knowledge. It is the spirited defence of Dr. Abati to the debacle that concerns me. Here’s Reuben informing us about the appointment of an acting President for the Court of Appeal on 27 August 2011: “President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is in receipt of a correspondence dated 18th August, 2011, from the National Judicial Council (NJC), recommending the compulsory retirement of Hon. Justice Isa Ayo Salami, OFR, for misconduct in accordance with the provisions of Section 292 (1) (a) (i) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, and Rule 1 (1) of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Consequently, President Jonathan, in exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 238 (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, has approved the acting appointment of Hon. Justice Dalhatu Adamu to perform the functions of the office of the President of the Court of Appeal pending when all issues relating to the office of the President of the Court of Appeal are resolved.”

The obvious dishonesty in the above press release was the fact that it was curiously silent on the fact that the NJC’s letter must have communicated to the President the fact that the Hon. Justice Isa Ayo Salami had been suspended by the NJC and I think it was deliberate, since it was obvious to all and sundry in the know, including Dr. Reuben Abati, a trained lawyer, that the NJC has no constitutional powers to suspend the President of the Court of appeal. Pursuant to section 292(1) of the Constitution, as amended, the President of the Court of Appeal can only be removed from office by the President, acting on an address supported by two-third majority of the Senate. Therefore, other than recommending to the President the removal of the President of the Court of Appeal, the NJC lacks the constitutional power to remove the President of the Court of Appeal from office through suspension. To have done so is ultra vires the Nigerian Constitution, the one that President Jonathan swore to protect!

Based on the Press release from the Presidency, the NJC had recommended that Justice Salami be retired from service due to misconduct. How did the NJC arrive at its pre-determined conclusion?

Justice Dahiru Musdapher, J.S.C, the next CJN after Katsina-Alu, gave oral evidence in support of the CJN's position that he [the out-going CJN] never instructed the PCA [Justice Isa Ayo Salami] to influence the Sokoto Gubernatorial Appeal. Justice Dahiru Musdapher refused [cleverly avoided] to be sworn on oath, which would have involved him doing so by using the Holy Quran - I quote the Tribune of Tuesday 2nd August 2011, at page 14:

"Hon. Justice Salami: My Lord, Justice Musdapher, it seems you were not on oath?

Hon. Justice Musdapher: Yes, but I have done my ablution"

The above dialogue was between the PCA [Justice Isa Ayo Salami] and Justice Dahiru Musdapher, who had prepared a written statement that he submitted to the panel and it was whilst the PCA was questioning him about what took place between him [the PCA] and the outgoing CJN that the above dialogue came to light. It may seem unimportant to non-Muslims but in the circumstances it is telling that Justice Dahiru Musdapher chose 'ablution' instead of being on oath by swearing with the Holy Quran. Both do not have the same significance in Islam! In my view, Justice Dahiru Musdapher lied before the Justice Abdullahi Panel. Sadly, albeit not surprising, the Abdullahi Panel chose to believe the evidence of a liar who refused to be sworn under oath [using the Holy Quran] by cheekily claiming he had done his ablution! Is the performance of an ablution the same thing as holding the Holy Quran and swearing under oath? No it is not! Yet GEJ has installed another liar and hatchet man for the PDP in the Supreme Court. Not just that, the NJC Panel believed a liar, used his evidence to unconstitutionally suspend the PCA, and President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP quickly endorsed the NJC’s violation of the Constitution. Yet Dr. Abati expects us to believe his dishonest claim of innocence for his boss! Could it be the first time that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had violated the law and/or due process? No; Dr. Abati himself had told us about how Jonathan had violated the ground norm in conferring the GCFR on himself ‘because he was begged’ to do so (- http://nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/reuben-abati/how-jonathan-got-his-gcfr.html)! The amnesia of Dr. Abati is truly astonishing!

Naturally, a lot of people justifiably condemned the brazen endorsement of illegality by the Jonathan administration and as expected it fell on Dr. Abati, the comical Ali of the Goodluck administration, to defend the violation of the constitution. Read him: "What the President has done is to prevent a vacuum and the law provided for that. The acting president of the Court of Appeal is there in an acting capacity until all the issues involved in this matter has been resolved. The President, as leader of the country, has the primary responsibility to ensure stability. If he had not acted, he would have been criticised and now he acted and he is also being criticised.

He has acted in the best interest of Nigeria to prevent a constitutional lacuna. A situation whereby the headship of the court of appeal becomes vacant and no action is taken to ensure stability at that level.

"The principle of independence has to be respected but, at the same time, the president has even presented an opportunity just to stay within the law and to fill that vacuum that has been created. It is the duty of the judiciary ultimately to, within the framework of the law, resolve the matter."

"I have seen that in reacting to this, people have been making all kinds of allegations, all kinds of judicial pronouncements and everybody in Nigeria has suddenly become a judge and Mr President is being turned into a scapegoat in a matter in which he is completely innocent".

I listened to this insult on the intelligence of equally intelligent Nigerians as Dr. Abati, and almost threw up in disgust. My palliative was reminding myself that he was at least putting his PhD in Theatre Arts to such a good use, at deceiving himself thinking he was deceiving Nigerians! Such grandiloquence as ‘constitutional lacuna’ to describe a situation where there was no vacancy other than the contrived vacancy by PDP henchmen: Justices Aloysius Katsina-Alu, Dahiru Musdapher and, lest we’ve forgotten the hangman of General Sani Abacha, Ibrahim Auta. Mr Justice Ibrahim Auta was the dirty laundry man who sat in a kangaroo court to convict and sentence Ken Saro Wiwa to death. Such a man is still in the system and an asset to such murderous party like the PDP, unless of course we’ve also forgotten how and under whose watch the late Chief Bola Ige, former Attorney-General, died!

We don’t need Reuben Abati insulting with his tales by daytime, claiming that the President acted in the best interest of Nigeria; that simply isn’t the truth. It is elementary and a notorious fact that in Nigeria what goes on behind closed doors in the government isn’t always what is best for the country.

Let us tell Dr Abati what his boss should have done. Knowing, as he does, that the NJC had no Constitutional power to suspend the President of the Court of Appeal, the President ought to have told the NJC in no uncertain terms that he could not accept that body’s recommendation as it was predicated on illegality. Has Dr. Abati not come across the now hackneyed saying by Lord Denning, who held in UAC v MCFOY (1962) AC 152 that "you can't place something on nothing and expect it to stand."? But the alacrity with which the President gave his seal of approval to the recommendation and the subsequent appointment of an acting President for the Court of Appeal leads credence to a hidden agenda. And Dr. Abati must have been living in Planet Pluto to have feigned ignorance to the fact that a court process had been filed prior to the NJC’s purported suspension of Justice Salami. Yet he had the hubristic effrontery to say that the President acted in the best interest of the country. In subverting the constitution? Please! One would have expected the President to have acted with such speed in dealing with the now resolutely incessant bombing by Boko Haram by dispatching with the inept Inspector-General of Police and his equally clueless counterpart at the State Security Services. Such state of insecurity and no one is being fired, granted that it’s an anathema for inept officials to throw in the towels in this clime! The ineptitude of the Police and Security Services has reached an alarming height but it seems the President is content with just patting them on the back despite the serious threat these bombing pose to our national lives! However, at the right time to play the PDP script our President was not found wanting. Why the haste, one might ask? Why couldn’t Salami have remained at his post until a court of law decided his fate? The answer to that, Reuben Abati and his paymasters in the PDP know, despite their shenanigan mendacity to the contrary!

Back to the NJC debacle, Dr Abati opined: "The principle of independence has to be respected but, at the same time, the president has even presented an opportunity just to stay within the law and to fill that vacuum that has been created. It is the duty of the judiciary ultimately to, within the framework of the law, resolve the matter." On reflection, the great man himself must be disappointed at his waffle and that could only have happened to a man not used to telling a barefaced lie, who is attempting to sell a very bad product!

Taking further umbrage at those criticising the President for his assault on the constitution, Dr. Abati haughtily declared: "I have seen that in reacting to this, people have been making all kinds of allegations, all kinds of judicial pronouncements and everybody in Nigeria has suddenly become a judge and Mr President is being turned into a scapegoat in a matter in which he is completely innocent". What theatrics! Mr President is not just innocent but completely innocent! Really? Dr Abati must fancy himself as the sole repository of language and diction. Let us examine his concept of complete innocence.

The genesis of the catastrophe in the Judiciary is traceable to accusation and counter accusation regarding Sokoto State gubernatorial election petition. Without rehashing the full facts, suffice it to say that in a matter already heard by the Court of Appeal, which then had the final say in the matter, the Supreme Court arrested the judgement and then delivered a judgement dubiously in favour of, as one might guess, the PDP. That in itself was an unprecedented assault on the constitution by the Supreme Court headed by perhaps the worst Chief Justice this country ever had, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu who came in a cloud and departed in a cloud. He has his uncontested place in the history of infamy in Nigeria! Now, to which political party does the President belong again? Isn’t it the political party unlawfully occupying the gubernatorial seat in Sokoto State? The President is completely innocent, and yes Dr. Abati is an honourable messenger who says nothing but the truth and with such unbelievable passion! I’m just doing my job, no matter what?

So having watched Dr Abati trying so hard to defend the indefensible of this bumbling President, let ask Reuben Abati: ‘how many more actions would the President be persuaded to take due to overwhelming pressure, or expediency, but more because of his failure to obey his own moral intuition?’

Based on the foregoing, it seems pretty much obvious that Dr. Abati is involved in a dirty laundering for the PDP and his integrity is sliding toward an inescapable abyss into which others have fallen, albeit by choice. Where is the great Cicero of Esa Oke today? Where is Professor Dora Akunyili today? The latter was particularly warned but chose filthy lucre ahead of good judgement and integrity.

What do I expect Dr. Abati to have done when he was ennobled? Based on his antecedents, I would have expected him to have said ‘no, thank you, it is likely that my integrity would be compromised by the nature of the job being offered’. However, I would have been more than happy if he had been made a full cabinet minister in charge of, say, one of the perennially failing ministries, certainly not information for that would have been worse as that also would be calling upon him to tell barefaced lies. The man, Dr Abati is not a good liar simpliciter and a government that is failing its people as the PDP has been doing since 1999 need people without convictions, people who are comfortable telling lies and going home to sleep without a bother! In the end though it was a judgement call for Reuben Abati to make and he must have made it consciously for reasons he alone would know. I remain convinced that he should have said ‘No’ and not yes like one ‘eater of his kinsman’s leftover’ who wanted at all cost to be counted amongst the past leaders of this country, the man who shamelessly said yes to being an illegal interim President. That man could have gone down in history as having declined to be part of the annulment of June 12, sadly he chose to be a pharaoh- and he was another Egba man betraying another Egba man!

Dr. Reuben Abati has not and is not betraying anyone but his conscience each time he goes out there to lie to the Nigerian people. Whilst wishing him luck, it is apposite to leave readers ruminating on this from IAGO in Shakespeare Othello:

“...Others there are
Who, trimm’d in forms and visages of duty,
Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,
And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,
Do well thrive by them, and when they have lin’d their coats

Do themselves homage: these fellows have some soul;

And such a one do I profess myself...
In following him, I follow but myself.
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end.
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, ’tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at. I am not what I am.”
In other words, it is conceivable that privately, Dr. Abati tells himself and/or who else cares to listen, “I’m just serving him to get what I want. If my outward appearance started reflecting what I really felt, soon enough I’d be wearing my heart on my sleeve for birds to peck at. No, it’s better to hide it. I’m not who I appear to be”.

In concluding this piece I came across what I consider to be a master piece description and which better encapsulates the central theme of my write-up: “...many public intellectuals are harlots and pimps. They are always on the look out to sell virtue, honour, soul and body for the highest bidder. Abati was a happy pundit in The Guardian but like the harlot, he had to sell virtue, honour, soul and body to the Abuja clueless figurehead who paid more” - T-Force, commenting on: ‘Justice Salami & an Unjust System’ by Tunde Fagbenle - http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/tunde-fagbenle/justice-salami-and-an-unjust-system.html.

In being used as the mouthpiece and apologist for the Government of “Pawo Dele Party”, “nest of killers”, “People Deceiving Party”, “Pervert Due Process”, the People’s Democratic Party, Dr Reuben Abati, PhD, ‘sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability’.

Written by Abdul Jimoh" < [email protected]

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