by Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal
The recently reported arrest and detention of Mr. Amaechi Anakwue – a Journalist and senior reporter – working with African Independent Television in Abuja at the behest of Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of zone 7, Mr. Joseph Mbu, is not only deserving of all-round condemnation by all and sundry but also it remains one notorious development in recent time the media as a whole should not just gloss over it and move on as if to say “let us leave the matter there since it has come and gone”. As unfortunate as this unbridled pang of dictatorial tendencies of AIG Mbu has been rudely unleashed on Amaechi Anakwue and which is typically arising from the whimsical disorder inherent in the lives and mentality of some Nigerian Police and other security personnel, it will be naïve and, in fact, counter-productive for members of the public and the media in particular to think that paying little attention to this ugly incident or even leaving it entirely for both the management of AIT and the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists(NUJ) to sort out will be enough to tame Mbu or mark the end of his notorious culture of impunity. Surely this effort alone is not going to bring this malady to an end. At worst, the little attention this matter seems to be getting from media practitioners at the moment might later mark the beginning of the unleashing of more officially approved propensities on the citizenry by other potentially brutal personnel of the Nigeria Police and other security agencies. This in the main explains why Amaechi Anakwue’s travails should be viewed as an attempt by the Nigeria Police Force to test run the complexion of public opinion as well as the reaction of the Nigeria Press on what the future application of this same Mbu’s tyrannical proclivity would be like. Unfortunately, that only a few write-ups have so far emerged and dotted the landscape of both the print and online media in strong condemnation of Mbu’s cruel action against Amaechi Anakwue and the institution of the Press – beyond the initial news reports on the issue- and the fact that virtually all the national dailies are yet to send across their strong worded note of warning to Mbu and his ilk via their editorials, goes to underscore the degree of seeming lack of seriousness on the part of the entire household of the Nigeria media. However, an exception must be taken for the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on the grounds of its proactive disposition so far on this matter.
But the question lingers: what offence in actual sense did Amaechi Anakwue commit to deserve the sort ill-treatment meted out to him by men of the Nigeria Police force at the instance of their boss AIG Mbu? Based on media reports, it can be fathomed that the only irrational rationale behind Mbu’s indecent descent to the unenviable status of a tyrant Police Chief wielding arbitrary power against the person of Mr. Amaechi Anakwue is not unconnected with the reference by the latter to the putatively public perception of the former as a controversial man – an orthodox perception arising basically from a series of manifold controversies which Mbu had been variously associated with. That being the case, it therefore baffles one what essentially is outrageous in addressing him as a controversial Police officer.
Meanwhile, for the purpose of clarity, it is instructive to look up for the meaning of the word “controversial”. Accordingly, the LONGMAN Dictionary of Contemporary English defines “controversial” as “causing a lot of disagreement, because many people have strong opinions about the subject being discussed”. Thus if Mr. Joseph Mbu in his capacity as the then FCT Commissioner of Police could, for instance, abruptly and impetuously impose a ban on the peaceful assembly of a group of Nigerians, otherwise called Bring Back Our Girls Group (#BBOG#), known popularly for their seemingly ceaseless street march and calls on the Federal Government to expedite actions towards ensuring safe rescue and return of reported abducted girls of Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok community of Borno state – a development that triggered off intense public argument, anger, agitation and even litigation – then wonders what else could disqualify Mr. Joseph Mbu within the context of the foregoing meaning of the word in issue from being aptly described as a controversial figure. Or, better still, if Mr. Mbu as an erstwhile FCT Commissioner of Police could reportedly order his men to resort to the use of tear gas in an attempt to intimidate and disperse the then striking polytechnics lecturers and their students who were peacefully protesting against the insensitivity of the Federal Government to their plight and/or demands at the time (an action which equally generated public debate and condemnation ), then one wonders once more what makes AIG Mbu think that his antecedents do not lend credence to the notion that he is indeed controversial.
Undoubtedly, AIG Mbu’s latest tyranny could not have been born out of nothing short of the truism that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Much as it is clear that he has always wielded power as a senior Police officer, it is hard to downplay the argument of people who believe that Mr. Mbu now sees himself as a demigod possessing an unfettered right to exercise “absolute power” on account of what is perceived in some quarters as his undeserved elevation to the AIG rank. Though terrible as this line of thought may be, it is nevertheless unimaginable what the scenario would have been like if Mbu were President Goodluck Jonathan who has been variously insulted by Nigerians using different pejorative adjectival descriptions such as “clueless”, “kindergarten” (President), etc. And looking at the loose temperament often exhibited Mr. Mbu, one may be inclined to commend President Goodluck Jonathan for being extremely tolerant with power irrespective of all the seemingly provocative insults and bashing he keeps receiving from Nigerians – both from the small and the mighty ones alike. In fact, it transcends mere exaggeration to submit at this juncture that it would have been more sensible for the United States’ Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, to specifically tell Nigerians and the world at large that it is rather because of AIG Mbu’s kind of tyranny and tendencies that the government of his country is unwilling to sell arms to Nigeria government, instead of going all out of the way attributing such reluctance or outright refusal to the so-called gross human rights abuse allegedly being committed by Nigeria Military in the North-East geo-political zone. But while this thinking does not in any way translate to any form of slightest support for the American Ambassador’s hypocritical stand on his country’s objection to the sale of arms request made by the Federal Government of Nigeria, there is no gainsaying that AIG Joseph Mbu latest tyranny is a complete negation of the principles of rule of law and fundamental human rights which invariably constitutes a chink in our national armour in so far as our individual or group rebuttal of the grave accusations of human rights violation leveled against the Nigeria military by Ambassador Entwistle(over the ongoing operations in the North-East) is concerned.
By and large, given that AIG Joseph Mbu was once quoted by the media to have aptly described himself as a “lion”, the supposedly king of all animals, it has thus become imperative for the Federal Government to swiftly begin to monitor the seemingly marauding activities of this apparently monstrous specie of lion with a view to not only taming (domesticating) him but also ensuring that he does run amok or go all out of the way harming and/or devouring unsuspecting citizens doing their legitimate work within the ambit of the law. And this is neither a joke nor a laughing matter.
Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal writes from Abuja
Via [email protected] – 07067504208