Nigeria’s ‘New Sheriff’ Is Partial


This year, out of some 120 trucks of desperately needed food grains that were sent to the Boko Haram-ravaged northeast of Nigeria, a staggering 70 disappeared into thin air. This reported crime was not only an act of robbery, but an act of terror. It had direct consequences in numbers of starving displaced persons, IDPs dying hourly. So far, as the deadly famine ravishes the IDP camps, nothing has been done; no government official has been held responsible for the “missing” trailers. Rationally, the top official should be charged and he must bring out whatever subordinate is implicated if so, and so on, till all culprits are charged. Months later, all officials are still in charge and at peace under the Buhari presidency.

On September 8th, while launching the “Change begins with me” campaign, Nigeria’s president recited plagiarized words from US president Barack Obama. Apologizing, the presidency announced that the culprit was a “Deputy Director” in the Presidency, and he will be punished. Weeks later, no one has named/identified and the punishment has not been witnessed. The perpetrator is still being shielded.

The Central bank has been accused of nepotism. A long list of names of people in power and their families was published by SaharaReporters media in March of this year, openly exposing the illegal hiring process. Nothing has since been done. The apex bank has been accused of many other offenses, including cabal-partiality in distribution of government subsidized forex, but there has bene no comment or reaction from the new Sheriff.

In June, a similar list of 349 names “secretly hired” by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, was published by the same Sahara Reporters media. Again, nothing was done.

Two top government officials, Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau and Chief of Army, CoAS, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai have been accused of misappropriation of funds and embezzlement. While papers reported that Dambazzau’s name was deleted from an army panel report, CoAS Tukur Buratai was exposed to own millions of dollars in unexplainably acquired property in the UAE, Nigeria among other many locations. There has been no explanation nor investigation on these matters. The officials remain shielded and capacitated with power over the people and State accounts.

Several of Buhari’s appointees have likewise come under attack –even before confirmation – for alleged embezzlement of funds. These include current minister of power, Babatunde Fashola who was in a repeat event, accused of padding the 2016 national budget with his notorious inflated prices (Boreholes at N140 million a piece -PremiumTimes). Buhari looked and continues to look the other way.

Many more examples can be cited of the Buhari “change” government shielding deadly corruption and maladministration of his cabinet and associates.

But The Sheriff Is Tough On Some

One might just have thought that the new Sheriff is aged and weak; unable to make scapegoats and set examples of those in his government and those close to him, however evidence unfortunately suggests otherwise.

While Buhari may pretend not to notice the accumulating acts of corruption by those within and close to his administration, he has been hard on certain select groups and individuals. Many are detained without trial and in violation of court granted bails; others like media men, journalists and bloggers are being arrested and locked up at an unprecedented level.

Pro-Biafra activists have been rounded-up and “killed” without remorse in cold, brutal measures. As many as 100 protesters were allegedly killed by the Nigerian army and secretly buried in Onitsha, according to media reports (PremiumTimes  Special report of June 13, 2016).

Similarly, Islamic movement leader, Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife were reportedly brutalized by the Nigerian army and properties of the movement were illegally rapidly demolished across Kaduna state in a bloody event last December (see Amnesty report) that according to a government panel, saw no less than 350 victims killed and secretly buried in a single mass grave at Mando cemetery. Despite promising to act, Buhari has done nothing almost a year later, while the harshness of the “Sheriff” is still felt on the victims, many including the group leader and his wife are still detained illegally.

10 journalists were arrested in Benin last week and detained and are still in detention 5 days later.

A blogger, Jamil Mabai, is still in detention 7 days later, after he was arrested last week Monday for a blog post criticizing Katsina State governor Masari’s expenses.

Many other bloggers including a seriously pro-Buhari blogger, Abubakar Sidiqu Usman, have been locked-up by the government in display that it does have teeth.

It would have been better to have an impartial new Sheriff, but Nigeria appears to be under a partial government that is selective in its meeting-out of justice. This is clearly a huge problem.

In lieu of severe and dangerous implications of tolerated malfeasance by government officials which have deadly consequences as can easily be observed from the many dying daily in the northeast, deprived of food much of which is being stolen by government officials enjoying impunity, scape-goating members of the current administration becomes imperative.

Even if Buhari is too kind to incarcerate his friends and officers, those in command of departments should be openly held to account and at least made to read public statements of apology on camera as happens in China.

“I am sorry I plagiarized, I will never do it again.”

Will we be hearing that soon? We must hope… because injustice and inequality and not poverty is the top cause of terror worldwide and Nigeria is tired of being dragged in reverse by intractable terror consequent to serial government oppression, corruption and injustice. It is time to stop the cycle.

The truth is, peace cannot exist where there is no equity and justice.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah; @EveryNigerian