By YINKA ODUMAKIN
I met Robert Azibola in the trenches in the dark days of General Sani Abacha.He was one of the young activists then who were singing uncomfortable tunes in the ears of the dark-goggled dictator.I lost contact with him for several years until I ran into him in the lobby of an hotel in Abuja early 2015.That was when he told me he is cousin to then President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. I was to hear of him about 38 days ago(as at the time of writing this) when the news filtered in that he was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC, over some pipeline contract he handled with the office of the National Security Adviser(NSA). His family says he was detained illegally for nine days before the EFCC could get an order from a magistrate court to legally detain him.
The family went to Abuja to get a court order for him to be released but which the anti-graft agency refused to obey. The detention order from the magistrate court expired on 19th April and it became difficult to get a magistrate to issue another order since all of them have been served the High Court order ordering his release. The EFCC used another device.He was transferred to Lagos where it was easy to get another magistrate to issue another detention order after he had been held for three days. His wife is also said to have been detained for hours and released in the course of his ordeal.She was released because of their young children and asked to report daily.
In 38 days,the EFCC has not charged him to court .His family insists that his prolonged detention is because he has refused to admit that his company is a front for Jonathan. They fear his captors want to break him so he could admit whatsoever they put to him. The EFCC should as a matter of urgency charge Robert to court so he could defend himself against whatever charges they have against him.Holding him indefinitely can only confirm the family fears that he is being held to get to a target. This story of gunning for Jonathan has been in the news for months now but the plot seems to thicken now.Various EFCC sources have informed the media over and again that it is only a matter of time before they put him in their net.
Chairman of the anti-corruption advisory board,Prof. Itse Sagay at one point said the EFCC would need the permission of President Buhari to effect Jonatan’s arrest.Senator Joseph Waku had granted an interview calling for the arrest of the former President. There is no doubt in my mind that all these are water testing in the grand scheme to humiliate the former President. Do I hold the view that Jonathan is above the law and should not be investigated if there are infractions against the law?No! I am one of those who have canvassed that the immunity clause even for serving officials be removed and therefore would not stand against investigating former officials.But then,it is not all that are lawful that are expedient. God bless the soul of Senator Abraham Adesanya.
Whenever the old man was being goaded to take a decision that could backfire, he was wont to tell the story of a masquerade called Babamogba. The masquerade was a powerful and feared one. Whenener he was going out he would be accompanied by three drummers. The talking drummer is not a man who only entertains but serve as intelligence officer and communicates effectively with those who “hear” the drum. Wale Adeoye and I once visited the Alaafin of Oyo and we were told to come back at some latter day. As we approached his palace we were ushered into his sitting arena and he surfaced.We asked him how he knew we were around and he told us the talking drummer already told him as we approached the gate.He told us how if he failed to wake up at the appropriate time to perform the necessary rites, the drummer would say to to him “Atanda dide enikan kii fise igbonse ran omo re”(delegati non delegari-he who is delegated does not delegate ).
Back to Babamogba. Once he is approaching another masquerade the first drummer would incite him saying “run into him,hit him”.The second drummer would however tell him “Babamogba if they are deceiving you don’t deceive yourself”.The third drummer would come with a warning “Babamogba,when the chips are down,you are on your own”. After all the drummers are done,Babamogba would then take an informed decision. Like the second and the third drummer, this column is looking at two major issues which the brothers of the first drummer who are calling for Jonathan arrest are not addressing. The first is that when Jonathan called General Buhari to accept defeat even before the announcement of final results hope was rekindled that we were about to say goodbye to the politics of “do-or-die” and that the African continent would have more of such powerful example.We were glad when Bori Yayi of Benin Republic sang from Jonathan’s hymn book by also congratulating his opponent who defeated him in the country’s general elections.
The humiliation of Jonathan would dim that prospect as many African leaders would prefer to die in office rather than handover and be humiliated.They would be making reference to what happened to Jonathan who surrendered power.Their model would become Robert Mugabe who was once asked by a BBC reporter on when he would say bye to the people of Zimbabwe and his answer was “where are they going?” He was quoted to have said that the greatest offense he could commit is to organise elections and lose. The second point is that there are two many flash points so far for the regime at the moment to be opening new ones.The Boko Haram insurgency,the Shiites problem, the IPOB quest for self-determination,the murderous acts of Fulani herdsmen etc are full on the regime’s plate.A rash dealing with Jonathan would open another war front in the Niger Delta as it would create an occasion for those spoiling for a fight in the creeks to make use of their weapons.Even those who don’t like Jonathan will use his arrest to do their own fight.They would be asking for the precedence of a former President who has been so hounded.
Why would the bean cake be one’s bone when it comes to the turn of the toothless? The Yoruba say it is when you kill a madman that you will know he didn’t drop from the sky, I read a statement by the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) in northern states on the purported plan to arrest Jonathan where they stated inter alia : “CAN Northern states wishes to advice that such an action, if actualised, has the capacity to lead to serious confusion that will affect Nigeria economically and otherwise. We are afraid that such an action may spark chain reaction. “If our President wants to arrest anything for now then he should arrest the incessant spate of herdsmen attacks in Nigeria which has led to the deaths of almost a thousand innocent Nigerians under his watch. He should arrest the dangerous slide in the power sector; he should arrest the slide in the economy. We believe at this time and with the current realities our former president must not be denigrated but honoured, because honour must be given to whom it is due.” If the EFCC has questions for Jonathan,they can approach him to ask him questions without attempting to humiliate him.Just my two cents!