(Tame the little monster before it metamorphoses into a beast)
BY STEVEN KEFAS
Email: [email protected]
In the early seventies, 25th January 1971 to be precise, the African nation of Uganda experienced the most tyrannical regime in the history of Africa when Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada staged a successful coup which saw him become the Military ruler of Uganda. His regime was characterized by human rights abuses, political repression, ethnic persecution, extra judicial killings, nepotism, corruption and gross economic mismanagement. The number of people killed during that regime has been put at between 100,000 and 500,000, by international observers and human right groups. Amin was such an arrogant leader, full of pride and ‘I-know-it-all” attitude. In 1977 he added a controversial title CBE (Conqueror of the British Empire) to his title. The state owned radio known as Radio Uganda announced his entire title thus: His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Alhaji Dr. Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE. The Ugandan people tasted a glimpse of hell on earth under the regime of Amin. He was a leader who was feared both at home and abroad for his brutality, his opposition to anything that was not in line with his thoughts, and political rivals were crushed at the slightest opportunity. His regime received wide condemnation from all over the globe.
Just as the popular saying goes ‘nothing lasts forever’, so also was Amin’s brutal regime, as has always been the case with dictators and tyrants all over the globe. Amin was not an exception as his eight – year old regime came to a disgraceful end after the Ugandan Tanzania war, Amin went into exile in Libya and Saudi Arabia, where he lived until his death sometimes in August 2003. 8 years after his demise, his old time friend and also the last surviving military dictator in Africa, Muamar Ghadafi also joined his ancestors in a disgraceful manner.
Having taken a quick look at the reign of Idi Amin above, let me quickly set the ball rolling. 13 years after the world thought that Amin was gone and there can never be another Amin in a 21st century global village where human right is the watch word for leadership across the globe, a reincarnation of Idi Amin sprang up in the North-Western State of Kaduna, a Northern Nigerian state in West Africa. This reincarnated Amin is no other person than Governor Ahmed Nasiru Elrufai whose less than 2 years old regime has been characterized by almost, if not more than Amin’s antecedents.
Prior to his emergence as governor, Elrufai was known for making unguarded utterances capable of setting a nation ablaze. In one instance he re-tweeted a tweet from his twitter handle suggesting that Jesus Christ of had sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene. He also made insensitive utterances concerning the killings of locals in Southern Kaduna and the Middlesbelt where he claimed that whoever killed a Fulani man is taking a loan that must be paid come rain come sunshine.
To some of us this irresponsible disposition of the governor is not a surprise. Recall that in 2004 the late legal luminary Gani Fawehimi told the Senate that Elrufai was not fit to be a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for ‘insulting’ the senators. The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) also called for his sack then. Despite all these, Elrufai became the governor of Kaduna state in the 2015 general elections. His stewardship so far has been giving birth to human right abuses on scary scales. Take the case of Mr Dickson Jacob, for instance, who was in May 2016 arrested and detained for reporting a story on the governor. This was done in the similar fashion the late Amin carried out his victimization of the press. After spending days in detention, however, Dickson finally regained his freedom, following relentless outcry from different rights bodies.
Dr. John Danfulani is another victim of the Elrufai’s tyrannical leadership. The former University lecturer was arrested and detained for what the government tagged ‘hate speech’. The former KASU lecturer who laboured tremendously in bringing the regime to power fell out with the regime few months after the victory at the polls and began to criticize the regime. Even though his criticisms are always constructive with facts and figures, this does not go well with the governor. Dr. John Danfulani was in December 2015 arraigned before a Kaduna Magistrate court for alleged Facebook update which the governor saw and considered to constitute hate speech. He was granted bail after spending few days in the Kaduna prison, and the case was adjourned and later dismissed for lack of merit by the magistrate.
The Dr. thought he was a free man until the dissatisfied governor filed the same charges against him in the state High Court sitting in Kaduna. Different legal practitioners are raising questions as to why the state government should file previously treated suit against the Dr. instead of appealing the judgment of the magistrate court or bringing up new cahrges. One thing is certain and that is the fact that tyrants and dictators do not obey court orders, they always want to have it their own way or no way and Elrufai has proven beyond doubt that he is no exception.
In the same vein, the SOKAPU national youth wing leader Comrade Nasiru Jagaba was arraigned before a Kaduna based magistrate court for resigning his appointment with the state government and for vocally criticizing the Elrufai government in a widely publicized press conference. The case is still ongoing in court.
Veteran journalist Luka Binniyat of Vanguard Nigeria also had his share of Elrufai’s excessive use of executive power, the journalist was illegally arrested, detained and arraigned before a kangaroo court for publishing a story the government deemed false and inciting.
Entertainment mogul and chocolate city Chairman Audu Maikori also tasted Elrufai’s executive rascality when he was arrested and detained by the police on Elrufai’s order for what the diminutive governor termed inciting Social Media post, Audu was granted bail by the police and the charges dropped but Elrufai during a social media week in Lagos reiterated his commitment to prosecute Audu Maikori.
Senator Danjuma Laah was not left out of the list, the Senator representing Southern Kaduna senatorial zone has been a constant guess to the DSS for his call on his constituents to defend themselves amidst genocides by terrorists Governor Elrufai confessed to paying compensations. As if that was not enough on the 9th of March 2017 the DSS and police under the instructions of Governor Elrufai stormed the Senator’s Kaduna residence in a commando fashion illegally ransacked his house and went away with his legally acquired licensed pump action riffle.
There have also been cases of intimidation, unlawful invitation of critics by the police under the instruction of governor Elrufai under the guise of questioning. A typical example was the invitation of Adamu Abdullahi for questioning. Adamu was abused by the state police for allegedly sharing a video that shows the Governor being stoned in Zaria.
House of Justice CEO Gloria Ballason is also on the long list of people awaiting arrest and detention after her article on Blueprint newspaper where she talked about the southern Kaduna genocides and government’s lackadaisical attitude in handling the killings.The list goes on and on.
Abuse of rights to freedom of religion and worship, is another undoing of the Elrufai regime. The governor after assuming power quickly sent a controversial religious bill to the “rubber stamp” State House of Assembly. The bill has been widely condemned for its possible infringement on the rights of the citizens. In December 2015 after the fracas between the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Buratai and the Islamic movement in Nigeria aka Shiites where some Shiite members were extra judicially murdered by the army, the governor who condemned the army in strong terms when a similar fracas occurred under the previous administration became deaf and dumb to the killings of the Shiite members. As if that was not enough, the army went further to kill over a thousand more Shiite members, destroying their spiritual headquarter and arresting their injured leader in the process.
The governor inaugurated a kangaroo judicial panel of enquiry to look into the circumstances surrounding the bloody fracas which never solved the problem; and in October 2016 Elrufai in his Idi Amin fashion imposed a ban on all activities of the Shiites in the state. This drew wide condemnation from within and outside the country with many questioning the constitutional correctness of the ban. The Shiites are a minority sect different from the one the governor belongs to. Idi Amin of Uganda was known for oppressing ethnic and religious minorities across Uganda and Elrufai has done just that since coming into power.
Churches have also had their fair share of the draconian rule of Elrufai. Churches that were having internal crisis as a result of normal leadership tussle in Saminaka were shut down by the police on the instruction of Elrufai who claimed the churches were shut to ensure peace and order in the community. The same leadership tussle is ongoing in a popular mosque in Kaduna but the Governor has not ordered the shutting down of the mosque, despite the fact that the crisis is a bigger threat to peace in the state than the Saminaka church crisis.
The genocides in Southern Kaduna can be compared to the killings of ethnic minorities in Uganda under the regime of Idi Amin. The brutal dictator was responsible for all the genocides under his regime. Though some may rightly argue that the Southern Kaduna genocides have been going on before the emergence of Elrufai, one cannot completely dismiss the fact that the killings have taken a terrible dimension with lots of conspiracies under his watch. His utterances concerning the killings also speak volume and have only serve to aid the killings.
Just as it was in the days of Idi Amin when sheepish loyalists of the regime were aiding the dictator to oppress and victimize their kinsmen, so also it is today in Kaduna state where Elrufai has succeeded in winning the loyalty of some sheepish followers who have been defending his excesses to the detriment of the people. These followers are mostly youths who have turned themselves into praise singers of the draconian leader. They can insult, attack and even threaten whoever criticizes the policies of the government. Information has it that they have been the brain behind the ordeals of some critics of the regime.
In his less than two years in office, Elrufai has demonstrated dictatorial tendencies which if not checked now may lead to the emergence of one of 21st Century’s most brutal dictator. To the amazement of rational minds, some people still think he is a demi god and a good leader despite his excesses.
It is a duty for all peace loving people of Kaduna state to rise up and tame this little monster (via the ballot box) or risk having him metamorphose into a beast that cannot be tamed.