The tentacles of Muhammadu Buhari’s tyranny are growing and spreading everywhere. Only those who are in denial can fail to appreciate that a de facto dictatorship is fastening its grip on Nigeria.
Even from the base of his medical expedition in London, Buhari’s lengthened shadow is haunting the country. His gestapo agents are running amok, enforcing citizen surrender to the emergent police state with threat and theatre.
Premium Times reporter, Samuel Ogundipe, is the latest victim of the Buhari regime’s design to stifle free speech and sunset the era of human rights in Nigeria.
The regime arrested and detained the journalist for his scoop on the invasion of the National Assembly by Department of State Security. They pressed him to divulge his source, froze his account, slammed preposterous charges of theft of public document and cyber crime on him and denied him access to his lawyers.
Before Ogundipe, the regime arrested and incarcerated the editor-in-chief of a Yenagoa-based newspaper, Jones Ebiri, for two years without trial. President Buhari’s spokesmen, Garba Shehu, described Ebiri as ‘’a guest’’ of the state ‘’because of his alleged criminal activities.’’ The DSS branded him a key Niger Delta ‘’militant’’
The regime had also arrested and detained Daily Independent journalist, Tony Ezimakor, for exposing Buhari’s cronies who were running a fraud racket under the guise of negotiating ransom with Boko Haram on behalf of Nigeria. The DSS held him incommunicado and pressured him to reveal his source.
President Buhari, the maximum ruler who issued the anti-press Decree 4 of 1984 and several retroactive edicts and presided over many abominable executions in his earlier incarnation, is still a tyrant at heart. His claim of being a ‘’converted democrat’’ is increasingly being contradicted by a rich catalogue of evidence of his iron hand rule.
Buhari had an Igbo trader arrested and prosecuted for naming his pet dog ‘’Buhari.’’ The regime charged Joachim Iroko for conducting himself ‘’in a manner likely to cause breach of peace, by writing a name ‘Buhari’ on a dog and parading same in the Hausa section of Ketere Market Sango.’’
Some Nigerians defended Buhari and blamed the victim. They said that Iroko deserved his persecution. The poor man was guilty of lese majesty.
Buhari ordered a deadly crackdown of Biafran activists. He directed the security agencies to ‘’crush’’ the youths. He deployed a joint task force of the police and military and had them shoot hundreds of peaceful protesters in broad daylight.
Some Nigerians celebrated the clampdown. They said Buhari was right to stamp out dissent. They posited that the extrajudicial killing of innocents was a just price to pay to avert the renaissance of Biafra.
When Buhari proceeded to tag Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a ‘’militant terrorist organization’’ and proscribed it, some applauded. When he authorized the militarization of the entire South East and inflicted ‘’Operation Python Dance’’ on the zone, some cheered. They said the Biafra movement was a cancer. They praised Buhari for his zero tolerance for dissent.
General Tukur Yusuf Buratai unleashed Nigerian troops on the Shiite community in Zaria in December 2015. They executed a three day long killing spree, in which they murdered 300 Nigerian men and women and dumped their bodies in a mass grave.
Buhari endorsed the massacre on national television. He called the slain ‘’some dissents’’ and judged them guilty of the capital offense of attempting ‘’to create a state within a state.’’
Some Nigerians who take a dim view of the Shiite faith welcomed the massacre. They wished aloud that the death toll. They condemned the Shiites as a blot on the authentic Islam.
Buhari continues to hold Shiite leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife hostage. He has also ignored several court rulings ordering the immediate release of Sambo Dasuki on bail.
Buhari authorized the DSS to conduct a midnight raid of the residences of Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He framed the assault as an urgent nocturnal shakedown, an essential quest to further the war against corruption.
Some Nigerians praised the move. They said that all was fair in love and war on graft. Any act committed in the name of fighting corruption is permissible.
Buhari is enabling ethnic cleansing and land grab in the Middle Belt. He stridently defends the innocence of the perpetrators, the Fulani herdsmen. He swears that they ‘’don’t carry anything more than a stick and occasionally a matchet to cut down foliage and give it to their animals.’’
But Buhari’s own spokesman, Femi Adesina, enunciated the regime’s land for life policy on July 3, 2018. He said on AIT that Nigerians had a binary choice: cede your arable land to the nomadic herders or die by the sword of the sons of Futa Jallon. He advised that it was better to embrace destitution as landless refugee than choose pride and end up as a butchered absentee landlord.
Buhari authorized the invasion of the chambers of the Nigerian Senate by thugs. They ran in and grabbed the mace and fled. They had a smooth passage, an unprecedented breach that bore the hallmarks of presidential approval.
Some Nigerians absolved Buhari of complicity. They said he couldn’t have had anything to do with the violation of the parliament. Certain lawyer apologists argued that, even if he was behind the rape, the mace was a trivial object. It does not have an important value in the legislative tradition.
Governor Samuel Ortom defected from APC to PDP the other day. No sooner had he made the declaration than the EFCC accused Ortom of stealing 22 billion naira in security vote. The agency froze the accounts of the state government. Then, the police escorted an inquorate group of 8 members of Benue State House of Assembly to break into the House chambers and initiate an impeachment process against Ortom. Buhari’s signed off on the script of the farce.
The EFCC froze the accounts of Akwa Ibom state government as soon as Godswill Akpabio switched from PDP to Buhari’s APC. The aim was to cause a government shutdown, cause widespread cash crunch and instigate the voters to turn against Governor Udom Emmanuel and the ruling party in the state.
Buhari has made state institutions obligated to intuit his personal desires and advance his politics. Everything is being manipulated to please him. Everyone is fair game.
The tell-tale signs of full-blown tyranny are evident in Nigeria. They should ordinarily be a call to arms. Yet, people keep romanticizing the strongman’s contempt for the rule of law and his draconian attack on Nigerian institutions. They are blinded by their infatuation for Buhari and their animosity for his human targets.
Those who are rationalizing Buhari’s tyranny and making a show of their propensity for Schadenfreude need a lesson in history.
History teaches that tyranny is a universal enemy. It has a perverse gradual democratic feature. It starts as a remote, circumscribed evil affecting a few until it consolidates itself and expands to dehumanize everybody, including its most ardent supporters.
A ruler with proclivity for tyranny is an equal opportunity destroyer. General Muhammadu Buhari has a strong despotic streak. It’s only a matter of time before his tyranny comes to your neighborhood.
The German pastor, Martin Niemoller wrote about the danger of cowardly indifference to a dictator in his poem ‘’First They Came.’’ He regretted that he maintained his peace and basked in the illusion of his safety while Hitler’s holocaust was eliminating distant folks…until the Nazis came for him and there was no one left to speak for him.
The fawning Buharists may, likewise, get wise after the event.
Tyranny is a fairly generous phenomenon. There will eventually be enough of it to go round.
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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