Monday, October 15, 2007

Corruption War In Nigeria: Misplaced Indignations on use of Handcuffs

Tuesday, 12 April 2005
Should handcuffs be reserved for only poor criminal suspects? Or should Nigeria also use handcuffs on high profile criminal suspects as well? White collar criminals, corrupt politicians too? Should Nigerian poor criminal suspects be pilled in sardine-like manner, sandwiched hundreds in a room, while ‘eminent’ criminal suspect coast in air conditioned detention centers, where they order gourmet meals? Why the discrimination, segregation and disparities in the treatment of criminal suspects or accused persons in Nigeria? These are among the many questions that Nigerians ought to be asking, regarding the brouhaha over the beautiful handcuffs seen worldwide on the wrists of former IGP Mr. Balogun!

Nigerian elite always behave as if they are twice or four times the human beings unlike the mere mortals that the average Nigerians are! If it is okay to arrest a Nigerian for wandering at Yaba bus stop or in Ajegunle and keep him in prison for ten years, while his skin rots, as I personally saw at Panti CID or Ikoyi prisons, why the brouhaha by Nigerian elite, as epitomized in the Guardian Editorial Opinion of Tuesday April 12, 2005? Written with such equivocation, tilted in favor of Mr. Balogun! Are staffs of Guardian who are themselves, headquartered in Lagos, unaware of the sorry state of detention facilities in Nigeria? Particularly in Panti CID, Ikoyi Prisons and Kirikiri Prisons, all in Lagos and under the nose of The Guardian; Unemployed Nigerians, while I live in Lagos, were routinely plucked from bus stops by police, on their way to job search, and charged for wandering, and they are locked for months, for months, for investigations, apologies to Fela Kuti, while the police wait to be bribed for their release
Why the sudden outlandish and outrageous cries for Mr. Balogun the suspect or accused?

Frankly, I find the misplaced cries for Mr. Balogun’s travails extremely disgusting! Why all these crocodile tears couched in due process and rule of law boondoggle and camouflage, by too many Nigerians for the fallen Inspector General of Police and other high profile ministers turned criminal suspects? Why are some Nigerians so class conscious? Why the social stratifications in the treatment of criminal suspects? Why the disparities or double standards? Especially given the fact that those poor desperate economically excused thieves get the rough end of the stick? Why this waste of tears for those high profile thieves suspects who have ruined our country? Why nobody cries for poor prison conditions for the poor in Nigeria? Why?

Sometimes ago, I wrote “Advocating The Death Penalty, Because I am Against It!” in it, I discussed these issues, whereby, a Nigerian’s hand may be amputated or he may even face the death penalty or capital punishment, whereas those white collar criminals, high profile high and mightily corrupt inspector general of police or ministers, senators get slaps on the wrists, special prison accommodation and these nonsensical talks about handcuffs as “humiliation” for high and mighty criminal suspects like Mr. Balogun! If we agree tentatively, that corruption derails development in Nigeria, why criminal suspected of corruption deserve soft and kids gloves treatment and armed robbers or petty criminals get harsh treatments?

I do not care to make any distinction between Mr. Balogunn, Mr. Oyenusi or Mr. Aninin, before their trials, they are all in the same category or class or suspect criminals, and in my view, those who caused or are causing the ruination of Nigeria, are more egregious in their magnitude of criminality, that the petty criminals and physically violent armed robbers…. Those who rob and pillage Nigerian public resources, do more violence to our bodies and our minds, they are therefore more responsible for more injuries, more violence deaths of Nigerians worldwide, whether as stowaways or death of desperate Nigerians emigrating through treacherous deserts or choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean or the emotional death and deaths of our collective sense of decency and deaths of our national pride and death of our collective psyche, wrought upon us, as a nation, because of the inequities and avariciousness of the corrupt public officials foisting ruin on Nigeria

I will like to see The Guardian Newspapers write an equally strident, vociferous and caustic editorial regarding prisons/detentions reform in Nigeria, where thousands suffer brutality and death! Where human skins suffer sores and dilapidations, and waste! Or should our journalists only jump to the defense of the high and mighty but fallen inspector general of police and ministers, who ironically could have reform these prisons and detentions centers, but allegedly usurped the materials and resources meant and intended for these purposes? The Guardian agrees that the case against Mr. Balogun is Without doubt, the case against Mr. Balogun is not only detailed but very serious. What rubbish these tears for Mr. Balogun? Oh yes, I remain committed to the presumption of innocence and equality treatment for all criminal suspects, in accordance with opportunity to be heard and the rule of law.

I have read that the accused criminal suspect Mr. Balogun is threatening to sing the wrap sheet of the criminal wrong doings of others, implicate and incriminate others? He may turn out to be greatest crime fighter Nigeria has ever known, but, will the newspaper headlines then read, “Former IGP Vows To Fight Crime From Prisons” Well if he has a documented list of wrong doing by others, who he now wishes to rat in, rope in or spill the beans about, let him go ahead, it will be good for Nigeria, we need direly to clean house. Let Mr. Balogun begin singing the names of the high and mighty, but corrupt! It is all good for Nigeria…Balogun is about to give crime fighting a new meaning, if he follows through with his threat to expose the criminals he knowingly protected when he was Nigeria’s chief of law enforcement! Soon to be the grand thief in law enforcements?

What a twist of fate that could be? What an oxymoronically gifted man? What sudden epiphanies did his arrest foist? Why did this lawyer and IGP of Police wait so long to bare his teeth or use his fangs against crime and criminals? Should we hold our breaths?

I resent the fact that Mr. Balogun has special dispensation in detention! All Nigerian criminal suspects are entitled to the same treatments for better and or worse! What is good for a poor criminal who stole a bicycle or a goat, is also good for the high profile criminal suspect who stolen thirteen billion Naira, in fact, may be the bigger thief ought to receive harsher and severe treatments, if anything, except because there ought to be equality and single standard, but where is that equality and single standard in the fact that Mr. Balogun is in an air-conditioned club house style detention facilities in Abuja?
He orders what he wants to eat, how many detainees in Nigeria can do that?

In fighting the all out full blown, full scale war on corruption, Nigeria must follow due process, the rule of law etc, justice must be done and must seen as being done, and in this case, it is important that there is no special deference or reverence of corruption criminal suspects, these suspects should not be treated worse or better than other criminals, so let detain Mr. Balogun in Ikoyi fetid and putrid prisons, reasons perhaps for urgent prison reforms? Why are some Nigerians wasting sweet sentiments?

There will continue be no incentives for good behavior, in order to earn reward or avoid punishments in Nigeria, so long as there is always this class separation, class consciousness, misplaced social stratification for wrong purposes and for the wrong persons… why would the minister of health equip the hospitals when he receives treatments and medical care not from Nigerian hospitals, but abroad? Why would the minister of education care about equipments for schools in Nigeria, when his children and cousins all study overseas, why would he care whether Nigerian universities are closed for years and academic programs are unduly interrupted? Why would the inspector general of police and Director or Comptroller of prisons reform care whether there are clean prisons and detention centers, whether there is adequate accommodation for prisoners, whether prisoners receive adequately nutritious foods or whether they have ventilation, when if the IG of Police or Comptroller of Prisons is arrested, they are put in air conditioned detentions, where mosquitoes are uninvited or are barred?

I posit here and postulate that if all Nigerians were made to receive same, identical or at least similar dispensations in circumstances outlined above, we will all be more mindful of our actions, where the inspector general of police may, because of deterrence, fear of consequences of having to be detained in same mosquitoes infested Panti CID, Ikoyi or Kirikiri Prisons, he would not break the laws of our land, or if he does, he goes straight to where the mosquitoes are and let the mosquitoes have him for breakfast, lunch and dinner! The message, even if only symbolic, is out, that the heat is on, the war to rid Nigeria of corruption is serious, and handcuffs, happens to the wrists of the accused!

Why all these cries for a man who fiddled, and frittered away resources, during high crime waves in Nigeria? A period of too many unsolved murders and assassinations!
What is “good” for a bicycle thief, a goat thief, is also “good” for the thief, who allegedly, stole our national monies and resources up to the tune of 13 billion Naira!

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