On Tuesday, October 16, the Nigerian media space – social and traditional – was flooded with photos of the erstwhile governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose sporting a black t-shirt with the inscription, ‘EFCC, I Am Here’ as he alighted from an SUV outside the headquarters of the anti-graft agency in Abuja.
Mr. Fayose, a two-time governor of the southwestern state, had just left office, and with his exit, lost immunity from criminal prosecution. The inauguration of his successor and bitter political rival, Kayode Fayemi was underway in Ado Ekiti, as a defiant Fayose slung two bags on his shoulders and held a press conference outside the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Surrounded by his friends, lawyer, political allies, and supporters, Fayose declared to journalists that he was not afraid of the EFCC because he had committed no crime.
Femi Fani-Kayode, a two-time minister and Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers State, both issued some words of warning to the EFCC and the Muhammadu Buhari government. ‘No harm must come to Fayose while in custody’, they both cried.
These three men, Fani-Kayode, Wike, and Fayose could be described as the most vocal opposition figures under the oppressive Buhari regime. The three have been hounded by security agencies under the former military dictator. The immunity of Governors Wike and Fayose have been infringed several times by agents of the state, acting on the orders of President Buhari.
Fani-Kayode, who enjoys no immunity, has been arrested multiple times, his fundamental human rights violated as he was detained beyond the requirements of the Nigerian constitution, his travel passport seized, and his bank accounts frozen.
While in the custody of the EFCC, Chief Fani-Kayode later revealed in a television interview, an Islamist fundamentalist agent of the anti-graft agency prevented him from praying and reading his Bible, and physically assaulted him.
These men, along with other opposition leaders, activists, and members of the press, have been at the receiving end of the totalitarian and strong-arm tactics of the Buhari government which has been marked by an untold level of intolerance and clampdown on individual liberty and press freedoms in Nigeria.
The Circus Of Incompetence
Why is Fayose being arrested? What crime did he commit? What crime is he being arrested for? Why does he have to put up a minstrel show as he turns himself in to the EFCC? What is really going on?
The answers are simple. An institution of the state, established to fight white-collar crimes, has come under the command of the most incompetent chairman it has ever had. Acting like an arm of the ruling All Progress Congress, APC, Ibrahim Magu, whose confirmation has been denied twice by an APC-dominated Senate, has decided to turn the serious business of crime fighting to a personal vendetta against critics and opponent of President Buhari and his party.
The day the electoral body of Nigeria announced that Fayose’s candidate had lost the Ekiti governorship election; the EFCC’s official Twitter handle taunted and threatened Fayose with arrest. In the past three years, Nigerians have been entertained by a colourful war-of-words between EFCC and Fayose. There’s been a legal tussle too. The governor emerged victorious. The agency has even gone after Mrs. Fayose, freezing her bank accounts and threatening to arrest and humiliate her.
In the last weeks of Fayose’s tenure as governor, the EFCC leaked official missives to the Nigeria Customs Services in which it illegally declaring him a wanted man and placed him under a travel ban. Fayose’s theatrical appearance at the EFCC office is just one more act in this disturbing drama.
It is essential to mention that the EFCC was set up in 2004 under former President Olusegun Obasanjo to advance his anti-corruption agenda. The agency quickly nosedived, under his leadership, from whatever noble intention for its creation and became a tool for political persecution against those the president was displeased. The first chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, played the ignoble role of a pawn in the hands of the president. Magu is continuing in the same disreputable tradition.
Rule of Law or Rule of Vengeful Men?
Information from the anti-graft agency indicates that Fayose is being arrested for 2014 campaign funds he allegedly received from the presidency to prosecute his election to office as governor. Curiously, Musiliu Obanikoro and Iyiola Omisore, the other two men involved in the alleged illicit campaign funds are walking free. Apparently, they have been immunized by their membership of (or Osun Rerun Eslection pact with) APC, the ruling political party.
Love him or hate him, the facts are that Fayose may be guilty of a financial crime or he may not. The only way we can know for sure is for concrete evidence to be placed before a competent judge and for Fayose to be given a fair hearing. The outcome of a transparent trial would determine if Fayose, or any other public official, is guilty of a crime. That’s what the Nigerian laws demands. But, under Buhari, the rule of law has been thrown out the window replaced with the rule of vengeful men.
One unfortunate outcome of this media circus of incompetence put up by the EFCC is an escape route for those politicians who may have, in fact, committed crimes against the Nigerian people to claim they are being targeted because of their political views and, thereby, obtain sympathy from Nigerians.
Fayose And The Fulani Tyrant
The public comments of the APC power elite indicate that Fayose’s major crime, in the eyes of the Fulani-dominated Buhari junta, is that he dared to speak against the terrorist Fulani herdsmen killing in his state, he dared to issue a ban on nomadic grazing, and he dared to arrest Fulani herdsmen who broke the law.
Simply put, Fayose dared to stand up to the Islamist terrorist group that has murdered at least 9,000 indigenous Christians living mostly in Central Nigeria since Buhari came to office. He dared to put measures in place to stop the advancement of the Fulani expansionist agenda. He dared to stop the advancement of evil.
What Fayose is being victimized for is no crime, as a matter of fact, it is the first responsibility the constitution of Nigeria handed our leaders – to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians.
The words and actions of Nigeria’s President Buhari indicate that he thinks he’s some kind of fascist ruler in the mold of Jean-Bédel Bokassa of the Central African Republic. Bokassa was the head of the army of the CAR who overthrew the government, installed himself as president and went on to unleash a thirteen-year reign of terror on his people. During this period, he declared himself as ‘President for Life’, and later crowned himself ‘Emperor of Central Africa’.
It’s now in the public domain that there are suggestions that Buhari could be transformed into a ‘life president’ if he wins the 2019 elections. Who knows what other fanciful thoughts of grandeur float around in the corridors of Buhari’s Aso Rock?
Buhari needs to be stopped!
Hounding Ayodele Fayose is an abuse of state power and the idea that this could happen in a democratic society should deeply concern all of us. But, Buhari has brought a certain kind of darkness on Nigeria that too many of her citizens are numb to the undemocratic actions of his regime. They’ve been mentally hijacked and sucked into a toxic alternate reality in which Buhari can trample on the very document from which he derives his importance.
This failed military dictator doesn’t speak the language of contemporary leadership; he has not been able to set a coherent agenda for growing Nigeria’s economy; he has failed pathetically in every known criterion for assessing a democratic government.
No Nigerian should be locked up for exercising his inalienable right to freedom of speech and expression. No Nigerian should be locked up for doing what the constitution of the country requires him to do as a leader of his people. And certainly, no Nigerian should be living in fear of his government. The Buhari doctrine is exceptionally damaging in a democratic society. It was a mistake to give power to someone with a god complex like him.
Next year, Nigerians need to rise up, enlightened by the lessons of history, stand in their power as the true owners of Nigeria, and exit this atrocious regime from office.
This is an Editorial Opinion of the Board of The Trent, one of Nigeria’s most influential online newspapers.