Opinion: Magnus Abe, APC, And The Criminalisation Of Political Opponents

Opinion: Magnus Abe, APC, And The Criminalisation Of Political Opponents

By Opinions | The Trent on March 7, 2016
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Rotimi Amaechi Rivers State APC Nigeria Corruption White Paper
APC Presidential Campaign Rally in Kano State, Nigeria on January 19, 2015: Gov Rotimi Amaechi (2nd left) House Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (center) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (2nd right) | Juju Films

by Dum S. Deeyah

If anyone has observed the rhetoric of Sen. Magnus Abe of late, there has been a constant effort to criminalise opposition elements especially within his domain, and on the basis of that, clampdown on perceived enemies/ opponents. The trend is not exclusive to the aspiring Senator. On the national stage, the strategy is in full swing.

On trumped up charges, and in some cases, without any, members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are arrested and held hostage without recourse to the law, and in some cases, in manifest violation of it. The strategy has been perfected by the ruling All Progressives Congress, from which motivation is drawn, as I am minded to say, by sub-national figures like Sen. Abe to subdue their constituents.

In the case of Rivers State, the greatest setback in the grand scheme of the APC was the restoration of Governor Wike’s mandate by the Supreme Court following his overwhelming victory at the poll. The validated mandate of Governor Wike meant the APC would have to contend with a popular PDP Governor in the State or oust him before taking charge of the State. This remains the single most important ambition of the APC in Nigeria; to get Wike out by all means necessary.

The plan by the APC to write results in the forthcoming rerun elections is in top gear, which is why some APC aspiring Legislators would prefer to have military presence within their constituencies perhaps to provide cover for the robbery that they intend to perpetrate. How that would pan out remains to be seen and is an entirely different conversation, given the resolve of Rivers people to vote PDP and protect themselves and the State from being captured by political fundamentalists.

It is the same fundamentalism, being a grand strategy of the APC, that is at the heart of Sen. Magnus Abe’s drive to seek the militarization of Ogoni for the single purpose of providing cover for his election by any means necessary in spite of the lives that have been lost already in credit to his push.

Sen. Abe and his lackey, Kennedy Friday claim military action in Ogoni is intended to flush the area of criminals and criminality without saying it is to rid the area of his primary political opponent, Solomon Ndigbara. Based on what is in the public domain, Solomon Ndigbara is said to be an ex-Agitator. Today, we are also informed that he was raised by Sen. Magnus Abe, who has not denied it. In fact, Sen. Abe, had in a media chat last weekend taken responsibility for facilitating Ndigbara’s inclusion in the Amnesty Programme. So, they know themselves quite well and it won’t be out of place to say, they’ve ran things together.

The question now bothering rational minds is whether the ex-agitator became a criminal simply because he fell out with Magnus Abe, his master, and has refused to support his Senatorial bid or that he has been convicted of a crime since embracing the amnesty offered by the Federal Government?

Make no mistakes about my position. I owe Solomon Ndigbara nothing. I don’t even know him. I’m merely piecing information together. Let me also add that I’m not excusing criminality. I am a firm believer that criminals should face justice.

That said, I feel burdened to also ask why Senator Abe, who is seeking a fresh term into Nigeria’s Senate, has taken the role of spokesperson for the military, constructing narratives and counter narratives and providing defense.

Recall that after the military operation in Ogoni in which they claimed there were no casualties and of which no reference was made to any shootout with them by criminals, there was an outcry by Ogoni people that necessitated the visit by Gov. Wike to Yeghe for an on-the-spot assessment. That visit revealed that scores of people were killed by bullet shots from the military according to natives in the area. Sources also alleged that prior to the Governor’s visit, there were attempts to seize bullet ridden corpses from the morgues by the military. While I cannot independently ascertain the veracity of this and other claims, I am constrained to restrict myself to what is verifiable, and they are as follows:

• There was a military operation in Ogoni that resulted in the deaths of many.

• Until the Governor’s visit to Ogoni, the military claimed there were no casualties.

• At no time did the military say they engaged criminals in a gun battle during their operation in Ogoni.

• The Senatorial office of former Senator Magnus Abe was burnt down by unknown persons. A day later, the military allegedly brought down the building of Solomon Ndigbara.

Having stated the above, after the Governor’s visit and upon his discovery of scores allegedly killed by the military, a campaign to change the narrative immediately began, and Sen. Magnus Abe was at the center of it; claiming that a shootout by criminals with the military resulted in deaths and destruction of property, not minding that among the casualties was allegedly an infant and igbo traders.

But if one was to concede that there was a shootout, how come the military didn’t say so and to this day have not said so? Why did that narrative come up after the Governor’s visit to assess the damage and commiserate with the people? Why did the military claim they didn’t have casualties when indeed there were as documented evidence shows. Why is Senator Magnus Abe the principal politician endorsing and excusing the military occupation of Ogoni in spite of the unlawful killings there? Is this really about chasing criminals or not just another attempt at criminalising political opponents as is the character of the APC?

Dum S. Deeyah writes from Bori, Ogoni.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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