Insult As Treason and Other Nigerian Idi Amin Dada Stories

If one may ask, since when did it become a crime or an offence to insult a holder of political office?

If one may ask, since when did it become a crime or an offence to insult a holder of political office?.. To charge three Nigerian citizens for breach of the provisions of Cyber Crime Act, simply because they told Buhari and Masari that their alleged acts of not taking care of their interests was obtuse, a duty they both swore on oath to undertake at their swearing-in, is reminiscent of the cruelty and inhumaneness of Idi Amin Dada.
Two pieces of literary works – Williams Stevenson’s thriller, Ninety Minutes at Entebbe and the film, The Last King of Scotland (2006) – plot the graph of the gradual emergence of despots. They were both x-rays of Ugandan despot, Idi Amin Dada of Uganda. Stevenson’s was an account of the June 27, 1976 hijack of an Air France Flight 139, hijacked by terrorists and flown to the Entebbe Airport, Uganda and the July 4, 1976 reprisal codenamed Operation Thunderbolt, by a hundred Israeli commandos who, within 90 minutes, killed Ugandan guerillas and freed 103 hostages. The Entebbe crisis was one of the first indicators of the huge scandal that Idi was to the African continent. He had given the terrorists ample support, making it the first time in history that a national leader would unabashedly back terrorists.

The Last King of Scotland on its own was a historical drama adapted from a 1998 novel written by Giles Foden with the same title. Screenwriters, Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock adapted it from a story of a Scottish medic who left Scotland to Uganda and was recruited as physician to Dada, the character of which was acted by Forest Whitaker. The film also speaks of Dada’s cruelty, how he gradually morphed into sadism due to the disposition of the Ugandan system and the machinery of a state that was either too lax or too condescending to embrace a tyrant.

The world was to see more of Dada. Born in 1925 of the Kakwe tribe,
northwest Uganda, though half-educated, his towering height of 6 feet 4
inches egged him on. The British military in Uganda as an army of occupation at this time particularly felt intrigued by Amin’s sheer hippopotamus height and size. When he thus joined the King’s African
Rifles in 1945 as an assistant cook, he rose through the ranks. He was a
key force in quelling the 1952-1956 famed Mau-Mau rebellion and as he was commissioned in 1961, he garnered a reputation for cruelty and bravery in equal proportion. Gradually, he began to unfold, until 1971 when he
overthrew President Milton Obote and unleashed one of the cruellest
regimes in African history, speculated to have murdered 300,000
Ugandans. He eliminated tribal members different from his in the army,
opposition members, activists and the clergy and had a uniquely horrendous pattern of feeding his victims’ fleshes to the crocodiles in the Nile River. In 1978, however, invading Tanzanian Army stormed Uganda and Dada fled into exile in Saudi Arabia and died in 2003 of organ failure.

I went into this famous low moment of the African
continent to demonstrate that despots are made by the system and not
necessarily themselves. So when last Thursday, the story sieved in that
the police in the Katsina home state of President Muhammadu Buhari had
arrested a 70-year old man who had “insulted” Buhari and the state
governor, Aminu Masari, the story of Dada sieved into my subconscious,
jarring my nerves. Lawan Isa, according to the state police
spokesperson, Gambo Isa, of Gafai Quarters, Katsina town, was arrested
in the company of two others – Bahajaje Abu, 30, and Hamza Abubakar, 27 –
having “conspired and insulted President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor
Aminu Masari.” Isa said that Izala had made a “confessional statement”
wherein he had given an explanation of how he tongue-lashed the two
Katsina-born public officials because his cows were rustled, with the shepherd who tended the cows being killed by suspected armed bandits.

the confessional statement, he was quoted to have said: “I’m tormented
with what happened in the village. While on my way back I met Bahajaje
Abu (a man who filmed the incident) asking me about the government, I told
him that I withdrew my support because of what happened with my cows, I
am now left with nothing, that is how I became emotional and started
the insult.” Their arrest was said to have been ordered by the Katsina
State Police commissioner, Sanusi Buba.

Many analysts had
submitted that Nigeria was too arid and hostile to despotism to allow an
Idi Amin Dada to reincarnate on her soil. However, 1994 proved these
pundits wrong as Nigeria minted a sadistic variant of the “Butcher of
Uganda” in the goggled Sani Abacha. Journalists and opposition to his rule generally disappeared without a trace and he relished inflicting pain on those who had hurt his ego. Ever since the country has had a
breather from naked despotism.

Studies of the sociology and
psychology of despotism reveal that this sadism of the ruler begins to
creep in when he begins to harbour a feeling of personal invincibility,
becomes too egotistic and develops a skin that is easily bruised by
public criticisms. While it could even be countenanced in a maximum rule
like that of Abacha, despotism is an anathema to democracy and
vilification of citizens for public officials is alien to the
constitution. The major tenet of democratic rule is to query the
efficacy or the subsistence of the claim of victory of opinion by a
side. What democracy proposes is a beautiful tapestry that is woven of
opinions which consist of different shapes, colours and contours. Thus,
when you begin to see a democratic rule that is allergic to public
criticisms, harangues holders of opinions that differ from its and
preaches a monolithic viewpoint, then, as the holy writ says, know ye
that autumn is nigh.

While claiming to be at home with public criticisms, Nigeria under Buhari has advertised its fascination with manacles. Last year, Abubakar Idris, known as Abu Hanifa Dadiyata, a
social media personality, was said to have been abducted on Friday,
August 2, by heavily armed men in the midnight, as he was about to drive into his Barnawa, Kaduna residence. At about midnight, while driving into his residence at Barnawa, Dadiyata, said to be a social media influencer who was loyal to the Kwankwasiyya movement, was apprehended.
He was said to be critical of the Buhari government and the All
Progressives Congress (APC) government of Nasir el-Rufai. Even as his
whereabouts are enveloped in nocturnes, there are claims that operatives
of the Department of State Services (DSS) masterminded the Gestapo-like
abduction. Whether Dadiyata is alive or had been silently butchered is yet unknown.

Cross River State’s Ben Ayade had ordered the arrest of Agba Jalingo, publisher of CrossRiverWatch, an online newspaper. He
was arrested at 2 pm on August 22, 2019, by men of the Federal Special
Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) of the Nigerian police at his residence in
Lagos. They were reported to have earlier invaded the Lagos bakery of
his wife, Violet where, according to the reports, they “seized the
phones of all staff present and ordered them to show to them Jalingo’s
residence.” On August 30, Jalingo was charged with treason, terrorism,
cultism and public disturbance in an Abuja Federal High Court and for
“working with the #RevolutionNow movement”— the brainchild of human rights activist and publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore. He was also
alleged to be planning to “’ undemocratically’ force the government of
Ayade to end through violent means.” He had reportedly criticised Ayade of manifest corruption.

The fate of many of those who have fallen
prey to the intolerance of the Nigerian government, either at the state or
the federal level is indescribable. They are alleged, according to an
Amnesty International report, “tortured and pressured to write
confessional statements, which were used to prosecute them in court.” AI
also claimed that they are slammed “indiscriminate charges such as
‘defamation’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘cyberstalking’… ‘kidnapping’, criminal
trespass and theft of state documents (while) many of the journalists
were prosecuted under the Cybercrime Act and Terrorism (Prevention)
(Amendment) Act 2013, alongside other laws.”

While the Buhari
government cleverly distances himself from the tortuous paths of
citizens freely expressing their views in the states and who were
ostensibly suffocating under the tyranny of their state governments,
citing federal bar from so doing by the constitution, it bears own fang
in a further cruel manner. It is interesting that when Buhari wanted to
slam a lockdown on Lagos and Ogun State recently, a contravention of the
tone and tenor of federalism, he didn’t think twice about it but cites
same jejune provision when it comes to intervening in the release of
unjustifiably imprisoned victims of his fellow Idi Amin Dadas in the
states. Same last year, the Buhari government filed charges against
Sowore for hatching a protest against it and “insulting” Buhari. Though
no chains are around Sowore’s feet as he walks Abuja free, according to
the tyrannical tone of his bail, he is clearly manacled and in jail.

most recent victims of government’s intolerance and naked despotism are
Gambo Isa, Bahajaje Abu, and Hamza Abubakar, who had the effrontery of
“insulting” the Fuhrer and an Idi Amin Dada still in his diapers,
Muhammadu Buhari and his minion, Masari. The police are ostensibly
abetting this naked display of crude power-mongering.

If one may
ask, since when did it become a crime or an offence to insult a holder
of political office? For eating the people’s food free, collecting fat
salaries, riding in posh cars purchased from our collective patrimony,
living free in mansions that belong to the Nigerian state and for
rapaciously bleeding our national purse, holders of political offices
are deemed to have lost their privacy and right to be peeved by public
the singe of their actions. If such scrutiny is defamatory, public officials
have the right to go to the court. Today, the Cybercrime Act and
Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013 have become fecund façade
that government hides to unleash pristine and brutish intolerance on its
citizens. To charge three Nigerian citizens for breach of the
provisions of the Cyber Crime Act, simply because they told Buhari and
Masari that their alleged acts of not taking care of their interests were
obtuse, a duty they both swore on oath to undertake at their
swearing-in is reminiscent of the cruelty and inhumaneness of Idi Amin
Dada. Or, what do you think?

are two General Officers Commanding (GOCs) in Ibadan, the capital of
Oyo State. While the 2 Division of the Nigerian Army, based in Ibadan,
has been an active division since the Nigerian civil war, with a current
GOC, the other GOC is Mr Felix Adenaike. As I wrote Adenaike’s name, I
was tempted to prefix it with “Chief,” a crime whose punishment, many of those who are close to Adenaike know, is summary anger of the media chief. The Ibadan media GOC was 80 years old on April 22.

one of the surviving grandfathers of Nigerian journalism was given the sobriquet of GOC on account of his no-nonsense managerial tendencies
while he held forte as Daily Sketch’s General Manager/CEO and
Editor-in-Chief, and Editor-in-Chief of the Nigerian Tribune. He was a
disciplinarian whose life was discipline personified. He strictly pursued and stuck with the hallowed principles of journalism and couldn’t suffer fools gladly. Anyone who fell prey to his fine tooth-comb with which he scrutinised the newspapers under him for infractions sang the acrid song that Judas sang on his way to Aceldama.
He couldn’t stand willful obstruction of the ethics of journalism or chivalrous murder of the god of grammar in the newspapers under his charge.

The next time you meet Adenaike, the first thing you will
notice is that he will willfully regale you with the fine days of
journalism and the dross on our hands today. He is one of the two
surviving members of the tripod, that comprised himself, Peter Ajayi
(may God rest his soul) and Segun Osoba, who Chief Obafemi Awolowo named
The Three Musketeers, a deference to the trinity of their

As Adenaike clocks 80 years on earth, help say
eighty hearty cheers to the General Officer Commanding of the Nigerian
Media, Ibadan Command.

book on the late Yoruba Apala music maestro, Ayinla Wahidi Yusuff,
popularly known as Ayinla Omowura, will be out on Wednesday, May 6,
2020. Entitled Ayinla Omowura: Life and Times of an Apala Legend, it is a
536-page book which documents the life and music of this famed
musician, undoubtedly one of the most profound and original Yoruba
musicians since Nigerian post-colonial history. Incidentally, that day
marks the 40 years of his stab on the head with a glass mug in a beer
parlour in Abeokuta, Ogun State, precisely on May 6, 1980.

book is not a hagiography on Omowura. I documented his profound musicality, his famed violence, drug usage and rascality, as well as his unexampled voice and musical talent. The book reveals a lot about the
late musician who has refused to die in the hearts of the people of
Southwest Nigeria and on the West Coast. My friends, those who admire my writing, lovers of culture in general, should endeavour to have a copy of the book which incidentally is my first attempt at intruding into the world of book authors. This weekend on my social media handles, I will announce bookstores where the book can be bought. I assure you, it will be worth your while.

Festus Adedayo is an Ibadan-based journalist.

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