First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.” –Martin Niemoller (1892-1984).
If there were ever a time that Niemoller’s words were appropiate in the Nigerian context, it is now. The cold claws of persecution, victimisation, terror and marginalisation have certainly taken grip on our nation.
Yesterday, it was the politicians, members of the opposition, presiding officers and key members of the National Assembly, dissenters, government critics, bloggers, journalists, Shia Muslims, Christians and carefully selected serving and former military and security personnel. Today it is the judges. Their homes were raided by hundreds of fully armed DSS commandos between 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. on Friday night/Saturday morning. Their streets were surrounded and sealed up. Their gates and front doors were smashed open and they were forcefully and violently arrested and detained. Their families and loved ones were traumatised and terrorised. Their staff and members of their household were sent scampering for cover under their beds.
When those that are constitutionally charged and empowered to protect us from tyranny and the abuse of power by a violent, government and its murderous security agencies are themselves under siege all hope is lost. If the judges cannot protect us and if they themselves have become victims of barbarous tyranny, then it is time for the people to rise, resist the evil and fight against our oppressors. Sons and daughters of Nigeria, we must not give in to fear and we must not be silenced. We must defend the rights of our people and fight for our homeland.
If anyone doubts, I urge them to kindly consider the following words, entitled “a brief score card on ‘corrupt’ judges,” which were sent to me by a friend. He wrote: “Justice Liman gave judgment against Modu Sheriff and that hurt the APC. Justice Liman also restrained INEC from announcing any results or figures howsoever generated or compiled purporting to be result of the re-run election for any or all of Khana, Bonny, Gokana, Andoni, Eleme and Tai Local Government Areas of Rivers State or any part of the re-run election scheduled for March 19, 2016, which election was subsequently suspended or postponed. Justice Liman narrowly missed been “stinged” by the DSS.
“Justice Pindiga insisted on due process in the Rivers State governorship election tribunal sittings. He was removed midway during the sitting of the tribunal when APC saw that PDP was having the upper hand. The rest is history. Justice Pindiga has just been “stinged” by DSS.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola, a brilliant judge, eldest grandson of a great former CJN of Nigeria, Adetokunbo Ademola, was a judge who knew his onions. He came from a tradition. He could not be pushed around by powers that be. He ordered thrice that Dasuki be released. This did not go down well with Buhari and his government. They disobeyed his orders and concocted a new offence to re-arrest Dasuki.
“Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja also in May 26, 2016 dismissed Buhari’s preliminary objection in a suit filed by an Abuja-based legal practitioner Mr. Nnamdi Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe concerning Buhari’s certificate (WAEC). Justice Ademola has just been “stinged” by DSS.
“Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, a brilliant judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, was the judge who warned DSS to stop disobeying orders of court and told them not to come to his court again if they would not obey court orders. DSS was angry with this. They wanted to “sting” him but got a wrong name. However, they succeeded in breaking into his house and beating up his brother only for them to look into the paper they had on them to discover that it was not his name that was on the paper. That sure hurt them.
“JSCs Ngwuta and Okoro sat on appeals that gave decisions against APC interest. They have just been “stinged” by DSS. Nigeria, I hail thee”. The author is absolutely right and whichever way the government and its numerous friends seek to spin it, there is cause for concern.
Yet, sadly, it gets worse. The Greek tragic dramatis and philosopher, Aeschylus (525 BC – 456 BC) said “in war, truth is the first casualty”. It is in this context that one has to view the absurd claims by the DSS that massive sums of cash ranging from 2 million dollars to hundreds of thousands of euros and pounds sterling were found in the homes of all the judges that were arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning. If anyone honestly believes that such large sums of cash were found in the homes of any of those judges then that person needs to have his head examined. The DSS has to say these outrageous things and tell these shameful lies in order to attempt to justify their illegal actions before the world. It is called disinformation and misinformation and that is their stock in trade. That is what intelligence and security agencies all over the world are paid to do. They destroy their victims before the world with lies and baseless allegations, knowing that most Nigerians will believe anything and everything that the government says.
It is sickening and pathetic. In any case nothing can possibly justify the Gestapo tactics that the state has employed in this matter. The storming of people’s homes in the middle of the night and the brutalisation and traumatisation of their families, loved ones and households is archaic and barbaric. And let us be clear: none of the judges were sent letters of invitation before the incident. Worse still, the security agencies refused to go through the lawful, acceptable and time-tested route of calling serving members of the judiciary to order, which is the issuing of a query to the National Judicial Council (NJC) before whom they are supposed to present any credible evidence of wrongdoing before criminal proceedings are initiated.
The DSS, and by extension our government, not only ignored due process in this matter but they have also treated the Chief Justice of the Federation and the National Judicial Council with utter disdain and contempt. Clearly, Nigeria is saddled with authorities that are a cross between Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, King Leopold 11 of Belgium, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Papa Doc Duvalier, Augusto Pinochet, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, Mobutu Sese Seko, Genghis Khan, Atilla the Hun, Count Vlad Dracula and Idi Amin all rolled into one.
- Fani-Kayode is a former Minister of Aviation