Posted by News Express | 5 December 2022 | 351 times
By EMMANUEL OGEBE
The world’s best young men are kicking for gold at the Qatar soccer World Cup but Nigeria is absent. Rather Nigeria’s First Lady reportedly injured her leg, not cheering a team, but kicking Aminu Adamu a young college student whom she turned into a human football. His crime was tweeting that she has fed fat on the money of the masses.
But it gets much worse. Aminu was tortured at Nigeria’s presidential villa after he was arrested from his university campus and whisked all the way to the nation’s capital.
The sheer criminality, impunity and horror of these actions cannot be overstated and Mrs Buhari must be held to account.
Firstly, Nigeria’s government is constitutionally premised on separation of powers. Accordingly, Aminu should have been taken to the judiciary (court) and not to the executive (presidential villa) in the first place.
Secondly Mrs Buhari could have civilly sued him for defamation if she felt what he said was false and allow the matter be decided by civil trial court.
Thirdly, although she did have the option to file a criminal complaint against him using her husband’s draconian anti-social media law, nothing in Nigeria’s criminal Justice system or anywhere in the world requires a suspect to be taken to the home of his accuser to be tortured.
Fourthly, her claim of defamation is baseless as truth is a defense. Aminu said she had eaten the money of the masses and was satisfied.
Aso Rock presidential villa gulped 17.3 billion in 2021 budget according to PREMIUM TIMES investigation – 3.4 billion naira for feeding in the office of the President and Vice President.
In fact, the budget for the president’s office in 2016 (Buhari’s first budget) was equal to the budget for 2014 and 2015 combined!
As I commented then, “We are expecting change for the better not for worse, please. Secondly since there is no office of First Lady, shouldn’t the running cost reduce rather than increase?
“As for social media commentators who were recently hosted at the villa, please let’s see you comment on the higher cost of running the villa.”
In 2015, another commentator said: “Even earlier this year, Lai Mohammed issued a statement condemning N1.1b budgeted for food and entertainment in the presidency. Now with his party in power, N1.7b has been earmarked for same purpose.”
Yet another summarized, “AMINU WAS RIGHT: Aisha Buhari is feeding fat on Tax Payers’ Money”.
According to reports; the estimated yearly budget for food & travels for Aso Rock from 2016 till date is: 2016 – N3.27 billion; 2017 – N3.11 billion; 2018 – N3.81 billion; 2019 – N3.39 billion; 2020 – N7.46 billion; 2021 – N6.07 billion; 2022 – N6.77 billion.
Far beyond the bastardization of the presidential villa feeding budget which ballooned over 100% during the Buharis’ occupancy is the horrifying realization that they have turned the Aso Villa into a hammer house of horrors like the Gen. Abacha era.
General Abacha’s unspeakably murderous, repressive and corrupt regime turned him and Nigeria into a globally-sanctioned pariah.
Human rights activists who spoke out were arrested or abducted, tried or tortured or killed.
In 1996, I was the most notable human rights lawyer in Nigeria’s capital Abuja who was specifically abducted and tortured in Nigeria’s presidential villa – the only prodemocracy activist known to have been favored with the focused attention and sadistic expertise of Gen Buhari’s specially-trained death squad – right in the dreaded dictator’s residence.
I remember Aguda House well. That was one of the places where I was stripped naked and tortured by Abacha’s goons 26 years ago.
When I attended a meeting at the presidential villa a few years ago, I was glad that it is now being put to better use although I wondered if the occupants knew it’s dark history as a torture site where I paid the price, for the democracy they are now enjoying, with my blood…
Aminu’s case is therefore traumatically reminiscent of my horrifying abduction and torture in the villa – me for sending a fax then and him for sending a tweet now.
The Buharis’ similarity to Abacha continues. Abacha’s son was joyriding with a presidential jet when it crashed just like Buhari’s son was joyriding a power bike and similarly crashed.
The main difference Is that while I was detained in the villa, Abacha’s First Lady would send food to the guards and prisoners and not personally torture us.
Similarly under the Abachas, there was no exchange of gunfire in the villa between the First Lady’s team and others as has also occurred with Mrs Buhari.
The sum total of the situation is that Gen and Mrs Buhari have been horrible for Nigeria.
In his first stint as military dictator, he fought the media with draconian laws. In his current tenure, he and his wife have fought social media with draconian laws.
Worse than that, while Aminu languished at home during a prolonged nationwide university strike caused by the Buhari regime, Mrs Buhari ostentatiously jetted off to England to celebrate the graduation of a relative in crass insensitivity to the mood of the nation. Aminu’s tweet occurred while he was grounded at home during the strike.
Aminu is no saint however as he threatened people like me who wore Tshirts in honor of Christian student Deborah Emmanuel slain in Sokoto for a WhatsApp post.
This illustrates Dr Martin King’s thesis that “injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere” as Aminu became victim of the same injustice he celebrated against an innocent fellow student. Aminu received lesser jungle Justice and even a Court arraignment that Deborah never got as she was burned alive.
But this is a lesson Nigerian and brutal rulers refuse to learn.
People in Iran are celebrating their soccer defeat by USA to protest the similar killing of an innocent young woman Mahsa Amini by religious police.
Yet the same Shiite Iranian regime oppressing its own citizens is upset at the Buhari regime for oppressing Nigerian Shiites.
Ultimately I was released from captivity by Gen. Abacha because of Nigeria’s soccer performance at the ’96 Atlanta Olympics.
Aisha Buhari on the other hand released Aminu only because of public outcry at her barbaric vindictiveness.
Everything possible about the Buhari duo has been decidedly much worse than their predecessors.
Former First Lady Patience Jonathan was mocked at every turn but she was a comic relief to the nation.
Aisha Buhari who is far less educated or accomplished as her precursor has been nothing but a heartache to the nation – turning Dubai refugee from her husband’s horrendous government then returning ostensibly to fend off a cabinet member reputed to be Gen. Buhari’s new love interest.
Nothing illustrates how utterly clueless and tone deaf the Buharis are than the fact that in a country that has seen more school mass abductions in the last five years of their tenure than in the last 55 years of Nigeria’s history combined, they thought it was ok to send security agents to arrest a student from school just like Boko Haram. Their theft of most of his final year further aggravated with arrest and abuse. Rather than use security agents to rescue students kidnapped by terrorists, they are using agents to kidnap a student to be terrorized for ego massage.
The Buharis have become the new Abachas and in some ways have outdone even the infamous butcher of Abuja.
While it is karmic that she injured herself kicking Aminu, she needs to face the law for her criminal and brutal actions.
As for Aminu and others, the universal moral imperative here is that when he rejoiced at the injustice to late Deborah Emmanuel on account of her Christian faith in Sokoto for a social media post, he unlocked the karmic key for injustice to find him in Jigawa ironically at the hands of his coreligionists – also for a social media post. Yet it was Nigerians of all faiths who cried for his freedom. This is what separates men from beasts.
Gen. Buhari has cemented himself as the worst enemy of free speech in Nigeria’s history. As military dictator, he banned local news media and jailed journalists but as president he banned global social media, criminalized public commentary and jailed citizens. There are at least half a dozen Nigerians on death row, imprisoned, assaulted, raped and Sundiata possibly even state-murdered in northern Nigeria in recent times – for social media posts.
The Irony is that Buhari himself was banned from Twitter for his abusive posts and then decided to retaliate against Nigerians for his own distasteful conduct – the hypocrisy completely lost on them. Buhari and Trump joined the dishonor roll of only a couple of the world’s presidents to be banned from the global public square.
Equally disturbing is the clear reminder once again that Mr. Buhari is a General who cannot manage his own household let alone a terrorist insurgency and least of all a nation. This is the mistake, tragedy and historic disposition of the Buhari illegacy.
•Emmanuel Ogebe, an international human rights lawyer and former Nigerian political prisoner under military rule writes from Washington DC USA.
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