Posted by Emeka Umeagbalasi & Justus Ijeoma | 24 October 2013 | 5,544 times
It has again come to the knowledge of the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law that the Igbo Southeast political appointees occupying plum offices including ministries, parastatals and agencies at the federal level, are sitting on a keg of gunpowder in Nigeria. Almost all key Igbo Southeast appointive public office holders serving under the present administration of President Jonathan are under threat. Already, the likes of former Minister of Power, Prof. Bath Nnaji, former Controller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Mrs. Rosemary Uzoma, and the immediate past Chairman of the National Population Commission, Mr. Festus Odimegwu, have either been sacked or forced to resign. The major weapon used for this “ethno-centric warfare” is the Nigerian media, controlled and sectionalized by the Southwest Nigeria.
Apart from thickening plans to restore the age-long Hausa-Fulani/Yoruba political slavery in Nigeria, whereby other ethnic nationalities including the Igbo Southeast will remain politically and economically enslaved under them ad infinitum; extensive sectional media warfare has been massively deployed to weaken and frustrate the priceless contributions of eminent sons and daughters of other nationalities to the national development. Nigeria has three major tribes of Hausa-Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba and two major concentrations of minorities of southern and northern Nigeria extractions. In 1957, “the fears of the minorities” forced the outgoing British colonialists to enshrine the “fundamental human rights code” into the Independence Constitution of 1960.
In order to address these fears of political and economic domination by the three major tribes, particularly the Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba nationalities, the 1994/5 constituent assembly divided Nigeria into six geopolitical zones with the mindset of creating two zones for southern and northern minorities. While the minorities of the south were successfully given one geopolitical zone, their northern counterparts were further balkanized. The mainly Christian minorities of the north are supposed to be composed of southern Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Kogi, Kwara and a part of Niger State. It was expected that the last states and LGAs creation exercise of 1996 would have addressed these. But the state creators and boundary adjusters of 1996 twisted the whole thing and included Taraba and Adamawa States in the Northeast geopolitical zone instead of North-central zone where most of others were included.
These arrangements were gazetted and included in the Decree 24 of 1999, which is now called “the Constitution of Nigeria 1999”. Section 14 (3) & (4) was inserted into the Constitution to ensure that no particular zone, area or tribe dominates Federal and State appointments and revenues. This was followed by the establishment of the Federal Character Commission to ensure strict adherence to the geopolitical equity principle. Yet, these provisions have been observed in reckless breach. The Nigeria Police Force and the Police Service Commission, for instance, now promote senior police officers without disclosing the names and geopolitical identities of those promoted. While the Hausa-Fulani nationalities use violence and political suppression to dwarf Igbo-Nigerians resident in the north as well as its mainly Christian minority nationalities, the Yorubas of the Southeast make extensive use of its media to hunt down top Igbo political appointees at federal levels. The Yoruba media canonize Igbo clowns and destroy her upright personalities.
Even where there is no stain or scandal, one will be created using traps and sectionalized media reports. To have their way if no scandal is seen, malicious subordinates and personal aides are induced with scripts aided by malicious media arrangements to blow open the scripted scandals. Today, Southwest political appointees at state and federal levels are shielded from public scrutiny and where it rarely occurs, media formations and legal technicalities will be massively and consistently deployed to shield such appointees from criminal investigation and prosecution.
In the case of, some say, disgraced former Court of Appeal President, Ayo Isa Salami, the highly sectionalized Nigerian media was strongly believed to have been massively deployed to shield him, despite being reportedly caught in the act electronically. Instead, the media attention was massively beamed on Hon. Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu, a former CJN, over his alleged unethical roles in the Sokoto State governorship litigation. The learned jurist came from a northern minority Christian nationality. Similar case was the in-thing in the aborted trial of one Tinubu Ahmed by a Code of Conduct Tribunal. The said ex-public office holder is neither guilty nor innocent because of mass deployment of sectional media and legal technicalities. The trial was stalled and inconclusive.
Stella Oduah’s alleged fraud:
Though, we believe strongly that Aviation Minister Stella Oduah is being hunted in the immediate by the Yoruba media and their sponsors because of her efforts in making the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu an international one, but if at the end she is competently indicted over rumors of fraud, not by the highly sectionalized Nigerian media, but by competent administrative and criminal investigative agencies, then she should not only be administratively sacked, but should be diligently prosecuted as well. The intervention of the Federal Government of Nigeria in this respect is a bold first step. The promise made by the FGN to “set up 3-person administrative investigation committee” is not enough. While the administrative enquiries or investigations only serve the purpose of “administrative punishment or exoneration”, they do not serve the fundamental purpose of criminal law. The issue of fraud is not purely an administrative matter in Nigeria. Its mother name “corruption” is mentioned in about 22 anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria. In other words, corruption be it fraud, bribery, over-invoicing, kick-backs, contract inflation, theft or extortion, is a criminal offence in Nigeria.
The entry gate of media is report and the exit gate of media is also report. Punishment of any citizen whether criminal or administrative based on media reports without proper investigation is the height of injustice. Many Nigerian egg heads, who volunteered to serve their country, have been destroyed by the highly sectionalized Nigerian media. This has scared away others who want to assist in rebuilding their battered country. Nigeria has over 25,000 professorial and doctorial experts in US alone. The limits of media involvement in the scene of crime and criminal investigation managements are universally pronounced. This is because the potentials of the media to distort facts and destroy pieces of vital evidence because of vested interests and unprofessionalism are very high.
In the world over, any reports solely based on “media reports” are dead on arrival. Once media uncovers a presumed social deviant act or crime, it stops and allows an in-depth ethical and criminal investigation to unravel proper parties to crime or deviant act and related others. In the eyes of criminology and criminal law, no matter how investigative a media report is, it cannot be prosecutorial and judgmental. It does not qualify as basis for administrative or criminal punishment, except where the accused openly admits. Other than the latter, it amounts to “trial by ordeal” or jungle justice. Such an investigative media report must be surgically operated by criminal or ethical (administrative) investigative detectives. Keeping the NPF’s Force Criminal Investigations Department redundant and inoperative is totally condemned. The Force CID should go into the matter to look at the criminal aspect of it dispassionately.
Therefore, the Federal Government of Nigeria must be careful and refrain from punishing Nigerians including its political appointees based on highly sectionalized media reports without proper investigations be they administrative or criminal. In Stella Oduah’s case, all the characters mentioned in the alleged scandal or fraud must be administratively and criminally investigated. The idea of forcing any political appointee with tenure of office to resign on the basis of planted subordinates’ disloyalty or uninvestigated media reports must be done away with.
The unceremonious and forced resignation of Eze Festus Odimegwu as the five years tenured chairman of the National Population Commission as a result of his vow to make a difference in the forthcoming census exercise, which has been mired in roguery since Independence, is roundly condemned. The idea of replacing any sacked political appointee with another from the same geopolitical zone, as was the case in the NPC and the Power Ministry, is very commendable. But it is our condemnation that this was not the case in issue of the Nigerian Immigration Service boss.
We call on top political appointees of the Igbo Southeast to always watch their backs because “their enemies are within”. While they must be upright at all times and stay away from any frauds, they should also be careful with the type of personal aides they recruit to work for them including media aides. They should also work harmoniously with their subordinates, but at the same time, watch them very closely to thwart any moves by their hunters to plant or instigate any scandals that may bring their downfall. All the those from the zone holding any command, administrative and other appointive positions should have effective media counter forces including reaching out to those in the social media to fight back when under malicious attacks. They should also establish periodic constituency consultations with formidable CSOs and other upright figures in their zone.
•Umeagbalasi is Chairman of the Board of Intersociety while Ijeoma is Head, Publicity Desk, of the organization. •Photo shows embattled Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah.
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