By Denrele Animasaun
“To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace” — Malcolm X
I don’t know about you,but Nigeria is in a perpetual state of ignominy. We honour and fete the corrupt and the criminals, and then we punish the hard working and good people in Nigeria. Ever wonder why people think it does not pay to be good in Nigeria and why people think we all at it? Any wonder why it does not pay to be good at the same time we profess that we are godly and yet we serve ourselves and not others.
These are the reasons why we have been at the crossroads and at the inescapably doldrums and we pray for divine intervention? If we are so intelligent and virtuous, we should then be helping and lifting the majority that are in grinding poverty and facing a dire future. No, we remain in the trenches and fighting tooth and nail for all the wealth we can gather for ourselves and adulations.
Frankly, I know nothing I write or have written will change our state of mind. That decision is an individual decision and one that we can only make ourselves and that is very much what Nigeria depends on right now. I have that old chestnut that one person cannot change things actually that is the only way things change; when an individual decides, makes the change within and in his or her corner of the world, that’s when things change.
We need individual social and collective responsibility without, which our nation will continue to hurl uncontrollably towards a cataclysmic trajectory. Truly, if we are responsible people should we not want the best for our young, our old, our country and ourselves? Or we are so connected and cannot operate in isolation and the present situation bear witness to that.
What caught my attention were the peace summit of cult groups and its oxymoronic interactive peace summit. So the gathering of cult groups to discuss their concerns over the increased state of anarchy in Edo State in particular; the kidnappings, armed robbery gangs and other criminal activities! Well, that is rich, a case of the pot calling the kettle black don’t you think?
So what happened to the police force or are they moon lighting as cultists too? Why would the state governor send representation to such imbecilely gathering and why does his office need an alliance with such people of violence? Does he think it adds credibility to his office? Whatever the case, it is not the most effective way to alleviate the state of insecurity and penury for the people living in Edo. It would have been logical to find out the root causes of the level of crime in the state than trade one banditry for another. We cannot do a quick fix by pandering to criminals regardless of their calibre.
If they stand for maiming, killing, creating mayhem, deny people the right to life, intimating and harassing lives and they know what to contribute to the common good? This brand of fraternity is built on criminal activities and so no better than any other criminal activities; same difference. There comes a time when men should put away boys and embrace adulthood, unfortunately, the longer these people are embedded in such association, the more difficult for them to act responsibly as a law abiding citizen.
At the peace summit the roll call reads. Green Circuit (Maphites), Norsemen (Vikings), Black Axe, Eiye Confraternity, Family Fraternity of Nigeria and Avarian Organisation of Nigeria. They resolved to tackle them.
For good measure they were in good company as there were representatives of Governor Adams Oshiomhole; the Iyase (traditional Prime Minister) of Benin Kingdom, Chief Sam Igbe; representatives of the Edo State Commissioner of Police and that of AIG Zone 5 Benin and representatives of the Director, Department of State Services. It gets better; the Commandant of Civil Defence and Security Corps, Edo State Neighbourhood Watch Council and the OC, SIB, AIG Zone 5.
The chair of the summit, Donald Edeo-ghon, did acknowledge the damage to the reputation of the fraternities in last couple of decades, but he felt the coalition will help to crack the escalating crime rate in the state.
He said: “If you remember, for over two decades, inter-group conflicts, which often resulted in violent and fatal crises, were the attributes of Edo State communities. And “Innocent lives and property of inestimable worth are destroyed on a whim.Armed robbery, kidnapping, thuggery and sundry social vices rose to unprecedented levels; it became dangerous to reside and function legitimately in Edo State and in particular, Benin”.
So he concluded that, “The situation looked bad, but then came the platform of Rainbow Consolidated Forum with a template for all seasons.”
This was priceless when Chief Igbe expressed” his joy” at what he witnessed and called on the groups not to disappoint, saying “you know I am going to brief the Oba on what I have witnessed here today.” So who polices the vigilantes and who governs the ungovernable?
Still on James Ibori
The former Delta State Governor, James Ibori’s case has recently ended in Southwark court in London. The prosecution and defence had closed their cases and filed their final briefs, and the order for retrial will have cost the court and the British taxpayer, so much money!
The Ibori’s defence counsel had made robust arguments against the crown prosecution confiscation request order of £90,000,000, using an independent UK forensic accountant expert and relying on the prosecution’s own trial documents which contained all of 63,000 statements. The court was told that none of the 63,000 documents in the trial bundle has evidence that linked Delta State funds to any of Ibori’s accounts in any way. The Met Police lead financial investigator, Detective Constable Peter Clark agreed that there were no direct payments from Delta State to any of the alleged foreign accounts of the former governor.
Now Ibori counsel has asked: “It is denied that funds’ going to Stanhope investment account is directly and indirectly from Delta State, there are no direct payments or indirect payment from Delta State to this account.