By Malachy Ochie
THE long-established and noble rule of Law, one of the greatest products of the character and tradition of British history, has suffered a deadly blow. Blackmail has become respectable”– Robert Menzies
Nothing is more common in the affairs of men than the despicable act of smearing and blackmailing to destroy another. History is replete with examples of innocent men, who have been subjected to such harrowing experiences by constituted authorities simply to get them out of the way. It is called giving a dog a bad name to hang it. The story of Martin Luther King Jr. is both illustrative and instructive here.
When in August 1963, the revered Luther mounted the Lincoln Memorial Steps on the National Mall to deliver his famous I Have a Dream speech before a mammoth crowd; the FBI took notice of him and his activities. In truth, the FBI had never been comfortable with Luther. He was critical of the government and never pulled a punch in delivering his message. Watching King deliver his earth-moving speech, William Sullivan, the chief of FBI Domestic Intelligence felt this was the height of it. Martin Luther must be destroyed!
Two days after Luther King’s speech, Sullivan wrote in a memo, “We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security.” Following Sullivan’s memo, a massive surveillance operation on Luther was quickly approved, and the then FBI Director, Edgar Hoover, became increasingly fixated on proving that King had communist ties and discrediting him generally.
The surveillance failed to show that Martin Luther King was a communist, but it did result in many cloned tapes of extra-marital sexual liaisons allegedly committed by King. So in 1964, Sullivan sent an unsigned letter to King’s home. An un-edited version of the letter was only recently unearthed by Yale historian, Beverly Gage, and published in the New York Times in November 2014. According to Tim Weiner’s history of the FBI, Sullivan “had a package of the cloned King sex tapes prepared by the FBI’s lab technicians,” and sent it along with this letter to King’s home. King’s wife opened the package.
The unsigned letter purportedly written by a fellow Negro reads: “You have been on the record – all your adulterous acts, your sexual orgies extending far into the past. This one is but a tiny sample. The public will know you for what you are – an evil, abnormal beast. Your ‘honorary’ degrees, your Nobel Prize (what a grim farce) and other awards will not save you. King, I repeat you are done. You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all of us Negroes. There is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days to commit suicide.”
Unfortunately for the blackmailers, Luther did not back down and he paid the ultimate price. And his experience is a terrifying reminder of what government surveillance agencies are capable of, especially about a person the government sees as a threat.
There is no doubt that Ekweremadu has been a marked man since the beginning of the present administration. His ordeal began when, against all odds, he ‘breached’ the Fourth Protocol by emerging as the Deputy President of the 8th Senate. How could Ekweremadu be so brazen? Was he not afraid to tread where angels dreaded? The South-East voted massively for the PDP and why should the Deputy Senate President go to them? Basically, this is Ekweremadu’s sin.
The first salvo was a frivolous allegation that he, alongside others, doctored the rules of the Senate to ensure that he emerged as the Deputy Senate President. He was subsequently dragged to court, along with the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki. The government had no case against them and had to withdraw it.
Unknown assailants also attacked his convoy in broad daylight in Abuja. We are yet to hear the police report on the incident. Not even a word was heard from the security agencies.
Sometime in 2017, Ekweremadu raised an alarm that he was tipped-off on government’s (specifically EFCC) to plant huge sums of money in various currencies in his house in Enugu. The EFCC denied. But, not long after, the police raided his Abuja guest house in a Gestapo style, but found nothing.
Recently, Ekweremadu again stirred the hornet’s nest when he spoke fearlessly against the high-handedness of the executive and some APC governors, the angst, despair, and nadir in the land and warned that we were creating fertile grounds for another military adventure into politics. Rather than address issues raised, he was promptly accused of suggesting a military coup, but Nigerians were not fooled. The government felt threatened. However, this fiery contribution at the floor of the Senate was the height of it. He must be destroyed at all cost.
Senator Ekweremadu had raised the alarm on this latest plot when he went public to accuse a former Chief Judge in Enugu State and some other persons of stealing and doctoring his will from Enugu Juciary (Probate Registry) by adding fictitious properties. They started churning out baseless petitions to government agencies and officials. He accused the Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla of a grand smear campaign.
Acting true to their script of impunity, the Federal Government ignored the alarm and moved swiftly to apply to the Federal High Court for an order of temporary forfeiture of about 22 imaginary properties allegedly owned by Ekweremadu in Nigeria and overseas. And this, they did, without digging into the root of the matter. The panel’s lawyers, Festus Keyamo Chambers, personally mailed the Motion Ex-parte and appendixes to the press to subject Ekweremadu to biased media trial.
By the way, whatever happened to the Buratai Dubai mansions and the properties Ibrahim Magu claimed were bought in his name by his enemies? See how lucky some people can be.
Meanwhile, I am not bothered about the impunity and media trial. Rather, I am ashamed, but not surprised at the low level Umezulike and those Ekweremadu accused descended. In fact, Umezulike, the maligner-in-chief has been sacked by the NJC and is standing in several courts.
Contrary to the demonising narrative, which the government and its journeymen are trying so hard to create, Ekweremadu has blazed the trail in repositioning his constituents and beyond. He has turned Enugu-West Senatorial district and beyond into one huge construction site. He has provided succour to the needy through his foundation, which he established long before he became a senator. He is the pride of Nigerian youths; a man of integrity, whose towering standing cannot be tarnished by the smears of hatred and political diatribes.
He has also brought verve and intellectual depth to lawmaking in Nigeria and stands tall as beacon of the Senate. We cannot destroy our very best in the name of politics. People like him are generational thinkers and don’t come very often. If you destroy such people, you destroy a nation’s destiny, essentially because in such men God has writ large the destiny of millions. This blundering government should focus on addressing issues of insecurity, collapsing economy, hunger, etc. rather than wasting precious time chasing shadows in the bid to bring down an innocent man simply because 2019 is near.
Ochie is an Enugu-based public affairs analyst