By Denrele Animasaun
‘If you wear a mask for too long, there will come a time when you can not remove it without removing your face’-Matshona Dhliwayoz
The trial of Nigeria’s suspended chief justice, Walter Onnoghen, on charges of lodging a false declaration of his assets can now go ahead according to the ruling of appeal court .
Not everyone is happy about the recent ruling.
The conspiracy theorists have jumped on the bandwagon and are looking for any red herring to latch on as step up to the election. They have ratcheted up the notches and are gaslighting, dog whistling, misdirecting their core base and yelling that there is fire, where there is no smoke.
This may be the perfect storm for gerrymandering. Despite the unanimous decision by three judges at the Court of Appeal which means Onnoghen’s trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend him, can now proceed .
Buhari’s decision to suspend Onnoghen just before the Feb. 16 general elections prompted condemnation by the leading opposition challenger to the president, Atiku Abubakar, and the legal community because any disputes over the vote are likely to go to the Supreme Court. Some believe the move was politically motivated. Of course, justice’s replacement is no stranger as some make out.
Supreme Court’s second-ranking judge was Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad until now but the uproar is that he is not qualified to do so. Since when, you may ask as he has been number two for so long.
Not surprisingly, the Senate leadership now requests that the Supreme Court should rule whether Buhari breached the constitution by replacing Onnoghen, and the Nigerian Bar Association has waded in to call for his reinstatement; “We will continue to urge the federal government to reverse the decision in regards to the suspension”
The drama leading to the general election is heating up and it is important that people stay focused on what really matters and that they continue to see the woods for the trees.
This saga is a common tale and it reminded me of my father’s take on a similar conjurers’ activities from his column, Voice of Reason;-Kettle Calls the Pot Black(Sago ‘bugo) : “Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Republic, has just concluded a three – day visit to Ogun state where the Nigerian was accidentally born. He leaves no-one in doubt of his Nigerianess.And blazed a trail as usual and the dust he raised has not subsided. It would not for quite sometime. As it is usual with him, he never forgets that controversy is his middle name, Aremu,Okikiola being mere dressings. In a fit of absent-mindedness, he accused Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor of Lagos, as an election rigger. He alleged that Bola rigged the 2003 elections!
He is what you call asaje mase(one who is never afraid to call a spade a spade). Unlike the timid ones who would call it an agricultural implement. And to be sure, he did not say that his witness was in Kano or one nebulous place. He said the man who helped Bola to rig the election had been brought to him by the one and only Bode George.
I was not surprised, not at Bode. Bode has a job to do and he is doing the best of his ability. And that would not be the first we would be hearing of the President of Nigeria and the Owner of the PDP. We heard from him once on the position to influence matters and Raffiu was not one of them(And he cannot be given his present turncoat state).
And that is not to talk of Lagos Island where he has no influence. It was Bola who brought him to limelight. True Lagosians are full of sympathy for Rafiu. They believe he might be reliving a curse from far away and long ago; a curse for a similar behaviour of ingratitude to a benefactor. Lagosians believe no one in his right senses would be willing face a moving train.
This is the man President Obasanjo is parading as a catch. A pity! For once, this relationship invalidates the time-worn physics theory of like poles repelling and unlike poles attracting each other. President Obasanjo himself was rigged into power in 2003. In my column of May,2003, under the headline: let’s explain the missing 618,071 votes. in it I wrote,” Thanks to Waziri Adio (This Day), who directed our attention to the abracadabra in the state presidential and gubernatorial elections. Registered voters,1,576,875,Actual Votes cast for Obasanjo and Buhari,1,365,367.
Votes cast for all gubernatorial candidates? Segun(Osioba) And Gbega (Daniel)747,296. Difference between 1,365,267 And 747,296 is 618,071. The presidential candidates and gubernatorial ones were voted simultaneously. What happened to the ballots? INEC must explain convincingly. And in stolen Mandate of Nigeria’s 2003 General elections, a report compiled finally manifested as the alleged rigger of the 2003 elections for Bola Tinubu. Rafiu Tinubu was relatively unknown until Bola unearthed him and made him HOS. And I can attest that Bola treated him marvellously well. When his time was up, he begged for extension which Bola at first refused until he (Bola) was prevailed upon to grant it. Bola’s excuse was simply that others deserved the position.
At the end of the extension, the Oliver Twist wanted more. But he had to go so the grapes went sour. Rafiu surprised me when not many months after his retirement he turned, so to say, “Queen’s Evidence” in the matter of whether Bola was really a Tinubu or not. That should have warned us. Bola went abroad to study as a Tinubu; he was Tinubu when he contested and won election as senator of the federal republic; he was a Tinubu when he contested and won election as governor in 1999 and 2003.He ceased to be a Tinubu when Rafiu’s time was up and he had to leave. I knew Rafiu was up to something.
I read reports of his recanting about his role. It was very clear he did not have (And still does not have)the clout he arrogated to himself. Alhaji Kafaru Tinubu of blessed memory was Bola ‘s uncle till he died and the head of the family(olori ebi)who died without disowning Bola as Tinubu. And you wonder why Rafiu would do such a thing as slamming a bunch of fresh palm seeds with bare palms. Now, he has given himself a larger than life political profile in Lagos. What would be his base other than Lagos senatorial district? What role has he played in the political engineering of even Surulere? Rafiu was a mere civil servant and would be lying to claim he was involved. Only the political leaders of Lagos are in an election, which took place on the same day!
Also in Ogun state, the incumbent AD governor (Osoba)was given five policemen to guard him,while his rival (Daniel) was given 140 mobile police during the elections. This situation was replicated in all the states in South-west. I hope we have not all forgotten that Buhari took Obasanjo to court and the case dragged on to July 2005. The case went to the court of Appeal and terminated finally at the supreme court. The kernel of Buhari’s contention was that the election was rigged. The court of Appeal thought the election was not held substantially in accordance with the principle of the electoral Act. And it(court of Appeal (nullified the election in Ogun State”. The supreme Court thought otherwise”that the election was conducted substantially in accordance with the principle of the electoral Act…”
Lagos state government has pointed the democratic way to president Obasanjo. He should not connive with evil by shielding election triggers.