The execution of that youthful innocent for so he was, since the punishment did not exist at the time of commission – was nothing short of premeditated murder, for which the perpetrators should normally stand trial upon their loss of immunity. Are we truly expected to forget this violation of our entitlement to security as provided under existing laws? And even if our sensibilities have become blunted by succeeding seasons of cruelty and brutality, if power itself had so coarsened the sensibilities also of rulers and corrupted their judgment, what should one rightly expect after they have been rescued from the snare of power.
At the very least, a revaluation, leading hopefully to remorse, and its expression to a wronged society. At the very least, such a revaluation should engender reticence, silence. In the case of Buhari, it was the opposite. Since leaving office he has declared in the most categorical terms that he had no regrets over this murder and would do so again. Human life is inviolate. The right to life is the uniquely fundamental right on which all other rights are based. The crime that General Buhari committed against the entire nation went further however, inconceivable as it might first appear. That crime is one of the most profound negations of civic being.
Not content with hammering down the freedom of expression in general terms, Buhari specifically forbade all public discussion of a return to civilian, democratic rule. Let us constantly applaud our media those battle scarred professionals did not completely knuckle down. They resorted to cartoons and oblique, elliptical references to sustain the people’s campaign for a time-table to democratic rule. Overt agitation for a democratic time table however remained rigorously suppressed military dictatorship, and a specifically incorporated in Buhari and Idiagbon was here to stay.
To deprive a people of volition in their own political direction is to turn a nation into a colony of slaves. Buhari enslaved the nation. He gloated and gloried in a master-slave relation to the millions of its inhabitants. It is astonishing to find that the same former slaves, now free of their chains, should clamour to be ruled by one who not only turned their nation into a slave plantation, but forbade them any discussion of their condition.
Responsibility for the national condition lay squarely at the door of the ruling party, obviously, but against whom was Buharis coup staged? Judging by the conduct of that regime, it was not against Shagaris government but against the opposition. The head of government, on whom primary responsibility lay, was Shehu Shagari. Yet that individual was kept in cozy house detention in Ikoyi while his powerless deputy, Alex Ekwueme, was locked up in Kiri-kiri prisons. Such was the Buhari notion of equitable apportionment of guilt and/or responsibility. And then the cascade of escapes of the wanted, and culpable politicians. Manhunts across the length and breadth of the nation, roadblocks everywhere and borders tight as steel zip locks.
Lo and behold, the chairman of the party, Chief Akinloye, strolled out coolly across the border. Richard Akinjide, Legal Protector of the ruling party, slipped out with qual ease. The Rice Minister, Umaru Dikko, who declared that Nigerians were yet to eat from dustbins – escaped through the same airtight dragnet. The clumsy attempt to crate him home was punishment for his ingratitude, since he went berserk when, after waiting in vain, he concluded that the coup had not been staged, after all, for the immediate consolidation of the party of extreme right-wing vultures, but for the military hyenas.
The case of the overbearing Secretary-General of the party, Uba Ahmed, was even more noxious. Uba Ahmed was out of the country at the time. Despite the closure of the Nigerian airspace, he compelled the pilot of his plane to demand special landing permission, since his passenger load included the almighty Uba Ahmed. Of course, he had not known of the change in his status since he was airborne. The delighted airport commandant, realizing that he had a much valued fish swimming willingly into a waiting net, approved the request. Uba Ahmed disembarked into the arms of a military guard and was promptly clamped in detention. Incredibly, he vanished a few days after and reappeared in safety overseas. Those whose memories have become calcified should explore the media coverage of that saga. Buhari was asked to explain the vanished act of this much prized quarry and his response was one of the most arrogant levity. Coming from one who had shot his way into power on the slogan of discipline, it was nothing short of impudent. Shall we revisit the tragicomic series of trials that landed several politicians several lifetimes in prison?