Hello everyone, you are welcome to my blog for 2017. Sorry, my first post for the year is coming this late, I have been busy (not a legit excuse but still, y’all have to cut me some slack). My first post on this blog for the year is up, and it is exactly just like the piece I rounded up 2016 with, the controversial issue of humanity versus the justice system. Hopefully, it achieves the kind of bang that 2017 deserves to start with. Read and enjoy.
Over the weekend the news broke that Chocolate City boss Audu Maikori was taken into custody of the Department of State Services over a set of tweets he put out on the ongoing crisis in Southern Kaduna which were later proven to be false. The charge against him was falsifying information with the intention to incite. Maikori later apologized for the false tweets and the misinformation but the Governor of Kaduna State Nasir El-Rufai wasn’t having any of it and obtained a warrant for Maikori’s arrest. The arrest created a lot of consternation on social media, where Maikori has a large following due to his status as a public figure, with many of his followers rolling out hundreds of tweets with the #FreeAudu hashtag to support a man who “is being vilified by a malevolent government out to silence prominent critics like him.” This, in turn, roused another side of social media who came out to point out that what Maikori did is a criminal offence under Nigerian law and he should be made to face the music, apologies or not.
In all honesty, Governor Nasir El-Rufai is hardly blameless in this matter. One can accuse him of a lot of things, things like chasing after a soft target like Audu Maikori instead of addressing a major ethnic issue in his state that keeps costing the lives and properties of innocent people, things like his hypocrisy and thin skin (in attacking Audu Maikori for a crime he himself may or may not have committed in the past) or something like making his government which had never had much goodwill with the citizens of the state by attempting to silence a contrary voice. However, one thing anyone cannot accuse him of is that he has violated the law in ordering Audu Maikori’s arrest. Audu Maikori is guilty of a crime under Nigerian law and should there should be made to face some sort of censure for it.
One thing that we Nigerians tend to forget is that the reason the lady justice has a blindfold and a sword instead of a smile and a pack of diapers is to show that even though she is feminine and therefore can be merciful, she is also ruthless when the occasion calls for it. In other words, she might be female, but she is not your mommy and saying “I am sorry” (as Audu Maikori did) doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make the punishment you deserve to go away. This issue is part of why our justice system remains toothless till today. We as people agree to laws, then we can’t be arsed to obey said laws and then we go ahead to label the people we ourselves gave the task of enforcing those laws as villainous dicks. As Nigerians, we need to realize that as much as we want our governments to be humane (being a democracy and everything), the primary reason for electing a government is for it to be effective, even if it has to step on people’s toes to do it. A government that refuses to do things like upholding the law because some people might be outraged is a government that neither achieves much or lasts long. (this is not a sub I swear). The government like the justice system is simply not (and absolutely should not be) your mommy. It is why till date Babatunde Raji Fashola is still popular in his native Lagos, despite having used some “harsh” methods in achieving his aims when he was governor. As the anecdote goes “you simply can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs.”
At the time of penning this, Audu Maikori has gained his freedom (and hopefully learnt a lesson or two about being more responsible with his celebrity status in future), but Nigeria will not develop if we citizens make it a habit of cheering criminals against our own elected government. Nigeria isn’t also going to develop if we, citizens keep calling the government hypocrites even when it is trying to uphold the law. I am no lawyer, but one of the few things I gained from being used as a sounding board for a certain student lawyer who was at the time trying to pass her bar exams is that “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.” Audu’s hands are far from clean on this matter, so why are people jumping to his defence just because they don’t like El-Rufai’s guts or how he is handling the Southern Kaduna matter, as if Southern Kaduna has anything to do with Audu Maikori (who should know better) deciding to be irresponsible because he feels he is a celebrity. Are the people then tweeting #FreeAudu not as hypocritical as the Nasir El-Rufai that they are condemning?
As Nigerians, we should not also make it a habit of conflating people with issues. We can condemn Nasir El-Rufai for his poor management of the Southern Kaduna crisis without condoning Audu Maikori’s lying and falsehood. While we are talking sins, If the Christian God was to judge, both Nasir El-Rufai and Audu Maikori would end up in hell, so why is one suddenly a hero and the other a bad guy. it doesn’t mean we are insensitive, it only means some of us realize that Nigeria has a lot of problems on her hands already and having people like Maikori cooking up stories will not help the situation, it will only worsen it. As much as we feel Nigeria owes us good leadership and the protection of our rights and freedoms as citizens, we as citizens also owe our governments the responsibility not to cheer law breakers and to be responsible in our “social activism”