The Diary Of Karma — Ifeanyi Calistus

By Ikenga Chronicles November 16, 2016

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over it by the good people” — Martin Luther king Jr.

Writing this piece is a spiritual imperative, a necessary urge that has persisted despite how long I resisted.
Definitely, karma is real. As the popular saying has it— ” what goes around comes around”. The diary of karma is portent, active and effective.

Few weeks ago, agents of the Department of State Services (DSS) carried out series of commando- style raids at the residence of numerous judges including members of supreme court judges.

The DSS’ action attracted widespread condemnation especially from the legal community. They felt disturbed by the action, denouncing it as an attempt to cow the judges–a measure aimed at undermining the independence of the judiciary. Others are of a contrary view. They absolved the DSS of any wrong doing, affirming that ” Nobody is above the law”.

Reacting to the incident, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) was furious over the actions of the DSS and equally declared a state of emergency on the judiciary. Also they threatened dire consequences should the judges remain in detention till the next day.

Ebun Adegboruwa (SAN) called for a boycott of court; Judiciary workers Association of Nigeria threatened to down tools; former head of state, Yakubu Gowon described the action as a threat to democracy; former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed condemned in strong terms the abominable raid. In his words, ” the raid was saddening, deeply regrettable, distressing and unfortunate.”

Efe Babalola (SAN) described it as embarrassment to the judiciary; former NBA chairman, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), condemned the actions of the DSS. He even raised constitutional question about the legitimacy and legality of DSS . Also he clarified that the activities of DSS is limited to the internal security of the nation not financial crimes as alleged.

Human rights lawyer and founder of the Due Process Advocates (DPA), Barrister Emeka Ugwuonye posted several articles in condemnation of the action of the DSS. He insisted that the raid was not only insulting to the judiciary but also embarrassing to the nation.

I wonder how these eminent personalities, lawyers, human rights organizations suddenly found their voice to condemn the fullblown dictatorship that had been ongoing since this administration came on board.

The conspiracy of silence in the land is worrisome. Human rights abuses are on the peak; blatant disregard to the rule of law;perpetual detention of accused persons without bail; disobedience to court orders; conflicting judgements from the judges themselves and widespread extra judicial killings either from the security forces or herdsmen.

In the face of all these barbarism, the judges, lawyers and human rights organizations were silent. Now they have suddenly woken from their slumber. They decided to speak because certain person are involved.

This hypocritical posture and nonchalance needs to be addressed. NBA, NJC, human rights watch, civil Liberty organizations, judges, lawyers, etc are supposed to fight strongly for the adherence and entrenchment of rule of law in the land. Rather, what we have seen is that respected lawyers have suddenly pitched tent with the repressive administration of president Buhari. Quoting strange portions of the constitution to support every evil and tyrannical policy of the government. This reminds me of the immortal words of Martin Luther king ” Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It’s unfortunate that our people seem to talk about human rights when they are concerned, when they are not, they look the other way. It was Senator Chris Anyanwu who said that ” The loss of basic freedom of thought or of expression; the right to practice a profession, or the right to life and justice within the rule of law deserves serious universal concern”

On the 14th October 2015, the embattled leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was arrested in Lagos by members of the DSS. Few days later, he was arraigned on trumped up charges and was granted bail by court of competent jurisdiction yet DSS refused to obey court orders instead went ahead to file other charges against him. In fact one of the arrested judges, justice Ademola Adeniyi revealed that one of the reasons he was arrested by the DSS was because he granted bail to Nnamdi Kanu and Sambo Dasuki.

In his maiden media chat, President Buhari insisted that Nnamdi Kanu and Sambo Dasuki would not be released because according to him, they committed heinous crimes. His position is preemptive and inciting. Not even a single voice from the bench condemned Mr President on that senseless pronouncements. Again that statement from Mr president has continued to stall the trials of both Nnamdi Kanu and Dasuki. Judges continue to hands off their cases. The position of Mr president is known to the judges hence they are afraid to rule against him.

Earlier this year, members of IPOB were rounded up in a school at Aba, Abia state while they were praying by a combined team of security forces. In a squadron flare, they began shooting sporadically at the unarmed and defenceless civilians. Heavy commotion ensued. By the time dust settled, not less than twenty innocent members of IPOB were dead. Unknown numbers were injured.

To the best of my knowledge, there was no reaction from either NBA, NJC, lawyers or any of the human rights activists. While in Qatar, Aljezeera journalist offered to show Buhari the video footage of that horrific massacres, he refused to watch. Instead threatened that ” Nigeria will not tolerate them”. Those shouting today about the manner the judges were arrested pretended to be unaware of the brutality and highhandedness from the security forces. Their silence epitomised callous indifference to humanity.

Members of the group were once again brutally slaughtered on May 30 2016 in a catholic church at Nkpor Anambra state where they went to take shelter in readiness for the commencement of their Biafra Day anniversary. Blood flew in the air. Corpses and the wounded were littered all over the place. The security forces later came again and recovered the bodies and took them to an unknown destination. Nobody spoke for the IPOB members. Not even a single voice. What exactly were their offences? They agitated for Biafra.

The killings in Nimbo, Agatu and Enugu were not enough to warrant national debate.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. It was agreed that shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. It was Martin Luther king Jr who revealed that “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”

The earlier Nigerians rise up and resist this mixture of Hitler and Idi-Amin in the making, the better for all of us. Martin Niemoller, à great German anti Nazi theologian said ” first they came for the Jews, I did nothing because I was not a Jew, they came for the trade unionists, I did nothing because I was not a trade unionist. When they came for the Catholics, I did nothing because I was not a Catholic. Then they came for me and it was too late as there was no one left to speak for me”

Where are the human right activists that fought against the oppressive regimes of IBB, Sani Abacha and others, with boundless energy? They tenaciously and uncompromisingly pursued principles and ideals for the untrammeled rule of law, undiluted democracy, all embracing and expensive social justice, protection of fundamental human rights and respect for the hope and aspiration of the masses who are victims of repressive governments. The spirits of Gani Fawehimi, Fela Kuti, Dele Giwa, Beko Ransome Kuti etc will be disturbed in the grave.Departed souls who fought gallantly for human rights and rule of law. Even though they are no longer with us, their exploits still reverberate.

Today, the men that came after them are selfish, weak and cowards. They only speak when they are affected. According to Nelson Mandela, ” Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed”. We must stand up to fight this monster before us.

Finally, in the opinion of Martin Luther King Jr, ” Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertion and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Our tendency toward comfort zone will be detrimental to our progress.

  • Ifeanyi Calistus is a freelance writer based in Port Hacourt, Rivers State.
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