• Nigeria’s Curse Of Sisyphus

    Sisyphus, King of Corinth in Tartasus, was condemned to an unending task of rolling a boulder uphill, only for the boulder to roll downhill, and for him to start the task all over again, and again and again, ad infinitum.

    The Yoruba do not approve of a fellow who continues to shake the crumbs of “ekuru,” meal ball made from beans, back into the plate while they want to ensure that there are no remnants of the delicacy.

    If these are proverbs, they are for those agents and agencies of government who seem like they want to continue to stoke the embers of the #EndSARS protest. If things got so scary that DJ Switch had to run for dear life, to seek refuge in Canada, it suggests that somebody –with or without the consent of government– is acting in a manner that DJ Switch, at least, thinks is inimical to her safety.

    And she definitely wouldn’t be running away from her #EndSARS collaborators, or those government labels as hoodlums. Those others, who may be hiding from the unforgiving arm of the government’s Gestapo, will be known in due course.

    Government won’t resolve the #EndSARS crisis soon, as its agents continue to demonstrate its inability to accept dissent. To borrow a phrase from novelist Chimamanda Adichie, “Dissent is not treason.”

    #EndSARS protester, Eronmosele Adene, was arrested in Lagos, whisked to Abuja, returned to Lagos, and remanded in the custody of the Lagos State Police Command, until a court granted him bail in the sum of N1 million.

    At the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Modele Odele, who provided free legal services to those pulled in by the police for participating in the #EndSARS protests, was detained, her passport seized, and was prevented by men of the Nigerian Immigration Services from travelling to the exotic Maldives for her birthday.

    She alleges that the NIS has compiled a no-fly list of those the government suspects of energising the #EndSARS protests. Government denies any such list, and the NIS has also returned her passport after keeping it for a few days.

    Five #EndSARS protesters and a female journalist, Oluwatoyin Adeniji, were remanded in prison custody on the orders of an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court on “allegations of unlawful assembly and wanting to distort the societal peace.” They have now been granted bail, though their prosecution will continue.

    The Central Bank of Nigeria that is not a security agency is embarking on some security mopping up of sorts. It froze the bank accounts of 20 individuals that it identified as prominent members of the #EndSARS protest group– before asking a court for approval.

    An affidavit, deposed to by Aondowase Jacob on behalf of the CBN, claims, “There is a grave allegation (by who?) that the defendants are involved in suspected terrorism financing via their bank accounts in contravention of provisions of extant laws and regulations.

    “The aforesaid transactions undertaken by the defendants, using their bank accounts, can cause significant economic and security harm to the public and the Federal Government of Nigeria if left unchecked.”

    Facilitators of a peaceful protest are said to have contravened some highfalutin statutes, namely, The Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act of 2013 and CBN Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism Regulations, also of 2013. Fourteen of them have filed counter suits asking for the unfreezing of their bank accounts.

    Bolatito Olorunrinu Oduaka, one of those whose bank accounts have been frozen for 180 days, in the first instance, is a member of the judicial panel of enquiry into the protests. She and another youth representative walked out of the sittings, and the panel was unable to form a quorum, until their recent return.

    Which makes you wonder if these government agencies or agents talk to each other at all, and, if the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is even aware of what is going on at all. And if he is aware, does he think his intention is faithfully implemented?

    It reminds one of the disgraceful saga of the President submitting the name of Ibrahim Magu to the Senate for appointment as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and the Department of State Services, an agency within the Presidency, submitting adverse reports about Magu to the same Senate.

    The CBN does not appear to have watched, or is willing to be guided by, the content of a TV footage where Atedo Peterside, founder and pioneer CEO of StabicIBTC, admonished that it is not wise for the CBN to allow itself to be used in this manner.

    Some chap, Kenechukwu Okeke, has accused activist Aisha Yesufu, Sam Adeyemi, Senior Pastor of Daystar Christian Centre, musicians Falz, son of veteran activist Femi Falana, and Davido, and 46 others, of causing him some harm, and instigating action which led to violence and wanton destruction of public and private properties.

    Okeke told an Abuja magistrate, Omolola Akindele, that these individuals conspired amongst themselves to commit a misdemeanour, acting in such a manner to assist the promotion of #EndSARS protest, thereby committing an offence punishable by Nigerian laws. Magistrate Akindele has asked Abuja commissioner of police, Bala Ciroma, to investigate the allegation.

    Okeke reminds one of a certain Daniel Kanu, moving spirit of the “Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha” movement and the “Two Million Man March,” organised in support of the self-succession plan of Maximum Ruler Sani Abacha.

    It is difficult to determine if this gentleman is a free agent, merely playing the role of a good neighbour, or mere interloper. In the court, busybodies like this may be regarded as “amicus curiae,” a friend of the court, who intervenes in a matter that is not directly of interest to him.

    Sometimes, such meddlesome fellows act by the inspiration of a promissory note. No one can really tell what altruistic values project this man, as well as his level of public spiritedness. Maybe no one will ever know.

    Another agent or agency seemingly working on behalf of the Federal Government is the Northern Governors’ Forum that further fuels the impasse with pronouncements that are not exactly reconciliatory or patriotic.

    They unwittingly (or deliberately) pitted the people of Northern Nigeria against their Southern compatriots with the fake news that the #EndSARS protest was a ploy to topple the regime of President Buhari, the Mai Gaskia. What could be farther from the truth?

    Two neighbours of this writer, who are from the North-West Nigeria, seem to have caught unto this dangerous vision with the remark they simultaneously made when another neighbour, a southern Nigerian lamented that the absence of the police on Lagos roads has led to traffic jams.

    They both said, simultaneously: “But you southerners say you don’t want the police.” A very dangerous inference from a call to abolish the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, end police brutality and review the working conditions of police officers.

    So, what looks like a wilful withdrawal of police officers from the streets is probably a result of such dangerous narrative that is used to justify abandonment of police service to the people of the South. But it’s good to remember that there are Nigerians of Northern extraction living in the South.

    But more importantly, Buhari needs to act in a manner that suggests he is President of all Nigerians.

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