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Published On: Mon, Sep 15th, 2014

The wages of impunity (II)

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JonathanBy Wole Soyinka

Goodluck Jonathan has brought back into limelight more political reprobates – thusattested in criminal courts of law and/or policeinvestigations – than any other Head of State since thenation’s independence. It has become a reflex. Those whostuck up the obscene banner in Abuja had accurately read Jonathan right as a Bring-back president. They have deduced, perhaps, that he sees “bringing back” as avirtue, even an ideology, asthe corner stone of governance, irrespective of what isbeing brought back. No one quarrels about bringing back whatever the nation once had and now sorely needs – forinstance, electricity and other elusive items like security,the rule of law etc. etc. The list is interminable.

 Thenature of what is being brought back is thus what raises thedisquieting questions. It is time to ask the question: ifEbola were to be eradicated tomorrow, would this governmentattempt to bring it back?     Well, while waiting the Chibok girls, and in that very connection, there is at least an individualwhom the nation needs to bring back, and urgently. His nameis Stephen Davis, the erstwhile negotiator in the oftaborted efforts to actually bring back the girls. Nigeria needs him back – no, not back to the physical nation space itself, but to a Nigerian induced forum,convoked anywhere that will guarantee his safety and can bring others to join him. I know Stephen Davis, I worked in the background with himduring efforts to resolve the insurrection in the Delta region under President Umaru Yar’adua.

I have not been involved in his recent labours for a number of reasons. The most basic is that my threshold for confronting evil acrossa table is not as high as his – thanks, perhaps, tohis priestly calling. From the very outset, in severallectures and other public statements, I have advocated oneresponse and one response only to the earliest, still putative depredations of Boko Haram and have decried any proceeding that smacked of appeasement. There was a time toact – several times when firm, decisive action, wasindicated. There are certain steps which, when taken, placean aggressor beyond the pale of humanity, when we must learn to accept that not all who walk on two legs belong to thecommunity of humans – I view Boko Haram in that light. It is no comfort to watch events demonstrateagain and again that one is proved to be right.

Thus, it would be inaccurate to say that I have been detached from the Boko Haram affliction – verymuch the contrary. As I revealed in earlier statements, Ihave interacted with the late National Security Adviser General Azazi, on occasion – among others.  I am, therefore, compelled to warn that anything that Stephen Davisclaims to have uncovered cannot be dismissed out ofhand.  It cannot be wished away by foul-mouthed abuseand cheap attempts to impugn his integrity – that is anabsolute waste of time and effort. Of the complicity ofex-Governor Sheriff in the parturition of Boko Haram, I haveno doubt whatsoever, and I believe that the evidence isoverwhelming. Femi Falana can safely assume that he has myfull backing – and that of a number ofcivic organizations – ifhe is compelled to go ahead and invoke the legal recoursesavailable to him to force Sheriff’s prosecution.

 The evidence in possession of Security Agencies – plus a numberof diplomats in Nigeria – is overwhelming, and all that isleft is to let the man face criminal persecution. It iscertain he will also take many others down withhim.  Regarding General Ihejirika, I have my own theories about how he may havecome under Stephen Davis’ searchlight in the first place,ending up on his list of the inculpated. All I shall proposeat this stage is that an international panel be set up toexamine all allegations, irrespective of status or office ofany accused. The unleashing of a viperous cult like Boko Haram on peaceful citizens qualifies as a crime againsthumanity, and deserves that very dimension in itsresolution.

If a people must survive, the reign of impunity must end. Truth in all available detail – is in the interest, not onlyof Nigeria, the sub-region and the continent, but of theinternational community whose aid we so belatedly moved toseek. From very early beginnings, we warned against themouthing of empty pride to stem a tide that was assuredlymoving to inundate the nation but were dismissed asalarmists. We warned that the nation had moved into a stateof war, and that its people must be mobilized accordingly – the warnings were disregarded, even as slaughtersurmounted slaughter, entire communities wiped out, and thebattle began to strike into the very heart of governance,but all we obtained in return was moaning, whining and hand-wringing up and down the rungs of leadership andgovernance. But enough of recriminations – at least for now. Later, there must befull accounting.

Finally, Stephen Davis also mentions a Boko Haram financier within the Nigerian Central Bank. Independently, we are able to give backing to that claim,even to the extent of naming the individual. In the processof our enquiries, we solicited the help of a foreign embassywhose government, we learnt, was actually on the same trail,thanks to its independent investigation into some money laundering that involved the Central Bank. That name, weconfidently learnt, has also been passed on to President Jonathan. When he is ready to abandon his accommodatingpolicy towards the implicated, even the criminalized, an attitude that owes so much to re-election desperation, whenhe moves from a passive “letting the law to take itscourse” to galvanizing the law to take its course, weshall gladly supply that name.        In the meantime however, as we twiddle ourthumbs, wondering when and how this nightmare will end, and time rapidly runs out, Ihave only one admonition for the man to whom so much hasbeen given, but who is now caught in the depressing spiralof diminishing returns: “Bring Back Our Honour”.  Concluded

Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian Nobel laureate

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