His clan, the youths, had been celebrating Elisha Cliff Abbo, 41, senator representing Adamawa North Constituency, as the youngest senator in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They have a right to crow because it seemed to them that after a lot of noise-making in the last few years, young people were about to be ushered into the mainstream of Nigeria politics and governance.
No young man got elected as President or governor but having a 41-year-old senator is something, some kind of consolation prize.
It seemed an unhappy coincidence, at least for the National Assembly, that in the week that some representatives were slapping each other in parliament, a senator was seen in a video slapping a nursing mother in a sex toys shop in the heart of Abuja. The video recording was done Saturday, May 11, 2019. On that day, Senator-Elect Elisha Abbo, as he then was, arrived at the sex gadgets shop at 6pm in the company of three young ladies. As the three girls and Abbo were sampling the sex toys to see which ones would do the job best, one of the girls threw up, making a mess of the whole place. The shop owner, a lady, was angry, saying she should have done the vomiting outside, not inside her shop.
Mr. Abbo accused the shop owner of poisoning the store’s air conditioner. The lady punctured Abbo’s argument by saying that, if the air conditioner had been contaminated, other people in the shop would have been affected too.
Mr. Abbo flew into a rage and an altercation ensured between them. He made phone calls to the police and in response the shop owner phoned her father. Power was going to meet power. Abbo probably did not know how high in rank the shop owner’s father was in the multi-layered wedding cake-like power structure of Abuja. Not being satisfied with calling the police he apparently tried to manhandle the shop owner but one of her staff, a nursing mother, intervened, pleading that her madam should be spared. Getting angry for being prevented from doing what he wanted to do, Abbo descended on the peacemaker and rained on her what we have come to know in Nigeria as “dirty slaps.”
One dirtier slap followed an earlier dirty slap. As the slaps rained on her, the woman winced but Abbo’s anger did not wane. The walloping continued. It was like a slapping festival. He could be an excellent kickboxer if he enrolled in the art. And there was a policeman in police uniform on the spot, not looking the other way but looking straight at the hapless woman, a nursing mother, being assaulted and battered by a man, a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The policeman in an unpardonable act of complicity or connivance or condonment just stood there without restraining the irresponsible senator from his criminal indulgence. The policeman stood there as a Slapping Supervisor (SS) giving himself and the Nigeria Police the image of a sadist when he had the full powers of his office to intervene in the interest of peace. He probably gave the senator a smart salute for his aberrant behaviour. I hope that the Police Service Commission has taken administrative notice of the policeman’s ill conduct for disciplinary purposes.
When the story first broke, Senator Abbo, in a display of arrogant justification or self-exculpation, had said that he was not a senator but a senator-elect when the matter took place, a very puerile attempt at being lawyerly as if the matter had anything to do with rank or ranklessness. Then he said the video was edited and that the full airing of it unedited would show that he, in fact, was the victim, not the victimiser. I saw that as the normal gra-graness of the entitled but I knew that whatever may have happened would have received the full attention of his powerful office as a senator if he was a victim. He said he was going to bare all at a press conference, but when he received more hammering in various media he decided to show repentance and to apologise. His apology is accepted and should serve purely as a mitigation of whatever punishment awaits him. A man of his stature should never have been involved in such a reckless show of power because it is a bad advertisement for his party, the PDP, and the Senate. Good a thing both institutions have condemned his reckless behaviour while the police have pulled him in for questioning. His apology is a prima facie admission of guilt. His offence is compounded by the fact that his victim is a woman. Women are generally very badly treated in Nigeria by men in and out of uniform. And in Abuja, women are treated like slaves and it is a shame to think that that is the Federal Capital of Nigeria, which should set an example in the upholding of people’s rights. I think they got their play book from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. I have seen women being whipped in Abuja by uniformed men for wearing miniskirts or trousers. And there is no evidence that Abuja is the headquarters of saintliness in any shape or form.
Mr. Abbo’s bad behaviour is bad news for the youths who have, deservedly, been critical of the bad behaviour of older Nigerians who have been running and ruining the country since Independence. Abbo did not go to the Senate as a representative of the youths but he is one of them. If he discharges his duties creditably in the Senate, proposing bills that will uplift Nigeria, the youths will have a reason to crow and to ask for higher responsibilities. However, if he behaves like an agbero, as he has done, it will be a bad testimonial not only for the people of Adamawa North that he represents but also for the youths who thought that, through him, they could acquire some bragging rights. While Abbo has been able to prove that he is not too young to run as a senator, he has also shown that he is not too senatorial not to slap someone, a woman. The problem with men who show violence to women is that they always underestimate women and the possibilities of retaliation. Some men are stronger than women, but what if a man meets a woman who has a black belt in judo or karate who can destroy his ego with a kick at his torso and two fingers in his eyes with the quickness of lightning? What if at that moment of madness that woman slapped by Abbo had decided, in an angry resort to self-defence, to punch Abbo’s head with her pencil heeled shoes? He would have been dead, dead as a dodo. That is what many violent men forget, namely, that in any conflict situation, everyone always has a coterie of retaliatory choices. If they don’t respond to their attackers in kind, they are more decent human beings than their attackers. That woman who refused to attack Abbo in return was displaying the spirit of decency despite the unwarranted provocation. She was more decent than Senator Abbo by many kilometers.
While the police are doing the needful by questioning Abbo, the police and the Police Service Commission should also call to question the sense of duty of the policeman at the scene of the incident. If he thought that his duty was to serve as a referee to a one-sided slapping match they must let him know that he is in the wrong job. If the rascally senator did not know his limits the errant policeman ought to have told him where the red line is. Failing to do that at the scene of a crime is a dereliction of duty for which he must called to account.