The matter of Evans, the billionaire kidnapper, is very exciting at many levels. That thuggish gun-totting criminals can live very respectably is something that is new to us. Before now, living respectably while in crime, used to be the preserve of white-collar criminals. And the ‘hallowed lists’ included 419ners, coup makers, 10 percenters and the rest of the gang. In fact, coup makers so charmed and bewitched, even the elect, that they were even taken as nationalists, and all that jazz.
And now here is Evans, a thug, swimming in his Jacuzzi for a morning shower. That is simply nuclear. It is hard to visualise. This is especially so, if you remember that Jacuzzi is one of the symbols of modernity, of civilisation. You don’t own a Jacuzzi because you want a shower. You own a Jacuzzi because you want to be pampered. And here was a hard man, a hit man, also wanting it soft on his flesh and frame. Boy, things happen!
Yet the Evans’ tale is not finished. Even more intriguing is that a man can rule the underworld for eight long years and the police, cow-faced, is claiming that they have no images of him. That tells immediately how inefficient the police is. Or really how self-compromised, as the facts may have now revealed.
According to the initial releases, it took so long to corner Evans because he was a gate-away genius. He was alive and well, but as a ghost, the police seemed to suggest. However, a retired police cop came out with a revelation. Evans was actually netted in by the Lagos Police Command way back in 2005 or thereabouts. But like in most things Nigerian, interested and powerful parties got him transferred to Imo State Police Command. A claim that Evans had a subsisting case with the Imo police command was the cover-up logic.
However, working in cohort, these powerful police insiders got Evans off the hook. Literally, they gave him a commission. Evans, go and kill, go and kidnap and rob. But you must bring us our shares, dividends and bonuses as at when due. You are only the front officer of this enterprise. We are your backroom engine house. Evans agreed and they all initialed the memo in blood and guns. A high end criminal corporation was born.
And the joint venture business of Evans and some criminal elements of the police, prospered. It went from petty and high risk bank robbery to the premium trade of kidnapping only high net worth individuals. And the Evans criminal corporation was so successful it was better than owning a bank. And this at unbelievably lower levels of risk.
So, the scandal of police celebrating the capture of Evans should stop. The point is that Evans thrived because he worked in cohorts with police elements. There is no other way to explain things. That is, while one may commend the present IGP and the Abba Kyari teams, one must condemn the institution they inherited and head. So, rather than celebrate, the police should sanitise. The worms are in their hearts.
And the fact of this is indicated in the Imo and Lagos States’ sub-commands being under two different zonal commands. So, the alleged transfer of Evans from one state command to another is actually an inter-zonal transfer. That is the authorisation must have come from zonal police top brass. And the police, to initially and still claim that they have no mug of Evans is proof of one thing. It is that the records may have been wiped away at both the Imo and Lagos States/Zonal ends of the police commands. It is not impossible that many of those who invested in the Evans Kidnap Corporation are retired officers, etc. But the fact of it happening, and at the zonal levels, is frightening.
So, to really probe Evans will amount to self-indictment by the police, as an institution. The implication of this is that Evans in the end, may…. Your guess is as good as mine. Nigerian police, like their politicians, are not in the business of self-confessions. They will rather ‘‘delete the links’’ than confess their many sins.
And we come to one little area of interest. This is about Evans/gangland’s use of language and register. Many Nigerians are dazed in what may be called the Evans-speak. Both the police spokesman and some citizens have been ‘caught on camera’ moralising on that. And the editorial of national newspaper, gave vent to it. We will a quote to give some flavor of the Evans:
‘‘For nearly a decade… Evans roamed in what may be described as a derring-do manner, the length and breadth of the land taking on ‘jobs’ as he called kidnapping…. He made millions in local and foreign currencies… owned luxurious houses complete with bullet-proof doors and Jacuzzi-equipped bathrooms… and generally lived it up like a genuinely successful businessman. He lived in a respectable, upscale neighbourhood too while his family lives abroad. Given the prevailing money-centred ethos of this society, Evans was, until caught, the kind of man who might… give a lecture on the evils of criminality….”
The point, however, is that anybody interested in language, will not feel scandalised on Evans taking kidnapping, as a job. In saying what he says, Evans is only being human, like the rest of us professionals. Well, it might be an illegal profession to be a kidnapper. But a profession it is. And the rules of the professions apply here, whether it is economic or in its use of jargon. For instance, Professor Steven D. Levitt has documented the economic aspects of this in his Freakonomics book.
But in the matter of language register, we contend that Evans is simply within our human too human remit. In Why and How the Yoruba Fought and Lost the Biafra Nigeria civil war, we had written: ‘‘That is language properly understood is not just communication, but also a vehicle for cultural education in the best and worst senses of it. So, being a Waffi speaker, for example, is to have acquired an operating attitude different from that of being an Urhobo speaker. The reason is simple. Languages are vehicles, carrying different freights. That is, to be a different language, each language must bear a substantially different philosophical freight from another. Therefore, both Waffi and Urhobo are thus expressions of different attitudes not just unintelligible words….
‘‘Perhaps, that is why criminal and other outlier or marginal groups develop their own lingua franca. It is not just to encrypt their communications and exclude others. More importantly, it is to declare a certain independence and differentiation of philosophy and thinking. Language is a mere vehicle. Its main freight is the underlay thinking and philosophy, and we need a new or different worldview to operate in different worlds. That is, to achieve ease of operations as engineers, coup makers, godogodos, or mafia, we need an operating philosophy and worldview that will not be our moral burden. For instance, the assassin needs to believe, contrary to mainstreamers, that killing a target, is just a work, almost like your plumber fixing a leaking pipe. Without this feeling and underlay philosophy, he cannot operate efficiently as an assassin. So, he needs a new language. That is without speaking their patios marginal groups whether quants or gangsters cannot be operationally efficient.’’
The moral is that while we may wish to condemn Evans, yoking all work as work, we must in dealing with him, do so professionally. As professionals, they will have their own lingo. And there is nothing strange in that. It is human, too human.
My apologies to Dickson
I just don’t know how it came upon me. Without giving him ‘‘audience’’, I just concluded that the Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson, is and must be one of the problems with Nigeria. In my mind, he must be as bad as it comes and coarse to match.
But on 10-07-2017, he popped up at AIT, taking questions. Boy, it was a revelation. The guy was sharp and above all was something of a genius in the use of conciliatory language. He spoke brilliantly more than many loquacious kinds we routinely hail. Yes, his might not have been a broadcaster’s voice, but it was gong-clear enough. He showed genius as a conciliator, a self-sacrificing nationalist. I give examples.
On the matter of the Federal seizure of the oil resources of the Niger Deltans, he said that even if it had been necessitated over time, after 60 years, it was time enough to tinker and give justice. He just skillfully exited the contentious past, canvassing for an all-inclusive but just future.
And of the incompetence of overloading the federal with powers he gave this. No matter how excellent the top judiciary and police, etc. brass are, they may be only as good as their feeder sources. For instance, if all judiciary matters that could have been resolved at the state levels are forwarded to Abuja, it is just human too human that Abuja will be overwhelmed. She presently is.
In fact, Dickson spoke more eloquently than I can lamely recall. The moral of it is that PDP, as a party and its officers, as individuals are operating under a framework. And that framework is forged by APC. And it sells the idea that all PDP persons are crooks. And somehow without intending it, you believe, subconsciously. The point is that propaganda afflicts even the independent minded – reflexively.
Anyway it was great to hear that Dickson has been elected the Chairman of the South-south Governors’ Forum. He deserves it. He is a gifted conciliator. It is men like that, that we need in our affairs today. This is not a comment on his governorship of Bayelsa. We are not very informed on that. This is a comment on his Kissinger-like gifts with negotiation and words.