It is expedient to further explain the deep implications of what some of our northern political leaders are venturing into, thinking they are serving their people. Come to think of it, you are granting freedom in the clothing of ‘amnesty’ to known criminals who killed, maimed and destroyed the properties of poor electorate that stood under the harsh weather to vote you into office, just for political applause, not even considering the hectic and dangerous efforts of security personnel, who toiled for days before they could nab them.
Why it is rather unfortunate is that it is becoming a trend, and these governors are only mindful of the instant applause, not the future catastrophe. It is like a man who saw a fruit and rushed to devour it not minding the aftermath that it would purge him for days.
According to Wikipedia, “Amnesty” is defined as: “A pardon extended by the government to a group or class of people, usually for a political offense; the act of a sovereign power officially forgiving certain classes of people who are subject to trial but have not yet been convicted.”
As is usual with politicians, they grandstand on issues they believe could attract attention to them. It is their gains and interest, not that of the public, that is considered when issues like this are on the front burner.
When war criminals are granted amnesty, in most cases, it is to address gross injustice and human right abuses either against them while in detention or they were found not to be guilty. Amnesty most times is meant for political prisoners, not hardened criminals. The way they are proceeding in error, tomorrow, we may hear that alleged kidnap kingpin Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, a.k.a. Evans, may be granted amnesty by his state governor.
It is not the same yardstick used by Zamfara State governor, Alhaji Bello Matawalle, who granted a hundred Fulani bandits in detention at Gusau Prison amnesty as part of the peace process in the state. Moreover, the governor waited for the visit of the Fulani community before pronouncing his political amnesty. How would the bereaved families feel? It is the height of insensitivity and myopic decisions. Because there was no public uproar,his counterpart in Niger state, Governor Abubakar Bello, also granted amnesty to detained bandits operating in Niger State. He told the audience at the second General Abdulsalami Abubakar Foundation Annual Peace Lecture held in in Minna that the bandits were released based on a dialogue and peace deal and an agreement reached between the government and the bandits.
Would General Abdusalam have granted amnesty to arrested robbers and kidnappers when he was the Head of State of Nigeria (even though it was during militaryrule)?
It is interesting to note that these governors want peace on a platter of gold. The peace that lasts comes from vigorous struggle. No criminal would relinquish his struggle just like that without Plan B. Here are governor’s who are ready to embark on a peace deal with killers, kidnappers, rapists and rustlers by signing agreements with them. The question then is, who would be monitoring them? Have these governors questioned why these young men ventured into banditry? Of course, it is because the governors failed to provide jobs for them, despite their campaign promises of job creation. And since these governors failed, the devil took over and quickly provided instant jobs for them. After all, it is said that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
The holy book described the devils activities as “to kill, steal and destroy.” These bandits have been terrorising villagers with impunity. They have left their evil footprints in Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Benue states, despite the efforts of the police, which look overwhelmed due to topographical indices and insufficient patrol vehicles. Surely, these states are only quick to assent to peace aggrements but find it difficult to assist the security agencies with patrol vehicles like other donor states.
When the dark clouds have passed, and hunger sets in, when the peace accord seems forgotten, surely, these bandits would return to their evil trade and become additional problems to the police and the larger society.
Lagos sars blazes the trail
It was his posting in June last year that really started the instant cleansing and changes that brought the good news presently on the lips of every visitor to the command headquarters of the Lagos State Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), lkeja.
Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Peter Gana is indeed the face of future policing in the country. He is an officer with conscience, who fears God and is professional, dedicated and disciplined to the core.
As a junior Crime journalist in Lagos in the early 1980s, I remembered the notoriety and rascality of men of the lkeja SARS known then as “Scorpion.”
They stung their suspects, especially armed robbers, to their marrow and death. Their major fault was their high-handedness in the interrogation room, many of which I witnessed. Many heinous and unbelievable incidents were recorded. The old SARS lived up to its billing, but completely derailed when purposeless and greedy leaders were appointed. However, this column had in the past written elaborately about the good, bad and ugly activities of SARS as a section of the police.
Institutions receive commendation sequel to the good nature of the personnel posted to work there.
Today, Lagos SARS is receiving encomiums majorly because the officer in charge is interpreting the Inspector-General of Police’s new reform agenda that SARS must wear a new look and adhere strictly to the principles of upholding the human rights of every suspect in their custody. According to an armed robbery suspect interviewed by Africa Independent Television (AIT), “I was arrested for armed robbery and when they brought me to SARS, I had thought my life was gone. I am suffering from diabetes, but, believe you me, they have been providing me with drugs.” Such impressive testimonies abound in SARS and it has helped in changing the sad narratives of the social media harsh tag #EndSARS.
Officer Gana, being a tested hand, has proved to Nigerians that Lagos State always blazes the trail in everything. No wonder it is known as the Centre of Excellence. Apart from testimonies from members of the public, crime journalist have also confirmed that Gana has not only transformed the place, but has sanitized it. According to former CRAN president, “The place is very neat, unlike what it used to be,” adding that bribery has drastically reduced and anyone caught collecting bribe is sanctioned.
Testimonies of their born-againism notwithstanding, robbers still dread the SARS men. Thank goodness, only criminals need to dread the iron gates of Sars, not innocent members of the public.