Albert Einstein once said that education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think. Within this context, I am at a loss as to whether the Kaduna State government demolished Asher Hotel (or Restaurant) because indeed a transgression of the laws of Kaduna State, which is of a criminal nature, had taken place there or that it acted in the manner it did simply to prove its powers and show investors that it is at liberty to shut down, or demolish, any business premises that does not comply with the moral code of a governor, or the psycho-religious state of mind of some people.
Let me take you back to an explanation issued on December 31, 2020, by the Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Authority (KASUPDA) on is Twitter handle, @KASUPDA, on the action against Asher. “KASUPDA have demolished Asher Hotel in Barnawa, Kaduna South. Asher Hotel was the proposed venue for the Kaduna Sex Party; the hotel was also caught contravening the Covid-19 guidelines of the state. KASUPDA will not hesitate to demolish properties used for such immoral act.”
In another tweet on January 1, 2021, KASUPDA said: “His Excellency, the Executive Governor Mallam Nasiru El-Rufa’i, in his proactive leadership style ordered the immediate arrest of the organizers and KASUPDA to demolish the structure to forestall a reoccurrence, serve as a deterrent to such other clubs that may or are intending to host similar or same event to desist and ensure they operate within the ambit of the law.”
KASUPDA further threatened thus: “We wish to reiterate that the Government of Kaduna State through the leadership of His Excellency with its agencies is committed to ensuring that we have a serene, sane and decent environment and will not hesitate to deal decisively with any individual or group (which) tries to engage in any act that expose(s) our citizens to moral decadence.”
After the demolition, one Mrs. Aisha Mercy Yakubu spoke to Channels TV. She introduced herself as owner of Asher Kings and Queens Restaurant. Note here that what KASUPDA said it demolished was “Asher Hotels” and at another place in the KASUPDA tweets it referred to Asher as a “club”.
Anyway, Mrs. Yakubu claimed ownership of the demolished facility and told her own story thus: “The Asher Kings and Queens Restaurant is 34-sitting capacity restaurant, located at No. 75, Kachia Road, Sabon Tasha, Kaduna State, registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, with the registration number BN2463851 on 5th December, 2016, under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990, Food Production and Processing Services. We hire/rent the VIP section for light events, of not more than 26 customers. On the 27th December, 2020, a customer hired the VIP Lounge for a 15-man reunion/clothing line promo, to appreciate his customers for their good patronage of his brand.
“The restaurant is a one-storey building, with a VIP Lounge section, where premium customers relax to watch football league games in a cozy environment, with all the comfort -air conditioners and light music, whilst the ground floor is where the kitchen and serving spot is, also with chairs and tables for customers to sit and eat their food as required.”
So, how was Asher dragged into a supposed ‘sex party’? Mrs. Yakubu explains: “A friend of mine and I noticed an unusual movement around the main gate to the restaurant, as it was half opened to avoid a crowded environment. We approached the main gate and on getting there I saw two truckloads of heavily-armed officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). I asked the team leader what was going on but he ignored my question and said he will explain to me when we get to the police station.
“When we arrived (at) the police station, my customer, who accompanied me to the station, enquired what the matter was and the police showed us a poster on a GSM phone belonging to one of the officers by name Inspector Felix. It was a poster of an event titled ‘Kaduna Sex Party’, which the police claimed the venue for the supposed “sex party” was scheduled to hold at my restaurant, though with no address of where it will take place on the poster. I denied knowledge of that event as there was nothing of that sort taking place at the restaurant”.Interesting? This is Nigeria! The said poster advertising the sex party had only the following details: “Kaduna Sex Party. No clothing Season 1 –Games, Foods, Grills, Movies and Sex (Outdoor and Indoor sex. Public Nudes Dares!!!). It’s All Fun Till You Tapout! Tickets: Regular N2000. VIP N5000. VVIP N10,000. STD tests at entrance. Come with Condom. No Camera. No Forceful Sex.”
It also had a contact telephone number with the following: “For enquiries contact: 080131604492” but no advertised venues. However, it asked interested participants to “pay to unlock venue” for an event scheduled to begin at “8pm till mama calls”. It was advertised to hold on December 27, 2020, with further notice that “50 ladies ready to get down”.
And Mrs. Yakubu explains further: “I suggested to them to call the number on the supposed ‘Kaduna Sex Party’ poster, which they immediately put a call through and a name came out using the True Caller App as Marvelous Akpan… Marvelous Akpan was arrested the next day. He was interrogated and he obliged to owning the phone number on the poster and printing of the poster, which was posted on social media, assisted by a friend of his named Noah and one other guy. On further interrogation, Mr. Marvelous Akpan confessed to the police that he doesn’t know me and has never been to my restaurant nor had any knowledge of its address. Mr. Chimeze, who had hired the place, was released summarily after the successful arrest of Mr. Akpan.”
And after this? “The next day, 31st December, while at the other branch of my restaurant, at Court Road, Sabon Tasha, Kaduna, a friend of mine called (and) asked me to go to the main restaurant and see what was going on. I immediately went and saw a combined team of policemen, soldiers, KASTLEA and vigilante groups guarded a pay loader to demolish my restaurant. No prior notice was served (on) me before the demolition; there was no any form of communication between (me) and the Kaduna State Property Development Agency (KASUPDA) who came to demolish the building.”
This is the point where Einstein’s retort on learning the facts and thinking come in. Observe that in these tales, KASUPDA did not reference any law of the state, which the sex party contravened. KASUPDA also did not state that the party actually held – just an advertisement! KASUPDA did not disclose any judicial orders authorizing it to pull down the facility. KASUPDA was also not sure if the facility was a hotel, club or restaurant. A hotel is a facility providing accommodation, meals and other services for travellers and tourists. A club is an entertainment venue that opens from evening till early morning, having facilities such as bar and disco or other entertainment, while a restaurant means a place where people pay to eat meals that are cooked and served on the premises. So, which did KSUPDA destroy, hotel, club or restaurant?
The wider implication of what has happened to Asher is that investments may not be safe in an environment where the governor, not the law or the court, is the sole determinant of what is legal and illegal. It is also a progression in impunity, in political environments where the governor is the sole determinant of what is moral, immoral and amoral. The executive enforces the law, not the moral or religious code of a governor and certainly not his or her personal feelings about existential realities like sex parties. Unfortunately, Nigeria is a system where what a political leader feels, or says, is considered law, which must be enforced. The implication is that, if an impulsively erratic fellow becomes governor, or President, he/she could pronounce capital punishment on an opponent and it is enforced pronto. That’s one major problem of intemperate power. It is the forte of military governments.