Political old warhorse and firebrand, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, has accused former governor of Kano State, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau of foisting the Hisbah corps on the people of the state.
Hisbah is an Islamic doctrine which means “accountability”. Hisbah is an individual or collective duty to intervene and “enjoin good and forbid wrong.” The doctrine is reportedly based on an expression from the Quran.
But Junaid Mohammed disagreed, saying Hisbah was not ordered by virtue of superior authority by the Quran, adding that Hisbah was imported into the country by Alhaji Shekarau from Saudi Arabia.
Junaid Mohammed, elder statesman and Second Republic federal lawmaker, also slammed Chief Ayo Adebanjo, describing him as a self-imposed leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, just as he attacked Wole Soyinka and Femi Falana of being insincere when it comes to national matters.
He spoke extensively on Shege Ka Fasa and the Coalition of Northern Youths. Excerpts:
We are told Shege Ka Fasa means I dare you to attack or surrender. Would that be the meaning? And do you by any stretch of imagination understand why the governors of the northern states say it is derogatory? In concrete terms what do you think they mean by that?
Yes, I know what Shege Ka Fasa is. But who coined it and in what context are they talking about it? There has to be a context and relevance to the polity.
A Coalition of Northern Youths coined it and since we do not understand the meaning in real terms, we are trying to have a thorough grasp of what it is all about by meaning.
Let me tell you, it has to be very carefully understood. It is a subtle threat I must admit, but it is not the kind of threat that is supposed to be executed. When you tell somebody in a confrontational situation or in a discussion whereby two contending parties are holding different views and you say Shege Ka Fasa it means whoever blinks or withdraws is a bastard. It is a sort of daring, but I don’t know honestly…you know I have not been following the news much because I have been out of the country before Christmas and I came back only recently. And I have not been following the news as a matter of fact.
But you have objection to the name?
Oh, certainly. I have objection to anything that sounds provocative which can be abused to provoke people. That’s not my type of politics. I don’t believe in using language to provoke other people and I don’t believe that in politics that it’s sane we should use language to provoke other people or to input a sense of abuse.
I just wanted to find out your thoughts there. Nevertheless, would you support it if the name is changed?
But what are they supposed to be doing?
It’s an outfit to secure the North just like Amotekun in the Southwest.
I don’t understand it and I find the choice of the slogan, Shege Ka Fasa most unfortunate. It is clearly unnecessary and I don’t believe that even if they want to be mischievous or they want to blackmail the Federal Government as they assume that the Amotekun advocates have been trying to I don’t believe that is necessary. You see if you have a certain advantage in something and the North can never be marginalized politically. People can make noise about it. But if they are in that kind of position they ought to be responsible and be very careful about the use of language. Those who have rendered themselves out of political mainstream can afford to be superfluous or irresponsible with their language. Those who can impact power, positively or negatively should not have the privilege of abuse of language that would threaten or undermine the people. It is not necessary.
Going forward, let us talk about this Coalition of Northern Youths. You will recall during the controversial RUGA Settlement issue that the crisis around it was fueled by this Coalition when they gave southerners living in the North ultimatum to leave the North. Now, they are out with Shege Ka Fasa which also is derogatory. Can we know the scope of their role and influence in northern Nigeria. What is your take on this Coalition?
First and foremost, some of the people who were behind the earlier threat; the threat was not to all southerners. The threat was to the Igbo. Let us be honest about it. The threat was to Igbo and not to all southerners. But that does not mean that it is right for you to threaten them. And as I said, I recall in one of the interviews with the media that those who spoke on behalf of the Igbo race started by threatening other people living in the Southeast and South-south and it was unnecessary. And the threat also that if they do not get additional one state and something out of the polity there was going to be hell and I recall statements that were being issued by Kanu and IPOB and MASSOB; so you have to look at the whole thing in context and not just use one word and capture that you want to use it for the purpose of interpretation. It doesn’t work that way. But let me be honest with you. All these things we are having point to one thing: lack of political leadership. Lack of also, binding elite consensus. Now, I am not saying this for the first time. I started saying this as far back as August 1985 when Babangida’s group overthrew Buhari and his group. And I still believe that we are going to go round like yoyo, round and round, since our elite are not prepared to look at the truth and pronounce it as the truth and do the needful. As far as I am concerned Shege Ka Fasa is one of the manifestations of elite’s irresponsibilities along the lines of Amotekun, OPC, these idiots who call themselves RUGA Fulani or Miyetti Allah and so on and so forth. I call on those of you in the media and those of us who have no party and who have been privileged to go to school and who have the potentials to learn from experience to please come and let there be an elite consensus. Unfortunately, the current leadership of the APC and its government are in no position at the moment to provide that leadership. That leadership can only be provided outside the government, but within among those who have faith and who believe it can still be salvaged not only for Nigeria, but for Africa and the black race.
Along that line, let us take a look at the idea of regional security networks that have emerged. In the Southwest, we have Amotekun. The governors of the Southeast have come together with their leaders and would soon announce their regional security initiative. Other regions are also planning even though they are yet to come out with their plans. Would you have supported the idea in the North if the idea had come from the governors of the northern states and not the Coalition of Northern Youths? On the other hand, do you think this idea of regional security is necessary or unacceptable?
It is not acceptable to me. One, it is a fallacy to say that we have always had regional police. No, we have never had. We had had in the North here what they call Native Authority Police. They call them Yan Doka in Hausa. But they have always existed side by side with the Nigeria Police which had always been the responsibility, first under the leadership of the colonial government and later the Federal Government of Nigeria after independence in October, 1960. So saying that we need regional police because the Federal Government and its agencies have been overwhelmed by the security challenges is share nonsense and they are lying through their teeth trying to mystify history which did not exist. Secondly, the idea of having a central policing system did not come from the North. It came from the South, particularly from the Southwest. Now, when that was done there was quiet and, of course, there was need for it during the civil war. And then after the civil war I can’t remember anyone of them making noise over regional police. Now, they have suddenly realized in their crazy idea that they can now blackmail particularly the North or they can impact on some parts of the country to submit to them whatever stupid initiative they came with simply because they believe they can make the country ungovernable for whoever is the political leader of the country. Now, if they have not convinced themselves that that is impossible and that the sufficient blackmail does not advance sufficient insecurity, does not advance economic development and does not in any way advance their parochial security if they think they stand to gain by it. But then they need time to learn and we will keep learning because Nigeria’s nation building process has always been a process of continued planning. Some people learn and they learn for good. Some people think that they can always play with the intelligence of other people; that they can organize OPC and then, of course, they can attempt to subvert a federal organization like the Federal Road Safety Corps which was created under this fellow called Wole Soyinka and then promise they were going to supply themselves with guns while at the same time ensuring that most of the key officers in the Federal Road Safety Corps in the initial stages were actually Wole Soyinka’s boys he brought from the Department of Drama in the University of Ife. This is how they play their own game. And unfortunately, anytime we have a serious problem of this nature people tend to withdraw to their cocoon and say I will defend my own section, my zone, my political tendency, right or wrong. There must be a corps of people who will stand for this country as a country and not because they stand to gain anything politically. That is my attitude and that has always been my attitude and that is why I feel proud to be a participant in the last 40-something years in Nigerian politics.
Nigeria’s security situation today is such that it looks like the police are hamstrung in terms of the ratio of policemen to the population. If you agree with that what would you prescribe as an ideal security scenario because the idea behind these regional security networks, according to those setting them up is to assist the police and not to render them inactive?
Excuse me my friend. When ideally I talk about politics I deal with the reality of power. Telling me we are under policed, yes we are under policed and, of course, the case by the United Nation system, by Interpol and others of the minimum number of police in need per capital per number of population is just as you need certain number of doctors, for example, per population. I agree in Nigeria we are under policed; but is the solution to allow every tom, Dick and Harry to create it’s political militia which will be used to intimidate other people especially those who are not from the ethnic group who are living in the same domain who are not from the same area? If that were to be allowed to continue are you telling me that all the northerners who live in Lagos and the Southwest cannot be evacuated in a jiffy? How many of those who are living in the greater North can be evacuated in such a period? Secondly, if you are interested in this matter, any time…we have been told by political science and history that any time you see a proliferation of security agencies and security personnel that is an indication that the society is sick. It is a very unhealthy society. And they use this in assessing security in the United States, in South Africa and very many other countries. But where you have nations where the police and the Army are effectively in charge and they control the guns and means of violence you find out that there is greater stability and greater security. Now, it is our choice, a deliberate political choice whether we want to proliferate these security agencies and, of course, arm them with guns and what have you or you want to confront the problems of the Nigeria police and not politicise or ethnicise it. We are having a problem if you are sincere and you look at the problem of the Police and I agree with you that the Nigeria Police are nothing but a national disgrace. They are underfunded and nowadays especially under this regime they have been appointing people not on merit but those who can buy their way. So, if this is the situation you want to perpetuate or even if you now imagine that this problem can be solved by creating Amotekun or Shege Ka Fasa or whatever they will call them from the Southeast, goodluck to you. But at the end of the day as long as Nigeria remains one, we will have to come back and confront, eyeball to eyeball, the problems of the Nigeria Police if we want to have meaningful police.
What do you think about the Hisbah Corps? I am asking this question because when the Western Nigeria Security Network was launched and there were criticisms from northern elite, proponents of the security network referred to Hisbah that operates in Kano as being in the same mould with Amotekun. Some people even claimed Hisbah has taken over the role of the police. In fact, it was even alleged that Hisbah operatives arrested a conventional policeman. You live in Kano. What’s your thought on the Hisbah Corps?
You mean Hisbah operatives arrested a policeman in Kano?
That was the allegation.
Excuse me. You first said in Kano and you said I am in Kano and that Hisbah is a Kano phenomenon. First and foremost, Hisbah is not a uniquely Kano phenomenon. It did not start here. It started in rural, backward state called Zamfara. Number two, even in Zamfara with all their madness and irresponsible thugs they have as governors nobody has allowed Hisbah to carry even a stick. So, when I heard Femi Falana saying from point of argument, why did nobody complain? That is nonsense. If I complained about something and you do not want to popularize or say what I said and at the end of the day you now come back to oppose me it shows that you have a more sinister purpose than just presenting a counter argument to what I have. I have never for the records if you have been following my pronouncements supported Hisbah if you have been following my arguments. And Hisbah did not start under this government. It started under one fellow called Shekarau who in fact, his indigene is still a mystery, but he became a governor in Kano State and he thought the only way he could appeal to the people was to create a so-called vice police because they imported this from backward Saudi Arabia which is not a democracy, but a totalitarian state. Even in Islam they are sufficiently controversial and are not accepted because the Izala Movement and the Uhabis are not accepted in Islam, but then they are the ones now in power in Saudi Arabia. So, you have to think about that in your own argumentation. But let me tell you the Hisbah in Kano have no powers of arrest and I challenge Falana, including those of you in the editorial rooms of all the newspapers in Lagos to tell me one instance when a Hisbah person arrested one policeman in Kano, even in Zamfara which as I told you is a backward, rural state. Again, I have taken the trouble and this is why it is so painful to me; myself and Bala Usman had gone to see Obasanjo twice and he is there to deny it. We said look, this thing is political and is done by very lousy politicians who represent nobody. In fact, Bala used to call them the Shari’ah crowd. We told him not to get himself involved in the debate and that he should allow the Muslims to sort it out among themselves because the moment you come in it would become a different thing entirely. They will now say oh, because Obasanjo is a Christian he doesn’t want us to practice our religion. But there is no provision for Hisbah in Islam and I challenge anybody to show me where Hisbah has been ordained in the Quran. Nothing; but when people are prepared to support lies and invent fake news and history then there is nothing you can do about it because if people have no shame… we have a saying by Prophet Mohammed that if you have no shame, do what you want and say what you want to say. That is exactly the situation with Falana.
Let’s talk about the Northern Elders Forum. I know you are a member of the forum?
Who told you?
Are you not?
I said who told you? You should let me tell you whether I am a member or not.
Okay, are you a member of the forum?
I have attended some of their meetings, but go and get their membership list and ask whether I belong there or not. What you do not understand is that in the North because of the tradition of being under one government we do have a way of attending meetings and then take decisions on behalf of the North. But if you say I am a member of the Northern Elders Forum I don’t think you are truthful. You are not. It is up to me to announce whether I belong there or not. And even if I belong to the Northern Elders Forum if they do something which I consider outrageous I will dissociate myself.
That is why I want your thoughts on the recent statement issued by the forum. The forum says the Buhari government has failed and that there is the need to change the Service Chiefs, among other issues they raised. What do you think?
First and foremost, long before last week; in fact, for the past two years I have been demanding that the rules that are operated which are enshrined in the Army, Navy, Police and Airforce Acts should be respected and that after a certain number of period when the officers have outlived their usefulness they should be asked to politely go. Clearly, the challenges of the maintenance of troops in Nigeria are beyond the current crop of Service Chiefs or the Inspector General of Police. Let us have new people with new ideas. I also hinted that it is a tragedy that some of the best Army Generals in the services have been frustrated out of the office at the time when they were most productive and when they can be of service to the country. And I said nobody, no military officer should be indispensible. When the time comes for them to leave they should leave. But now we are hearing that they are coming with some abracadabra that you don’t change Generals or top military commanders in the heat of battle. That is a bloody lie. That is not so. I can mention many theatres of war, from global war like the first and second world wars, in Asia, Vietnam in 1954, in Iraq and what have you. Generals can be changed because of the fortunes of war. So, I don’t believe they are unique; after all our own Armed Forces are patterned along the lines of the British and American Armed Forces and most of the time we use their weapons, communication and others here to execute this war….Few days ago the Army stopped people and made those people who were asked not to move into Maiduguri town to sit back. Boko Haram came and killed many of them and burnt lorries, cars and houses. Now there has been no explanation as to why this happened. You can be charitable by saying the Airforce has done remarkably well under the circumstances, but the Army that is supposed to bear the brunt of the struggle against Boko Haram in the Northeast has not performed well. Secondly, the corruption and nepotism in the Armed Forces is such that you can never run an effective Army against such serious international insurgency which is serviced from outside and within by having that kind of rickety command structure and rickety decision change. So, as far as I am concerned if you know something is wrong do something. The definition of madness, we have been told is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. Clearly, our soldiers have not been at par in terms of the war in the Northeast and I do not believe that some of these people who are holding command positions whether they are Generals or Service Chiefs are all the best that this country can afford. No. Nigerian Armed Forces have distinguished themselves not only in Nigeria, but in West Africa, East Africa and other countries. During the world war our soldiers did remarkably well in Burma and Southeast Asia. So, we insist that the president does the right thing because he is not above the law. It is important for us to realize that in a democracy one of the cardinal principles of a democratic government is that the Army is seen to be effectively under civilian political control. Now, we have a situation whereby the two arms of the National Assembly have passed two powerful concurrent legislations to the president to please let go the Service Chiefs and appoint new ones. They are not insisting they want to appoint Service Chiefs for him, but that these ones have failed, visibly failed and that they should be replaced. And that is the normal thing in any normal military service. If a man…he may be doing his best, but if he has not been able to be on top of the problem then please let the man go. Already we have two sets of Generals due to take over, but who have been out of the service. And for the purpose of anybody with some crazy ideas, neither Shege Ka Fasa, nor Amotekun, nor even the miscreants in the Niger Delta, none of that architecture can solve the basic problems of insecurity in the country. It will only compound it because I can’t see how Amotekun will resist the temptation to get involved in rigging elections in the Southwest which is part of their culture. And you heard in the recruitment of the people who will potentially form the corps of Amotekun they are insisting that you have to bring your birth certificate from the Church which means people like me are declared bastards who have nowhere to go because I don’t have my birth certificate from the Church.
No, it is not true. That is just mere rumour which has been debunked
Have they denied it?
Yes, they have
Where did you see it denied?
They have not asked for birth certificate from the Church.
Excuse me you don’t answer a question with another question. I heard the rumour. If they didn’t say so please let them come out and be categorical about it. I am not denying that you have your own political sympathy but let the fact be said.