Uyi Giwa-Osagie: The desperate attempt of a dictator in power
The harassment of Uyi Giwa-Osagie by EFCC, few days to an election that will see his client, Atiku, face Buhari at the poll, peaked the incorrigible stance on democratic tenets.
For so many years, Nigerians were unreceptive to the idea of Muhammadu Buhari, a former dictator, steering the country under a democratic dispensation. Buhari toppled a democratically elected government of Shehu Shagari to foist military rule on the country. That experience cast doubts on his tendency to respect the rule of law. Perhaps, these doubts could have been responsible for his unsuccessful bid for the highest office of the country through the ballot.
But that scenario changed in 2015. The All Progressive Congress (APC), who had Buhari on their ticket, acknowledged the fears of Nigerians and assured them that he (Buhari) is now a ‘reformed democrat’. And that he will act within the stipulations of the land. The rest is now history. However, it didn’t take long before those assurances began to fall like a pack of cards and his dictatorial tendencies bared their fangs once again.
Uyi Giwa-Osagie is the latest to be harassed
It became even more obvious as the 2019 general elections drew nearer, with Buhari and his party, the APC, throwing all caution to wind just to cling onto power. The latest on the list of their brazen assault on the rule of law is Uyi Giwa-Osagie. He is the personal lawyer of the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. Uyi Giwa-Osagie was accosted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). And without fulfilling the legal procedure of a search warrant, the agents of the anti-graft agency ransacked his home and afterward, drove him off to their office.
Available information show nothing incriminating was found during the raid on Uyi Giwa-Osagie’s home. This has led to Nigerians asking questions why the ruling government continuously resort to illegality just to knock down political opponents. The obvious abuse of laid down rules, as well as unleashing state apparatus to intimidate the opposition, has reminded Nigerians of their fears on the adaptability of Buhari to the simple truth that democracy is guided by rule of law.
A while ago, Buhari passed his vote of no-confidence on the Constitution and other laws of the country he swore to uphold while taking the oath of office. This was when he declared at the APC Caucus meeting that:
“I’m going to warn anybody who thinks he has enough influence in his locality to lead a body of thugs to snatch ballot boxes or disturb the voting system, will do so at the expense of his own life.”
Shockingly, Buhari gave away any pretence on his dictatorial tendencies when he said:
“I really gave the military and police orders to be ruthless.”
The president can no longer hide his disdain for the rule of law.
While it is wrong for anyone to snatch ballot boxes or disturb the voting system, it is however disturbing for a president to encourage jungle justice on national television for an offense that the law has prescribed punishment for. Democracy is founded on the principle of the rule of law, and when Mr Buhari ignored that fact and adopted a military style approach in a democratic atmosphere, he is reinforcing suspicions of a deep switch to dictatorship.
Evident enough is the continued detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Mohammed Elzakzaky, and a former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki. This is despite several orders by competent courts of jurisdiction that the duo be freed. The consistent disregard for court orders has underscored this government’s disdain for due process and rule of law, hence, putting the fate of our nation’s democracy in a tenuous situation.
Regrettably, this is the unfortunate pattern that Nigerians have had to endure since 2015. Opposition voices and those who share contrary views to the ruling APC have been hounded with real or imaginary offences with the laws of the land shabbily observed in most cases.
The invasion of the National Assembly Complex by masked Department of State Security (DSS) personnel last year readily comes to mind also. Before that, the Police and EFCC had tried to stop the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu from presiding over the Senate on July 24, 2018. This was to cause a leadership change of that arm of government as APC leadership did not hide their disapproval of the two principal officers.
This is aside the ‘no debit’ order placed on accounts of the opposition controlled Akwa Ibom and Benue states by the EFCC; a development termed as a calculated plot to starve those governments of constitutionally entitled funds and ensured inability to carry out expected government responsibilities. Obviously, the resort to state apparatus to intimidate opposition is a crude tactics that has no basis in a democracy.
But the harassment of Uyi Giwa-Osagie by EFCC, few days to an election that will see his client, Atiku, face Buhari at the poll, peaked the incorrigible stance on democratic tenets. It is obvious that Atiku’s rising acceptance among the electorates is a major upset for Buhari and his party, APC. However, resorting to crude tactics to scare off support or douse the momentum the former Vice President currently enjoys, is nothing but the desperate attempt of a dictator in power.
In a democracy, the people are the real holders of power. They chose democracy because unlike military dictatorship, rule of law is a critical component that must be observed and power entrusted on constituted authorities are subject to checks and balances. So, the trend of instigating state institutions against oppositions is undemocratic as that will only erode citizens trust in them.
In Nigeria, the people should be the power, not those who believe that power and the rights of the people are meant to be abused, misused, and disrespected unlawfully. This is Nigeria and we need to make a stand for what is right, just, and true as our National Anthem reminds us.
Oke Umurhohwo is a Political Analyst and Strategist as well as a member of the PDP. He tweets from @stalyf