It shocks and saddens our heart over lies of unpardonable proportion emanating from the official quarters since the controversies over the relocation of Bko Haram terror detainees to Ezinifite-Aguata Minimum Prison rented the air. In fourteen days or two weeks, from 27th June when the deadly “Awaiting Trial Detainees” of Terror Insurgency, to 10th July 2015; five official lies of shocking proportion have been identified.
These official lies that have the capacity of international enlistment in the Guinness Book of Positive and Negative Historical Records are the following: 1. The All Progressives Congress (APC), Southeast Zone’s public statement, debunking the news of relocation of the terror detainees to Anambra State. It was dated 27th June 2015.
2. The Nigerian Prisons Service’s Public Relations Statement, dated same 27th June 2015; denying the relocation with expert-reasons as to why it is untenable to “relocate terror detainees dominated by those in awaiting trial” to Anambra State per Ezinifite-Aguata Minimum Prison.
3. The Political Adviser to the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Chinedu Obidigwe, who granted a media interview, saying that it was the former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Governor Peter Obi that sealed the relocation of Boko Haram terror detainees to Anambra State as far back as 2012, but put it on hold due to the 2015 general polls and the former President’s second term bid. The former President was just one year into his elective presidential seat in 2012. Also by 2012, the number of those arrested in connection with the terror insurgency in Nigeria was very minimal. The terror activities and counter terror activities got surged in 2014 and early 2015. The ten expert-questions put across to Mr. Obidigwe by Intersociety over his lies have remained unanswered till date.
4. Another official falsehood to the effect that “the Prison under reference is situated at Ekwulobia”, whereas the truth remains that not even a meter of the Prison land belongs to Ekwulobia. Instead, the whole land hosting the Prison is in Ezinifite, Ekwulobia’s neighboring Community. At the archive of the Traditional Ruler of Ezinifite lies an original document with which the land was ceded to the Federal Government for the Prison project during the Shagari-Ekwueme civilian regime (1979-1983). The said papers also tallied with that kept with the Prison authorities at Awka, Anambra State.
Yet part of the official lies was found in the survey, where the Federal Government contractor that built the Prison (late A.I. Ezeh); an indigene of Ekwulobia, manipulated the survey and placed Ezinifite Community as “a sub village in Eziagulu Village in Ekwulobia Community”. The contractor also parted with some plots of the original land in its frontage and encroached on Ezinifite Community land belonging to Umuagu Village, which was not part of the ceded portion. When the staff quarters were built some four years ago, they drafted about ten soldiers led by a Colonel and later, by a Captain and used them to subdue Ezinifite Community over the encroached parcels of land. The Ezinifite Community was not only subdued and relegated, but also denied associated government amenities including access road, water and health facilities.
5. On 9th July 2015, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. Dave Umahi told journalists during his inspection of work on some public projects that “The traders have the right to protest but there was no need for the protest because we (South-East governors) had enjoined the Federal Government not to relocate any Boko Haram prisoner to any prison in the South-East. Those suspects brought to Anambra State have been sent back to Abuja." Contrary to Governor Umahi’s statement, the 47 Boko Haram terror detainees at Ezinifite Minimum Prison have not been evacuated as at the night of 10th July 2015. Yet the media has been awash with the said statement till date. His reported denial of the statement under reference is watery and rejected by our leadership. Circumstantial attestation following the said statement has further messed him up and rubbished his gubernatorial seat the more. What did he tell traders in his State that discouraged them from protesting if not the statement as reported by the media in an open function?
It is very shocking, alarming and deafening that those holding hallowed public offices in trust for the people of Nigeria particularly those with hallowed title of “their excellencies” have turned themselves into “liars of Guinness Book of World Records standard”. Lying by public office holders in Nigeria has also been entrenched with an immunity called “political statement”. The quality of people elected or appointed into the country’s elective or appointive offices is nothing to write home about. As if the likes of Plato and Aristotle envisioned today’s political setting in Nigeria, they insisted that “politics is meant for the noble class”, which transcends “education and wealth” and bursts into “morality and nobility”.
Today, charlatans and clowns; who are educated or wealthy, lacking in morality and noblity, are in charge of Nigeria’s public affairs. Campus Cult Capons are nowadays made political advisers, legislators or even governors. In the case of the Governor of Ebonyi State, for instance, he has no locus standi as it concerns the presence or absence of the 47 Boko Haram detainees in Anambra State. He is the Chief Security Officer of Ebonyi State and not Anambra State. If he did not want to join forces with other stakeholders in the Southeast in the campaigns against escalation of Boko Haram insurgency in the country particularly in the Southeast, it would have been better for him to shut his mouth than to rubbish his gubernatorial position with lies of indelible record. He should have found an excusable excuse to give as why he stopped traders in his State to join their colleagues in the ongoing peaceful protests.
There must be an end to “psychology of public” or so called “political statement” in Nigeria’s political offices. The consequences of institutionalization of official lies or falsehoods are far reaching and one of them is that Nigerians will no longer attach any substance to official statements and explanations. Also public officeholders in Nigeria will continue to be disrespected and regarded as “elected or appointed touts and clowns”, until the country’s political space is liberated and purged of “celebrated empty quantities” holding its hallowed elective and appointive public offices in error or by default.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor-Nwonu, Esq.
Head, Campaign & Publicity Department