Since President Muhammadu Buhari surreptitiously shot his way back to Nigerian politics, Nigerians knew no peace. Dictatorship is synonymous with military regimes. But this is not always the case. Some democracies, like Nigeria’s democracy under Buhari, are worse than military dictatorships.
Dictatorship in a democracy is when a president or head of a government wields absolute control over all aspects of public and private actions. Through propaganda and by enacting laws, a president or head of government protects his position and flagrantly disobeys court rulings. The absence of balanced government, political and social stability, significant human rights violations, and huge numbers of deaths under a democratically elected president makes him a dictator. Sounds familiar? Hold your breath!
It can be argued that many dictators fall short of Hitler-or Stalin-like levels of cruelty. Nonetheless, history is rife with oppressors, war criminals, sadists, sociopaths, and morally complacent individuals who ended up as unelected dictators to the tragic detriment of the people and societies they ruled.
Buhari as former military head of state was widely despised for his obnoxious Decree 4. Decree 4 is draconian legislation that allowed the government to imprison any journalist who embarrassed the country’s military leaders. This was a nebulous charge that was frequently invoked to muzzle the press and civil society during the 18-month dictatorship of gap-tooth Buhari. Buhari as a military and civilian dictator showed no tolerance for dissenting voices.
Buhari has a career of gross abuses of power and blatant disrespect for rule of law. He clamped down on the press with his infamous Decree 4. He closed newspapers, arrested and jailed many journalists, such as Ndukar Irabor and Tunde Thompson of the Guardian newspapers over stories that were factual. Buhari told Nigerian journalist then that it did not matter whether the story reported was true or not, if his regime didn’t like it, the writer would go to jail.
Tai Solarin, Nigeria’s moral powerhouse, social crusader, humanist extraordinaire was the only one left to speak for the voiceless. As he stood at Dugbe Market junction in Ibadan, distributing leaflets detailing the various atrocities of dictator Buhari, he was arrested and jailed. Three youths – Lawal Ojuolape (30), Bernard Ogedengbe (29), and Bartholomew Owoh (26), were arrested on the orders of Buhari under the retroactive Decree 20.
Buhari was a nepotist; when he dislodged President Shehu Shagari from power, he kept him in an executive mansion while his Igbo Vice-President Alex Ekwueme was locked up in Kirikiri maximum prison. Buhari ordered the arrest of septuagenarian Chief Adekunle Ajasin. Chief Ajasin was arranged and tried before Buhari’s kangaroo tribunal. Chief Ajasin was discharged and acquitted. He re-arrested and re-tried Ajasin.
Again, the tribunal acquitted him of all charges of corruption. Buhari refused to release Ajasin. Instead, he was detained indefinitely. Professor Ambrose Alli was tried for undeveloped land and was jailed 75 years with heavy torture that led to his blindness and death. Jim Nwobodo and Lateef Jakande were jailed 100 years each for stealing nothing.
Buhari equates disagreement with his official position on issues as being synonymous with crime. He’s not educated, enlightened, or informed enough to draw a line between the divergence of opinions and criticisms.
Buhari’s primitive desire to restrict or abbreviate free speech that expresses ideas critical of his regime as offensive and criminal strikes at the heart of freedom of speech. After Buhari’s overthrow 20 months later, almost all the sentences were quashed by the courts or nullified by his successors.
Once a dictator, always a dictator. It is instructive that I exhume Buhari’s part as a dictator. It is against this background the indefinite detention of El-Zackzacky by Buhari can be understood. Under representative government, Buhari continues as an unrepentant despot. Buhari as a dictator in a democracy shows disobedience and disrespect for the rule of law. It is evident that as a democratically elected president, Buhari flouts court orders at will.
In 2016, a Nigerian court had ordered Buhari’s government to set the Shiite leader Ibrahim El-Zackzacky and his wife Zeenat free. Till now, Buhari has foolishly and stubbornly refused to release the Shiite leader maintaining that setting El-Zackzacky free would be too dangerous for the Nigerian state. Who is more dangerous El-Zackzacky or Buhari’s kinsmen herdsmen terrorists? El-Zackzacky and his wife have been detained since December 2015 following an altercation between members of the Nigerian Army and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.
Former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki was charged with mismanaging public funds. Dasuki has been granted bail at least on six different occasions by various courts. But Buhari has persistently refused to comply with the court orders. It took a Napoleon to secure the release of activist Deji Adeyanju long after he was freed by the court.
Buhari disobeyed court judgment ordering the federal government to provide free and quality education to all Nigerian children without discrimination. He disobeyed the order of Justice Mohammed Idris to widely publish details on how much was recovered from stolen funds, names of thieves, and how recovered funds were spent.
Nigerians should all unite in fighting Buhari’s sadistic actions, selective justice, wickedness, insensitivity, nepotism, and total disregard for the rule of law. Let’s call off the bluff of Buhari the barbaric, brutal, and deadliest Nigeria new dictator that we’re in a democracy, not a military junta. We should demand the immediate release of
El-Zakzaky and Sambo – TODAY!