Nigeria: Democratic Country Where Security Agencies Replace Audacity With A Whip, Death and Unending Detention

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  • Nigeria Military, EFCC, Nigeria police have not been held accountable for various crimes against citizens.

A Nigerian blogger Ekene Ibeneme known as Ekene Lionel has deleted an article credited to the Nigerian Army’s new Chief of Staff General Ibrahim Attahiru after the Military allegedly claimed he was unfair.

The blogger had claimed the army boss warned Norinco, China’s leading defence equipment manufacturer, following the alleged delivery of substandard armoured combat vehicles.

Ekene Lionel also wrote that General Attahiru threatened the company with sanctions and exclusion from future bidding, a report the Nigerian Military denied in a statement on Saturday.

Criticizing the Military is almost a death sentence in Nigeria where high profile politicians use the agency to muscle anyone who criticizes them for failing to perform or question the whereabouts of the funds meant for life-changing abandoned projects.

Ekene’s decision to delete his article is out of fear of what the Nigerian military might do to him if the plan is not already initiated.

Security agencies and political elites in Nigeria are very sensitive to criticism. The agencies are at their beck and call of the politicians against perceived enemies and activists who summon the guts to call them out on bullcrap.

Specifically, Chapter II section 22 of the 1999 constitution, states: “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.”

Also, chapter II section 39 subsection (1) of the constitution further states: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference,” Subsection (2) states that: “Without prejudice to the generality of subsection I of this section, every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions.”

In 2016, a blogger named Abubakar Sadiq Usman was arrested from his home in the Abuja suburb of Kubwa by the anti-corruption agency for “offences bordering on cyber-stalking”.

His only offence was the article he published against the EFCC acting chairman Ibrahim Magu for allegedly bullying his staff.

Even though the EFCC was formed to investigate financial crimes, it didn’t stop the commission from overstepping its jurisdiction by detaining Sadiq.

He ended up spending over three years in detention for daring to report against the EFCC Boss.

The Nigeria security agencies capitalized on the Cyber Crime Act which came into force in 2015 to silence bloggers and journalists who criticize shady security organizations, influential politicians including the President, Muhammadu Buhari.

Other bloggers arrested for contravening the Cyberstalking act include Seun Oloketuyi and Emmanuel Ojo. Oloketuyi was arrested for his alleged false report on bank managers, while Ojo was detained for alleging that the wife of the Ogun state governor, Mrs Olufunso Amosun was in possession of US$300,000 when she travelled to London in 2015.

Other bloggers that have been arrested and detained include; Chris Kehinde Nwandu of CKN News; Jamil Mabai, a blogger based in the Northwestern state of Katsina, and publisher of Cliqq Magazine; Emenike Iroegbu of Abia Facts newspaper was arrested and detained on the orders of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; and Mr Iroegbu Emenike in the southern state of Akwa Ibom. – The whistler

In 2015, Amnesty International called for a full investigation into war crimes including the murder, starvation, suffocation and torturing to death of 8,000 people.

AI claimed the Nigerian military killed 640 detainees who had fled Giwa barracks after Boko Haram attacked on 14 March 2014.

It’s obvious that killing comes easily for Nigeria soldiers who have never been held accountable for numerous accusations bordering on the above.

In Nigeria, the military has the power to invade your home, arrest you and your family and would not be seen by your lawyer, friends and loved ones for as long as they choose.

In January 2020, the Nigerian military arrested a Daily Trust reporter in Maiduguri, Borno State over his expose on the Boko Haram war.

In a commando-style attack, the soldiers stormed the NUJ office at New GRA, handcuffed Olatunji Omirin and forced him into a Hilux van and drove away, no questions asked.

Omirin found himself at the mercy of the deputy director of military intelligence, waiting at Maimalari Barracks of Division 7.

The journalist said the officer that ordered his arrest told him “the military was not happy with some of his reports”, and that the officer “demanded to know his sources”.

“The officer was furious with his boys for bringing me without my phone,” said Mr Omirin.

In October 2020, a protest broke out in the country against Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a branch of the Nigeria police over incessant killings, unjustified arrests, exploitation and intimidations.

For several days, aggrieved Nigerians camped at the Lagos Lekki tollgate, calling for the disbanding of the SARS outfit.

On October 20, the Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu declared a curfew containing the violence that had broken out in some parts of the state.

A few hours later, the broad day killers arrived with their tanks shooting live ammunition directly at the protesters, killing at least 12 people.

The State governor told Arise TV on October 22 that he didn’t have the power to order the military presence and the army told the panel set up to investigate the incident on 14 November that they were at the toll gate on the invitation of Mr Sanwo-Olu.

Brig-Gen Ahmed Taiwo said Sanwo-Olu invited them to intervene claiming the police had been overrun.

To date, those who gave accounts to investigators and even investigative journalists are either on the run or missing.

The Nigerian army, according to a recent investigation by Fisayo Soyombo threatened them not to spill the beans or face death like their EndSars friends.

Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje sacked his media adviser, Salihu Tanko-Yakasai on February 27, 2021, a day after criticizing President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress.

Governor Ganduje said Mr Tanko-Yakassai was relieved of his appointment for “unguarded comment and utterances.”

At the time his boss released a statement of his sack, Salihu Tanko was cooling his chest at the State Security Service (SSS) detention.

Mr Tanko’s only crime was for criticizing Mr Buhari to check Nigeria’s worsening insecurity or resign.

Shamelessly, SSS spokesperson, Peter Afunnaya said in a statement that Mr Tanko was in their custody, facing investigation.

“This is to confirm that Salihu Tanko-Yakasai is with the Department of State Services. He is beinginvestigatedover issues beyond the expression of opinions in the social media as wrongly alleged by sections of the public,” the statement read.

Before his comment, Mr Tanko was doing just fine, he hadn’t offended anyone or triggered any situation that would warrant him to be investigated until he scratched the back of the leopard, the “ruling party” and Mr Buhari.

Ekene knows the wall he had climbed, no wonder he quickly pulled the blog down to save himself and his family the pain and possible death at the hands of the military.

In a statement on Saturday signed by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima
described Ekene’s report as a figment of imagination’ adding that the army boss did not make or had any interview on Norinco.

“The story is therefore false, misleading and a deliberate fabrication ostensibly published to serve a yet to be determined motive.

“Whatever the motive is, we consider this publication as not only unprofessional but very unfair to the Chief of Army Staff.

“We, therefore, demand from the publishers of African military blog, immediate retraction of the concocted story as it runs against the grain of professional journalism to willfully and wrongfully attribute a story to an unsuspecting party.”

The military’s statement may just be the beginning to intimidate the Umuahia based blogger. The deletion of the article explains the intimidation Nigeria media endures in a military country masquerading as democratic where free speech and honesty is replaced with a whip.

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