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Rat trap in the house, farmyard at risk

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JUSTICE-PIXHISTORY has thus far taught us that it is not enough to have good intentions alone to govern a nation as diverse as Nigeria.

Even the worst enemies of former President, Goodluck Jonathan, have tacitly admitted that the erstwhile President had good intentions for the nation but perhaps was surrounded by wolves and scoundrels. The on-going Dasukigate drama is a case in point which, beyond the main theme of exposing financial recklessness at the expense of innocent souls languishing in the North-East, also uncovered a gory tale of wanton betrayal of an unsuspecting principal.

While the APC was busy spending billions to actualise their dream, the PDP and their trusted allies were busying themselves with siphoning public funds for personal gains other than campaigning for their principal. Now we know why APC was almost everywhere during the campaigns while PDP was busy looking for loopholes to disqualify their candidate’s competitor. I’m sure Jonathan himself will be shocked at the revelations, and particularly shocking will be the one about an accused who allegedly received N170 million (apparently for some hatchet jobs) was able to instantly refund N100 million with a promise to produce the balance when granted administrative bail.

Don’t get me wrong, this piece is in no way supporting the heinous act of diverting funds meant for arms procurement for campaigns while the soldiers were dying in their numbers. This point has already been over-flogged and so it is deliberate that the other side of the story is being examined.
Still on Dasukigate, two wrongs can never make a right. We are heading towards another crossroads where impunity and disrespect for the rule of law is once again taking the centre stage. No doubt, this is another case of having very good intentions for our dear country.

Listening to President Muhammadu Buhari during his maiden media chat, it’s crystal clear that no matter what the courts say, Mr. President is not ready to let Sambo Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu go. He was quite unequivocal about this, thereby presenting himself as the accuser, the investigator and the judge. And the APC, now in power sees nothing wrong with that. Only recently, Olisa Metuh, the spokesperson of the PDP was arrested on allegation of obtaining from the arms money. For weeks, he was held under the EFCC custody even when the family and PDP cried out calling for his immediate release or immediate prosecution in the law court.

Members of the APC saw all of this and kept mute and on some occasions, applauded the EFCC cum Presidency for that ‘gallantry.’ Thank God the EFCC later succumbed to the pressure from some concerned citizens to charge him to court. However, we must understand that what goes around usually comes around, don’t forget.

Let’s ponder a little on this popular quote by the famous German Pastor, Martin Niemoeller whilst lamenting the inaction of the activists toward the plight of the Jews under Adolf Hitler’s Nazist regime. “First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.”

The rank of political detainees in the country is swelling by the day. The voice of the opposition is fast drowning in silence and this is not good for our democracy. Opposition Party faithful are jumping ship to the ruling party seen as the haven to escape persecution, even with soiled hands. Soon there will be no one on the other side and naturally, the war on corruption must continue as long as Buhari remains the president.

This time as the holy book says, the judgement of God will have to ‘(re)start’ from the house of God (the APC). Unlawful detentions being meted out on the opposition today will apparently not abate since it will have become the norm for a party which prides itself with the mantra of being the beacon of change and adherence to the rule of law.

As the President rightly pointed out during his media chat, the principle of rule of law presupposes that an accused is adjudged innocent until proven guilty and not otherwise. Unfortunately, this is not the case with a good number of corruption cases initiated by the incumbent administration.

Yes, millions of Nigerians are strongly in support of the anti-corruption war of President Buhari’s administration including yours sincerely. However, let the rule of law be followed to the letter. Nigerians from all divides, irrespective of ethno-political bias must insist on this. Those who looted our collective patrimony must not go unpunished, but the law must take its course. The judiciary must rise to this occasion by ensuring speedy and forthright dispensation of justice to avoid giving room for impunity. Injustice to one must be seen as injustice to all.

Talking about injustice to one being injustice to all, this also very popular story by an unknown author about ‘the rat trap in the farmhouse will help drive home the point advanced in this treatise. A rat looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. What food might it contain? He was aghast to discover that it was a rat trap. Retreating to the farmyard the rat proclaimed the warning “There is a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Excuse me, Mr. Rat, I can tell this is of grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.” The rat turned to the pig and told him, “There is a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!” “I am so very sorry Mr. Rat,” sympathised the pig, “but there is nothing I can do about it. Be assured that I will be thinking about your problem.

Yea Right!” The rat turned to the cow. She said, “like wow, Mr. Rat. A rat trap? Now I’m scared. Duh?” So the rat returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s rat trap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a rat trap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught.

In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital. A few days later she returned home with a fever. Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.

His wife’s sickness continued. Friends and neighbours came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer’s wife did not get well. She died, and so many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.

The story above is typical of Nigerians. We tend to stand aloof when we see ‘others’ going through challenges of injustice. Talk about the Chibok girls, the insurgency in the North East, the Military-Shiites face-off, the Biafra agitation, politically motivated persecutions, the demolition of the shops of traders in various market places, environmental pollution in the Niger Delta, fire outbreaks in homes, markets and offices of ‘other’ people, Lassa fever epidemic etc.

We must learn to bear one another’s burden so as to halt the vicious circle of impunity and injustice in Nigeria. The next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when there is a rat trap in the house, the whole farmyard is at risk. Who knows who might be the next?
Ohiri, a Public Affairs analyst and Commentator, lives in Abule Oshun, Lagos (chuksohiri@gmail.com)



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