How to get away with murder, the Nigerian template
There are several ways to get away with murder in Nigeria, metaphorically and physically.
You could, for example, be president, and choose to repeat the exact same recession-precipitating steps you took after you won your first election. This time, you can attribute the delay to not having known any of the people you previously appointed ministers and promising to appoint only those you know this time around.
That sort of self-indictment carries no consequences. You can admit, if indeed it is true, that you appointed people that you could not truly say you believed in to deliver on the enormous challenges the promises in your manifesto promised.
Announcing that the seats have been reserved for people you know again raises questions about their competencies. Oh, and if you are someone whose neck has been weighed down by the giant medallion of nepotism accusations, you would ordinarily be wary of statements that could give weight to the accusations. But you are president – you can get away with anything. People are always photographed laughing at your jokes because you are so funny. Funny people get away with a lot of things.
You could also be a legislator, preferably in one of the Federal Houses. You can lead thugs into the legislative chambers, disrupt proceedings, forcefully remove the mace and in spite of the inverted symbolism of your actions, end up as one of the House’s principal officers. No one even cares about a censure for forgery in your past professional life in a different country. You could also have been punished for ethical violations in a previous life but it does not matter when you are a Federal Legislature. A less than pristine history might very well be the condition precedent for high office there, as long as you are careful to ensure that there is no CCTV footage of your malfeasances.
If you are caught on CCTV, just by way of example, hitting someone merely because they had the audacity to ask you to take it easy, being a federal legislator might not necessarily save you. Then again, it could, as we will all surely soon find out.
You can also get away with murder if you are a man in a fiduciary position to a child or a woman. You might be responsible for their academic or spiritual instruction but do not worry, society will blame the woman or child if you abuse your fiduciary position, even by bodily violence. How dare their mere existence cause you to lose all decency and inhibition? You can even be a federal legislator and marry a child and you will be fine.
You can be the former governor who built the incomplete railway that went nowhere at any rate, yet boldly accuse others of having become billionaires off-road projects that they did not complete.
Of course, bandits (or armed herdsmen) also frequently get away with murder. There are highway bandits and farmland bandits. The latter invade villages, destroy farms, kill and banish dwellers in equal measure and it is done at scale. If you are a farming bandit, your allies are likely to suggest that you have been pressured into it by declining grazing areas and water for your livestock and the state will leave you be.
If you are a highway bandit, thankfully the state does not intentionally help you get away with murder. Getting away is more likely due to your firepower and how it has fomented the current state of insecurity in the country.
The police are stretched, with the rank and file thoroughly disillusioned and the army even more so. The Vice-President has been quoted as saying the same over-stretched army will now be deployed to patrol the highways but history tells us that simply means we may be exchanging the murder of VIPs for the murder of drivers who refuse to part with the homage demanded by uniformed highway patrollers.
In the TV series ‘How to Get Away with Murder’, getting away with the crime is extremely difficult. Evidence has to be compromised, witnesses have to be dealt with, testimony has to be contrived totally and the course of justice, in general, has to be perverted. How to get away with murder in Nigeria? Just be a bandit or be a high-ranking politician.
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