Below is the prison account of the recently released former aviation Minister, Femi Fan-Kayode
- HEAD BLOODIED BUT NOT BOWED (PART 1)
Permit me to begin this contribution with an apology for my disappearance from the literary and political scene for the last one month but this was due to circumstances beyond my control.
On October 21st, five days after my 56th birthday, I was arrested by the EFCC without an arrest warrant at the premises of the Federal High Court in Lagos where I had been earlier granted bail. Thereafter I was illegally detained by them without any detention order for 21 days.
Kindly note that this was after I had been detained by them for a gruelling 67 days 6 months ago (from 9th of May till July 15th), brought before the Federal High Court in Lagos, arraigned on spurios and politically-motivated charges and locked up in Ikoyi prison for a number of days whilst I attempted to perfect my court bail.
After perfecting bail, on 21st October I was re-arrested and the whole nightmare began again: only this time it was far more insidious and worse.
Throughout the time of the second detention I was kept in a dingy underground cell at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja where I met a number of other high profile opposition figures like Senator Bala Mohammed, the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, the former Minister of State for Defence and Mr. Reuben Abati, the former spokesman to President Goodluck Jonathan.
During the course of my 21 day incarceration my abductors did not ask me any questions or say one word to me other than to formally serve me with a new set of fresh criminal charges the morning after I got there which I simply signed for.
After that I heard nothing from them and I was told nothing though I had daily visits to the medical clinic at the EFCC due to my deteriorating health.
Three weeks later, on November 10th, I was brought before the Federal High Court in Abuja and arraigned on yet another set of spurrious, baseless and politically-motivated charges.
These ones were even more ridiculous and far-fetched than the first set in Lagos. I was falsely accused of receiving 26 million naira cash from the former National Security Advisor, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, for media work for the Jonathan administration in 2014.
Thankfully I was granted bail by the court and I was detained at Kuje prison for a further 4 days whilst I attempted to perfect my bail.
At Kuje I was kept in the terrorist wing of the prison which was built by the British government specifically for Boko Haram convicts and suspects.
There were 47 of them in the facility and I was with them throughout. These were tough, disciplined, hardened, surprisingly well-educated and intimidating men.
The single cells and the entire terrorist section of the prison was pervaded by an eerie silence throughout the night and low tone whispers throughout the day. The only thing that broke the monotony of silence was the regular and constant call to Muslim prayers and the loud and regular cries of “Allahu Akbar”.
This was a frightful place and those that were locked up there were very dangerous and frightful people yet thankfully the Lord went ahead of me.
The single cells, though small, were clean, self-contained, well-ventilated, dry and very neat. The inmates were surprisingly very kind and friendly towards me and turned out to be my best friends and bodyguards whenever I toured th other parts of the prison.
I was very impressed with them and when I heard their stories and what some of them had been subjected to by the security forces and the state tears came to my eyes.
Most of those men were not Boko Haram killers but had been falsely accused, tortured and just dumped into prison and I felt nothing but pain and sorrow when I heard their stories.
When I went to visit the great and brilliant freedom fighter, Nnamdi Kanu, who is the leader of IPOB and easily the most courageous, powerful and credible Igbo leader in Nigeria today in his cell we had a very instructive and long discussion.
I had never met Nnamdi before and I was amazed at his depth of knowledge, his immense courage and his deep convictions.
There is no doubt in my mind that that man is going places and in him the Igbo have an Ojukwu and a Nnamdi Azikiwe all rolled into one. He is destined for greatness.
My Boko Haram friends accompanied me to that meeting, drew a ten man security cordon around me when we entered the general population of the prison and waited outside as Nnamdi and I spoke for almost three hours.
They even accompanied me to Church on sunday and waited outside until we finished.
Given what I have written about Boko Haram in the past and given my total aversion to any form of violence, terrorism and radical Islam, this was a classic case of God granting me favour before my enemies.
Everyone dreaded them in that prison but I am proud to say that they were my friends and I will never forget their courage, kindness and fellowship for the rest of my life.
The enemy had placed me in the lions den but the lions and their prey became the best of friends. Not only were my Boko Haram section mates very good to me but so were the other inmates in the general prison population.
Not only that, the head of the prison DCP Akilu Abdullah, his Chief warden and his entire staff and team of prison wardens were firm, courteous and professional not just to me but to all the other inmates.
This was the doing of the Lord and it was marvellous in my sight. Throughout my travails I have never questioned God and I have been inspired and comforted by His word which says that in all things we must give thanks to Him.
I am innocent of all the charges and allegations and as I have said elsewhere the whole thing is an attempt by the Federal Government and an increasingly desperate EFCC that is obsessed with my name and putting me away to discredit, break and silence me.
Yet in all this I am not moved and neither can I ever be broken or silenced because, like the biblical Job, “I know that my Redeemer liveth”.
Like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “my head is bloodied but not bowed” and “I shall fight until the flesh is hacked from my bones”.
And as that fight and struggle unfolds and unwinds I take solace in the powerful and beautiful words of the Victorian poet William Ernest Henley in my favourite poem titled ‘Invictus’ which was written in 1875. He wrote,
“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul”.
Like Nelson Mandela did at Robben Island prison every day for 26 years, I recited that poem three times a day on each and every day of my total of 90 days detention this year. And if I am arrested and detained again by the EFCC or any of President Buhari’s other numerous security or intelligence agencies I will continue to recite it. I have no fear of what men or satan can do to me and I trust and have faith in the God that I serve.
Having explained my absence for the few weeks with this appetiser permit me get to the meat of it and now serve the main dish of this contribution.
(TO BE CONTINUED).
In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari
In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”
Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.
This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.
He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.
Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.
The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.
“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.
“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”
In Search For The New EFCC Chairman, Justice Ayo Salami Panel Advises Buhari to Look Outside The Police Force
Justice Ayo Salami’s panel advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look outside the Nigerian Police Force for the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A credible source confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari may have decided to follow the panel recommendation to avoid a similar fate to that of Magu, the former chairman.
The source also confirmed that the panel recommendation was a result of sleaze allegations against suspended acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. Also, that search team would be constituted in the next few days to slim down the possibilities of finding the right candidate to bring into reality the President’s vision of a corrupt-free anti-graft agency.
The source further confirmed that “the sleaze and abuse of office allegations against Magu, a commissioner of police, were overwhelming,” and that he may be put on trial.
As advised by the panel, the new EFCC chairman should be in interim position for two years.
It was suggested that the recommendation from the Justice Ayo Salami panel might have pinned Magu, according to Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman, he advised president Buhari to consider looking into other law enforcement or security agencies, as well as considering important and diligent staff of EFCC in his plans to appoint the next EFCC chairman, as s provided in the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.
Following the Justice Ayo Salami panel recommendation, Salami said “Your Excellency, permit me to say that four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception have been drawn from the police. Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and qualified core staff of EFCC as provided in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act 2004).
“It is also important to point out that at the moment, 970 policemen (114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 operations), are on secondment in the EFCC.
“Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement of the police and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of non-promotion of core staff for over nine years.
“Your Excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing other than a core EFCC staff, should be in transitional capacity of two years during which period, the arrangement would be made for the appointment of any of the core staff who has been commended by National Crime Agency, UK and other international law enforcement for their professionalism”.
Justice Ayo Salami appreciated the president for giving members of the panel an avenue to serve the country.
Ezekwesili Presents Research Findings on Fixing Nigeria’s Politics
She stated this at the public launch of #FixPolitics, where she presented findings from her fellowship research on how to fix politics in Nigeria and Africa more broadly.
Ezekwesili invited 124 Nigerians from diverse fields of endeavour and geopolitical zones to collaborate on designing the research findings over the last one year as a Work Study Group. The group is the co-leadership organ responsible for an integrated citizens-led actions to fix the broken political system.
She pointed out that politics in Nigeria was not fulfilling the core requirement of a democratic system, which was to provide good governance for the common wellbeing of citizens.
“My research findings primarily reinforce that the poor state of affairs in Nigeria is the consequence of the quality of politics at play. Politics is at the heart of everything any society can or will become. The essential process of democracy is not complete without politics,” the 2019 Nigerian Presidential candidate said.
In her study, she established primarily that in a democratic system, “there are three triangular pillars which determine the kind of outcomes that politics will produce for the people.
Explaining the concept, the former World Bank vice president said, “On the right angle or demand side of the triangle is the electorate; on the left or supply side is the politicians, political class and parties; and at the top is the regulatory – constitutional, legal, electoral and institutional context within which the politics happen.”
According to her, these tripod pillars create an interconnecting network of actions that determine the outcomes of every political system.
“Every pillar or angle of the triangle must function effectively and concurrently with the other two to enable the right quality of politics that will deliver strong economic performance for a people.
“In evaluating the outcome of politics in Nigeria and Africa, my study established that the quality of the electorate, quality of political class and quality and lack of independence and capacity of political institutions constitute a structural and systemic problem for democracy and must therefore be fixed by citizens,” Ezekwesili said.
She also said, “The research found that Nigeria is ridden with politicians without competing ideas of how to solve the problems of citizens, who lack a culture of public service and subordinate the common good to their personal and narrow interests.
“The constitutional, legal, institutional and regulatory environment is compromised by the political class to more frequently act without independence, fairness and adherence to the rule of law. The political space is thus completely monopolised by the supply side of governance, that is the political class, thereby causing political, economic and social stagnation for the nation and people.
“Currently in our politics, voters generally lack the level of influence necessary to compel the right political processes and good outcomes that serve the good of all in society.
“The bright prospect is that evidence from the #FixPolitics research shows that citizens are the only angle of the triangle that can act and propel systemic change by collectively and decisively acting for their common good.”
To alter the status quo, Ezekwesili said only the electorate “have the incentive to correct the abnormality in a political system.”
She added, “It is the collective effort of citizens that can change the quality of political class and compel the kind of constitutional and electoral changes required to achieve good governance.”
Delivering a keynote address, former President Felipe Calderon of Mexico said there was an enormous gap between the interests of the citizens and that of the politicians, which he saw as a major problem to a democratic setting.
“To fix politics in Nigeria, the citizens and the politicians must work together and represent the same in practical life,” he said.
Calderon further said that “citizens must change their perception of politics and political participation rather than holding to a view that politics is for corrupt and dishonest people.”
According to him, corrupt people are quite the opposite of what politics stands. “To fix politics is what happens when the people participate and take responsibility to provide political participation with ethical sense and ethical parameters,” Calderon added.
In a goodwill message, former President of Malawi, Dr. Joyce Banda, said politics should be seen as an inclusive love affair and if institutionally implemented, “Africa will witness a great change in its democratic system.”
While dissecting the dynamics of democracy, three intergenerational panels with discussants like Prof. Atahiru Jega, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Aisha Yesufu, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Jude Abaga(also known as M.I Abaga), Cynthia Mbamalu, Yemi Adamolekun, Samson Itodo, among others, agreed that there was an emerging consensus to fix politics in Nigeria as the status quo was untenable and unsustainable.
Speakers like Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Ayo Sogunro, Ndi Kato, Adewunmi Emoruwa, and Dr. Usman Bugaje highlighted that “there is a need for young people and women to fully engage in partisan politics, create platforms for political engagement, use politics as a tool for framing a shared vision based on a new dominant value orientation of public service, connect the elite with the grassroots and mobilise the Nigerian public to mount pressure on the legislature for the right constitutional and electoral changes.”
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