Niger Republic Coup: Learning from History
By Elempe Dele
I have read with bemusing amusement how a sector within Nigeria are hailing and encouraging the illegality in Niger Republic. I must confess that the potential anarchist who wish such affliction should be visited on Nigeria might have taken their anger and pessimism to the extreme, unfortunately.
Some of these elements are not students of history but members of some sect who are initiated into the ‘close walls’ of wishing Nigeria will continue to fail for obvious reasons. However, they need to be reminded that no military intervention from records in Africa has achieved Utopia.
None has achieved its desired result or met expectations. The ones we have recorded after the colonial mandate expired, and civilian governments were toppled became worse than what they were meant to correct.
What these juntas basically take away from the citizens is their dignities as humans and replace it with humiliation. They march across prostrated towns and cities looking for victims who disagree with them. Men are picked up at the middle of the night into waiting black marias while their wives and children look on helplessly. Jackboots his doors with the shouts of ‘orders from above.’ Citizens are captured with immediate effect and alacrity.
During the Dark Days of Horror, as recorded under the stranglehold of General Abacha’s administration, we were all witnesses to one of the most horrible part of our history.
Those who were unfortunate went to their early graves, and the others went into exile. Some citizens were locked up for no just reason apart from the fact that they were alive within the shores of the state.
Protesters were shot dead.
Soldiers bought fuel at filling stations and markets without paying for them. Newspapers owners went underground and some were haunted into holding pens.
The Guardian owner, Ibru, was shot but survived loosing one of his eyes in the process. Nosa Igiebor escaped death.
A host of decrees were made available to the regime. The Detention of Persons Decree No. 2 allowing indefinite, incommunicado detention of citizens; the Offensive Publications Decree No. 35 of 1993, which allowed the government to seize any publication deemed likely to “disturb the peace and public order of Nigeria”; and the Treason and Treasonable Offenses Decree No. 29 of 1993, which was used in 1995 by a special military tribunal to convict Kunle Ajibade, Chris Anyanwu, George M’bah, and Ben Charles-Obi as “accessories after the fact to treason” for reporting on an alleged coup plot, continue to threaten journalists.
Abacha’s government enforced its arbitrary authority through the Federal Security System (the military, the State Security Service (SSS), the national police, and other regulatory and law enforcement agencies), a variety of official and quasi-governmental security forces, and through decrees blocking action by the opposition in the courts. All branches of the security forces committed serious human rights abuses.
The main decisionmaking organ of the Nigerian government was the exclusively military Provisional Ruling Council (PRC), which ruled by decree. The PRC oversaw the 33-member Federal Executive Council composed of military officers and civilians.
Pending the promulgation of the Constitution written by the Constitutional Conference in 1995 and subsequently approved by the Head of State, the Government observed some provisions of the 1979 and 1989 Constitutions. The decree suspending the 1979 Constitution was not repealed and the 1989 Constitution was not implemented.
We cannot also forget the authoritarianism of the Buhari’s rogue administration when he took powers illegally through a military coup from President Shehu Shagari. Politicians were thrown into prisons without trials. Soldiers went into what was then known as disciplinary rampages beating and maiming citizens.
The height of his inhumanity was when he ordered the execution of Bernard Ogedengbe (age 29), Bartholomew Owoh (age 26) and Lawal Ojuolape (age 30). They were tied to the stake and shot as was done in the medieval era. And the most painful part of their execution was that their crime did not carry capital forteit as at when it was committed. The act of that murders still ring bells in the passages of human rights till date.
The tragedy today is not about the indomie generation who did not witness this passage, the tragedy is those who witnessed these humiliation, this total down-grading of their humanity then yet are calling for a repeat of the same history.
The only legal way in the 21st century to take over power from the ruling party is through the ballot box. In 2015, with strategic alignment, the All Progressive Party, APC, took over power from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that promised itself it was going to rule for 60 years. Although the 8 years of Buhari eventually went to become waist.
In the general election of this year, the Labour Party, LP, showed that the same feat could be achieved even when it didnt consider that winning a general election entails wide national spread. However, its first attempt and what it was able to achieve has changed the usual dynamics of the politics here in Nigeria.
Perceived progressive movements like the military in Niger Republic issuing populist statements always rode on the political and economic pains of the marginalized. However, as soon as they get to power, they pull up the ladder of their claims and become rogue regimes like the ones they had toppled.