Commodore Olawunmi And A Hypocritical Society
Hypocrisy has adopted Nigeria for permanent abode and it does not appear ready to take a leave any time soon. In Nigeria, we all see everything going bad but everybody will conveniently turn a blind eye to it. We all know that in doing the same thing over and over again, we can only arrive at the same outcome, but we pretend as though by some divine intervention, by repeating the same exercise, we will get a different outcome. That is the reason worship centres and magic homes are doing very well. Factories are being taken over by worship centres and we hope that that which we have failed to do, God will turn our fortunes for good by spending days in worship centres. Only fools do that.
Recently, there was so much uproar over an interview granted Channels TV by retired military personnel, Navy Commodore Kunle Olawunmi (rtd). I watched the interview and was left aghast as to what the retired commodore said that was alien to us. Olawunmi amongst others said there was no sincerity to check banditry, insurgency and other forms of criminality especially in the northern parts of the country. He said our security formations, especially barracks of the armed forces, across the nation are thrown open to all Muslims for Friday Juma’at services, saying that had gone on for almost forever.
He also said there are several suspected Boko Haram sympathisers or who have links with the murderous group in the government of the day. He said there was no sincere desire to end the activities of these criminal elements. He also reechoed the alleged plot to Islamize the country.
“On Fridays, you are going to see the same thing happening across all military formations in the country, If you go to defence headquarters, I served at the Defence headquarters as the deputy director, defence administration, between 2015 and 2017, throughout my two years at the defence headquarters, I received visitors twice because of the strict security architecture there but every Friday, the gate of the defence headquarters is thrown wide open to everybody to come in and observer Juma’at.
“That is the time the terrorists have the time to profile our security environment. It has always been the case. I have served in the military intelligence for the past 35 years. Our problem is religion and social-cultural.”
Suddenly, everywhere would erupt as though the commodore said anything we all do not know about. What is it he said that General T. Y. Danjuma did not say when he warned his people to stand up and defend themselves from their killers because the military is biased in the fight against insecurity? If Gen. Danjuma, cannot be trusted to say what he knows about his constituency, who should be?
Same scenario played out when the National Broadcasting Commission threatened to sanction Channels for airing an interview granted to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue, where he made similar allegations. The NBC which has since assumed the role of a federal government lap dog bared its fangs and was literally spitting fire.
Olawunmi is not the only former military officer to express shock and disappointment at the attack on the NDA, the nation’s foremost military institution. Olawunmi only decided not to play the ostrich and pretend in his comfort zone that all is well while the nation burns. He therefore spoke up and called for immediate action and challenged the government to fight insurgency by first weeding itself of such criminal elements and their sympathisers and the Defence Headquarters say they have not declared him wanted but had only invited him to seek information from him. Like seriously?
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) denied that the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) ordered the arrest of Olawunmi. The defence authorities in clarifying said that DIA only invited him to share his views on defence and national security.
In its statement the defence authorities clarified that the retired military officer, who is on the military reserve list, was only invited via SMS by DIA’s authorities.
The statement explained that the essence of Olawunmi’s invitation was “to further furnish it with pressing security information which he may be opportune to have knowledge about as now a professor of global security studies.
“The said proposed meeting between DIA and the retired senior naval officer was intended to get credible security tips to add value to the fight against terrorism/insurgency, banditry and sundry crimes.
“This, in no way, constitutes any form of arrest as speculated. It is very sad that a publication would capitalise on the harmless meeting between an agency and its veteran to paint the story in a manner which intends to portray the military as a draconic government agency which is acting in a crude manner.”
I do not need to be a military expert to know that the military in that statement is just being diversionary and pretentious. Olawunmi said there is documentary evidence of top government functionaries who have been confronted and accused of having links with insurgents. Is that strange? Did Goodluck Jonathan as president not tell us that the seat of power has been infiltrated by insurgents? Isn’t it in this same country that someone’s sordid past and open links with Boko Haram insurgents was exposed and the presidency was the first to put up defence for him, claiming those were actions of the past? A past that is as recent as a few years ago. At what point did he purge himself of his extremist tendencies? Why is he still in government and is he the only Nigerian who can do his job for the country? This certainly is not suggestive of a government that wants to fight insurgency. Does it require military expertise to do what we have to do to confront some of these ills?
In May of this year, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said that the government was profiling some high-profile Nigerians strongly suspected to be financing terrorism for prosecution. How far?
He said investigations revealing the suspected terrorism financiers were triggered by the conviction of some Nigerians in the United Arab Emirate (UAE) for funding Boko Haram. The court in Abu Dhabi sentenced Surajo Abubakar Muhammad and Saleh Yusuf Adamu to life in prison. Ibrahim Ali Alhassan, AbdurRahman Ado Musa, Bashir Ali Yusuf and Muhammad Ibrahim Isa were each given a ten-year sentence.
In others words, it had to take the prosecution and conviction in November 2020 of six Nigerians by a foreign nation for the government to begin investigations into how insurgency is funded, but the same government was very prompt and swift in identifying those who allegedly sponsored the EndSARS movement, some of whom are still in detention with their accounts frozen.
EndSARS sponsors and suspects are in detention in the same country where we are welcoming so-called repentant insurgents and terrorists, aka bandits, with indomie, bags of rice and other provisions with fanfare at red-carpet receptions.
Now, several months later, the last I recall was the AGF announcing that government will soon “resuscitate and reinvigorate the existing special terrorism courts in the country” for the purpose of prosecuting the 400 suspected Boko Haram sponsors.
“The Federal Government will, through the Federal Ministry of Justice’s Complex Case Group, resuscitate and reinvigorate the existing special terrorism prosecution courts in the country in order to bring to book all those found guilty so as to serve as deterrence to others. The Nigerian government is about to begin the prosecution of 400 suspected Boko Haram financiers,” the minister said in a statement. Again, how far?
About five months after, the federal government is still in the process to “resuscitate and reinvigorate the existing special terrorism courts in the country.” Why will it take this long to do this, or is the war meant to last forever?
Recently, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in an interview with BBC Pidgin gave reasons why President Muhammadu Buhari was yet to declare bandits as terrorists like he did to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Shehu, in a very pathetic attempt to defend what is clearly indefensible said, “What the Buhari administration has done to the arms-wielding bandits is worse than being declared as terrorists. Do you know that there is a subsisting order by the President that any arms-wielding, AK-47 bandits should be shot on sight? I am saying yes, IPOB has been proscribed by law of the land. There is no shoot-on-sight order on IPOB. There is nothing to suggest that these bandits are treated preferentially.”
How do we convince the rest of the world that we are normal people, when from all indications everything suggests that we are nuts? Leave Olawunmi, Ortom and the rest alone and convince us that crime and criminality are not determined by location, tribe, religion and ethnic sentiments and that equal punishment awaits all who are guilty without those mundane considerations. A terrorist is a terrorist whether in the north or in the south and must be treated the same way and labelled as such, anything short of that is hypocrisy in a two-faced society.