The dilemma facing many Nigerians at the weekend was, if you have a very good police officer, kind of one in a million, who has been combing the bushes and the digital world and apprehending some of our vilest kidnappers and murderers, and some foreign agency is accusing him of collecting bribes from a scammer and doing the scammer’s bidding to settle intra-gang scores, what is the best thing for us to do?
This question immediately elicited four clashing points of view between imported African legalism, old fashioned African morality, instinctive African cynicism and native African practicality. Each one of them has a large following in Nigeria. Nigeria has some legalistic people who believe that in modern society, the law is everything, and it should be applied whether it is moral or not. These are mostly legal types, either steeped in White mindset or those who play the NGO game with money from foreign agencies.
Majority of Africans think that the law is an inconvenience to be evaded, sidestepped or short circuited. Ask taxi drivers, who think traffic lights are meant for private motorists. Ask bus drivers, who think it is ok to drive against the traffic because they are in a hurry to earn some money. It is only these legalistic types who will say, “FBI indicted Kyari? Hand him over to them quick, so he can clear his name. Our embassy and consulates in America should provide consular services to him, of the kind that British High Commission here is offering to provide to Kanu.”
Some [old fashioned] Africans however believe that morality is the most important thing, higher than the law itself, and law should be thrown overboard if it is immoral. They don’t even want the inconvenience of going through the tedious process of amending the law; just test the law for morality. These ones will say, “If DCP Abba Kyari was found to be dishonest to the point of collecting bribe from Hushpuppi and detaining the scammer’s accomplice because he shortchanged Hushpuppi, damn it, he should be punished! His glitter of medals and his long list of achievements in crime busting be damned!”
On the other hand, Africa is full of cynics who will never believe anything that Europeans and Americans say, especially their government agencies such as FBI, CIA, State Department and British Home Office or their adjuncts such as Commonwealth, EU and NATO. These are the Nigerians who, upon hearing of Kyari’s FBI indictment, will say, “You know these White people can tell lies! They said they came here to civilize us whereas they came here to steal our resources. Recently they claimed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. They killed one million Iraqis looking for it but did not find anything. They are detaining Hushpuppi when they have their own scammers there in America. Now they want to take away our best policeman so that bandits and kidnappers will have a free reign. We should hold onto him! If they are looking for crooked policemen, they should look for Derek Chauvin, who murdered George Floyd in cold blood, in broad daylight.”
Sandwiched between the legalists, moralists and cynics, there are the Africans of practicality. They are the ones who will say when they heard the news, “Ah, Abba Kyari did that? That is bad! He is such a good policeman. Are the Americans sure of what they are saying? If we hand Abba Kyari over to them to jail him, then who will arrest the bandits that are terrorizing us here? The Inspector General has only one Intelligence Response Team. We don’t know why he did not train and equip many more such teams in the last ten years. Anyway, the deed is done, we have only one IG’s IRT. Wherever there is a particularly heinous kidnapping, it is Kyari that goes there to solve it. If they jail him in America, will the FBI send somebody to replace him? After all, he did not commit the crime in their country. Let them send the evidence and we will try him here. EFCC can file the case and it will languish in court for ten years, like all the others. Meanwhile, he will be catching kidnappers for us. We should not throw away the baby with the bathwater.”
How do we resolve these conflicting points of view? Somebody should go to Otuoke and ask former President Goodluck Jonathan whether accepting bribe from Hushpuppi is corruption. “Ordinary bribe, people call it corruption. Is bribery a serious thing here? It is White people who think bribery is a big thing. In their Constitution, Americans even wrote that their President should be impeached for ‘treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanor.’ In Nigeria here, if we impeach leaders because of bribery, how many will remain? Joh, kidnapping is our biggest problem. If we have a policeman who is fighting it well, he should kontinu.”
View from the Gallery in 21st Century Chronicle Monday, August 2, 2021.