By Charles Ofoji
If any Nigerian still had doubt that our country is a cassava republic, it must have been finally expunged by the failure of the security agencies to arrest a common civil servant called Abdulrasheed Maina. Last Wednesday, the Senate drilled the Inspector- General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar over his failure to capture the embattled chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), after Senate President David Mark issued a warrant for his arrest. Listen to what Abubakar told the Senator Paulinus Igwe led Senate Committee on Police. He promised to hunt for Maina with INTERPOL, which will help track him down abroad. I dey laugh o! My ribs o! According to him, the police will soon declare Maina wanted, using the INTERPOL.
He also told the Senators that he was prepared to place monetary ransom on the head of the fleeing felon. He assured the senators that the force would deploy every means to arrest the run-away civil servant. Abubakar further told the senators that he withdrew the police attaches from Maina immediately the Senate issued the warrant of arrest and since that time, the man absconded and has not been seen. My countrymen and women, this must be some kind of comedy for a depressed populace. Which one was easier? To withdraw the police orderlies and bodyguards and then send other policemen in search of him or to direct the same policemen attached to him to arrest him forthwith? Is it not strange that Abubakar was telling the Senate of what he would do, instead of telling them how far he has gone is going after Maina overseas? The fact remains that the police knew at each point where Maina was. It was their men and women who guarded him, until he vamoosed from the geographical space called Nigeria.
If Maina disappeared by some kind of magic from Nigeria as the IGP told the Senate and found his way to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as reported in the media, then it must be stuff for a Hollywood blockbuster. He must be a movie star and eligible for an Oscar. But this, in my view, was not the case. Mr. Abubakar merely took some punches and embarrassment for some powerful people who covered Maina with “presidential immunity”. With such, he could not have been arrested. How could the police tell us, while the film played out, that they never knew his whereabouts when at each time, about a dozen of their own men and women guarded him? This kind of story is unbefitting of a fine officer I know the IG to be. But then again what options did he have against the superior powers that precluded him from doing his job?
Unfortunately, the Nigerian nation has been reduced to a conundrum by the ruling class. It is a country where the rich and mighty are above the law due to historic corruption. If not how could an ordinary civil servant have grown so mighty to be untouchable. This writer once wrote that the real cankerworms tearing down the Nigerian fabric are the civil servants. Apart from their daily sucking of the Nigerian milk, there can be no looting or embezzlement by our elected officers without their collaboration.
To maintain the status-quo and ensure that nothing changes, those in-charge rule the country by abracadabra. The more the citizens look the less they see. But sometimes, the citizens get an unimpeded view of the state of things. Public outrage normally follows. Then the government is compelled to take some drastic measure to give the people the feeling that their country is after all not a cassava republic. Just as the Judiciary last week, despised by the public, attempted to purge itself by wielding the hammer against three of its controversial high-profile members – three justices mired in corruption allegations. Because of overwhelming public outcry, the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommended their compulsory retirement on account of corruption.
The same thing was what happened in Maina’s case. It was alleged that someone very powerful was playing the music to which he danced. Some pointed fingers at the presidency. The angry speech of the Senate President, Senator David Mark, as he issued Maina’s arrest warrant clearly buttresses this. Nigerians got another rare picture of what was going on. There was another outcry. The music stopped; the dance stopped as well. Maina automatically became an ordinary citizen again. The presidency could no longer afford to shield him from facing a different kind of music. Nevertheless, perhaps, it conceded to him an easy passage as the public was cuckolded with the hocus-pocus of a manhunt.
It would not be un-Nigerian if it later emerges that Maina actually left the shores of this country on a ticket or on a plane paid by the taxpayers. How could a flamboyant man like him, who is wanted by the authorities, pass through the Nigerian immigration, wherever his point of exit was, without being noticed? I disagree. Some kind of cover was provided. But who was protecting Maina? The President himself? The Vice-President or Secretary to the government of Nigeria? And why was he spared? Whoever it was must be an accomplice to the crime Maina is believed to have committed. The sad thing is that, because as typical of Nigeria, he will never be prosecuted. So, we will never get to know.