The prevailing security lapses in Nigeria could make for a hit comedy if not for its serious nature. The seriousness of the situation notwithstanding, some have found that they cannot help but chuckle at the antics of those involved.
The first comedy skit, albeit a light hearted one, was served by the antics of the former speaker of the Nigerian house of reps, who appeared to forget that the immunity powers that shielded him while in office, expired immediately his tenure elapsed. The former Speaker, protected by a retinue of federal police and State Security Services (SSS) agents, first refused to honour the invitation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which have been investigating him for financial impropriety while serving as speaker, then his, state assigned, security detail moved to resist with force, any attempt to arrest their principal.
What followed was a grand comedy of sorts, with the EFCC and Bankole jostling to outdo each other on the national stage, while the rest of Nigeria watched in awe. Nigerians laughed for a bit, then stopped laughing, many asking how one man can be more powerful than the state, and how someone who is back to being an ordinary citizen can use the state’s machinery against the state. It suddenly wasn’t funny anymore and even those in the media that were backing the former speaker knew this. Still, it took the intervention of the Inspector General of police to calm nerves.
Mr Bankole won that first round, and the EFCC was forced to lick its wounds and nurse its bruised ego as the Police Chief prevailed on them to allow the suspect come to them on his own terms on the Monday following that weekend. The EFCC, smarting from another act of disrespect from a Nigerian politician, albeit one that a Wikileaks document had reported telling the US Ambassador that the commission is a toothless bulldog, that can only bark, raided Mr Bankole’s home a day before the agreed upon date and took Bankole into custody.
At the time of writing, Bankole have been charged to court, granted bail, rearrested almost immediately, charged to another court together with his deputy, and granted bail yet again, only this time with very stringent conditions, which he has since met. Like many other politicians before him, and expectedly, Bankole is back to being a free man. His tale, the tale of hundreds – if not thousands – of the political class where perceived corruption is concerned, is practically over – having dropped from the front pages of newspapers. now enter the lengthy court cases that never end with conviction, hence Bankole’s mien.
However, those who felt slighted by Bankole’s mien and his seeming light-hearted dismissal of the ability of the state to hold him to account, were more flustered when the aforementioned Inspector General of police, whose men are generally believed to be losing the war against Islamic extremist sect Boko Haram, made a declaration that the faceless group’s days are numbered. Many laughed at the comedy of the IG’s statements, wondering how he and his men intend to go about “smoking them out” in the stated one week. That laughter turned to tear barely 48 hours later when a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the national headquarters of the police in Abuja the Nigerian capital, barely missing the IG whose convoy was said to be the target of what is a new dimension to terrorism in the country. Several people are said to have lost their life in the attack, the first of its kind in Nigeria, and the trauma of shredded body parts that littered the vicinity of the strike is yet to abate.
Just as similar times in the past, the Nigerian government and police authorities were quick to make the usual proclamations: “the perpetrators of this dastardly act will be fished out”, “no stone would be left unturned in unravelling those behind this heinous act” and so on. However, the proclamations also sounded hollow and weak, comical if you will, for Nigerians are used to them, just as they are used to the fact that nothing has ever came off them. Nigerians are used to hearing about the setting up of one committee or the other, but have never ever learnt of the finding of these committees or panels of inquiry, for it is either the file that contains their submission get missing or they get disbanded once public interest wanes... And life goes on, with no lessons learnt, with no one ever made to give account for anything.