By Bala Ibrahim
I am writing this article in pain, great pain, for reasons that have to do with my training and calling as a journalist, my conscience, or my moral sense of differentiating right from wrong, and how these values play a guide, in shaping my behavior as a person.
For the avoidance of any ambiguity, and in order to circumvent any misinterpretation of the position from where I am talking, I must make it clear that I am writing in my personal position as a Nigerian, a Human being, and one that believes in the ambition of the rule of law. Therefore, should this article offend anyone, please, I should be held personally responsible and completely accountable, because I am not speaking on behalf of anyone or any institution, but my humble self-YUSUF BALA IBRAHIM.
For some time now, the Nigerian news space is AGAIN filled with unpalatable stories of the wilful misconduct of the First lady of our dear country, Hajiya Aisha Buhari.
I used the word again in capital letters on purpose, to make the reader understand that unpleasant stories about the First lady are not just regular, but fast becoming commonplace, with the latest saying she has turned herself into a puncher, using the official residence of the President, as the ground to fight with her fists, for the simple reason of defamation.
Yes, defamation, which the dictionary describes as, the action of damaging the good reputation of someone, slander, or libel. A kind of character assassination.
I am not a lawyer, as such, I can not claim knowledge of the proper stands of the law with regard to defamation, but I studied in the English language, a segment of which was even in England, where I also worked. Hence, I can say with authority, that I know the ambition of the dictionary with regard to the word defamation. I am also conversant with the meaning of right and wrong, as they apply in any civilized society- the intended destination, or dream of Nigeria.
A large segment of the press has reported on the latest misconduct of the First lady, but for reasons of consensus with their correctness in reportage, I would quote the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, which had an interview on the subject matter, and reported thus:
“An undergraduate of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, Aminu Adamu, has been languishing in detention after security officials comprising the police and men of the Department of State Service, arrested him over a post on Twitter alleging that the wife of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha, was feeding fat on poor people’s money. Aminu’s uncle, Shehu Azare, in an interview published by BBC Hausa on Monday, said the victim’s father, Mallam Ádámù, was not aware of his arrest until about five days later.
“Appealing to the First Lady to release Aminu, Azare said Aminu’s father was not aware of his son’s condition until one of his friends informed him.
“The uncle said, “His father did not know about his arrest. It was five days later that one of Mallam Ádámù’s friends called and told him that his son had not been seen in school for about five days.
“That was last Monday. Then a day after, Aminu called his father and told him what was happening, that he was arrested and taken to Aso Rock by the wife of the President, Muhammad Buhari, beaten, scolded, and was arrested somewhere”.
Arrested for days in an undisclosed location, beaten and scolded for alleged defamation? Good, God! This is not the ambition of those who crafted our laws. When I asked a lawyer friend of mine, what is the punishment for libel in Nigeria? He said,
Section 375 of the Criminal Code Act states that “any person who publishes any defamatory matter is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for one year.” He also added, “any person who publishes any defamatory matter knowing it to be false is liable to imprisonment for two years”. He didn’t say the person should be abducted from his location, taken to another location for beating, scolding, or endless detention.
Another lawyer argued differently, saying the person will not go to jail. It is a “tort” or civil wrong. This means that if a person/organization makes defamatory statements, the person affected may seek compensation for their damages as a result of the defamation, through a personal injury lawsuit. No mention is made that the person should be abducted from his location, and taken to another location for beating, scolding, or endless detention.
For God’s sake, from where is Aisha Buhari drawing her powers? I am happy to hear that God had since coming to the rescue, as she is said to be on admission with a fractured leg, occasioned by the drama of wilfully taking the law into her hands. In the history of Nigeria, no First lady had disrespected the position of the First lady as Aisha Buhari, who seems to be doing it with reckless abandon.
Our memories are still fresh of a similar misguided treatment she gave to Mallam Mamman Daura, the nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari, a businessman and retired civil servant of repute. History has recorded Mallam Mamman Daura as a prominent member of the old Kaduna Mafia, which comprised a group of Nigerian servants with an interest in the interest of the north, including those who helped raise Aisha to her level today.
I don’t know how conversant Aisha is with History and current affairs, but she needs to be reminded of the saying of Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Indian politician and president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, former Chief Minister of Bihar, former Railway Minister of India, and former Member of Parliament, that, in DEMOCRACY, POWER IS NOT PERMANENT.
If she doubts Mr. Prasad, she may wish to ask Madame Patience Jonathan, her immediate predecessor and the most abused and disparaged the First lady of Nigeria. Yet, she kept to the meaning of that adjective, patient. By tolerating the insults without becoming annoyed, or turning herself into an Aisha, the puncher.