Nigeria: Tolerating The Trend Of Treasonable Tactics And Collective Culpability

By Bala Ibrahim.

The law says and I quote, “Any person who levies war against the State, to intimidate or overawe the President or the Governor of a State, is guilty of treason, and is liable to the punishment of death. Also, attacking the state through the form of war or trying to overthrow the government of the day is categorized as treason. Equally, performing acts that are related to treason is regarded as treasonable felony”. That is the position of the law in Nigeria, but from the look of things, of recent, there seem to be some persistent and pervasive performances, against the outcome of the recently concluded general elections, with the perceived intention of ridiculing the process and ultimately truncating democracy in the country. One needs not to be a lawyer to place these actions as confronting the ambition of the law of treason, or treasonable felony.

A few days ago, I watched on Channels TV, the vice Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Datti Baba-Ahmed, making some statements, with ample authority, to the effect that, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief Justice of the Federation, must not swear in the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his vice, Senator Kashim Shetima on the 29th of May. If they do that he said, there would be no Nigeria. Even when cautioned by the moderator of the programme, Seun Okinbolaye, Datti remained adamant, insisting he was not taking any risks with his safety and his life. In other words, Datti was saying he has the confidence of immunity from arrest, under the commission of a treasonable felony.

Paradoxically, and in a seemingly self-contradictory manner, the same Datti Baba Ahmed, not long ago, while addressing the press on the controversial naira swap policy of the Central Bank, and the state broadcast of the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, that the old N1,000 and N500 were legal tenders in the state, accused the governor of committing treason. Datti said El-Rufai was culpable for faulting President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive of retaining just the old N200 banknote as part of measures to curb the cash crunch in the country.

In faulting the governor’s comment, Datti wonders why the president was silent, arguing that there is only one authority in Nigeria which is the President, who should not allow a sub-national to counter his directive. But the same Datti is now at the forefront of the call to truncate democracy, under the same Buhari Presidency.

In my thinking, the Nigerian government is tacitly tolerating the trend of treasonable tactics and this could make many collectively culpable.

In the last week, there were a series of protests in different parts of the country, evidently sponsored, against the victory of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The groundbreaking ceremony of the protests was carried out by the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Waziri Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, H.E. Ifeanyi Okowa, who led protesters to the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Abuja. Thereafter, sponsored youths began to follow suit, with a caricature cache, having the audacity to go to the Defence Headquarters, calling on the military to intervene. Calling for a coup?

Someone wrote in bewilderment and I quote, “How can anyone in their right senses go to the Defence HQs and be begging the military to seize power? What sort of unfortunate souls and opposition are we sharing nationality with for heaven’s sake? Are these cursed? Even if they don’t read history in school, don’t they have elders at home to guide them? What they cannot get by vote, they want by gun. God will destroy all the tactics of demons and evil people and their households that want this country destroyed at all costs. Amen”.

Methinks, the Nigerian government is tacitly tolerating the trend of treasonable tactics and this could make many collectively culpable.

By definition, the Department of State Services, DSS, is the leading domestic intelligence agency in Nigeria, with the primary responsibility of collecting intelligence for good governance and national safety. It ensures the protection of the State and its officials, citizens, critical resources and infrastructure from domestic threats. Ironically, the same DSS had issued a statement last week, to the effect that there are plans by the unscrupulous, to undermine the democratic gains of Nigeria, but the government is still foot-dragging. Why?

The President must not allow the public to buy into the suspicion that he is not favourably disposed to a smooth handover come the 29th of May this year. The government must not tacitly tolerate this trend of treasonable tactics, as it would make many collectively culpable.

The minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, who also doubles as the spokesman for the Tinubu-Shettima campaign council, Festus Keyamo, SAN, had since petitioned the DSS, over these unlawful behaviours, and people are anxiously waiting to see some actions that would deter others from going that way. But rather than the arrest of those pushing for the adoption of processes that conflict with the contemplation of the constitution, such as the push for an interim government, the situation is simply allowed to, progressively move from bad to worse. Why?

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