Nigerian security agents have confirmed the arrest of nine suspects for their alleged roles in the bomb blasts which occurred in Abuja on October 1, 2010, the nation’s independence day. The explosions killed eight people instantly and injured many others. Two of those critically injured have reportedly died in the hospital. Another twist in the ongoing investigation into the terror attack is the alleged arrest of Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Chairman of the Ibrahim Babangida Campaign Committee. Dokpesi was invited by security agents on Sunday 3rd October.
The alleged arrest and subsequent detention of Dokpesi must attract the attention of the Nigerian civil society in view of his current position as a key figure in the opposition camp flying the campaign flag of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (rtd), a former Nigerian military head of state. Babangida is one of the presidential aspirants challenging the incumbent, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in the 2011 presidential election.
This arrest is capable of throwing fear into the hearts of opposition figures, leaving a clear field for the incumbent. Such a development constitutes blatant rape of democracy since a free and fair election can no longer be guaranteed. The Nigerian government is already double-speaking. Jonathan exonerates the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which issued a warning thirty minutes before the blast and also made a post-explosion claim of responsibility. Yet the same government gave the green light to the South African authorities to arrest, detain and charge MEND leader, Henry Okha to court for the blasts.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) charges the Nigerian government to eschew political vendetta and witch-hunting. Government must avoid strong-arm tactics in dealing with the opposition. Throwing the opposition campaign team into disarray is an old trick used by those who will not brook opposition and intolerance of opposition is the hallmark of dictatorship. The Nigerian security agencies must not be turned into an African Gestapo if the dream of true reform of the Nigerian society is to be realized. The arrest of Dokpesi has sent wrong signals not only to Nigerians at home and in the diaspora but also to the international society.
We call the attention of African states and Western powers to the fact that the five evil things of which Chamberlain spoke are rearing their ugly heads in Nigeria: brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution.
MURIC reminds the security agency holding Chief Dokpesi of the need to respect the rule of law as well as his Allah-given and fundamental human rights. The suspect must be charged to court and not detained ad infinitum. We call on civil society, well-meaning Nigerians and the international community to speak up now before it is too late.
Finally, MURIC affirms that Dokpesi’s arrest has robbed the electioneering process of its credibility. He must therefore be set free. It is also capable of throwing spanners in the works of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and discourage intellectuals and men of goodwill hoping to cooperate with the agency. Nigerian men and women of conscience may not want to touch politics and electioneering matters with a long pole if the opposition continues to be silenced.
Dr. Is-haq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)