Law and Order in Nigeria and the Voices of Dissent
As a people — Nigerians so to speak — we flatter ourselves
way too much, ascribing to the country qualities she has long lost or has never
Big this. Giant that. Centre of this. Father of that. The ease with which the country approbates and flatters itself might be a subject of critical enquiry someday.
In the interim, permit me to admit I share Prof. Wole
Soyinka’s verdict that Nigeria is not the centre of anything but global
chagrin. Of course, the circumstances that spawned Prof. Soyinka’s verdict are
different from mine.
The reasons for my verdict are legion, and unfortunately I
cannot incorporate them all in a note as brief as this. I am inclined to focus
on law and order and the treatment of voices of dissent.
If you followed the trajectory of the law in Nigeria, and
how the law has been treating dissenting voices, you would come close to giving
up on the country.
You see, in Nigeria, the law is a coward, yelling at and
locking up activists and voices of civil disobedience while at the same time
cowering before armed and rebellious voices and even placating them with sacks
The result? A proliferation of rebellious armed groups
wreaking havoc here and there, determined to force the government to do their
Think Boko Haram. Think Fulani herdsmen. Think
When people realize the shortest way to get the government’s attention is by taking up arms, they do just that.
Negotiating with criminals, pacifying them with money, while
at the same time locking up activists and other voices of civil disobedience is
an open invitation to anarchy.