What of Al-Mustapha, Bamaiyi and Others? A Reply to Yushau A. Shuaib?

Hamza Al-Mustafha

By Clarius Ugwuoha ([email protected])

The piece captioned as above of November 7th 2007, written by Yushau A. Shuaib and published in the daily Sun tabloid, is instructive. We are all victims of and witnesses to the atrocities of the past in Nigeria. But since we have evolved a democratic structure that pretends to fairplay and equity, it is necessary to overlook the past and turn a new leaf. It is not, by the protracted incarceration of Al-Mustapha and others, in conditions seen as subhuman by their personal confessions and by disinterested testimony, can we initiate appropriate deterrent measures or fully redress all pieces of injustice of the past. The fallout of military predation in our polity is phenomenal. It would appear overtly vindictive to insist on continued trial of Al-Mustapha and others while ignoring the fact that the accused were, in their various alleged commissions, on orders from their superiors, even if expressly guilty of over zealotry. The said offences were committed in the hey days of military dictatorship and many other such heinous crimes as alleged against them, have been cordoned in the present dispensation. The seeming selective nature of the trials whereby the initiators of these disastrous crimes are safely ensconced in their presidential palaces while the circumstantial surrogates, who would ignore their superior’s orders on pain of dismissal from service or elimination, are being hounded from prison to prison in very dehumanizing circumstances, is inequitable. The ex- CSO’s outburst of being denied access to his family for many years is both pathetic and chilling.

Whatever became of Sgt. Barnabas Mshelia alias Rogers, of whom unconfirmed reports were that he was pardoned and conscripted into Chief Obasanjo’s terror squad? Are the purported killers of Chief MKO Abiola and Gen. Abacha also being tried? When, during the Oputa hearing many retd generals were indicted on gross abuse of human rights, and these generals disdained off summonses by the panel, were there any punitive measures canvassed against them as correctives?

The mood today is reconciliatory and futuristic. Nothing can be gained from protracted excitation of the past. This writer does not, by this submission or appeal attempt to attenuate the enormity of the pain visited on the good people of Nigeria by repressive juntas. He is only canvassing for redress of the past by means other than protracted legal tussle, a tempering of justice with mercy with respect to Al-Mustapha and others, whose ordeal in detention shall have mortified them into consciousness of the transitory nature of power; and an evolution of a democratic order that would make these crimes of the past difficult to perpetrate. We may recourse to an independent human rights violation panel, whose recommendations would not be treated with disdain or levity as in the past.

Granted that the president, Alhaji Umaru Yar’ Adua, was himself a prime victim of the past gangsterism, as seen in the murder in detention of his brother, Retd Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’ Adua. Granted too that his present position of president Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot be said to compensate for that irreparable loss, he should probably look sqarely at the protracted trial of Al-Mustapha and others and find a reprieve. Vengeance is God’s and whatever was allowed by fate to occur should be seen in the light of inevitability. A definite policy concerning past grievances, would not only resolve the Al-Mustapha, Bamaiyi and others’ matter but also resolve the age-old Niger Delta question and make the continued incarceration of activists like Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, for which the international community had heavily criticized Nigeria, unappealing. There is the saying of our people: if you beat an erring child with one hand, you draw him back with the other.

Chief Clarius Ugwuoha wrote in from the Ezeali Palace in Egbema.


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Yushau Shuaib

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