Danger: Men At Work

by Michael Egbejumi-David

A few weeks ago, a very good friend of mine, Dr Robert Sanda, a General Surgeon, sent a few of us an email bearing the picture of a wanted Boko Haram operative called Habib Bama. My friend was lamenting what he was convinced was the striking facial resemblance between him and the Boko Haram miscreant who also happens to come from the same State, Borno. Particularly, Dr Sanda was worried that some over-zealous or inebriated Security personnel might give him a hard time unnecessarily. If my friend was looking for sympathy from friends and colleagues, he got none. Instead, we added to his grief by having adequate and extensive fun at his expense.

It was in the midst of this ribbing that another email came my way courtesy of a young and enterprising e-media known as Gnaija. It was a horrible email. It contained a video of a Nigerian Policeman of what was called the Anti-Bomb Squad being blown to pieces on a Kaduna street. The poor fellow was trying to defuse a bomb. His only safety gear was his blue shirt and a bullet proof vest. Unfortunately for the Policeman, the bomb went off and that was that.

I forwarded the depressing email to Dr Sanda and that only soured his mood further. He promptly sent me another link of a similar incident in Thailand. A Policeman there attempted to defuse a car bomb in the Narathiwat province. Again, as was the case in Kaduna, the bomb went off. The Policeman was thrown nearly 10 meters by the explosion. But the Thai Policeman survived. He picked himself up and ambled away.

The difference? The Thai Policeman was kitted-out in proper anti-bomb protective suit. I checked the national security and law enforcement budgets of both countries. It did not come as a surprise that the Nigerian one was far higher.

But why is Nigeria like this? Why are we so indifferent to human life and everything else?

When the same ‘Boko Haram’ bombed the United Nations offices in Abuja late August of 2011, the usual Nigerian government apathy prevailed. It took the personal intervention of the Saudi Intelligence chief, Prince Mughrin bin Abdul-Aziz who flew to Abuja for a private meeting with President Jonathan before there was some modicum of action. Wouldn’t you know, within 36 hours of the Saudi Intelligence boss departure, our government announced the arrest of about 150 Boko Haram sponsors. How did this happen? The Saudi handed Jonathan a list of Nigerians they know are sponsoring Boko Haram.

It wasn’t long after this that you heard Jonathan declare that his government and the Security services are teeming with Boko Haram sympathisers.

Does the name Ahmad Gumi ring any bells? Well, he is the son of late Sheikh Abubakar Mahmud Gumi. Sheikh Gumi used to be a preacher of note. He plied his trade on the fiery side. He, it was, who once famously said live on NTA Kaduna in a fit of haughtiness that Nigerian Muslims should never vote for, or accept a non-Muslim leader. Sheikh Gumi was also famous for his many battles with the Sufi brotherhoods and he succeeded in causing the complete marginalisation of the Ansar Uddin Islamic Society up North. But he reserved his vitriol for the Christian Association of Nigeria who he accused of wanting to spread Christianity in the “core” North. For all his troubles, Gumi received a national award – the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic. Anyway, his son is Ahmad Gumi. Ahmad is said to have some link with Farouk Abdul-Mutallab, the failed underwear bomber. Ahmad, like his father before him, sometimes preaches out of the Sultan Bello mosque in Kaduna. His own teaching is straight forward call for genocide against Christians and fellow Muslims who don’t buy into his brand of Wahabist Islam. It would be recalled that one of the bloodiest Muslim-Christian religious riots in Kaduna followed a pre-emptive attack by almajiris living in the compound of Sheikh Gumi because some Christians were gathering to protest a proposed plan to introduce Sharia. Ahmad once denounced anyone who criticised Obasanjo’s insane 2007 elections as an unbeliever or infidel.

In early 2010, Ahmad was arrested by the Saudis and was promptly thrown into jail in the town of Makkah. A Muslim delegation led by Babangida – yes, the one and only IBB – went to Saudi Arabia to plead that Ahmad be released. The Saudis refused. Pressure was subsequently brought to bear on Jonathan, and eventually his vice, Sambo intervened. Even then, the Saudis held on to Ahmad until they extracted a lot of useful information from him about going-ons in Northern Nigeria. Then in early September, after some seven months in detention, Ahmad was released to the comfort of his two wives and seventeen children.

You can perhaps see why the Saudis were the ones telling Jonathan who to arrest as matters gets ever more haram in Nigeria. But the least the government should do is to ensure that the people who are sent into the eye of the storm, the people who are sent into battle against the behemoth that is Boko Haram are properly equipped.

The officers who are entrusted with our safety and our protection ought to be adequately trained and properly kitted-out before they are sent into such dangerous jobs. If the rank and file is not properly equipped, then the Inspector General and his Assistants, plus the Police Commissioners and every other senior Police Officer responsible for money within the Force should be routinely sent out on bomb disposal duties.

And speaking of hazardous occupations, matters got quite hairy in Ika South, Delta state at the PDP Ward Congress this past Saturday. Mobile phones and Twitter were abuzz and we tried to get to the bottom of the matter. It turned out that one Martins Okonta; a former Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly got his clock cleaned good and proper. The Ward Congress was an early opportunity for the good people of Delta North – who apparently are due the governorship of the State as per PDP’s internal rotation – to start positioning themselves and their preferred candidates. But Okonta was coming on too strong, was pushing too hard and in fact threw the first punch because he wasn’t getting his way. Well, he ran into a bigger punch and (as we say in South London) was knocked sparko. He was out cold on his feet even before he hit the ground where he laid, his arms spread out in the customary surrender fashion. His dazzling white fine clothes, well and truly sullied.

Okonta regained consciousness on a single bed in Uduaghan’s private hospital a few miles away in Asaba. What’s a politician to do? Every job these days seem to have its own peril.

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