“It’s not the size of the dog, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” – Mark Twain
Political opponents of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna state routinely resort to insults, especially about his height, when they can’t counter his position on issues with superior argument. But being “short” has obviously worked for El-Rufai, it hasn’t in anyway been an impediment to whatever he had set out to achieve. El-Rufai has achieved in his “short” life, what many “tall” people within his age bracket have failed to achieve or are still dreaming of achieving. Being “short” or “small” clearly has its advantages; dynamites which can bring down a hundred floor building for instance comes in small packages and because “short” people they are always looking up, they have a better perspective of life. Thankfully, neither his “shortness” or his poor background have been a “failure” sentence.
Onikepo Braithwaite, a lawyer in an opinion “El-Rufai and Napoleon Complex” published in her column “The Advocate” in Thisday of August 13, 2019, from the outset shockingly admitted lacking the information to make informed contribution on the Mallam Ibrahim Zakzaky, Leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), matter. But because she was on a demolition mission, she not only pontificated, but to add insult to injury for her readers that she clearly failed in educating , she poured not one but several invectives on El-Rufai because it’s the season of El-Rufai bashing, whose only crime was daring to provide a template that can lead to the defeat of godfathers and suggesting that zoning be jettisoned in favour of competency, two suggestions that some analysts concluded are targeted at Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has a bursting presidential ambition. “The fact that the El-Zakzaky or Omoyele Sowore may have been unfair in their dealings (and I’m not saying categorically that they have been), does not mean the law is entitled be unfair to them,” she said.
For the education of Braithwaite and those who desire to know the truth about the IMN matter which was not in any way the making of the Kaduna state government, but which as a government it has a fundamental responsibility of ensuring that justice is dispensed to all without fear or favour. And it must be stated that no threat of violence or politically orchestrated campaign will force the state government to abandon this case or any other one. For the benefit of all, here is brief recap of what can be termed the Zakzaky matter- the origin and the terms of travel which the Kaduna state government filed with the court for the federal government and Zakzaky to fulfill in other to perfect the bail, which if the federal government had adhered to would have averted the fiasco that eventually played out in India.
It’s important to stress that contrary to the position of some busy bodies, Kaduna state government had never arrogated to itself powers that it doesn’t have. Hence in spite of the conclusions of the commission of inquiry and as a firm and ardent believer in the rule of law, and the constitutional right of the accused persons to free and fair trail, it has taken steps to ensure that Zakzaky has his day in court. On August 2, 2018, the Kaduna State High Court took the pleas of Zakzaky and his wife. And the court in its wisdom on October 4, 2018, denied them bail considering the weight of the charges they are facing and ordered that they be remanded in Kaduna prisons. It further ordered access to their personnel physicians, alongside those of the state government. It must be noted that the detention of Zakzaky and his wife at the State Security Services (SSS) facilities was at their express request and the court indulged the couple.
The latest needless controversy was triggered by the August 5, 2019 decision of the Kaduna State High Court to grant Zakzaky and his wife permission to travel abroad for “medical attention”. The Kaduna state government rightly opposed the application largely because the medical report didn’t emanate from a government hospital, which is a demand of the law. Though it disagreed with the premise on which the court granted the application, which is within its legal rights, it didn’t lodge a stay of execution, because it wants them healthy enough to face trial. It must be noted that the court specifically granted the two defendants “leave to travel out of Nigeria for urgent medical treatment at Medanta Hospital, India, under strict supervision of the respondent and to return to Nigeria (for continuation of trial) as soon as they are discharged from hospital”. This is the court ruling.
My advice to Braithwaite considering the number of times she acknowledged her doubts and crass ignorance on the Zakzaky matter, which unfortunately didn’t stop her from pouring invectives on Nasir El-Rufai, is to keep away from any issue that she is ill informed about or read up on the issue, which will hopefully enable her make informed commentary without misinforming readers who have invested their trust in her.
The Kaduna state government is absolutely right that the IMN became emboldened because for decades it has gotten away with impunity, which encouraged it to engage in various unlawful activities culminating in the tragic events of December 2015. It’s to put a stop to the activities of the group that informed the decision of the Kaduna government to diligently prosecute the case, and to reaffirm simple canons of the rule of law, that no one is above its long arm and that all persons are equal in its eyes.
Like they say, the rest is history – Zakzaky and his wife have undertaken the trip and returned without undergoing any medical treatment, but the media hasn’t deemed it fit to ask the necessary questions. Like the Ibo will say, agaracha must come back; abi e no never come back?
Ado writes from Kaduna.