Re: Rule of law v. ruse of impunity

Bomba Dauda

I read the article by Gloria Mabeiam, Esq., (titled above), which was published in your popular column, ‘Judiciary’ in your daily newspaper of Monday, March 31, 2014 and I came up with the following empathic views.
The fundamental legal conundrum is whether Gurara Forum (GF), a closed group, has a right to privacy or not? The printing of conversations made by the forum by the police is an infringement on the right to privacy and it is also perceived by the group as an intrusive and arbitrary use of unwarranted power. First, the forum is not classified as belligerents or militants neither is it a radical movement nor a cultist group, so, why the stalking by the security apparatus?

The forum is basically a well-organized pressure group, which is predicated on the axiom: equality, justice and democratic freedom due to decades of social injustices and scant recourse. It also attempts to fend off decades of humiliation and prejudices. Thus, the members of this forum are Nigerians, law abiding citizens and therefore, they deserve to be protected by the alloyed power of our supreme constitution such as the freedom of information as contained in section 39 of the 1999 constitution.

The invitation of Reuben Buhari by the Commissioner of Police of Kaduna state for interrogation following the mutilated remains and mass burial of the victims of Bondong genocide pictures that were posted on the social network by Reuben was morally permissible. Reuben was released having written an undertaking not to upload more pictures which the police claimed that it has the potential of inciting the public. But, the preceding days after his interrogation proved otherwise.

The re-invitation of Reuben by the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police (CP) on the order of the Inspector General (IG) of Police even when Reuben did not upload more pictures and there was absolute calmness in the area, was morally repugnant because the reason for his arrest was not properly explained nor disclosed to well-wishers that thronged the Police Headquarters in Kaduna. The only explanation was that Reuben was under arrest and will be taken to the IG of police in Abuja. As such, the sleuthing of Reuben and by extension, the forum, has sapped our sense of strategic understanding.

Reuben’s arrest gripped the people of Southern Kaduna who were yet to come to terms with the seethed killings in Bondong, such an act provoked our sensitivity and sense of pride. Because people fathom it as a politically-induced arrest, this view became mainstream and widespread.
Why would Reuben that was arrested in Kaduna be taken to Abuja and not to be tried in Kaduna where both the attack and the posting took place? What is the magnitude of Reuben’s ‘offence’ that is beyond the Kaduna Police Commissioner which attracted the attention of the IG of Police? Reuben is just a young journalist living a legitimate life, not a propagandist or a political bicker, so, why would he be forced to face this kind of severe scrutiny just because he unraveled what the government wanted to conceal?

Why was Reuben singled out for arrest whilst multiple people posted the same images on Gurara Forum and other social engines? The arrest immediately threw Southern Kaduna youths into a frenzied mood as a result of the corresponding political underpinnings of the arrest that leapt to reckoning.
While some schools of thought believed that Reuben was just a scapegoat in the systematic political machination by an emerging quantum cartel of power drawn politicians or an alliance of like-minded political oligarchy in Kaduna axis are determined to trim the political prowess of his boss, the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Laurentia Mallam.

Others see it as a deliberate political attempt to get at her at the expense of Reuben. If not, why pick on Reuben alone out of the many that posted on the social network and even transferred his case to Abuja. Politicians have many ways of getting things done in their own ways and this could be just one, though, a tawdry means of forcing someone to succumb.

To me, the arrest was in part, to push Reuben to the brink to write an undertaking that will implicate him if there is a reprisal attack. Incase this calculation hits fruition; it would have given the state security machine the prerogative to use Reuben as a security trump card to avoid reprisal in Bondong. The vexation that accompanied Reuben’s arrest sneered at the inability of the government machine to guarantee the security of lives and properties and even ensure peace amongst people.

Government refused to take responsibility for its failure to provide adequate security in the state and declined to see itself as being irresponsible for the collapse of peace and order as well. If the state security agencies had put in place a 24/7 security surveillance, probably there wouldn’t have been such an attack. Reuben and others wouldn’t have had the privilege of snapping such psychologically daunting images and further posting it on the social network.

Dauda wrote from Kaduna

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