Editors’ note: The writer, Buchi Obichie, puts the spotlight on the recent murder and gun-running charges leveled against Senators Dino Melaye and Shehu Sani, and questions if they are being set up. She points out that citizens have a duty to dig deep and ask important questions, because they may be the ones facing the same problems tomorrow.
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Trade Unionist.
“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Those are the evergreen words of Martin Niemöller, the prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler.
Niemöller believed that Germans – and Protestant leaders in particular – by their silence, had been complicit in the imprisonment, persecution, and murder of millions of people by the Nazis.
A senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ben Murray-Bruce, has been having something of a ‘Niemöller moment’ in recent times.
In light of the recent charge of alleged conspiracy to murder leveled against Senator Shehu Sani, Bruce stated on his Twitter handle: “First @dino_melaye then @ShehuSani. Who is next? If I say I am not Dino, so I will keep quiet, or I am not Shehu so I should hold my peace, who will speak out when they come for me?
“Who will speak when they come for you? There may be none left to speak then. Shehu is innocent!”
Bruce was also making reference to the fact that just like his other colleague, Dino Melaye, who was alleged to be involved in gun-running, Sani had been ordered to appear at his state’s Police command headquarters after a suspect had allegedly identified him as a person of interest in a murder case.
Both men - Melaye and Sani – have consistently been outspoken critics of their respective state governments – Kogi and Kaduna – and the federal government; and the similarities between their recent travails with the law have not gone unnoticed.
The question many ponder upon now is this: “Are Melaye and Sani being ‘targeted’ because of their controversial stances?”
Shehu Sani, in response to the charges, claimed that he was being framed by his political opponents in Kaduna state.
He stated: “They want to frame me the same way they framed Senator Dino Melaye in Kogi on allegation of arming thugs.”
On his part, Dino Melaye has alleged that his state governor is behind his travails.
And to make matters even more suspicious, Isah Garba, the Joint Task Force (JTF) commander accused of killing one Lawal Dona, disclosed that he was ‘tortured’ to implicate Senator Sani!
So, could both men be telling the truth? Are they being set up? Frankly, it is quite incredulous to even imagine that a man like Sani would sully his hands by getting involved in a crime as heinous as murder.
The man has been a human rights campaigner and a champion for the causes of the masses for a very long time; and even spent time in jail for the struggle. So I do not imagine that he would get involved in such criminal activity!
I cannot speak with as much certainty for Dino Melaye; but I cannot also deny the fact that in his own ‘eccentric and unorthodox’ way, the Kogi senator has raised some eye-popping allegations about his state government.
Is there really a plot to do-in both men? Are we witnessing before our eyes, the use of state might to silence them? Or are they really guilty of the crimes they are accused of committing? Are we supposed to speak out in support of both men or at the very least, ask pertinent questions and demand for critical proof? Or should we stay silent and let the parties involved attend to their own problems?
The truth of the matter is that most of us do not know the facts of the matter; but I dare say that we have a duty to demand a credible and transparent investigation. We must also hold our leaders accountable and call out any semblance of an abuse of power. We have a duty to ask questions and demand answers.
Now, a man says he was coerced to implicate Sani; will his claims be looked into, or swept under the carpet? Will the same vigour used in ordering the senator to appear at the Police command be expended in fishing out the alleged agents who tortured Mr Garba to implicate Sani?
We may choose to stay silent because, afterall, we have our own problems; but like Senator Bruce and Martin Niemöller stated, tomorrow, it may be us. Who will fight for us, if - or when - we are being made to answer for crimes we say we did not commit?
This opinion piece was written by Buchi Obichie.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of NAIJ.com.
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