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Monday, 20 February 2017

El-Rufai, Hypocrisy, and Executive Incitement

A couple of my interlocutors have written to say that Audu Maikori deserves to face justice for sending out a false tweet. I have no issue with that. There is a new law in Kaduna against incitement and if he is in violation of it and the state's prosecutors feel they can build a case, he should be prosecuted.

But here are the issues that the few--yes, few--El-Rufai worshippers and and those who share his ethno-religious and supremacist inclinations are avoiding and want to deflect by latching onto Maikori, the entertainment entrepreneur having become their convenient escapist scapegoat.
1. Is it not curious that all those arrested so far (Christians and Muslims) under this new anti-incitement law are El-Rufai's critics? Is it not equally curious that the governor's supporters who have been making incendiary statements and inflaming the Southern Kaduna crisis with their comments in support of the herdsmen killers and against the people of Southern Kaduna have not been arrested under this law? It appears that as long as you support the governor and join him in demonizing the people of Southern Kaduna and their leaders, your incitement carries no legal consequence. But if you criticize the governor's handling of this crisis or the Shia killings in Zaria and you say something that can be remotely interpreted to violate the capacious anti-incitement law, you get arrested. In this way, the anti-incitement law seems to be functioning as a tool for silencing El-Rufai's critics, an instrument for furthering his tyranny.

2. Is it not hypocritical and ironic that a governor who is the most inciting politician in Nigeria, and whose actions and comments have rendered him a biased umpire in the Southern Kaduna crisis and stoked the conflict, is arresting others for the offense of incitement? And I am not just talking about his well known pre-Governorship tweets at a time when he seemed to have been aiming for the award of the most divisive and inciting politician in Nigeria. I am talking also about his ONGOING incitement. During this crisis, El-Rufai has blamed the Southern Kaduna people, the victims of sustained killings, for bringing the genocide upon themselves by provoking foreign Fulani herdsmen. Just two weeks ago, El-Rufai was on Channels TV, asserting without a shred of evidence, that Southern Kaduna secular and church leaders were encouraging the killing of their own people because they were profiting from it!! This was coming from the governor of the state, but somehow we are supposed to see a false tweet from a citizen's account as a greater threat to peace in Southern Kaduna. A law against incitement may be a good thing if it can be enforced even-handedly (which el-Rufai has shown that it cannot), but a politician who is guilty of serial incitement, a politician indirectly complicit in the ongoing crisis, and a politician who is the inciter-in-chief in Kaduna does not have the credibility to be the enforcer or promoter of such a law.

3. Is it not tragically unfortunate that a governor who has paid instead of arresting the foreign herdsmen he says are responsible for the killings is now arresting people for sending false tweets? In other words, for El-Rufai, you can murder freely and get "compensated" but if you tweet false, inciting information you are toast. Which sane leader unencumbered by hate and ethno-religious supremacist thinking would prioritize inciting tweets and publications over the crime of mass murder, rewarding offenders in the latter category and arresting offenders in the former?

I will not tell El-Rufai how to do his job but foolishness--and wickedness--is when you ignore and even pay mass murdering foreign herdsmen and then arrest your own citizens who tweet out or publish false information concerning the menace of these murderous herdsmen.

As I write this, El-Rufai's foreign herdsmen, the ones he supposedly paid off, have struck again in a Southern Kaduna village, killing 8 and obliterating the habitation. Despite the payoff, and despite Southern Kaduna now being under effective military occupation, the herdsmen are still on rampage. They are undeterred by the military presence and seem able to operate and move freely with their sophisticated weaponry, leaving El-Rufai seemingly helpless. But the same "helpless" governor finds the gusto to go after critics and tweeters of false information.

These are the issues the few objecting El-Rufai supporters want to avoid by fixating on Maikori. The issues are hypocrisy, executive incitement, making payment to killers while arresting alleged inciters who also happen to be your critics. The last issue is the absence of even-handedness in enforcing laws, which encourages politically disfavored law breakers to attract undeserved sympathy and politically favored ones to escape consequences for their actions and inciting words.


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