My Criminal Is Better Than Yours!

My Criminal Is Better Than Yours!

By Azuka Onwuka

Abike Dabiri-Erewa

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, came under fire last week for the way she handled the involvement of some Nigerians in criminal activities in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Five Nigerians had been arrested for allegedly robbing a bureau de change in UAE, while a Nigerian had been executed for drug-trafficking in Saudi Arabia, with about 20 other Nigerians awaiting execution in Saudi Arabia.

Noting that Nigerians should name and shame those who tarnish the image of Nigeria, Dabiri-Erewa listed the names of the Nigerians that were arrested for alleged robbery in UAE, describing them as a disgrace and an embarrassment to Nigeria and their families. The names as listed by her were: Chimuanya Ozoh, Benjamin Ajah, Kingsley Ngoka, Tochukwu Alisi and Chile Ndunagu. But she was silent on the name of the Nigerian woman that was executed in Saudi Arabia and those awaiting execution in the same country.

Because all the names she listed were Igbo names, expectedly the Igbos came under attack as criminals. There was outrage against Dabiri-Erewa for engaging in subtle ethnic stereotyping against the Igbo. It was argued that by listing the Igbo names and being silent on the names of the executed drug-traffickers and those awaiting trial in Saudi Arabia, Dabiri-Erewa wanted to achieve a narrative in the public sphere.

A Nigerian named Peter Ekekwe addressed a letter to Dabiri-Erewa, part of which read as follows:

MEMO TO MRS ABIKE DABIRI-EREWA
“Dear Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa,

“Mine is not a very long letter. Just to commend you for the “passion” that you bring to your work.

“I believe like you that when we name and shame the bad eggs tarnishing the image of our dear Nigeria abroad, it will deter others from a life of crime ABROAD.

“It is in this light that I appreciate your publishing the names of the 5 robbers in UAE. You gave their names as Chimmuanya Emmanuel Ozo, Benjamin Nwachukwu Ajah, Kingsley Ikenna Ngoka, Tochukwu Leonard Alusi and Chile Micah Ndumodu (Ndunagu?)

“Like you rightly pointed out “these five boys are a disgrace to this country and an embarrassment.”

“Unfortunately, Mrs Dabiri, you simply referred to the woman executed for drugs as “A Nigerian woman.” I believe you were in a hurry to address this very pressing national issue that you couldn’t wait to get her name.

“You also in the same vein failed to inform Nigerians of the names of the other Nigerians already executed for drugs and those on death row for the same crime – drugs.

“While you and your team are busy unravelling the name of the ‘Nigerian woman executed for drugs,’ permit me to give the names of those already executed and those on death row. I am sure you will agree with me that all hands must be on deck to save the image of our nation.

THOSE EXECUTED FOR DRUGS IN SAUDI ARABIA
1. Yusuf Yekini Ajiboye
2. Adebayo Adeniyi
3. Mohammed Abubakar
4. Mohammed Issa
5. IBRAHIM Ciroma
6. Biola Ologunro

THOSE ON DEATH ROW FOR DRUGS IN SAUDI ARABIA
1. Idris Adepoju
2. Abdulrimi Ajibola
3. Jimoh Lawal
4. Tunde Ibraheem
5. Amode Sulaman
6. Hafis Amosun
7. Aliu Mohammed
8. Babatunde
9. Abdulrasaq Lawal
10. Yekini
11. Abubakar
12. Kawu Muhammed
13. Madinah Yahaya
14. Awalu Muhammed
15. Kafilat Oljide
16. Ayisa
17. Abdulraman Mu’azu,
18. Abdulraman Durojaye
19. Abubakar Usman
20. Sunny
21. Emeka
22. Issa.

“I hope I have saved you time that you can channel towards other issues.

“Thank you for all your services to our beloved country.”

On April 4, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Mustapha Lawal Sulaiman, issued a statement about the execution of a Nigerian national by Saudi Arabia. The statement disclosed her identity as Mrs Kudirat Adesola Afolabi, a widow and mother of two. The disclosure of the names of those executed and those on death row strengthened the perception of many Nigerians that Dabiri-Erewa consciously chose to withhold the names of the people she saw as her people, while disclosing the names of those she did not see as her people.

On Friday, April 5, Dabiri-Erewa announced the name of the Nigerian executed in Saudi Arabia. She added that another Nigerian, Wahid Somade, was arrested the previous day at Jeddah Airport, Saudi Arabia with about 1,138g of cocaine. But her attempt at full disclosure was seen as too little, too late.

Through her action, Dabiri-Erewa had pitched Nigerians against each other over which ethnic group was committing more crimes. People began to bring up links to stories of armed robbery, drug-trafficking, internet fraud, ritual killings, paedophilia, embezzlement of public funds, baby factory, ethnic killings, terrorism, etc, just to prove that the other ethnic group was the worst offender in local and international crimes. The issue at stake was completely forgotten: that Nigerians were becoming more desperate to make money without caring about death.

Interestingly, when the list of those arrested for armed robbery, as well as those executed for drug trafficking and those on death row for drug-trafficking was available to everybody, most Nigerians began to change their message. Ethnic finger-pointing stopped and the message became: “crime has no ethnicity.” That was what would have been the message if Dabiri-Erewa had acted dispassionately ab initio.

It is shocking that in spite of the death penalty on some crimes in certain countries and the high probability of being caught, some Nigerians still travel to such countries to commit such crimes. The implication is that death is no longer a deterrent to them.

It is a pointer to the type of realities Nigerians face. Many have concluded that their life has no meaning anymore, and that the only thing that can give their life a meaning is the acquisition of wealth. And even if they have to die trying to get that money by whatever means does not scare them. Whatever bad image they bring to their families or nation does not bother them. Their focus is on the money they will make if they succeed.

There is also the other issue that came out of Dabiri-Erewa’s comment which was lost in the dust she created: the allegation she made against the airlines. Is there any proof that airlines’ staff put drugs in people’s luggage? Beyond saying it, it is important that this is thoroughly investigated by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

And for passengers, it is also a warning for them to lock their bags before checking them in and also check their bags thoroughly, especially the pouches with no locks at the external parts of bags. If they discover anything that was not in their bags when they checked such in, the challenge will be whether to report such or dispose of such quietly. If they report such to the security people, will they be believed? If they dispose of such quietly, will they not be caught on camera and still be arrested somewhere? This is part of the enlightenment the Nigerian government should be giving to her citizens to help them navigate these issues.

Interestingly the same last week, a Nigerian lady, Ms Chinelo Emelife, from Anambra State was given a scholarship by India for creating the academic record of winning the maximum 20 gold medals and five cash awards in the 113 years history of University of Mysore, India. Another Nigerian lady, Ms Amina Yahaya, a medical student on Kaduna State scholarship in Cuba, came first in a biochemistry contest. In addition, four Nigerian boys from St John’s Science and Technical College, Alor, Anambra State (Ugwuishi Meschack Ogonna, Chuka-Umeora Onyedika Anthony, Nwachukwu Chukwualuka Daniel, and Machi Chukwuagozie Dominic) won the bronze medal at the International Festival of Engineering, Science and Technology in Tunisia, which featured countries like South Korea, Canada, Italy, China, Sweden, etc. These news stories were not given national attention, because bad news is usually celebrated than good news.

The tribalisation of crime is a drawback to the fight against crimes. It trivialises the crime and takes attention away from the real thing, making the nation chase after shadow. It should be discouraged because it is a disservice to the nation.

One Comment

  1. Orji April 9, 2019 Reply

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