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Date Published: 10/14/09


All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing (Edmund Burke)

Persecution is not wrong because it is cruel; but it is cruel because it is wrong. (Archbishop Richard Whately)

Yes great people are always subject to persecution and always getting into straits. (Johann Friedrich Von Schiller)

Wherever you see persecution, there is more than a probability that truth lies on the persecuted side. (Hugh Latimer)

Persecution, whenever it occurs, establishes only the power and cunning of the persecutor, not the truth and worth of his belief. (H. M. Kallen)

Politics and governance are too serious and too important to be left to street urchins. If those who have what it takes to make the society better refuse to stand up to be counted on the excuse that they are too big or too clean to be ‘rubbished’ in the murky waters of politics, they must forever be contented with the consequences of mediocrity and misrule. (Chukwuma Soludo)

These are hard times being an ordinary Nigerian. It’s not upto three month since the passing on of Gani, but, we’ve started missing him dearly. This writer knew that with the passing on of Gani, this and subsequent governments would take us on a lawless roller coaster.  This government is a health risk to Nigerians. For those who love the country and are worried about the misrule going on there, this government has heightened our blood pressure and pulse.


Dr. Tunji Otegbeye was a frontline nationalist and one of those who fought for Nigeria's independence. He devoted his entire life to the emancipation of the down-trodden while he also worked tirelessly with other leaders for the pre and post-colonial development of Nigeria. He just passed on at 84. In an interview he granted eight days before his death, Otegbeye lamented over Nigeria. He said one of the reasons he was seriously ill was that Nigeria remained unsuccessful after 49 years of nationhood. The interview was granted to Nigerian Tribune in his Ilaro, Ogun State home, a day after the last independence anniversary of Nigeria. During the interview, the patriot reminisced on his struggles and those of his contemporaries to free Nigeria of neo-colonialism, concluding that it was sad to see the country on the spot it was at 49. The late politician said it was disheartening that most of Nigeria’s contemporaries had made appreciable progress and are now the ones dictating the direction of Nigeria’s economy. In his words:

 “One of the reasons I am sick now is that I am unhappy about the socio-economic development in Nigeria, that Nigeria, after 49 years, is still a toddler. I had some visitors from Singapore recently. They came to set up investments in Nigeria. About 1962, I went through India, Hong Kong, China and Moscow. You can imagine 1962 to now. Hong Kong, then, was not so big; it was not so important and not so developed. I would say it was not more developed than Nigeria then. I stayed in China. China was not such a big affair. These countries are now bringing development to us. I was unwanted here, but, though I couldn’t meet with the president, I was received by China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. China is an economic power now.”

This writer is appealing to all Nigerians who are dejected because of what’s going on there, to always go for medical check-up. We may not know how the bad leadership and the condition of things in our beloved land are “eating us up bit by bit”. This government is killing us softly and softly.

The YarÁdua government has decided to place a consular ban on the duo of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu in all Nigerian embassies across the world. The ban is to ensure that none of them is able to travel about with his Nigerian passport. The government said that it considered recent activities of Mallam El-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu as offensive and unacceptable. The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) are said to be coordinating the ban placed on the duo. A letter from the permanent secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Joe Keshi dated September 17, 2009, indicated that the duo have to be stopped from continuing their alleged “campaign of calumny” against the Nigerian government.

The circular, dated September 17, 2009 and issued by one Joe Keshi, a permanent secretary reads:

 “Headquarters attention has been drawn to the continuous and unyielding campaign of calumny being orchestrated by former FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and former EFCC chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu against the federal government abroad. 

 In particular, the former FCT Minister was reported to have approached you for re-issuance   of his standard passport having exhausted the visa pages of his current passport booklet. 

 Meanwhile, a decision has been taken at the highest level not to grant any consular assistance to the duo by all our missions abroad as doing so will further facilitate their overseas travels and enhance their tendency to continue to undermine Nigeria’s image abroad.  Consequently, you are hereby directed not to re-issue the former FCT Minister with a new passport. 

 Above is for information and compliance of all, please. 

 Warm regards. 

  Joe Keshi”.

This government, instead of concentrating on the alleviation of the unjustified hardship the people of Nigeria are going through now, is only interested in witch-hunting and persecuting some upright Nigerians and driving many out of the country they love so much. Many of the people who are in the bad books of this government for no justified reasons other than to please some corrupt Nigerians who have unfettered access to Aso Rock, are people this lack-lustre government should have co-opted, as they would have given it (the government) the legitimacy it lacks, but, desperately needs, more than two years since it came into being. This writer wonders what the legacy of this government would be at the end of it all. Yar’Adua should have given EL-Rufai and Ribadu places in his government as these two gentlemen worked hard to get him selected by the PDP during its presidential primary in December 2006.

Not only that, the duo even defended that choice far and wide.  This writer remembers that El-Rufai introduced and defended the choosing of Yar’Adua as far away as United States, even before that choice was made known to Nigerians. This writer remembers that Ribadu “stood his ground” against the choosing of Peter Odili based on the records at his disposal then, even when Obasanjo’s tendency was towards the latter as the presidential candidate and that opposition to Odili’s candidacy, led to the smooth emergency of Yar’Adua. So instead of Yar’Adua to pay these two gentlemen, who have good intentions for Nigeria than him, back by making them pillars of his government, he is witch-hunting and “stabbing them in their back”. An Igbo saying has it that “a fowl does not forget who tended its feathers during the rainy season (ökükö anaghi echefu onye foro ya ödü n’udu nmiri)”, but Yar’Adua has made a mincemeat of this words of wisdom. This writer hopes Yar’Adua knows that he would be remembered as a man who persecuted El-Rufai and Ribadu and drove them out of Nigeria, rather than, as a man who worked hard for the good of Nigerians.

There are lots to do for Nigeria, rather, Yar’Adua is only engaging in trivialities. Yar’Adua should remember that “no condition is permanent”, no person should think that his/her position gives him/her the power over life and death or power to give or withdraw somebody else’s nationality or to order the non-renewal of somebody else’s passport. We should remember that we are holding our position and our life in trust for God and only He can withdraw that/them whenever He deems fit. We should not allow power to get into our head and mesmerize us whenever we find ourselves in authority position, because, nothing lasts forever. Abacha, despite all his misuse of power, is today no where to be found. Had someone told him then (when he was in power) that he would be history today, such a person would have paid with his/her life. Despite all he did and those he killed/persecuted and ruined their lives, where is he today? What has happened to all the wealth he stole and stashed away in local and foreign banks? Is his family today happier? Obasanjo had bestridden the landscape as a colossus and was spitting fire like a mighty dragon just few years back. Where is him and the power today? Yar’Adua should be careful or else he would go the way of Abacha, because, everything points to that direction based on the way he’s going now. This writer prays he comes to his senses and “pulls the brakes immediately”.

Tell me what manner of a president is Yar’Adua that he ordered that EL-Rufai´s family be delayed at the airport recently? The family was on September 28, 2009, stopped by immigration officials at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. Mrs. Asia El-Rufai, who returned to the country from Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE) with three kids aged three, nine and seven, was delayed for about 40 minutes to one hour. Their passports were seized without any tangible explanation. The officials reportedly claimed they were conducting routine "checks" on their travelling documents. For the entire period, the lady was neither asked a question nor told why she was being held longer than usual. They were released after she protested. El-Rufai latter said that the government is deliberately "harassing" his family in order to stop his imminent return to the country. He further said “I know I will spend my Christmas in Nigeria. The country does not belong to anybody's father. I will come back”. Expressing his astonishment that the Nigerian government would attempt to stop her citizens from entering their country, he said he was particularly miffed by attempts to scare minors. El-Rufai added: “Even in war, children are allowed to go. It’s not even a war. It's just political difference”. Now the government has put paid to his dream of spending the Christmas in Nigeria.

Yar’Adua might think that he’s putting El-Rufai and Ribadu in a disadvantage position, but, what he’s doing, is turning them into greater heroes of the people and whether he (Yar’Adua) likes it or not, the duo is destined to lead Nigeria in future and nobody can stop that, no matter whatever anybody does (that’s my premonition and I hope it won’t miss).

The persecution these two nice fellas are going through now is only a minor irritation they have to experience before getting to their destined position. All great men have at one time or the other, passed through such stage, before getting to the pinnacle in life. Persecution is a test mark for would be leaders and their withstanding or living through it, is a mark of the leadership traits in them and a signal that they are ripe to take up what’s reserved for them. This writer only prays that El-Rufai and Ribadu would see what they are going through now as a preparatory steps to better things ahead. They need to know and taste what persecution entails, in order not to mete it to others when they lead. They should see a positive angle to it, no matter how frustrating it might be. It is only temporary and after rain comes sunshine.  God would lead them through all these. My prayers and thoughts would always be with them.

Yar’Adua should not think that life starts and ends at Aso Rock or only now. This writer would not be surprised if his passport is not renewed whenever it expires or if he’s arrested on point of entry in Nigeria whenever he travels to Nigeria, because, he’s a constant critic of this government. But this writer’s criticism of this government is not out of hatred, but, out of love for the land and the desire to see the government display good leadership and governance for the people of Nigeria and there would be no let up on this writer’s criticism, until the government changes 180 degree from the path of destruction it has taken. No matter what might be the fate of this writer in future, he has prepared himself psychologically for it/them. This writer would never be cowed by fear of ill-treatment or persecution from this or any government in future. This writer is doing the Lord’s work and He tells him what to write. He who sends this writer Has strengthened his hands and would see him through.

Some of the sworn enemies of El-Rufai and Ribadu might claim that they weren’t blameless in the discharge of their duties. This writer would not contest that point, no body’s perfect, we are human beings, made of flesh and blood and are bound to make mistakes in life. El-Rufai and Ribadu had their shortcomings no doubt, but, when compared to others, most especially, those calling the shot now, they (El-Rufai and Ribadu) were almost saints.

To be the chairman of the EFCC, one must step on the biggest of toes, if he/she must make a significant impact in the war against graft, it would involve taking on some powerful enemies.  Ribadu tackled some big masquerades in corruption and they are fighting back because Yar’Adua is dancing to their tune. That Ms. Waziri has decided to romanticize with the criminals, far from what Ribadu did, is the reason there’s nothing serious happening in that front.

Yar’Adua should know that he’s wasting his time going after upright men. An Igbo Proverb says “he who pursues a chick has the fall, while the chick has the run (ochu nwa ökükö nwe ädä, nwa ökükö nwe nwewe oso)”.

What do Yar’Adua and his band want from Nuhu Ribadu again? They forced him out of Nigeria due to persecution, they harassed, assaulted, arrested, demoted, and humiliated him, he was nearly killed by those they unleashed on his trail, he left Nigeria for them and still they are not satisfied, now they are denying him consular service. If this government is true to its “rule of law” mantra, why is it that no one, even the police, deemed it necessary to investigate the attempt on Ribadu’s life? Have Yar’Adua and his band no morals at all? How can they be so mean to an incapacitated and defenceless man? This government is persecuting El-Rufai and Ribadu to veer attention from its shielding of Ibori, an ex-convict, from his money laundering case in United Kingdom.

 Huhuonline.com wrote that the recent actions adopted by the Yar’Adua led Nigerian government, portrays the activities of a leadership with a deranged mindset. Constitutionally, a citizen of Nigeria is allowed to form opinions, and associate freely. However, the continuous clamp down on citizens who criticize the depressing status quo in Nigeria, have brazenly taken a dangerous dimension.  We have to recall that this brazen act commenced last year with the arrest of online publishers, particularly, Jonathan Elendu of Elendu reports and Emmanuel Emeke Asiwe of Huhuonline.com  who were arrested upon their arrival  at the airport without charges, and detained for weeks. 

  Now, Yar’Adua and his junta are at it again, unable to perfect and carry out their threat to extradite  Nasir El-Rufai and Ribadu to Nigeria , they decided to hatch a new plot, which would confine the duo and restrict their  movement within the Diaspora.

 But, we know that Gani took up such a case during the Abacha’s era in Olisa Agbakoba vs. Director of SSS. And the Supreme Court ruled that the International passport belongs to a citizen and government can't put limitations to it. The court also held that it is like the birth certificate of a citizen to which the state can't put any limitation. The Supreme Court did say that the limiting powers of government over passport can only apply to foreigners. So on what basis is this government acting? This writer wonders why those advising Yar’Adua are leading him to the path of disgrace and illegality. They adviced him to shun the UN meeting despite the fact that we are gunning for a permanent security council seat, and might have scuttled that ambition by that blunder of avoiding the UN occasion, and now they have ill-adviced him again to deny consular services to El-Rufai and Ribadu. What impression is this government creating in the international arena? This government is trying to beat Abacha in high handedness. That’s not what we bargained for, when we opted for this democracy in place of militarism. This order should be reversed with immediate effect before we turn ourselves into a bigger object of caricature in the eyes of the international community.

Somebody might try to defend this illegality by citing that in every Nigerian passport, there’s a warning that “This passport remains the property of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and may be withdrawn at any time”. But someone wrote that the law does not state the conditions under which that kind of thing can and should occur. The long term solution should be an express statement in the Constitution or an Act of the National Assembly defining the conditions under which one's passport or "consular services" at one's embassy can be withdrawn. To leave it up to the discretion of political leaders, opens the door to all sorts of possibilities. The short term solution: An expression of outrage by the public, assuming the government cares.

Femi Falana declared as illegal the directive on renewal of passports of Messrs Nuhu Ribadu and Nasir El-Rufai, by saying that in a desperate but primitive display of executive lawlessness the Federal Government has instructed its missions abroad not to renew the passports of the duo or grant any consular services to them. In Falana’s words:

“The decision is a tragic reminder of the dark days of brutal military dictatorship when the confiscation of the passports of political opponents, human rights activists and pro-democracy campaigners was the order of the day. Even then, none of the military dictators ever directed Nigerian missions not to renew passports of their opponents.

Since the Federal Government is not exposed to sound legal advice, it is pertinent to draw its attention to the case of Director, SSS v. Olisa Agbakoba (1999) 6 NWLR (PT 595).

In the light of the foregoing, the decision of the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Administration to strip Messrs Ribadu and El-Rufai of Nigerian citizenship by denying them of their constitutional right to hold Nigerian passport is a dubious violations of the provision of Section 38 of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Having regard to the fact that President Yar’Adua is the current Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the denying of passports and their renewal is a clear violation of Article 3 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Community Citizens which has been ratified by Nigeria.

In the circumstances, the Federal Government should reverse the illegal and unconstitutional directive without any further delay. Otherwise the decision will be challenged as it may soon be extended to the growing army of political opponents of the Yar’Adua administration”.

Nigerians abroad are signing up to a letter to be sent to Yar’Adua in order to register our displeasure (Nigerians at home are also free to sign on).  Signature closes on Wednesday midnight October 14, 2009, unless President Yar'Adua has reversed himself before then. The letter reads (containing excerpts from Falana’s article):

 “Dear President Yar'Adua:

 Our attention has been drawn to incontrovertible evidence that the Federal Government - through its National Intelligence Agency and the Foreign Ministry - has instructed its missions abroad not to renew the passports of Messrs Nuhu Ribadu and Nasir El-Rufai or grant any consular services to them.


The decision is a tragic reminder of the dark days of brutal military dictatorship when the confiscation of the passports of political opponents, human rights activists and pro-democracy campaigners was the order of the day.  We are aware of only one occasion when the military government of Abacha frowned at the completed renewal of former Foreign Minister Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi's passport in Washington DC when an embassy official lost his posting and almost his job - but that was after the fact.  Thus, to our knowledge, none of the military dictators ever directed Nigerian missions not to renew passports of their opponents BEFORE the fact.

We wish to draw the Federal Government's attention to the case of Director, SSS v. Olisa Agbakoba (1999) 6 NWLR (PT 595) 314 where the Supreme Court held inter alias:

“It is not in dispute that the Constitution gives to the Nigerian citizen the right to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof. It also guarantees to the citizen the right not to be expelled from Nigeria nor be refused entry thereto or exit therefrom. Section 38(1) of the Constitution provides:

Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigerian and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefrom’

It is matter of common knowledge that for a Nigeria to travel out of Nigeria to another country he must first hold or possess a valid passport issued by the Government of Nigeria. See: Section 4(1) of the Immigration Act, Cap 171 LFN 1990 and the definition of the word ‘passport’ in Section 51 thereof. Without this document, he cannot leave Nigeria or be admitted to another country. It follows, therefore, that without a passport a citizen of Nigeria cannot exercise the right guaranteed him by the Constitution, of egress from Nigeria. Can it, then, be said that the right to hold a passport is not one guaranteed by the Constitution? That is a question that calls for determination in this appeal.    

If the view is correct - and I subscribe to it – that possession of a passport makes exit out of Nigeria possible, it follows that without it a citizen of Nigeria cannot enjoy the right of egress from Nigeria given him by section 38(1) of the Constitution. In my respectful view, therefore, to hold or possess a passport is ancillary to the right of egress from Nigeria given in Section 38(1). It is, as rightly held by the Court below, per Ayoola JCA (as he then was), concomitant to the right of egress from Nigeria. It is a concomitant right without which the right of egress from Nigeria becomes hollow or empty”.

In the light of the foregoing, the decision of the Federal Government to effectively strip Messrs Ribadu and El-Rufai of Nigerian citizenship by denying them of their constitutional right to hold Nigerian passports is in clear violation of the provision of Section 38 of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

We shudder at the thought that those of us in the Diaspora who criticize the government of the day for any reason may suddenly become passport-less and will be unable to carry out our jobs that require international travel, or worse still be subject to deportation by our host governments.  We shudder at the thought of similar Nigerians inside the country who are shut in and cannot travel or visit their families abroad or carry out official or professional duties simply because their passports have been pre-emptively seized due to non-renewal.

Having regard to the fact that President Yar’Adua is the current Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) the denial of passports and/or their renewal is a clear violation of Article 3 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Community Citizens which has been ratified by Nigeria.

In the circumstances, we urge the Federal Government to reverse the illegal and unconstitutional directive without any further delay, otherwise the decision will be challenged as a class-action suit”. 

 To sign up, check any Nigerian website!

Nigerians abroad should condemn this illegality, it is Ribadu and El Rufai today; it may be you tomorrow. It can happen to any one of us. Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) wrote:

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then 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 out for me”.

An Igbo Proverb says that all should join hands in chasing away a fowl scattering faeces with its feet, because, nobody knows who would eat that part of it (the fowl) tomorrow (ahu ebe ökükö n’azo nshi, onye chu, onye chu, maka n’odighi onye ma onye g’ata akpirikpa ya echi).

We all should condemn this injustice against El-Rufai and Ribadu now, they deserve better from this government.


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