A Million Deaths Won’t Move Mallam Buhari By Tunde Odesola

Without a doubt, the death of a child is the most unendurable filial anguish that could torment a parent. Having lost a couple of sons, David, king of Israel, captured the immeasurable worth of a child in the boundless words of his psalm, singing: “Like arrows are in the hands of a warrior, So are children born in one’s youth…”

For 38-year-old music icon, Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo, aka D’banj, and his family, these are trying times. While attending the BET Awards in Los Angeles, USA, death scaled the back fence of the Kokomaster’s Ikoyi home, tip-toed into his indoor swimming pool and drowned his cherubic 13-month-old son, Daniel III, last week Sunday. My heart goes out to Bangalee and his wife, Lineo Didi nee Kilgrow, in this turbulent period. Sorrow has enveloped the world of D’banj.

The tears won’t just stop flowing. But, amid blurry tears, the eyes can still see, goes a Yoruba proverb. There are some drooping dangers that the D’banj family failed to avert, despite hanging ominously overhead. As a mark of respect for the dead angel, however, I shall not dwell on the unpardonable mistakes that led to the termination of his innocent life – one of which was not providing the swimming pool with a door – as evidenced by an online video showing D’banj and Daniel III walking past the pool.

Although it takes between 20 to 60 seconds for a drowning victim to struggle on the surface of water, actual death takes between three and four minutes, according to online information site, Quora. A statement by the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, last Monday, directing D’banj and his wife to make a formal report on the circumstances that led to the death of Daniel III, was a testimony to the perpetual misunderstanding of policing by the Nigeria Police Force.

As soon as the smoke of the tragedy filtered out, the police should have mandatorily, without prompting or delay, moved into the home of the Oyebanjos and conducted a forensic investigation into the circumstances leading to the death. Globally, it is the bounding duty of government to investigate the circumstances leading to strange and suspicious deaths of citizens. It’s highly ridiculous of a police chief to wallow in sentiment and play to the gallery when a dispassionate and critical appraisal was required.

By not moving his men swiftly to the residence of the Oyebanjo for a thorough investigation, the Lagos CP might have obliterated the real cause(s) of the death of Daniel III. In a responsible country, giving the circumstances of Daniel’s death, D’banj and wife not only stood the risk of a long jail term, their eligibility to have possession of their children in the future would come under intense scrutiny.

Well, it’s not only Imohimi that is caught in the intricate web of police over-centralisation and its attendant eye-service, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, is also shackled by the chain of pervasive corruption, bureaucracy and impotence bedeviling the force. The proliferation of counterproductive security units at federal and state levels underpins the exploitative and insensitive tendencies of the NPF. Instead of the Office of the IGP to engender an effective policing structure in all the commands of the federation, it evolved a largely self-glorifying unit called the Inspector-General of Police Monitoring and Intelligence Response Unit, whose members at the state level are not answerable to state police commissioners, but to Abuja.

Similarly, state CPs, instead of arming and encouraging state Criminal Investigation Departments, create their own special investigation units which probe ‘juicy’ cases, leaving ‘non-juicy’ cases to bereft SCIDs. The confusion within the operations of the police force has seen the Special Anti-Robbery Squads grown into uncontrollable monsters of torture. The chaos within the force answers the reason why incompetent bosses appoint incompetent subordinates who lord it over competent officers. Nepotism and blind loyalty, rather than competence, have been the driving force behind police appointments. As a journalist, this much I’ve seen in the appointments of I-Gs, DIGs, AIGs, commissioners, Divisional Police Officers, Divisional Crime Officers, Police Public Relations Officers, etc. With the way the police force is structured, it would continue to deliver security to the powerful while the rest of the citizenry battle insecurity and dehumanisation.

Speaking through his deputy, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, a worried President Muhammadu Buhari, last Thursday, ordered the restructuring of SARS. According to a report by Vanguard newspaper, the Vice President spoke at a town hall meeting during the inauguration of micro, small and medium enterprises clinic in Ibadan. He said, “Many people are complaining about the atrocities of SARS, people are saying there should be no more SARS. SARS, as you know, is an anti-robbery squad but several members of the squad have gone rogue and are doing things that are contrary to the very reasons for which they were set up. The President has already ordered a review of the formation of SARS so that very soon, we would be able to have a SARS that will be responsible.”

For a country that has consistently swum against the tide of insecurity for over three decades, a total restructuring of the polity is the sensible way to go and not patchy attempts at covering up the gaping cracks in the shaky foundation of the nation. Last week, Buhari put to the sword the hope of Nigerians witnessing wholesome restructuring during his tenure as he described the proponents of restructuring as self-serving, despite his ruling All Progressives Congress setting up a committee on restructuring headed by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State in 2017. The report of the committee submitted to a former national chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun, has been gathering dust since January 26, 2018.

Last Sunday, the nation again woke up to the woeful news of killer herdsmen wreaking havoc on the plateau, sending about 200 indigenes to early graves. Nothing best exemplifies the worthlessness of human lives to the Nigerian Presidency than Buhari’s characteristic tale of promising to fish out killer-herdsmen each time the nation slaughters humans for cows.

It is to the supreme shame of the President that not one killer herdsman has been arrested, let alone, brought to justice – despite the daily bloodletting. And he sits in Aso Rock, wringing his hands and plotting for a second term in office?

Last Thursday, several people met undeserved deaths on the Otedola Bridge along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway when a tanker laden with fuel exploded. On both occasions of immense tragedies, the President was too busy fine-tuning re-election strategies for 2019 and too tongue-tied to soothe the pains across the country with a personal address. Nigerians have got used to the President’s weird but typical cold behaviour and they wonder, “How many more people do Fulani herdsmen have to kill for Buhari to act?” “How many more years do we need to grope in the dark and shun restructuring to our own peril?” “Is there justice in the President labelling the Indigenous People of Biafra as terrorists while indulging his murderous kinsmen?”

In the wake of the Plateau killings, the President let out a smelly belch, saying “It’s unjust to say I’m silent on killings by herdsmen.” Can the father of the sport bike-riding Yusuf tell Nigerians one action he has taken to check his bloody kinsmen?

Tunde Odesola can be reached on ([email protected])