A lot has been said and written about how a suspended deputy commissioner of police, Abba Kyari, arrived at this disgraceful waterloo juncture of his life. Some have blamed a Nigerian society that is everything but rigorous in the process of arriving at who their heroes are. Many others have also blamed the shock of Kyari’s unraveling at the overall absence of heroes here.
Kyari was a highly decorated police officer who society looked forward to. He received so many garlands for his alleged bravery, incorruptibility and patriotism, especially a standing ovation from Nigeria’s legislature. It was so bad that, even when the American investigating apparatus found him culpable on allegation that he helped a self-avowed fraudster in a scam ring in the US last year, Kyari still retained a long strand of followers who attributed his suspension to the denim of a systemic craving to pull down an achiever.
Last week, as the NDLEA arrested him for involvement in a 25kg cocaine deal and for being “a member of a drug cartel that operates the Brazil-Ethiopia-Nigeria illicit drug pipeline,” jaws dropped finally and our heroes kissed the canvass. The process that surrounded the arrest of Kyari, after having been caught on camera for handing a cocaine binge that was worth over $61,400, further revealed that the so-called intelligence officers in Nigeria may be highly overrated. He has since been arrested alongside four other officers.
In this piece however, I have no blame to apportion to Abba Kyari. To me, we are to blame as a people. This is because, our hypocrisy is nauseatingly embarrassing. We are like a man who lives inside the skewers but who wants to wear cocaine-white apparel. We want the best of characters, who manifest the purity of intentions and the honesty of character, but we live in a Nigeria where stains, mud and filth abound. There is hardly anywhere you go that you don’t find filth in abundance.
Recently, I heard the story of a complainant who was at a police headquarters and the police unabashedly asked him to pay N200,000 in bribe for them to bring an accused to justice. For days upon being told, I was downcast because I saw Nigeria implode in my very before and I witnessed the vacuity, the hopelessness of my weekly sermon here.
In our mind construct, we built an Abba Kyari Eldorado with a surrounding that is smelly, dirty, and which has maggots playing tombola. Where do we hope to get such a character that we built in our own image, in a Nigeria that is riven with injustice, fraud, acute immorality, and where the just are as scarce as hen’s teeth? How more hypocritical can a society get! So when anyone talks about a just man in Nigeria, they can as well be talking of a snake’s footpath on the rock.
As I ruminate over Kyari’s fate, though not too similar, I remember Oladejo Okediji’s Yoruba detective masterpiece novel entitled Àjà ló lerù. First published in 1969, the title literally translates to mean, the burden of lifting a heavy load is reserved for the loft. It is extracted from a longer aphorism that says, while the loft is reserved the duty of lifting a heavy load, the shelf is just a mere appendage – aja lo leru, iro ni pepe npa. It is the story of an ex-policeman, Lapade, which is set in Ibadan. One day, as he cycled off his farm, he saw a man hiding a huge sack of money beneath a tree. Unknown to Lapade, he had, by taking the money, engrafted himself into the criminal activities of a drugs crime ring that involved kidnapping and cannabis cultivation.
Whenever and wherever we single out anyone in Nigeria as just, we are invariably, in the words of James Hadley Chase, trying to make a corpse walk. Do such characters live in Saturn? Do they live in Mars? Are Nigerians not such fellows’ family members? Until we purify the dais and have a society that works, policed by rules and laws, no man can be said to be pure, or else, they will be working against method, apologies to Vienna-born philosopher, Paul Feyerabend.
Kyari and the current Nigeria Police remind me again of a murder case that happened on January 10, 1949, involving the 43rd Alaaye of Efon-Alaaye, in Ekiti State, Kabiyesi Oba Samuel Adeniran, the Asusumasa Atewogboye II. It also involved his herbalist, one of his servants, and one Gabriel Olabirinjo who were all arrested, prosecuted, and eventually hanged by the Nigerian state for the ritual murder of a 15-month old baby girl named Adediwura.
As the search for the little girl whose body was hewn into pieces for sacrifice commenced, on February 10, 1949, police detectives comprising Chief Inspector Aruah, Sergeants Sule Agbabiaka, and Olawaiye, and Police Constable Ariyo arrived Efon-Alaaye and within 48 hours, they rounded up all the suspects. That was a Nigeria police with analogue facilities to work with. Today, we are not only wrapped up in the hands of complicit police, policemen arrest and parade ritual murder suspects, and since no attorney general of the state seems interested in prosecuting them, IPOs just collect bribes from suspects and they are let off the hook, to return to the trade the next minute, leading to a boom in the criminal enterprise.
If we indeed want the Kyari who we sculpt in our minds, we have to clean up this societal mess, in the whirlpool of which we luster. At the small corner of our closets, let us behave like the Kyari we covet. The construct of this Kanuri police icon we carry its mascot about is a mirage. It can never happen here, certainly not now, with this humongous filth.