APC Spokesperson Lai Mohammed narrated how he was arrested and bullied by Nigerian federal security forces on Friday 08-08-2014, the night before the gubernatorial elections in Osun State Nigeria. He was shocked and there was some orchestrated public outcry at the way a group of “drunken & masked” security forces took him.
You see frankly this is what the average Nigerian goes through without any public or media outcry. Anyone who has being arrested, jailed or imprisoned in Nigeria knows it is never pretty. I have being arrested and jailed in Nigeria on multiple occasions. The most recent incident happened when 6 operatives of the NDLEA suddenly appeared in my house and took me from my upstairs bedroom without a search or arrest warrant.
I was jailed in a cell with about 30 other prisoners some in hand and leg chains sleeping on the concrete floor like sardines in a can. I was jailed six days under the most deplorable and dehumanizing conditions you cannot begin to imagine. My arrest was based on a kite flown by someone who had something against me. You see this is how it works in Nigeria, someone who believes you have money would finger you to the authorities with some trumped up charge like you are a drug lord. The authorities then kidnap and extort you.
In 1997 Maj. General Musa Bamayi Chairman of the NDLEA ordered a raid on the Africa Shrine and Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s home, I was arrested in that raid and jailed along with dozens of people including my sister in-law Clara “C J” Kuboye. I was charged with smuggling drugs from America for Fela. The fact is I was at Fela’s home with C J working on a film documentary on the legend called Fela.
The beatings and shooting live rounds to arrest an unarmed citizenry, the ride of uncertainty in the dark in the back of a Black Maria heading to an unknown destination. Fear was never in my thought process. It was dark inside the Black Maria so I closed my eyes and channeled my sense of hearing listening to the cries, wailings and speculations of my fellow captives. I listened to every voice as some prayed and others speculated on our faith as we were whisked through the Lagos night traffic, sirens blaring.
There was the constant speculation that we were been led to slaughter, taking us someplace to summarily execute us as armed robbers. This is what the Nigerian military is famously known to do. The beatings on young men and women who where at the Africa Shrine or at Fela’s home I figured was part of a system of abuse perpetrated on the young who seek truth, knowledge and freedom. The brutality is based on religious, ethnic, and cultural bias mixed with a sense of misapplied authority.
I was taken to meet with Maj. General Musa Bamayi in his office a couple of days later. I explained to him while he patiently listened that I was in Fela’s home to work on a film documentary about him and was not there to supply him with drugs. The only items I had brought Fela was a T Shirt and a bottle of Hennessy which I believe he gave to his daughter Yeni since he did not drink.
I tried to read Maj. General Musa Bamayi’s face as I spoke but he held the same facial expression, I had no idea what he was thinking. When I was done he told me he did not believe my claim, he genuinely could not believe that Fela had such international appeal and I had flown in from America just to do a documentary about him.
Two times Nigerian president General Olusegun Obasanjo was implicated in a coup plot against the government of General Sani Abacha. He was subsequently arrested, tried and imprisoned. He entered prison with a fat stomach and came out with a flat one. After experiencing the deplorable conditions in the Nigerian prison system he flew a kite about it from prison.
You see Lai Mohammed and General Olusegun Obasanjo have both had a taste of the system they help create, but neither of them is advocating a reform of that system. – Ogbeni Ayotunde