That the politics of the Offa Robbery swiftly overtook the daring viciousness of the mega-crime was a result of the powerful prominent politicians mired in the web of police investigations into the incident. The triple turn-over of crime, politics and police from this extraordinary event presents a unique and timely expose of what has become an open secret about the apparent conspiracy of convenience sustaining the culture of god-fathers, gangsters, intolerance and violence in Nigeria’s politics and practice of democracy.
In the circumstance, neither Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Police IG Ibrahim Idris, nor indeed Robber-in-Chief Ayoade Akinnibosun can deny the pre-existence of the “joint operation” involving the juggernauts of politics, top cops and the big barons of the underworld in the devious dynamics of power politics for decades. The Offa Robbery can therefore be attributed to both the victory of law enforcement as well as the vanquishing of the conspiracy of silent collusion on which the criminalization of politics had thrived all the while. Otherwise, the politics of the Offa Robbery could have been shielded from its criminality and eventually even the criminals of the robbery too would have “quietly” exited the crime on account of their connections with powerful politicians and police investigations would continue perpetually.
Power politics has always been a gangsters’ paradise in Nigeria because the godfathers’ entourage was never complete without menacing mob of thugs, brandishing deadly weapons with drugged abandon and wildly dramatizing lawlessness under the open but unwary eyes of police and security operatives. The godfather derives ego boosts from their brigandage and even feels more secure politically knowing that, as Offa Robbery kingpin Akinnibosun bragged, “we mobilize for him and we are the ones that do political arrangements for him, where we cannot win, we make ‘dabaru’ arrangement and scatter elections if we don’t win.”
The Offa Robbery provides alarming insight into what these political enforcers, hired with hundreds of thousands of naira in regular handouts and gifts of SUVs, resort to in their off-season in between elections when the godfather has successfully “scattered” all opposition to his desperate ambition and can make do with police orderlies and sirens. Since the thugs are only on sabbatical they remain entitled to timely interventions by their powerful patrons to get them off-the-hook which gives them the courage and confidence to unleash their terror on banks, highways, homes, sleeping villages and innocent lives.
This is where the inter-connectivity is activated to complete the circuit of conspiracy in the criminalization of politics as amply demonstrated in the sporadic outbreaks of organized deadly gangs such as Niger Delta militants, Boko Haram, Yan Kalere, ECOMOG and Good Boys, all off-shoots of godfather vigilantes turned terror and insurgency squads. The tragedy is that power politics in our democratic dispensation and the insatiable lust for the spoils of high offices combine to breed and embolden the criminal constituency which too often hijacks the expressed will of the people in elections by imposition of the unelected and sabotages peaceful coexistence and national security by perpetrating violent crimes against humanity.
But now that the bubble has burst, we have an unexpected opportunity to conquer the cankerworm of crimes of political convenience whose terrifying and deadly tentacles have gripped virtually all aspects of life in Nigeria as frighteningly flaunted all over the country today in widespread insecurity from wild waves of massacres, destruction of property, kidnappings, insurgencies and, of course, robberies. Though the variety may suggest disconnection, the Offa Robbery exposed the “invisible” inter-connectivity of power, law and crime that must be rough-tackled in order to dismantle, disband and ultimately disable the continuation of this particularly lethal form of corruption which is violently annihilating citizens and destroying the nation.
The Offa Robbery provides the necessary template for identifying, tracking, apprehending and bringing to book the hordes of politically-connected criminals and their powerful and prominent patrons in what should be regarded as a better-late-than-never national assault on a major entrenched threat to democracy and national stability. It must be emphasized that the Offa Robbery breakthrough was a God-sent eye-opener into the covert reality of deep-seated conspiracy of powerful politicians, law enforcement agents and hardened criminals that would otherwise remain an open secret where sleeping dogs are left to lie after committing atrocities.
While the reported involvement of Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed is subject to ongoing investigations, it must be ensured that the looming thick clouds of political projections surrounding the Offa Robbery do not dampen the commendable zeal and thoroughness displayed so far in unraveling the case. A joint transparent investigation involving other arms of the security community to strengthen and insulate the police team from predictable pressure is urgently required, considering the daring sophistication and high casualty figures as well as the undeniable fact of involvement of virtually all well-known powerful and prominent politicians across the country as gangsters’ godfathers. The conspiracy behind the criminalization of politics has been broken, it must not be allowed to regroup and fight back against the Buhari Administration’s phenomenal attacks on the corrupt constituency now on a rampage to kill Nigeria.
–Bassey is a freelance journalist in Calabar
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