Source: THE GUARDIAN
Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, is a Yoruba city. It is now in the throes of a self-inflicted crisis caused by the hijab, the head covering favoured by Muslim laity for their women folks. It is also loved by some Christians, especially the Catholics. It originated from the Middle-East where women are subjected to strict code of fashion. But in Yorubaland, fashion has never been a matter of contention. Now this. The case, I am told, is in the court. Some of the Muslims in Ilorin, apparently with the sympathy of the Governor, do not want to wait for the court. They would rather put the matter in their own hands.
What is surprising is that a Muslim parent, knowingly sending his daughter to a Christian school, still wants his daughter to wear the hijab. The corollary is a Christian parent sending his daughter to a Muslim school and yet does not want his daughter to wear the hijab. Luckily, there is no Orunmila High School in Ilorin. If there is one, I can assure you that no Muslim parent would insist that his daughter wears the hijab in Orunmila High School if it is not part of the prescribed uniform. But Christianity and Islam are both imported religions and we Africans we tend to be more catholic than the Pope.
What we are witnessing in Ilorin is the attempt by the government to take all powers from school authorities. Uniforms are parts of the tradition of each school. It seldom changes and when any principal tries to change it, he or she usually faces hostilities from the Alumni Association. In Kwara, the government claims to derive its power to prescribe uniform and enforce the hijab in all public schools because it is funding those schools.
When Alhaji Ahmadu Bello became the Leader of Government Business in Northern Nigeria in 1952, the government decided to support all mission schools; both Christians and Muslims. Those schools were referred to as grant-aided schools. However, there were also private schools established by individual proprietors who were excluded from this generosity. In the 1970s, all private secondary schools, including the mission schools, were taking over by the government. The government did not pay compensations for these schools. There was the understanding that though the schools had been taken over by the government, the original owners would still have proprietary interest in those schools. That understanding subsists until Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq decided to have interest in the hijab.
Governor Abdulrazaq represents a new kind of change in Kwara State. Before his ascension to power, the dominant force in Kwara politics was the enduring patriarchy of Dr Olusola Saraki and his son, Bukola. The Sarakis were supposed to represent the continuing dominance of the descendants of the Fulani in Ilorin over the Yoruba majority. The coming of Abdulrazaq was a seen as a credible challenge to the old Saraki hegemony. He came in with the Otoge (Enough!) battle cry and was swept to power on the ticket of All Progressives Congress, APC, the party of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In September 2018, a seminar was held at the Ikeja Airport Hotel, Lagos, in honour of the late Chief Bola Ige. Some Abdulrazaq partisans were present in large number at that seminar. I had tackled one of his partisans that this man who claims to represent the Yoruba of Kwara State does not have a single Yoruba name. Why should a fully-grown Yoruba person bears only foreign names? He said it was because of Abdulrazaq Islamic background. I pointed out to him that bearing your native names does not make you less religious. I gave the examples of Ayatollah Rhohollar Khomeini of Iran, Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, Iyanda Folawiyo of Lagos, Arisekola Alao of Ibadan, Ibrahim Dasuki of Sokoto and many others.
The truth is that many Ilorin people, especially those who are Muslims, are struggling with their Yoruba heritage. They believe wrongly that the less Yoruba they become, the more acceptable they are to what they perceived to be the power-centres of Nigeria. Yet bearing their normal Yoruba names have not deprived the Ilorin people of the ability to rise. We have the illustrious examples of the Sarakis, Major-General Abdul Kareem Adisa, Major General Babatunde Idiagbon and many others.
Ilorin is an old city with an historical burden. It was founded in the 15th Century and by 18th Century it has become a thriving commercial centre. It was one of the provincial towns of the old Oyo Empire and it belonged to the Ekun Osi District where the Onikoyi of Ikoyi was the supervising sovereign under the Alaafin. Other towns in that district include; Irawo, Ogbomoso and Iwere. As Oyo Empire waxed stronger, it annexed some of the Igbomina settlements like Oro into its fold. The Igbomina sovereign was (and still is), the Orangun of Ila. The Orangun and the Alaafin are both sons of Oduduwa in Ile-Ife and therefore co-eval under the old Yoruba traditional constitutional arrangement.
Ilorin was to change all that. Early in the 19th Century, the Alaafin appointed Afonja, a well-respected general, as the new Aare Ona-Kakanfo (the generalissimo of Oyo Imperial Army).
The constitution forbade the Aare to live in the capital and share the same domicile with his overlord, the Alaafin. Therefore, Afonja stayed in Ilorin and with his new appointment, he had become senior to other generals like the Onikoyi, the Olugbon and the Aresa. Instead of keeping to his oath of office, Afonja decided to rebel against his overlord. In other to strengthen his hands, he invited a peripatetic Islamic preacher, Malam Alimi, to join him with his band of young converts called ogo were.
The ogo were, claiming to operate under the authority of the Aare, became a law to themselves. With unpalatable news coming from everywhere on the activities of this unruly band, the Aare decided to move against them. When Alimi got wind of this, he staged a pre-emptive coup and the Alimi forces were able to stage a surprise attack against Afonja in his house. The battle lasted for almost two weeks as Afonja, surrounded by his sons and other commanders gave a good account of himself. Note that none of the Yoruba top generals; Onikoyi, Olugbon, Aresa and others came to the aid of Afonja. Even Solagberu, Afonja’s old friend and the leader of Ilorin Muslims at Okesuna, refused to offer help.
The coup against Afonja had grave consequences in Yorubaland. It was that coup that led inexorably to the collapse of old Oyo Empire and the evacuation of its capital city, Oyo. Many important towns like Ikoyi and Iresa were destroyed. Owu was destroyed. When Ilorin forces finally captured Offa in 1887, they destroyed most of the town and decreed that male citizens must grow beards and convert to Islam under the pain of death. The taken over of Ilorin by a foreign power was bitter pill for the Yoruba ruling class to swallow. When the British signed the treaty of peace with Ibadan in 1888, that insisted that war must end. One of the Ibadan generals, dissatisfied, asked the interpreter: “Tell the white man to let us finish the Ilorin campaign first. Then peace!”
In 1897, the Royal Niger Company pacified Ilorin and by 1900, it became part of Northern Nigeria. All attempts by the leadership of the Western Region especially under Chief Obafemi Awolowo, to get Ilorin and Kabba Provinces transferred to the West failed at the different constitutional conferences leading to Nigeria’s independence. The agitation gave birth to the party, Egbe Talaka Parapo, which won all the seats in the Ilorin District Council elections prior to independence. Ahmadu Bello dissolved the council and clamped down on the Egbe. Respite came in 1967 when General Yakubu Gowon created the West Central State (later to be known as Kwara State) as part of the new 12 states federal structure.
It is significant that Dr Olusola Saraki’s dream was for Kwara State to be in the same political camp with the South West in 1998. He and Chief Ige had been friends since their student days in the United Kingdom. Therefore, the two of them were involved in the formation of the All Peoples Party, APP, during the final days of military rule in 1998. When Afenifere pulled out of APP, Saraki blamed Ige for it. I am not sure whether they ever reconcile on this matter. It is interesting now that it is the same party, the APC, that is ruling in most of the Yoruba States and also in Kwara and Kogi State.
This places a special burden on Governor Abdulrasaq. He has to remember his state is said to be the State of Harmony. He should allow the court to decide this case of hijab instead of him allowing an unnecessary crisis to derail his government. After all, as a child, his father sent him to Bishop Smith Memorial School, Ilorin, a Christian School, and his uniform did not affect his school certificate results. This is one storm in a teacup that should never be allowed to become a real storm. After all, Ilorin is a Yoruba city and in Yorubaland we learn to tolerate each other no matter the differences. It is time Ilorin comes to term with its identity.
Iniubong Umoren: The Wicked Attempt to Link Her Death to Akpabio Family Will Fail
The country was recently awash with the sorrowful story of the heinous crime of kidnap and gruesome murder of the innocent job seeker and University of Uyo graduate, Iniubong Umoren recently somewhere in Akwa Ibom State.
Nigerians were shocked to their marrows when it became apparent that one Frank Uduak Akpan was responsible for not only raping her but killing and burying her in a shallow grave somewhere in the State. The police declared the said Frank wanted but arrested his father who was suspected as an accomplice when it became apparent that Frank was on the run. As God would have it, he was eventually arrested through the effort of one Kuffre Effiong and the police who lured and promised him that he will receive the co-operation of the police if he is innocent as he originally claimed.
It is of utmost interest to note that Frank’s arrest was somewhere in Shelter Afrique Junction, Uyo, not in a hotel or a house of anybody.
This story is so tormenting and horrendous that emotions naturally went high when the sad news was broken both on the traditional and social media. The prayer of everyone was that whosoever was responsible for this heinous act for whatever purpose should be brought to justice and no one born of a woman who has blood running in his veins will want this kind of crime to be covered up, no matter the personality/ties involved.
However, it is astonishing and profoundly wicked for any being, let alone a trained journalist to sit in the comfort of his home or office in far away America and concoct lies just to drag the name of Senator Akpabio and his dear wife in the murder saga just to satisfy whosoever is paying him for that kind of “dirty job”.
At what point does fiction transform into a reality and to what end can any sane being market cock and bull story to un-discerning members of the public? It is still shocking that mere conjectures of a journalist have been made to develop a life and be termed factual without any shred of evidence linking the crime to the Akpabios. The only snag in all these though, is that marketing fictions today through the social media has become the pastime of evil doers and the un-discerning members of the public have become so gullible that these tortoise stories are taken in, line, hook and sinker without any pinch of salt.
In a short while, we will analyse this story as put out by this David Hundeyin who is said to be a Nigerian Investigative Journalist resident in America from where he has perfected his nasty habit of running people down with his fictional stories about matters he has no knowledge of, maybe for money or just to garner fame. Reading many of Hadley Chase books is very good, but the danger is when the reader cannot distinguish between fiction and reality.
By the way when his lies fell like pack of cards, he is alleged to have hurriedly pulled down the story of linking senator Godswill Akpabio and his dear wife to the murder allegation from his blog or someone’s blog by name Newswirengr where he titled the story “Murder in Uyo: Who Killed Hiny Umoren?” He has a right to refute the story of having pulled it down.
In his report, the journalist claimed that he analyzed the telephone calls of the prime suspect in the murder case, Akpan . According to him, Akpan called a number of people after the murder of the female graduate. He stated that the said Kuffre Effiong works with Niger Delta Civil Service. He further alleged that the killer and the said Kuffre Effiong met physically at a certain 58G, Ewet Housing Estate in Uyo. His “investigative skill” revealed that Akpan the alleged killer worked for an “illegal organ trafficking ring to feed the booming global black market organ trade”.
His fictional story line continued from his Twitter handle on 11th of May where he further published his falsehood as follows ” It has just come to my attention that Davok Suites, the hotel at the centre of the 58 Unit G/S 9, Unit G, Ewet Housing Estate nexus involving Kuffre Effiong and Frank Uduak is owned by none other than Ekaette Akpabio, wife of Godswill Akpabio”
As evidence of pure insanity occasioned by excessive use of terrible and self destructive drugs, the said David Hundeyin continued, “In other words, this place where Frank Uduak Akpan, fresh from murdering Ini Umoren came to meet Kuffre Effiong, belongs to the wife of Kuffre’s boss and Federal Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio. So which politician has Kuffre been running errands for?”
Before analyzing David Hundeyin’s super script meant for Nollywood, this writer is very grateful to God that the said culprit, Mr Frank Akpan, his cousin Kuffre Effiong and one Local Government Chairman of Uruan in the State who is a relation to both Kuffre and Frank are all alive, and happily too the culprit is presently in the custody of the Nigerian Police Authority for proper investigation. These people have made and are still making useful statements to the police authority whom we implore to employ extreme and painstaking professionalism in investigation and come up quickly with their findings, including what steps should be taken to ensure justice to the family of the bereaved. The girl’s death as a matter of fact, must surely be avenged by the Authorities.
This innocent victim sought to be gainfully employed instead of engaging in anything illegal or criminal like some do, but met her end in an unfortunate circumstance that demands remedy and justice.
Back to David Hundeyin’s story. He said “he analyzed the telephone calls of the prime suspect and he found out that the suspect called several persons after the murder”. One of the persons he allegedly called, according to him, was Kuffre Effiong who worked with Niger Delta Civil Service. Having found out that the said Kuffre works with Niger Delta Civil Service, he must have been told by his co-conspirators who specialize in smearing Senator Akpabio’s name to go ahead and link by all means the heinous crime to him in order to make headline and give them a false sense of victory. If only men were God?
In no distant time, his collaborators fed him another lies that the alleged killer, Mr Frank Akpan met Kuffre in a hotel named Davok Suites at Ewet Housing Estate in Uyo and they mentioned the address of the place. The Hotel according to him belongs to the wife of senator Godswill Akpabio. With that, he ran to the market with the story that Akpabio and his dear wife were certainly the ones responsible for the heinous murder of the innocent girl, more so since they must have been engaged in his imaginative illicit global market specialising in trading on human parts!
Fortunately the culprit has made both written and oral statements which the police authority are in custody of. The cousin, Mr Kuffre Effiong has also issued a comprehensive statement on his Facebook Page which can be seen online by those who want to know the truth and the Local Government Chairman who is in opposing political party with Senator Akpabio has also issued a statement on the incident. By virtue of their various statements, the following are the emerging truth about this case pending when the police will conclude their investigation:
(a) The alleged culprit Mr Frank Akpan, Mr Kuffre Effiong and the Local Government Chairman of Uruan are all related as they are cousins. None of them have any relationship with the Akpabios either remotely or directly. None of them has ever met Senator Godswill Akpabio or his wife or their existence known to the couple.
(b) The culprit Mr Frank Akpan was arrested at Shelter Afrique Junction by the Nigerian Police in conjunction with the said Mr Kuffre Effiong, a cousin to the culprit who used his relationship to lure the culprit into police reach for the seamless arrest.
(c) The culprit was taken to the house of the Local Government Chairman of Uruan which is at Ewet Housing Estate in company of the DPO, one ASP and Mr Kuffre Effiong who facilitated the arrest. Taking the culprit to the house of the Chairman at Ewet Housing Estate was the suggestion of the said DPO of the nearby Police Station who felt that it will be a proper place and method to use to calm the suspect down in order to elicit his co-operation.
(d) The alleged Davok Suites, a hotel in Uyo which from the story as stated by the parties in this case was never utilized either before, during and after the crime, has never been owned and is presently not belonging TO THE WIFE OF SENATOR AKPABIO. That the said hotel is alleged to be owned by Her Excellency Mrs Akpabio has been a myth used by the patronizers of the hotel to boost their ego as to the quality of the hotel they patronize in Uyo. The Akpabios have nothing to do with the hotel in terms of management or ownership. Most importantly in this fictional story of the said Hundeyin, is the fact that the hotel was never used either before, during or after the crime by the culprit or his alleged accomplices.
(e) To exhaust this issue and make an open show of the concocted cock and bull story of the Investigative journalist David Hundeyin, let me go further to give him the benefit of the doubt that assuming but not conceding that the said Kuffre Effiong, a relation of the culprit who from his own account only assisted the Nigerian Police to arrest the culprit, works in Niger Delta Ministry, does that mean that any crime he allegedly commits will be attributed to the Minister of the said Ministry? How stupid is that kind of assumption, especially in criminal jurisprudence which requires mens rea(intention) and actus reus(act of the accused) to establish criminal liability? In the absence of any conspiracy, direct or circumstantial evidence, no individual can be convicted of a crime he knows nothing about in Nigeria. None here was established in the said story.
(f) Let me extend my generosity further to Mr Hundeyin by assuming but not conceding that the alleged Hotel, Davok Suites is owned by the wife of Senator Akpabio. Will this mean that any crime committed in the hotel by a user who has no legal, biological or any direct or indirect relationship with the owner will be legally established against the owner of the hotel? In other words, in the absence of any established conspiracy, direct or circumstantial evidence against the owner, can our jurisprudence be suddenly transformed to hold the owner of a hotel criminally liable for any crime committed using his or her hotel in the absence of any mens rea and actus reus as earlier explained?
Few months ago, I was aware of the several meetings called by certain persons in Nigeria where activists, top journalists and chronic critics were recruited to engage in public smearing of Akpabio’s name by all means. The battle has been on, they started with the case of the Professor who was recently convicted for alleged electoral fraud during the last Senatorial Election in Akwa Ibom State. When the attempt to link the said fraud with Senator Godswill Akpabio failed like pack of cards as superior and more logical arguments were presented, they recoiled and came up with this one that sounds more stupid and idiotic. We never knew that they can descend into a pit like this, all in a bid to destroy a man for whatever reasons, known to them.
The Nigerian Police, hopefully are on top of this Umoren’s unfortunate death. They should be allowed to carry out a full scale investigation as to who and those behind the gruesome rape and murder of that innocent girl. Using the unfortunate incident to run down Senator Godswill Akpabio and his family has failed woefully. The truth of the matter is that “No weapon fashion against Senator Godswill Akpabio whether now, tomorrow or in the future will stand”. The reason for this is, “No man can curse a man whom God has marked out for blessings”.
Mr Hundeyin has committed both criminal and civil wrongs in this campaign of calumny against Senator Akpabio and that of his wife. If he thinks that by being in far away America he can utilise the social space to malign someone and escape justice, he has committed a grievous error. The arms of the law will ultimately catch up with him if he fails, refuses and neglects to withdraw his cock and bull story about the involvement of the Akpabios in the unfortunate incident of Ini’s death and apologize to them, he stands all the legal risks associated with such criminal and civil defamation. It is his choice!
Written by Mr. Smart Chizurum, a socio-political commentator and analyst writes from Akwa Ibom State
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