ONE STATEMENT, MANY ORDEALS BY KASSIM AFEGBUA
In the last six days, I have gone through traumatic experience when I was declared wanted by the Nigeria Police. By the strength of that unprofessional declaration, I was treated like a common criminal and fugitive until I showed up at the Police Headquarters Abuja to physically present myself. After what the Police termed a no case issue, they were apologetic and I took my leave. In the evening of that day, Wednesday 7th February, 2018 I got a phone call inviting me to the Headquarters of the Directorate of State Security (DSS).
I honoured the invitation on Thursday and spent 7 hours waiting for attention. I left the office at 6.50pm when it became clear nobody was ready to tell me what the invitation was meant for. I was informed to report back on Friday 9th February, 2018 at 11am. On arrival on Friday, having spent 2 hours, I was attended to by the Director of Operations and two others who interrogated me on the said statement I issued. My interrogation was recorded electronically and was made to write a statement affirming the issued statement, having collected all my personal details; house address, account number, international passport number and other information.
I find this whole episode quite nauseating and utterly condemnable. I cannot rationalise why just a statement would amount to subjecting me to rigorous interrogation especially when there was no complainant. The action of the Nigeria Police coupled with that of the State Security Service is at best that of a meddlesome interloper and sheer bullying, leaving serious developmental issues to chasing shadows with a view to intimidate, harass and embarrass me.
Let me state at this point that my life is in danger as we speak. I have been receiving series of unknown phone calls from people threatening me and my family. But I am resolute in the true spirit of a free born, that threats, intimidation, harassment and psychological torturing has never and will not stop me from exercising my right of free speech as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; as well as carrying out my professional responsibility. I will not submit to intimidation, harassment and threats. Certainly not. I have just a life to live and no one under God will live for ever.
Let me use this opportunity to thank my principal, General Ibrahim Babangida, GCFR and members of his family who were constantly in touch with me to share in my tribulations. General Ibrahim Babangida’s words of encouragement and assurances further bolstered my resolve to soldier on. I am eternally grateful to Nigerians especially the Media for their solidarity, support and espirit de corps. Words are not enough to convey my deep and profound gratitude. My thanks also go to my very adorable and supportive wife who stood by me throughout the whole process without betraying any sentiments. And to members of my larger Afegbua family, my reliable friends, associates and compatriots, I record my thanks and appreciation in million ways.
And to my very dependable and reliable lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo and other lawyers who offered their voices to prosecute this case, I am eternally grateful. To take a Kayode Ajulo out on a stressful five days legal engagement without collecting a dime, is to me, the height of humanity. I am not only touched but humbled by this show of support and uncommon generousity. And my good friend, Emmanuel Ajibulu, such an efficient, and proactive media networker, I cannot thank you enough.
This experience to me is an eye opener in so many ways. I feel a sense of personal gratitude to several of Nigeria’s foremost legal luminaries who maintained a constant touch and gave useful legal advice throughout the period of this travails. I am most humbled. And the Almighty Allah will meet all of you in your hour of need. On a lighter note, the support, accolades and motivation I received during this period have given me added confidence to seek elective public office in no distant future.
PRINCE KASSIM AFEGBUA