Abba Kyari: A case of Good versus Evil


Why the threats now to sue Waziri Kyari and the Police DSP when both had been detained by the DSS and Police both of which have prosecutorial power?

Clem Aguiyi

This indeed is not the best of time for the powerful Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, who is currently in the news for all the wrong reasons.

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I must confess that among the president’s men, the COS is a man I admire. His age, mien, candor and personality remind me of my favorite late uncle.

For personal reasons, I have wished that all the accusations against him were false. I had prayed that the story like a bad dream would just go away and that his accusers will end in shame.

I had held on to my conviction that he is innocent until that needless statement from his spokesman that did him no good.

Given that summer is over , I had honestly thought the kids had all gone back to school only to realize that a handful are still on holiday right inside the presidential seat of power, expressing themselves in words that make a bad case look worse.

First, it is unacceptable for Garba Shehu to issue a statement exonerating the COS in a criminal case that is reportedly under investigation by the Police, EFCC and DSS.

This has not only undermined these agencies but also constitutes an abuse of office. There are certain offices that blur out your personal and official actions and this is not one of such moments. The infractions of the COS as a private citizen must be clearly separated from his official actions as an assistant to the president.

Under the present circumstances, it would have been more appropriate for the Police, DSS and EFCC that had investigated the case to make their reports available or in the alternative for Mallam Kyari to step forward with a personal statement or go to court to discharge any guilt.

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The management of the COS communication in this saga is a disappointment. The presidency in my opinion need better handlers instead of fumbling agents worsening the plight of the administration.

This case has been on for some time, and as such the handlers had ample time to come out with some credible response or solution, and not the kind of an oxymoron standard of disinformation and spins with the flawed hope that nothing will begin to make sense of the accusations when people begin to question what is real and what is not based on their rather weak disinformation, but Nigerians aren’t entirely stupid even though people in government assume they are.

Until the government start coming out clean and truthful in little things, the citizens will remain doubtful of government actions and government agents.

In the art of public communications and management of political exposed persons, there are times when silence is golden and times when it is not, there are times when outright denial may be adequate even if not sufficient and times when disinformation with too many narratives to make people to question whether there was a real and reliable version of the event. More important is to know when to quietly get behind the scene to negotiate; after all, going behind the scenes to solve problems, mediate disputes and deal with issues are some of the general functions of the office of a Chief of Staff to the President.

I recall it was a matter similar to this that brought down Tafa Balogun and booked him a place in the book of infamy. Powerful men in power need people with the courage to speak truth to them at critical times, not just spin doctors and sycophants.

The presidential response started by admonishing Nigerians to be mindful of how public officers are accused, it then delved into how the COS spurns N200m every month which he doesn’t need to account for. This argument for all its worth is both porous and fallacious. Public office holders in Nigeria do not steal because they have access to sufficient funds; they steal because they are insanely greedy and pathologically corrupt.

The statement from Garba Shehu ended with threat of court action against Punch and those peddling the allegation without responding to the facts of the allegation relating to the vindictive, oppressive and abusive deployment of the State Security Service (SSS) and the Nigeria Police Force against his accusers.

For starters, in most democracies, public officers are open to criticism and abuse, especially in an election year. Following the series of media smear against him, former President Jonathan lamented that he is the most abused president. A current APC governor from the North then claimed that President Jonathan is always drunk with ‘kaikai’. Not even the wife was spared of abuse as no less a person than the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka christened her ‘Shepopotamus’ to the cheering of the then opposition party, APC.

As I write, the ruling party including the president himself thrives in calling opposition politicians treasury looters and criminals. If you call your mate a looter and a criminal, he or she has a right to respond in like manner.

If you engage your opponents in media trials, when the table turns they will serve you with the same treatment. Karma they say is a bitch with everyone’s address.

In other words, accusations and counter accusation is common in the political theater and the people will be hugely entertained by it this election year, hence my surprise by the threat of court action against Punch Newspaper. No one is fazed as a lot of the political theater allegations will never be ventilated in courts.

Why single out Punch for court action when the paper only reported what has been a live radio broadcast? Why the threats now to sue Waziri Kyari and the Police DSP when both had been detained by the DSS and Police both of which have prosecutorial power? Why didn’t the DSS and the police charge them to court if there were no truth in the veracity of their claims? In fact the DSP made a damning revelation that for the period he was detained and denied access to his family and lawyer only his statement is contained in his case file and no petition or statement from the supposed complainant. He also claimed he was abducted by ten truck loads of DSS operatives from his home. Whose interest was the DSS serving then? What were the contents of the statements he averred to the DSS? It is baffling that neither the police nor DSS charged him of any crime? This is why I referred to the presidential statement as mere political theatrics that are never made to be ventilated in court, otherwise, like in a case of Good v Evil both the Human Rights Radio and Punch Newspaper will be too happy to be sued in an open court where the facts will be looked at and not the influence and almighty power of the presidency.

Facts that must not be lost on us are that citizen Waziri deserves justice; he was defrauded, he paid money to a specified account, he knew the COS one-on-one and they had communications and interactions before and after the transaction went sour. He was detained, brutalized and intimidated in his quest for justice. If Abba Kyari , the COS did not defraud him as he claimed, who did? Unraveling who did should not be too hard a kernel for the police, DSS and EFCC to crack except maybe there is a high level executive interference and conspiracy to shut him up and deny him of justice.

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