Saturday, 6 August 2016

FINDING ECONOMIC FREEDOM: THE INDONESIAN WAY - by Igbogidi Ogaga

FINDING ECONOMIC FREEDOM: THE INDONESIAN WAY


Just after the NTA network news at 9:00pm, there was a loud knock at my door - Knock! Knock!!
Coincidentally there was a power outage as well, still in shock, I yelled at the top of my voice to conquer any form of fear within “Who is knocking at my door this night?”
And there was a response – “It’s me MC Whale Mouth.” I reluctantly opened the door with a long hiss “so because you are MC Whale Mouth you have the right to bang my door is such a manner?”
 “My brother abeg no vex oo, But I’ve your heard?”
Heard what? You have come again with this have you heard of yours. Please I want to sleep, I don’t have time for them say, them say.

This is not them say but reality, three Nigerians and an Indonesian have been executed in Indonesia for pushing drugs.
And so? Is that coming to you as a surprise? To me it is not. Moreover four armed robbers were recently sentenced to death by firing squad in Akure for ‘mere’ robbery.
But my brother this Indonesia people are wicked oo, I want death penalty abolished.
Why will you say they are wicked? Let me tell you, while one cannot throw away the baby with bath water, it is also very imperative not to point accusing fingers on Indonesia and condemn her actions in totality. The execution of Nigerians in Indonesia and other parts of the world is a repeated re occurrence and will remain so. Mc Whale Mouth abi Mc Fish Mouth or whatever you call yourself don’t you know that the Indonesia State has long ago spelt it out that drugs trafficking is a capital offence that must be greeted with capital punishment? And since them there has been no two ways about the enforcement of this punishment.
I don’t know. See me, see trouble.
If you don’t know, know now. Only in 2007 the Indonesian constitutional court upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty for drugs cases, you should know by now that that once it’s a constitutional matter countries with resilient rule of law don’t divide options on such matters. Abi you think say Indonesia be like Nigeria when nor dey respect her constitution? In Nigeria the rule of law has over times been trampled upon and impunity has eaten negatively into her law enforcement.
In Indonesia capital punishment is enforced only in serious cases like murder or drugs related offences. Of all the nine Nigerians executed in Indonesia since 1987, they have all been killed for drugs related offences; does that not call for serious attention and lessons if we want the killings of Nigerians to stop in Indonesia or elsewhere?
I see, but do we really learn in Nigeria?

Mc it is time we start learning and learning very fast because we are very far behind the comity of nations. There is urgent need to have a rethink and redirection on the path of Nigerian youths especially those nursing the ambitions of going to ‘Sia’ to follow the footsteps of their executed countrymen. The government at all levels must as a matter of fact strengthen institutions so as to reduce the numbers of Nigerians going overseas to push drugs or indulge in other criminal activities. Opinions should be reshaped quickly, if not? Nigerians will continue to cowed into such executions and as such remain victims forever.
Cowed? Did you just say cowed? Does that imply that the court procedures leading to these executions are flawed with irregularities with the poor and weak often victims?
Fish Mouth, Oh sorry Whale Mouth don’t put words into my mouth, how can I criticise the Indonesian judicial process? Even if I do will my opinion change anything? However, there were complaints from the lawyers of the executed Nigerians that the whole process did not follow due process quoting corruption, errors and miscarriage of justice. Amnesty international cited ‘Systematic flaws’ in the trails of several inmates on death row. One of the executed criminal Michael Titus Igweh also tearfully told the court that police electrocuted his genitals to ‘cow’ him to confess to possessing 5.8 kilograms of heroin, alleging that he was constantly beaten until he became helpless. All these allegations fell on deaf ears. However, the Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir defended the imminent executions saying it is pure law enforcement and emphasised that all the legal processes of the convicts have been completed with all their rights fulfilled. Strictly, the Indonesian state has spoken, whether it has spoken correctly or not posterity will judge.
But Bro, Come to think of it Indonesia is very tough on its stance to execute ‘guilty drug traffickers’. Imagine plea for clemency coming from the United Nations, European Union, Amnesty International and many other countries rejected out rightly. I heard Widodo boasting on state television that Jakarta is fighting a war against drugs and traffickers must be ‘harshly punished’. Why will Jakarta refuse calls for clemency coming from the United Nations and perhaps the European Union even if they won’t listen to any other?

I have told you before that once it is a constitutional matter, it becomes sacrosanct for countries that are strong willed in the enforcement of their laws. President Widodo defended the use of death penalty as a measure in combating the rising use of narcotics. That is to indicate that there is no going back on Jakarta’s position no matter whose ox will be gored. You should think of the shame and disgrace an execution in Indonesia will bring to your family before you embark on such adventures.
I have not said I want to go to Indonesia to do drugs, I am contended with my work as an Mc .
Nobody was born with the intentions of going to push drugs in Indonesia or elsewhere, it is the hardship in the country occasioned by the failure of institutions that pushes one. Picture a country that has a very low standard of living, unemployment at its bane, loss of lives and properties due to insecurity are a daily occurrence, total collapse of infrastructures and inability to provide basic amenities just to discussion a few makes it difficult to eradicate the tendency of opting for quick money like going to Indonesia and other countries to either push drugs or indulge in other nefarious activities, that is why Nigerians often times fall victims of capital punishment abroad. Besides ‘all die na die’ and ‘man dies but once’.
That apart, Widodo’s refusal to bend constitutional laws because of appeals from the UN, EU and others only exhibit that Indonesia is a sovereign State. Indonesia has shown that it has the powers to do whatever it pleased within its territorial borders without external control or interference. Come to think of it, is the UN or EU fit to interfere in matters of human right as it concerns Indonesia? There are uncountable cases of human right abuses all over the world, even in the most advanced democratic ones and nothing has been done by the UN. Has the UN been able to stop capital punishment in the USA? Did many European countries not refuse migrants recently from entering their territories? Was that not a human right violation? What did the EU do about it? Thanks to Germany and a few others.
Charity they say begins at home and as such the EU should attend to the plenty issues of human right violations within its region before trying to wade into Jakarta’s death penalty policy. Mc I don’t have enough time to trash these issues, dawn will meet us if I try to venture into human right excesses where the UN and the EU ought to have intervened but failed to do so. Human right is perhaps one of the most contentious issues in international relations and like democracy it’s a Greek gift to us by the west.
Wait oo, did Nigeria make any effort to stop the executions by also asking for clemency for its citizens?
I don’t think they did, it would have been an effort in futility, the Jonathan administration did that in the penultimate executions and no stance was shifted. It was after the executions I read that the minister of foreign affairs summoned the Indonesian charge d’ affairs in Nigeria appealing to the republic of Indonesia to ‘temper justice with mercy by commuting the sentence of the remaining Nigerians put on death row’. To me this is a call coming rather too late.
But …but, why did the minister not make such moves before the first round of executions?
Too many questions Mc, I am tired, I want to sleep, and maybe you should ask the minister yourself.
Possibly, the Nigerian government was waiting for the UN and EU to do that for them because they know such appeals to Indonesia from the government will definitely fall on deaf ears. Come to think of it, which serious minded country will even listen to Nigeria making such appeals? We are not a serious people and are guilty of human right abuses ourselves. Nigerians die every day in circumstances that are far worse than death penalty in Indonesia, so why do we imagine that an appeal for clemency of ‘only’ six Nigerians on death row will be listened to by Indonesia when Nigeria is a killer of its own people? Recently, I was driving along the Effurun roundabout and due to the bad state of the road, there was a little bit of hustle and bustle which is associated with driving in Nigeria on a daily basis, suddenly came a police escort pick up van blaring siren, I was not able to give way immediately as expected of me and other road users because there was a gigantic pot hole greeting me in front, therefore, I diverted a bit in a bid to avoid falling on it, unknowingly to me that I had blocked one of the vehicles on the convoy, what happened next shocked me: a policeman who is supposed to protect lives appeared, cocked his gun and pointed it at me as though I was facing the firing squad in Indonesia. Further probing revealed to me that three white men were being escorted. So this trigger happy policeman whose actions appears to be the prototype of what is wrong with the Nigeria Police Force wants to kill his father and not me because of three white men became a regular thought as my day went on. If he had succeeded in killing his ‘father’ would that not had been a shoddier way to die than being executed in Indonesia haven’t been found guilty of drugs related offences? One begins to wonder how many Nigerians die unjustly on a daily basis. In the words of the famous Ijaw musician Barrister Smooth “if na me be God I for don send fire down”, “if na me be God I for send thunder down”. Only God indeed can free us from these bondages.
Human right abuses are a daily occurrence in Nigeria. The Odi, Zaki Biam and Baga massacre of helpless civilians by persons expected to provide protection, the partial execution of the Ogoni Nine, the horrific killing of four uniport students in Aluu for allegedly phone theft, the daily human right abuses in the North East, just to mention a few are some of the many human rights abuses that has showcased Nigeria to the rest of the world as a barbaric country where human life is meaningless. Where is social justice? Where did it elude us?
Until we begin to cherish and value the sacredness of human life in Nigeria, the rest of the world will continue to shun us whenever we make appeals for clemency where it concerns our country men and women.    
Igbogidi Ogaga Andrew
Delta State
oigbogidi@yahoo.com