The Death of Ahmed Gulak - OpEd by Dr. Reuben Abati

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Tuesday, June 01, 2021 / 10:44 AM / OpEd by Dr. Reuben Abati / Header Image Credit: BBC


The cold-blooded murder of Hon. Ahmed Gulak, former Speaker of the Adamawa House of Assembly, former Special Adviser on Political Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, former national co-ordinator of the Goodluck Support Group (GSG) and former Governorship aspirant under the platform of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) is yet another tragic indication of the crisis of insecurity that Nigeria faces. It is disturbing and frightening because this was a Northern politician who had gone to the South East only to be brutally cut down by "unknown gunmen" on his way to the airport after concluding his visit to Imo State.

 

This was a clear case of assassination. There were two other persons with him according to reports. The assassins, true to type, identified their quarry, murdered him and didn't bother about the witnesses. It is all the more curious because Gulak has a recent history of association with Imo State. He was the leader of the APC team that organized the controversial party primaries in Imo State ahead of the 2019 Gubernatorial elections. Gulak it was said, was under pressure to sign the papers declaring an associate and relation of the then Governor Rochas Okorocha, as the winner of the primaries. Gulak refused and sneaked out of town under the cover of night. He alleged that he was offered a $2 million bribe and a private jet. Whatever may be the circumstances that took him to Imo State this time around, he obviously also wanted to sneak out of town without drawing attention to himself.  If he had known that he was a person of interest in that part of the country, he probably would have stayed away. Or did anyone trail him to Imo State, monitored his movements and struck at a convenient spot and time? Did his assassins choose the place of attack deliberately to hide their trail, and divert attention? 

 

In most cases of this nature, the Nigeria Police are often so lazy, so unimaginative. They easily jump to conclusions, latching on to the most convenient lead. This explains why the initial reaction from the Imo State Police Command was that Gulak made himself a target by not asking for security escort. For us to feel safe and have a good country, it must be possible for anyone at all to move around freely in Nigeria without having to seek police escort. Section 14(2) of the 1999 Constitution states clearly that the security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government. Section 41 of the same Constitution guarantees the freedom of movement. Section 34 talks about the right to the dignity of the human person. These are three major areas in which the Nigerian government has failed the people over the years. Why should citizens seek police protection in order to travel from their homes or hotel rooms to the airport? If we all do so, there will no policeman left on routine duty.

 

The sad part of it is that we live in a country where no one is safe anymore, not even school children, students and their teachers, wives, husbands, and the ordinary man. The state is in recess. It is absent. Its institutions are too fragile to help the people. The people are like orphans in their own country. Gulak's death should be a warning sign of how dangerously Nigeria sits on the brink of the precipice and the edge of a knife. This is why the security agents handling the investigations must learn to think before opening their mouths. In less than 24 hours after the killing, the Police not only blamed Gulak for killing himself (because he did not ask for police security! Imagine!), they also immediately concluded that bandits were behind the killing. In 24 hours, they opened a case file and closed it. This kind of beer-parlour-policing is unacceptable. I expect the Police headquarters in Abuja to take charge directly from the office of the Inspector General of Police. We have been told that the Police have since apprehended Gulak's killers. So fast? Are the suspects in custody really the killers? Or is this a case of lazy policing?

 

The murder of Hon. Ahmed Gulak is bound to widen the distrust between the South and the North. The optics are bad. The signs are ominous. Gulak did not go to Imo State to graze cattle, and even if he did, he did not deserve to be murdered. It should not be surprising therefore, that his murder is being located in the growing North-South politics of difference, and the rights of every Nigerian under the Constitution. Hence, much effort has been made to ethnicize his murder, or lend it an ethnic colouration. That is the dangerous part of it, and it is the reason the Nigerian government must not treat this as just another murder. The First World War was ignited by the killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo by Serbian terrorists, the Black Hand.  He was the presumptive heir to the Austria-Hungarian throne. The Great War started a month after his death, and went on for four years. And over 20 million people died.  It takes only one incident to ignite others and turn embers into a huge conflagration. 

 

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo State Governor, Chair of the Southern Governors Forum and APC chieftain, is right to have described the killing of Ahmed Gulak as "one murder too many" and an attempt "to instigate Nigerians against each other, particularly Northerners against the Igbo living outside the South East." Toeing the same line, human rights activist, author, and politician Comrade Shehu Sani, member of the 8th National Assembly, who represented Kaduna Central, has also appealed to youths in Northern Nigeria not to seek vengeance for the murder of Ahmed Gulak in the South East.  Nigeria's civil war, 1967 -1970 was ignited by ethnic sentiments and reprisal killings. No country survives two civil wars. We all have to be careful. There is an evil wind blowing across the country. On Sunday, the Coalition of Northern Groups issued a statement to say that the murder of Ahmed Gulak is an indication that the North can no longer continue to co-exist with people of Igbo extraction inside Nigeria. The group accused South East leaders of funding the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) to cause havoc and "replicate the ugly events of 1966". The Northern Youths Council of Nigeria (NYCN) also called on the Governor of Imo State to produce Gulak's killers within two weeks or risk being declared "persona non grata in the North". This same NYCN has since toned down its rhetoric and praised the police. The volte-face is suspicious but helpful.

 

It is good news also that the IPOB and ESN, the militant, political and security units defending Igbo and secessionist Biafra interests have declared that they have no hand in the Gulak assassination, and that in no way was he a person of concern to them. What no one can deny however, is that the South East has become a war zone. Whereas it is possible to talk about insurgents, terrorists, and kidnappers in Northern Nigeria occupying the Sambisa Forest or what they now call, the Timbuktu Triangle, the South East of Nigeria is now the operation field of a strange phenomenon called "unknown gunmen." Nigeria must be the only country in the world where ghosts and unidentifiable objects cause so much havoc and the state is so terribly helpless. From Ebonyi to Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Imo and every part of the South East, human beings are being killed, kidnapped, murdered, assaulted, offices and facilities belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the police, the immigration service, the judiciary are being set ablaze and all we hear is that "unknown gunmen" are behind it all. Is there anything that is known to the Nigerian government at all?

 

In the last 3 days, there have been other assassinations: The Chief Provost of Nigerian Immigration Service, Imo State Command, Okiemute Mrere was murdered on Saturday night on Owerri-Port Harcourt Road. In Niger State, bandits are on rampage. They have set a police station ablaze and kidnapped persons, including 200 school children. In Ibadan, Oyo State a popular businessman, Maduabuchi Owuamanam was also assassinated on Saturday, May 29, along Mokola-Sango Road.  In Abuja, yesterday, Omoyele Sowore, leader of the #RevolutionNow movement had a life-threatening encounter with assassins in state uniform. In his own case, he lives to tell the story, asking his followers to carry on with the revolution even if he gets killed. Dead men don't tell stories. The truth is this: nobody is safe in this country anymore, and whereas this may sound repetitive, note this:  not even the foetuses in blessed wombs waiting to join the Nigerian nightmare are safe. The country is that bad.

 

I knew Ahmed Gulak. We worked together in the Jonathan administration. He advised the President on Political Matters, and was later the co-ordinator of the Goodluck Support Group. In the latter capacity, he stepped on some powerful and sensitive toes as he went around the country in the lead up to the 2015 elections, and that was what led to his exit. I announced his appointment and his exit. But the Ahmed Gulak I remember, is a political man of action. He was articulate, knowledgeable and experienced. Having served as Speaker of the House of Assembly in Adamawa, and entrenched as he was in party politics, he carried himself with the aplomb of a man who had been here and there. He was friendly and approachable. In a sense, he was one of us, the boys in the Jonathan inner circle, that is the "the main body". There were persons who were not permanently with the Principal but who wielded much influence because they had access. He was one of them. President Jonathan liked him a lot. The story of his exit will not be told here, except to say that one Governor at the time felt Ahmed Gulak had the temerity to visit his state without his permission and held meetings without his approval, and that was it. The Governor raised hell. Those were the days. I am under no obligation to say more. With his death, we have lost a man who enjoyed the art of politics and sought to excel in it. He was confident, assertive and always well turned out.  He was one of the shining stars in his part of the country. He was detribalised. His murder on the streets of Imo State is most unfortunate because that was a man who felt at home in any part of the country. Nigeria has lost a gem, and as always, it is the country that has been shot in the foot. His death should not end up as another item in Nigeria's long list of unresolved political assassinations.


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Previous Posts by Author - Dr. Reuben Abati

  1. Nigerian Air Force and Its Crashing Planes - OpEd by Dr. Reuben Abati
  2. Fr. Mbaka's Sin - OpEd by Dr. Reuben Abati
  3. The South West Presidential Hopefuls - OpEd by Dr. Reuben Abati
  4. New IGP, Ebube Agu and Other Stories - OpEd by Dr. Reuben Abati
  5. Ishola, Adesina and Djebah: Their Excellencies, Ambassadors of Nigeria - OpEd by Dr Reuben Abati
  6. The Nigerian Diaspora Vs. Deputy Speaker Idris Wase - OpEd by Dr Reuben Abati
  7. Much Ado About Ogun Cargo Airport
  8. OPL 245: The Milan Prosecution and Lessons for Nigeria
  9. The Nigerian Diaspora Vs. Deputy Speaker Idris Wase - OpEd by Dr Reuben Abati
  10. Getting a VC for Ibadan Varsity: The Ugly Politics - OpEd by Dr Reuben Abati
  11. Keeping Schools Safe in the North - OpEd by Dr Reuben Abati
  12. Okowa and Idumuje-Ugboko Crisis - OpEd by Dr Reuben Abati
  13. Politics and the Court of Appeal - OpEd by Dr Reuben Abati
  14. Ngozi Goes to WTO - OpEd by Dr Reuben Abati
  15. Ahead of Fresh Trouble at the Lekki Toll Gate
  16. Buhari and The New Service Chiefs - Beyond the Handover of Flags
  17. President Muhammadu Buhari Appoints New Military Service Chiefs
  18. Sunday Igboho and the Yoruba Nation - People, Politics and Policy
  19. Playing with COVID-19 in Nigeria - OpEd by Reuben Abati
  20. Eight Lessons from 2020: The Year That Was
  21. Book Review - An Open Letter to Goodluck Jonathan
  22. Inside Nigeria's Killing Fields
  23. Recession Blues - He Who Feels It       
  24. #EndSARS: The Aftermath - Nov 03, 2020
  25. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Best Woman for the WTO Job - Nov 03, 2020
  26. #EndSARS: The State of the "Revolution" - Oct 27, 2020
  27. #EndSARS: The Generation that said "Enough is Enough"- Oct 20, 2020
  28. #EndSARS: Almost a Nigerian Revolution - Oct 13, 2020
  29. How Organized Labour Deceived Nigerians, Again! - Abati
  30. God-wins, Edo and Lessons Learnt
  31. Nigeria and the Southern Kaduna Question
  32. NBA vs. Nasir El-Rufai
  33. Thoughts on Nigeria and Chinese Loans - Reuben Abati
  34. NDDC and Other Stories of Dysfunction and Impunity
  35. Governance Beyond COVID-19: Back to Kwara
  36. Coping with Coronanomics - Abati
  37. Corona Blues - Abati - Apr 07, 2020
  38. The Psychology of COVID-19 - Abati
  39. Amotekun: The Politics of Protection - Abati
  40. New Electricity Tariffs: Questions by Reuben Abati - Jan 07, 2020
  41. Omoyele Sowore: Portrait of A Life in Protest - Abati - Dec 10, 2019
  42. Of Constituency Offices and Projects - Abati - Dec 03, 2019 
  43. The Supreme Court and the Atiku Election Petition - Abati - Nov 05, 2019
  44. The Constitutional Crisis in Kogi - Abati - Oct 30, 2019
  45. The Spiritual Solution to Boko Haram - Abati - Oct 08, 2019
  46. Oct 1: The Journey So Far - Oct 01, 2019
  47. Presidential Powers and The Vice President - Sept 24, 2019
  48. Nigeria, Xenophobia and Ramaphosa's Apology - Sept 18, 2019
  49. Mohammed Adoke Writes Back - Sept 18, 2019
  50. P and ID vs. Nigeria: A Review by Reuben Abati - Sept 10, 2019
  51. When Soldiers Do Police Work: Disaster - Aug 14, 2019
  52. Peter Drucker and The Things That Changed
  53. FBI, Nigerian Fraudsters and Other Stories
  54. P and ID vs. Nigeria: A Review by Reuben Abati
  55. When Soldiers Do Police Work: Disaster
  56. On June 12 We Stand 
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  58. The People's Revolt in Algeria and Sudan
  59. The Obasanjo Bombshell - Abati
  60. Ogun 2019 Politics and Deployment of Violence - My Encounter
  61. Chief Anthony Anenih: A Personal and Political Portrait
  62. The "Oshiomhole Must Go" Coalition
  63. Beyond Fayose: The Future of Ekiti State
  64. The "Spirit of Error" in Nigerian Politics 

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Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

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