The recent arrest and subsequent detention of Mr Uyi Giwa-Osagie, lawyer to the leading opposition PDP candidate in the rescheduled 2019 Presidential election of Saturday, February 23, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, by operatives of the EFCC, is exactly what it is: a political witch hunt, aggressive intimidation and harassment of opposition actors motivated by the well known tyranny of a jittery and fading government which has carved for itself an inglorious niche of destroying state security institutions by using them to achieve selfish and extra-judicial purposes in blatant and flagrant disregard for the rights of Nigerians, the rule of law and constitutionalism.

In their usual characteristic manner of subverting legally prescribed judicial processes for the arrest of citizens, opposition members and those associated with them have been severally and severely persecuted by this government, and Uyi Giwa-Osagie’s case is not different as he was reportedly subjected, without any warrant of whatever kind, to a straight 7-hour search of his house and office, took him away along with files of his clients and detained him even when it was reported that nothing incriminating was found during the grueling search.

There is no gainsaying the fact that this is a gross abuse of the lawyer’s rights particularly when the files belonging to his clients were carted away in such a brazen manner thereby grossly violating the trust that usually exists between lawyers and their clients. And to think that this was nothing but a politically motivated raid, it causes the hearts of patriotic Nigerians to bleed.

No doubt, this is a panic button being pressed by the APC-led federal government on the eve of the presidential election. Just over a week ago, President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation twice saying in one of them, “I hereby humbly ask for your support again in the coming election to enable us to move to the next level and consolidate on the successes recorded in making our country a better place. I don’t take your support for granted”.

The question Nigerians have been asking since that broadcast is, since when did Buhari start addressing Nigerians and use the word “humbly”? This is the same president they had “humbly begged” several times to address them on critical national issues but he had always rebuffed them with the arrogance of Pharaoh only for him to go abroad and talk down, brashly and rashly, on his own citizens thereby making them a laughing stock before the world.

Election is indeed a humbler!

Days to the election, and within a space of one week, Buhari addressed the nation twice and used the word “humbly” in asking them for their votes. These are the same people he had unleashed the military on under the guise of operations named after carnivorous animals, which also leave behind them tales of sorrow, tears and blood. The same Nigerians he had unleashed the security agencies on for daring to ask him questions as their leader, criticize his non-existent policies that have led to millions losing their jobs, thousands murdered either by herdsmen or security forces, as was the case with the Shiite Muslims in Zaria, without justice for the victims; thousands others displaced by those the federal government once said came from Libya etc; the same Nigerians whose relatives have been summarily arrested and detained for days, weeks, months and even years without trial, and in some cases, in flagrant disobedience of court orders granting them bail, it is the same Nigerians Buhari is now begging to vote for him again.

The same Buhari who once chided the Shiites for daring to tap the chest of Generals which allegedly led to the murderous military clampdown on the Shiites, was the same man, who after being pelted with stones in the sad and unfortunate Ogun saga said, “I don’t have any trouble with it. It is your right”. Indeed, election is a humbler!

Seeing that no amount of begging or election-instigated humility would sway Nigerians, frustration set in for Buhari and his handlers, and in confusion, are now harassing and attempting to intimidate Atiku and his supporters by waging a frontal war against the PDP candidate directly even if by proxy.

But then, it is too late. Nigerians have since made up their minds and are saying “Enough is enough!” rather than boost his image, the politically motivated arrest of Osagie is making the matter worse for the APC. They tried it against Saraki, but failed. They tried it against Ekweremadu, they failed! They tried it against Dino Melaye, but also failed. They tried it against the legislature as an institution, they failed! They tried it against the judiciary, they also failed. They have tried it against Atiku before with the US challenge, they failed abysmally. Now, they are trying Atiku again! The good news to Buhari and his agents is that they will fail again!

No matter what they do now, whether by persuasion or coercion, Nigerians are tired of this hardship in the land and my part of the country, the north, is even worst hit by it. So, rather than retire in more damning infamy, President Muhammadu Buhari should actually retrace his steps from this whimsical and capricious political bellicosity of his, stop intimidating the people, and prepare for a peaceful retirement.

With the minds of Nigerians already made up, the illegal arrest and detention of Atku’s lawyer, Uyi Giwa-Osagie, is nothing but the last kick of a dying horse!

— Ishaq Murtala sent this piece from Kano