Outraged by recent outbursts by two of Nigeria’s past leaders, Spaces for Change (S4C) is demanding for the trial of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and former president Olusegun Obasanjo for crimes of civil, political, social and economic nature committed against the Nigerian people between 1985 – 1992 and 1999 -2007.
Last week, Nigerians were rudely awakened by a macabre dance of shame involving the two former military dictators who have both occupied the highest political offices at various times. So shamefully vitriolic and distasteful was their engagement that both of them seized every available opportunity to hurl tantrums at each other, unleashing torrents of revelations regarding the injustices, corruption, impunity and human rights atrocities that characterized their respective regimes. While the issues, accusations and counter-accusations emerging from their exchange are not entirely new, they represent an acknowledgement of wrongdoing perpetrated against the Nigerian people. It underscores the intensity of the oppressive levels of poverty, infrastructural decay, and environmental destruction witnessed under their regimes. The lives of thousands of survivors and Nigerian families continue to be devastated by the failure of state institutions and authorities to acknowledge, let alone redress, the harm they have done.
Spaces for Change (S4C) insist that the voluntary revelations provide a compelling basis to demand accountability from these past leaders, for the years of misrule they foisted on Nigerians, which gave rise to poverty, economic stagnation, corruption, conflict and violence. Under their rule, economic and social advancements remained out of reach of most Nigerians especially the poor and the vulnerable, yet accountability for their actions and inactions continue to lag.
Spaces for Change (S4C) is deeply concerned that if these two leaders are not tried for their self-confessed abuses while in office, the advancements made in democratic governance may lose traction. In other words, failing to try them will undermine efforts to establish credible systems of public accountability, and will erode the willingness of public officers to accept scrutiny or other arrangements that diminish the capacity to practice corruption. In addition, it will reinforce the growing perception that Nigeria’s past leaders are less vulnerable to prosecutions for serious crimes, thereby allowing the culture of impunity to be strengthened.
Spaces for Change (S4C) charge President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to dispel the deepening doubts about the sincerity of his administration’s fight against corruption and impunity by taking advantage of the overwhelming information and momentous evidence voluntarily shared by the two leaders to put them on trial, in fulfillment of his election promise of entrenching probity and accountability in our democratic governance processes. Trying these past leaders will in particular, spearhead one of the most important checks against unbridled impunity in Nigeria, and serve as the vehicle for demonstrating to Nigerians, and external stakeholders about the seriousness of his administration to heal past wounds and effect positive changes in the lives of its people.
In view of the above, we strongly demand that the Government take all necessary steps to commence independent investigations into the Babangida and Obasanjo led administrations with a view to prosecuting them for all the crimes they have committed.
We strongly condemn the bitter exchange between former president Olusegun Obasanjo and former military dictator, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, and demand that both of them must be made to face the consequences of their indiscretion and attempt to bring the nation down after ruling the country collectively for 24 years.
Spaces for Change.S4C.