By OBINNA EZUGWU
The twitter bio of Abubakar ‘Dadiyata’ Idris reads in part: “Kwankwasiyya ideologue.” The last tweet on his feed is a post by Hon. Saifullahi Hassan, media aide to former Kano State governor, and 2023 presidential hopeful, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso which he shared. ‘Kwankwasiyya’ is the political movement led by the former Kano governor, of which Dadiyata is a passionate disciple.
The post in question is about Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri granting ‘audience’ to Kwankwaso when he paid him condolence visit in Yola. This was on August 1, 2019. It was the last day anyone saw Dadiyata. He was abducted the next day, August 2 by heavily armed gunmen at his Barnawa residence in Kaduna State. He remains missing, eight months on, and neither Kwankwaso nor the government of Kaduna State, the state where he was abducted, has granted his predicaments and that of his young family any ‘audience’ ever since, at least none that is public knowledge.
Dadiyata, 34, a lecturer at the Federal University Dutsinma, Katsina State, was, before his abduction, a critic of governor of his home state of Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje and a passionate supporter of Kwankwaso and his presidential ambition. But since his abduction by the armed men initially suspected to be officers of the dreaded State Security Service (SSS), not much has been done, even in terms of advocacy, by the former Kano governor and his media team, to influence relevant authorities to act. Their focus has since shifted to 2023. Dadiyata is apparently just a number, one dispensable person who is not worth more than his social media advocacy. And who of course, can easily be replaced. But the response to his abduction by the current government has been more befuddling.
There has been such embarrassing conspiracy of silence over Dadiyata’s predicament by relevant authorities. Both the government of Kaduna State, on whose head many had put the blame of his abduction, and the federal government, have shown little interest in tracing his whereabouts, much more rescue him. It is a country where political affiliation counts for everything and humanity counts for little or nothing. Led by individuals with laurels in narrow mindedness, governments at the federal and various state levels simply cannot govern for all, but for supporters and loyalists. Dadiyata’s abandonment by relevant state and federal authorities cannot be divorced from the fact that, as a loyalist of Kwankwaso and a supporter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he expresses views critical of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led federal and state governments. In Nigeria, citizenship rights are qualified on the basis of political affiliation. Expressing views critical of those in authority can make one a common criminal who deserves no empathy and whose ordeals in the hands of men of the under world cannot be the business of government.
I do not know Dadiyata beyond social media. Indeed, I never knew about him until he was abducted and campaigns for his release began to trend on social media. But it is impossible to have conscience and not feel for his young wife, Haneefa and his infant children who have been without him for nearly a year, and whose hope of finding him is now growing painfully thin with each passing day.
However, it would appear that in the toxic political atmosphere such as we have in Nigeria, conscience has become a luxury many cannot afford. Thus, those who ordinarily, conscience could have compelled to ignite action towards tracing his whereabouts, at least for the sake of his innocent children, have since elected to look the other way.
Haneefa had, convinced that it was state actors who took away her husband – abduction of government critics by security agencies is not uncommon – sued the SSS Kaduna State command, the Commissioner of Police in the state and the Kaduna State government led by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, seeking the “unconditional release” of her husband and payment of the sum of N50 million in damages. This she did, believing with reasons, that her husband was abducted by state actors for his political views and being detained illegally.
Both the SSS and the police have since denied arresting him, nonetheless. A police account of the kidnap has it that he was returning home at about 1 a.m. when some armed men, breached his house’s security and took him away in his BMW car.
But beyond the denial, it is not known to me that the police have taken action to look for a Nigerian citizen abducted by armed men. Of course, kidnapping for ransom is not a rare occurrence in the country, and especially Kaduna, which like a number of other states in the Northwest region, have become a hotbed for kidnappers and sundry bandits.
However, these routine kidnappers typically establish contacts with the family of the kidnapped and demand ransom payment. In the case of Dadiyata, this was not done. His abductors have not demanded ransom, eight months on. And till date, not even his vehicle has been found, and the only person apparently interested in looking for him is his wife – and social media activists who once in a while, query Kaduna government and security agencies over his whereabouts.
Global human rights body, Amnesty International, has also continued to ask questions. But these actions have not gone, and cannot indeed go beyond such periodic advocacy. The authorities whose job it is to take action have since developed deaf ears and adopted belligerent attitude.
Many questions are begging for answers. The most prominent of which, obviously is, who abducted Dadiyata? It is one question many on social media have continued to ask, but which no one, particularly the relevant authorities, is willing to answer. If he was abducted by random kidnappers, why have they not demanded for ransom or at least contacted any of his family members? Indeed, why is it that security agencies, as they are known to do when other individuals are abducted, never launched manhunt for the abductors? Why are they comfortable with just denying any involvement? What efforts have they made to effect his rescue?
For the past eight months, nobody has been able to provide any reasonable answer to these critical questions. And as time goes by, it becomes increasingly likely that nobody may ever will. But it must not be so. Those charged with the responsibility of maintaining law and order in the country, and of protecting lives and property of Nigerian citizens have the obligation to provide these answers and they have to do so. The job of the police is not to prove that they don’t have a hand in the kidnap of a citizen, it is to rescue the kidnapped and bring the kidnappers to justice. Dadiyata is, from all indications, a responsible Nigerian citizen, an intellectual who has much to contribute to the country. Holding a different political view cannot make him any less a citizen who deserves no protection of the Nigerian state.