Netflix Partners Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Studios To Adapt Two Nigerian Literary Classics

Ebony Studios To Produce Shoneyin, Soyinka’s Literary Work For Netflix

 

Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Media has penned a contract with the streaming giant, Netflix, to make film adaptations of two Nigerian literary classics.

The two classics are Lola Shoneyin’s acclaimed novel The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives and Wole Soyinka’s Death And The King’s Horseman.

Netflix Naija made the announcement in a thread on Twitter, Friday.

“Netflix has partnered with acclaimed producer @MoAbudu to bring you two of Nigeria’s most beloved literary classics to screens around the world!” part of the tweet read.

Netflix in a statement said that they “ . . . believe that more people deserve to see their lives reflected on screen and for that to happen, we need to make sure there’s a wide variety of content that caters to our members’ diverse tastes.”

Ebony Life Studios has produced box office hits like Fifty, Isoken, and Wedding Party.

Dorothy Ghettuba, Netflix lead for Original Series in Africa commended Abudu’s work saying, “Mo is at the forefront of creative storytelling in African television. Her passion for creating high-quality, riveting multi-genre films and TV shows that capture the imagination while showcasing the diversity and richness of Nigerian culture is evident in her impressive body of work.”

Reacting to the adaptation of her book, which the video streaming platform said will be first produced, Lola Shoneyin said, “I was thrilled when Mo contacted me about making a show out of my novel The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. I’d turned down so many offers but this one felt right.”

Shoneyin said it is an opportunity to see her work in the hands of “a woman who pursued excellence” in Africa in the same way she did.

“I grew to trust her very quickly, so when she told me about the possibility of working with Netflix, I was overjoyed,” she added. “Soon, people everywhere will have access to the story of Baba Segi. And that is more than I could have asked for as a writer.”

Abudu tweeted that she was thrilled that five years after she requested and acquired the rights for Wole Soyinka’s play, she gets to produce it as a feature film.

 

In his reaction, Wole Soyinka said he is delighted to see the robust challenges offered by the female gender in a male-dominated creative industry.

“Mo Abudu’s incursion into this arena as film and television producer has been especially stimulating. It becomes part of one’s sense of achievement if one has contributed, however minutely, to the creation of an enabling environment,” he said.

 

Soyinka, Sani, Odinkalu In Court As Sowore’s Trial Resumes

Nobel laureate Professor, Wole Soyinka, and a former Nigerian Senator Shehu Sani on Wednesday stormed the Abuja High Court in solidarity with the convener of #RevolutionNow Protest, Omoyele Sowore.

Also, the former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Professor Chidi Odinkalu and popular activist Deji Adeyanju were in court in solidarity with Sowore whose trial resumes today.

RELATED: Alleged Treason: Judge’s Absence Stalls Resumption Of Sowore’s Trial

Sowore and co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, are facing trial over charges of a treasonable felony for organising the revolution now protest on August 5, 2019, which the government saw as an attempt to disrupt peace in the country.

The trial was stalled yesterday due to the absence of the presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu. It was subsequently adjourned till February 12.

Sowore was arrested on August 3, 2019, by the Department of State Services (DSS) and was in custody until December 24, 2019, when he was eventually released on the orders of the Attorney General of the Federation who directed the DSS to comply with the orders of the court which granted him bail.

See more photos below…

Amotekun: Soyinka Replies Balarabe Musa Over Comment On Oduduwa Republic


 

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has replied ex-governor of the old Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa, following his comment that the Western Nigeria Security Network code-named Operation Amotekun would lead to the declaration of Oduduwa Republic.

In a statement he personally signed on Tuesday, Soyinka said Balarabe is sadly wrong and he wished Nigeria to avoid such blunder.

He added that blunders like that of Balarabe are the basis for tragedy in a nation.

A file photo of security vehicles for the Operation Amotekun during the launching ceremony.

 

“Balarabe is sadly, but I hope not tragically wrong. I invoke the tragic dimension here because the making of tragedy, especially for nations, often begins when fears are mistaken or promoted as facts, and governments either by themselves, or together with interest groups, are enticed by fears into embarking on precipitate, irrational, and irreversible acts.

“Such acts turn out, in the end, to be based on nothing but fears, sometimes generated by guilt over past injustices, such as inequitable dealing. That is the basis of tragedy, towards which nations are propelled by a partial or wrongful reading of socio-political realities and – history.

READ ALSO: Amotekun: Atiku Supports Community, State And Zonal Policing

“I would like to see this nation avoid such a blunder. So, I am certain, would Balarabe Musa.

“Raising the spectre of secession is a facile approach to the dangerous, self-evident lapses in governance which Balarabe himself acknowledges in his response to the Amotekun principle made flesh.

“The midwives of Amotekun have repeatedly acknowledged that theirs is only a contribution towards a crisis of escalating proportions. Other states should be encouraged to emulate, not misread such initiatives, then demonize them by false attributions. That is the certain recipe for tragedy,”

Operation Amotekun is a security task force initiated by the six South-West governors to tackle kidnapping, banditry and other crimes in the region.

Balarabe in an interview attributed to him and published by a national newspaper over the weekend urged the Federal Government not to allow the establishment of Amotekun.

According to him, the security outfit was a ploy to secure Yoruba land and a prelude to the declaration of Oduduwa Republic.

Amotekun Is A ‘Pleasant New Year Gift’ – Soyinka

 

 

Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has declared his support for the Western Nigeria Security Network, popularly known as ‘Amotekun’.

He described the security outfit as a pleasant New Year gift, saying it has shown that the yearnings of Nigerians prevailed.

Professor Soyinka stated this while addressing some elder statesmen and prominent Nigerians at an event held on Monday at the Muson Centre in Lagos.

The event tagged ‘Never Again’, was organised to discuss the way forward, 50 years after the Nigerian civil war.

READ ALSO: Crowd, Noise Force Supreme Court To Suspend Hearing Of Governorship Appeals

It was also aimed at reminiscing on the woes of the war which ended in January 1970 and adjudged as one of the worst scenarios of civil rife across the world.

It was well attended by a number of eminent Nigerians such as Professor Anya Anya, Professor Banji Akintoye, Professor Pat Utomi, Major General Obi Umahi (rtd), and the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, among others.

 

A Controversial Move

Professor Soyinka’s remarks came four days after the governors of the south-west region met in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital to launch the Western Nigeria Security Network.

Codenamed ‘Amotekun’, the unveiling of the outfit was to reinforce the existing security architecture of the region.

Some of the governors present at the event which held on Thursday last week include Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), and Seyi Makinde (Oyo).

They took turns to explain the rationale behind the decision which they said was aimed at ending the spate of banditry, armed robbery, kidnapping, herdsmen invasion, and other threats to the security of lives and properties, as well as the economic advancement of the region.

More than 130 patrol vans and hundreds of motorbikes were commissioned for use to kick start the project.

The launch of ‘Amotekun’ was also attended by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, as well as the leader of the Yoruba World Congress, Professor Banji Akintoye.

However, the unveiling of the security network has sparked a debate in some parts of the country.

50 Years After Civil War: Soyinka, Utomi, Elder Statesmen Discuss Way Forward

 

 

Some eminent Nigerians including Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka and Professor Pat Utomi on Monday gathered at the Muson Centre in Lagos to discuss the way forward, 50 years after the Nigerian civil war.

Tagged ‘Never Again’, the event is aimed at reminiscing on the woes of the war which ended in January 1970 and adjudged as one of the worst scenarios of civil rife across the world.

In his address, Prof Anya Anya, who is the chairman of the occasion believes violence cannot provide the solution to the problems facing the nation.

READ ALSO: Amotekun Is A ‘Pleasant New Year Gift’ – Soyinka

A cross-section of some of the participants at the event.

 

 

According to him, Nigeria must learn from the mistakes of the past and what some say was a failure of leadership.

He added that Nigeria was not the only country that has gone through such a situation as the civil war, stressing that losing a war was not necessarily a badge of failure.

One of the organisers of the event, Major General Obi Umahi (rtd), said history must be brought back into the nation’s education and school syllabus.

He explained that the aim of the conference was to sensitise Nigerians on the need for forgiveness, healing, and national cohesion.

 

General Umahi urged Nigerians to see the present situation in the country as a moment for national reflection, stressing that there was an urgent need to build bridges of unity and peace.

Giving his keynote address, Professor Pat Utomi highlighted the collapse of culture as one of the major problems of the country.

He, therefore, called for urgent attention and a joint effort to fix the problem.

Also delivering his keynote address, Professor Soyinka spoke about democracy and the need to allow it to thrive in the country.

On security, the Nobel laureate declared his support for the Western Nigeria Security Network, popularly known as ‘Amotekun’.

He described the security outfit as a pleasant New Year gift, saying it has shown that the yearnings of Nigerians prevailed.

FULL SPEECH: ‘Taming The Monster’ By Wole Soyinka

Impunity Rides Again – Wole Soyinka
A file photo of Professor Wole Soyinka.

 

 

Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka on Monday delivered a speech at the United Nations World Anti-Corruption Day in Abuja.

Read the full speech below:

THE OPEN SOCIETY ENDANGERED

(Being a talk delivered at the UN World Anti-Corruption Day, Abuja, Dec. 9. 2019)

Present here, I fully expect, is the Youth contingent of this undertaking. We are still within the United Nations designated Year of the Child, and that makes youth involvement doubly appropriate as an integral part of our encounter.

This is not mere sentiment. As some of you here may recall, I have referred to my set on occasion as the Wasted Generation. I recall that this led to some members of the generation after mine referring to theirs as the Lost Generation.

It all happened during a lecture, and the speaker’s comment went thus: “Professor Soyinka does not know how lucky he is. His generation has been merely wasted, ours is lost.” I do not know if that speaker was right, or I was, or maybe both were. Frankly, I am not even sure which is worse – to be lost or to be wasted.

All I am certain of is – moral endangerment, the degradation of moral sensibilities in the vulnerable sector of any society, however, defined.

That impressionable sector is always at risk wherever abnormalities become accepted as the norm, and the jettisoning of moral restraints is lauded, through example, as the basis of routine existence.

If I may use a notorious example, can anyone of us have failed to remark how the phenomenon of cultism has penetrated downwards, lower and lower in generational infiltration until we now read of it even in some elite primary schools?

Children may not find themselves in situations where they can actual engage in corrupt practices, but they grow up eventually into that stage, and if they have been raised in an environment where adults are exposed as corrupt, even expelled from their positions of status, only to return to their home base, to be lauded by their communities, received with pomp and pageantry and garlanded with chieftaincy titles, it requires no special exercise of the imagination to project what the future holds for overall society.

The principle of “catch them young” is one that pervades most spheres of human activity, so it’s all a question of who does the “catching”.

If we are serious and convinced about a foundational principle of social conduct, then we obviously cannot leave others to do the catching.

One of the most telling exercises I have indulged in my creative career was one which evolved from my activities in the Lagos Black Heritage Festival. We initiated a youth item called “The Vision of the Child”.

This consisted of members of that yet undefined generation being set a theme for creative interpretation – in painting, essay and even poetic forms.

We encouraged them to let their imagination roam free in all directions. One such themes that I set them was “The Thousand And One Faces of Corruption”. The results were remarkable.

If anyone thought that children even at the ‘innocent’ age downwards from thirteen or fourteen all the way down to seven or six, do not know what ‘corruption’ means, how it works, how it affects their lives and their families, they should see some of those visual and literary compositions, talk to their authors and artists, and ask the latter to explain some of the seemingly abstruse images they create. You would be thoroughly chastened.

For example, even I had not thought of dragging Sambisa forest into the geography of corruption, being too preoccupied with the horror of that outrage in itself.

They did, albeit inspired by an earlier thematic imposition – THE ROAD TO SAMBISA. This is how it all begins – read their submissions -, with corruption overwhelming even basic social and governance responsibilities.

Mr Magu, the chairman of EFCC happened on that exhibition and was sufficiently struck as to request that it tour the nation. We were more than willing.

Some of his staff visited the exhibition at Freedom Park and went into preliminaries with our young collaborators. That was – how many years ago? More ruefully, will that exhibition ever travel beyond its present confines?

Since then, that initiative has metamorphosed into an even more elaborate movement with the name Corruption Busters – launched in Lekki in December 2017.

I was able to attend just the beginning of the event but, from evidence of the video recording, the Vice-President threw himself most vigorously into that initiative.

So did a couple of supportive foreign embassies since then, however, that movement appears to have gone into recession – but I may be wrong. I would be curious to see if they participated in the Walk from EFCC to this venue this morning. If not, Mr. Magu, you and I have a problem!

The coincidence of global affirmations of past agreements on social conduct such as the ongoing celebration of the Convention on the Rights of Children, the World Anti-Corruption Day which is today, reinforced by the World Human Rights Day on Tuesday, tomorrow, should be exploited to the fullest, not merely to involve that generation in a progressive seizure of society and humanity, but also to compel adults to see both themselves and the society they have created through the eyes of children, obtain a glimpse of how that generation itself views and assesses the conduct and values of their parents, uncles, aunts, chiefs, their ministers, even their priests and supposed moral exemplars.

Youth participation takes multiple forms, even where the youths are not physically present. Images are useful ‘take-away’ teachers.

The venue of this encounter could have been festooned with the results from that – or similar — exhibitions, or other related exercises that represent minds yet under formation.

If you must take on corruption, which runs 24/7 all-year-round, then we must be alert to all opportunities to propagate the counter-gospel 24/7 all year round, with bonus ‘opportunity targets’ – to borrow from military parlance – such as the mentioned triple notations on the UN calendar.

Do some of us sometimes perhaps appear obsessed by this problem? Of course. Long before any government ever thought it to make it its business, hundreds and thousands of Nigerian individuals in their fields of activities have tackled it head-on with all attendant risk.

The choice was ‘join them or fight them’. How many here are old enough to have heard of the civilian Anti-Bribery League headed by the owner – I hopefully recollect — of Lisabi Mills in Yaba? Or later, of the government’s short-lived initiative, the X-Squad with offices in 5(?) Milverton Street, Ikoyi? Somehow or the other it takes on the intensity of a personal battle, for which agonising setbacks, such as the assassination of the late Bola Ige, a personal friend, but also Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of this nation, only serve as further spur.

Only the cynical fail to accept that it is a contest that transcends politics, partisanship and even governance, which, in this particular instance, has sunk in recent times to its lowest ebb.

Corruption triggers off numerous collateral activities in institutional conduct and governmental interface with citizenry, confrontation with its effects is thus plainly transformational.

This means that, for any corruption degraded society, it should be nothing less than revolutionary in approach – call it by that or any other word, it is still a revolutionary undertaking.

Revolution Now? Or Soon? Later or Whenever? An anti-corruption focus is surely integral to any revolutionary agenda, often it constitutes its very trigger – check any society you wish – from Cuba through China to Egypt or Myammar.

Corruption is hardly ever omitted in the list of indictments that justify that very undertaking called a revolution. Thus, anti-corruption activism is a conscious, revolutionary offensive that aims at transformation of the totality of the social phenomena.

Those agencies, or governments that permit themselves to be terrified by the word had better learn to live with it. Even governments sometimes pride themselves with claims that they have revolutionized this or that facet of society or indeed, of governance itself, meaning that such a government embarks on a drastic self-transformation in both form and practice.

So much, in general terms. Now we turn our spotlight more specifically on that agency that appears to consider the word treasonable.

Has anyone been following recent testimonies in the media by those who have entered the dungeons of the state security agency and lived to tell the tale? What has emerged in these past few days is that the very agency that recently desecrated the sanctum of justice is itself charged with corruption.

It is publicly claimed that extortion has become commonplace, inflicted on helpless citizens, some of whom lack a voice, or influential contacts, unlike the yet ongoing instance of a former media publisher and presidential candidate.

Corruption can only be fought and degraded, if not entirely destroyed, within the reality of an open society. And an open society is built and sustained on the freedom of expression.

And here comes the complement to that assault. We need only veer laterally and consider a recent – perhaps merely fortuitous act of – partnership by another governance installation – the legislative houses.

We must thank the DSS for impressing on us the same obligatory call to interrogate any proposition that curtails that right of free expression, even where camouflaged under the rubric of Hate Speech. Or Fake news.

Both, we all agree are not only harmful but cowardly and despicable. However, combine these recent sample offerings from the two institutional within the context of an Open Society and where do we find ourselves?

Let me repeat: a legislature proposes nothing less than capital punishment for what it deems Hate speech. First, are we really prepared to take on the awful responsibility of telling our children that the rational response to any kind of social outrage is to kill? Does that truly reflect the ascent of humanity from instinctive animal predatoriness?

Let us take a moment to follow the trajectory of what amounts to nothing less than a vicious cycle. This very setting in which we are assembled, Aso Rock, could not be more appropriate for charting the perilous waters into which this nation is being plunged.

So, here goes, a reconstruction that should by no means be considered a worst-case scenario. Society does not operate in virtual reality. We exist palpably.

The structure that is constitutionally empowered to determine what is denounced as Hate or Toxic Speech is rendered ineffectual daily through acts of executive condescension and disdain from the peak of governance.

The seal of desecration was finally planted on the institution of law, the sole legitimate adjudicator, by an agency that now stands accused of violating the very principles that this agency, the EFCC and its sister ICPC, were set up to uphold.

Is it excessive to consider the possibility that other potential accusers of that security agency are locked up in dungeons, some forgotten for upwards three to four years?

Kindly check the media for testimonies of those who have recently been discharged from or discovered in DSS custody after years in their hellholes. How would the DSS now respond, given the protection of this ready-to-kill Bill on Hate?

Obviously, with complaint of Hate Attack by the accusers, punishable by death. The agency proceeds to arrest the newspaper staff and the accusers. The case goes to hearing.

The judge sets a date and grants the accusers bail. What happens next? The agency under accusation invades the court, scatters everyone, pounces on the recently bailed ‘felon’ and drags him off struggling desperately for life and liberty.

That, I repeat, is not a worst-case scenario, nor is it far-fetched. The blueprint is out in public domain.

The anti-corruption offensive, on which we are hopefully sincerely engaged, is meaningless without complete openness and without the total liberty of every citizen, subject only to constraints imposed under the law.

It is, therefore, most heart-warming that civil society is waking up to its responsibilities and has called strongly for an apology to the nation from the so-called Directorate of State Services. We must proceed further.

We need from the DSS a list of all its current detainees, their names, addresses, and records of confinement. I see no security issue fulfilled in keeping such names secret.

Why is any citizen reduced to paying 50,000 Naira to bribe an officer to procure a cellphone, just to let his family know that he is alive but immured in a dungeon?

The right to information must be exercised comprehensively and most certainly in favour of citizen liberty, in conformity to that third United Nations notation – Human Rights – that it has designated for tomorrow.

So perhaps something positive will be extracted from this collective violation that this nation has recently undergone.

With that foregoing, Greetings on my own behalf, and on behalf of – shall we call them? – the anxious generation, on this World’s Anti-Corruption Day. Let this morning’s overture, the symbolic walk from the designated citadel of ethical transformation to this venue be absorbed as a walk to freedom within a corruption-free air for those forgotten Nigerians in illegal captivity.

A LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, wrote Nelson Mandela, victim of a vicious system called apartheid. We do not labour under apartheid terror, so let us shorten that walk and open up society by giving voice to the voiceless, and presence to the absent, held under our very noses under inhuman conditions, forced to pay for the privilege of reminding the rest of us, in approximate freedom, that they still exist.

In short, let us embrace the liberating, transformative spirit of — if not exactly Revolution Now – then at least, maybe — Liberation Now?

Wole SOYINKA.

Soyinka Criticizes DSS For Sowore’s Re-Arrest

 

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has criticised the Department of State Services (DSS) for the re-arrest of the convener of the RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore.

While delivering a keynote address at an event organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to mark the UN Day on Anti-Corruption, Soyinka described the act as another form of corruption.

He had earlier condemned the invasion of a court in Abuja by operatives of the DSS in a bid to re-arrest Mr Sowore.

In a statement personally signed by him on Friday, Professor Soyinka asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call the agency to order.

Read Also: Sowore’s Re-Arrest: Soyinka Condemns DSS’ Action, Sends Message To Buhari

The Nobel laureate also warned the government to uphold and respect judicial institutions in order to prevent the present situation from degenerating into chaos.

He also advised that those he described as the “wild dogs of disobedience” be taught some basic court manners.

Before Friday’s incident occurred, the court had ruled to adjourn the trial of Sowore and his co-accused, Olawale Bakare, until February 11, 2020.

The duo are facing charges of treason following the demonstrations by some Nigerians under the #RevolutionNow to protest what they described as worsening conditions in the country.

Read his full speech below.

THE OPEN SOCIETY ENDANGERED

(Being a talk delivered at the UN World Anti-Corruption Day, Abuja, Dec. 9. 2019)

Present here, I fully expect, is the Youth contingent of this undertaking. We are still within the United Nations designated Year of the Child, and that makes youth involvement doubly appropriate as an integral part of our encounter. This is not mere sentiment.

As some of you here may recall, I have referred to my set on occasion as the Wasted Generation. I recall that this led to some members of the generation after mine referring to theirs as the Lost Generation. It all happened during a lecture, and the speaker’s comment went thus: “Professor Soyinka does not know how lucky he is. His generation has been merely wasted, ours is lost.” I do not know if that speaker was right, or I was, or maybe both were. Frankly, I am not even sure which is worse – to be lost or to be wasted. All I am certain of is – moral endangerment, the degradation of moral sensibilities in the vulnerable sector of any society, however, defined. That impressionable sector is always at risk wherever abnormalities become accepted as the norm, and the jettisoning of moral restraints is lauded, through example, as the basis of routine existence.

If I may use a notorious example, can anyone of us have failed to remark how the phenomenon of cult-ism has penetrated downwards, lower and lower in generational infiltration until we now read of it even in some elite primary schools? Children may not find themselves in situations where they can actual engage in corrupt practices, but they grow up eventually into that stage, and if they have been raised in an environment where adults are exposed as corrupt, even expelled from their positions of status, only to return to their home base, to be lauded by their communities, received with pomp and pageantry and garlanded with chieftaincy titles, it requires no special exercise of the imagination to project what the future holds for overall society. The principle of “catch them young” is one that pervades most spheres of human activity, so it’s all a question of who does the “catching”. If we are serious and convinced about a foundational principle of social conduct, then we obviously cannot leave others to do the catching.

One of the most telling exercises I have indulged in my creative career was one which evolved from my activities in the Lagos Black Heritage Festival. We initiated a youth item called “The Vision of the Child”.

This consisted of members of that yet undefined generation being set a theme for creative interpretation – in painting, essay and even poetic forms. We encouraged them to let their imagination roam free in all directions. One such themes that I set them was “The Thousand And One Faces of Corruption”. The results were remarkable. If anyone thought that children even at the ‘innocent’ age downwards from thirteen or fourteen all the way down to seven or six, do not know what ‘corruption’ means, how it works, how it affects their lives and their families, they should see some of those visual and literary compositions, talk to their authors and artists, and ask the latter to explain some of the seemingly abstruse images they create. You would be thoroughly chastened. For example, even I had not thought of dragging Sambisa forest into the geography of corruption, being too preoccupied with the horror of that outrage in itself. They did, albeit inspired by an earlier thematic imposition – THE ROAD TO SAMBISA.

This is how it all begins – read their submissions -, with corruption over-whelming even basic social and governance responsibilities. Mr. Magu, the chairman of EFCC happened on that exhibition, and was sufficiently struck as to request that it tour the nation. We were more than willing. Some of his staff visited the exhibition at Freedom Park and went into preliminaries with our young collaborators. That was – how many years ago? More ruefully, will that exhibition ever travel beyond its present con-fines?

Since then, that initiative has metamorphosed into an even more elaborate movement with the name Corruption Busters – launched in Lekki in December 2017. I was able to attend just the beginning of the event but, from evidence of the video recording, the Vice-President threw himself most vigorously into that initiative. So did a couple of supportive foreign embassies Since then however, that movement appears to have gone into recession – but I may be wrong. I would be curious to see if they participated in the Walk from EFCC to this venue this morning. If not, Mr. Magu, you and I have a problem!

The coincidence of global affirmations of past agreements on social conduct such as the ongoing celebration of the Convention on the Rights of Children, the World Anti-Corruption Day which is today, rein-forced by the World Human Rights Day on Tuesday, tomorrow, should be exploited to the fullest, not merely to involve that generation in a progressive seizure of society and humanity, but also to compel adults to see both themselves and the society they have created through the eyes of children, obtain a glimpse of how that generation itself views and assesses the conduct and values of their parents, uncles, aunts, chiefs, their ministers, even their priests and supposed moral exemplars.

Youth participation takes multiple forms, even where the youths are not physically present. Images are useful ‘take-away’ teachers. The venue of this encounter could have been festooned with the results from that – or similar — exhibitions, or other related exercises that represent minds yet under formation. If you must take on corruption, which runs 24/7 all-year-round, then we must be alert to all opportunities to propagate the counter-gospel 24/7 all year round, with bonus ‘opportunity targets’ – to borrow from military par-lance – such as the mentioned triple notations on the UN calendar. Do some of us sometimes perhaps appear obsessed by this problem? Of course. Long before any government ever thought it to make it its business, hundreds and thousands of Nigerian individuals in their fields of activities have tackled it head-on with all attendant risk. The choice was ‘join them or fight them’. How many here are old enough to have heard of the civilian Anti-Bribery League headed by the owner – I hopefully recollect — of Lisabi Mills in Yaba? Or later, of the government’s short-lived initiative, the X-Squad with offices in 5(?) Milverton Street, Ikoyi? Somehow or the other it takes on the intensity of a personal battle, for which agonizing setbacks, such as the assassination of the late Bola Ige, a personal friend, but also Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of this nation, only serve as further spur. Only the cynical fail to accept that it is a contest that transcends politics, partisanship and even governance, which, in this particular instance, has sunk in recent times to its lowest ebb.

Corruption triggers off numerous collateral activities in institutional conduct and governmental inter-face with citizenry, confrontation with its effects is thus plainly transformational. This means that, for any cor-ruption degraded society, it should be nothing less than revolutionary in approach – call it by that or any other word, it is still a revolutionary undertaking. Revolution Now? Or Soon? Later or Whenever? An anti-corruption focus is surely integral to any revolutionary agenda, often it constitutes its very trigger – check any society you wish – from Cuba through China to Egypt or Myammar.

Corruption is hardly ever omitted in the list of indictments that justify that very undertaking called a revolution. Thus, anti-corruption activism is a conscious, revolutionary offensive that aims at transformation of the totality of the social phenomena. Those agencies, or governments that permit themselves to be terrified by the word had better learn to live with it. Even governments sometimes pride themselves with claims that they have revolutionized this or that facet of society or indeed, of governance itself., meaning that such a government embarks on a drastic self-transformation in both form and practice. So much, in general terms.

Now we turn our spotlight more specifically on that agency that appears to consider the word treasonable. Has anyone been following recent testimonies in the media by those who have entered the dungeons of the state security agency and lived to tell the tale? What has emerged in these past few days is that the very agency that recently desecrated the sanctum of justice is itself charged with corruption. It is publicly claimed that extortion has become commonplace, inflicted on helpless citizens, some of whom lack a voice, or influential contacts, unlike the yet ongoing instance of a former media publisher and presidential candidate. Corruption can only be fought and degraded, if not entirely destroyed, within the reality of an open society. And an open society is built and sustained on the freedom of expression.

And here comes the complement to that assault. We need only veer laterally and consider a recent – perhaps merely fortuitous act of – partnership by another governance installation – the legislative houses. We must thank the DSS for impressing on us the same obligatory call to interrogate any proposition that curtails that right of free expression, even where camouflaged under the rubric of Hate Speech. Or Fake news. Both, we all agree are not only harmful but cowardly and despicable.
However, combine these recent sample offerings from the two institutional within the context of an Open Society and where do we find ourselves? Let me repeat: a legislature proposes nothing less than capital punishment for what it deems Hate speech. First, are we really prepared to take on the awful responsibility of telling our children that the rational response to any kind of social outrage is to kill? Does that truly reflect the ascent of humanity from instinctive animal predatoriness? Let us take a moment to follow the trajectory of what amounts to nothing less than a vicious cycle. This very setting in which we are assembled, Aso Rock, could not be more appropriate for charting the perilous waters into which this nation is being plunged. So, here goes, a reconstruction that should by no means be considered a worst-case scenario.

Society does not operate in virtual reality. We exist palpably. The structure that is constitutionally empowered to determine what is denounced as Hate or Toxic Speech is rendered ineffectual daily through acts of executive condescension and disdain from the peak of governance. The seal of desecration was finally plant-ed on the institution of law, the sole legitimate adjudicator, by an agency that now stands accused of violating the very principles that this agency, the EFCC and its sister ICPC, were set up to uphold. Is it excessive to consider the possibility that other potential accusers of that security agency are locked up in dungeons, some for-gotten for upwards three to four years? Kindly check the media for testimonies of those who have recently been discharged from or discovered in DSS custody after years in their hellholes. How would the DSS now respond, given the protection of this ready-to-kill Bill on Hate? Obviously, with complaint of Hate Attack by the accusers, punishable by death. The agency proceeds to arrest the newspaper staff and the accusers. The case goes to hearing. The judge sets a date and grants the accusers bail. What happens next? The agency under accusation invades the court, scatters everyone, pounces on the recently bailed ‘felon’ and drags him off struggling desperately for life and liberty. That, I repeat, is not a worst-case scenario, nor is it far-fetched. The blueprint is out in public domain.

The anti-corruption offensive, on which we are hopefully sincerely engaged, is meaningless without complete openness and without the total liberty of every citizen, subject only to constraints imposed under the law. It is, therefore, most heart-warming that civil society is waking up to its responsibilities and has called strongly for an apology to the nation from the so-called Directorate of State Services. We must proceed further. We need from the DSS a list of all its current detainees, their names, addresses and records of confinement. I see no security issue fulfilled in keeping such names secret. Why is any citizen reduced to paying 50,000 Naira to bribe an officer to procure a cellphone, just to let his family know that he is alive but immured in a dungeon? The right to information must be exercised comprehensively and most certainly in favour of citizen liberty, in conformity to that third United Nations notation – Human Rights – that it has designated for tomorrow. So perhaps something positive will be extracted from this collective violation that this nation has recently undergone.

With that foregoing, Greetings on my own behalf, and on behalf of – shall we call them? – the anxious generation, on this World’s Anti-Corruption Day. Let this morning’s overture, the symbolic walk from the des-ignated citadel of ethical transformation to this venue be absorbed as a walk to freedom within a corruption-free air for those forgotten Nigerians in illegal captivity. A LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, wrote Nelson Mandela, victim of a vicious system called apartheid. We do not labour under apartheid terror, so let us shorten that walk and open up society by giving voice to the voiceless, and presence to the absent, held under our very nos-es under inhuman conditions, forced to pay for the privilege of reminding the rest of us, in approximate free-dom, that they still exist. In short, let us embrace the liberating, transformative spirit of — if not exactly Revolution Now – then at least, maybe — Liberation Now?

Wole SOYINKA.

Sowore’s Re-Arrest: Soyinka Condemns DSS’ Action, Sends Message To Buhari

Professor Wole Soyinka                                                                                                     Omoyele Sowore

 

 

Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has condemned the invasion of a court in Abuja by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).

In a statement personally signed by him on Friday, Professor Soyinka asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call the agency to order.

He issued the statement hours after DSS operatives who came in at least three pickup trucks stormed the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, in a bid to re-arrest Mr Omoyele Sowore.


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The attempt to make the arrested inside the court was, however, resisted by Sowore and his supporters, resulting in a scuffle between both sides.

Confronting the security officials, Sowore’s lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, stated that it was very wrong to carry out such an operation in court.

He, thereafter, asked the officials to go out of the court premises after with Sowore was driven in Falana’s vehicle to the DSS office where he was re-arrested and detained.

In his reaction, Professor Soyinka likened the incident to what he called ‘Lessons from the African Wild Dog.”

According to him, disobedience calls to disobedience and the disobedience of the orders would only lead to the disregard of the authority of other arms of civil society by the people.

The Nobel laureate warned the government to uphold and respect judicial institutions in order to prevent the present situation from degenerating into chaos.

He also advised that those he described as the “wild dogs of disobedience” be taught some basic court manners.

Before Friday’s incident happened, the court had ruled to adjourn the trial of Sowore and his co-accused, Olawale Bakare, until February 11, 2020.

The duo are facing charges of treason following the demonstrations by some Nigerians under the #RevolutionNow to protest what they described as worsening conditions in the country.

The DSS released Sowore and Bakare on Thursday after refusing to do so in disobedience to two court orders.

Despite the refusal, the security agency insisted that it has always obeyed the orders of the court.

Read Professor Soyinka’s statement below:

Lessons From The African Wild Dog (Lycaeon Pictus)

A few years ago, I watched the video of a pack of the famed African wild dogs hunt, eventually bring down, and proceed to devour a quarry. It was an impala, antelope family.

The pack isolated the most vulnerable looking member of the herd – it was pregnant – pursued it, until it fled to a waterhole which, for such animals, is the nearest thing to a sanctuary.

A few minutes ago, almost as it was happening, I watched the video of a pack of the DSS, bring down, and fight over their unarmed, totally defenceless quarry within the sanctuary of a court of law.

I found little or no difference between the two scenarios, except that the former, the wild dogs, exhibited more civilised table manners than the DSS u court manners.

Only yesterday, in my commentary on the ongoing Sowore saga, I pointed out the near-perfect similarity between plain crude thuggery and the current rage of court disobedience.

Little did I suspect that the state children of disobedience would aspire to the level of the African wild dogs on a pack hunt.

I apologise for underestimating the DSS capacity for the unthinkable. I reiterate the nation’s concern, indeed alarm, about the escalating degradation of the judiciary through multiple means, of which disobedience of court orders is fast becoming the norm.

May I remind this government that disobedience calls to disobedience, and that disobedience of the orders of the constitutional repository of the moral authority of arbitration  – the judiciary – can only lead eventually to a people’s disregard of the authority of other arms of civil society, a state of desperation that is known, recognised and accepted as – civil disobedience.

It is so obvious – state disobedience leads eventually to civil disobedience, piecemeal or through a collective withdrawal of recognition of other structures of authority.

That way leads to chaos but – who set it in motion? As is often the case, the state, unquestionably. Such a state bears full responsibility for the ensuing social condition known as anomie.

It has become imperative and urgent to send this message to President-General Buhari:  Rein in your wild dogs of disobedience.  And for a start, get a trainer to teach them some basic court manners!

Wole SOYINKA

Soyinka Calls For ‘Holistic Approach’ To Nigeria’s Security Challenges

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, speaks during a visit to the Government House in Makurdi, the Benue State capital on November 5, 2019.

 

 

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has asked the Federal Government to take decisive action against Boko Haram, armed herdsmen, and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).

He stated this at a meeting with Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on Tuesday at the Government House in Makurdi, the state capital.

Professor Soyinka, who visited some displaced persons at their camp in the Abagana area of the state, noted that the insurgents and others were terrorising Nigerians.

READ ALSO: Why Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore’s President Must Be Arrested – Ortom

According to him, the security situation in the country requires the immediate attention of the government, especially at the federal level with an all-inclusive approach.

“It’s a pity that this area of the country is really besieged. First it was Boko Haram, then it is these herdsmen, and then recently there is ISWAP; it strikes me that a holistic approach has to be taken,” said the Nobel laureate.

He added, “It’s not the responsibility of Benue alone, it’s not the responsibility of the affected states alone; it’s a national responsibility.

“And I hope that this government has seen the result of taking things easy when they should be taken by the throat and tackled very decisively; now that they’ve seen how violence calls to violent, how impunity calls to impunity, and arrogance calls to arrogance.”

 

Philosophy Of Disorder

Professor Soyinka also condemned the herdsmen attacks which claimed several lives and left hundreds displaced in Benue.

He decried the situation where a group of persons would threaten the peace of a state in a civilised society when the government takes decisions in the interest of its people.

The Nobel laureate said, “When you have any kind of unit in an overall community which says, ‘either you do this or we’ll show you’, this is the mentality which led to the virtual takeover of an order by a philosophy of disorder.

“The possibility that any section of society can call the shut for the totality, and I’m referring to when Benue State passed the law about open grazing and the criminals, the homicidal maniacs had inhaled to say ‘you take the law out or else’ … that means we don’t live in a civilised society.”

‘Unprecedented Level Of Paranoia,’ Soyinka Slams FG Over Charges Against Sowore

Professor Wole Soyinka                                                                                                Mr Omoyele Sowore

 

 

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has criticised the Muhammadu Buhari administration over the charges of treasonable felony and other counts filed against the detained Convener of #RevolutionNow Protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore.

Professor Soyinka condemned the government’s action in a statement personally signed by him and forwarded to Channels Television on Saturday.

After weeks of detention in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS), the government filed seven counts charge bordering on treasonable felony and money laundering against the Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters and former presidential candidate of African Action Congress in the 2019 general elections.

READ ALSO: Stop Trying To Muzzle People, Soyinka Condemns Clampdown On Protesters

A Chief State Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecutions of the Federation at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Aminu Alilu, signed the charges on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

The charges were filed on Friday, a day before the expiration of the detention order of the Federal High Court in Abuja which permitted the DSS to keep Sowore for 45 days.

 

‘Depressing News’

Professor Soyinka, who had earlier warned the government against the use of force to clampdown on citizens exercising their fundamental human rights, said the government “has indeed attained an unprecedented level of paranoia.”

He explained that he initially thought the news of the charges filed against Sowore was fake, stressing that he does not expect those who filed the charges to believe them.

Read the full statement below:

This is utterly depressing news. So, the Sowore affair has moved beyond harassment and taken on a sinister direction.

Outside the country where I happened to be engaged at the moment, I can testify that the immediate reaction around me was to dismiss this as yet another grotesque product of Fake News, of which Nigerians have become the greatest practitioners.

I confess that I also joined in this school of thought – at the start. Further checks have, however, confirmed that this government has indeed attained an unprecedented level of paranoia.

I do not believe that the Justice Department itself believes in these improbable charges, as formally publicised.

So, once again, we inscribe in our annals another season of treasonable felony, History still guards some lessons we have yet to digest, much less from which to learn.

Welcome to the Club, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.

Wole SOYINKA

Stop Trying To Muzzle People, Soyinka Condemns Clampdown On Protesters

 

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has once again warned against the use of force to clampdown on citizens, especially when they are exercising their fundamental human rights.

He gave the warning at an event organised on Saturday in Lagos, as part of the activities marking his 85th birthday.

“One of the beauties of existence is the ability to express oneself,” Professor Soyinka said.

He added, “It’s a fundamental human right which we cannot compromise and it is important to send this strong message to this government and to the security services to stop trying to muzzle people when they come together to exchange ideas.”

READ ALSO: Health And Education, ‘Best Asset To Give’ The People – Buhari

The Nobel Laureate stated that government institutions must respect the right of Nigerians who wish to deploy demonstrative means to question the policies and programmes of the government.

He decried that the recent attempt by security operatives to stop a pro-democracy gathering in Lagos was a display of intolerance by the government.

Professor Soyinka re-emphasised what he described as ‘the simple truth’, stressing that creativity takes place in an atmosphere of absolute freedom.

Condemning the disruption of peaceful protests by citizens, he said, “You (the government) are reducing them (the citizens) as human beings and you are also reducing yourselves as human beings because it means that you are afraid to listen.

“And those who are afraid to listen, usually, are guilty people; that is why they do not want to listen.”

“The reduction of the freedom of any one of us however small, however minor; the reduction of the rights to expression of any one of us is an infringement and assault on the rights of all of us, whether we are part of that particular exercise or not,” the Nobel Laureate insisted.

Professor Soyinka was one of those scheduled to speak at the symposium organised by a group under the aegis of Coalition for Revolution at the Ikeja area of the state on August 19.

Nothing That Sowore Has Done Suggests A Violent Overthrow Of Government – Soyinka

Impunity Will Prevail If Legal Community Continues To Betray Its Calling – Soyinka
File photo: Professor Wole Soyinka addressing reporters in February 2018.

 

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka said on Sunday that nothing which the human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, has said or done suggests a violent overthrow of government. 

While stating his stance on the arrest of Mr Omoyele Sowore, by the Department of State Services, the Noble Laureate said that the deployment of alarmist expressions such as “treason”, “anarchist”, “public incitement” etc. by security forces have become so predictable and banal that they have become meaningless.

He adds, “Nothing that Sowore has uttered, written, or advocated suggests that he is embarking on, or urging the public to engage in a forceful overthrow of government”.

READ ALSO: Protest Marches Are Not Treasonable Offences In Nigeria, Says Falana

Prof. Soyinka asked the police to stick to its task of protecting and managing protests, and not attempt to place their own meaning and declaration of intent on words like revolution.

Below is the Nobel Laureate’s full statement.

“SURELY, NOT AGAIN!!!

Deployment of alarmist expressions such as “treason”, “anarchist”, “public incitement” etc. by Security forces have become so predictable and banal that they have become meaningless. Beyond the word ‘revolution, another much mis-used and misunderstood word, nothing that Sowore has uttered, written, or advocated suggests that he is embarking on, or urging the public to engage in a forceful overthrow of government. Nothing that he said to me in private engagement ever remotely approached an intent to destabilize governance or bypass the normal democratic means of changing a government.

I therefore find the reasons given by the Inspector-General, for the arrest and detention of this young ex-presidential candidate totally contrived and untenable, unsupported by any shred of evidence. His arrest is a travesty and violation of the fundamental rights of citizens to congregate and make public their concerns.

This is all so sadly déjà vu. How often must we go through this wearisome cycle? We underwent identical cynical contrivances under the late, unlamented Sani Abacha, when he sent storm-troopers to disrupt a planning session for a similar across-nation march at Tai Solarin School, Ikenne. This was followed up by a personalized letter that was hand delivered by the State Security Services to me under their summons, at their Abeokuta so-called ‘Annexe’ with near identical wording to the threats contained in today’s release from the desk of the Chief of Police. At least, I was summoned, not subjected to a terrorist midnight arrest. Some irony!

The same pattern Pavlovian conduct manifested itself under yet another supposed democratic ruler who personally declared that the gathering of civilians to deliberate on, and propose a constitution for the nation was ‘high treason’, and would be resisted by the full rigour of state power if we persisted.

The Inspector-General of Police mobilized his forces and issued inflammatory proclamations, but PRONACO went ahead despite all the thundering from Aso citadel. Can the police ever learn anything also their tear-gassing and brutalizing of grieving mothers who marched peacefully to protest the deaths of their children in a plane crash inferno? Their mission, under that same regime, which was simply to deliver a letter to government house in Lagos, demanding greater safety in airline operations, yet such a rational intent, born of traumatic circumstances, was quashed on the sidewalks of a supposed twentieth century nation.

And yet again, even a faceless cabal under yet another civilian regime refused to be left out of the insensate play of power. A march on Aso Rock calling for an end to governance by a ghostly entity was slated to be crushed, but fortunately, a conflicting balance of interests decided in favour of a reduced trajectory of protest. And so on and on and on, in a nation which continues to speak at once through both sides of the mouth, spewing out the same Treason monotone, as if this was a magic incantation that could substitute for the venting of mass feelings, even as collective therapy!

May I invite the Inspector-General to wade through the daily journals of the past few weeks and months, read and digest the calls by numerous sectors of society – across professions and national groupings – for demonstrations against the parlous conditions of society, all identifying ills to which attention must be drawn, and urgently, through mass action? Demonstrations and processions are time honoured, democratic ways of drawing not only the attention of government to ills, but of mobilizing the public towards a proactive consciousness of their condition, and thereby exhorting civil society also to devise means of ameliorating their condition through their own efforts?

Religious bodies have urged such remedies, so have civic associations. The ready recourse to arrests, incarceration and threats to civilians are ultimately counter-productive. They alienate the citizens, erode their confidence in governance responsiveness, and thereby advance the very extremist nightmare that security agencies believe they are acting to thwart.

If we cannot learn from the histories and experiences of other societies, let us at least learn from ours. Freedom is not so glibly qualified. It cannot be doled out like slops of charity from soup kitchens. Let the Police stick to their task of protecting and managing protests, not attempt to place their own meaning and declaration of intent on bogey words like – revolution!”