Much Ado About a Dog

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By Jonathan Elendu

Nigerians are not famous for their pets. None of our Government Houses, including the Presidential villa, has a known pet.
A dog in Ota has become famous for being named Buhari. Joe Foretmose Chinakwe, a 30 year old trader named his dog Buhari.
According to Joe, he named the dog after his favourite politician and president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari.
“My admiration for Buhari started far back when he was a military Head of State. It continued till date that he is a civilian President. After reading his dogged fight against corruption, which is like a canker worm eating into the very existence of this country, I solely decided to rename my beloved dog which I called Buhari, after him. I did not know that I was committing an offence for admiring Buhari.”
Well, if Joe Chinakwe is 30 years old as media reports indicate he couldn’t have been around when Buhari was Head of State.
There is an allegation that he named his dog after his landlord, whose last name is Buhari. According to this allegation Joe and his landlord were not on the best of terms and he decided to name his dog after the landlord in apparent disrespect and insult to the man.
For this Joe was arrested by the Police and detained for days. After being released on bail he was rearrested. He has been taken to Court and remanded until he meets bail conditions.
Some have opined that Joe Chinakwe was arrested because he named his dog after the President as an insult to the exalted office. Others have suggested Joe’s landlord’s son reported him to the Police and used his connections to “deal with Joe.”
The report I read on this during the weekend was what peeved my interest. The Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone11, Abdulmajid Ali had directed that the Buhari dog case file be sent to him.
Until then I thought this was a bad joke for a bored Police division looking for some excitement. Police work is naturally exciting and besides Nigerian Police claim to be overwhelmed with work all over the country. Therefore they cannot be interested in some guy’s dog because of excitement or lack of action.
So, some policemen are expected to take the Buhari dog case file to Zone11 headquarters which is in Lagos for AIG Ali to peruse. Do you see something wrong here? Instead of going to chase those siphoning oil from pipelines the AIG is reading dog files.
An obscure trader in Sango Ota gave his dog a famous name and because of that much needed resources are being diverted and expended by the State on that idiocy?
Does AIG Ali and his Zone11 know how many crimes were committed in his zone this past week? Why would AIG Ali devote time to this dog nonsense instead of facing real crime and criminals?
There have been suggestions that there is an ethnic dimension to this story as no reasonable law officer would find a crime in Joe Chinakwe naming his dog Buhari.
Joe Chinakwe, I hear is from the Niger Delta but of Igbo extraction. His landlord is an Hausa man and the police actors in Sango Ota are all Hausa. AIG Ali is also Hausa.
There may not be anything to the ethnic dimension but because of the bizarre nature of this case and police involvement all kinds of motives are being suggested.
One would have expected a senior police officer like an Assistant Inspector General of Police to know that. The longer this lingers the more motives and theories will emerge.
According to Alozie Nmerengwa an Abuja based lawyer, “no law prevents anyone from naming his dog whatever he likes except when it’s likely to be inciting.”
Nigeria is experiencing serious economic hardships. Many states in the country can hardly pay salaries. All the indices of progress have gone south on Nigeria.
You would think at a time when the country is ravaged by violence in almost every region that our Police would have better things to do than chasing some trader who named his dog Buhari.
I am surprised that the Court even paid any attention to a matter like this when they have dockets filled with cases that are more deserving of attention and relevant to people’s lives.
The main opposition party in Nigeria, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have accused President Muhammadu Buhari of intolerance and dictatorial tendencies.
I do not agree with this accusation of the President but actions like the type being taken by the Ogun State Police Command and indeed the Zone11 Police hierarchy would lend some credence to the PDP’s accusation.
In a nascent democracy like ours people should not be afraid that the Police can be used against them for speaking their minds. They must not be afraid to have views that may not be in tandem or complimentary to the powers that be.
Pres. Muhammadu Buhari has a responsibility to protect every Nigerian. He owes it to Joe Chinakwe and others who may name their cows, goats, chickens Buhari to protect them and their rights to make such decisions.
Just like he did not discourage the father of Buhari Attahiru from naming his son after him when he was a military Head of State, PMB should fiercely protect those who try to ridicule him because they are dissatisfied with his performance as a civilian president or just don’t like him.
I know he is proud that the boy named after him acquired a doctorate degree the same time he achieved his lifelong ambition of becoming a civilian president.
Nigerians would be so proud of him that even those who disagree with him are not hounded and thrown into jail on trumped up charges by the Nigeria Police. It is only then that we can call him a reformed dictator; a democrat.
It is a sad commentary on our democracy that the Police would even entertain the idea of charging a man to court for naming his dog Buhari, whether it’s about Pres. Buhari or one landlord in Sango Ota.
This would suggest that a civil authority like the police is yet to rid itself of the long years of military dictatorship. Such mentality that ordinary people do not have the right to ridicule the rich and powerful is the reason our politicians call us masses.
As far as these politicians are concerned we are lesser mortals who have no business speaking our minds or protesting their actions when we feel aggrieved. They consider themselves our rulers and conquerors. They are disdainful of the common folks.
Ironically the police who should be a buffer between us and them are yet to free themselves of authoritarian mentality. So the spectre of the rich and powerful using the poor to taunt and hunt their ilk continues.
Pres. Buhari should end this dog story before it assumes a dimension that may surprise all of us. All over Nigeria tensions are palpable. The authorities must not allow themselves to be used to ignite the situation.
Mr. President should buy two dogs and name both Joe Chinakwe.

Email: jelendu@aol.com Twitter: jelendu1

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