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Gov Matawalle And The Persecution Of Zamfara Civil Servants: Sani Garba Now! Who's Next?


By Ibrahim Madugu

As the 2023 elections is approaching with nothing to show by the administration of Governor Matawalle that would secure his re-election, a move he is so much desperate to secure, the governor is now looking for any possible shortcut to find his way no matter how dirty.  

One of the murky tools the governor is deploying to silence opposition is reckless, unjustified and politically motivated suspension of civil servants identified to be family members or associates of the governor’s perceived opponents in the state and in most cases, violating their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which the governor has sworn to protect and whose provisions has brought him into power. 

Those who are close to the governor should kindly tell him that there is no shortcut to success and Zamfarawa are not that coward that would bow to his executive bullying to re-elect him for another term; a second term of confusion. God forbid!

It can be recalled that in January this year, an officer working with Zamfara state Urban and Regional Planning Board (ZUREPB) was issued a “query” and later, forced to resign by the agency on the instructions of the top government officials acting on the interest of the Governor. His offense is nothing but associating with members of the opposition.

Again, in a letter dated 21st February, 2022 and signed by the General Manager (Administration) of the Zamfara Radio Service, Sani Ahmad Maru, my friend, Engr Sani Garba, an officer working with Technical department of the Radio was “indefinitely” suspended for allegedly “attacking the personality of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Zamfara state through different Social media platforms in favour of other members of the opposition”.

The fact is, Sani Garba is an associate of Senator Kabir Garba Marafa and was simply suspended for rejecting an offer to serve as Senior Special Assistant to the Governor for him to abandon his associate. Pained by his refusal to join Matawalle’s sinking ship after the failed persuasions by the Chairman of the Radio, Saidu Maishanu Gusau, the last thing they could do is to suspend him from his job.

It may interest you to know that Maishanu was one time a victim of similar political persecution some years back. He was once suspended for being an associate of Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi only to be reinstated later and appointed during Governor Matawalle's administration as the head of the agency he is now maltreating others. Who knows wether Maishanu would one day serve under the officer he have maltreated? Only God knows, but how some narrow-minded people forget so easily when in the position of power is quite flabbergasting!

The most unfortunate thing about the suspension of Sani Garba was the blatant violation of his fundamental human right. 

Firstly, he has a right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association according to section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution. Therefore, suspending him on the ground of being a political associate of Distinguished Senator Kabir Marafa is a violation of this right and therefore, illegal.

Secondly, Sani Garba has freedom to express his views according to section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution. Therefore, suspending him on the grounds of expressing his views on social media platforms is also a violation of his rights and also illegal. Citing “personality attacks” as the ground for his suspension is a fallacy that must be exposed. I challenge anyone to share any defamatory post of Sani Garba against the personality of Governor Matawalle.

Thirdly, Sani Garba was suspended without fair hearing which is another violation of his fundamental rights guaranteed in section 36 of the Nigerian Constitution. I expect Zamfara Radio to issue the officer with a written query stating those allegations wether he can exculpate himself according to the laws of the land. But this didn’t happen as the management of the Radio was eager to accomplish their mission to suit the interest of the governor. He was only verbally “advised” to desist according to the suspension letter and this has also make the suspension very illegal.

Citing rule 030402 of the civil service rules in the letter to proceed with punishment of the officer without fair hearing cannot withstand legal scrutiny because civil service rules is not a law. And, even if it was a law, it is null and void since it was inconsistent with the 1999 constitution of Nigeria (as amended). Though, I observed that even rules 030302 and 030303 of the same civil service rules quoted in the letter were brazenly violated in the suspension of Engr Sani Garba!

Governor Matawalle may wish to continue conniving with Heads of MDAs or any arm of government to illegally sack, suspend or remove any of his perceived opponent from the payroll of the least paid civil servants in Nigeria. But one certain thing is, persecution would not work; it will not save his sinking political ship —that is sailing with no clear direction—from daylight capsize comes 2023, Insha Allah!

Ibrahim Madugu writes from Samaru, Gusau.

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