Political activism has always been a noble cause. The likes of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, among others, will forever be remembered in history for the decorous ways they went about advocating the rights of the people. Many who are today activists and human rights advocates were inspired by these lots.
In recent times however, some Nigerian activists have deviated from the noble cause. This is the case of Femi Falana and Reno Omokri. They have allowed their own personal interests to override the public good. Pure objectivity which should be the main focus of the cause has been thwarted for subjectivity. Both Femi Falana and Reno Omokri have failed to delineate the thin line between activism and rascality.
For what anybody knows, activism has always been sincere and honest. But in the case of Reno Omokri, he plays to the gallery to score cheap political points. For Falana however, it is a political vendetta.
Femi Falana (SAN) has always had an enviable personality. Throughout his professional career, Falana has maintained a strong campaign to defend human rights and democracy.
His dedication to human rights and the promotion of the rule of law is evident through years of committed pro-bono works, in which he provided extensive support for a number of public interest cases. He gave professional support for the reinstatement of scores of university lecturers and undergraduates, who were dismissed illegally.
He also provided pro-bono services to the marginalised Ogoni people, representing more cases before the Human Rights Violations and Investigations Commission than any other Nigerian human rights lawyer. All of these were before he deviated.
In more recent times, Falana has been at the forefront of escalating tensions in the overarching polity. For someone who should be an advocate of Nigeria, promoting peace and unity within the country, Falana has been involved in the reverse. His role in the EndSARS protest was quite reprehensible.
Falana who like any other Nigerian should have foreseen what such a protest portend if not approached carefully went ahead to sell doubts in the minds of the people. This is despite the fact that the Federal Government immediately acceded to the demands of the people. He was part of those who bolstered the resolve of the masses that the Nigerian government was no way to be trusted.
Even when the Federal Government mandated all the states to set up judiciary panels to investigate allegations against the defunct SARS, Femi Falana decided to set up his own judiciary panel to become the judge on the purported killings at Lekki Toll Gate: a fabricated rumour for which himself and his cohorts had been a strong proponent, thereby continuing his schemes of making the Nigerian government lose face with the people.
November last year, he came out to declare that his group, the Alliance for the Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond, (ASCAB), would soon publish, to the shock of several Nigerians, the names of those who were killed by the Nigerian Army at the protest. Till date, neither Femi Falana nor ASCAB has done anything to substantiate that indeed and in truth that there was a massacre in Lekki.
The United State government recently did a report corroborating and vindicating the Nigerian Military on the alleged massacre. Nigerians who realised they had been misled by a fraction of people that had been paid to propagate the rumour took turns to lampoon the mastermind, DJ Switch, on social media. Femi Falana, however, remained recalcitrant by describing the report as “prejudicial and misleading”.
Asides this, Falana has been a staunch supporter of Sunday Igboho. He has backed the secessionist since the latter’s desire to see Nigeria ensconced in a political quagmire.
Even after he had acknowledged that Igboho had no right to issue eviction notice to herdsmen, Femi Falana said: “I urge the police not to venture to arrest Mr. Sunday Igboho because in this same country, when others issued quit notices to other nationalities in the past, they were not arrested.”
It is quite regrettable that Falana’s current negative antics have placed deep taint on whatever good works he had probably done in the past.
Anyone who is familiar with Reno Omokri, especially on social media, would know he is a rabble-rouser. The senior special assistant on social media to former president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has been involved in tirades with several celebrities over what some regard as his irascible commentaries on issues. Somewhere in 2014, Lamido Sanusi who is widely respected in the international community was suspended as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. This was after accusing the government of corruption.
It was only a few days later that some journalists received an email from a certain Wendell Smith, who linked Sanusi with Boko Haram. It was later discovered by digital experts that the author was actually Reno Omokri.
Far from his controversial aspect, Reno Omokri has been at the centre of inciting violence recently. He went as far as protesting against and attacking the Nigerian president who travelled to London for routine medical check-up. Not only was the protest led by Reno Omokri against the president unnecessary, it was a show of shame to Nigeria and her people. Analysts have described it as an assault on Nigeria’s integrity.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja on the topic titled; “Building National Unity Peace and Security in Nigeria,” the Chairperson of the Conference of Civil Society of Nigeria, Adams Otakwu, described the attack on the president as “unpatriotic and a direct assault on the integrity of the entire country.”
“The country is already going through a lot, especially with the menacing insecurity and COVID-19 pandemic, as such, the protest is ill-timed and needless.”
Reno Omokri’s protest shows that he is insensitive to the trying times and would rather see the country in flames, while he stays aloof in the safety of another man’s country. So much for patriotism and activism for a self-styled activist.