Saturday, January 21, 2012

Soyinka: Biu the torturer

The Nation
19 January 2012

Culled from


Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka, in a piece written a decade ago, entitled ‘Portraits in Infamy and Criminal Impunity’ left no one in doubt that embattled Commissioner of Police Zakari Biu should have long been eased out of the police. Excerpts:

On Friday, 24 November, I was present at the hearings of this panel. In the witness box was former Police Commissioner Zakari Biu who had featured consistently in the testimonies of political detainees and other categories of prisoners who came into his custody.

I am now acquainted, in short, with what should become visual texts for students of criminal psychology as well as of the performance arts - crude and transparent, but performances nonetheless. I listened to the well-rehearsed responses of the notorious police Commissioner as he was led by his lawyer - confident, expansive, jocular, condescending. He was there to demonstrate his superiority - a fantasy of his own mind, purely gestura - over lesser beings - his accusers, the audience, and even the investigation panel. The change of postures and other forms of body language between Biu’s session with his own counsel, and cross-examination by the counsel for the victims, was only one of intensification, not of any basic attitude. That remained constant, and defiant.
But there was also fear. Underlying fear that showed in incautious moments of the eyes, those telltale moments that revealed a deep dread of this unaccustomed reversal of positions. And the only way that this creature should deal with his fear was through increased arrogance, posturing, intensified contempt for the proceedings and most maliciously of all, a resolve- evidently taken in advance - to ‘turn the tables’ on his accusers by concocting outrageous motives for their denunciations, mud-slinging in a calculated cynical manner, and simultaneously painting a portrait of himself as a man much misunderstood.
He mocked his victims. For Biu, the public arena was an invitation for further belittling of his victims.

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