Sunday, July 29, 2007

EKO (the traditional name for Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital) has always been a hustle and bustle city. According to the recent 2006 census, Lagos is home to anywhere between 9 to 13 million people (depending on where you look), making it the 2nd most populated state and probably the 11th most populated city in the world. It is an aggressive place where people work tirelessly, in the intense heat, to make ends meet, but enjoy themselves at night at bars/clubs, at Owambe parties (neighborhood parties that last until the wee hours of the morning) or simply by hanging out with friends at the local 'Mama Put'. It is truly the city that never sleeps.

It seems, however, that the new Commissioner of Police ("CoP") is out to stamp out "immorality" from this 'Center of Excellence'. Mohammed Abubakar ordered a clampdown of 'indecently dressed' girls. His rationale was that suggestive outfits cause public disorder. As a result, 90 women and 3 men were arrested and appeared before a magistrate court on charges of indecent dresses.

Although I am extremely curious to know what the 3 arrested men were wearing to fall into the net of the 'indecency' police, I am outraged that Abubakar would try to dictate what a woman should wear when she is out minding her own business. Yes, some might wonder if these women were prostitutes dressed for their trade. There is no evidence to suggest this and so I will not assume that they were arrested on that basis. Despite this, I declare that even if they wanted to dress like ashawo (a loose woman/harlot), it is not and has never been the CoP's concern.

Instead, I rather focus on the fact the Nigeria's constitution does not ban 'indecent' dressing. That being the case, on what legal basis does Abubakar determine that 'indecent' dressing is a crime to warrant arrest and prosecution. Upon what state or federal law will these 9 women and 3 men actually be charged? They did not commit a crime from a legal perspective, nor did they commit a crime from any other standpoint. Lagos, believe it or not, is a liberal city. Our women may dress the way they want, especially under the cover of darkness in an attempt to enjoy themselves. That is not a secret in the city of Bubblers. I bet anything that those women didn't look half as bad as the average video honey in a hip hop video.

It disappoints and even scares me to even think that the Sharia mentality of certain northern states may be affecting the thinking of the CoP. We all know what happens in certain Sharia regions where women must be covered from head to toe. I will reserve my feelings on Sharia Law, but it is suffice to say that I respect what some people have chosen for themselves. I will mention that we all know that even Sharia states have areas were 'immorality' is allowed, to an extent. Lagos is not a Muslim state. It isn't even a Christian state. It is Eko - a state, a city, a mentality, a way of life. In its own way it probably supplants religion (no disrespect to anyone). The real residents of Eko are Lagosians first and everything else later, which is why it is a place where anyone and everyone can come to and live in relative peace. To now have this CoP trying to change our cultural norms is disquieting and if Sharia mentality has anything to do it, I shudder to think of the possible future.

Keep in mind that these actions are on the heels of the Hisbah or Sharia Police threatening to enter Sabon Giri, an enclave of non-muslims in Kano. It seems that there is a breeze of morality in the air. I am all for morality, but I believe in focusing on priorities. The way a woman dresses has no correlation, direct or otherwise, to the violence and lack of security that Lagos experiences. Lagosians sometimes rely on street justice to punish and deter crime. Abubakar should continue to work on improving the state of security in Lagos and not worry about whether the length of some young girl's skirt is making him or any of his subordinates blush.

PS. - Gani Fawehinmi, the resident Al Sharpton of Nigeria, feel free to take this case all the way to the Supreme Court. This issue has got the exteemed SAN's (Senior Advocate of Nigeria) name written all over it....

33 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Beauty said...

"DON'T DO BUSINESS WITH ILLITERATES." holds true here. The commissioner of Police and the rest of the VIP seemed to have one thing in common, ineptitude! They are usually clueless, too stupid, too tainted by the past, unaware of technology, over-burdened by dependents, turned-on by their power and the freedoms of abuse over others it affords. The operation ban 'indecent' dressing? In 2007?

Omodudu said...

wish he would spendsomeof thisenergy on armed robbery and other issues that deserve greater attention.

Ugo Daniels said...

I was gonna write a piece about the indecent thingy. It's quite preposterous. I mean, is 'indecent dressing' the ONLY or MOST IMPORTANT problem Nigeria is facing. Talk about misplacement of priorities. Arrant nonsence.

pamelastitch said...

That is what happens when women are in lower power position.

This bull crap is not only happening in Naija. It is also happening in
SA with the trouser issue. You can look it up at bbc africa.

I think all these male leaders should stop drinking from the same gourd...

have a great week.


Dami said...

i wonder why you are blaming sharia for this or why you are even mentioning sharia-not like he invented it.i guess the next time a northern name is mentioned we should be expecting some stereotype; you even linked it up with the hisbah police na wa o

Nyemoni said...

Wow... I live in lagos yet have no this man OK? I like the moral outlook but his way of going about it is so wrong..why should he dictate the way people should dress?
Nigeria has serious security problems and this is the first thing he tackles? This guy needs to seriously have his priorites set straight!

uknaija said...

What the? Naija hypocrisy at its worst- the police commissioner probably has a couple of undergraduates dressed just as skimpily waiting for him in his guest house after the press conference

יש (Yosh) said...

@Dami: No finger pointing here. Is there any other reason why such a step would be taking by the CoP?

Total bullocks, if I may say! Better things to do to make LasGidi better. Maybe he got a resurr-erection in his tour of duty that made him bother doing this.



@ Dami: Haven't seen you in a while, welcome back.

As to my mention of Sharia Law, I specifically noted that I was worried about the possibility that Sharia MIGHT have something to do with Abubakar's 'indecency' initiative. Like you, I do not know Abubakar and cannot state confidently that Sharia had anyhing to do with these actions, but I do not think it is unfair to consider the possibility, especially in light of the recent threats in Kano by the Hisbah (another police organization).

This is not an issue of stereotypes, it is an issue of thinking of the possible reasons for the 'indecency' operation. Given the fact that the law does not sanction the operation, as I clearly stated, I have to try and think about WHY Abubakar would take this stance.

If you have another possible reason, please feel free to share. Remember, this is Nigerian Curiosity and I love conspiracy theories. So, feel free to let the pigs, and of course your imagination, fly when you respond.

BTW, you never told me how I am supposed to make it rich on the Nierian stock exchange...

Pink-satin said...

only in nigeria really!i am too speechless to make a commnet..maybe wen the cat has returned my tongue i will

Dami said...

@yosh: this is not the first time to be honest ive heard about this happenning in lagos not only to 'scantily dressed girls' but 'unemployed youths' roaming the streets.

Dami said...

@solomonsydelle, long time ;)

I dont have any reason myself could be just flexing his muscle.

stock market: i am not an expert just got tips from these sites

bubbles said...

If the CoP was a Christian would you have conjured a religious related reason for his actions?

Just curious.

You forget this is Nigeria... stupidity knows no religion or tribe.


@ Bubbles: Thanks for stopping by. As to your question, Dami asked a similar question as well.

It was impossible for me not to make the Sharia connection because of the recent threats in Kano that I mentioned in the post. The fact that the CoP's last name was northern only fueled my curiosity.

Your right though, "stupidity knows no religion or tribe." This 'indecency' operation and the recent Covenant University rules on pregnancy and HIV tests definitely make that clear.

If you are yet to hear about the Covenant University issue, scroll down the page and click on WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD, Jola Naibi's blog. She discusses the issue there. Oh, Uknaija also talks about it at his blog MUSINGS OF A NAIJA MAN. His blog is also on my blog roll. The madness never ends when it comes to Nigeria.

Thanks for stopping by!


@ everyone: Thanks for the coments


Indeed! lol! Thanks for stopping by. Don't be a stranger.

@ 'Dudu and Oga Cyprus: Yes, oh. You would think that the CoP would have other priorities. I hope this 'indecency' operation earns him the results he is looking for.

@ Pamelastitch: your coment about the treatment of women is spot on. It is inredible to think that we can be attacked and thrown in jail just because someone thinks we aren't dressed decently. We women know that that can mean anything. Imagine being thrown in jail just because someone doesn't like the way you are dressed! God knows I would lose my mind.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving great comments, as usual!

@ Nyemoni: My sista, to bra? I have come to realize that you Nigerians usually have no clue what's going on over there. LOL! My mother is a prime example. She gets her news on Nija from me. =)

Since you live in Lagos, tell us - has Abubakar made a difference on the security situation, there? Has he mentioned any upcoming plans for reducing crime? Let us know soon, or I will be hunting you down via email.

Take care!


@ Yosh: "Ressurection" eh? Hmm, my brother. Me, I just want to know why he chose this to be a campaign in a city that has so many more incredible issues. Mabe he opted to deal with the smaller issue first. If that was the case, I can undestand. Tackle the small problem, succeed, and that will improve confidence and make other issues easier to tackle. However, indecent dressing is not a crime in Nigeria. So, I am still wondering about his decision.

@ Pink Satin: Cat got your tongue? You? Not possible. I refuse to believe it. Although, Nija wahala can do that to you sha.

I think the same happened to Nigerian newspapers. A thorough search of their internet editions did not turn up a single story on this issue. I guess when women are the targets of unconstitutional and unnecessary police operations, our media just doesn't care. Sad that this was not newsworty enough...

Thanks for stopping by. Don't be a stranger, oh!

femme said...

my problem with the whole indecent business is who is to say whats in and whats not?

Cheetarah said...

Hey u, I have read the Biafra post. Even in the comments people started seperating tribes, the barely 'literate hausa' one stung, ouch,lol! Its amazing and sad because we belong to this generation, alas there is no hope in my lifetime but I pray in my children's it will change.

Alot of people approach the topic of Biafra from a Chidima novelistic angle, It is admirable that you defend your own but never do it blindly. I also wish that they would go back and take a history lesson and not rely on a novel for education,Alot of people suffered the Biafran war but they were not only Igbo. What about the people from the Niger Delta who were killed because they couldnt be placed? What about the people killed by the Igbos? It was a war, alot of people died,let us learn from it so that it wunt happen again.
People speak of seccesion like its a trip to KFC, I wish it were that easy.
I wasnt aware that Ibo felt like second class, infact none of the ones I know feel or say they anything but Nigerian. Ojukwu is fighting a personal battle he will not suceed, but he will manage to spread the seed of disunity and as you can see it is growing,even in blogsville. This isnt my favorite topic and I wunt say anymore about but I will say this 'You will always be Nigerian- Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba it doesnt matter what you do, or what u call ur self.

Nice1 ur braver than me,thats for sure.

Cheetarah from the barely literate north,lol!

Nelson said...

The same thing was done in the '90s during the early Abacha days. Its very primitive. We have houses in an area called Surulere in Lagos. There is a local hotspot called UTC (a carpark of a now defucnt supermarket) which becomes a hang-out at night. I was far too young and innocent (and britisg... i was on holiday) to frequent such places at night. The one time I did go there with my big cousins, I saw a girl, a very great looking girl who was a bit loosely dressed, crying uncontralably and was bungled into a police vechile. I'm certain that girl was assaulted. These policies are retarded if you ask me


@ Cheetarah: thanks so much for stopping by the blog. after reading your blog post, I really wanted you to share your thoughts about my BIAFRA posts. I completely agree with you - we are Nigerian first. Until we understand that, we will only be used to fight the causes of those with political agendas. The consequence will be death, not for the wealthy but the poor everyday person.

Anyway, again thank you for your insight. Don't be a stranger, we like insightful comments here. IT helps all of us learn. Thanks!!!!


@ Femme: that is another issue to be considered. 'Indecency' is way too subjective to be a reasonable reason to put soeone behind bars. Thanks for making that point!

@ Nelson: Mr. Abbey, thanks for your story, it brings up another issue. It is clear that some men consider certain women to be loose and those they can be subjected to assault. This 'indecency' initiative could simply reinforce such backward and barbarian thinking. Considering the push by Nigerian bloggers to bring to light th eproblem of rape in Nigerian society, I hope that this will not encourage assaults against women.

femme said...

a friend of mine told me awhile back how she was in a bus from uyo to ..(cant remember) when a girl entered scimpily dressed. a man in the bus began to insult her and to everyones amazement he told a story of being in a road block(policeman) and with the help of others on duty they raped a girl because she wore a short skirt. he kept saying. 'we show am pepper, she no go try that nonsense again'.
nobody in the bus said anything to him.


@ femme: okay, you see now I am extremely mad because I read a similar story at Nyemoni's blog. This is out of control and God, right now I am seeing red.......

nneoma said...

i just hope these ladies have enough money to buy their freedom - because that is essentially what it is going to come to.

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