Northerners in Sango Ota community of Ogun State at at war with a trader, Joe Fortemose Chinakwe, who was arrested last Saturday by the police in the area for naming his pet dog after Buhari.
Chinakwe said he was relaxing with his family when one of his neighbours from Niger Republic accosted him and demanded why he named his pet dog ‘Buhari’ and before he knew what was happening, friends of the foreigner also bursted into his house and were threatening to deal with him if he failed to give a reasonable explanation.
At this stage, some neighbours intervened and they all ended up at Sango-Ota police station where he was detained for two days before being transferred to the state Police headquarters at Eleweran in handcuff and chain.
He was let off the third day after the swift intervention of both the Serikin Hausa and President-General of non-indigenes in the state.
The embattled trader from Okwuzu in Aniocha Local Government Area of Delta State said he was traumatized by the incident and still feels so bad especially when he noticed that his ‘lovely dog, Buhari’, has disappeared mysteriously after he regained freedom.
The father of two bared his mind in this interview. Excerpts:
I am Joe Fortemose Chinakwe from Okwuzu in Aniocha L.G.A, Delta state. I trade on second hand clothes popularly known as Okrika. I have a dog for the past one year. I named the dog Bully after buying it because it is very strong and moves fast. I have been living here since 2001. I reside in a place called Petere in Sango here. I love the dog so much that’s why I renamed it Buhari.
Why did you choose the name Buhari?
I named it Buhari because I found out that the dog is strong. After buying the dog, I named it Bully because of the way it behaved. I decided to change it to Buhari because Buhari, being a military man, the same time, coming back for the second time as a civilian President, he stands on his word. That is how my dog stands on his actions. So, I love the name so much and as such decided to give it to my dog.
I was very surprised how a foreigner who lives around here came and said his father’s name was Alhaji Buhari. I have no business with him and he went ahead to tell the police. They came to me that night and I was arrested.
Which day was that?
That was on Saturday at exactly 8.30pm. They got me arrested and our neighbours pleaded on my behalf but they insisted on taking me to the station. People were questioning the policeman why I should be arrested over such a trivial issue and gave examples of dogs in the vicinity that bear names of influential and powerful people like Obama, Clinton etc but, the policeman decided to take law into his hand and arrested me.
Even my elder brother has a dog named Obama. One young man called Sunday was also arrested for questioning the policeman who was later identified as Sergeant Musa, attached to Sango Police station.
When we got to the station, he told me to bring the dog along. I agreed and went to bring the dog. Before I could get home, the Northern community in our area ganged up and killed my dog.
Yes, they killed the dog and I am still searching for the dog. I can forgive anything but that dog in particular, I cannot take it lightly because it is what secures me and I loved it so much.
Are you sure you are not the one that killed your dog?
No, I left my dog in the house alive and went with the policeman to Sango Police station
What happened at the Police station?
They intimidated me and I told them that it is my right to name my dog whatever I wished. My former dog bore the same name with me. Unfortunately, a car killed it. I called it Iroko because Iroko is also my name. I love strong dogs and that’s why I decided to buy this one and named it Bully before changing it to Buhari.
After intimidating me that very night, they locked me up in a cell with criminals. I stayed and slept there on Saturday and Sunday. My wife, a pregnant woman with my baby on her back, came to see me with food because I had not taken my dinner when they arrested me but they stopped her from giving me food.
What baffled me much is that the policeman said that the Igbos have fowl brain. I asked him why he said such about the Igbo community when he should only be referring to me and as such, it is not a tribal problem. He said he had been handling Igbo cases and that they are foolish and have fowl brains and, that I would rot in jail. He said I should watch. I was surprised when they took me to the Divisional Police Officer, instead of listening attentively to me; he directed that they should throw me into the cell.
On Monday morning, my case was transferred. The case was moved to Eleweran. After much interrogation, they chained me and my colleague who came to see me and put us in the van in handcuffs. We all went to Eleweran. When we got there, many policemen were not happy with them for bringing us there.
The CP came on Tuesday with the Serikin Hausa and the President of non-Indigenes and other prominent people. We were told not to take it seriously because we are one Nigeria. I was told to forget it all. I was released.
How come you boldly wrote Buhari on both the sides of the dog?
The dog is a hero and I did it. I shaved his hairs and wrote it.
Did you do it to spite the President?
No! Everybody knows that Mr President is a hero. It is not easy to be a military man and rule a civilian government. Everyone can attest to how many times this man has attempted to become the civilian president but because he is a man that has vision, he made it at long last. In fact, he is a man that inspires people. He is a role model.
Are you comfortable with the situation of things in the country now?
Yes, he is fighting corruption. Not that I am comfortable with the things happening in the country now but I like the war against corruption. The only problem is that we, the less privileged ones, find it difficult to eat. As he is fighting corruption, he should remember the less privileged.
The guy from Niger, what does he do?
He works in a public toilet. My dog stays in my parking store, he does not move around. He ensures my security.
How did he know you call your dog Buhari?
He said that someone told him and he came around and saw it. A friend of my mine named Peter gave that dog to me. I am not happy I lost that dog. The Northerners in my area came together and killed my dog.
So, after all said and done at Eleweran, did they apologize to you?
Yes, they did but it was obvious to me that it did not come from their heart of hearts. One of them even claimed he went to my house that morning to apologize to my wife.
Are you still living in the same area?
Do you feel threatened by what happened to you?
If I am financially buoyant, I would have left the area for them because it is as if they are occupying the whole area, and a word of threat has been dropped already and they said that the country belongs to them. I am still shocked because Nigeria is in trouble. Can you imagine somebody from Niger Republic, a foreigner telling me that my land belongs to him?
How do you feel about this ugly development as a Nigerian and a human being?
With this situation, I believe that a Nigerian should have rights. Nobody should rise up and intimidate one for no reason especially, when he has no one to speak for him. No advocate for that person. And since Nigeria is still bearing the name, Nigeria, and I’m a Nigerian, it is my country too and that is all.