What a crowded week that was

4 mins read

WHAT has a poor transvestite (the Northern phenomenon of DAN DAUDU) got to do with Nigeria’s security challenge today? Everything apparently!Last Saturday, practically every Nigerian newspaper front page carried pictures of a young man, dressed like a woman, arrested as suspect, in the attempted assassination of General Muhammed Buhari in Kaduna.

It was certainly a day of madness in the city that I reside in. There had been an earlier attempt on the highly revered Islamic scholar, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi. Many lost their lives in these attempts, but Nigeria was spared of unthinkable horror had the terrorists succeeded in claiming the lives of two of the most popular individuals in Nigeria, certainly in Northern Nigeria, today!

Following the crimes and to be seen as pro-active in the so-called ‘war on terror’, Nigeria’s embattled security forces effected an arrest at the scene of the attack on General Buhari. The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) announced “the capture of a man it described as the mastermind of Wednesday’s botched suicide attack on former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari”, according to THE NATION newspaper of Saturday, July 26, 2014, “the suspect was arrested at the scene of the blast in Kaduna dressed like a woman.

His true sex was established only after his arrest”. Gen. Chris Olukolade, Director of Defence Intelligence, who issued the statement, said the suspect “had disguised as a woman clad in female garb to exude feminity with a brazier affixed to his chest. The suspect was arrested while trying to fizzle into a crowd of onlookers when the patrol team arrived the scene”. Well, Well, Well!

Saturday newspapers had a field day feasting on DHQ’s ‘earth-shattering’ revelation! THE NATION lead with three pictures in tow: “KADUNA BLAST ‘MASTERMIND’ ARRESTED”; SATURDAY PUNCH screamed “SOLDIERS ARREST BOMBER DISGUISED AS WOMAN IN KADUNA”, it also carried three pictures of the ‘mastermind’.

Pictures of the mastermind

SATURDAY VANGUARD also had three pictures and its bullet point caption read: “MAN DISGUISED AS WOMAN ARRESTED”. In true tabloid fashion, SATURDAY SUN blew up a picture of the queer young man along with a smaller picture showing the ‘mastermind’ in an ill-fitting brazier, and a screaming headline: “FACE OF BOMBER”, plus a bullet point “SUSPECT BEHIND KADUNA BLASTS DISGUISED AS WOMN, ARRESTED”, attributed to the Military.

It seemed the media became wittingly, part of a propaganda blitz by an under fire security apparatus, which needed some success story and given the scale of the bombers’ criminal ambitions and their high profile targets, they needed to quickly arrest ‘suspects’ or ‘masterminds’ of any description, even the most absurd. And the national feeling for some good news was equally exploited through the reportage.

Otherwise, the media should have been more circumspect about any piece of news from DHQ and especially, Gen. Chris Olukolade. Wasn’t he the same individual who announced to an expectant nation that the abducted Chibok girls had been freed, only for us to discover that we had been conned?

But there is a far more

nuanced issue that was lost in the arrest of the alleged “mastermind”. This was the cultural angle that won’t be lost in Northern Nigeria. When I saw the pictures posted, I was convinced that the “mastermind” was actually a transvestite, a typical DAN DAUDU, available in cities of Northern Nigeria. I do not for one moment say that there might not be a security angle to his presence at the scene of crime.

The security forces must ferret that out painstakingly. But the “mastermind” seems either a DAN DAUDU or has dressed as one, to exploit a cultural/sexual phenomenon that is easily recognizable in a Northern Nigerian setting. I was still thinking about the issue when a DAILY TRUST report revealed the arrested “mastermind” as being a certain Mansir Yusuf; his mother is a Zubeida Yusuf resident in Mando, in Kaduna. Zubeida gave credence to my suspicion that the chap was the typical “queer”.

Zubeida said: “my son is not a terrorist. What is wrong with him is an evil spiritual attack which is making him to prefer women’s clothing and to act as one who is mentally retarded. Everyone in Mando knows that he only has a spiritual condition that is making him to act strangely.

He often dresses normally from home, but whenever he gets to an uncompleted building, he would go in and change to female clothes. He usually carries his bag. He has been taken to the Village Head several times and has been flogged in the hope to cast away the spirits, but the spirits have remained and have continued to torment him”.

This was the “mastermind” that DHQ, through General Chris Olukolade, presented with gusto to a shocked nation at the weekend! The YAN DAUDU lives on the margins of Northern Nigerian society; they prowl and have sexual liaisons with people, from all strata of our society.

They are a queer subset that society is aware of, tolerates but does not necessarily approve of! That explains why the mother said the “mastermind” suffered an “evil attack”. During the 1990s, I spent a whole week tracking down a group of YAN DAUDU in the Abedi Area of Sabongari in Kano, to interview them for the BBC World Service.

It is good that our security forces have become more proactive in their anti-terror war. Nigerians should support the endeavour; but they need a nuanced appreciation of the cultural complexities of society, so that they won’t be on a wild goose chase, while real terrorists plot their evil against all of us.

But honestly the pictures posted of the alleged “mastermind” of the Kaduna assassination attempts, did not convince. They seem to have arrested a DAN DAUDU who is in the wrong place at a tragic moment.

DHQ must show that it has not gone after a soft target as a convenient straw man, because of the pressure for success in the anti-terror war. And while on this, may they also act just as fast, to arrest the “masterminds” who murdered in cold blood, three sons of Sheikh Ibrahim Elzakzaky in Zaria, last weekend.


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