On May 11, 2019, Elisha Ishaku Abbo savagely attacked Osimibibra Warmate during a misunderstanding inside a sex toy shop in Abuja.
It was caught on camera and it went viral nearly two months later in July 2019.
It was the kind of mindless attack you would expect to see from a low-life thug without respect for decorum, not a man who was only a month away from being inaugurated as a member of the supposedly distinguished red chamber of the Nigerian Senate.
Warmate merely called for common sense in a disagreement that Abbo was having with a shop attendant after one of his female companions had a health difficulty he blamed on the shop.
Her reward for her mild-mannered intervention was at least four mean strikes directly in her face, and a failed hair tug all while he was forcefully restrained from causing more physical harm by law enforcement agents who majorly failed at their primary task to serve and protect.
It was all caught on camera.
Everyone saw it, and everyone was horrified by it.
Not just by the savagery of the attack, but by the character involved – the youngest lawmaker of the 9th Senate showed himself to the world as a thug with a short fuse.
The public’s outrage burned brightly and rather intensely as Abbo soon issued a teary very public apology that was knocked for its insincerity.
He did it. He admitted it was him in the video, and he said he was very sorry.
He just wasn’t sorry enough to admit to the crime when he was arraigned before a Chief Magistrates’ Court in Abuja, instead pleading ‘not guilty’ to two counts of criminal use of force and criminal assault.
The case started to drag, like all things Nigerian.
When he was dubiously honoured with an “ICON at Democracy” award by the Intercommunity Awareness for Change and Development Initiative (IACDI) weeks after his arraignment, Abbo insinuated that the video was a tool of blackmail to tarnish his well-earned reputation.
He was honoured with another “Beacon of Hope” award later in 2019, a pattern many people clocked was to launder his image like a video does not exist on the internet of him acting like a rogue that makes him anything but a beacon.
There was shock horror when the court finally dismissed charges against Abbo in July 2020, but not surprise. It’s such a Nigerian story after all.
The magistrate ruled that the evidence and exhibits tendered to the court did not prove the criminal charges against the lawmaker.
The video of him assaulting Warmate was not enough.
The video of his public apology, and a medical report detailing Warmate’s injuries sustained during the attack proved insufficient before the court.
So, now, Senator Abbo is free, for all intents and purposes.
But he has one final hurdle to climb.
The outrage from last year was enough to lit a fire under the Senate to constitute a panel to investigate the incident.
The committee’s probe was significantly handicapped by the fact that the case was already in court, a situation Abbo himself was eager to weaponise to make himself a hostile witness before the panel.
This is also public record.
Despite the unhappiness of Nigerians with how the panel handled proceedings, the ad-hoc committee presented its report last October, almost a year ago.
Since the presentation of the report, the red chamber has impressed it on the public that it could not be considered because the case was also before the magistrate court at the time.
When the Senate finally resumes from its legislative break on Tuesday, September 29, it will no longer be handicapped by a court case.
The freedom now exists for the report to be considered by Abbo’s peers, and it is inconceivable for anyone that has watched the viral video and followed the statements of the parties involved to not find the lawmaker guilty.
The burden of proof in the courts, for good reason, is weightier and more refined than the burden of proof in the court of public opinion and, in this case, the Senate’s red chamber.
The Senate is not chasing a criminal case but a case of misconduct perpetrated in the public eye by one of its members, and the evidence is clear that a misconduct took place.
He did it. Everyone saw it.
Senator Abbo might have issued an apology for his savage assault last year, but he’s clearly shown he’s too cowardly to accept the consequence of his action.
So, when the Senate resumes on Tuesday, it must be swift in swinging the hammer and hitting the lawmaker with the harshest possible punishment.
The chamber’s rule books have shown that the punishment will not be much, and it won’t feel like justice, but there’s an important statement to be made.
Senator Abbo is known to his constituents as a representative that cares, a representative swift to commit to random acts of kindness, and is passionate about the Nigerian cause.
This is an image he has cultivated since his public disgrace commenced when the video of his shameful conduct went viral last year, and maybe he is genuinely all those things.
But he’s also the man with a short fuse caught on camera beating up a woman like a savage, and that should officially go on his record.
The Senate has not always covered itself in glory, but it must make it official public record that none of what happened on May 11, 2019 was okay, despite what the court says.
It still won’t feel like justice, but it will be something.
By: Pulse Editor