A few months ago, I came across a video of what I thought was the height of human barbarism in the name of religion. Here was a man whose head was being severed by the Moslem fanatics for allegedly converting from Islam to Christianity in the Middle East. The victim was forcefully held by others while the “executioner” who after several minutes of incantation and chanting set to work. The victim was very calm, and his eyes wide open and apparently, had surrendered his fate to God. It was too gruesome to watch.
Then last weekend came the barbaric killing of 4 Uniport students (Aluu 4) for allegedly stealing labtop and cellphones on the hills of Mubi massacre of October 1, 2012 in Adamawa State; that came on the hills of Boko Haram massacre of over 100 people in 3 churches at Kaduna in June 2012; that came on the hills of another massacre of 180 people in Kano in January 2012; that also came on the hills of massacres of dozens on Christmas day 2011 in Jos and Yobe; that came on the hills of other massacres that stretch back to 2009 when Boko Haram officially launched its campaign for Islamic rule in Nigeria.
A cursory look at the violence data this year (2012) reveals the following killings:
1. On August 7, nineteen people including the pastor of Deeper Life church were killed in Kogi State;
2. On August 4, gunmen stormed an oil barge off the coast, killing two Nigerian navy sailors and kidnapping four foreigners,
3. On June 17, three church bombings and retaliatory attacks in northern Nigeria killed at least 50 people and injured more than 130 others.
4. On June 10, three people died in clashes with police in Jos, Nigeria, hours after a car bomb killed five people during services at a church nearby.
5. At least 16 people have been killed in a gun and bomb attack at Bayero university in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano
6. On February 24, at least four people were killed in the northern Nigerian city of Gombe in a gun and bomb attack on a prison and police station.
Violence is now the newest vogue in Nigeria. For obvious reason the Aluu 4 has galvanized Nigerians like never before. Why the difference in reaction? May be because they were all students who were still at the embryonic stage of adolescence whose brains were perhaps still developing. In nutshell, these were kids who were indulged in what kids are known for: stupidity.
Looking at the chronological data above, many more students have been victims of violence for many years now. Before now, it has been known that students take delight in taking the lives of other students and a good many of them are believed to be members of cults fighting rival members. When this happens, they could be viocious.
Killing of a student years ago would be an aberration. In large part, any killing was likely to be through accident. I recall when the first university student was killed at University of Ibadan in 1969(?) It was the news of the year. The student’s name became a household word. Back then, students were not perpetrators of major crimes nor were they expected to be victims of violent crime. Those were the Neanderthal age of the 1960s and 70s.
Where Did We Go Wrong? How Did We Get Here?
Folks, a quick research into violence killing, kidnapping, robberies, etc. would reveal to you how far Nigeria has plunged, all within the last 20 years. And each year is worse than the previous. My folks have a cliché that says you better look for a black sheep during the day time because once the night falls, it would blend with the darkness and chances of sighting it would be close to impossible. Nigerians have repeatedly refused to heed to this warning/advice. It is now very dark, and dark, it is!
A few days ago, I questioned the very essence and the notion of celebrating independence when Nigeria is inundated with all kinds of malaise and anomalies brought about by bad governance and greed; where mediocrity and criminals who steal public funds are celebrated; where peoples’ voices are silenced by stealing and/or buying of elections. The by-product of this is all the killings, assassinations, kidnapping, roberies we are witnessing today. This has now become our culture: our bane. It did not just drop suddenly from the sky. It was cultivated and nurtured by those who call themselves leaders.
In pursuing filthy wealth through leadership position, these people would spare no opponent. A very lucky opponent would thank God for being thrown into a conventional jail or jailed in the trunk of his vehicle as in kidnapping. The unlucky ones simply fine their lives being snuffed out of them for daring to challenge or stand on the way. The lure to acquire sudden and stupendous wealth makes killing any opposition a worthwhile exercise knowing very well that this can be done with impunity as justice goes to the highest bidder.
For instance, Bola Ige, Minister of Justice and Attorney general, was killed in his home in Ibadan on December 23, 2001 with impunity and this happened during Obasanjo administration. ‘The Abacha regime was characterized by high profile serial killings. Under Abacha administration, the following were killed with impunity: Babatunde Elegbede in 1994, Alfred Rewane in 1995, Kayode Awosanya in 1996, Kudirat Abiola in 1996, Suliat Adedeji in 1996, Toyin Onagoruwa in 1996, and Irene Obodo in 1996.
Coming to Niger Delta region, Mr. Eyo Eyo, an information officer attached to Cross River State commissioner for agriculture was killed in his house at Calabar in April 2002. In Rivers State, Dr. Marshall Harry, known as a political “Kingmaker”, a national vice chairman for the South-South Zone of the All Nigeria Peoples’Party (ANPP) was assassinated at Abuja in March 2003. Also assassinated on February 6, 2004 wasAminasoari Dikibo, Chairman of Peoples’Democratic Party, South-South Zone under circumstances termed to be inexplicable.
Prior to Gov. Akpabio’s administration in Akwa Ibom, assassination and kidnapping were never of a concern. When Akpabio’s AKPF introduced it, it came with vengeance and anger. If the Odilis of this world had succeeded in recruiting and arming the youth in Rivers State to do the killing for him, Akpabio had no qualms setting up his own killing squad one of which is called Peace House. From AKPF onward, assassination and kidnapping took on a life of their own in Akwa Ibom. Not even a Paramount ruler, army general, women, children, or pastors are spared.
Remember, Faith Umoh, the young lady from Afaha Nsit College of Education whose life was snatched and her naked body dumped near Afaha Nsit? How about Mrs. Phenomena Udonwa whose bullet-riddled body was dumped in the bush; the Ekpenyong brothers, etc? This kind of atmosphere has affected and numbed our senses. At the slightest provocation or disagreement life is snuffed out even in the most gruesome manner. With tens and hundreds of thousands of umeployed youths, the right atmosphere has been created to commit any atrocity with the slightest provocation. Yes, Nigeria has sown the wind, and we must be ready to harvest the whildwind. This is a cosmic law.
Back to Aluu 4: the only different this time is that this was videotaped “live” and we all witnessed the gruesome, barbaric and painful death these young men went through. And most importantly, they were all students. What we witnessed in Aluu 4 is a direct logical consequence of a criminal and corrupt society where children have no good role models. Remember the law of nature called Cosmic Law, Good government and good leadership beget good followership.
The perpetrators, the youth in Aluu, consciously or unconsciously did what their leaders have been doing year after year. Ordinarily, one would have expected them after parading the four students naked to hand them over to the authority. But there is/was no authority worth that name. This is, by no means, excuse. Note, Nigeria is a nation of criminals: from top to bottom.
As long as the leaders continue to commit crime with impunity, the society simply is not going to look the other way. Nigeria nation has its citizens and most importantly the million unemployed youth who are a product of the uncanny environment the leaders have created for them. The arrest and imprisonment or even execution of the Aluu perpetrators is not the answer. A solution to this malaise is the reinvention of Nigeria nation by overhauling the faulty system.
Dr. Tom Mbeke-Ekanem, REA
Author, Beyond the Execution –
Understanding the Ethnic and Military Politics in Nigeria
Los Angeles, California
Tel: (951) 640-0737