Nigeria has consistently witnessed inter-ethnic conflicts that have resulted in the wanton killings of innocent persons especially in Northern Nigeria.
But the recent episode in Ataka village, Kaura local government council in Southern Kaduna State in which not less than 20 persons were needlessly slaughtered will for a long time to come remain the most gruesome not necessarily because of the number of persons slaughtered by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen but precisely because of the remote reason for this obviously unjustifiable genocide.
In what will sound shocking to all persons with humane conscience, several eye witness accounts said the gruesome slaughter by well armed marauders suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, resulted from the alleged death by suspected substance poisoning of two cows belonging to a Fulani Cattle rearer who was accused of destroying food crops of a local farmer who incidentally was also killed for his alleged act of poisoning the cows.
In the imbroglio that trailed the said death by suspected poisoning of the two cows, the man suspected of poisoning the cows was abducted and killed even as angry indigenous villagers reportedly embarked on reprisal against some ethnic Fulani herdsmen who reportedly fled only for the armed attackers to stage a comeback mission that led to the brutal hacking to death of over twenty persons.
The Kaduna police Command’s Public Relations Officer, Aminu Lawan, A Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP, confirmed the incident.
An eye witness told news reporters that but for the assistance from neighboring villages, Ataka village which shares border with Plateau State would have been wiped out completely by the gunmen who were in charge for several hours.
He said: “At least, not more than 19 people were killed in the crisis in the Ataka Community in Ataka Chiefdom… They just invaded the area and started shooting”.
Other competent sources say at least twenty persons were killed by the armed gunmen who have yet to be arrested by the Nigeria Police. Who says the Nigeria Police Force has not collapsed?
The above and several other unresolved killings in similar circumstances in the past two decades made Professor Chinua Achebe to conclude that the vicious circle of impunity is responsible for these dastardly criminal acts of killings of precious lives because the apparatus of law enforcement has consistently failed to bring perpetrators to trial.
We will return to the sound and intelligent conclusion drawn by Professor Achebe but first it is logical to note that professor Achebe had been in the forefront of the intellectuals that have defended the black man against the claim by some white supremacists that the black man has no human soul and therefore is a beast.
Throughout his illustrious writing career till he breathed his last in the last couple of days in the United States of America at the age of 82, Achebe was a global voice for what is inherently good about the black man.
Through his vast collection of intellectual works including ‘Things Fall apart’ a book read by over one hundred million people of different nationalities around the World, Achebe actively sought to defend the black race against a racist perception in the Western World popularized by Joseph Conrad Who believed that the black man has the ‘heart of darkness’, meaning that the black man does not respect the sacredness attached to the value of human life.
‘Heart of Darkness’ written in the 1899 by Joseph Conrad, in the considered assessment of Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, is a short novel, presented as a frame narrative about Charles Marlow’s Job as an Ivory transporter down the Congo River. In the course of his commercial –agent work in the Congo Free State (1885-1908), the seaman Marlow becomes very interested in and investigates Mr. Kutz, an Ivory-procurement agent, a man of established notoriety among the native Africans and the European Colonials.
The story, in the exact words of the reviewers aforementioned, is a thematic exploration of the savagery – versus –civilization relationship, and the colonialism and the racism that make imperialism possible.
Achebe at the cost of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature from Europe, contradicted these narratives by Joseph Conrad which painted the graphic picture of the black man as being irrational, savagery, brutal and with no respect for the sacredness of life.
Professor Achebe nevertheless, vociferously protested against the ineptitude, incompetence and savage violence manifested through series of inter-religious and inter-ethnic violence that have assumed disturbing dimension in the Nigerian contemporary history. His worries are contained in his last book “There was a country: A personal history of Biafra”.
Writing in one of the chapters of the book aforementioned in which Chinua Achebe addressed the sub-theme of state failure and rise of terrorism, he had stated that; “In many respects, Nigeria’s Federal government has always tolerated terrorism. For over half a century the federal government has turned a blind eye to waves of ferocious and savage massacres of its citizens – mainly Christian Southerners’, mostly Igbos or indigenes of the middle Belt; and others with impunity”.
In his beautifully written book “There was a country” Professor Achebe had rightly narrated also thus; “Even in cases where their hands were found dripping in blood, the perpetrators have many a time evaded capture and punishment. Nigeria has been doomed to witness endless cycles of inter-ethnic, inter-religious violence because the Nigerian government has failed woefully to enforce laws protecting its citizens from wanton violence, particularly attacks against non -indigenes living in disparate parts of the country”.
Achebe had rightly drawn conclusion that; “The notoriously (some say conveniently so) incompetent Nigerian federal government and some religious and political leaders, have been at least enablers of these evil acts I have stated elsewhere that this mindless carnage will end only with the dismantling of the present corrupt political system and banishment of the cult of mediocrity that runs it, hopefully through a peaceful, democratic process”.
Perhaps convinced beyond the shadow of doubt about the prophetic dimension that the alarm raised by Professor Achebe has taken, the current governor of central Bank of Nigeria who hails from North West, the epicenter of these intra-ethnic and inter-religious upheavals that have resulted in massive killing of human beings over flimsy excuse such as the poisoning to death of some cows, recently added his voice to the clarion call for the Nigerian government to institutionally tackle the overwhelming presence of impunity and lawlessness in the country.
The Central Bank governor Lamido Sanusi says culture of impunity, much more than corruption, has hampered Nigeria’s development and promoted poverty.
Sanusi, who spoke at the 5th Bola Tinubu Colloquium in Lagos recently.
The Central Bank governor who has consistently condemned the unnecessary slaughter of human beings by armed non-state actors, was right except that he forgot to add that corruption and impunity are Siamese twin evils.
For me, I see impunity as the corruption of the mechanism of law enforcement in Nigeria. A situation whereby armed non-state actors go about killing innocent persons and escape the long arm of the law, has made Nigeria a laughing stock and may confirm our worst fear that Joseph Conrad may be referring to Nigerians when he wrote his widely criticized treatise “Heart of darkness”.
What shocks me more is that successive Federal and state administrations have continued to wallow in self pity and have failed to bring perpetrators of these war crimes to trial in the competent courts of law and some of these masterminds of genocide have gone ahead to win juicy political appointment into Nigeria’s National Assembly and other executive slots serviced with tax payers fund. What an iron?
The political elites have indeed converted Nigeria to a banana republic.