Wednesday, 3 April 2013

A Land Of Senseless Killings

A mammoth human disaster is looming in the country, going by the rate at which Nigerians are being savagely murdered on a daily basis. The carnage is senseless. The toll of destruction is becoming disastrous and should rouse us to righteous anger. It is sad that President Goodluck Jonathan and his security chiefs appear incapable of halting the gradual drift into anarchy, failing in the job they are elected and paid to do. As a matter of urgency, the President and the security chiefs must outline practical steps to address the horrific trend.
Nigeria is one of a few countries where danger is part of everyday life. As the country continues to occupy a notorious position on the list of Forbes magazine’s most dangerous countries, human life, regarded as sacred by all religions, is systematically being wasted openly and secretly by common felons, criminals and terror group operatives. No one is too young to be killed as was the case with the killing of three kids of a family – Blessing Jacob, five; Dachollom Jacob, four; and Ayuba Jacob, one – in Kogom Tah village of Plateau State. Yet, there has been no resolute and coordinated action against these obnoxious killings that have reached unprecedented levels, in spite of the official claim that the country is not at war.
In its 2012 report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom says more than 14,000 Nigerians were killed in religiously-related violence between Muslims and Christians. Remarking on this unwholesome situation, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said, “There is a general consensus that security of lives and property in Nigeria has abysmally declined since 1966 and has come to its lowest ebb in recent years. Even high profile crimes have not only been successfully perpetrated without prevention, but they have also largely gone unresolved and unpunished.” This seems to be a major sore point; when offenders are hardly ever brought to book, it emboldens prospective murderers.
While Islamic terrorists are killing with wanton brutality across the North, the North Central zone is witnessing a deadly internecine war, especially in Plateau and Benue states, just as the South is groaning under the weight of malevolent elements in the name of armed robbers, kidnappers, ritual killers and mercenaries hired for unnecessary communal wars. It is a national shame that at a time other countries are exploiting the advantages of technology to benefit their societies, Nigeria is slipping back to the barbaric Dark Ages.
Today, it is unerringly common to wake up to read stories of inhuman killings across the landscape in a country that has a police force, Ministry of Police Affairs, Ministry of Defence, military/paramilitary organisations and a sizeable security budget, which is put at N1.05 trillion in the 2013 Appropriation Act. No part of the country is safe anymore. The situation, which is turning Nigeria to a banana republic in the comity of nations, is so terrible that the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, recently lamented, “From what we are witnessing in Nigeria today, nobody is safe in the country, and this is very sad. Everybody is worried.”
Nigerians cannot forget the most dastardly of the cruelty that has become the fate of many innocent Nigerians. Scores of innocent Nigerians were gruesomely murdered at a bus terminus in Kano on March 18 when suicide bombers rammed their vehicles into a Lagos-bound luxury bus. The bomb that went off affected four other buses, leading to a huge loss of lives – over 50 at the last count. The same day in Maiduguri, Borno State, the epicentre of the Boko Haram terrorist campaign, the sect killed two policemen and a civilian. Since then, Kano has been witnessing the killing of security personnel, and teachers, including 140 persons killed in 2012.

In Plateau State, more than 20 people were killed in two separate attacks in late March this year. The first act was allegedly carried out by Fulani herdsmen at Mavo, Wase Local Government Area, while 10 residents of Yelwan Shendam who were on a business trip to Taraba State were killed when their commercial bus was ambushed. The communal crisis between neighbouring Offa and Erin-Ile in Kwara State led to the death of more than 10 people in late January. The long-running crisis has yet to be resolved. This is just as seven people were killed in a fresh outbreak of hostilities between the Amagu people in Ikwo, Ebonyi State and the Adadama people in Abi, Cross River State, on March 16. Not too far away in Oru, Imo State, Onyebuchi Ejimkonye, 30, is being held for raping a four-year old girl, Chinasa Dickson, to death. Dickson was on her way to school when she was ambushed by Ejimkonye, who mercilessly subjected her to marathon sex in a nearby bush. She died on the spot.
Similarly, a crime syndicate abducted the managing director, Naija Plaza Hotel, Oguta, Imo State and a pregnant woman and killed them after collecting ransom from their relatives. In Kaduna, youths went on the rampage on March 20 in Atakar village, Kaura Local Government Area of the state to protest the alleged killing of a hunter, Stephen Abui, by herdsmen; while three people died in Ikorodu, Lagos State, when hoodlums invaded Bayeku in Igbogbo/Bayeku Local Council Development Area during a clash over land.
Amid these deaths and destruction, Nigerians are alarmed that the authorities appear to be overwhelmed by these tragic occurrences. But the 1999 Constitution categorically states that one of the primary duties of the government is to protect the lives and property of the citizens. From now, there has to be a new way to react to every reported loss of life in the country. The Presidency should stop ignoring these massive killings, whether it is security agents or civilians that are mowed down. Also, every suspected offender in police detention must be speedily prosecuted, as the South Africans did in the case of Henry Okah, who was arrested there over the October 1, 2010 bombing near the Eagle Square in Abuja and was sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment in Johannesburg on March 26.

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