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Aluu Killings: When Did We Get so Bestial?
It was a chilly Sunday evening. One of my very active reporters, Chiemelie Ezeobi, often jocund, walked into my office, with a heavy face and looked crest-fallen. It was an unusual image for the young lady with an electrifying aura. “Sir, have you watched it?”, she asked. “Watch what?” , I asked. “The video of the killing of the Uniport students”, she responded, adding, “you are a man sir, I couldn’t stand watching it”, as her voice began to fail.
I had heard a whiff of some violence in Port Harcourt, but never knew it had the unnerving effect which I got when I eventually watched the video. It was heart rending! Five days after, my nerves are still being needled by the crass bestiality of the mob at Aluu, the wicked community where the four UNIPORT students were clubbed, crushed, struck, brutalised and eventually burnt to death. The memory of the footage haunts. Perhaps only during the war in Rhwanda and Liberia, did I watch such degree of man’s inhumanity to man.
There are varied accounts of what led Ugonna, Tekena, Chiadika and Lloyd (the UNIPORT 4) to their violent early death. An account says they were robbers who went stealing Black Berry phones and a laptop, caught with several dangerous weapons by villagers and were arrested by the community vigilante. Another version says they were cultists who had gone “sailing” and were caught with dangerous weapons. Yet another version says one of the four was being owed some money and they had gone to recover the debt when the debtor raised the alarm accusing them of being thieves, leading to their arrest…. Nobody knows the valid version. Those who would have told the whole story are now lying cold in the morgue.
They were said to be five friends. One of them managed to escape during the mob arrest.
As I write, I still hear the hit of the long and huge sticks on the heads and bodies of the students; I hear the ruckus noise of the bystanders, dishing out orders on how best to kill them faster, how they should hit harder at those yet shaking. I picture that thick-set man wearing spotted shirt, re-arranging the gasping victims into the noose of the used tyres. I still hear them yelling “die!”. And even after the skull of one had popped out, they yet soaked them in (this scarce) petrol and set them ablaze. Gosh….! And my heart bleeds. It was the height of satanic callousness. I hardly can imagine it. Yet it happened in Aluu. The name of the community couldn’t be more quaint as it means “abomination”.
But where were the police? Where were they while a traditional ruler appropriated the role of the court of law, in pronouncing them guilty and sentencing them to raw and inhuman death? Where were the police while the evil mob stripped the quartet, marched them through the town, naked, and watched gleefully, with some gladly video-recording the “film”and sending it viral into the world? Where were the Police? I hear there are about four Police posts within the precinct of the Aluu community. Why should the DPOs of those stations yet be in the Force and be paid with tax payers’ money? As Festus Keyamo suggested, the DPOs should not only be sacked, they should be tried thereafter for criminal negligence, if not conspiracy to kill.
Even if the boys stole the Blackberry phones and laptop, as alleged, how can killing them be the appropriate punishment? How much of the 2012 budget went into private pockets in the country? To be sure, I make no excuse for stealing. But pray, isn’t even a bad clock twice right in a day? Why visit jungle justice on suspects? What if they were indeed innocent? How would that so-called traditional ruler feel if his son he labored to send to university gets mob-beaten to death like that? How can a wise man be home and the goat will deliver while tethered to a stake?
Yet, I hear this brutal jungle justice system happens often in our society. In a country where the bigger the roguery, the more protected the thief is, killing mere suspects without giving them a chance to speak, without passing them through due process of judicial crucibles, without investigating and confirming their guilt, is, to say the least, wicked and bestial. How many of those cheer-crowd-killers would have any of their children so treated?
All it portrays is the quantity of stones that have replaced the flesh in our hearts. We have lost our consciences and humanness. Life no longer means much to us. The newspapers bleed everyday with morbid stories of mindless killings across the land. The other day at Mubi, Adamawa State, gunmen stormed students’ hostel at night, woke them up, and one after the other, shot over 45 male students dead. Just like that! We have become veritable victims of flood and blood. Not even in the animal kingdom, can we experience this degree of man’s inhumanity to man.
I share in the grief of the students’ parents. I share in the grief of Uniport students. I share in the grief of a bereaved nation. But our grief will be made lighter if the Mubi and Aluu victims get quick justice. That would be consoling. The Inspector General of Police, MD Abubakar, has promised to rein-in all the killers. Some are already in the net. But will they face the wrath of the law? Will they be spared by the intervention of some big men somewhere? Will the Aluu 4 get justice? We wait. We watch.
What’s Stalling the Trial of Farouk Lawan?
Nigeria is such a funny country. It is the kind of fun that invokes anger, not laughter. About the middle of last June, the scandal involving Hon Farouk Lawan asking for bribe from Femi Otedola, broke. The latter, is the Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas, which was allegedly being probed by the House Committee investigating the fuel subsidy racket. Otedola had accused Lawan of asking for bribe of $3million in order to clear his company’s name from the list of fraudulent oil marketers. Otedola said he paid $620,000 in two tranches to Lawan and his gang. The latter had attempted to deny the scam, but buckled when confronted with infallible graphic and technical evidences. He then admitted that he collected the said amount. He later modified his already published statement that he “collected money, not bribe” from Otedola. He however never said what business transaction went on between him and Otedola to warrant the collection of the money. He further modified his statement to say he collected the money as a proof that oil marketers were attempting to bribe his committee, so as to compromise its report. Yet, he delisted Zenon Oil and Gas from the list of indicted marketers which he had earlier submitted, all after receiving the bribe, sorry “money”, which is the raison d’etre of the bribe in the first place. It was a windy and hot scandal. Almost everybody was aghast that a Lawan, otherwise called Mr Integrity could do that.
But five months, yes, five months after, the case is in coma. Nigerians do not know why a man who admitted collecting bribe has remained unarraigned, despite the deceitful drama of arrest and pseudo detention. What evidence does MD Abubakar need to prosecute Lawan that is not available? The SSS and other security agencies have lots of evidence on the scandal. Who is stalling the trial? It is bad enough that the Police are trying to sweep the matter under the carpet, yet it is even worse that the said $620,000 is nowhere to be found. Lawan’s claim that he handed over the money to Hon Adams Jagaba has been firmly and severally denied. Insider sources say the leadership of the House of Reps was part of the deal brokered by Lawan, and that is why Lawan is being shielded from the arms of the law. Were it not so, why has the Public Hearing organized by the House not produced any result, more than four months after? And they all keep sealed lips.
But even if the House leadership was involved, was the presidency or the security agencies also involved? Why are they all conniving to kill the case? The Police investigated the matter. What did they find out?
It is vexatious acts like this that highlight the irony in President Jonathan’s claim that Transparency International (TI) adjudged Nigeria as “the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption”. How and where? Of course, the claim has been clearly faulted. Five months after a crime has been admitted, we are still dancing around legal dialectics and silly judicial rigmarole in trying to prosecute the person, and we say we are fighting corruption? We are tired of these shenanigans. Mr Inspector General of Police, please arraign Mr Lawan without further delay or declare your incompetence! QED!
Adoke and the Bakassi Cross
Please accept my sympathy over the loss?
Which loss? The ones caused by the nation-wide flood?
No-o! The loss of Bakassi Peninsular.
It was not a loss. It was a foolish surrender of a prized part to some foreign wolves.
What do you mean by “a foolish surrender?”
How else do you describe the position of the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke, who ab initio, had ruled out an appeal of the judgment ceding the peninsular to Cameroun?
But the final decision not to appeal the judgment was reached by the committee set up by Mr President on the matter.
Lie! Did you hear me? Lie! The decision not to appeal the ruling was Adoke’s, pure and simple. The man never wanted Nigeria get into the legal battle of reclaiming the land.
Yes, because he said there are no fresh facts to drive the appeal as demanded by the International court.
Another lie! It is Bunkum with a capital ‘B’ Look, Adoke has a hidden agenda on the matter. He had, from time stood against the appeal even before it became an issue. He thus forced his opinion on the president’s committee, and eventually misled the President on the matter. I don’t understand his judicial timidity and cowardice. What is wrong in appealing? How could he so clairvoyantly foresee that Nigeria will lose the appeal if we did? Did he ever hear the aphorism: No venture, no success?
Why are you sounding so bitter? The Chief Law Officer of the country, is learned enough to know when a case is hopeless. What is the essence of going into a battle where you know you have no weapons to win? Don’t you know it will count against the country in Diplomatic circles to undertake such high-scale legal case without a strong foundation? It will even vitiate his own professional competence, as it will be seen as having not advised his country aright. Worse still, scarce resources will be lost at the end of the day. And then…
(cuts in) Enough of those tepid and timid excuses! Is the country so poor that it cannot pay for legal services? If Bakassi is regained, do you know that the oil resources drilled from there one day alone can pay for all the cost of legal services? And you talk about Adoke’s learnedness. Is he more learned than the entire NBA and the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) et al that support the appeal? And what professional competence are you talking about? Is it not this same Adoke that is the chief legal officer that cannot even order the prosecution of Farouk Lawan who admitted receiving bribe? Professional competence my foot! All the rubbish going on in the country, is it not because Adoke condoles mediocrity and compromises propriety? Once it was Michael Aondoooka , now it is Mohammed Adoke.
Are you saying the Federal Government does not have the prerogative to choose whether to appeal a case or not?
The answer is not as simple. We are talking about the life, identity and future of a people here. Do you know even after Mr President asked the committee to review the case with a view to appealing it, Adoke insisted that the mandate of the committee was merely to point out cases of human rights abuse and not on appealing the case? Can’t you see a pre-determined mindset?
He claims there were no new facts. Please know there were seven new facts including the finding that the much quoted Anglo-German treaty of 1913 was not signed by Germany before the first World War broke out? And it was for that reason that the 1919 treaty did not recognize the 1913 treaty?
Look, don’t be too emotional. It is legality not sentiments. In any case, life is a game. You win some, you lose some.
Yes, but you lose or win if only you contest. Don’t chicken out of a fight, if you’ve got balls.