Those who killed the Port-arcourt Four must be brought to book
On Friday, October 5, four young Nigerians (Ugonna Obuzor, Lloyd Michael, Chidiaka Biringa and Tekenna Erikanah) – three of them University of Port-Harcourt undergraduates – were brutally murdered by a mob from Aluu community at Omuokiri village, in Rivers State. Painfully, the video clips of the gruesome murder are being circulated on the internet and the traumatised parents of the victims have even watched it.
In a letter to the Senate, Mrs. Chinwe Biringa, mother to one of the slain students, wrote: “We have been subjected to several gory videos and pictures on the internet. This shows that someone filmed the whole barbarism from beginning to the end. My son and his friends were savagely beaten and burnt to death while villagers at Aluu watched. All this has been caught on film! To waylay them and beat them with planks until they died like chicken is the most savage thing one can witness in Nigeria of 2012. Justice is the only thing that can assuage the pains and emotional traumas consuming us and clear the name of our son so that he can rest in peace. Again, and for emphasis, the film shows everything in clear view and all the perpetrators must answer for their crimes. We want justice. Those who murdered my son must face the wrath of the law.”
In the gory video, the students were stripped naked, beaten up and later set ablaze by the mob for allegedly stealing some smart phones and laptops. Coming on the heels of the murder of more than 25 students in Mubi, Adamawa State, the latest incident in Port Harcourt is another sad testimony to how barbarity, lawlessness and wanton killings have gripped the land. While we commiserate with the families of the killed students, we join in the call by Mrs Biringa that the perpetrators of this most heinous crime must be found and punished according to the law.
At a time when the international community is counting on our country to lead the efforts at redressing the several human rights abuses within the continent, it is indeed unfortunate that we seem to be recording the worst form of human rights abuses within our territory. Yet as we have repeatedly reiterated, in all civilised societies, disagreements and accusation of crimes are settled through the judicial process. That is essentially because recourse to violence, self-help, jungle justice or any other form of extra-judicial killings in the settlement of disputes or prosecution of crime is not only an invitation to mayhem or breach of public peace, it is an evidence of a society in serious decline.
In the case of the three University of Port Harcourt students and their friend, we must note that several critical stakeholders that could have intervened to avert the tragedy failed them. In particular, the security agencies failed by not responding immediately to the distress calls that were made by many students since the perpetrators actually took their time in carrying out the crimes. We are also yet to ascertain the positive role (if any) played by elders in the Aluu community. At the end, both the society and the state should carry the bloody stigma of the unfortunate incident, and we must all resolve that such must never happen again in our midst.
It is both pathetic and scandalous that our law enforcement agents hardly offer the citizens any protection in the face of death or any other threatened danger. And culprits are never punished thus fuelling what has become a culture of impunity. That is why it is important that those who killed the University of Port Harcourt undergraduates and their friend be apprehended and subjected to the full wrath of the law.