The continuous killings in the country, and in most cases on petty grounds, have reached an appalling level and the authorities must act decisively. Shola Oyeyipo and Segun James write
He was an “ordinary” advert executive with one of Nigeria’s leading newspapers. On this fateful day, he was called out by some people, whom his wife believed were close friends because he left his dinner after the phone call to attend to them.
There shots rent the air in quick succession before the SUV car that brought his assailants drove away. By the time Ignatius’ wife ran out to see what had happened, her husband was in the pool of his own blood. But before she could call for help and the man was rushed to a nearby clinic, he was pronounced dead on arrival or better still, brought in dead.
Many months after, the murder of the young man has not been solved and his killers unknown. Welcome to Murder Incorporated, Nigeria Limited.
In the last few years, especially since the coming of the Fourth Republic, the nation has witnessed series of unsolved and high profile murder cases. But in the last few months, the situation has become very rife as many Nigerians now wonder what the problem is?
The world over, particularly in more civilised climes and where there is genuine value for human life, there are indexes to measure the safety level of people living specific areas. It was based on such premise that the United States Government in a recent travel warning advice to its citizens, named 20 unsafe states in Nigeria, marked as no-go-areas. The reason was simple – pockets of crimes being carried out by faceless persons that are hardly brought to book.
While it seemed that the US assessment was somewhat negative and unkind to Nigeria, truth is that cities such as Memphis, Tennessee, Little Rock, Arkansas, Baltimore and Maryland in particular have been ranked as violent-crime prone areas and largely contribute to US’ overall crime ratings.
Therefore, while naming Borno, Adamawa, Yobe (no-go areas), Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara as unsafe states in Nigeria would ordinarily jeopardise foreign investment drive of any of the state governments, the question is: had Nigeria maintained a reliable assessment mechanism and placed premium on the life of her citizenry, would anyone make bold to say these states and even some others not listed here were unsafe?
Nigeria is generally blessed as a country with almost zero natural disasters. On the contrary, it is cursed with equal dose of self-inflicted disasters that are either ethno-religious in nature, political or a combination of both.
Aside the unrest in the Niger Delta region of the country, the emergence of the Boko Haram sect, kidnapping and brutal killings, armed robbery, the rampaging herdsmen and bombings across the country have claimed thousands of souls and property worth millions of naira have also been destroyed. There is no gain saying too that the security agents are over-stretched.
Thus, as the attacks continue, in recent times, the inhuman mob killing, otherwise called ‘jungle justice’ is gradually becoming another violence trend across the country.
The ancient city on Kano was thrown into an uneasy calm and fear amongst the Christian community, when on Friday, June 3, 2016, a pastor’s wife, Mrs. Bridget Agbaheme, was killed by a mob alleged to be religious extremists, who accused her of defaming the Islam. The late mother of one was married to Pastor Mike Agbaheme, a senior pastor with Deeper Life Bible Church in the state.
The Chairman of the Igbo Community Association in the area, Chief Eni Michael was unhappy about the incident and described the killing as barbaric and “most painful to every Igbo man and woman in the state. We are not happy at all. A human being is a human being, no matter his tribe or state of origin. Her death is a challenge; we must make sure it does not happen again. And that will start with making sure that those behind this murder do not go free.”
While the air was yet to clear over Agbaheme’s killing, came the story of a 42-year old mother of seven and an assistant pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Mrs. Eunice Elisha, who was murdered in Abuja on Saturday, July 9, 2016, while preaching around Gbazango-West area of Kubwa in the Bwari area council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Eunice’s husband, Mr. Olawale Elisha, said his wife went out to preach in the neighbourhood in her usual practice at about 5am on the fateful day before they heard the report of her murder. She was suspected to have been murdered by religion fanatics, who were uncomfortable with her early morning evangelism.
If the two incidents in Kano and Abuja were considered sheer co-incidences, the Monday, August 22 attack in Zamfara State, where no fewer than eight persons were killed in Talata-Mafara community, following the violence that erupted over alleged blasphemy by a student of the Abdu Gusau Polytechnic, Talata-Mafara, would make observers ponder if this was not another threat to national unity and collective peace.
Those killed in the Zamfara attack were said to have been murdered when an angry mob set fire on the house of a man, by name Tajudeen, who tried to rescue a student, alleged to have made the blasphemous statement against Islam and Prophet Muhammad and was consequently attacked by a mob.
Though Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State has explained that the murder of the eight persons was caused by false alarm, explaining that those killed in the attack were Muslims. But the question is: does anyone reserve the right to take another’s life at will and why are the perpetrators not apprehended and brought to book?
Though it is possible to attribute the development in some parts of the North to religious fanatics, which could be addressed, not many can boast to know the reason there are so many violent killings in Rivers State, where news of killings is becoming a daily occurrence. Some attribute the scenario to political division, others say it is cult-related violence but at a closer look, the reality is that cult activities have been infused into politics, thereby escalating the violent attacks against opposing camps and increasing fatality figures.
In what seems like an insatiable thirst for blood, on Wednesday, August 24, gunmen numbering about 10 reportedly stormed the busy town of Obiagu, Enugu State, where they shot a person identified as Ayaka dead. It took the swift intervention of men of the Nigerian Police to engage the hoodlums in gun battle that resulted in the killing of one of the AK-47 wielding criminals and the apprehension of two others. If without the timely intervention of the police, probability is high that many more people would have lost their lives.
Obviously irked by the spate of violence in Rivers State, President Muhammadu Buhari, in faraway Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Femi Adesina, said: “The killing of people over political differences was primitive, barbaric and unacceptable”, stressing that “We will deal decisively with all sponsors of violence. I have given the security services clear directives in this regard. We will show that violence in any form will no longer be tolerated before, during or after elections.”
On the other hand, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has persistently dismissed claims that killings in the state have been politically motivated and targeted at members of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He attributed the violence in state to clashes of rival cult groups fighting for supremacy.
But while the Buhari-led administration hopes to address the problem of escalating violent crimes in the country, the Boko Haram ravaged states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa remain a talking point until genuine peace returns there, because despite the victory of the military against the insurgents, they are still wreaking havocs. Even before leaving office as president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan put the number of people killed by the Boko Haram at a staggering 13,000 since the beginning of insurgency in 2009.
In the Amnesty International estimation, at least 1,600 people have been killed by the sect since Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015, which shows that every two hours, one Nigerian died as a result of Boko Haram attack or suicide bombing.
In addressing the cases of violence, therefore, government must, as a matter of urgent national concern, pay attention to some isolated cases that have inflicted excruciating pains on the families of victims of various attacks, most of whom are unable to secure justice for their slain loved ones.
For instance, it was a sad story for the family of a young female National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, Omolola Abogunrin, as she was allegedly raped and murdered on Sunday, October 4, 2015 – exactly two weeks to her wedding, by yet-to-be identified men, in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State.
Her wedding was already slated for Saturday, October 17, the day she would have turned 29. The Polytechnic Ibadan graduate was reportedly murdered in the premises of an agriculture research institute after she was sexually defiled.
It was a similar report on May 23, 2016, when another female NYSC member, Yetunde Shukurat was allegedly raped by one 51 year old Abdullahi Tanko, who had been arraigned before a Magistrate Court presided over by Magistrate K. A. Yahyah. The police prosecutor, Inspector Matthew Ologbon told the Court that they found the late Corps member in a pool of her blood at Simeon Okedi Street, GRA, Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
Such pockets of mindless killings abound all over Nigeria and where no concrete actions are taken to ensure that those behind these premeditated but isolated killings are brought to book and serve as deterrents, there is the tendency that those who gladly carry out the killings will continue to prowl the streets and have their ways with the trending killing sport.
Also, in most of the states, some locations, like the forests, for instance, are known as primary hideouts for criminals, where they recoil to after going on their killing spree across the country.
Some of the forest that are serving as haven for kidnappers, bandits, cattle rustlers, armed robbers, cultists, and terrorists are spread across Borno, Kaduna, Zamfara, Kebbi, Akwa Ibom, Kano, Bauchi, Niger, Ogun, Rivers and the famous Sambisa forest, known as the hideout of Boko Haram insurgents.
A cross section of Nigerians, who spoke on the trend, admitted that this ordinarily is not the fault of the present government since high profile killings did not just start. They, however, lamented that hired killing has become more rampant lately than it was in the past. They blamed the porous security architecture on successive federal governments and the economic situation in the country.
Mr. Ibrahim Adewepo cried that Nigeria has no security at all. To him, the nation’s security operatives are contractors, who know next to nothing about what they are doing.
“Tell me, how did those weapons being used by Boko Haram terrorists and the Niger Delta militants get into the country? The answer is simple: someone somewhere must have compromised. Those weapons are too much that our security operatives cannot tell me that they are not aware. After all, it was not once such weapons were brought in, so it must have been going on regularly with the connivance of the security operatives.”
This position was also supported by Mr. Dennis Pere, an Ijaw man, who does not support the insurgency in the Niger Delta creeks. Pere insisted that the federal government, especially the President Goodluck Jonathan government sanctioned the importation of arms into the country.
According to him, “the Jonathan government gave arms importation contracts to ex-militants like Tompolo. So, what do you expect? Nobody asked how and from whom he imported the arms. Nobody asked how long Tompolo has had a relationship with the manufacturers. Can you imagine?
“The federal government awarding a security contract to a man who has led insurrections against the country in the past; a man whose warriors have killed Nigerian soldiers; man who has destroyed several oil installations and equipment. That is the man they awarded security contract. Now, you are talking about murder. Why won’t there be murder?
Mr. Tafal Falowo too blamed politicians for the rising murder cases. He said at every election period, politicians armed their thugs in battles against their opponents, but as soon as the elections are over, they never collected such weapons back or do they care about the nefarious activities the thugs may use the weapons for later?
Mr. Johnson Adeleke also shares this belief. Adeleke who lives in Lambe, a suburb of Lagos said what may look like murder by hired assassins my indeed be young men, who have access to arms, and because of the economic situation in country, used it to rob and in the process, kill their victims. Yet, many may assume that it is murder.
For Mr. Innocent Okonkwo, because of the high level of greed prevalent in the Nigerian system, a number of people resort to murder to settle scores.
This was supported by Mr. Kubeyinje Benson. He insisted that most of the people who resort to cheap killings are people, who were cultists while in school.
“They keep in touch. Anytime issues crop up, they contact their people who carryout killings. Murder is cheap in Nigeria,” he said.
Such pockets of mindless killings abound all over Nigeria and where no concrete actions are taken to ensure that those behind these premeditated but isolated killings are brought to book and serve as deterrents, there is the tendency that those who gladly carry out the killings will continue to prowl the streets and have their ways with the trending killing sport