…And the Killings Continue


Daily reports of killings in different parts of the country have reached an appalling stage, writes Abimbola Akosile

Even in the Hobbesian setting, where life is generally said to be brutish, short and nasty, not as many killings could have been recorded as Nigeria now does day in, day out.

Last week, THISDAY, in a special report profiled some of the recent killings and affirmed that between January and April, over 901 lives had been lost to mindless killings by the marauding herdsmen in the Middle Belt alone.

This, however, was outside deaths by other means including the relentless Boko Haram attacks, which appears to be competing with herdsmen in their killing game.

The THISDAY report, unfortunately, was published on the day several other killings also secured spaces in the major national dailies, except of course, they were subsumed by the special report. The killings has since continued, albeit majorly in the northern axis of the country and in almost all the states of the federation, clearly depicting the nation’s failing security architecture.

Two Saturdays ago, there was yet an attack by armed bandits in Gwaska Community, Birnin Gwari Local Government of Kaduna State, which initially reportedly left 45 people dead. But by mid last week, the death toll had reportedly risen to 61.

According to sources, more corpses were recovered in the surrounding bushes during a search for missing persons by members of the local vigilante group and security agents.

In another breath, police authorities in Taraba State, last week, confirmed the killing of nine persons by suspected herdsmen at Tutuwa Village in Ussa Local Government Area of the state, in another attack. Three persons, reports said, also sustained serious injuries in the attack, which occurred in the morning, when residents of the community were going for early morning prayers.
The spate of killings by herdsmen scaled up significantly after the New Year attacks on Guma and Logo Local Government areas of Benue State, leaving no fewer than 73 dead and buried in a mass grave on a site at the Industrial Layout along Naka Road in Makurdi.

The rage against the unceasing killings, however, escalated when two priests, Rev. Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, as well as 17 others were killed recently at a Catholic Church in a remote community in Ayar-Mbalom Village of Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State.

Less than a week after this heinous attack on a Church, there was yet another on a mosque following a coordinated twin bomb attacks, which left no fewer than 60 Muslim worshippers killed and 68 others injured, while holding the Zuhr (afternoon) prayer in Mubi, Adamawa State, albeit the attacks bore the unmistaken signature of the Boko Haram terror sect.

Unfortunately, President Muhammadu Buhari has stuck to just one monotonous narrative, which has concluded, without considering other possibilities that the attacks were carried out by renegades from Libya, at the aftermath of the Muammar Gadhafi era.

Whilst the federal government has yet taken any effectively engaging step to contain the growing menace of the various attacks, the president’s evident lukewarm disposition has continued to spark reactions from far and near, especially the Christian community, which is not only unhappy with his handling of the killings but has also told him to jettison the idea of a presidential rerun.

Apart from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which has sustained its protest against the continuous killings across the country, other equally concerned Nigerians have been staging protests, not just against the killings, but particularly because of the assumption that the killings had continued only because the killers are being shielded by the authorities.

Some of the concerns of a majority of Nigerians include the fact that while the killings have continued despite all the monies being sunk into security, the president has retained all his security chiefs, all of whom have not been seen to deploy any creative initiative to play, both in the fight against insurgency and the general security of the country.

This is why one of the things being proposed by concerned Nigerians to the president is the change of his security chiefs in the national interest, beyond the factor of loyalty, which seems to be the only reason the president has continued to overlook their palpable inadequacies.
There is the possibility that as you are reading this report, some attacks are being launched in some parts of the country with scores of lives gone. Yet, what is also likely is that no arrest would be made and nobody would be reprimanded for such security lapses.

Definitely, the killings cannot continue. In fact, it will be impossible for the country to hold any credible election next year if many places in different parts of the country are not safe. And with the concern also expressed by the international community and foreign bodies alike, the buck still stops at the president’s table and all he needs to do is deliver leadership. The president is not being asked to personally take up arms but provide the much needed leadership for the system to run good.

But if failure of leadership is what continues to thrive regardless of the appeal for a change in style to issues of governance, then, Nigeria is approaching the stage in her national life, when killings become the new normal. It is not a wish, but what it is!