Late Afro beat maestro, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, means different things to diverse people. While some see him as a legendary figure, others see him as a social nuisance. In spite of this varied perception of the iconic musician, one thing that is incontrovertible is that he was fearless. In his days, while most compatriots kept quiet in the face of unbearable pains and hardship, Fela dared the authorities with unbelievable audacity. Of course, he paid dearly for this as he was severally brutalized. But he was never cowed.
With his rather skinny figure, Fela would have been mincemeat for his adversaries. Not unmindful of this, he never engaged his foes in physical duels. No! Fela’s strength and power lay in an unusual arsenal. His music was his weapon. With it, he fought many military and civilian dictators and their collaborators to a standstill. When Fela sang, ‘powerful’ oppressors in the society simply ran for cover. One of his evergreen songs is Beast of No Nation. In the song, the late Afrobeat Maestro, sang about animals in human skin and animals in Agabda and suit.
Characteristically, there is an underlining deeper philosophical message behind the seemingly hilarious vibe. Of course, the uniqueness of Fela’s songs is always in their deep idealistic connotations. In Beast of no Nation, Fela’s allusion to animals in human skin, agbada and suits simply addresses the ethos of men who occupy dignified offices but act in undignified manner.
Sadly, over 35 years after Fela symbolically drew our attention to animal in human skin as a satire for impunity in unexpected places; not a few animals still exist in human skin in our beloved nation.
One of such is a certain Lance Corporal Sunday Adelola, the soldier who allegedly recently raped a 300-level student of the Department of Religious and African Studies of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko (AAUA) at a military checkpoint along Ikare-Akungba Akoko road.
It was such a nauseating piece of information, one that will make every right thinking person shiver in amazement. It simply goes to show that it is not everyone in human skin that is qualified to be called a human being. So, Fela was again right with his song. There are, indeed, lots of animals putting on human skin in our society. Perhaps, this might be part of our fundamental challenge as a people. When animals mix with human beings, what could be the likely consequence? Well, your guess is good as mine.
Fortunately, the brazen sexual scoundrel had been dismissed by the authorities of the Nigeria Army and had been handed over to the police for prosecution. But then, his infamous act has once again brought to the front burner two major ugly subjects in our society. The issue of rape and brash conduct of some security operatives.
Uncontrolled rape incidences have become a daily occurrence and a fundamental issue affecting women and girl-child development in the country. Today, of all women’s fears, that of being raped is the darkest. The rape epidemic in our society reflects the extent to which women’s human rights are threatened and calls to question not only our sense of justice but our civilization.
The crime of rape takes away from the victim, human rights such as right to life (as it led to death in some instances), right to dignity of human person, right to personal liberty and security of person and right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It is a crime against basic human rights and it also violates the victim’s most cherished of the fundamental rights – the right to life.
Victims who suffer rape trauma syndrome experience physical symptoms such as headaches, sleep disturbances, and fatigue. They may also develop psychological disturbances related to the circumstances of the rape, such as intense fears. Fear of being raped has social as well as personal consequences. For example, it may prevent women from socializing or travelling as they wish while worried and un-enlightened parent can use it as excuse of limiting educational progress of girl-child.
Almost similar to rape is the issue of inapt behaviour among Nigeria’s security operatives has been a recurrent one. Scores of Nigerians have been sent to early graves, no thanks to the dastardly activities of some of some wild security operatives. A few years ago, in Agege, Lagos, a female Secondary School student was brutally murdered by a trigger-happy security operative in a most bizarre circumstance. It was such a gory sight. Imagine the pain, emotional and mental damage done to the parents of the dead student, who must have toiled over her.
Also, in November 2008, a certain Miss Uzoma Okere was brutalized by armed naval ratings in a rather dehumanizing manner as she was stripped naked in full glare of the public for daring to fight for her right. More worrisome is that the dangerous trend has continued unabated. For instance, from January to April, 2019, in Lagos State alone, about four incidents of misuse of firearms which have resulted in extra-judicial killings of young citizens of this country and injury to others were recorded. More niggling is that two of these incidents occurred almost simultaneously.
It is difficult to understand why some security operatives behave the way they do. It is ironic that some of them do take pleasure in brutalizing the very people they are trained to protect. The police are especially culpable in this regard. It is often baffling to see some of them beat up, slap and brutalize hapless compatriots who have neither been taken to the court nor convicted for a particular offence.
This is the time for security operatives in the country to imbibe the culture of civility in their interaction with members of the public. They need to envision what the society would look like if doctors, engineers, civil servants, and other members of the society behave in similar loutish fashion. Leadership of the various security agencies need to re-orientate their officers and men on how to behave in a democratic and civilized setting. They need to re-define their role in a democracy.
Globally, security agencies thrive on discipline. Ours must not be an exception. Hence, those who fall short of expectations should be shown the way out. There should not be no attempt to protect those that bring their image into disrepute as this will send wrong signals among the ranks and file.
Tayo Ogunbiyi, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja