In many countries of the world, the law places the highest premium on the right to life. This premium comes from a place of preeminence which prescribes that life shall not be taken except in exceptional circumstances and even then, only after the strictures of the law have been sufficiently suffered.

In the Giant of Africa, things have changed gradually but steadily – for the worse. The journey to this point where life has become as cheap as salt, or like a commodity in a market of chips has been a painfully ponderous one. It did not start today. It has been years, even decades, in the making.

On December 23, 2001, while the midday sun burned in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, bullets of indeterminate origin cut short the life of Mr. Bola Ige, Nigeria`s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice at the time and one of the finest lawyers the country has ever known.

The heinous murder shook Nigeria to its core, brutally hacking open old wounds from the days when military dictators turned many Nigerians over in their blood sport. If an entire country was stunned by the brazen murder of Mr. Ige, it is even more stunning that more than 20 years later his killers are yet to be brought to book. Nigeria was starkly reminded of this sordid fact recently.

At 87, celebrated Nigeria playwright Mr. Wole Soyinka brings with him a lifetime of advocacy for a better Nigeria. When in 1986 the towering literary icon from Abeokuta became the first sub-Saharan African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, a beleaguered country climbed the shoulders of a giant where it has remained ever since, losing count of the innumerable times he has not held back in rebuking the enemies of the country.

It was Mr. Wole Soyinka who recently reminded Nigeria that the murder of Mr. Bola Ige remains unsolved. In a country where assassination has since been replaced by more brazen killings of innocent Nigerians, what has been done and what is being done? What has Nigeria done to hold all those who have shed innocent blood in the country to account? 

Those who kill innocent Nigerians are neither ghosts nor aliens who come from different planets to which they return after their dastardly acts. No. They walk among us. Some of them are even clearly known to the authorities. But because they are powerful in a country where power has been ripped away from the people, there is a rabid reluctance to hold them to account.     

To seek to build a just country without justice is the ultimate deception. As long as Nigerians do not know justice as it is served hot to those who turn others into game in their blood sport, deception will remain a national pastime.

Kene Obiezu,


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