By Mike Kebonkwu Esq
Nigeria has slipped into a state of lawlessness where touts, hooligans and sundry anarchists have taken over the streets in persistent show of force in broad day light, harassing and terrorising citizens, creating fear and panic. The insecurity in the country has passed the level of Police duty or action, the Police having become what many call part of the problem. The military, on the other hand, appears overwhelmed and overstretched. Otherwise, it has not displayed its full potential as we used to know as to make citizens understand that the presence of the state still looms large enough if anyone oversteps his bounds and boundary. Nigerians are watching with dismay the level of demystification of the military and asking: was this the same army that the likes of General Victor Malu led with awe? What is happening to our army and the military? The military high command knows and has the answers and they have the opportunity to bring the armed forces back into shape and display patriotism by arresting the drift into anarchy and bringing the sources of insecurity to an end. They have been on internal security operations since 2016 and they have conducted several such operations before, especially in the case of Maitatsine and they can do it again.
That would be justified or there would be more horrifying stories of which the recent murder of Deborah Samuel is the climax. But, before Deborah, there was the Army couple. The Nigerian Army spokesman, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu confirmed the killing of the Army couple who were on their way for their traditional marriage and introduction somewhere in Imo State. The manner of killing was no different from the fate of Deborah: ghoulish as it was gore in a display of barbaric savagery. The social media was awash with the horrendous pictures which were also widely reported by the mainstream media. The attention given the story was not because the couple were soldiers but the sheer display of beastly gut and savagery in the manner they slaughtered and dismembered their victims. It was all the more cold when they made the woman to first watch the slaughtering of her husband and then stripped her naked and tormented her and made her to lie beside the dead husband before slaughtering her like a ram and chop off her private part.
This is the fate of so many Nigerian victims of these bands of criminals whether the bandits, the jihadists insurgents and ritualists on daily basis. A survivor of kidnapping narrating her ordeal recently after being released in the aftermath of ransom payment, said on their way to captivity, they passed decomposing bodies and skeletons wherein their abductors warned them if they could not move, they would become like those people.
Some of us are more traumatized by the reaction of people to these incidents that try to veil the threat these criminals pose to our corporate existence. A leading Presidential aspirant after initial condemnation of the butchery of Deborah on his social media handle pulled out his comment because of the threat to his ambition. And yet, such an individual wants to lead a secular state of multi ethnic and multi religious dichotomy which makes it impossible not to recount the story of Deborah Yakubu Samuel, the year Two undergraduate of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto when she was brutally murdered. She was alleged to have made a blasphemous post in a WhatsApp group in the school she belonged to. Up till now, the last words have not been heard about what constitutes blasphemy; if only as a guide. Whatever she said or posted, she cannot speak from the grave now in her own defence. The blood thirsty, irate mob was in a frenzy of excitement in a most sadistic manner chanting rhymes and slogans in satisfaction of religious obligations. Her appeal for mercy fell on deaf ears of classmates who ought to have been her last shield in the spirit of true class/coursemates.
The fanatics had stones, clubs and cudgels with which they drew her blood. She was stoned and beaten to death and her body was roasted on the street in most cruel manners. The criminality of the act is unquestionable just as the religious undertone cannot be disputed. Even though the act was roundly condemned, the condemnation was sectarian and infected within religious precinct. To some, a Christian was killed by some Muslims; not actually looking at the heinous, brutal and unlawful killing of a Nigerian citizen by people fuelled by hatred, intolerance and bigotry. People want to know how the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is saying about the killing and what the Muslim clerics and organizations are saying. It is only in Nigeria that people will kill and die for religion but can never stand for the country, which comes in the remote third position after our tribe and ethnicity. The nagging question still remains: what is the elasticity of blasphemy, what actually constitutes blasphemy, and should people take the law into their hands to fight for God or religion?
The killing of Deborah Yakubu speaks to the fault line that is widening by the day and made worse under the present APC led government of Muhammadu Buhari. That this incident occurred in a higher institution of learning that produces teachers further speaks to the fact that Nigeria’s future is being further interrogated by the day. Nigerians can fight for religion, the received religion – Christianity and Islam – but cannot sacrifice for the country. Nigeria, no doubt, has become the closest place to hell where agony of human pain and suffering is traded every hour.
We are not honest if we say that the killing of Deborah is not religious just like the misguided statement by a particular group that warned that the killing of the army couple should not be a veil to killing of the youths in the community where they were killed. The truth is that Nigerians are brain-washed with religion; Christians and Muslims alike to the point of fanaticism and bigotry with little or no reason or logic left with them.
Above all, Tribal militias and jihadists have taken over the socio-political space. Why should Nigerians abandon their homes, villages, farms and roads to bandits and terrorists? Why should an ethnic militia declare weekly holidays and force people to stay at home in a country with a viable government? For the better part of this year, there has been gasoline scarcity, and Nigerians have spent more time and man hour at the Petrol stations than their places of work and business. For the better part of this year even though electricity tariffs have been hiked several times, the citizens live in darkness and their businesses suffer because of lack of energy. For the better part of this year, our children in institutions of higher learning have stayed at home due to ASUU strike and the government prefers to use comedians to engage the University staff. The only thing that the government has managed to do is to arrest in the bud the aviation sector strike because it affects them directly as they cannot face the risks on our highways even with the entire security that they have appropriated to themselves.
I wonder why we cannot wake up from our slumbers and take decisions; a very hard decision even if it means tampering with the iniquitous state of the polity which the secularity of our federation has become. We cannot afford to live with another death and killing of another Deborah. We cannot continue to endure the agony of the fate of the Chibok and Dapchi girls and be happy playing politics with it. No. The country is in a state of uncontrollable haemorrhage and we do not have to thrust it to fate and the metaphysical. The solution is in our hands.
Look at the character of people who want to govern us, what is their antecedent, what is their achievements and pedegree? They are not able to pay the salaries of civil servants in their states and here we are rewarding them with elevation at the centre and the National Assembly. We want to reward someone with the position of first citizen and President of Nigeria when he cannot stand firm and defend his position over an issue of State matter when it involves the life of a citizen senselessly murdered by indoctrinated urchins. Haba! Is our head paining us?
The worse is that those people fighting for God have their indoctrination from the heretic sermons from religious leaders who feed on their ignorance. When I watched the urchins and hooligans that unleashed violence on Deborah, they are still the oppressed and deprived Nigerians who have no job and no guaranteed future. The ghost of Deborah will hunt the Nigerian state if it does not act even for once, not to avenge her death but to ensure that Nigeria becomes a secular state in truth and in fact where citizens are protected. Adieu Deborah at this early sunset but rest assured that there will be a rebirth in Nigeria.
The author is of Koyen-Hi Kebonkwu Chambers, Wuse, Zone 5, Abuja and is accessible via email@example.com