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When Lives Mean Nothing

LIVES, so many, have been lost in sectional and sectarian clashes in Plateau State since last January. In the midst of these, all we get are squabbles about the figures, about shameless loopholes in our security and intelligence gathering methods and the obvious admission of governments that they would do nothing about the deaths of innocent women, children, the aged and some men, whose only crime could be that they live in a country where lives mean nothing.

The sanctity of life is recognised in all religions and in all societies. Our governments are not moved by loss of lives. They play politics with everything, leaving people to seek revenge, take the laws into their hands, when in places like Plateau State, only excuses are given for not stopping the waste of lives that is keeping the central Nigeria in perpetual tension.

In the March 8 attacks, hundreds died, supposedly in revenge for a group’s losses in earlier riots of 2008 and 2009 and this year. Nigerians are bemused that their leaders cannot solve this problem. Plateau boils because too many people are interested in seeing the riots continue – they have ways of benefitting from the lawlessness.

With more than 5,000 lives wasted in Plateau in the past 10 years, why would government waste its attention on a road accident that claimed only 70 people in Lokoja? Were another 70 not burnt to death in Anambra State last October when a fuel tanker that over turned at a bad spot set other vehicles ablaze?

Those wishing away the crisis in Plateau State are deceiving themselves. Those who over the years ignored intelligence on riots, those who take suspects to Abuja and free them, those who sponsor these riots and protect the criminals, thrive on impunity.

It makes no sense to identify the attackers and allow the matter to rest. Who armed them? Who trained them? How did they move their arms into Jos? According to witnesses, they did not bear the usual bows and arrows.

How did they beat the security check points around Jos? Where were the patrol teams? How were the joint security patrols supposed to operate? What happened to Nigeria’s intelligence community?

Nothing encourages situations like Jos more than the knowledge that their perpetrators would not be punished. As governments mutter incoherencies over a very serious matter, unless they do something drastic, the reprisal attacks would continue.

If we had governments that understood the meaning 0f Section 14 (2b) which states, “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government,” then it would not watch our people kill themselves and respond with empty words, and sometimes indifference.

Our governments do not want to stop the killings. They can, if they want.


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