CRIMINALS are gaining space in our democracy. They are acquiring the usual rights available to law-abiding citizens in their avowed commitment to crimes of the highest order – murder, arson, rebellion, in other words terrorism. On the sides of the agitations against the new price of petrol, attacks against Nigerians of eastern origin have continued unabated.
They were in Madalla, Gombe, and now Mubi. The explanation the criminals give is that they want Nigerians from the South to leave the North, a proposition that negates several freedoms that the 1999 Constitution awards Nigerians. Sections 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 40, 41, and 42 are dedicated to these freedoms and the underlining glues they provide for the unity of Nigeria.
Nigeria is under threat of more sectarian violence with the constant violation of places of worship to target particular ethnic groups. The police in Gombe blamed the attack on a church on miscreants. Are they telling us that miscreants are above the law?
Excuses for criminals are embarrassing. It is sad that governments and the security agencies can no longer protect the people, but it is worse to blame the people for inviting the attacks. Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo on a visit to the attacked church in Gombe advised people to seek security help before overnight church activities. He admitted the location of the church was a known den for criminals and hoodlums.
What did the governor do with the knowledge that criminals controlled a section of his state capital? Was he waiting for the attack so he could promise free medical treatment for the injured and pay for the burial of those killed? Soon people will be blamed for infuriating their attackers by breathing!
The pathetic responses of the security agencies and governments to these deliberate killings are simply scandalous. Is wanton destruction of lives permitted under circumstances government acknowledge?
A siege on a Sapele mosque, seemingly as reprisal for the attacks in the North, goes unpunished. Who will punish those responsible for the Sapele attacks with an established regime of making excuses for criminals?
When did Sapele become a hotbed of fundamentalism of any kind? Is it possible that the attacks in Sapele are intended to provide reasons for more attacks up North, since they would be seen as reprisals? Whatever it is, we are in troubled times.
Reluctance in punishing criminality is possibly the biggest threat to security today. The excuses we make for criminals create more grounds for exuberant attacks. The attacks and governments’ continued ineptitude are unacceptable for they bear grave consequences for the country.
Governments must punish criminals of all hues. It is imperative criminals know punishment awaits them.