By Kate Henshaw
The opening scene is four naked bodies, beaten and bloodied lying in the mud almost lifeless. A man bends down to raise a young man’s head and places a tyre over it; then came the words: “die, die…” Then a big plank is raised and brought down repeatedly on the head of one of the boys still trying to move on the floor, from the corner a big slab of concrete is hurled and it hits the face of another; in another corner lies another young man whose lips are swollen and he has a dazed look on his face…I would continue but my hands shake as I type this article, my heart beats faster, tears roll down my face. It is like something from a horror movie. I wish I had not opened the link that led me into the scene of the killings of four young boys cut down in their prime.
The initial story was that they stole laptops and phones from people in the community of Aluu, Rivers State. When I heard that, I concluded that they deserved to be caught and handed over to the appropriate authority but not brutally beaten and burnt to a crisp. Where has our humanity gone?
The truth of the matter is that incidents like this take place all over the country and no one is brought to book. Jungle justice is the name, and I shudder to think how many more innocent young lives have been destroyed this way. What of those who are poor and have no one to turn to? Who speaks for them? They are all dead and buried. It seems it is a crime to be a student/youth in Nigeria.
The educational system is nothing to write home about otherwise why would these students not be accommodated within the walls of the University? The community of Aluu was an ex-militant rehabilitation camp and it was in this same community that when the allowances of ex-militants were delayed, they went on a rampage and raped women at will to show their grouse.
Where are we headed as a people and a nation? We are yet to recover from the killing of students in Mubi, Adamawa State on the night we as a nation turned 52years old. Mubi had become notorious for attacks; the residents and students went to bed on that fateful night with the hope to see the next day.
That was not to be as they were besieged by blood thirsty murderers who arranged the students on the ground, like cows and shot them like condemned armed robbers. Over 48 students were butchered; whom parents had slaved away to send to school so that they could fulfil their purpose in life.
Again, the students were outside their University and outside its protection because of accommodation problems. Condemnations have come up from different quarters concerning the killings but I dare say, it ends there; as mere condemnations. How many times have we seen justice done; be it in crimes of corruption, embezzlement, robberies, rapes and the like? Have we lost faith in the justice system? Very likely that is the case.
The impunity with which people commit crimes is rising and if we sit and look; we only have ourselves to blame. If those we elected into offices to shepherd our lives and lead us right have lost the will to protect us, they need to be reminded why they are there. It is not a case of agitating for fat salaries when there is no peace in the land. Definitely they themselves will not live long to enjoy their spoils.
It is quite disheartening to note the absence of those who have been empowered to protect lives and property in these two communities where these heinous crimes have occurred. Where were the police? I am sure that the only presence of the police in the outskirts of the townships is a police post where you find one or two officers who will be greatly outnumbered to deal with the situation at hand.
I have come across one of such posts in a case where I reported a fraudulent builder in Calabar and wanted him arrested. The nearest post was on the outskirts of town. This path that we tread is leading us steadily downhill into the pre-historic times where there was absence of law and order. We cannot cast our young into the wild existence. Who will lead tomorrow? What chance do the next generation truly have in this country, Nigeria?
Going to school is now a dangerous terrain,and when we as parents send our children to school, we need the assurance that they will return to us alive, hale and hearty. The gun powder has been lit and the bombs are going off. Before we wipe out the future generation, let us retrace our steps. Law and order, justice and trust in the judicial system must be entrenched.