By Bose Adelaja

Two years ago, 10 corps members were brutally killed while undergoing the mandatory one year National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, scheme in Bauchi State. The tragic incident was a fallout of the crises that attended the April 17, 2011 presidential election, with the massacre of the innocent spreading to other Northern states such as Kano, Gombe and Kaduna, leaving the nation shell-shocked, with most Nigerians responding with torrents of condemnation and calling on the Federal Government to ensure that the perpetrators of the dastardly act were speedily brought to book.

Two years after, the pain still lingers, especially for the families of the victims who are still finding it difficult to cope with their losses, while government is yet to make good its promise of bringing the killers to justice.

*Some family members of the slain corps members at the remembrance event

Securing employment

The Federal Government had at the time promised N5m donation to each of the affected families which it duly redeemed. But its other promises of providing or helping to secure employment to a graduate sibling of each family into a federal parastatal of their choice, immortalisation of the slain corps members and bringing the culprits to book still remain unfulfilled.

Last Thursday at Oceanview restaurant, Victoria Island, Lagos, tears flowed freely again as these tragic victims of that 2011 presidential election madness were remembered during an event that was packaged by ‘’Friends of Aik’’. It was another sad and sobering moment to connect with the tragic reality that Ikechukwu Chibuzo Ikeoma, Teidi Tosin Olawale (Oshun State Bsc Computer Science), Nkwazema Anslem Chukwunonyerem (Imo State, HND Electrical Electronic Engineering), Okpori Obinna Michael (Abia State, Bsc Environmental Management), Adowei Elliot (Bayelsa State, Bsc Computer Science), Adewunmi Seun Paul (Ekiti State, Bsc Social Science), Adeniji Kehinde Jehleel (Osun State, Bsc Social sciences), Akonyi Ibrahim Sule (Kogi State, HND Business Administration) and Anyanwu Agnes and Onyinyechi (Imo State, Bsc Business Administration Management), are forever gone, no thanks to their heartless killers.

Ikechukwu’s father and two others died one year after, while Olawale’s father is a regular patient in an hospital.

Going down memory lane, a survivor, 25 years old Omowumi Adeniyi, said the attack was a reprisal for the refusal of the corps members to rig the presidential election of April 17, 2011. According to this indigene of Ikenne, Ogun State, the corps members ran to the Police Station at Giade for refuge but members of the protesting gang overpowered the Police and killed a female Police officer. They then set the station ablaze, killing 10 corps members in the process.

Omowumi who said she was beaten into coma  by their assailants was later rescued by two youths who took her to the Emir and then to a hospital for treatment.

Spokesperson for the affected families, Mr. Teidi Ayodele, said victims died at a time they were needed most. ‘’These corps members were our hope and many of us went into debt to send them to school; their death has left a vacuum which will be difficult to fill. You see, some of us are less privileged who are still managing to survive and only God can fill the vacuum in our lives,’’ he said.

To Nnaemeka Christian Ukeoma, life after the death of his elder brother has been difficult for the entire family. ‘’Our father refused to be consoled and he died one year after.

Government’s employment offer

Also, his siblings have stopped schooling, saying there is no profit in doing so. One of them told me they are likely to be posted to Northern states for their national youth service. As soon as the government made the promises, my younger sister who had the privilege of securing employment in her husband’s company refused to take it up in anticipation of the Federal Government’s employment offer which did not come to pass. Our father’s health gulped millions of Naira before he finally died and our pains increased daily as the culprits behind the attack are yet to be brought to book,’’ said Ukeoma.

For the convener of ‘’Friends of Aik’’, Pastor Onwurah Ikechukwu: ‘’Since 2011, when this incident occurred, some of the family members of the deceased have also succumbed to the cold hands of death, while many others can no longer live normal lives again due to the haunting memory of the sudden demise of their loved ones, who represented their beacon of hope.

As a country, we have been through this too many times yet without any visible progress. We have chosen this forum to come together with a view to seeking meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this in the future and to restate our demand for the government to make its promises to the families of the slain corps members. No amount of money can be quantified with the lives of the departed souls whose lives were caught in their prime”.

Therefore, their blood must count towards enhancing religious tolerance, transparent election without any form of rigging, job creation, improvement in our security system, protection of every citizen of this nation wherever they choose to live and policies that would entrench probity and anti-corruption practices in our nation’’.

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