By Obianuju Ekeocha
When I was growing up in the South-Eastern Nigerian city of Owerri, I remember once when unspeakable crimes were committed, a poor boy was kidnapped, killed for ritual, and cut up like an animal. These acts signified a very dark time for my people. Eventually a group of men were arrested in connection with the crimes, they were swiftly charged, judged, convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad. I remember, albeit with the immature mind of a teenager, that many people accepted and even welcomed this verdict because of the gravity of the crimes the men were convicted of.
For months after the verdict the people of Owerri lived in peace under the logic that if these men were killed then justice would have been done and equilibrium will be returned to our world. And so there was little or no appeal for the condemned men and there was no recourse to mercy. Once they were put on death row, many forgot about them and there they lived in our maximum security prison for months and months and months. They were heavily guarded, powerless, subdued and unable to hurt anyone else. This was how it was until the day of crept up on us all. The day of execution.
I will never forget that day because even though by law, justice was to be served, but there was no real feeling of victory or jubilation in our city. Rather, there was the feeling of a dark cloud settling over us as everyone counted down to the last few hours until the executions. And what a feeling!
This was such a high interest case that everyone knew about it and the press converged upon it to give us what felt at the time like a minute by minute report. Everyone waited for the thundering gun shots that would deliver justice. Many went to watch. Those who couldn’t watch went close enough to the prisons to hear the multiple shots. So none of us was exempt from the reality of this execution.
And when it finally happened, there was an overwhelming stench of raw emotions that cocooned the entire city for days afterwards. Justice was served, but yet joy eluded us all. This was in 1997. And I have gladly buried this memory for almost 20 years.
But in the last few days, something has been triggered and a dam has broken in my mind and I feel the thoughts and emotions rushing out.
This started two weeks ago in the wake of the high profile rescue of hundreds of abducted persons from Sambisa Forest many of whom were women and girls. A real miracle that our military was able to bring them out of the “lion’s den” alive. B
eing so far away in Europe, I wanted to enjoy the profound relief and feel the victory of this miracle, so I started reading and watching every news I could find about these women and girls.
But the heavy feeling of gloom came when I read the early statements of UNFPA that highlighted that many of the women and girls were pregnant and that what the women and girls needed as much as food and medicine was “psychotherapy and counseling”.
Knowing the pro-abortion stance of UNFPA (which they do not hide), I was almost certain that they were signaling for a unanimous acceptance for abortion in this case.
Agitation for abortion
Soon after, this statement sparked unbelievable agitation in the pro-abortion western countries as their journalists weighed in on the matter . Their voices were unified. Their verdict was quick. Their version of justice in this particular case was for the provision of “safe-abortions” . Their only vision of peace was for the execution of these babies conceived in a most traumatic circumstance.
Many may recoil from my description of abortion as execution, but like it or leave it, abortion is the execution of the unborn child.
Abortion in every case, entails the poisoning, pulling out or dismembering the baby growing in the safe haven of the mother’s womb. So it is an execution.
As it stands now, there is an ongoing debate throughout Nigeria as to whether abortion can be justified in this very difficult case or not, but I assure you that many people in the western world had already made up their minds about these babies mere hours after the rescue of the women and girls.
It is at this heated point where emotions are high and thoughts are clouded, that something triggered and broke the dam of memory in my mind and flushed out the vivid thoughts of the Owerri-execution. Thankfully, many Nigerians have advised against abortion, and in full disclosure I stand with them in this life-affirming and pro-life stance (and I will tell you why).
But , to my great sadness, I have read lately about some Nigerian NGOs and interest groups advocating for the swift execution of these unborn babies, if the pregnant mothers choose not to carry their babies to term.
So the only way these babies can receive mercy is if their traumatised and deeply wounded mothers are able to choose life (instead of death for them).
I don’t know about you, but if I was ever wounded and traumatised as these women were in that forest, if I had to face my death every single day, if I received absolutely no mercy from a group of terrorists, I may not be able to choose life for anyone let alone a child growing inside me.
I may not be able to give mercy when my wounds are still so fresh. But I will be completely dependent on my brothers and sisters to help me and strengthen me to show mercy and choose life for the tender unborn, and even when that fails, I will depend on my resilient community and the impeccable just life-affirming laws of our land to choose life on my behalf.
My dear people, no one may fully be able to understand the excruciating pain and trauma of these women but one thing we can do as a people and as a nation is to surround them with the most tender mercy that we can offer to them and yes to their unborn children.
We might not consider it fully at this point but we are a nation of mercy. We are nation that is fueled and functioning as a direct consequence of mercy. We are a nation that has received more mercy in our reserves than even petroleum!
Was it not only 10 or 11 months ago when the deadly Ebola virus struck us along slide three other West African countries? Was it not purely miraculous that our nation was spared the horrific road that the other Ebola-stricken nations had to travel? Were we any better or more worthy?
Mercy: Yet we obtained inexplicable mercy. Thousands of lives were spared. And within mere weeks, to the great surprise of the entire world, we were declared Ebola-free. We received mercy.
In the last few years, we have woken up to the indescribable horror and terror of Boko Haram. And everyone of us will agree that their actions and operations are merciless, viscous and violent beyond words. And so we pray for an end to the death and destruction they are dealing upon our country. We pray for mercy.
But if we are to receive mercy, are we not to show mercy?
This is why we as a nation and as a people must stand apart from the ways of the terrorists. Their merciless ways, their vicious actions, and their violent executions.This is why Nigeria must show mercy today by refusing and rejecting the verdict of execution (by abortion) of these babies conceived in horror, terror and trauma.
Abortion is not for us or our children for it is a violent solution sanitised within the wounded heart of the western world and we just cannot accept it now or ever. Not even when it is offered as “justice”.
This is an appeal from the heart of a woman who learnt almost 20 years ago that executions carried out to deliver justice might never deliver joy. Our joy and healing will only be assured if we unconditionally and mercifully choose life for every man, woman and child (born and unborn) rescued from the den of our enemies.
Ekeocha, a specialist in Biomedical Sciences writes from the UK