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The worthlessness of a Nigerian life

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IPOB members on solidarity march for Trump

By Yinka Odunakin
PROFESSOR Ango Abdulllahi who says he is a Northern elder today angered students across Nigeria in 1986 after he called in the Police who killed protesting students of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU. After the cold-blooded murder of Farida Mustapha, the then vice-chancellor told the media that “only four” students were killed.

Furious Dele Giwa wrote in reaction to that callous utterance in his “Parallax Snaps” in Newswatch magazine that “May God kill only four out of the children of the man who made such a statement.” Nigerian students could not wait for God’s verdict. We took to the streets in angsts all over the country.

We also hit the streets of Ife. We invaded the prison in the ancient city and set free the inmates as we felt that a State snuffing lives out of the innocent had no moral rights to lock any citizen up for petty crimes.

Those were the days when the life of a Nigerian still had some worth.  It was the the period when an accident that claimed a life would make the front page of a newspaper. Those days you would see a long convoy of vehicles waiting at an accident scene to help the victims. We still had human blood flowing in our veins as a people  then.

Public execution of robbers

It is amazing how we have taken a full bend in a few years that the human life has become so worthless in the same country. We began to lose it when we started the ‘Bar Beach show,’ where we gathered  our citizens to watch how we publicly execute armed robbers. Gradually the people began their own lynch parties setting ablaze suspected thieves without recourse to the law.

Then some twelve states in the country ingrained into their codes provisions that are alien to our common laws which sanction amputation of offenders and public stoning to death. Kidnappers were unleashed on the country holding citizens to ransom and taking their lives if relatives don’t pay on time. Security forces brutalisations of citizens intensified with extra judicial killings unhinged.

Then came the Boko Haram terror group and the Fulani herdsmen baying of blood. Wasting of lives in droves became a common place such that the casualties have to be in dozens to make the front page of our newspapers. All kinds of images of severing of heads, roasted flesh and mangled bodies began to circulate freely on our social media platforms. They were horrifying in the beginning until we became used to it thereby losing a substantial part of our humanity. Death of fellow citizens now mean nothing to us.

We have arrived at some stage worse than the world of wide animals in the the jungle. A sorry state where a governor would openly declare he had to send a search party for the killers of people of his state so he could reward them with cash because he is of the same ethnic stock with the murderers and he still among their “Excellencies” in our country.

We kill protesting Shiites in their hundreds and bury them in a mass grave. IPOB members gather for a church service and our soldiers murder them in the presence of God and no one is called to account. Hundreds of our citizens are killed in Southern Kaduna and it is one of the “every issue ” that our President cannot, according to his media aide, comment on.

Killers are now so emboldened in our country that they no longer run for the law. It is citizens who run for dear lives for as long as they can until they are hacked. I spoke with a respected and forthright citizen from the North a few days back and told me that a former Head of State told him he now has about 5000 IDPs on his farm who are running from herdsmen.

Unnecessary  blood letting

Even the IDPs are no longer safe in their camps. Our Air Force dropped three bombs in one of such camps in Borno State a few days ago killing scores of our citizens and injuring several others. There was no national outrage. All we heard was a feeble “sorry” from the Air Force. A three-paragraph statement came from the Villa which consoled the families of the dead and promising assistance to the Borno State government over the “operational error”. No more!

Our festival of bloodletting continued on America’s president, (elect then) Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day when IPOB set up a rally in Port Harcourt with thousands of their members on the streets. We followed events on social media and expressed fears about how our security forces would handle the massive crowd. Before anyone could spell Trump, images of death began to surface from the scenes of rally. Our security forces have done it again.

“The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB worldwide and it’s leadership has condemned the alleged barbaric killing of 11, of its unarmed peaceful Biafran holding rally Friday in solidarity with the new American President Mr. Donald J Trump.

IPOB in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Mr. Emma Powerful, alleged that the Nigeria security agencies particularly, DSS and the soldiers killed about 11 people and left 27 people with bullets wounds while 57 people were arrested because they are supporting  the newly elected President of United States of America Mr. Donald. J. Trump and his administration.

“The dead bodies of the people killed were carried by the Nigerian soldiers. We are calling on international community to prevail on the Nigerian soldiers to bring back the dead bodies. Right now, we are being chased by the Nigeria security agencies and they are going round looking and arresting anybody suspected to be IPOB members, but we are not relenting in our support and solidarity with Mr. Trump.”

I followed all the reactions on the social media closely. While there were those outraged by this unfortunate development, I found others gloating over the killings with comments such as: “They died for nothing wetin concern them with Trump”. And other unprintable comments.

You do not have to agree with their cause but I found it mumbling that we have arrived at the stage in our existence that the blood of our compatriots does not mean anything to us again.

As God has a robust sense of contrast, America was engulfed in protests simultaneously. As IPOB was marching in Port Harcourt with no report of violence before being attacked by security forces, violent protests were taking place on the streets of America.

There were heated  protests in northwest Washington  throughout the day before Friday and after the swearing in. There was a violent  protest in the area near 12th and L Street which started some time before 2:00 p.m. There were reports of pepper spray and flash bombs in the area. Police were seen in large numbers in the area, some equipped with riot outfits. Large amounts of smoke were seen in the street.

The American example

Other protests through the day led to windows being smashed, a fire being set, and three D.C. Police officers and one civilian being injured, according to D.C. Fire Officials. Authorities said all of the injuries are non-life-threatening. D.C. Police say they had to use pepper spray on some of the earlier protesters.

Protesters were also caught damaging windows near McPherson Square with a Starbucks’ window smashed out and a trash can was also set on fire. Windows of businesses near McPherson Square were smashed during the Inauguration ceremonies. The Metropolitan Police Department released the following statement following the vandalism:

“At approximately 10:30 a.m., an organised group was observed marching south in Northwest Washington. On their way, members of the group acting in a concerted effort engaged in acts of vandalism and several instances of destruction of property. More specifically, the group damaged vehicles, destroyed the property of multiple businesses, and ignited smaller isolated fires while armed with crowbars, hammers, and asps. Preliminary information indicates the group collectively engaged in these criminal acts. MPD members were alerted to the criminal activity, and responded swiftly to contain and detain the involved individuals in the area of 12th and L Streets, NW. At this time, numerous arrests have been made and those individuals have been charged with rioting. Investigation into the incident remains ongoing. Pepper spray and other control devices were used to control the criminal actors and protect persons and property. During the incident, police vehicles were damaged and two uniformed officers sustained minor injuries from coordinated attacks by members of the group that were attempting to avoid arrest.”

Not yet a Country

There have been series of other protests across America involving hundreds of thousands marching against Mr. Trump. Many were peaceful while some were violent but as at the time of writing this I am yet to receive the report of any casualty recorded.

I am sure if such protests were to break out in Nigeria on the day of inauguration of a President, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would have been put under house arrest as the masterminds of the protests. The DSS would have provided volumes of reports of how they shared money to protesters and kitted them to avenge their painful loss. The number of casualties that would have been recorded can be measured by the number of men IPOB said it lost during the invasion of its peaceful march.

To my friend and brother, Wale Adebanwi, recently appointed first black Rhodes Professor by the Oxford University I dedicate this. He was in Nigeria a few years ago to review Kunle Ajibade’s What a Country. But Wale with one of the most gifted pen around the world titled his review Not a Country.

With incidences such as these, it’s indeed not a country!

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