By Donu Kogbara
ON December 3l, when normal communities were peacefully bidding farewell to the old year and welcoming in 2018, Omoku – a notoriously troubled town in my home state, Rivers, was rent asunder by shocking gangland murders.
Evil cultist assassins opened fire on crowds exiting New Year’s Eve church services and over 26 persons were shot. A feared local hoodlum – a “kingpin” and “militant” known as Don Waney – was blamed for this attack.
I heartily congratulate the Nigerian army and their colleagues in other security agencies for successfully cornering Don Waney in his hideout in Enugu State and unceremoniously despatching him to meet his Maker.
As a journalist who grew up in the Western World, I have strong liberal leanings and don’t normally support capital punishment or extra-judicial killings. I was abducted in 2015; and when I was released, I made it clear to anyone who would listen that I didn’t want my captors to be executed, if they were ever caught.
But you know what? Enough is enough!
The oil-producing Niger Delta region has been subjected to criminal activity for too long; and most of the criminals are not romantic, warm-hearted, selfless Robin Hood-esque activists who want to rob the undeserving rich (insensitive oil companies, corrupt government officials, exploitative billionaires, etc) to help the poor. Most kidnappers, armed robbers, bunkerers and illegal refiners are not ideologically-motivated socialistic advocates of wealth redistribution.
Most are just violent, psychopathic gangsters who are only interested in self-enrichment. And Rivers State has been in the eye of the storm for years; and if gunning gangsters down is the only way in which law enforcement personnel can restore sanity and safety on behalf of terrified innocent citizens, so be it.
The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has declared that the State Government will amend the State Anti-kidnapping Law to ensure a death penalty for cultists, robbers and kidnappers.
Wike has also offered generous rewards – N20 million apiece – to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of 32 wanted people. And I applaud the Governor for making this move.
But I have a bone to pick with Don Waney’s military executioners: Photographs of the bullet-riddled and bloodied corpses of Don Waney and the two sidekicks who were killed alongside him are all over the internet. And I think that it is uncivilised and just plain wrong to disseminate such disturbing images.
Nigerians are (whether they know it or not) already being psychologically damaged on a regular basis by the fact that life is so lamentably cheap in Nigeria. I have never once seen a corpse in the UK, but I’ve seen several in Nigeria, particularly during elections.
And I am always horrified by the spectacle of a dead human being. But many Nigerians have lost the ability to be horrified and just shrug.
Yes, I know that Omoku indigenes said that they wouldn’t believe that their tormentor was dead until they saw his cadaver. But the authorities don’t have to obediently fulfil every gory wish that is expressed by a brutalised people who have been so emotionally desensitised that they regard gory images as normal!
Meanwhile, Don Waney’s mansion has been demolished. What was once an enviable residence is now a pile of rubble. And I assume that his wife and offspring will go through hellish homelessness for the foreseeable future.
Let other young men who think that it is cool to become a criminal see that criminal activity can end very badly for them and their kith and kin. Let girls think twice before they marry “cool” guys who have tons of ill-gotten gains.
Tribute to a delightful octagenarian
MRS. Irene Oritsetseutienyione Harriman’s distinguished late husband, Chief Hope Harriman, was my late father Ignatius Suage Kogbara’s friend, while her darling eldest child, Temi Harriman, is one of my favourite people.
Mrs Harriman also happens to be a devoted reader of Vanguard, so there can surely be no better page on which to publish a small tribute to this very special auntie, who will turn 80 on Monday, January 15, 2018.
She was born into the respected Ogedegbe clan of Warri Kingdom, Delta State, to Mr Benjamin Akubo Ogedegbe and Mrs Bridget Ogedegbe (nee Onofomi).
Between 1951 and 1955, she attended an elite girls’ secondary school – Queen’s College, which was then based in the Onikan district of Lagos (it later moved to Yaba) and headed by a formidable British female principal, Miss Henderson, who had been trained at Cambridge, which is still one of best universities in the UK.
Mrs Harriman has been an industrious civil servant as well as a dynamic and entrepreneur. But, if truth be told, “beloved matriarch” is the job title that she treasures most, at the end of the day. She has made countless sacrifices for her nearest and dearest, including her two boys, two daughters and seven grandchildren.
In 2012, she suffered through an extremely painful double-whammy of tragic misfortunes – two bereavements in quick succession – when Chief Hope Harriman and their first grandchild, Aboyowa (Temi’s son), died within three months of each other. But she somehow managed to cope with this heartbreak.
Please join me in praying for this gracious, stylish, resilient and inspirational Lady of whom we are so proud. Please especially remember her on Monday, when she will quietly celebrate her 80th birthday, with gratitude to God for her life, the blessings she has appreciated and the challenges she has overcome.
May she enjoy continuing good health, strength and peace of mind.
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