By Donu Kogbara
IBRAHIM Magu, the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, recently bemoaned the fact (during a Lagos press conference) that mothers of cyber fraudsters, known as “Yahoo Boys”, have organised themselves into an association and go out of their way to justify their sons’ criminal activities…on the grounds that such activities generate funds that support families that may not even have a responsible or surviving father figure.
As it so happened, when I read Magu’s comments, I had just finished watching an American TV drama about a mother who shields her son from the police, despite knowing that he is a psychopath; and I’ve been thinking about the fact that it is commonplace, all over the world, for families to try to protect wrongdoers in their midst…even when the latter do not contribute a dime to family finances.
Mothers usually have the biggest emotional stake when criminal offspring are at risk…in the sense that they carried the criminal in their wombs for nine months, brought him or her into the world, then lovingly reared him or her until s/he learned to walk/talk, feed itself, etc, and until s/he eventually acquired adult independence.
Because of this huge investment in offspring, mothers are probably the worst culprits when it comes to the widespread penchant for regarding blood ties as more important than ethical considerations. But fathers, wives, husbands, lovers, friends, children, siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunties, uncles and grandparents also frequently choose to elevate personal loyalties above morality.
Some of the above will defiantly support hardened criminals (including rapists and murderers and terrorists) to whom they are close, while admitting that they know s/he is guilty. Others will shrug and say that they simply don’t believe the allegations against the person in question, even when the evidence is compelling.
When I was a young journalist in London, I came across a law enforcement official – let’s call him “John” because he asked me never to use his real name if I ever wrote about the things he told me because he wasn’t authorised to speak on behalf of the British police force – who had participated in the long-running investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of the Yorkshire Ripper – Peter Sutcliffe, a homicidal maniac who had butchered 13 women.
John told me that he “totally blamed” Sutcliffe’s wife, Sonia, for the fact that Sutcliffe was able to kill so many women. Why?
Because, according to John, “there was no way that a man who inflicted the kind of terrible injuries we saw on Sutcliffe’s victims could have gone home without blood on his clothing or person.”
In other words, Sonia would have seen the blood and should have contacted the police who were, at the time, frantically pushing out endless news bulletins on all of the main TV/radio channels, begging members of the public who saw anything suspicious to contact them.
I said that perhaps Sutcliffe meticulously bathed and changed his clothes before he went home to Sonia after each murder. And that it was perhaps extremely unfair to accuse Sonia of complicity.
But John insisted that the expression on Sonia’s face, plus her “body language” when she was questioned, led him and other officials to conclude that “she definitely knew what her husband was up to”.
Whether John and his colleagues were right or not to conclude that Sonia was aware, consciously or subconsciously, that she was cohabiting with a serial killer, distant and recent history is full of examples of spouses, relatives and pals covering up each others’ sins.
And I often wonder whether I am weird because I’d like to think that I’d hand my son, spouse, relatives or chum over to the police if I was sure that he or she had done something nasty and violent.
What do Vanguard readers think?
Is collusion ever justified? Is our duty to Society not ALWAYS greater than our duty to our families or social circles?
Should we remain neutral if our nearest and dearest are a danger to the public…and maybe even actively enable them to avoid justice? Or should we insist on doing the Good Citizen thing and not only report them to the authorities, but provide information that can nail them?
About time too!
The Fulani socio-cultural group, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, has apologised to Governor Samuel Ortom and the people of Benue State for recent herdsmen attacks and killings.
Mr. Saleh Alhassan, the National Secretary of the association, said at an event in Makurdi, the state capital that Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore regretted the killings and pledged to ensure peaceful coexistence between herdsmen and farmers in the state in future.
About time too!!!
Not all herdsmen are bandits. Not all Northerners are greedy domineering irredentists. Not all Southerners hate northerners with a burning passion.
But a lot of injustices have occurred and Northerners and Southerners can get along just fine if the more moderate elements on both sides of the River Niger flatly refuse to be overrun by extremists.
I hope that other states and communities that have suffered at the hands of herdsmen will also receive apologies in the fullness of time.