HISTORY is replete with cases of killings that triggered off wars. Perhaps the most prominent was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, on June 28, 1914.
The Archduke and his wife were on a visit to the city of Sarajevo when they were killed by Gavrilo Princip, a 20-yearold Yugoslav nationalist. The assassinations were supported by the Serbs, leading to declaration of war on Serbia by Hungary. Russia entered the fray to defend Serbia. Other countries – Germany, France, Belgium and the United Kingdom – got involved, and the conflict snowballed into World War I.
Another killing that resulted in a tragedy even more vicious than a conventional war, to which Nigerians can more easily relate in terms of our own historic experience, was the Rwandan genocide. On the evening of April 6, 1994, the aircraft carrying two prominent Hutus, the Rwandan President, Juvénal Habyarimana, and Burundian President, Cyprien Ntaryamira, was blown with surface-to-air missiles as it was landing in Kigali, Rwanda.
The assassination, which ruptured the peace process and ceasefire between the Rwandan Patriotic Front, RPF, and Rwandan Hutu Government, triggered the Rwandan genocide, one of the bloodiest pogroms of the late 20th century. Till today, it is still unclear who killed the leaders. What matters is that the ensuing Rwandan genocide nearly led to the extermination of the entire Tutsi ethnic group.
In the above two cited examples, it is important to note that prior to that one killing that tipped the balance, the killing of thousands of innocent people had been going on. People who refuse to learn from history are condemned to fall into its tragic abyss. Whatever may be our differences, we must stop the killings now. We should also be guided by our own 1966-1970 experiences. We must stop the ethnic expansionist sabre-rattling and beating of war drums.
We must stop attacking law enforcement agents. And we must stop the abduction and killing of innocent citizens on mere suspicions of belonging to separatist groups. We must remove criminal herdsmen and hoodlums hiding in our forests and destroying farmers’ means of loverhood. Violence has never solved any problem. We must be fair and just to all, in line with the recommendations of the 1999 Constitution.
Here, the wise words of the late Maitama Sule delivered in 2015 come handy: “You must do justice to all and sundry. Behind any crisis anywhere in the world is injustice. The solution to that crisis is justice. “The world itself cannot be governed by force; never by fear; even never by power. In the end, what governs is divine, what conquers is the spirit. And the weapons of governing the mind and conquering the spirit are justice and fair play. Justice will bring about peace…”