WHAT is going on in Nigeria right now simply doesn’t make sense anymore. It is bizarre and inexplicable. A friend of mine asked me on Sunday if Nigeria itself ever made sense.
Maybe! Maybe not! But whether Nigeria had ever made sense or not doesn’t explain the horrible and eerie happenings in the country.
Take for instance this week alone. At least 65 people, mostly farmers, were gruesomely murdered when terrorists struck at different times in Katsina and Borno states between Sunday and Tuesday.
On Sunday, 50 people were reportedly slaughtered in cold blood while many were seriously injured when Boko Haram terrorists attacked Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno State. Kala Balge local council with its headquarters in Rann is on the international border between Nigeria and Cameroon, 365 kilometres from Maiduguri. It is, to put it mildly, an ungoverned territory with little or no government presence.
The implication is that over the years, Rann and adjoining villages have remained targets of attacks by terrorists, who killed and maimed the locals at will. What was the crime of the hapless victims this time? The terrorists accused them of spying on them and revealing their locations to the military despite several warnings to desist.
To deter others, the terrorists rounded up the villagers at about 3.00 p.m. on Sunday, held them, hostage, a few kilometres away from Rann, and after about two hours, set free the elderly men and three children, and in a coldblooded, methodical manner slaughtered the remaining hostages, more than 50 of them, one after the other.
A counter-insurgency expert in the Lake Chad area, Zagazola Makama, told the Daily Trust newspaper that the terrorists tied up their victims and slit their throats. “The bodies were dismembered,” he said. Though Daily Trust put the casualty figures at 50, Makama said there are more “because many are still missing” and “the search for more dead bodies continues”. In President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state of Katsina, terrorists killed at least 15 farmers at Gakurdi village in Jibia Local Government Area. As it was the case in Rann, most of the victims in the Jibia attack were farmers. Within the week also, bloodthirsty terrorists who planted explosive devices on the rail track and derailed the Abuja-Kaduna bound train on March 28 threatened to kill the more than 60 passengers they abducted after the tragic incident unless the Federal Government meets their demands. The victims have been in captivity for over 50 days and each day, the terrorists taunt Buhari who tragically wrings his hands in utter helplessness.
The terrorists, non-state actors, through their leader, Abu Barra, gave Buhari, a retired General of the Nigerian Army, a one-week ultimatum to release their children allegedly held in an orphanage in Adamawa State as well as commit to a prisoner swap or bid the abductees eternal goodbye. They also warned the Buhari government not to dare resume train services on the Abuja-Kaduna railway corridor as was planned on May 23. That ultimatum has been complied with.
“The government suspended the resumption of the train service indefinitely because of our threats and we repeat, if our conditions are not met, the resumption of the train service is to the detriment of the government and the passengers,” Abu Barra reportedly told Malam Tukur Mamu, publisher of Kaduna-based Desert Herald newspaper, and media consultant to Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi.
“For any continued discussion on the release of these passengers and a safe resumption of the train service, our children must be released unconditionally. Only then we will release some of the abducted victims, especially the women, while other passengers will be released on a prisoner exchange with some of our arrested comrades by the government.” As if that is not bad enough, the Southeast is boiling. On Sunday, a pregnant woman, Fatima, from Adamawa State and her four kids were murdered by unknown gunmen in Orumba North Local Government Area, Anambra State. It beggars belief. Why would anyone kill a nine-month pregnant woman with her four children aged between two and nine years?
The killing of Fatima and her children, who were buried in Awka, the state capital on Wednesday, came just a day after gunmen beheaded Okechukwu Okoye, the lawmaker representing Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s Aguata 2 Constituency, in the Anambra State House of Assembly. The lawmaker and his aide, Cyril Chiegboka, were kidnapped penultimate Sunday, along Aguluzigbo road, Anaocha Local Government Area. His decapitated head was dumped at Chisco Park in Amichi, Nnewi South Local Government Area on Saturday, six days after he was abducted.
Since the senseless killing of Fatima and her children, the national narrative has changed dramatically. Northerners, who just a few days ago saw nothing wrong, in fact, justified, the gruesome murder of Miss Deborah Yakubu, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, are now up in arms against Ndigbo.
They forget, most conveniently that the so-called unknown gunmen, whoever they are, have killed more Igbos in the last year than anyone else. Those who incited their youths to go on a rampage because the brainwashed fundamentalists who murdered Deborah were arrested and assembled 34 of their best lawyers to defend the hoodlums in a Magistrate Court are now spitting fire of revenge against their bête noire – Ndigbo. They conveniently forget that the killing of Fatima and her children, as horrendous and inexcusable as it is, still remains an exception rather than the rule in the Southeast.
On the other hand, we have some Igbos, particularly the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and zealots, who are trying to minimize the import of the tragedy. Yesterday, they used the murder of Deborah as one more reason for the inevitability of Biafra. Today, they are speaking tongue-in-cheek. Truth be told, every life is sacred. And as John Donne, the English poet, would say, any man’s death diminishes all of mankind.
The killing of Fatima and her children in Alaigbo is Nso Ala, an abomination. Whoever is behind these gory incidents is desecrating the homeland. And it does not matter what causes anyone claims to be fighting.
Taking a life, any life, without compunction is a heinous crime that stands condemnable. When it involves a pregnant woman and her four children, it makes the crime even more abominable. Only gutless cretins can do that. The entire Igbo nation must come together now not only to fish out the killers of Fatima and her children but to halt the descent of Alaigbo into the bestial cesspit.