When Will This Barbarism End In Nigeria?

 By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

Jos, the Plateau State capital, has just concluded another wild celebration of raw barbarity and extreme savagery. Some barbarous creatures, who have laboured so hard to demonstrate so well that they have no place within the bounds of decent and civilized existence,  had hurriedly grabbed their knives, poisoned arrows and guns  and rushed into the streets to do the only thing they knew how to do so well, and derive immense pleasure and animation from, namely, killing and maiming. And before they could significantly assuage their unquenchable blood-thirst, some hundreds of mostly innocent women, children and men, have been cruelly slaughtered for no other reason than that they were unlucky enough to share the same environment with irredeemable savages.


But I blame it all on our lawless country, where people now believe they can just do anything that excites their warped minds and get away with it. But crime has no other definition known to civilized man and should attract no other treatment except commensurate punishment capable of deterring other potential criminals.  So long as human beings are aware that their nation’s laws are too weak and pitiably toothless, that they can always manage to escape the just rewards for all their misdeeds, no matter the magnitude, the incentive to commit even more heinous crimes would always be abundant.


Since the mass slaughter of human beings occurred in Jos more than a fortnight ago, we have been inundated with so many brands of the usual ‘politically correct’ shibboleths, with which we have always managed to delude ourselves that we are helping to find the ‘right and realistic’ solutions to the problem. Oh, we have this   very acrimonious “indigene/settler” problem in Jos North Local Government, we are told. And while the “indigenes” have vowed that they would never be ruled by “settlers,” the “settlers” on their   part are insisting that there is no way they would continue to be regarded as “settlers” in a land they have been living in for about a hundred years now. No, it was a PDP/ANPP matter, others insist. If one party had not out-rigged the other in the council elections, there would not have been any orgy of violence and wanton killing of human beings. So, to prevent any future mass slaughter of human beings in Jos, there must be dialogue to settle the indigene/settler rift, so they can coexist harmoniously and peacefully.  


Now, assuming one million dialogues and peace conferences do not succeed in bringing about peace between these two irreconcilable parties, what should the   country do? Fold its hands and continue to pray that nothing happens to inflame passions and offend habitual murderers perennially baying for blood and looking for the slightest reason to assuage their bloodlust?  No I don’t think so. In America today, the deep hatred and resentment some incurable racists and rednecks reserve for coloured people around them, including even their present president-elect, is far worse than can ever exist among the indigene/settler combatants in Jos North Local Government. But what makes the American experience different is that no matter the depth of anyone’s hatred for the other, such a one must school himself to appreciate the fact that the strong hands of the law would never spare anyone who dares to give murderous expression to his or her hatred. Once you decide to take another person’s life, you are already very sure of your very severe appointment with the law.


But in Nigeria, when people wake up and start killing their fellow human beings, instead of calling a crime by its real name and visiting it with the exact punishment it merits, we go ahead to dress it up in such self-serving phrases like “ethnic crises,” “religious crises” or even the complex term, “ethno-religious crises.”  And so, when some fellows rose up some  time ago, and   started slaughtering their fellow Nigerians because one obscure cartoonist in far away Denmark had published an illustration they found offensive, we quickly dubbed it “religious crises” and within a few weeks, the bereaved quietly buried their dead where they were able to find the corpses, mourned silently, cleaned tears from their eyes, nursed their pain and anguish, and everybody went about their normal businesses, waiting for the next opportunity for another mass murder to occur.  But if the government had put its foot on the ground, and insisted on having all those who participated in the killings, especially those who instigated them (which I believe they can fish out if they really want to), to taste the full wrath of the law, in future, some other people would think twice before embarking on the next killing expedition. Last Saturday, The Guardian published on its front-page the very revolting picture of many blood-thirsty youths described as “mercenaries” coming to Jos to help their like-minds to terminate more lives of people who may neither be members of the PDP nor ANPP. Now, have far have the security agents gone to establish the owner of the vehicles that were conveying them before they were intercepted? Who hired the vehicles? Who gathered those bands of young, eager killers, addressed them and sent them off to Jos to prosecute more barbarous killings? Were there no security men at all in the state from where they set off? Have their sponsors been identified, and how soon would their prosecution commence?


Already, the very hideous criminal act of mass murder of men, women and children in Jos has already been dubbed “religious/ethnic crises”, and another useless probe has also been set up to buy time, and let the bereaved forget their pain and anguish.  And the children who had been brutally orphaned and women cruelly widowed by the mindless killings would now be abandoned to eat their loaves of sorrow and bitter sufferings all alone. That is the nature of our country. I am not against dialogue. I am not against probes and reconciliation meetings, but we deceive ourselves if we continue to give the impression that dialogue and making people account for their hideous acts are mutually exclusive. Both must be allowed to play their separate roles in the peace and reconciliation process. Most of the people who participated in these killings may not be members of any political party.  In fact, many of them may not have voted in the contentious council elections. And majority of them may not even be able to say the difference between the ANPP and the PDP or the names of the different candidates. All they needed to go into the streets killing people like enraged demons were for somebody to gather them to one corner, give them an overdose of some delicacies, including burukutu, fire them with some hate-speeches against some people they have always been taught to regard as mortal enemies, and unleash them on society to wreak boundless violence. That is why even though we are being told that this was a PDP/ANPP war arising from the outcome of council elections, it soon came to be known as “ethno-religious” crises. If the Commissioner of Police in Jos says he is unable to fish out the people who instigated this mass killing of human beings, including some young corps members whose throats were slashed for no other offence than that they were unlucky enough to perform National Service in a part of the country where heartless killers are carefully bred and kept for wanton murderous acts and most irrational and savage destructions, then he is not qualified to occupy that post. Until this nation arrests and prosecutes the prominent criminals who instigate violence and bloodletting among the citizenry just to make a political point, these killings would remain a regular occurrence. And if we continue to treat this very serious matter with kid gloves, maybe, because it is only the poor and nobodies that usually die, one day, the killers would grow wilder and extend their murderous adventure beyond the high walls of the cosy quarters where the affluent, highly placed bloodsuckers hide to instigate the poor to kill themselves.







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