What a time to return from month-long holidays. Ideally, a moment such as this should have energised the soul for collective focus every week. Unfortunately, what we have are prospects of gloom and sadness as blood flows all over the country, to whichever part you turn.
By the way, for the journalist, casting the headline is as if not more important as the article itself. The headline must be related to the core of the contents for instant attraction, especially to glue the reader’s attention and yet, without causing any alarm. Rather easily, which is quite unusual, so many headlines came to mind out of which this one is the mildest. Such is the spate of violence with which we are engulfed as it seems we either don’t feel it or we are underestimating the danger. Hence, the need to provoke the urgency and seriousness.
Indeed, it was no co-incidence that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and DIG Operations to move their operations to Makurdi, Benue State capital, for direct combat of perpetrators of the bloodshed in that state. But we must not deceive ourselves. Blank order without specifics or if any, so half-hearted, may not neutralise the murderers. Last time, when the army was given similar directive, by the same President Buhari, to move to Borno State capital, Maiduguri, the instruction was clear-cut with a deadline to subdue Boko Haram insurgents within two months.
Whatever the good or even the best intention, all hope may not necessarily be put in the police Inspector-General’s task. First, Benue is just one of the states the herdsmen have been rampaging, seemingly, freely for months. Plateau, Adamawa, Taraba, Niger and Sokoto etc, have also been experiencing the bloodshed unleashed by the criminals. Would the police Inspector General and his officers also, eventually, ordered to relocate from one state capital to another of these states? The situation is not further helped by the police Inspector-General’s fixed disposition that the flowing bloodshed was caused by communal clash. In Benue, Sokoto, Niger, Taraba or where?
One bitter truth we must all face is that consciously or creepingly, ours has become a bloodletting if not blood-thirsty nation. How did we get to this stage and what price have we paid in the process? Gone were the days when any bloody incident in any part of Nigeria would attract leading media attention all over the world if only because of the prevailing age of instant communication on television stations, like the CNN, Aljazeera, SkyNews, BBC radio and television world services. Instead, these days, these international media houses rather blow the news of three fatalities in any rare incident in any part of the world. Three Chinese killed in an explosion or a German stabbed dead on a street in Berlin take priority on these stations while nothing is any longer mentioned on scores murdered by cattle rearers in Benue or Adamawa states.
In short, the outside world is tired of the unending violence in Nigeria. And despite the notoriety of Nigerian media for reporting conflicting fatal casualties, usually more than 10 and anything up to 50 depending on their fancy, Nigeria’s law enforcement has developed such total disregard for human lives by countering the possibly alarming media reports, with their own (law enforcement/security agencies’) version that “… only three or four people” died. So, four innocent law-abiding Nigerians deserved to die or more precisely, to be murdered by their fellow citizens for no other reason than that they (the murderers) are cattle-rearers or religious fundamentalists?
Last time, in Borno State, the army, in a futile attempt to cover up its disastrous performance (on that occasion) blatantly lied to Nigerians that it (the army) had rescued many university lecturers earlier reported to have been ambushed and killed by Boko Haram insurgents. Nigeria Army?
But the family of the murdered lecturers insisted that soldiers ran away, and the lecturers, contrary to army claim, were all deceased. Yes, ONLY five or six lecturers lost their lives. Suppose those lecturers were unknown Nigerians? The nation would have been kept in the dark with criminal lies.
There are yet other aspects of how and why we found ourselves a nation on bloodletting spree. We are selfish and callous, all of us, depending on our part of the country, as against which other part of the country is thrown into bloodshed. And, God knows, that at one time or the other, each section of Nigeria had tasted the good and the bad. Our indifference to the plight of others on the receiving end largely accounts for the ongoing bloodletting. Benue is only experiencing another round of the bloodletting and the state won’t be the first.
Only recently, neighbouring Plateau State was experiencing a fortnight-long bloodbath by invaders. If that is a wrong way to put it, victims of the bloodletting in Plateau State did not commit suicide and the usual allegation (so far undisputed) was made that the armed invaders had unchallenged passage through what was supposed to be security check-points manned by armed soldiers. Whichever, the fact was that the murderers found their way, even if through an improvised “NADECO route,” to pass the checkpoint to kill those sleeping in their houses.
Just as Benue State is currently being left alone by other states to mourn its dead, Plateau State was similarly let alone by other states to mourn its dead. Why, why so far, only Benue State governor Ortom has been to Aso Rock to plead with President Buhari to “come to Macedonia and help us?” Where are the other state governors? The implication or risk? By the time killers of Benue State residents get away with their crime (as they had been getting away with similar crimes in other states), these criminals will move to other states currently feeling safe. Be they Fulanis or non-Fulanis, the fact remains that we are under siege by blood-thirsty culprits and no part of Nigeria should nurse the illusion of security from the murderers.
That is why Nigerians should be campaigning against criminals generally. Were the Badoo murderers in Lagos killing law-abiding residents of Ikorodu in any way Fulanis? In spite of the fact that the police seemed to have been overawed and rendered incapable of securing life and property in Ikorodu, other states remained indifferent instead of clamouring jointly for security of life and property throughout.
About five years ago, a dangerous religious militant group in Nasarawa named Ombatse, caused much bloodshed. Located at Egon Local Government Area, Ombatse group was reported to have killed up to 60 security personnel comprising police, DSS operatives, if not soldiers among. If the criminals murdered such high number of law-enforcement agents, civilian unarmed fatal victims could only be imagined.
Dependants of the deceased security personnel who lost their lives in the attempt to subdue the Ombatse criminals five years ago, would be lucky to have collected their benefits by now. Yet, the same law-enforcement agents, whose colleagues lost their lives at Ombatse battle, are now being deployed to Benue and Plateau states to secure defenseless law-abiding Nigerians. Again, other state governors remained aloof.
Meanwhile, so much is being made of the demolition of the leader of the violence in Rivers State, Don Waney and his mates. How did it happen that this same man reigned supreme for years while police officers, their orderlies and youth corps members were routinely decapitated in Rivers State and the other state governors uttered no word? All along, they were attending their jamboree at the National Council of States. Doing what? In what discussions were they engaged if not the bloodshed all over Nigeria?.
Up country in Southern Kaduna, the bloodletting continued at least, over the Christmas/New Year, period with the alleged beheading of a traditional ruler. Just like that with Nigerians virtually not expressing any shock let alone indignation. Do we need any other proof that we have resigned ourselves to the status of a bloodletting country? The deceased royal father might not be a member of National Council of Traditional Rulers. So? The man must be murdered in his modest palace without disgust from the council of Nigerian traditional rulers?
State governors must, therefore, collaborate their efforts to ensure a halt to the blood-letting. Abandoning any state currently assailed with bloodshed to groan alone is for the other states to eventually render themselves vulnerable for their share of bloodshed.
The record today speaks.