By Wale Sokunbi CURRENTS,
Last week, Mubi in Adamawa State, a name which literally means peace, prosperity and progress, became a city of weeping, blood and gnashing of teeth. Can Nigerians hear the sound of wailings at this recent theatre of Nigeria’s descent to jungle justice? Can we picture the wringing of hands, the stamping of feet, the groans, the cascading tears? Every true Nigerian should. These are the lamentations, weeping and wailing of parents, friends and colleagues of about 46 students killed by gunmen and machete-wielders two Mondays ago, specifically in the night of the nation’s 52nd independence anniversary on October 1.
The 46 or so students and their families began that day just like everyone reading this piece. They, surely, would have discussed the nation’s 52nd independence anniiversary and the fact that there was so little to cheer. They also probably seized the opportunity of the lecture-free day to ruminate on their own lives so far, and their plans for the future. But, that future was never to be! Between 10.30 pm and midnight that day, the students were cut down. Gunmen stormed the private hostels of students of Federal Polytechnic; Adamawa State University and the School of Health Technology, all in Mubi.
They called out the students one by one, lined them up and either shot or stabbed them to death. The picture of the dead students lined up like giant sausages on newspaper pages testify to the bestiality of this massacre. It is a gory example of the depth of depravity to which some Nigerians have sunk in their malice for their fellow man. The sun of these young Mubi victims was forced to set at dawn, and Nigeria is the worse for it. Like so many other Nigerians whose lives have been snuffed out under the canopy of insecurity that has been spread across the country, the Mubi 46 are dead are gone, left mostly to be mourned by their friends and families.
They have joined close to a thousand lives that have been lost to the campaign of violence in the country, especially in the North, with nobody actually seen to have been brought to justice for these killings. Sadly, this spirit of unconscionable killings is fast spreading to other parts of the country.
As if the reports of the murder of the Mubi 46 were not enough heartache for our troubled polity, Nigerians woke up again last weekend to news of the gory killing of four students of the University of Port Harcourt by a mob, allegedly for stealing. In an incident that appears more fictional than real, and which was video-taped and has since gone viral on the internet, four students of the University of Port-Harcourt simply identified as Tekena Erikena (School of Basic Studies); Mike Lloyd Toku (Year 2 Civil Engineering); Ugonna Kelechi Obuzor (Year 2 Geology); and Biringa Chidiaka Lordson (Year 2 Theatre Arts) , were killed by a baying mob in Omuokiri, in Aluu Community of Ikwere Local Government Area of Rivers State for allegedly stealing phones and laptops from off-campus hostels in the area.
The students were stripped naked, beaten and set ablaze by angry mobsters in the community, which was said to have been under siege of armed robbers for about three months. Naked pictures and video shots of the victims taken shortly before they were killed and burnt are another example of the heinous disregard for human life that has taken hold of some parts of the country.
The horrible picture of four young and healthy men being beaten and set ablaze in broad daylight in a country with a government and security agencies is a big shame to Nigeria. It is the latest confirmation yet that life is of little value in the country. It also shows that all those responsible for security and administration of that area did not play the role expected of them. This latest incident is probably the effect of the frequent killings going on in the country. It would appear that people no longer think anything of the taking of life. Life has simply lost its sanctity.
It can be snuffed out at any time without any sanctions. This is the unfortunate, sad lesson that Nigerians, including the youths, are taking away from the mindless killings going on in the country. This type of barefaced, extra-judicial murder will not happen in any country with a responsible government, and in which lawbreakers are sure to be brought to justice. But, in a country where people know that they can get away with any crime, no matter how serious, dastardly incidents such as these are bound to occur. The killing of these students is condemnable, to say the least. As the Students Union of the university has said, it is barbaric to have killed the students.
Wether they were actually robbers or cultists as has been claimed, the best thing their accusers could have done was to have handed them over to the police for investigation and prosecution. Their killers ought not to have been accusers, judges and executioners at the same time. Last week’s multiple killings in Mubi and Aluu should worry all right-thinking Nigerians. What exactly is going on in this country? Why has life become so short and brutish? When did it become acceptable that aggrieved persons take lives of persons they have a dispute with just like that?
Although the failure of the security agencies and the courts to ensure justice for victims of robberies and other crimes has been cited in some instances for citizens’ penchant for taking the law into their hands and resorting to jungle justice, these extra-judicial killings cannot be excused for reason. Life is sacred and should not be carelessly cut off. With the turn of events in the country, Nigerians need a new orientation on the value of life. This is necessary because life now appears worthless. With such orientation gaining ground across the country, no one is safe anywhere.
Life will truly become even shorter and more brutish under such a situation. As we need to commit more resources to security, other areas of national life are bound to suffer. Already, security took about a quarter of the nation’s entire budget for 2012, yet insecurity in the country is getting progressively worse. The only way to stem the tide is to bring killers in all parts of the country to book.
They need to be made to pay for their crimes to send a strong message to others of like mind that they will no longer get away with such crimes. The authorities must do everything necessary to unearth killers of the Mubi and University of Port Harcourt students. Nothing less will do. Here is sympathizing with the families, friends, colleagues and schools of the deceased. May God grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.
So, its goodbye to Bakassi. The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, on Monday confirmed that Nigeria will not appeal the International Court of Justice judgement ceding the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsular to Cameroon. The government based its position on its belief that the appeal was bound to fail. So sad. Obviously, the government is not ready to stick out its neck for the people of Bakassi. Adoke explained that a failed application for a review will be “diplomatically damaging to Nigeria.” Since Nigeria does not want to be “diplomatically damaged”, the authorities ought to have been alive to their responsibilities to the people of this area.
Now that Nigeria has lost the chance of an appeal forever, Adoke and the government must go beyond expressing concern on “the plight of Nigerians living in the Bakassi Peninsular and the allegations of human rights abuses being perpetrated against them” to real action to protect the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians in the area.
The Federal Government has had all of ten years to do this, it did not. Now that the appeal has been foreclosed, let the government demonstrate commitment to engaging Cameroon and also applying itself to the task of securing the Nigerians in the troubled territory.