By JOSFYN UBA, KATE HALIM AND CHRISTINE ONWUACHUMBA
Nigeria is not at war like Syria or Afghanistan but we are definitely competing with some war-torn countries in terms of victims, casualties and fatalities recorded since the year began.
The year started on a tension-soaked mood on January 1 when President Goodluck Jonathan removed subsidy on petroleum products. The reaction that greeted this decision was a nationwide strike, which was embarked upon by National Labour Congress and other Civil Liberties Organisations and many Nigerians. While the impact was felt around the country, it recorded some casualties before it was eventually called off.
The Boko Haram insurgency assumed a frightening dimension this year, sending many to their untimely graves. But all these attacks were just like a tip of the iceberg as many other gory events took over the stage this year, causing fear, panic and despair in the country. Hopelessness and palpable fear gripped Nigerians as, one-by-one, heart-rending events pervaded 2012 like a peeled banana. Most of these cases are still celebrated and kept alive so that justice will prevail while some have just gone cold, plunging the populace into further darkness and despair.
Daily Sun’s Life and Style Desk takes a look at some of the celebrated cases that caused the eyes of Nigerians to open wide in utter disbelief, leaving them with a visible sense of horror, and a bad taste in their mouths.
June 3 will remain a dark day in Nigeria. It will remain a deep cut in the hearts of individuals, who lost loved ones on that dark Sunday. A commercial airliner crashed into a densely populated neighbourhood in Nigeria’s former capital city that day, killing all 153 people on board and others on the ground in the worst air disaster in nearly two decades in the country.
The 153 passengers, who were on the flight, travelling from Nigeria’s central capital of Abuja to Lagos in the nation’s South-west, rammed into buildings of a densely populated area in Lagos. Rescue officials feared many others were killed or injured on the ground but no casualty figures were really accurate to support the claims. The cause of DANA’s Boeing MD83 aircraft crash remained unknown.
President Goodluck Jonathan later declared three days of national mourning. A day before this incident, a Nigerian Boeing 727 cargo airliner crashed in Accra, the capital of Ghana, slamming into a bus and killing 10 people. The plane belonged to Lagos-based Allied Air Cargo.
MUBI, ADAMAWA KILLINGS
Gunmen, wearing military attires, raided hostels of Adamawa State University in Mubi town, Adamawa State in Northern Nigeria, killing 46 students in a deadly Independence Day massacre and injured several others.
The horrific attacks on defenceless students prompted an exodus of frightened students. According to a source, the attackers told the students to identify themselves by name. Some of them were spared after mentioning their names. But the assailants gave no reason for the identification process. The attack was said to have lasted for several hours without any form of response from security agents as sporadic gunfire kept residents awake for as long as it lasted.
There are so many questions, begging for answers after this wanton destruction of young Nigerians. What end do perpetrators of this dastardly act actually want to achieve with the cold-blooded murder of these young and innocent students? What exactly is the ideology and rationale behind this kind of senseless and horrific killings? In what way will this kind of carnage advance the cause of whatever group is responsible? Till today, there have been no answers to these many questions. The widespread speculation is that the dreaded Boko Haram sect is behind the killings. But who knows?
ALUU COMMUNITY LYNCHES 4 UNDERGRADUATES
Four days after the Mubi killings and when Nigerians were still trying to rationalise the bloodletting, another gory incident took place in Port Harcourt. Four students of the University of Port Harcourt were lynched in Aluu Community, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, for allegedly stealing phones and laptops in an off campus hostel.
The students, Llyod Michael, Tekena Elkanah, Ugonna Obuzor and Chidiaka Biringa, were beaten and later set ablaze by the mob suspected to be members of the community. The community saw the situation as an opportunity to vent their anger on the students after being terrorised by armed robbers for some months.
The video footage and photographs of how the four suspects were killed were immediately placed on the social media. Immediately it went viral, it generated nationwide outcry against the barbaric treatment meted out to the boys without taking any measures to verify the charges against them or taking them to the police. Some people also branded the victims cultists but no dangerous weapon was found on any of them. They never fought back but kept holding hands until they were killed.
The actions of indigenes of Aluu community have attracted condemnation from sane people all over the world and have dragged the name of Nigeria further into the mud. It also raised questions on the worth of human life in Nigeria today. For those who summoned courage to watch the video, chills were sent down their spine even as they reeled out curses upon the perpetrators. It was later discovered that those boys were neither robbers nor cultists and some of the people who took part in their murder were arrested and are still in custody. Two months after, what will become of the case? No one knows. Will justice take its course? Nigerians are watching with bated breath.
RIVERS STATE FUEL TANKER EXPLOSION
More Nigerians were dispatched to the great beyond when a truck, carrying fuel veered off the road into a ditch, caught fire and exploded in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta. It killed, at least, 95 people, who had rushed to the scene to scoop fuel that had spilled. It is a tragic reminder of how little of the country’s oil wealth has trickled down to the poor.
Some 50 others were also injured in the incident in the southern Niger Delta region. Hours after the explosion, some charred corpses, including bodies the size of children, were still lying on the scene of the explosion. What were they doing there in the first place? No answer. Wailings and frantic search for loved ones pervaded the area and location of some of the bodies suggested that they were trying to run away when the fire consumed them. The cause of the fire that burnt the truck to ashes remained unknown.
Despite decades as an oil-producing region, majority of those living in the Niger Delta remain desperately poor and mostly without access to clean water, proper medical care, education or work. Anger over the situation on several occasions has driven young people to attack foreign oil firms based there and steal fuel from pipelines. They also take the easy road of scooping fuel spilled from a fallen truck to make quick money without minding the dangers involved.
When the year began, there was no inkling that ravaging floods would send many to their untimely graves and displace Nigerians, making them refugees in their own country. The year brought with it the worst weather calendar in the history of Nigeria’s existence.
Still recovering from the unfortunate deaths of many innocent Nigerians at the hands of Boko Haram sect, Nigeria’s weather became so vicious that over one thousand persons lost their lives to the vicious floods. The floods are said to have emanated from the South Eastern Nigerian neighboring country of Cameroon when the dam was reportedly opened by the Government of Cameroon to ease off the excessive water, threatening the integrity of the dam.
The release of the dam water resulted in massive overflow of the River Niger in Nigeria, thereby creating weather nighmares and flash floodings across the communities that border both the River Niger and the Benue River. Thousands of farmlands were submerged in places like Lokoja and other adjourning communities in Kogi State, several communities in Anambra, Sokoto, Adamawa, Benue States also suffered. Millions of Nigerians, mainly farmers and travellers witnessed horrendous ordeals of being swept away by the massive floods.
The flood spread to some parts of Edo State while dangerous animals, including crocodiles, snakes and hippos, found their way into homes and communities in central Nigeria after the floods. The creatures were carried along flood-swollen rivers. Flooding started in Plateau State in central Nigeria in July, spread through Borno, Cross River, Ebonyi, Nassarawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Katsina and Kebbi States in August, hit Taraba, Benue, Niger, Kaduna and Kano in September, before affecting Delta and Bayelsa States in September and October.
Aid agencies were overwhelmed by the extent of the damage because they were not prepared for the floods despite warnings of climatic change by experts all over the world. This seriously questions the preparedness of Nigerian government to tackle emergencies. Also, robbers seriously threatened the lives of some Nigerians in some shelters, carting away relief materials made for the displaced in some places.
Rapists also saw it as an opportunity to pounce on unsuspecting women and girls, making them endangered species without any tangible help from security operatives.
The year 2012 again achieved an infamous feat in domestic violence cases against women.
Mrs. Mercy Nnamdi’s life won’t remain the same again as her husband dispatched their one-year-old son to the great beyond after inflicting pains on her body with a hot iron and screw driver. Her husband’s allegation that she was sleeping with his father, has caused more harm than the family could bear.
Mercy sustained a third degree burns from the hot iron her husband of two years used on her on Saturday, April 7, 2012 in Lagos. Help was far from the Imo State-born woman, as none of her neighbours attempted to find out what was happening when she was desperately shouting for help. This was because it had become a daily occurrence in her home. It was worse any time the man came home drunk. On several occasions, some of the neighbours invited policemen from Ago division, who cautioned her husband after which he was made to sign an undertaking never to raise his hands on his wife. But he never stopped battering her until the ugly incident that cost them the life of their son.
Three NGOs, Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Centre for Organisational Development and Zahara Women; came together to set up an appeal fund to help Mercy after the incident. The groups drew the attention of the Lagos State Government to the case and the government through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, immediately swung into action. After she was discharged, Mercy was taken to the state government-owned shelter for abused women and young girls.
The groups also raised money for Mercy, which they used to get her a furnished one-room apartment. Besides, they also gave her a cheque of N150, 000 to enable her to start a small-scale business because after the incident, the landlord seized the opportunity to throw out her belongings. Nothing has been heard about her husband, who committed a crime against his wife and son.
MAN THROWS WIFE IN A LATRINE
A man, Mr. Ikemefuna Okoye, was paraded for allegedly killing his wife by throwing her into a pit latrine over a misunderstanding in Ogun State. According to reports, the 46-year-old unemployed man committed the act in October at Agbado area of the state. The Agbado Division received a distress call that a man had pushed his wife into a deep pit and help couldn’t get to the woman on time as she died in the pit.
EX-COMMISSIONER KILLS WIFE OVER SUPPER
Mathias Eze, a former commissioner in the Enugu State Independent Electoral (ENSIEC), tragically ended his union that had produced six children when he shot his wife over her failure to prepare stewed rice for supper.
The deceased, Patricia, had been married to her heartthrob for 16 years before he ended her sojourn on earth in a horrific manner. When Mathias, who works with the Enugu Sate Post Primary School Management Board (PPSMB), saw that he had shot his wife dead, he put her inside the boot of his car and drove to a near-by hospital in Ogurute, Enugu.
He told the hospital workers, that armed robbers came to his house and while he was exchanging gunfire with them, a stray bullet hit his wife.
Why would an infinitesimal issue such as failure to cook a particular meal lead to such a dastardly act? No one has the answer. But women, who live in the neighbourhood, described Mathias as a very harsh man, who didn’t allow his wives to relate with other people. He was described as a male chauvinist, who believed that women should only be seen and not be heard.
Investigation revealed that Eze gave two different accounts on how he allegedly killed his wife. He told the staffers at the hospital one story and the police, another story. The police revealed that investigation was ongoing but nothing has been heard about the case since then even though they promised to do everything necessary to ensure that justice was done. Will Patricia ever get justice? Women are waiting.
MAN MACHETES WIFE TO DEATH IN ENUGU
You can imagine the trauma of an 11-year old, which witnessed the horrific killing of his mom by his dad! Sunday Eze (Jnr.) matcheted his wife to death at Nsukka in Enugu State.
This ugly incident occurred after a slight misunderstanding with his deceased wife and Onyebuchi, their son, witnessed it all. The suspect rebuffed pleas from the boy not to kill his mother. The kid received a deep cut in his hand in an attempt to prevent his father from killing his mother. He is a form five pupil of a primary school in the area.
The suspect was, however, said to have had a mental problem before the incident. He had threatened to kill his wife each time they had any disagreement as he accused her of being the cause of his problems. But it all came to an ugly end as he dispatched her to the great beyond one dark night.
Cynthia Osokogu went missing late July this year and Nigerians frantically spread the news on different social network sites as if she was related to everybody. Young and old prayed for her safe return. But it was not to be, as Cynthia was found dead, allegedly murdered by her facebook friends.
Miss Cynthia Osokogu, the 24-year-old post-graduate student of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, and the only daughter of a retired military officer, Major General Frank Osokogu, was lured by her alleged killers through the social media, from her base in Nasarrawa State to Lagos where she underwent grueling sessions of physical assault and eventual death.
They deceived her into believing that they were genuine importers of foreign fabrics and clothing and proposed a business meeting in Lagos. She decided to pay her new online friends a visit in Lagos since that was where she always purchased materials for her fashion outlet in Keffi. This time, however, she never returned alive.
Reflon was injected into the Ribena drink she was given to knock her unconscious but she was stronger than they thought. It was fatal because they had to take turns to sleep with her for 12 hours. Tied up, with her mouth cellotaped, she was beaten to reveal where she kept the money meant for her goods but she didn’t give in.
When Cynthia was being driven into the hotel premises, she didn’t know it was the last time she would ever see daylight. What was going on through her mind when room service came knocking? Of course, she couldn’t scream for help because her mouth was taped and the horror in her eyes could better be imagined than witnessed. If only someone could just discover what was happening and save her. She must have fought for her life before resigning herself to the cruel fate that befell her. Oh, she must have made several promises to God if only He could send her help and rescue her from the monsters that took her captive. Alas, no help came and she died, tied up like a sheep led to the slaughter.
When she died, her killers abandoned her in the hotel and fled. The smart guys also quickly deleted her from their facebook friend list to remove any trace of their connection. The hotel found her body and since her ID cards and mobile phone had been stolen, they could not identify her or call friends and family. Her body was deposited in a morgue in Lagos. All this time, her family and friends were praying for her safe return.
Cynthia’s alleged killers have been arrested and charged to court. Let’s hope she gets justice at the end of the day.
TWO MEN DEFILE WOMAN, SLASH OFF HER LIP
A 20-year-old woman, Simon, witnessed horror in its first degree when she was raped and had part of her lower lip chopped off by her attackers. The incident happened close to her house in Jenta Adamu area of Jos, Plateau State. Two men, suspected to be residing in the area, accosted her on her way home one night, pinned her down and raped her. All her pleas fell on deaf ears as one of them covered her mouth with his palm to prevent her from shouting while they began undressing her.
While she was still struggling to fight off her attackers, one of them brought out a knife and chopped off part of her lower lip. She was wailing in pains when two of them, one after the other had sex with her and abandoned her at the spot afterwards.
The incident was reported to the police and through the description she gave, one of her attackers, John Akwara, a welder, was arrested while the other man whose name was given as Ezra Dachalon is still at large. Right now, nothing has been heard of the case but Mercy deserves justice as a human being, who was attacked by men, who acted like animals.
WOMAN BOILS 2-YEAR-OLD STEP DAUGHTER’S HANDS
It was as if horror after horror was unleashed on Nigeria this year. And so many of these stories make the ear tingle. A woman, named Kehinde, dipped the two hands of her little stepdaughter, Esther, into oven-hot water.
The girl’s hands were boiled terribly and there are health concerns that one of them might have become utterly useless. The little girl lost her mum about a year ago, a few days after her first birthday. She has been living with her father, known among residents of the area as Baba Eleja. Baba Eleja, Esther’s dad, later brought in Kehinde, a mother of three, as his wife. He put Esther in the care of his new wife.
The accused stated that the girl mistakenly put her hands inside a bucket of hot water in the room. Obviously not satisfied with that explanation, her neighbours reported the incident to the police. The question many mothers are asking is why Kehinde would put a bucket of hot water in a room within the reach of an innocent child, who doesn’t know her left from her right?
BROTHERS KILL BROTHER
The decomposing body of a man, which was discovered in FESTAC town in Lagos, made people cringe with fear. The corpse was that of the younger sibling of two brothers allegedly living together in the duplex, which was left for them by their deceased parents.
His brothers allegedly killed him and his body kept in a room inside the flat and the corpse had been mutilated too. His brothers were selling the body parts of their brother for money, as law enforcement personnel on 3rd avenue, Festac town, caught them with some human parts, which eventually led to a search of their apartment.
Residents of FESTAC came out in their large numbers to watch the horrifying spectacle, as the council officials and policemen removed the body. Apart from the body that was recovered from the house, charms, amulets, a pot filled with human blood and two large dummies of human beings were discovered. Some of the charms and amulets were concealed inside a carton with the inscription: Lord Krishna Agabarthi 999.
One of the brothers denied knowing anything about the corpse. He claimed to be jobless, adding that he depended on goodwill of people to survive. He denied knowledge of the death of his brother. The police is still investigating the case.