Abah, a young man of 40 woke up very early that fateful morning. Desirous of cultivating his crops at the family farmland located about two miles from the village, he bade his wife and two kids bye as he left with three other farmers.
At the vast farmland, they took time out to harvest some crops and weeded unwanted grasses. Now tired, the three sat down under a tree to rest and drink some water to quench their thirst. That was when the cows began to emerge; one, two, three, over fifty well-fed cows being led by two young lads with long sticks.
Abah and his two colleagues watched in anger as the cows devoured his plantations, eating everything at sight. Unable to contain their anger, the three men accosted the stick-wielding herdsmen to render their protest. A quarrel ensued. Before long, four dreadful men with AK 47 guns emerged from a nearby bush and rained bullets on Abah and his two friends. Their sin was daring to confront the herdsmen. Does this narrative seem familiar?
Our country Nigeria is soiled with the blood of the innocent; men women and children who were recently hacked down by men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
There are tears of blood all over. From Tiv villages in Benue to remote villages across Adamawa, Taraba and Kaduna States, hundreds of defenceless humans have had their lives cut down unexpectedly in a most gruesome manner by some who tend to value the lives of cows more than those of humans created in the very image of God.
What value do we place on human life in this cline? How does one explain the care-free manner the news of the killings were handled by those in authority. Initially it was denial galore.
It took deafening cries on the social media for them to wake up from their self-imposed sleep. And when they did wake, all that was uppermost in their minds appeared to be the next election. How callous can we be! What if one very close to us was a casualty? Who knows whose turn it may be tomorrow?
Let me re-iterate here that human lives are invaluable.
No amount of wealth or herds of cows can be compared to the value of one human life. Humans are sacred creatures of God, the Omnipotent, the omniscience and the omnipresence. No amount of explanation can justify the killing of innocent humans.
It is sacrilegious, satanic and most cruel. Both the perpetuators and their accomplices are guilty of mortal sins before the Almighty.
Those who were in good positions to stop the carnage and decided to look the other way, are equally guilty.
Did you watch the recent state burial accorded those souls? You saw the agony, the sorrow that the loved ones went through! Who would wish to experience such hell on earth again? How do you explain the distorted lives of miseries and anguish the orphaned children would be living? The young widows now left to fend for several mouths!
Those who play God with other people’s destiny should know that God is not sleeping. When you play deaf to the cry for help, tomorrow may be your turn.
It is wrong for government or anyone to impose their will on others.
Private businesses should be treated as such and not given unnecessary preferences. I do not advocate for violence in such times as this. No. It will only lead to endless cycles of bloodshed. But we must not shy away from defending our heritage from evil. This is a wake-up call for justice in our land.
► Msgr Gabriel Osu is the Director of Social Communications, Catholic Lagos Archdiocese.