Nigeria stands on a strong tripod of mediocrity, impunity and corruption. It is the best country on the planet adept at making laws as easily as it breaks them with as little effort and with greater impunity.
Last week, we woke up to the news of the Apo 7 killings. Seven squatters rendered directionless, homeless and hopeless by an uncaring ruling elite we have blessed ourselves with, were killed in cold blood with impunity.
They were killed for defying the warning to vacate an uncompleted building possibly built with stolen funds and on a land possibly allocated as a reward for sycophancy and patronage.
They were promptly labeled Boko Haram lest we begin to ask questions.
Like the Apo 6 before them, they were voiceless and defenseless. No one in power cares about them, not even their kith or kin. Even if the unarmed youths were terrorists; don’t they deserve their day in court?
I have it written before on this platform that mediocrity is Nigeria’s most definitive failure, with impunity a close second, after which corruption comes a distant third.
This country is an indolent bunch of contradictions; Nigerians want justice yet they practice subjection, they want peace yet they act with impunity, there can be no greater irony for a people so blessed yet so poor in spirit.
Since we abandoned our traditional values and cultural mores, we are bound to be saddled with impunity, a culture in which the powerful mauls and silence the powerless without consequence.
Citizens face threats and are attacked for exercising their fundamental rights. Journalists are routinely beaten, their cameras broken to smithereens for seeking a story out, for exercising their right to free expression and the people responsible for these crimes are not held accountable.
We stink up the world, our citizens live in a political terrain defined by insecurity, subjugation and fear. Nigerians are afraid to speak out, the hard questions go unasked, the powerful are not challenged, and criticism gets stifled.
Our elected officers, our military, our police, law enforcement agents and high ranking public servants and their minions have become representatives of authoritarian and antidemocratic practices. As a country we have adopted mediocrity as a value, appropriated impunity as conviction and embraced corruption as a system. How bad can it get?
Everyone vested with some kind of authority in this country is a junior league dictator, wielding unreasonable and arbitrary powers.
We are constantly at the deep end with unresolved history of violence; a brutal civil war, a raft of bloody military coups, countless civil unrests, religious upheavals and constant breakdown of law and order.
Complete disregard for the sanctity of human lives has become the norm.
The country is embroiled in a circle of violence that has become normative and its people have evolved along, an almost intuitive indifference to brutality.
Unfortunately, nothing is being done to arrest this sad descent into anarchy, after all the biggest culprits are our trustees.
January 19, 2013; 50 bodies were seen floating on the Amansea River that empties into Anambra River from Agba Ogwudu River in Enugu State. Not a word from law enforcement on the incident till date, everybody carried on as if it were normal.
Ethnic killings occurs at predictable intervals in Jos, a once serene city on the plateau constantly erupts with horrid pictures of mass murder that questions our collective humanity – nothing is done in the course of justice for the victims.
Then comes reprisals and it happens again and again.
Aluu 4 – four undergraduates beaten to pulp and roasted alive on suspicion of petty theft; no one cared. Rampaging armed robbers lined up commuters and ran them over several times at top speed grinding them to pulp; no one is concerned! No one investigates! Ritual killers are on the prowl; snatching people, plucking their eyes, severing their breasts, cutting of their genitals and the business of nonchalance continues.
Seeing corpses by the roadside has no shock value anymore; people side-step decomposing bodies while munching on bread on the streets of Lagos.
We have refused to lose the human specie’s tendency for savagery in exchange for a more humane existence. We define bad and new stupid standards everyday and celebrate our unenviable position as the country with the most uneducated and unprofessional law enforcement the world over.
Our law enforcement operates a system of law and order based on disproportional use of force to tackle security challenges. Agents are trained for regime protection, as opposed to people’s protection; a system under which they see the people they are supposed to be protecting as the enemy.
The Nigerian State itself sponsors murderous atrocities against its own people as evidenced in Odi, Zaki Biam, Maiduguri and other places. Without any lessons learned, State sponsored extrajudicial killings may have yoked Nigeria disproportionately with its worst security challenges in history.
A case in point is the Niger Delta which has never been the same since the hanging of Ken Saro Wiwa in 1995. In an unwise move, General Sani Abacha quashed the peaceful agitations and dissent of the Ogoni in exchange for a militancy that threatens to cripple the economy and has continued to embarrassed the country.
In like manner, an otherwise peaceful sect hitherto unknown outside Maiduguri up until 2009, has morphed into a formidable terrorist organization. There may never have been a virulent Boko Haram if those bereaved men on motorcycles, on their way to bury a companion, were not shot at by the police for not wearing helmets and for declining to give bribes. Many lives lost to Boko Haram rampage may have been saved had Mohammed Yusuf not been killed in police custody
The Nigerian military, the police and other agencies turn their guns bought for them with our tax Naira for our protection on us.
Live ammunitions are employed to disperse peaceful civil protest, We are harassed off the streets and freeways by horsewhip wielding and armed police escort. Guns are pointed at us at checkpoints before they were scrapped (thankfully).
Are we surprised that four long decades of abuse of the people by the State has surreptitiously conditioned the minds of Nigerians to violence and inhuman disposition? Suspected thieves are set ablaze without a whimper from anyone, sometimes with support from policemen as supervisors of carnage.
A Nigerian life means nothing to the government; a country whose Attorney General was killed and his murder still unsolved cannot be taken seriously.
Impunity in Nigeria is not limited to murder, journalists, activists, bloggers, and even social media users have all been subjected to the State power of abuse.
They face grave threats and untold violence for criticizing the government, for exposing corrupt dealings and fraudulent transactions, for writing about politics, white collar crime, and human rights issues. What has been the reaction of the government to acts of impunity?
They form stupid committees, set up panels of inquiry to look at “the remote and immediate causes of the crisis.” If an agent is at the root, they protect him by transferring him out of public eye letting the dust settle before he is rewarded by an even juicier appointment. When crimes like this goes unpunished, the message from the authorities is clear; speak up and you will get badly hurt.
How do we fight impunity? We must stand up and be counted. We must fight this growing culture of impunity, we must fight by not letting the issue die. We must fight it by seeking justice for the victims.
Our leaders always bank on our limited sense of outrage and repressed memory. They know the noise will fizzle out within days when and if an atrocity is committed against the people.
We must fight through new and old media. Publicity about the facts of impunity cases turns the searchlight on the perpetrator(s). Since evil protects its own, perpetrators seek protection from their friends in power and try hard to prevent giving attention to a story they are trying to silence.
We must be armed with information on how to draw international attention to human right buses and extrajudicial killings. Perpetrators may hesitate to act if they know the world is watching. Attention can also pressure government to act.
It is easy for corrupt and unconcerned law enforcement to ignore a case or fail to investigate it properly if we look the other way.
We must make enough noise, organize protest, draw international attention to cases like the Apo 7 slaughter. We must fight to ensure those in high ranking positions who order human rights abuses are held accountable for their actions.
I see acts of impunity on ground in Nigeria on daily basis, I fear the power to abuse more than abuse of power. Now, that is what is called power with impunity. May God save us from the evil of ourselves.
Kindly follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo
Feed me back on olufunmilayo @ gmail.com
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...