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A Nation Ravaged By Violence

Shuaib Shuaib writes that it’s high time we found sustainable solution to the alarmingly high rate of violence that has continued to ravage Nigeria in recent times.

Nigeria has been marred with different kinds of violence in recent times / Photo credit: premiumtimesng.com
Nigeria has been marred with different kinds of violence in recent times / Photo credit: premiumtimesng.com

Two murders on opposite ends of the country, both crimes of passion and both taking place within one week of each other gripped the attention of the country in November 2017.

The first was in Lagos where a banker, Olaoluwa Adejo on November 12, 2017 tortured and murdered his wife, Maureen right in front of their son and then made efforts to cover up his crime.

An anonymous call to his mother-in-law gave him away. Adejo has today been charged to court but that is about all that has happened.

The second murder, in Abuja on November 18, 2017 was just as gruesome. Maryam Sanda who had previously been exhibiting violent tendencies, allegedly murdered her husband, Bilyaminu Bello by stabbing him in the chest, genitals and neck.

Again, like the first murder, she attempted to cover up the crime. The moment the news of the murder became public, it dominated social media discussions for months on end.

Even as far back as then, many Nigerians were already insinuating that nothing would happen and she would likely get away with her crime.

Today, the case is still in court but Maryam Sanda is as free as a bird. The rule of law has never been our forte. That is why some think it is harsh when anyone is locked up for corruption.

Nigeria is changing. As a society, as individuals, the country is becoming more violent and from those in authority down to the average citizen, nobody seems to know how to respond.

Without strong regulations and institutional safeguards, most Nigerians are defenseless against the influence and impact of television on their lives

Depending on the topic of the day, the violence is sometimes linked to poverty, a growing population, religious and ethnic intolerance and even conflicts over land and resources.

In the western world, there continues to be long and endless debates about the role of movies in inspiring real life acts of violence and crime.

Without strong regulations and institutional safeguards, most Nigerians are defenseless against the influence and impact of television on their lives.

It is one thing to turn a blind eye and tolerate corruption, but then how long the fabrics that keep society together hold when there is an absence of justice?

Extrajudicial killings have always been an issue in Nigeria, but had mostly been restricted to individuals suspected of having committed crimes.

Now, a chance encounter with an armed policemen could end badly. And this is what is becoming frighteningly frequent.

It was just two weeks ago when a 20-year old woman, Ada Ifeanyi was reportedly killed by six policemen in Ajegunle, Lagos. Her friend, Emmanuel Akomafuwa was also shot and hospitalized. Now, the officers involved have been arrested.

The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu has ordered an investigation. The problem is that the Nigeria Police has no mechanism and laid down procedures to deal with these kind of internal crimes.

It is usually at the discretion of the IG and most times, he doesn’t act unless there is a public outcry.

But at least the IG knows there is a problem and has cut the numbers of daily work hours in the police from 12 to 8 hours as a way to reduce stress levels.

Yes, Nigeria is a changing society. For the old, the young and even the depressed; the only social, emotional and even moral safety net that existed was the extended family.

If someone needed counseling, he or she would likely get it from a family member. Not any more. And that’s what makes the growing number of suicides so unsettling.

Nobody seems to know how best to respond as a society. Today you can find out more about a person’s struggles on his Facebook page than talking to his parents.

It is one thing to turn a blind eye and tolerate corruption, but then how long the fabrics that keep society together hold when there is an absence of justice?

It’s unimaginable that more and more Nigerians actually choose to inflict acts of violence on themselves. The most recent has been a student of Obafemi Awololwo University, Kolapo Olowoporoku, who reportedly committed suicide because he had repeatedly failed to pass some courses.

It was just over a year ago that another student, Wilson Chukwudi, from Abia State University committed suicide after going through two academic sessions without graduating.

Over the last few years, dozens more of these student suicides have been reported in the media. Whether there is a single higher institution in the country that is making adjustments and offering counseling to those in need is hard to say.

It is easy to blame the rampant kidnappings along the Abuja-Kaduna highway on poverty. It is also easy to imagine whole communities being in on the criminality, knowing they have nothing else to live on.

Kidnappers extract in ransoms, money they only make in their dreams. These are communities that have always been poor.

It is understandable for them to seek out better prospects in life. What cannot be explained is why they are giving up farming for a life of crime when those prospects don’t materialize.

There is a good chance that security forces wouldn’t have taken the drastic measures they recently did if the train stations in Kaduna and Abuja hadn’t been overwhelmed by passengers abandoning the Abuja-Kaduna highway. The trains are now always full to brim and have leave many passengers stranded.

Apart from terrorism in the northeast and the conflict between farmers and herdsmen, there are probably no acts of violence that are generating as much anxiety as the killings and banditry in Zamfara.

Thousands of villagers have either been killed or displaced. What we are learning now is that it is all for the gold.

But there is a blame game raging between the Nigerian Air and traditional rulers in the region. Defense Minister, Mansur Dan Ali, who happens to be from Zamfara had a few weeks ago accused traditional rulers of harboring bandits in their communities, also living with informants in their midst.

What is even harder to understand is why are no heads are rolling, and especially when the state governor, Abdulaziz Yari’s long stretches of absence are considered

The traditional rulers in turn have accused the Air Force of killing innocent civilians in their bombings of bandit hideouts and have gone as far as naming those killed.

If there is anything good from the blame game, it is that the truth is coming out and everybody from the security agencies, the state and local government authorities and the traditional rulers are all being forced to take responsibility for all that is happening.

Why it took the federal government so long to link the banditry to mining activities and act on it is hard to understand.

What is even harder to understand is why are no heads are rolling, and especially when the state governor, Abdulaziz Yari’s long stretches of absence are considered.

The violence that cannot be blamed on the changing times are hate crimes, of religious and ethnic intolerance. For decades, maybe from time immemorial, they have been the story of Nigeria.

The clashes between neighbors, Tivs and Junkuns or Fulani versus Bachama are not new.

The only real guarantee in ensuring the country doesn’t descend into a lawless state is for justice to always prevail

Sometimes, it is an entire community seething with anger and hate that chooses to turn violent. Maybe no case better demonstrate this than the killing of a military officer in Dura Du District of Jos South in Plateau back in early September 2018.

After weeks of searching for the retired major general, military investigators found his car in a bond on September 29, 2018 but his corpse was still missing.

His killers later identified as youths from the community allegedly held a meeting on the day the car was found and decided to move the body from the shallow grave it was initially buried in to a well in Shen District of the same local government. But it took investigators another full month to discover the body of the murdered officer.

Occasionally too, the hate is expressed spontaneously and by an individual acting out his intolerance.

That was the case on the Easter night of April 21, 2019 in Gombe when an officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corp killed 10 people by plowing his vehicle into a procession of youths from the Boys Brigade of ECWA Church, Bamusa, Barunde, Madaki and St Peter’s Anglican Church.

He reportedly was initially denied permission to drive through the procession. And when he was finally allowed through, he wasn’t satisfied and decided to ram through the Easter Day worshippers.

The civil defense official himself lost his life in the hands of his surviving victims.

There are also events, particularly in politics that help in inciting Nigerians against each other. Nevertheless, many places of worship are preaching peace and tolerance even though there are stronger forces like poverty and ambition pulling people apart.

Whether there are enough people out there thinking of how to contain challenges in the society and stop the average citizen from drifting towards a violent disposition could determine what life will be like in an overcrowded Nigeria and growing inequality between the haves and have-nots years from now.

Still, the only real guarantee in ensuring the country doesn’t descend into a lawless state is for justice to always prevail.

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