Nigeria descended a few further steps down the ladder of infamy last Sunday as early morning worshippers at a mass holding at the St. Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu, Anambra State, became victims of an alleged drug war between two indigenes of the community. The church, which should be an epitome of peace and tranquility, became a theatre of a gun attack which left no fewer than 11 worshippers, among them, women and children, dead. About 18 people were also reported to have been injured.
This dastardly incident has, once again, brought into bold relief the increasingly galling disregard of moral values among Nigerians. Virtually everywhere one turns in the country today are stories of flagrant disregard for human life by Nigerians of all walks of life. On the outskirts of Ikorodu, Lagos State, Badoo cultists who are clearly worshippers of a strange deity which demands the blood of whole families, are wreaking havoc on people living in isolated places. Our security organisations are yet to get a handle to this problem.
Just one or two days ago, the confession of a man who, alongside four of his colleagues, prowls the vicinities of motor parks with motorcycles to kidnap unwary passengers was in the news. The man, who is now in police net, admitted kidnapping a 35-year old female lecturer, raping her continuously for six weeks, emptying the money in her account through her ATM card, and eventually killing her because of the failure of her people to pay the ransom they demanded. She was not the only victim, as they also admitted killing a student of a tertiary in the vicinity after also collecting money from her account. These incidents are besides the many other gory tales of bestial killings in different parts of the country.
While the motives for these killings are quite different – the attack on the Ozubulu Church was said to be for revenge, the Badoo attacks are for rituals, while the kidnapping of the lecturer was to collect a ransom – it is quite clear that they are all manifestations of the arrant disregard for the sanctity of life and the murderous craze for ill-gotten wealth by their perpetrators.
It is not yet clear exactly where Nigeria seemingly lost its humanity. It is virtually the same scenario that is playing out among the political class where certain persons in positions of authority loot billions of naira and spend it on expensive yachts, mansions, cars and the like. There is an absolute lack of fellow feeling, and nothing really matters to many Nigerians anymore, other than the crazy quest for acquisition of money. This situation is worsened by a society which worships wealth and the wealthy, with no questions asked about how such wealth is acquired by anyone, including the church. Since the Ozubulu massacre, one of the videos that have been trending on social media is that of the bishop that the killers were allegedly after, carrying bundles of naira notes at a social event and spraying money like it is going out of fashion. If this video is, indeed, true, the Nigerian Christian faithful must question the idea of a church leader spraying money in such an obscene manner at a public gathering. The report that the man also built and donated a church, and also constructed many roads in his community, calls for investigation.
It is, however, good that questions are being asked about the government’s narrative on the drug angle of the killings. It is important that the incident is thoroughly investigated to ensure that the killers are identified and brought to book. This is one incident that should not be made light of or swept under the carpet as we are wont to in the country. It is an incident in which the true facts of the case, and its international dimensions, if there is, indeed, anything like that, are made public. It is one incident that should not be allowed to end in innuendos and tongue-in-cheek statements by the authorities. Doing this will be a big shame to the country and further portray Nigeria as a place where anything goes. Moreover, it is necessary to make the important statement that such things will not be tolerated with this case before it becomes another trend that will be embraced by unscrupulous persons to settle business scores in the country.
It is sad that the Biafra separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has seized upon this tragedy to make certain allegations about “the massacre of our people in Ozubulu”, which it described as “a constant reminder to us all of the threat we face each day we delay our exit from Nigeria. According to the organisation: “Unfortunately for us, these heinous crimes will be visited upon us at predictable intervals until we collectively summon the courage to demand for our right to a referendum that will settle this once and for all time.”
This attempt to politicize the Ozubulu incident and situate it within the prism of the Biafra agitation is not expedient to the effort to unravel what actually happened in the community and bring its perpetrators to justice. It can only obfuscate the issues and portray IPOB as seizing at whatever passing straw it lays its hands on to achieve its objective. The massacre in Ozubulu is too important to play separatist politics with because it borders on the security and lives of the people.
This, certainly, is one issue on which both the Federal and Anambra state governments must ensure that the culprits are identified and punished to lay the IPOB insinuation to rest. Doing otherwise is to allow the veil of insecurity to continue hanging over the community and the country at large, and to lay herdsmen and the Federal Government open to IPOB’s thinly-veiled accusation. I sympathise with the families which lost their loved ones in this incident. Let the Ozubulu killers be identified and brought to justice.
NASS and the restructuring debate
Thanks for your incisive write-up entitled NASS and the Restructuring Debate. Nigeria’s leadership problem is premised on so many issues. First, is the calibre of the legislators, many of who are unenlightened, but dominating the sacred chambers. Second, is the idea of northern elders taking southern Nigerians as their leadership herds, like their cows, to pilot to their “destined” point in leadership.
To them, restructuring will take off them all blatant fraudulent practices they benefit from in the current system. If they do not shift their grounds on restructuring agitations, what they are looking for from 6, they will get from 7. Patience has a limit of endurance. When overstretched, the consequence is horrifying. May God save Nigeria
What defines a man makes or mars him! To be formed and deformed by fraud is to be sustained by fraud! A status quo premised on the evil of injustice can only be sustained by injustice. Such a status quo is surely anti-development and reflects the spiritual disposition of those behind it, who have sustained it.
With Nigeria, it is just the twin evil of colonialism and neo-colonialism. To set out to subdue and colonise others is a deviation from the divine injunction to subdue nature. As like begets like, we will still get the same thing even if the nation is restructured a number of times. For example, with the core elements of a plant still the same, a genetically modified plant will still remain the same plant. Restructured evil is evil and cannot yield goodness in return.