The Shame Of A Nation


By Akunna Ejim

How much is a human life worth? Is there any way to calculate an exact amount that can adequately serve as a satisfactory exchange for the life of even one soul? Where are we heading to as a country when even the most basic of rights, the right to life, means absolutely nothing to some members of the society. The lack of security makes it easy for criminals and other members of the underworld to unleash acts of terror on law-abiding citizens.

Grown men rape little baby girls, and some of those caught are paraded before the news media, still, the nefarious act continues. Fathers impregnate their daughters at an alarming rate, and young men rape girls and post the video of the act on social media for the world to see. Can anyone say with any certainty that the Abia State University, ABSU, rapists of that young girl have been properly punished? Suicide bombers are not left out of the list since their activities are faithfully chronicled in the media.

Some mothers do not value the lives of their own offspring, since every other day, newborn babies are discovered in either refuse dumps or latrines. The government has failed woefully to provide any kind of meaningful security, spurring individuals to take matters into their own hands by forming different types of parallel “security”, or more accurately, intimidation groups.

Since when did these vigilance groups become judge and jury? It speaks to an unspeakable act of barbarism that these so-called security groups have decided to form their own constitution, outside of the legal constitution of the country. Their own laws are laws of the jungle, where a mob attitude and unspeakable bestiality are the order of the day. What happened to our collective hearts and conscience as a nation? Just last week, the story broke that some students had been rounded up and massacred, by nameless people who were supposed be flesh and blood, just like them. The students, from Federal Polytechnic, Adamawa State University, and the School of Health Technology, all in Mubi town, Adamawa State, were gunned down, even though they were vulnerable and defenceless. While people were still pouring vituperations (as is the norm), rather than seeking out the perpetrators of the act, another bestial act was fermenting somewhere else, this time, in Aluu Community in Rivers State.

Many versions of what actually transpired on that day have been circulating, with some saying the young men were robbers, and others saying they were cult members. None of that matters since they cannot prove any of the allegations. Even if there was any truth to claims that they were guilty of the accusations levelled against them, the treatment meted out to those young souls is beyond belief. I ask again, where is the conscience of this country? If the members of the community had any kind of grievance against the boys, shouldn’t they have called the police to investigate the matter? Why must people take the law into their own hands? Despite the fact that the police and other law enforcement agencies have received their fair share of the blame game, it must be said that they can perform  very well with the right incentives and equipment at their disposal. They were able to fish out the killers of Cynthia, another soul who was lost to the cruelty that seems to have been unleashed on the society. No matter how much people might distrust the police, the alternative to following the established laws of the land is simply unthinkable. People simply cannot be trusted not to go overboard when faced with the type of situation that the police can handle in a more productive manner.

Those four young men were butchered in the most horrendous manner, by people who were supposed to be ordinary citizens. It was sickening to see the crowd gathered around the boys who had been debased, stripped naked, paraded through the community, beaten brutally, with blood and open wounds and cuts all over their bodies, despite the thick mud that covered them. Still, this was not enough for members of this community; they had to put tyres round the necks of four young men, and burn them alive. Words fail me.

In the crowd that had gathered to watch this cursed act, young girls, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and even young children stood and watched without doing anything or speaking up for the rights of those lost souls. I would like to ask the members of that community what the price of a human life is worth to them since they can take it at will. Other people in countries far and wide are doing great exploits in the realm of science and technology to move the world forward, and their own solution to a situation like that was to revert to the time before the stone age.  Since they are so almighty as to decide that the boys must die gruesomely for stealing worthless laptops and phones, what will they do to those bank managers, public office holders and politicians who have stolen billions, have more houses than they can count, and waste the money on meaningless pursuits?

Another question that boggles the mind is the thought that was going through the heads of those in the crowd while they observed and recorded the event with their phones. Seems like they could have put those phones to better use by dialing the number of the nearest police station, or any other law enforcement agency for that matter. Many people have seen the pictures of the murder of the boys on different social media platforms, which is why it received the kind of international attention it did, at least from members of the Nigerian community. It is a shame that the country has lost its humanity, and the National Assembly should look into making laws that ban such wicked actions. At least, that will restore a tiny fraction of the eroded confidence of the citizens in the judicial system.

•Ejim wrote this piece for Thenews magazine.

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