Date Published: 10/12/09
NIGERIA IS BURNING WITH WARS RAGING ON ALL FRONTS (CONCLUDING PART) By Temple Chima Ubochi
Fraud may consist as well in the suppression of what is true
as in the representation of what is false. (Justice Heath)
It is unfortunate, that the efforts of mankind to recover the freedom of which they have been so long deprived, will be accompanied with violence, with errors, & even with crimes. But while we weep over the means, we must pray for the end. (Thomas Jefferson)
The government is the potent omnipresent teacher. For good or ill it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that the end justifies the means -- to declare that the government may commit crimes -- would bring terrible retribution. (Justice Louis D. Brandeis)
Most people prefer to believe their leaders are just and fair even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because once a citizen acknowledges that the government under which they live is lying and corrupt, the citizen has to choose what he or she will do about it. To take action in the face of a corrupt government entails risks of harm to life and loved ones. To choose to do nothing is to surrender one’s self-image of standing for principles. Most people do not have the courage to face that choice. Hence, most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker but only to give moral cowards an excuse not to think at all. (Michael Rivero)
It’s unfortunate that despite all the billions made from oil and other internally generated revenues, citizens of Nigeria are not safe. Kidnappings, robberies, killings still remain some of our major problems (part of our lives). Nigerians are living in the state of insecurity, anarchy and fear. Life in Nigeria is cheaper than a sachet of water (nasty, brutish and short). Professor John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo declared Nigeria a tragedy, saying that there has been no good governance all these years. The writer, who is famous for his All for Oil and Ozidi, said: “Instead of providing services for people having pledged to serve, they do otherwise. “ According to him, those who put themselves as public officers, end up playing master to the people, stealing their money”.
Comrade Ifeanyi Odili wrote: My brother, nothing is happening in the country since President Yar'Adua took over reigns of power; the Nigeria nation has not only been stagnated but fast-going with reverse. The nation is sick, our leaders are not reasoning from the head anymore, but from their anus. The state of the polity has been bastardised, everything is in shambles, the much touted Seven-point Agenda is a ruse and farce aimed at diverting our attention from his (Yar'Adua's) confused government. I know this because I have been in the forefront of the democratic and political struggles in Nigeria. Look at the government that claims to have the power sector as its paramount priority now has in its 2009 budget importation of generating sets. This means it has no answer to the problem of the power sector. As if that was not enough, his government is planning again to deregulate the downstream oil sector, so this government is compounding our problems. I pray our democracy would not hit the rocks.
Nowadays, hardly any day passes without cases of kidnapping in the five states of the South-East. This writer is afraid that the scourge called kidnapping will balloon out of proportion, if nothing is being done soon to nip the surge in the bud. This writer read where a kidnapper said that he turned from armed robbery to kidnapping because “being called an arm robber is a worse stigma than being called a kidnapper and that the booty (money) involved in kidnapping is bigger and easier to get than in robbery” (meaning that the word “armed robber” carries with it a much worse stigma than the word “kidnapper”). In other words, when kidnapping became the vogue, this set of people saw it as a better and quicker means of making money and switched over to it. As of now, most of the kidnappers are professional rogues carrying sophisticated and superior fire-power the police has no answers to. But, there are still amateur kidnappers, who are not well armed. The amateurs accept any amount as ransom, as they do not have the capacity to keep victims for too long.
Something needs to be done and soon too, because, if more amateur kidnappers enter the fray, we would be hearing of kidnappings for ransom of thousands of naira instead of the millions of naira they are requesting now; then the rich and the poor would not be safe as people would be kidnapped for ransom as low as N10,000 or even less, then a victim’s poorness (economic status) might not deter the kidnappers from “snapping” him/her as long as his/her family can provide up to N5,000 or N10,000. As Christmas and New Year period approaches, we would see an increase in the spate of kidnapping.
Some of the kidnappers have lost all sense of respect and now worship only money. We learnt that kidnappers swooped on the Obi of Onitisha’s residence located in the GRA part of the town for what observers said was either a kidnap or an assassination attempt. The Monarch was said to have narrowly escaped the trap of the gunmen following the quick intervention of the police.
Many Nigerians including the Secretary General of Ohaneze Ndi’ Igbo in Lagos State, Chief Osita Nweke, blamed the federal governmentfor the incessant kidnappings in the south-eastern part of the country. Chief Osita Nweke said that continuous slide in the nations economy has made life very difficult for the masses, such that people have taken to kidnapping to earn a living. When asked why the trend seems to be rising in the eastern part of the country, he said “I will not deny the fact that kidnapping is on the rise, but what does one expect in a situation where there is high rate of employment. With the events unfolding in the Niger Delta, people now see kidnapping as a means of livelihood, despite the fact that militants are fighting for the emancipation of the people”. Speaking further, he lamented that it was unfortunate that people now brazenly kidnap illustrious and prominent people who have strived to add value to the lives of people by providing employment for the people in their companies, and pleaded with the youths to stop the evil.
On a positive note (which is seldom), the Abia State Police headquarters, Umuahia recently paraded 17 alleged robbery and kidnap suspects arrested there.At the event, the new state Police Commissioner, Jonathan Johnson, commended the public for providing the information that led to their arrests. Johnson said the suspects, on interrogation, admitted to the crime, naming their gang leader as one Onyekachi Sunday. The questions become: why is it that the outgone police commissioner found it hard to achieve such a feat and why must it take a new police commissioner to arrest 17 alleged suspects? We call on the police to make sure the alleged gang leader is also arrested soon.
Abia State seems to be helpless in everything (crime and good governance the most outstanding), despite the arrest of 17 alleged robbery and kidnap suspects. Because, tenpersons including two policemen, a soldier and a pregnant woman were on September 29, 2009, killed when security agents and kidnappers clashed in different parts of Aba South and Obingwa Local Government Areas of the state! This was barely one month after hoodlums suspected to be kidnappers sacked the entire police station at Umuobiakwa in the same Obingwa Local Government Area of the state, killing an inmate in their desperation to release one of the suspects held at the police station. The Vanguard Newspapers wrote that security situation in Aba and the entire Aba South senatorial zone of Abia State is now source of concern to residents of the area, as activities of hoodlums continue unabated.
Not too long ago, the police in Abia State lost four of their men on active service at Ogbor Hill, Aba. Suspected kidnappers set ablaze the four policemen, less than 24 hours after the anti-kidnap squad set up by the Abia State government swung into action. The four policemen were burnt beyond recognition and another critically wounded following the attack.
Someone wrote that “the federal government should declare a security state of emergency in Abia State. Things have gone out of hand and the PPA is only busy sharing federal allocations and taxing the indigenes from bore-hole tax to development levy. All potential investors have relocated to other states and PPA has nothing to show for the years they governed Abia State”.
Another wrote: “Gov T.A.Orji is busy telling the world to come to Abia State & do biz. Is he sick in the head? Whoever that wants to understand Aba should stay there for a week. The governor encourages thugs. They are everywhere. All forms of crime go on in Abia State unabated. Why is Bakassi (local vigilante) still functioning? Aba has no single road. No functioning hospitals. Local governments are the worse. I thank God my friends have left that state. A state of emergency should be declared”.
Another wrote: “The governor and all the local governments chairmen should resign. The consequences of rigging elections and looting the state treasury are manifesting. The police need to be well equipped and alert before going for a mission. Unemployment should be eradicated from Abia State and good social amenities provided for the people. Governors should stop using youths as thugs for their elections and other social vices. I strongly believe that GOD will give Abia State and Aba North and South LGAS great leaders who will take the people to the Promised Land.”
Still, another wrote: “The security situation in Aba where I currently reside has become too bad that people are now afraid of going about their normal business for fear of being attacked. A state of emergency should be declared over security before miscreants chase all of us from the state. Government should make concerted effort in providing employment and engaging the youths meaningfully. The EG should rescue us from this fear.”
As long as the politicians fail to bring about the safety and security of lives and properties, they would also feel the brunt. They are not living in another planet, they might fly from their point A to B, but, definitely they would touch ground at one time or the other, afterall, they would never sleep all their lives up in the sky.
We all know that there are thousands of kidnap victims, but, here, we would concentrate on the politicians who were kidnap/arm robbery victims (few cases we could lay hands on), to reinforce the point that as long as “a child says that her mother would never sleep, he/she would not sleep either”.
We learnt that the deadly onslaught of the gang of killers prevented Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, from attending a funeral in Nnewi not too long ago. Can somebody imagine that!
Story had it that armed robbers stopped some politicians from attending the burial ceremony of Barrister James Metuh, the father of the National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh recently. The robbers operated from Nnewi in Anambra State to Nsukka in Enugu State. Because of the robbery episode, the Nsukka community was not only sacked during the siege, banks there were also raided, the university town was thrown into pandemonium, the robbers also killed two aides to the former governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. Sam Egwu (Ugorji Moses, former special adviser to Egwu on chieftaincy matters; Chukwuma Ofefe, also an adviser on food) as well as a mobile police officer, Eyong Sunday, in the convoy, while three others were injured. The same day due to the robbery incident, a House of Representatives member from Ebonyi State, Paulinus Igwe, was badly wounded. We learnt the governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime, with his full compliments of security did a u-turn on his way to the burial for fear of being attacked by the gunmen. The robbers also sighted the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Nsukka, Jonathan Ejecida, who had come for a transaction in one of the banks and shot him. Ejecida, a chief superintendent of police (CSP) died instantly.
Elombah.com put it succinctly when it wrote that “the menace that armed robbers pose in the south-eastern states of Nigeria was manifested again today, Friday, 17 July 2009 when dare devil robbers stopped the deputy senate president and his entourage from attending the burial ceremony of the father to Barrister Olisa Metuh; a Lawyer and PDP Chieftain at Nnewi, Anambra State. This dare devilry also brings into question the complicity or otherwise of the high echelon of the Nigerian Police in the menace of armed robbery that ravage Nigeria.
Having landed at the Enugu Airport, they (the deputy senate president and his entourage) set out on a convoy to Nnewi, Anambra State. They had barely left Enugu State when the Enugu State Commissioner of Police informed them to hold on at Enugu because an armed robbery operation is going on at Nsukka, Enugu State. The entourage of the Senate President after several hours decided to get in touch with Anambra Police command to ascertain the situation and their next course of action. The commissioner of police thereafter instructed the entire members of the National Assembly to consider going back to Abuja since the Police cannot do anything to control the robbers”.
That’s Nigeria for you! Isn’t it?
In Enugu State, since the kidnap of Dr. Paul Edemobi, brother to Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili, late last year, reports of kidnapping have become more rampant than ever. Governor Sullivan Chime’s Chief Press Secretary, Dan Nwome, was once kidnapped in front of his house. There was also the reported case of kidnap of the wife of the Enugu South Local Government Chairman, Mrs. Ada Ngene. She was rescued after about four days in the hands of her abductors. At least two persons were reportedly killed in that incident.
In Ebonyi State, on June 18, 2009, three persons, including wife of former commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Francis Okorie, son of the state Accountant General and another son of a local government treasurer in the state were all once kidnapped. Also the brother to the chairman of PDP in the state was once kidnapped.
In Abia State, not too long ago, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe was almost abducted by people whose real motive is still unclear till this day; no one can say for sure whether they wanted to kidnap the senator for ransom or for a political point. Luckily, the abductors failed in their bid, but, not without killing the senator’s police escort. Also the Chairman of Abia State Independent Electoral Commission, Professor Stephen Emejuaiwe, was once double-crossed at the popular Ururuka road along the old Aba road and then taken away while his security aide was shot dead.
In Imo State, the treasurer of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Peter Orji (alias Big Doo), was once kidnapped at Egbu Road, Owerri, by five armed men in the first week of June. Mr. Basil Enwerem, deputy director of Accounts of the Government House, Owerri was also once a victim. Another victim was Hon. Celestine Ngaobiwu, representing Obowo Constituency in the state House of Assembly.
In Rivers State, the former Commissioner for Environment and lecturer with the University of Port Harcourt, Mrs. Roselyn Konyan, was once kidnapped.
In Delta State, the mother of the member representing Ndokwa West constituency in Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Emeka Ukpe, was once kidnapped.
In Oyo State, the Executive Assistant to the Oyo State governor on administration, Richard Fagbemi, was once kidnapped.
In Benue State, there was attempt to kidnap the wife and daughter of the Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Hon. John Ngbede, by some youths among whom was one of his cousins. Then, came the abduction and kidnap of former Chairman of NPN, Chief Simon Shango, a few meters from his house. Shango said that he was thrown into a dark room that looked like a warehouse with his legs and hands tied. Shango narrated his ordeal by saying:
“Outside the warehouse, people carried on with life as if they are not aware of what was going on in their locality. We passed close to 20 check points on the way and none of these policemen checked the booth of the car. They started asking for my friends’ numbers but I initially refused to give them. When they saw that I was adamant, one of them slapped me. Then, I gave them Akume’s number (the immediate Benue State ex-governor) and they called him. They also requested for Suswam’s number (the incumbent governor) and I told them that even if I gave them, he would not answer them. They insisted and I gave them. They kept demanding for money from my friends and family and threatening to kill me if the money was not paid. At a point they gave me the phone and I spoke with some of them to please pay the money so that I could be released”.
Lamenting the level of unemployment in the country, Shango called on the government at all levels to look critically into the issue of providing employment for the nation’s teeming youths, opining that “if these people are gainfully employed, they would not be thinking of kidnapping people for money.”
The Secretary to the Kaduna State Government (SSG), Mr. Waje Yayok, was kidnapped recently. All that the Kaduna State government could do initially, was to deny the kidnapping by stating that the SSG was on an official assignment to the southern part of the state. We learnt that the Secretary, who was kidnapped on Tuesday, September 22, 2009, was moved to Warri the same day by the kidnappers. The question becomes: How did the kidnappers moved the secretary from Kaduna to Warri without the police personnel at the numerous check-points dotting the highways detecting the kidnap? One has to take into cognisance the fact that from Kaduna to Warri takes at least 5 hours by road, how did the kidnappers get through the check-points without the police noticing their “cargo” , despite the fact that he (the SSG) was declared missing by the Kaduna State Police Command?
Benue State governor, Mr. Gabriel Suswam, recently cried out that some groups of criminals are planning to kidnap him and members of his family. Governor Suswam said he was informed of the plot by a victim abducted by an armed group after a burial in the state.
The criminals’ plan, the governor said the victim told him, is to break through his security network, abduct him and his family at the Government House to an unknown destination.
According to the governor, “the kidnappers told their victim that the paramount target is to kidnap me and my family members and take us away.” The governor said he was uncomfortable with the decision of the Inspector General of Police to withdraw police orderlies from wives of governors and asked that the decision be revisited in the face of the security threat posed by the indiscriminate acquisition of arms by criminals in the country.
But wait a minute, a governor with all the security at his disposal is crying that kidnappers want to grab him, then who is safe in Nigeria?
The 36 state governors just advocated death penalty for kidnappers. The governors, under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, called on Yar’Adua to treat kidnapping in the country the way he addressed that of the militancy in the Niger Delta. The governors, after their meeting of October 5, 2009, want the Federal Government to bring the full weight of the law on culprits. They said the time had come for the federal authorities to act decisively on the criminality in order to restore sanity and general security. Part of the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting states: “The Forum furthermore called on the Federal Government to treat kidnapping with the same level of seriousness it deserves”.
This writer is in support of the governors, but, on the condition that they would do everything possible to provide jobs for the people and initiate and implement policies which would eradicate poverty, ignorance and diseases in their respective states, so as not to give any body a ready made excuse to engage in any heinous crime. Many born criminals now are taking advantage of the hopelessness, despair, wants, unemployment, poverty etc in the land as their excuse for engaging in one crime or the other, when it’s clear that even if Nigeria is a land flowing with “milk and honey” for all, some of those criminals would still go on perpetrating those crimes, as they have internalized the urge to commit one crime or another.
Also, before the governors start looking for how to outsource their responsibility to Aso Rock, let them also equip the police and other law enforcement agents in their respective states, so that they would be enabled in their fight against criminals in those states. The governors should go to Governor Fashola of Lagos State for tutoring on how to maintain security in a state. Lagos State is free from the menace of kidnappers, because the state has armed the police there to the teeth. A kidnapper stands no chance in Lagos, thanks to Fashola. What politicians from other states are doing, is to relocate their families to the safe embrace of Lagos State, forgetting that somebody paid for that security their families are enjoying in Lagos.
What stops the governors of other states from investing heavily on the police as Fashola has done and is still doing? Somebody might say that the revenue generating capacity of Lagos State is second to none in Nigeria. But that’s rubbish. In Part 4 of this article, this writer wrote that the Lagos State government donated 10 APCs, 1,000 AK 47 riffles, one million rounds of ammunition and several communication gadgets to the State Police Command. Now the Guardian (Oct. 4, 2009) wrote that the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Saturday (Oct. 3, 2009) handed over 114 brand new security vans donated by the 57 Local Government Councils and Development Areas to the State Police Command with a charge that the Police should ensure that the new vehicles and the new Police uniform become a beacon of safety and friendliness to the people. The other states which might claim that they cannot perform because they are not Lagos State, can do as far their wherewithal can take them. Where Lagos State donated 10 APCs, smaller states, in terms of population and revenue generation, can donate 4 APCs to their own police,: where Lagos State donated 1000 AK 47 riffles, smaller states can donated 500 of it, so this writer sees no sense in using Lagos State’s population and wealth as an excuse to do nothing. Afterall, Lagos is not an oil producing state, but, Abia is. What is Abia State using the oil revenue accruing to it from the federation account for?
Fashola, while presenting the vehicles to the police, made a good point when he said that while some people contend that crime busting is a very expensive business, they have failed to come to terms with the fact that irrespective of the cost of ensuring crime prevention, a human life that is lost to crime cannot be regained at any cost. Fashola promised that as the ember months approach, it is the resolve of the present administration in Lagos to make crime a very unprofitable business to its practitioners such that it will make the city habitable to all peace loving people. This writer hopes that the other 35 governors were listening to this Fashola 101 (introduction to good governance).
On the other hand, it was wrong for the governors, during their meeting, to equate kidnapping with the genuine agitations of the Niger Delta people for the emancipation of the people/region (they are not the same), not withstanding that some Niger Deltans have hijacked the supposedly genuine cause for other ulterior motives.
To digress a bit: The Tribune (Oct. 5, 2009) wrote that Justice Alfa Belgore, a former Chief Justice of the Federation, has decried the use of the phrase “ethnic nationality,” saying that Nigerian politicians and the elite were using the term for their personal gains. In his words: “(Use of) Ethnic nationality is a most annoying thing in law. Some politicians and elite are using it to achieve their selfish interest but there is nothing like that. There can be only one nationality. There is nothing called ethnic nationality. People who say that are uneducated politically and legally. There is one nation called Nigeria that has various ethnic groups such as Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Urhobo, Tiv etc”. Belgore said the agitators of ethnic nationality had not been given “real education”. In his words again: “The real education was not given to them. Education to fear God and love the country, but what is happening to our so called elite of nowadays; they love themselves first before the community and the country.”
This writer found the ranting of the former chief justice disgusting. This writer would want to tell anybody, who would listen, that he is first and foremost an Igbo and would at the end, remain an Igbo even when Nigeria, which is lord Lugard’s creation, might have ceased to exist. My ethnic nationality has been there since God created the first human beings on earth and would still remain even when all of us now must have passed on to the great beyond. But Nigeria is a 1914 creation and might not outlive some of us, if there must peace and progress in the land for everybody. Belgore should know that nothing can stop some of us from identifying with our ethnic nationality; it’s the basis why we are called Nigerians. This writer hopes that people like Belgore who achieved the positions they occupied in life through quota system, and not necessarily on merit, should leave us in peace to lick the wounds inflicted on us by the Nigerian rulers, like him, who emerged based on structural defects inherent in Nigeria of 1914.
Many Nigerians are irked by what Belgore posited. Dr. Valentine Ojo wrote amongst other things: “Alpha Belgore is one of those old dunderheads who benefitted from the CHAOS called NIGERIA - why should he not condemn "ethnic nationality" when that was what gave him his own federal character and quota system? It's sickening when these old hypocrites come out to fart after they destroyed the nation. Just because Alpha Belgore does not know or value his own "ethnic nationality" does not mean the rest of us don't know or value ours. To which 'ethnic nationality' does an 'Alpha Belgore' belong - one of those non-nationalities created by the white man, with no cultural traditions or history to speak of”?
Paschal Ukpabi, Esq. wrote: “Folks: I am Igbo by my Creator Almighty God's fiat. This is not questionable. I am "Nigerian" by Lord Lugard's fiat. This is questionable because my people's consent was not given; even if it was, it is revocable if as I am now, I get uncomfortable belonging to Lord Lugard’s contraption called Nigeria. In civilized societies, Belgore would not be admitted to the Bar.”.
Biodun Sowunmi wrote: “Belgore clearly is being mischievous. He is not ignorant but interpreting to suit his own geographical comfort zone. How can you have a federal Nigeria with no units? Yes, Belgore agreed there are units which he consciously described as ethnic groups. In other words, there is no need for true federalism. The Caliphate will rather continue governance of Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Fulani, Hausa and other ethnic nations from the centre. But, this is a recipe for the collapse of Nigeria. Has the learned Judge forgotten that empires and independent kingdoms even existed within the space known as Nigeria today, prior to Lord Luggard? Nigeria is a State made up of different ethnic nations. To spell it out, it is by virtue of my Yoruba nationality that I am a Nigerian. OPari, oga Judge!”
To end this long piece, this writer leaves you for now with the words of H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), an American Journalist, Editor, Essayist, Linguist, Lexicographer, and Critic, where he said “I believe that all (Nigerian) government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.” This writer believes that Nigeria would never get better as presently constituted. We cannot afford to leave the country in the hands of the bandits running it now, we need to rescue the entity called Nigeria from those running it down and how we can do that is by deciding the fate of the country through a sovereign national conference where all issues militating against our progress as a nation would be trashed out once and for all. Nigeria’s continuous existence is threatened; we must go back to the regional system of government (despite its shortcomings) that worked better than the present federal system. The federal system had never worked and would never work well for us. We might deny this obvious fact, but, definitely any thing short of strong regions and weak centre, would amount to our continuous wasting of precious time and energy. We have lost a lot already.
This writer lives in Germany that has states which are partially autonomous. There are federal and state laws and each state has some laws which are only unique to it. This writer lives in the state of North Rhine Westphalia, that’s one of the most populated and richest states in the country. It lies in the economy belt of the country. There are certain laws which are only applicable to those living in this state and would never affect those living in, say, Munich or Hamburg. The police is state controlled, but, there is also the federal police used for national assignments. Nigeria can learn a thing or two from the German system. Fashola while presenting the vehicles to the police, touched on this point when he reiterated his call for State Police. Governor Fashola said that policing is a municipal responsibility, adding that for as long as they remain municipal; it is the Local Governments, Municipal and State Governments that are best suited to responding to the challenges. He wondered why outfits like the State Fire Services, State legislature and State High Courts exist constitutionally while a State Police is not allowed to function. He explained that the administration of justice and its wheel will not turn until all Nigerians have the courage to sign on and let State Police stand and be created alongside Federal Police, saying that is the only way it can work.
As someone pointed out, this writer would never shy away from writing the truth. So let the truth be told, the leadership of this country has failed to fulfil its constitutional role of securing the lives and property of its citizens. Today, our police have become more inept than they were few years back in terms of their readiness to combat crime and that explains why gunmen masquerading as kidnappers and armed robbers have practically brought the country to its knees, destroying lives and property from one end of the country to the other and leaving the authorities seeking for endless solution to the anomaly. One thing is clear: The high crime wave is a spin-off from the lack of leadership and good governance in Nigeria.
I appreciate your time.
THE THANXS IS ALL YOURS!!!
Continued from Part 5