Sunday, 25 November 2012

If a Wild Jungle will not evolve from Nigeria --by Funmi Ajala

In his most popular thesis on the theory of Social Contract, Leviathan; British free-thinker, Thomas Hobbes described the state of nature as a “war of every man against every man”, and one in which life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

In his trials at explaining the Social Contract, the seventeenth century philosopher was of the opinion that mankind is naturally wicked and egoistic. Thus, the crave for power and prominence which arguably are tools of perpetual suppression and oppression on the vulnerable weak by the domineering strong. He therefore recommended that men should not enjoy absolute privilege of solely taking decisions without recourse to some measures of restraints. He strongly advocated for state control, through an authoritative sovereign, possibly a King. His beliefs were seen by many as anti-democracy and have over the centuries managed to remain at the centre of discourse among scholars in political science across societies the world over.

In as much as the globe has moved-on from the age of Hobbes as evident in the propagation of representative governance in many fragments of the universe, it is also equally germane to note that some propositions of Hobbes’ theories are still haunting mankind, even in the 21st century. In actual fact, men seem to have graduated in wickedness and cruelty beyond any imaginable bounds in recent years as the enunciated legal rope around man’s undue exercise of power appears completely loosened.

Where and what best suites the reincarnation of Hobbesian era than Nigeria, having in mind, events which transpired in different parts of the country over the past months. Perhaps, it would only be tantamount to a testament of emphasis to posit that not all is well with the country, and more importantly, her over 150 million population at this moment. For, the only time in which the country’s 52 years statehood history recorded anything close to what she is facing presently would probably be the dark days of the civil war of 1967-70; though the only noticeable difference being the erudition with which some Nigerians now perpetrate wickedness, with all ease, calmness, and indeed, passion.

In the early hours of Tuesday October 2, 2012, some agents of evil surfaced and struck in Mubi, a town in Adamawa state, northeastern Nigeria, leaving behind them everlasting memories of unprecedented carnage, unjustified deaths, and vicious extermination of innocent Nigerian souls. The venue was a nearby community of the Federal Polytechnic located in the town that had prominently featured in the news for all the wrong reasons of late. In particular, Mubi has been tagged a volatile community due to incessant eruption of violence between insurgent terrorists and government military outfit: the Joint Task Force (JTF) which had led to several deaths. The months-long curfew that the state government slammed on the town was only lifted some days before these life-executioners arrived. But more worryingly, what left Nigerians and the rest of the world awed is the commando-like style of the attack, and the happenings that surrounded it.

Accounts from many eye-witnesses recalled that the Student Union Government (SUG) election was held in the institution on Sunday September 30, 2012; a contest that reportedly pitched two candidates from the north and south regional divides of the country against each other. It was learnt, the gunmen who appeared in military uniform stormed the students’ private hostels at Wuro-Fatuji, a suburb of Mubi, a day after the election and lined-up scores of students, seen as supporters of a certain faction before they were gruesomely executed; some with their throat slit-open with knife, and others were axed to death in cold blood. When the dusts settled, not less than 30 bodies of young Nigerian students were deposited in the morgue. Even the police spokesman in the state, Ibrahim Mohammed, who described the incident as a “mystery”, said the force could not rule “out the fact that the killing was carefully planned and executed.”

As one would ordinarily anticipate, utter condemnations followed from prominent individuals and notable bodies –religious and social –including the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), while the school, which became a ghost town in the immediate aftermath of the horrific event shut its gates, till only God knows.

With the nation still riddling in the cacophonic effects of the Mubi massacre, additional pathetic news filtered in and Nigeria suddenly seemed a country in the eyes of a raging storm; this time around in far-away Umuokiri-Aluu, a community in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state, in the south-south region of the country. It was reported on Saturday October 6, 2012 that dwellers of the community captured four male undergraduate students of the University of Port-Harcourt (UNIPORT) who were allegedly involved in robbery earlier on Friday. The ‘suspected robbers’ were said to have been apprehended in possession of a computer laptop and mobile phones belonging to another student in the vicinity. The four: Biringa Chiadika Lordson, Ugonna Kelechi Obuzor, Mike Lloyd Toku, and Tekena Erikena were all subjected to torturous treatment as they were paraded naked round the community before being severely beating and lynched to death by some of the villagers. But unfortunately, this was only half-depiction of what indeed transpired when the orgy lasted.
A graphic video footage, filmed with a mobile handset, soon emerged on the internet showing full-account of the suffering the four young men endured from their fellow countrymen. The gory video, which can only be watched by individuals of no meek-mind, showed how the alleged ‘thieves’ were mercilessly hammered with different heavy objects like stones and tree planks while blood gushed-out of their massively bruised and mutilated bodies. They were drenched with petrol and roped with car tyres before being lit to die in inferno, all to the delight of the perpetrators and gleeful-looking crowd, both male and female.

The ‘horror movie’ sparked wide outrage among Nigerians and on the international scene as popular media dissect ‘Mubi massacre’ and ‘Aluu-4’ mob justice simultaneously. Images of these two incidents became synonymous with Nigeria, at least as far as the first week of October was concerned. To further deepen the controversy, a counter-accusation emerged in contrary to the reference of Aluu villagers. It was alleged the students only went to the community to forcefully demand money owed one of them by another student, whose laptop and mobile phone they later seized due to his inability to pay; they were subsequently accompanied with chants of ‘robbers.’  The rest was history for them.

The sad story refused to go away, even as national tabloids continued to feed the general public with latest updates on the matter day-in day-out. The institution was temporarily closed down as students, in protest, reportedly torched some buildings in the community in an apparent vengeance mission.

At this juncture, it is only prudent to look beyond media-hype and reportage of these disastrous episodes in examining some knotty issues attached to them. Once again, the pro-activeness - or lack of it - of the country’s security agencies, most primarily, the police was called into question by the ‘twin-disasters’ of wholesome proportion. The police never intervened in both attacks, notwithstanding such ordeals took considerable period of time to execute. One would imaginarily expect heavy security presence in a restive environment like Mubi; so, how come nobody tried to stop the slaughtering of over 30 people when it lasted? Was a police station not situated within walkable distance to Aluu for some unscrupulous elements to have burnt fellow human beings to death, even in broad daylight? Or better still, was there no hint or clue to the police that some individuals have taken laws into their hands when the four were being humiliated before being killed eventually?

Another question that begs for answer is the mystery of the proliferation of military regalia, basically uniform viz-a-viz sophisticated ammunitions in the custody of faceless persons. This, in particular, is in direct reference to Mubi extermination. It was reported the assassins appeared in military uniforms and used assorted arms which should not be in the hands of ordinary civilians. The unguided spread of military paraphernalia is a major disturbing trend in Nigeria. The arms have been engaged to execute various nefarious acts in recent time and Nigerians genuinely appear very perturbed, premised on their inability to decipher criminals from crime fighters. Therefore, stakeholders must identify the roots of the malignancy as soon as possible if this senseless serial killing of Nigerians on mundane and irrelevant basis like regional cum ethno-religious alignments would stop anytime soon.

For Aluu murderers, it has been argued in some spheres that the slow process of the nation’s judiciary nay apparent distrust in the police to effectively do justice to apprehended culprits might be the reason for the ‘over-zealousness’ of the mob in the arbitrary and disgusting execution of the four lynched UNIPORT undergraduates. Such a flimsy alibi - it must be stated – has no place in a civilised society which Nigeria claims to be. The extent of the so-called ‘mob-justice’ nullifies whatever pro-argument anyone might want to lodge in explaining the stone-age-like atrocity.

To conclude, one can only expect the reported arrest of some persons in connection with the two incidents yield timely results. Everyone involved in these must be made to dance to the harsh rhythm of the law accordingly. The reign of these felons must terminate now if the optimism of any future guarantee of Nigeria as a cultured entity and not a jungle of blood-sucking vampires would enjoy any iota of belief among the populace.   

Funmi Ajala studied International Relations at Lead City University. He is a prolific writer whose regular insights elucidate topics related to governance and politics.