Ugochukwu Ozuah was just fresh from honeymoon with his bride over the weekend. Five days after his wedding, he was seeing off a friend who had come to pay the new couple a congratulatory visit at night. As they stood by the roadside, a police van screeched to a halt a few metres ahead of them and some cops jumped out. In drunken voices, they shouted ‘Who goes there?’ Before giving Ugo and his friend a chance to respond, they released a hail of bullets in their direction. While Ugo’s friend was able to dodge and hide, Ugo wasn’t lucky. He was struck down there, leaving his bride a widow. In Nigeria, we die cheap.
Emmanuel Ville, the son of a medical doctor in Maiduguri, was in his part of the family house when he heard some ruckus coming from his parents’ section. Unknown to him, some hired gunmen had come to make their 2nd attempt on his father’s life; the first was a failed bomb attempt. The father had escaped upon hearing their voices while his wife pacified them with money and jewellery. Emma went to check if all was okay and the assassins grabbed him. All the pleadings and cries of his mother fell on deaf ears. They took him outside and shot him in the head. He was a young man of 26 years. In Nigeria, we die cheap.
Ugonna, Lloyd, Tekana and Chidiaka were students at the University of Port Harcourt, all in their early 20s. In details that still remain sketchy, they were accused of stealing phones and laptops from an off-campus housing in the nearby Aluu community. However, rather than hand them over to the police, the community made themselves the judge and executioner. They beat them up till they were bloodied, hung tyres around their necks and burnt them to death. Four young men, gone. They did not enjoy the presumption of being innocent until proven guilty. In Nigeria, we die cheap.
The Wuro Patuje off-campus housing area in Mubi, Adamawa State that plays host to students of the Federal Polytechnic, the School of Health Technology and the Adamawa State University, all in Mubi, had its quiet and peace shattered on the night of the October 1st. armed men with rifles and machetes stormed the area, invading houses and calling out students by name. The unlucky ones were either shot or slaughtered. By morning, there lay 25 dead men in an attack that has left the whole nation in shock. No one knows why this has happened. No one knows who did this. In Nigeria, we die cheap.
These are just some of the gory events that have gripped Nigeria in the past one month. There are many more situations, but I do not want to depress the reader any more than I have already. There is no overstating the fact that insecurity in Nigeria has reached dizzying heights.
We die cheap in Nigeria because largely, there is a failure of the state. Our borders are porous with 7 million illegal weapons in Nigeria, all in the hands of non-state actors. The police force is ill-trained, under-staffed, ill-disciplined, corrupt and unmotivated. It has led people in many parts to even fear them more than trust them. As a matter of fact, it is said that the Nigerian Police kills more people annually than all the terrorists and armed robbers, all extra judicially. This in turn has led people to believe more in jungle justice, which could result in capital punishment being meted out to people who commit petty crimes, or even worse, to wrongly accused persons.
This is how a nation begins to descend into anarchy: when human life loses its sanctity and people literally sleep with their eyes open. When everyone becomes a law unto himself and the law enforcement agencies feel they are untouchable. As if life is not hard enough in this country, there is something that, for want of a better expression, could be called national insecurity. No part of this country feels safe anymore, except relatively to another.
It is high time that governments at all levels began to find ways to find long-lasting measures to this insecurity. Serious shake-up is needed, not just a band-aid. It should start from properly securing our borders to stem the flow of illegal arms and immigrants, to a comprehensive reform of the police force so that people can begin to feel more secure.
We cannot continue to live in a country where death is so cheap; we cannot just accept that we will continue to die cheap.