I logged on to LIB through google. The site counseled the lilly-livered to steer clear of the photos beneath a paragraph that screamed “Four University of Port Harcourt students; named: Ugonna, Lloyd, Tekana and Chidiaka were this morning beaten to death by indigenes of Aluu community, for allegedly stealing phones and laptops in an off campus hostel.”
Despite the fact that I approached the photos with a lot of prudence, my hand was wobbly on the mouse and my heart sank and bled profusely as I began to watch how four able bodied youths were callously mutilated in broad daylight by a group of incensed gang.
Could this be happening in my country? As my intellect searched for a rejoinder, my imagination ran riot. My thoughts hovered from the immense loss incurred by the unfortunate parents of the young men and the nation as a result of the termination of their lives, to the mental state of those who perfected the damned act, and to how immaterial life has become in our nation. The spectacle haunted me throughout the day.
I remembered with tremor how, a couple of years ago, I had mistakenly inserted my key into a car that wasn’t mine but bore great resemblance to it and struggled aggressively to open the door until I later discovered from the inner lining of the car that it wasn’t mine.
Though nobody saw me, I could imagine how lucky I was to have escaped being lynched because if the owner had seen me, I would have been branded a car burglar without being given the opportunity to exonerate myself before being placed on the tyre.
From whatever dimension one wants to perceive it, the Aluu scene was dismal and damnable. It is an unspeakable act by a brutish community. All indigenes of Aluu community in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, should bow their heads in shame and tell their kith and kin that they have brought shame and dishonour to River State in particular, and Nigeria in general, with this unfathomable conduct.
Thank God, the community head is already caged by the police. He should be incarcerated until he is able to account for the damned beasts who perpetrated the dastardly act; and where he is also found culpable, he should be made to face the full wrath of the law.
We are not justifying thieving, but it is the essence of the law to try criminals and award appropriate punishment. Millions of hard earned incomes of citizens are deducted as taxes in many countries, including our own, to set up the judicial system, so that each of us can have fair trial and the Nigerian government should, as a matter of expediency, use this case to once and for all establish the fact that justice is not in the hands of those who are not empowered to dispense it.
It is disheartening that today, in our country, aged women who suffer from senile psychosis are openly immolated with the support of community leaders who brand the victims as witches. Societal managers who should provide protective measures for these aged hold the same belief that old age diseases and problems are as a result of the evil handiwork of these women during their youth. Yet, these are women who contributed immensely to giving us life and nurture us to the point where we could read the lines on our palm.
There are too many needless deaths in this country and the stillness of our leaders is not helping the situation. A week ago, in a polytechnic in Mubi, about 40 students were murdered in their sleep. A country where no one is safe is not fit to join the assembly of civilised nations. Our leaders are either too unintelligent to recognise and provide concrete solutions to our national problems or are mischievously turning their faces the other way for other secondary considerations.
Even when it is obvious that a system is not working, our leaders are reluctant to change because of pecuniary gains. Despite the fact that most of the security problems facing our country today would fizzle out with the appropriate restructuring of the existing dysfunctional centrally based policing system, every tier of government develops cold feet each time the issue of creating a state policing system is brought to the fore. Excuses for non-performance are too many.
The social misfits in our midst are having a field day because the policing system is too weak, inactive and too far from the centre of criminal activities.
Something must be done fast to re-establish confidence in the Nigerian system. What makes the difference between America and the United Kingdom, for instance, is their policing system. Today, lawlessness lacerates the faces of all our cities like tribal marks and unless we quickly take the bull by the horn, there are certainly terrifying days ahead.
The voices of those young men are crying for justice
•Prof. Ojikutu wrote from the Faculty of Business Administration, University of Lagos, Akoka.