THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT CRIES FOR JUSTICE IN NIGERIA

Often, many people have wondered what is the cause of the trouble with Nigeria. And many have come up with several reasons why we are where we are. Why we seem to move one step forward and two steps backwards. Why a country with so much wealth and talent will house one of the greatest numbers of poor people in Nigeria. Why a country born with so much hope in 1960 is unable to achieve adulthood in 2016. Last week on this page I had indicated that about 50% of Nigerians are classified as miserable by the World and 68% are regarded as operating below the poverty line. The distinguished Chinua  Achebe wrote a book with the title: "The trouble with Nigeria " where he also identified many of the issues but concluded that the central problem with Nigeria is poor leadership.

Professor Chinua Achebe was right that Nigeria's critical challenge is leadership. So also are the other Nigerians who have proffered other reasons why things are not working the way they should in Nigeria. Some have blamed our problems on the petroleum curse, others on tribalism, yet some others on corruption.But when we carefully interrogate these issues, something fundamental seems to be at play here. First, most Nigerians who are old enough agree that Nigeria between 1960-1965 was the kind of Country they like to live in. The Leaders were responsible and till date, they are regarded as the best we ever had. In all parameters of measuring growth and development, Nigeria was ahead of the curve. Nigerians lived and did business in every part of the Country and felt at home. The Country was respected all over the World, regarded as the rising star of Africa. Our Agriculture was world class prompting Malaysia to come and borrow our Palm oil tree which has helped that Country catapult into the World leading producer and exporter of Palm oil and its derivates over many years now, while Nigeria is currently unable to satisfy domestic need.  Our educational system attracted students from other parts of Africa. Our few Universities were some of the best in the World. Our rudimentary health system functioned well and Nigeria enjoyed peace in almost every part of the Country.

Then we began to shed innocent blood and the centre began to give way. The Jan 15th coupists  set the ball rolling and then the July 29th counter- coupists took it to a higher level, then the progrom directed against the Igbo, during which the stomachs of innocent pregnant women were ripped open. Then for nearly 3 years, over two million Igbo were killed and some murdered as the Nigerian state used every means including Strafing of Innocent women and children in market squares with Airforce jets and starvation to force Biafra back to Nigeria.

Since the Nigeria-Biafra War ended,the blood of innocent Nigerians have been shed  ceaselessly by state and non state actors. The blood of the innocent in Odi Bayela State and Zaki Ibiam in Benue State shed by agents of the Federal government stand out as sour thumps. Then the carnage Firstly on Christians and subsequently on all( Christians,Muslims & Animists) by the Boko Haram terrorists in the North of Nigeria deepened the ocean of the blood of innocent Nigerians before the militant Fulani herdsmen caused it to overflow mostly in the middle belt and South East Nigeria.

But when it comes to unconscionable state murder of innocent Nigerians, the report I read last week and the Videos I watched, released by the Amnesty International( AI) about the cold-blooded murder of unarmed young Igbo youths under the auspices of the indigenous Peoples of Biafra( IPOB)who were either peacefully protesting or praying for the release of their imprisoned leader by the military in Onitsha and Aba reaches a heart-wrenching low point in this satanic inspired shedding of innocent blood in Nigeria.

According to AI in a report it released last Wednesday, after analyzing 87 Videos, 122 photographs and 146 eyewitness testimonies, relating to demonstrations and other gatherings between August 2015 and August 2016 confirmed that the military fired live ammunition with little or no warning to disperse the crowd of IPOB members. AI claimed in the report that it also found evidence of mass extra-judicial executions by security forces. It concluded that not less than 150 pro- Biafra activists were killed by security agencies especially the military between August 2015 and August 2016.

Why the military will prefer to use the ammunition bought with the tax paid by citizens to murder unarmed citizens just because they were expressing their views in a democratic Nation, instead of using the same ammunition to fight the illegally armed and violent Boko Haram insurgents, the illegally armed Fulani Herdsmen,  armed robbers and kidnappers who have made living in Nigeria today, such a perilous experience baffles me. And since the federal government seems not to be taking any action on this and such earlier extrajudicial killings of the unarmed and innocent in Nigeria, it may be assumed that the government does not have a full understanding of the impact and consequences of this rampant and unjustified murder of the innocent.

 If investments and Foreign exchange are not flowing into the Country as we would wish, if we are slipping from recession to depression, if our Nation is not respected as we expect, may be I should remind the government that the World is watching and reading reports like this recent AI report. But this is small matter when we consider the spiritual implications of continuously shedding the blood of innocent citizens. I wish that the people who govern this nation understand that the blood of the innocent cry everyday for Justice like the blood of Abel. If they did, they would halt this dastardly exercise immediately, bring the perpetrators to Justice speedily and get the likes of General Gowon to intensify his " Nigeria Prays" Program pleading for God's forgiveness and mercy. I wish they did! But until they do, what we sow, that we shall continue to reap!


       Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 


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