By Jude Atupulazi
When I was growing up, there was this book entitled, ”One Week, One Trouble” by Anezi Okoro. It was about a troublesome character who always got into trouble every week, no matter what was done to check him. That was years ago. In today’s Nigeria, I have found myself once more remembering that book and the character involved; no thanks to the precarious nature of life in our country where barely a week passes without Nigerians being confronted by one piece of unpalatable news or the other.
Just as Nigerians were exhausting their energies on the slapping senator saga, as well as the RUGA bullshit, I read a touching piece of news emanating from Abia State; Ibeku, to be precise, about an innocent young man of 22 years who was callously shot dead by a policeman. Mind you, the policeman, or the Killer Cop, as he is now being referred to, belongs to a force that always tells you and me that they are our friend. But the manner in which this young man was shot dead spoke volumes of how far the police are from being our friends. It brought to the fore, once more, how the men in uniform insult, assault, intimidate and brutalize the so-called bloody civilians whose taxes are used to pay them.
How did the shooting happen? According to newspaper reports, the victim, one Christian Onuoha, was in the company of his friends who were escorting him on an errand for his mother late in the evening of that fateful day when they came face to face with a police Hilux Van. The vehicle’s driver trained the vehicle’s headlamps on the boys, probably obscuring their vision. It prompted one of them to ask the driver to tone down the light. This angered the policemen and one of them, Sergeant Apugo, jumped down to demand who said that.
As an argument ensued, the deceased who recognized Apugo, the policeman, as a friend for whom he often ran errands, came forward to apologize for his friend. But rather than simmer down after seeing his ”friend”, the Killer Cop cocked his rifle and shot the boy in the arm. The shocked boy then shouted at him, asking what he had done to warrant being shot at. On seeing the menacing look on the cop’s face, the boy ran and was hotly pursued by the policeman. The boy shortly fell down and the policeman, on getting to him, coldly aimed at the boy’s back where he lay and fired, not one, not two, but several shots at the boy, killing him instantly.
The policeman, on sighting some of the villagers running towards him, fired sporadically and then escaped with his colleagues in their vehicle. He has not been seen till today; more than a month after the commission of the crime.
Now, what in the action of this policeman suggested friendship, despite knowing the young man? Was the Killer Cop high on drugs? Did he go mental, as we say here? I know he was not mentally retarded because if he was, he would have stood there instead of running away. Did the policeman think the boys were thieves? But wouldn’t he have stayed if they were thieves? Does a cop kill a thief and become frightened? Many questions begging for answers. But the reality is that the boy had been killed; killed in a most callous, cold blooded manner by someone who calls himself a human being, a protector of the citizens.
As I earlier said, that incident once more brought to the fore, the way our men in uniform treat the citizenry. Recall a past incident where a female soldier, with the help of her male colleagues, brutalized a young man whose only crime was admiring the female soldier. Now, is it a crime in Nigeria for a civilian to admire or even marry someone in the armed forces?
There was also another incident where soldiers beat up a cripple for wearing what they considered an army fatigue. It made news headlines and was celebrated on the social media. Although the Army hierarchy later apologized, the harm had been done as it yet showed the frosty relationship between the men in uniform and the public.
I dare say that it is only in African countries that anyone who wears a uniform believes they can lord it over civilians, even when the uniform wearer is not fit to polish the shoes of the person they are insulting. Repeatedly we have been hearing of ”accidental discharges”, a euphemism for the shooting of civilians by members of the armed forces. Sometimes we are told that the culprits will be punished; but we have barely seen them get punished. I believe that if they are punished the way they should, these incessant accidental discharges would have been greatly minimized if not completely stopped.
Now, because these matters are being treated with levity; just as the large scale killing of innocent Nigerians by herdsmen is being treated, the people in uniform keep shooting at people for fun. Interestingly, when they are confronted by real criminals, the same lion hearted uniformed personnel struggle with civilians on who would disappear first.
Anyone reading how innocent civilians are killed on the pages of newspapers or on social media, may not acutely feel the pain felt by families whose members are killed. The young man in question who was killed, was the son of a widow. Imagine the agony, pain, and anguish the poor, widowed mother will be undergoing. While she grieves, the world moves on, leaving her in her lonely, depressed world. If she commits suicide tomorrow, it becomes another headline news.
Just as Nigerians united to force the slapping senator to apologize for his horror show, as well as forcing the police and the senate to query him, Nigerians should once more unite to ensure that this Killer Cop is fished out and made to face the FULL wrath of the law. Notice the emphasis on full. We do not want any kid glove treatment of this matter. It should be an eye for an eye treatment. Anyone who takes life is not fit to live among the living. We should stop this nonsense once and for all.
. . . AND HE SLAPPED HER
As if the troubles we are having in Nigeria are not enough, we had the slapping incident involving a serving senator and a nursing mother at a supermarket in Abuja. The senator, Elisha Abbo, a Muslim who converted to Christianity on account of his marriage to a Christian woman, had flipped his lid for whatever reason and assaulted the woman at the supermarket. The senator represents Adamawa North on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
Nigerians rose as one to not just condemn the action of the senator, but to demand for justice. It was indeed unlike Nigerians. They wrote, petitioned, shouted, and in the end, justice, or what seemed like one was served, or has it? The senator apologized, the senate invited him to explain his action and the police also invited him for questioning.
The worrisome point, however, remains that the senator’s action depicts how the ruling class perceive us commoners. How can a senator who only recently sought for votes from people turn round to become a monster before those that voted for him, as the woman she slapped represented.
We have all been witnesses to how these politicians treat the electorate with disdain. They speed along the roads in long convoys, blaring sirens, disrespecting traffic signs and running you off the road. Indeed, I recall the day I was chased off the road by a politician’s convoy. Two of my tyres on one side burst as they scraped against the sharp edge of the tarred road. I was left alone to bear my burden as the convoy never stopped to inspect the damage they caused.
It is indeed a lawless country where the lawbreakers are often the lawmakers. The slapping senator represents one of these law-breaking lawmakers. The average government official does not care a hoot what happens to us. Being in government seems to confer on them a feeling of superiority that makes them unfeeling, uncaring and indifferent to us. Why should they care? They have the police at their beck and call; meaning that they are above the law.
That was why Senator Abbo could walk into a supermarket and land many slaps on the face of a married woman, with the policeman assigned to him (or bought by him) doing little or nothing.
From the video footage, it was probable that if he was armed, the senator could have shot the victim if it had been a man. A man would have resisted him and that could have angered him the more.
We may think that the matter should be forgotten because certain things have happened; things like his apology, his query by the police and that by the senate, but that should not be the case. His party, the PDP, should take it a step further by recalling him. No one does this kind of thing in the developed world and still stays in office. What the senator did was unthinkable. He should get the hammer blow which will serve as an example to those who may want to act like him in the future.