By Uche Amunike
I am sad. I am devastated. I am in pain. I feel the pain of a mother, as I try to imagine what it means to lose a child. Sadly, I am not talking about the death of a child per se, but a full grown man. Kindly let me tell you the story of Paschal.
Paschal Onyilo was a young, quiet and unassuming young man. He is popularly known in government circles here in Anambra state as the guy who sets up sound at most of the functions that take place here. The story has it that Paschal, on the fateful day he passed through the ordeal that led to his death, was driving to Obosi to set up his equipment for an event, however, some young children caused some damages to his car when they threw stones on the windshield. Nobody knows if it was a mistake on the part of the children or an intentional act. Just like anyone would have done, Paschal alighted but the children ran away.
However, one of them was not as fast as the others in escaping, so Paschal held him and demanded that he will be taken to his parents so they will pay for the repairs of his damaged vehicle. If only he knew what fate had in stock for him. If only the hands of the clock could be turned back. If only it was possible for man to see into the future, perhaps then paschal would still be alive today, because he would have just quietly left that child and gone on his merry way. Anyway, back to my story. The other children that ran away went home and told a different story from what truly happened. I guess they were afraid of being punished for causing damage to a stranger's vehicle. They told their parents that Paschal tried kidnapping them but that they were lucky to run away unlike their brother whom he caught. So, naturally they reinforced and went in search of “Paschal the Kidnapper”. They caught him with the boy and treated him like a kidnapper caught in action. They beat him up really bad until he almost breathed his last. Of course, the Naija style is that people are not saved when in trouble. Rather, people make use of their phones by recording the incident.
So, Paschal cried out for help, he begged to be given a fair hearing, he pleaded that he was innocent of all charges but nobody listened. After all, he was a kidnapper caught in action. They beat him up real bad and didn't stop there. They set his car ablaze. By the time help came for him he was half dead. He was rushed to Iyi-enu hospital, Ogidi where he was lucky to narrate his ordeal to his visitors and the police after surviving the emergency surgery carried out on him.
Perhaps the only good thing that came out of this narrative is the fact that he was able to tell his own side of the story before giving up the ghost. I guess Paschal was vindicated. His vindication still doesn't remove my pain, though. Hearing his story reminded me of the brutal killing of 4 young undergraduates of the University of Port Harcourt, in far away Aluu. It reminds me of the 13 year old boy killed by mob action for stealing garri in Onitsha years ago.
It reminds me of Christiana, the woman beheaded in Kano state by irate muslims for no justifiable reason. It reminds me of the gory pictures of criminals killed by the Bakassi boys in Onitsha that is still etched in my memory. Indeed we live in a violent world where mob action thrives. Just yesterday on the internet, I saw a Hindu girl burnt alive just because she was caught attending a Christian church service. That was in India or so. Need I talk about the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram Sect here in Nigeria?
I can only use this medium to appeal to everyone reading this to value the sacredness of life and as well, understand the savagery in mob action. I don't care what anyone did wrong. I want us to begin to respect life for what it is. If a criminal is caught red handed stealing from someone, or a murderer was caught shooting someone, the right thing to do will be to hand them over to the right authorities that will bring them to book. That is what people do in a sane society. Burning people alive is as barbaric as it is demonic. It seems to me like something done by people possessed by the devil himself.
Now, back to the story of Paschal. I do not know his background and so cannot tell if his parents are still alive . I however learnt he is married. I have tried to put myself in the shoes of his family and each time I do that, I shudder. One thing I would like to condemn though, is the habit of Nigerians recording video clips when dastardly acts are being carried out, instead of seeking help for the victim(s). I remember breaking down emotionally when I watched the video of the four young students gruesomely killed in Aluu. The question I kept asking myself remained how could one person out of the entire crowd not run and seek for help while that horrible deed was done? Remember, they were not killed in a 5,10, 15 or 20 minutes time frame. That video was a very long one because they were brutally tortured for a long time before they were killed. I saw a policeman in that video and when people kept saying I shouldn't blame him because he was only one person and couldn't have been able to have saved them from that mammoth crowd, I totally disagreed with them because he would have quietly walked away and gone to reinforce. If he returned with even five police officers that were fully armed, those boys would not have been killed. He rather shamelessly stood there and moved with the mob until he was shamelessly captured in the video clip. What a country!
Nigerians should kindly learn to disengage themselves from the habit of recording videos of mob actions when they can use that time to save lives. It is an anomaly that portrays us as savages in western climes.
Now, to the story going round that the young man, Paschal was indeed a kidnapper who went to kidnap the little boy, I can only pray that God forgives them. That was a lie told by the same people who murdered him. It was a lie told to the world so that the police would not be on their trail. It was a lie told from the pits of hell. I urge the Nigerian Police to dig deep into this matter and bring the killers of this innocent young man to book. They have not only cut his life short, but also given him a bad name. It will be unfair for posterity to judge him by the sad and false story being recounted about him and indeed, his last moments. I call on the security operatives in the state to get up on their feet and do what they know how to do best. Anambra cannot be called the safest state and people wake up one morning and are not only labeled kidnappers, but killed as well, for nothing, in broad day light
Paschal was not a kidnapper. He was a hardworking young man struggling to make ends meet. He had a career and colleagues who knew him and can still vouch for him. He had a family that looked up to him.
As for the people whose children told those lies that led to the killing of this young dude, I hope they know that they have a big problem on their hands. If those little children could spew such heavy and unbelievable falsehoods and still didn't budge when they saw that Paschal was being killed on account of their lies, then their parents have a big problem to contend with in the future. Those children are the people to watch out for in the not too distant future. They are the future bandits, kidnappers and cultists of their generation. They are the future menaces of this already warped society. I implore the police to be passionate in this case. They should investigate every family involved in this injustice. I tell you, those children will confess to the truth if the police handles this well.
Let me also say that God wanted justice for Paschal which was why He spared his life after the surgery so that he would have the opportunity to tell his own story to the world. I implore the police to work on every information they have and let justice prevail. Paschal hails from Abatete. This means he died in a place very close to his home town. Igwe Abatete, if you are reading this, kindly do not let the pain and cries of Paschal be for nothing. Tell your fellow Monarch, the Igwe of Umuoji, to help out in tracing the families involved in this. I’m sure he will gladly help
Paschal's life was cut short prematurely. He also died defenselessly. His blood cries out for vengeance. Kindly help his family, friends, colleagues, associates, kith and Kin to bear this pain a little better by appeasing his troubled spirit.
May we never be victims of mob action anywhere we find ourselves. May we never be in any situation that will see us not being able to speak for ourselves, especially in troubled times. May we always be the ones to tell our own life stories. May the soul of Paschal and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God Rest in peace. Amen.