I did not know Obinna directly but we had mutual friends here in London. Until recently Obinna was here in the UK, at his family expense, to pick up a post graduate qualification. Obi, as I will call him for the rest of this write up, like every young man had dreams and hopes and one of such was to go back and complete the mandatory NYSC. As a result he packed his bags, paid his way back to Nigeria to serve his fatherland in Bauchi where he was posted to do his National Youth Service.
As you might have guessed by now Obi is one of the Youth Corpers, reported glibly by the media, killed in Bauchi in the last few days. I don’t know if it is because it has happened so many times or what, but the media in Nigeria have become very blasé about such killings and no longer view such as worthy of further coverage. Obi was a person, he had a life, he had a family that loved and sacrificed for him. Obi as you can see from his picture was a good looking young man full of life. According to friends, Obi had run to the corpers lodge to seek refuge and was worried enough to contemplate running to the barracks. But before he or any of the other corpers in the lodge could actualize this; death arrived in the form of a CPC murder squad.
The terror Obi and the rest must have felt can only be best imagined. They were forced out and beaten up and not quite done, the baying crowd of CPC fanatics slaughtered them and set their bodies alight. It is not the kind of death you will wish on your enemy. Let no one try and palm this off on the usual suspects; the Almajiris. Yes there must have been street urchins amongst the killer squad but these were CPC and Buhari loyalists who were out to sort out “the opponents” of their leader. It did not matter to them that these young people were on a National service, as far as they were concerned, if they were not one of them, then they must be the enemy.
There are parallels between the killing of Obi et al and what happened in Kenya at the tail end of 2007 when Kenyans went to the polls in a bitterly fought election. The incumbent Mwai Kibaki’s reelection was disputed by the main opposition leader Raila Odinga. In no time Kalenjin militias in the Rift Valley fanned out in a murderous search of Kibaki’s supporters and kinsmen. They burnt down their houses, looted and killed Kikuyus who were seen as Kibaki’s supporters. Kibaki’s Kikuyus soon retaliated and at the end of the orgy of violence, over 1,100 Kenyans had been killed.
Just like we have seen in Nigeria before, the Kenyan government sacrificed justice at the altar of political expediency. The Kenyan Government made feeble attempts bring to trail the perpetuators without much success and the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague was forced to step in. Charges have now been filed against 6 politicians, ex head of Police, a radio DJ and Government ministers for inciting the violence
The killing of Obi in Bauchi won’t be the first time people have run amok in the North. Far more people have been killed in Plateau state alone than in Kenya. People are killed at the drop of a hat in the North and Middle Belt and the Government appears helpless. We must now call on the ICC to intervene and try and break this cycle of the mindless slaughter of the innocent people in the North. The facts are all there, just as in Kenya; people were incited and primed to wreak maximum havoc in the event of results not favoring them. Even after the elections we had the likes of Alhaji Buba Galadima of the CPC still going on BBC Hausa service to spew hate. I have previously written about the climate of hate that surrounded CPC rallies prior to the elections and frankly it is no surprise that violence broke out. What is surprising is that yet again, the security forces were caught flat footed. How could they not have known that CPC supporters were going to embark on an orgy of violence?
It is doubtful if President Jonathan has the political spine to bring the murders to book. I suspect the killing of Obi and that of many others in this latest orgy of violence will be swept under the carpet by the Government for the sake of political expediency or “national unity”. We need to tell the government that there is no more room under the carpet. The blood of Obi (and others) is calling for justice. It would be most disappointing if appeasement rather that justice is pursued by the government, killers must be brought to book and not rewarded. If the Government feels this is beyond them, they should then allow for the ICC to step in.