Opinion: Our police have gone mad again – By TUNDE ODESOLA
In Nigeria, the surest path to immortality is perfidy. Nigeria, a land that devours its inhabitants, also walks on its head. When the head is used in walking, knocking against pebbles, metals and wood, chances are that a vein or two or more will burst open in the head and flood the brain with blood. This is what the Yoruba call eje ta si opolo. It’s only an upside-down fatherland with a blood-flooded brain that can still have public institutions named after the late General Sani Abacha and his predecessor, General Ibrahim Babangida. Going by the amount of money he stole and stashed abroad, Abacha must have been assured by some genie that he would live forever, snuggling his head on the bosoms of some Indian beauties. It’s only a country walking on its head that can canonise corruption by naming the Kano Stadium after the bloody general from Kano. Before he kicked the bucket, Abacha got the highest national honour in the land, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic.
In an article entitled, ‘James Ibori: How a thief almost became Nigeria’s President,’ published online by BBC on February 28, 2012, the British medium says, “The story of how James Ibori went from convicted thief in London in the 1990s, to become governor of a wealthy oil-producing Nigerian state and then to a British prison is a remarkable one.” The news medium went on to say that, “Given slightly different circumstances, according to one observer, it could have seen Ibori in the presidential villa rather than a British cell.”
After spending four years in a British cell for fraud and money laundering charges, Ibori returned home to a heroic welcome from the Delta State Government headed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. He was subsequently honoured with a very fat chieftaincy title. After his release from prison, Ibori visited the family of the late Bayelsa State governor, DSP Alamieyeseigha, who was similarly jailed for corruption.
General Ibrahim Babangida, the wicked general, who toppled Nigeria’s democratic cart in 1993, and who has repeatedly been accused of embezzling $12.4bn oil windfall at the height of his bloody reign, also has the highest honour in the land. Both IBB and Ibori still receive monthly funds from the national coffers as emoluments for their meritorious service to a fatherland walking on its head.
Seated in the country’s corridors of power and hallowed legislative and executive chambers are many men and women of dishonour, whose bank balances on assumption of office are infinitesimal when compared to the loot they currently sit on. In a moment of dizzying arrogance, one of such men recently boasted that he was richer than a state of the federal republic. And these men and women of infamy have national and state awards to their names.
Today, nearly all honours created by the National Honours Act No. 5 of 1964 are shared periodically among the nation’s politicians, leaving the littlest of the awards to their female concubines and gay lovers. To robe the yearly national awards in integrity, a sprinkle of truly selfless Nigerians are included as awardees.
Majority of monuments and public institutions, such as universities and polytechnics across the country, are named after the members of the parasitic political class. Nothing is in the name of the true heroes of the Nigerian nation. The Senior Advocate of the Masses, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, didn’t bag the title of SAN after several attempts, despite being a leading light in the nation’s legal profession. In life and in death, the ideals of the weird one (Abami Eda), Fela Anikulapo-Kuti; world renowned scholars like Chinua Achebe, Gabriel Okara, Christopher Okigbo, Chike Obi, Ayodeji Awojobi, Pius Adesanmi have been left unrecognised by successive governments.
Some of the nation’s living legends in arts, music, industry, sports, academics, commerce, finance, medicine, journalism, etc, are ageing and dying off without due recognition. Our symbols of dedication, hard work, resilience, brilliance, courage and hope are nowhere to be found on the nation’s honor list.
The way a people treat their dead reflects in the way they treat the living. Americans love their dead, whom they visit regularly in flower-strewn funeral gardens. When a hearse drives through a road, all vehicles stop as a mark of respect for the departed, till the hearse drives off out of sight. Nigeria also respects and honours her living citizens, dispatching them to the great beyond on time to meet their maker and be free of life’s hassles.
On the eve of April, a month, whose first day is globally dedicated to jokes and hoaxes, one would think that Nigeria would let the trigger rest and allow laughter to persist all through the month. But no! Capital NO! Nigeria doesn’t suffer the innocent gladly. Not in April. Not also in March, the month of ides. Nigeria would rather have an April full of blood than have an April fool to bear the brunt of jokes. This was why Kolade Johnson, the unfortunate 36-year-old youth had to be killed by the police in the Mangoro area of Ikeja, Lagos on the last day of March. This is why we would cry, dry our tears and do nothing, until the gun booms again and again, killing more innocent souls.
Our collective foolishness and bloodiness date far beyond August 1981when a clarion call to the USA was heeded by Dele Udo, a 24-year-old Abia indigene, who returned home to prepare for the All African Games. Standing at 6’1’’, Dele was a world class quarter miler and hurdler, who had set a joint world record with Dan Lavitt, Ed Ofili and Scott Clark in 1978. Dele Ndubuisi Udo was a two-time member of the Nigerian Olympic team of 1976 and 1980. He was also the holder of several National Collegiate Athletic Association records in the USA. Dele was shot and killed like an ownerless dog at Ojuelegba in the Surulere area of Lagos while going to have a dinner after training for the day at the National Stadium. The national outrage that greeted his murder died soon after the ink dried on the banner headlines that announced his gruesome killing in the hands of an accursed policeman at a checkpoint. Dele had married his pregnant American girlfriend three months before his murder.
The list of the victims of police killings is endless. On March 18, 2019, 18-year-old girl, Hadiyat Sikiru, was killed like Johnson by a stray bullet fired by a policeman in Adamo community of Ikorodu in Lagos. Also, a commercial motorcyclist, Ademola Moshood, was shot dead by untrained policemen near his Surulere residence on March 28, 2019 when he allegedly refused to part with N200. A member of the National Youth Service Corps, Linda Igwetu, was killed by the police on July 3, 2018 on her way home from her place of primary assignment in the Mabushi area of Abuja. Similarly, two drivers were killed by policemen at the Ibro motor park, Lokoja, in January 2019. On April 15, 2018, a wedding ceremony abruptly ended when unmotivated policemen shot two guests. Last October, a harmless 31-year-old Nigerian lady, Anita Akapson, who just returned to the country after bagging a degree abroad, was killed by the police in cold blood.
The list is unending. Biodun Awosika, a banker, was killed by the police at the Lekki Roundabout in September 2008, just as Yusuf Oladipo and Dele Sodipo were shot dead in Ebute Meta and Iju areas of Lagos in September 2009. The police also killed six traders popularly referred to as the ‘Apo Six’ in Abuja in 2005, dispossessing them of their money.
I remember the consultant endocrinologist, Dr Ameyo Adadevoh, who died on August 19, 2014 to save the country from the deadly Ebola virus. I can’t remember Nigeria bestowing an award on her.
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