Murder of Akunyili, others: A failing country in the grip of ‘unknown gunmen’, By Victor Ikhatalor

Posted by News Express | 13 October 2021 | 223 times

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 •Victor Ikhatalor


What pain! What unimaginable shock! Contemplating the magnitude of unvarnished gut wrenching sorrow, sudden and seemingly apocalyptic, that would have befallen the family of Akunyili on hearing about the gruesome murder of Dr John Chike Akunyili can be better left to the imagination.

Already bereft and forever left with a hollow vacant space in their hearts from the demise of their ebullient, steady, accomplished mother, the Akunyili children were not spared the brutal reality that disparate families across Nigeria have to come to terms with on a daily basis.

It is the Hobbesian spectre of life as “nasty, brutish and short” made manifest on our shores. It is the reality of living in a failing country in the murderous grip of unknown gunmen.

For better or worse, we live in a country conquered by kleptocrats, ethnic/religious bigots, terrorists of different shades, and their champions who have disdainfully shorn their velvet gloves and must willfully shape all of our lives irrespective of divergent views.

We live in a country, devoid of politicians and statesmen who genuinely elicit “adoration” from their people and followership. All conquering politrickcians and elitist “lootists” have despoiled a place where the likes of Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Aminu Kano, et al, used to call their own.

We are now, most of us at least, in the roles of unwilling spectators, watching the unfolding tragic drama of a nation inundated by deadly plagues inspired by a blight of misleaders and crooks in official spaces.

The omissions and commissions of voracious kleptocratic Nigerian misleaders and their pestilential band have come home to roost, unleashing hydra-headed monstrous shadows of extreme poverty and virulent insecurity to daily stalk the land.

Terrorists of all hues, seemingly invisible to security apparatchik, hold sovereign territory on Nigerian soil and appear inviolate.

To pigeonhole, distinguishing these violence practitioners according to anyone’s yardstick – as if the devilish and wanton spilling of the blood of innocents can be compartmentalised in greater or lesser portions as some of their overt and covert champions in public spaces will want us to believe – is to say they do not all “terrorize”.

Daily murderous binges of “gunmen” across the country have in real terms only elicited, rather uncannily, almost copy and paste, responses from the Presidency, detached from reality and lacking consequential actionable force.

Indeed, Nigerians, who are all very much aware, besieged by daily poverty and mortal dread for life and limb, have only noticed that stereotypical threats of fire and brimstone emanating from Aso Rock only seems to spur the invisible unknown gunmen on to more fiendish acts.

These statements – invariably following the same patterns of “shock and avowals of retribution” – issued in the wake of acts of terrorism have now assumed the characteristic of “surplusage” of irrelevance.

What is clear is that from North to South, East to West, unknown gunmen – increasingly emboldened – are expanding their fiefs and leaving a trail of sorrow, tears and blood in their wake.

Earlier in the year, April 2021, the Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello had said:  “I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger State. Here in Kaure, in Shiroro Local Government Area.

“I am confirming that they have hoisted their flags there. The villagers’ wives have been seized from them and forcefully attached to Boko Haram members. I just heard that they have placed their flags at Kaure, meaning they have taken over the territory.”

Fast forward to October early 2021, and the headline is: “Boko Haram cripples governance in Niger communities, fixes marital age for girls.”

In a development already confirmed by the Chairman of Shiroro Local Government Area, a resident of the area and Co-convener of Concerned Shiroro Youths, Bello Ibrahim, told a reporter:

“Now, they are not only in Kaure, they have also extended their tentacles to communities like Kuregbe, Awulo, and host of other communities. In Awulo and Kuregbe communities, they assembled the locals, both Muslims and Christians, and gave them marching order that any girl that is 12 should be married off. There is no any form of law in the area aside Boko Haram’s.”

Hitherto, much to their enduring sorrow, the good people of Niger State, like the rest of the North-Central, have felt the heavy hand of terrorists, the bandits and herdsmen variety.

That Boko Haram terrorists have now infiltrated the North-Central is in keeping with the emboldened proliferation of their kind, which had hitherto seen them transcend from their original base in the North-East into the North-West.

Like the whole of the northern part of Nigeria, the southern part of the country is helplessly ensnared in the grip of unknown gunmen. The herdsmen/bandit variants continue to terrorise all of southern Nigeria in daily unabated killings and kidnappings for ransom.

Added to the mix of this hotbed of insecurity is the dastardly upsurge in ritual-fuelled kidnappings and killings that are reprehensibly mind-boggling. Pervasive, daring armed robberies and violent crimes like rape are raging monstrosities in our neighbourhoods that continue to leave bloody and scarred footprints.

Unremitting demonic inspired cult clashes and street violence is now a recurring decimal, especially in the South-South; although the South-West and South-East has their own fair share of this ever-spreading barbarity.

The South-East, it would seem, is now in a unique territory all of its own. Practising unknown gunmen in this area seem bent on a scorched earth policy, uniquely combining and fitting all of the evil tendencies noticeable across Nigeria into one place in what is surely a combustible mix.

Eastern Nigeria exposes, in stark relief, the “failings” of the Nigerian enterprise to any discerning eye. The startling optics of cities in the South-East, a significant component part of Nigeria, turned in its entirety not once but severally, into ghost towns, heeding the dictates of a secessionist group – notwithstanding the coercive powers of state to do otherwise – is as troubling as it is revealing, of how clearly the Nigerian entity stands on the precipice.

In the northern part of the country, there are areas where terrorists are sovereign, promulgating laws and collecting taxes and fees. These terrorists (bandits and herdsmen inclusive), who seemingly cannot be demystified and rooted out from their lairs and bastions, continue to thrive and perpetuate their reign of blood empires.

These abiding truths - however smudged or deliberately downplayed - are hallmarks of a failing state and that reality cannot be doctored or remedied through threat’s of forceful coercion or doublespeak, but must be seen and handled for what they are: a menacing present and clear danger to Nigeria’s corporate existence.

And so, as Nigerians perish by the score on a daily basis from the hands of unknown gunmen, can hopeless and helpless citizens contemplate a better tomorrow?

Chike Akunyili’s children, now among the legion of bereaved Nigerians touched by the outrages of unknown gunmen, wrote a tribute to a man they said, was like millions of his compatriots – an ordinary man. Here are their words:

“In his final days, his heart was heavy about the state of things in Nigeria. He lamented about the struggles of people unable to pay for treatment anymore and about the unfortunate state of unrest where human life has lost its value.

His hope echoed that of his beloved wife and our mother, that Nigeria might lean on the forces of unity and shun disunity. That we might do the right thing, trusting that our potential lies in the goodness of the people and the greatness of the nation.”

What happens if we move closer to these ideals?

•Ikhatalor, Human rights defender and good governance advocate, can be reached on:

Twitter: @MyTribeNigeria;


Source: News Express

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