FEATURE ARTICLE

Lawrence Chinedu NwobuFriday, October 5, 2007
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Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland

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THE SHAMEFUL SPECTRE OF UNENDING RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN NORTHERN NIGERIA

he most important duty and responsibility of any nation is the protection of life and property. Without this responsibility that anchors on the basic tenets of universally accepted fundamental human rights, the essence and rights of nationhood would be lost. It is for this reason that all sane nations strive to forcefully and necessarily entrench very rigid laws and statutes for the protection of life and property. Shades of intolerance exist in every society, but what makes the difference is the willingness to enforce strict laws that would serve as a deterrent to would be offenders.


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Many of us who live abroad can bear witness to the high levels of intolerance bothering on racism prevalent among the citizens of our host nations, but the risk of losing life and limb remains very, very low, because of a well grounded system of rule of law which keeps potential offenders at bay. The implication is that the average Southern Nigerian is guaranteed more security of life and property abroad (even in other African nations) than he could ever dream of within the boundaries of his supposed country in Northern Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria is a region that has over the years become an area of crass intolerance and notorious killing field of other Nigerians in shameful barbaric spectres of constantly reoccurring bloody religious violence which actually began in 1945. As a consequence, Nigeria has been indicted as a nation that has consistently failed in the primary responsibility of the protection of life and property of her citizens and acquired the ignoble image of a lawless jungle nation..

Newspaper and online reports https://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2007/s07100005.htm have once again since Sunday the 30th of September been reporting another ritual of religious violence in the tudun wada area of Kano which has so far claimed the lives of 9 people including a youth corper, and led to the destruction of many shops. The riots as usual was reportedly provoked by a trivial online publication said to have been pasted online by someone from Bangladesh which ironically is a Muslim nation.

For a nation that is not at war, Nigeria has broken world records for religious violence. The last riots was incited by a cartoon published in faraway Denmark that had nothing to do with Nigerians, yet hundreds were brutally hacked to death in the “notorious North” for that incident. Of all the nations that protested the Denmark cartoons including core Muslim middle east, Asian and North African nations only Nigeria recorded casualties, more so of her own supposed citizens for a cartoon that originated in faraway Europe.

Religious violence has become an instrument of terrorism inspired and sponsored by Northern religious and political leaders whose clear indictment and tacit support is evident by their unusual silence each time such barbaric riots reminiscent of the stone age occurs. Yet this same Northern leaders; the Babangida’s, the Buhari’s, etc would be the first to mount the podium preaching their fake “one Nigeria” which they neither practice nor believe in.

The Nigerian government on its own part has remained complicit by its refusal to prosecute those who have made it their way of life to kill other Nigerians with impunity at the drop of any pin. Our constitution which dedicated a great part of its text to the ideals of rule of law and protection of life and property maybe no better than a toilet paper.

How we can talk of having a nation when the most basic of rights are constantly violated? How can we in the least claim to be civilised when human beings are constantly hacked to death without the perpetrators facing any trial? How we as a people or nation be respected by others when we have proved ourselves incapable of civilised human conduct by the unpunished barbarities that happen in our clime? How can we in all honesty challenge a racist white man who believes black Africans are inferior when shameful incidents in our nation make us look more like a people who live in a jungle?

The greater tragedy of course is that even Nigerians who live in the Diaspora carry a tragic mentality of protesting violence abroad, but accepting violence at home. Recently when a Nigerian Mr Osamuyai Akpitanhi was killed in Spain, Nigerians in the Diaspora mobilised from internet forums, notably the NVS to sign petitions against the Spanish authorities yet when innocent Nigerians are killed at home the Diaspora community stays quiet. Malcolm X once said that “if violence is wrong abroad, it should be wrong at home.” It makes no sense to rail against those whose societies to a large extent guarantees human rights and the rule of law, but stay silent in our societies that flagrantly violates the basic right to life of her own citizens.

If the 9 people killed in Kano, or the genocide committed by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in Odi and Zaki-Biam were to have been targeted at Nigerians or blacks in Spain or elsewhere in the Western world, Nigerians would typically have raised a lot of dust, but because they have been killed in Nigeria, there is a grim acceptance of its being business as usual. This mentality is at best shameful and the height of hypocrisy. Human life is human life anywhere. If we cannot protest the violent cycle of bloody religious terrorism in Northern Nigeria, and other abuses by the Nigerian government, it is hypocritical to protest abuses in the Western world.

The ball is now in the court of both Diaspora and other Nigerians resident in Nigeria to formulate and sign petitions condemning this latest violent assault on innocent Nigerians in the North as they did for Mr Osamuyai Akphitanhi, and call for the arrest and trial of the perpetrators of the crime. This is the minimum we can do to stand on the side of justice. As the saying goes, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

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