Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Chicago, USA

n Friday, May 3rd, 2019, my classmate and friend, Victor Eze, was murdered in cold blood in Abakpa close to Nike Lake Hotel. Victor was a 49-year-old father of five adorable children, with a beautiful wife. He was happy with his family and had celebrated the birthday of his daughter the day before he was attacked by some unknown gunmen. Victor was a very hard-working man, who until his untimely and barbaric killing in the hands of some wicked men owned a modest business through which he provided for his immediate family and supported his extended family.

According to an eye witness account, Victor was stopped by unknown gunmen who wanted to whisk him away and who shot him with a single bullet to the heart and made away with his phone. Nothing else was stolen. I do not yet know the motive of his murderers nor do I know their identity, but what I know is that the world has lost a peace-loving and gentle soul, and a law-abiding citizen. Victor was a very generous and compassionate man who cared so much for people. He was a man of deep faith who believed in God and all that is true, beautiful, good and worthy of praise.

Those of us who grew up in Enugu know that Abakpa used to be a peaceful place for ordinary people who came from all over Eastern Nigeria to do ordinary jobs to earn their daily bread. People who lived in Abakpa then cared for themselves and most people in those days did not have to worry about security. Most people who lived in Abakpa were poor and easily connected with the poverty and suffering of each other. Abakpa, like most places in Eastern Nigeria and elsewhere, has become a den of robbers and miscreants, hired assassins and thugs of politicians and powerful men and women in Enugu State. There is always a terrible spike in violent crime rate in Nigeria after elections. The politicians and kingmakers after using these young men as thugs or praise singers and having given some of them weapons normally abandon them in the broken lower rungs of society to rummage in the garbage for survival.

The unfortunate consequence is this uncontainable reign of violence and crimes spreading like a dangerous harmattan fire. In many parts of Nigeria today, criminals are having a field day as these exploited and conscienceless husks of humanity-our young university graduates or high school or university dropouts-litter our streets as walking canons, destroying lives through armed robbery, rape and other violent crimes carried out with maximum brutality and merciless efficiency.

My heart is broken and I am traumatized. In my sadness, shock, and grief, I have cried out to God as to why this dastardly act took place and why has my home state now become a land which devours its inhabitants. The blood of my friend and classmate, Victor Eze, cries to God from the sands of Abakpa for justice. He was my classmate with whom I started a journey at Sacred Heart Seminary, Nsude in 1982. He, like all of us, had his dreams and hopes. He worked hard and followed the path marked out for him by God and made modest and steady progress. All these have now come to a tragic end because of human wickedness and evil. When I joined our last class meeting on April 27th, 2019 by WhatsApp, I never thought that I will never see Victor again. None of us at that meeting ever imagined that Victor's life would be ended by a single bullet to the heart from the hand of some wicked, heartless and evil sons of darkness.

What is so frustrating in this whole thing is the lack of sensitivity by the government of Enugu state and the state police command. Victor's death was not even considered newsworthy. Murders and armed robbery have become so constant now that it does not make news anymore. Even the hospital-Parklane-could not even extract the bullet from Victor's heart and his family and friend will bury him with this bullet lodged in his body! When this horrible crime was reported to the Enugu State Police Command, the police officers were asking this broken family to mobilize them-that is give them bribe-before they could do their constitutional duty. One of the police officers was even suggesting to the family that they should not make noise about the death because those who killed Victor might come for them too. What a way to bring comfort and closure to a traumatized young family! A friend of mine last year in the same Enugu State had to engage a lawyer to fight the police to allow a grieving mother to see and take possession of the body of her slain son. The police in Enugu was asking the woman for a bribe before releasing her son's dead body to her! I wonder what kind of society we live in and how we have become so cold-hearted and wicked that we lack mercy, compassion and the milk of human kindness even to the point of exploiting the murder of a fellow human being for money.

I am calling out the Enugu State Police command through write-up which I penned with misty eyes. I mourn the violent death of slain friend and classmate who should never have been killed. I call on the Enugu State Government and the Enugu state police command to institute the highest level of criminal investigation to find the killers of our dear friend and quickly bring them to justice. I and my classmates and friends of Victor will not sleep nor rest until justice is done. Nothing will bring back our slain colleague and friend, but finding his killers and bringing them to justice, will offer us his family and friends some measure of closure. It will also serve as a deterrent to other killers and their sponsors.

I deplore in the strongest terms the senseless killing of our friend, Victor Eze, which adds to the growing list of unresolved and unsolved killings which are now becoming all too familiar in Enugu metropolis and its environs. I condemn the rising crime rate and murders in Enugu metropolis. I call on the state government to guarantee the safety of lives and properties because this is the primary responsibility of the state. I wonder how the government can continue to claim that Enugu state is in the hands of God in this troubling and scary environment. What I see at this present time, following the murder of Victor, and many other recent killings this year in Enugu state, is that it looks like Enugu state is now in the hands of hoodlums, assassins, murderers, armed robbers, and Fulani headsmen, and the government is standing by without any effective response.

What kind of government will stand by this way when precious lives are being lost to hoodlums! What kind of government will condone the existence of a corrupt and ineffective police command which shamelessly and heartlessly seeks money from a grieving family of a slain middle-aged breadwinner of the family before carrying out its duty of protecting citizens, preventing crimes, and investigating and apprehending criminals? We live in a very sick and sinful society which continues to use the name of God in vain while our deeds are evil and ungodly as reflected in a corrupt state police command which seeks bribes in order to investigate a murder case. In a few cases, the police are actually complicit in violent crimes and that is why they are often reluctant to investigate some serious crimes.

In communion with all my classmates who are united in our Christian faith and who have been formed in Catholic morality which respects the inestimable value of life, I call on our people to embrace the value of non-violence and respect for the sacredness of life. I declare that all life should be prized not priced. No one should put a price on anybody's head nor should anybody shed another's blood. God imposes the highest curse and punishment on those who kill. I ask our people not only to pray for a more peaceful and just society in our state and country but that people should reject violence. Our Christian faith calls on us to forgive even those who harm us. However, while we extend forgiveness to the killers of our friend, I pray that the God of justice working through the legitimate state authorities will help to bring these killers to justice.

I pray that God may grant eternal rest to our friend, colleague, and brother Victor Eze. Let us all in Nigeria recommit ourselves to the ideals of love, solidarity, compassion, mercy, and peace. There is so much bloodshed in our land and this breaks our hearts and rends the heart of God asunder. We can all embrace a culture of life and love in order to create a better world for ourselves, our children and generations yet unborn.