Tuesday, July 18, 2023
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ew days ago, a group of drunkards in gentlemen attires, ran through some beer shops shouting, "They don come - o-o-o!!!!" The sellers and their customers ran helter-skelter without looking back to ascertain who were the 'they'. Even the wife of one of the beer dealers threw away her three-month old baby and ran for her dear life. She reasoned that it is better to lose the baby's life than hers. According to her, if the baby dies, she would give birth to another baby. But if she (the mother) dies, the baby becomes motherless automatically. The emotional runners left their shops open with big amounts of money in their drawers. Having terrified the traders and they abandoned everything behind, the organized drunkards with eye gesture began to carry cartons of beer into the van they stationed nearby. The monies were left untouched. They were only interested in the content of green and brown bottles. Even as they were carting away the drinks, they opened some instantly with openers which they wore as necklaces and were drinking as fast as possible. At the sight of some armed policemen, they took to flight with the sufficient cartons of beer they stole.

When the traders came back, they found their monies intact. They lost only some cartons of beer. The baby thrown away was crying profusely with broken arms. The careless mother took her to a nearby hospital where doctors labored in vain to salvage the tender broken arms. At last the two arms were amputated. The innocent child became armless. Which one is better: to be motherless or to be armless? The fear of the unknown made her armless. The careless mother later died of heart attack while the armless child was sent to a disabled home for special care. Indeed the fear of the unknown is the beginning of tragedy.

Last week, the notorious breakaway IPOB leader, Mr. Simon Ikpa, who lives and works in faraway Finland, imposed seven days sit-at-home upon his slaves living in Southeast Nigeria. He made the announcement over there and went to work daily in Finland during the seven days. He expected his slaves to sit idly at home while he goes to work to earn money. The slaves will stay at home doing nothing for a week. An author Kalu Idika on News.band of 7 July 2023 describes Simon Ikpa as "The Finland based crook who has been touting around on the internet after arrogating himself the position of Biafra Prime Minister under the guise of Biafra Government in Exile, has become the greatest undoing of his master - Nnamdi Kanu…. Ekpa, a son of anarchy who claims to be a disciple of Nnamdi Kanu, sold out his master by arming, killing innocent civilians and enforcing a counter-productive sit-at-home which has brought untold hardship and punctured the possibilities of negotiating for Kanu's release from detention."

On Tuesday 4 July 2023, a group of armed men in fearful red attire invaded a market at Ishieke in Ebonyi State and started shooting sporadically. Marketers, cyclists and passers-by ran helter-skelter for their dear lives. Even though no death casualty was recorded, yet many sustained bodily and psychological injuries. Some marketers lost their goods and cash to miscreants, who utilized the fearful event to cart away their hard-earned commodities on display in the market. Thank God some eagle-eyed policemen in Ebonyi State were able to locate their hideout and rounded fifteen of them up, including a woman and the native doctor who was their commander in charms. The charms failed them on that night they were apprehended.

Within the same period and week, there was palpable fear of the unknown at Enugu. Pandemonium occurred here and there within the Coal City. Thus business, transporters, schools and other daily economic activities were interrupted. It was reported that some armed enforcers of the Ikpa-led illegal sit-at-home were also apprehended over there. Four of them who confronted the police were shot dead.

In many places in Southeast, residents have sacrificed Mondays in honour of the quest of releasing Nnamdi Kanu from DSS detention camp. The authentic IPOB authority had officially cancelled the Monday sit-at-home, but some hoodlums still enforce it. For this reason, the fear of the unknown keeps people at home. The illegal seven days' sit-at-home order by Simon Ikpa was not obeyed in Anambra State. People went about their normal daily businesses from Tuesday 4th July till Thursday 6th July. But on Friday 7th July there was rumour that the evil-minded enforcers of the illegal sit-at-home would invade Anambra State to cause mayhem. Defiantly many came out for their normal businesses while few out of the fear of the unknown stayed indoors. There was pandemonium in some places in Onitsha, Awka, Aguata and Orumba. False security report heightened tension here and there. Rumour mongers were readily on the air. Pandemonium broke out in few places. Pupils and students, who had already gone to school on that Friday, out of the fear of the unknown quickly returned home. Worried parents hurried to schools to collect their children. Businesses were partially interrupted. Joint security operatives comprising of army, police, civil guards and vigilantes were seen in vehicles parading here and there to quench any possible security breach.

On that Friday I was at Ekwulobia doing shopping. Every activity was going as normal. But when I drove back to my interior and bushy area of apostolate, I discovered that every place had been deserted. False security report sent them packing. Our local school which was bustling with life when I was driving out in the morning of that fateful day had become a ghost of its own. Even our church and Chapel of Eucharistic Adoration were empty. The adorers also ran away and abandoned Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, who is our Safety and Refuge. They resorted to human refuge in their unsafe homes. Fear of the unknown made them to forget the words of Our Lord and Saviour: "Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest" (Mtt. 11:28). I wondered how my people abandoned Reality to seek shadow because of fear of the unknown.

As I see the movement of events these days, many of our people will die on the way to the Promised Land just like the unfaithful Israelites died in the desert. Fear and panic are deadly. No wonder the popular Shakespeare asserted that cowards die many times before their actual death. Are you a coward? Why die before your time? I remember one late Doctor Mbaamaonyeukwu of Nibo in Awka South of Anambra State whose clinical motto was "Why die in silence?" Some of us are already psychologically dead because of fear of the unknown. Such people are only awaiting their biological death.

The Social Media itself does not helped matters. It has also become a death trap. Many unpalatable fake news and fearful reports appear in the Social Media on daily basis. They have heightened the incidences of high blood pressure and heart attacks. Instead of read and live; it has become read and die. Technology has reached the point of no return. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom while the fear of the unknown is the beginning of sudden death.