News The African Way

The Clear Message From Kaduna Train Attackers, By Azuka Onwuka

LAST week, I received the news that a childhood friend, Kenneth, was shot dead in the South-East and his vehicle taken away. The photo showed that he was shot in the forehead. News had it that he was shot in Awka-Etiti in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

When he was a teenager, Kenneth was brought to Nnewi from Nsukka by a relative of mine to be an apprentice in the motor spare parts sale. When he completed his apprenticeship, his boss settled him in line with the tradition of the apprenticeship among the Igbo people.

He set up his own business in the Nkwo Nnewi market near his former boss. He got an apartment in Nnewi not far from our home. He had spent more years in Nnewi than in his hometown. Even after he became his own boss, he continued to relate with us as a family friend. Last year, when we held the funeral ceremony of our father, he came and helped out.

That was the last time I saw him before I saw his photo lying on the ground with a hole in his forehead and blood all over his face. That deathly look on the face of Kenneth was traumatic. Certainly, his killers did not shoot to injure him or frighten him. They shot him point-blank to kill him.

That was how the life of a gentle guy who left his home as a child to learn a trade and change the course of his life was cut short. His wife has been widowed and his children made fatherless. It only required a bullet fired by someone who had no value for human life.

That is a sketch of what is going on in the South-East. Some callous men are on the loose, killing, burning and kidnapping. They have camps in different forests where they keep their kidnapped victims. Those killed are dropped in ditches in the forests. Those who came out alive tell tales of horror in such forests. The stench of decomposing human bodies is unbearable.

The police stations have been decimated and burned. The community vigilante groups that safeguard the communities have been cowed. Those who raise their voices have been silenced or their homes destroyed.

Moving around the South-East has become a risk because nobody knows when an attack will occur. Nobody even knows who may be shot dead or kidnapped or the criteria used to choose the victims. Some roads have been declared dangerous routes that should only be used at the risk of the motorist. Driving a big car is a risk. Looking like a big man or woman is a risk. Using a vehicle with a siren is a death sentence. Driving with security operatives is a risk. Using any vehicle that has a government number plate is a death sentence. Being in a vehicle on any street on any designated sit-at-home day is a huge risk.

Anarchy has descended on the South-East. Fear rules. Both those who support the violence and those who don’t are afraid to move around in the South-East. The mission of those behind this violence is to destroy or weaken any group or institution that has the power of coercion, so that they will stand as the only power to be feared and obeyed.

The reason the violence in the South-East is news is because that zone had been relatively peaceful until recent times. Wanton killings and arson were not common there.

Also in the North-West, the violence continued last week. The violence in Kaduna in the North-West of Nigeria was more than what happened in the South-East. Every two or three days, there was a report of between 10 and 50 killed in one community or the other, with many houses set ablaze. Because of the frequency of these attacks in Northern states like Kaduna, Zamfara, Benue, Plateau, Borno, reports of killings in the North no longer elicit outrage.

Last week, The Punch reported that no fewer than 1,545 persons were killed by terrorists within the first quarter of 2022 in Northern states like Kaduna, Zamfara, Niger, etc. This was disclosed through a joint report by the Community of Practice against Mass Atrocities and the Joint Action Civil Society Committee under the aegis of Nigeria Mourns. The report added that at least 1,321 persons were abducted by the terrorists in the same first quarter of 2022.

Consequently, news of attacks in the North no longer gets the attention of most Nigerians. That could be part of the motivation for last week’s attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train. The terrorists had noticed that only members of the lower class were taking the risk of travelling by road between Kaduna and Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. The attack on the train drew the required attention and outrage of Nigerians. In addition to the attention it drew, it also sent a message that no place was safe from the bandits. Just before the train attack, they had made an attempt at the airport in Kaduna. They did not succeed but they killed one person. They will continue to make attempts to attack an airport or aeroplane. Such an attack will attract international attention and strike deep fear into the hearts of the middle class and upper class in Nigeria, especially in the North, that no place is safe.

In recent times, different terror groups had attacked different military and police formations in the North. The message is to let the people know that the terrorists are more powerful than those who they expect to protect them. Once they achieve that, they will have no problems passing laws and getting the people to obey such laws, including paying them protection money or pizzo, as demanded by mafia groups.

The idea behind these attacks is the quest for power. Non-state actors want to be in power in their areas of control.

In the South-West, it is risky to travel by road or work on the farms. Kidnappers are operating on the highways and in the forests. In the South-South, all is not well too.

From virtually all parts of Nigeria, outlaws are flexing their muscles, taking actions that are clear messages that they want to weaken or destroy the government and be in control. Though officials of the Nigerian government make regular comments of “we are on top of the situation,” it is obvious that the security operatives are overwhelmed and overstretched. The regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) has no answer to the problem. He is just biding his time, waiting for May 29, 2023 to come so that he can hand over the anarchy to someone else. Whoever will succeed Buhari will be fighting fires from the first day in office.

Onwuka can be reached via Twitter: @BrandAzuka

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

%d bloggers like this:

Notice: ob_end_flush(): failed to send buffer of zlib output compression (1) in /home2/africapr/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5309

Notice: ob_end_flush(): failed to send buffer of zlib output compression (1) in /home2/africapr/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5309