From the Uknown Soldier and Unknown Soldiers, we now have Unknown Gun-Men, who operate only in the East (and occasionally the South-South), and who specialise in attacking prison, police and INEC offices, security personnel and a few PEPs(Politically Exposed Persons). About 4000 prisoners were let lose when UGM attacked the Yenogoa and Owerri Correctional facilities; about 10 INEC offices were razed in the Eastern part of the country in May 2021, while the number of police stations destroyed and policemen murdered is still being collated. Their most daring attack was on Owerri, at an environment, which those who know described as the most fortified axis in the state. How they operated freely and successfully there is still a mystery.
Something that have perplexed the son of man, and indeed, many other ‘watchers’ of our precarious security situation is the overzealousness of our security officials whenever there are security breaches in the East and especially when the UGM are involved. The IGP declared that the Owerri attack was undertaken by the IPOB/ESN, just as the police accused them in the Gulak Murder. But they have not made any statement on the various murders of that period, including the herdsmen induced mass-murders in Ebonyi, Benue, Oyo and Kebbi states.
Furthermore, the police authorities accept confessions or denials of culpability as the spirit directs. Thus, when BokoHaram and Myetti Alah claimed responsibilities for the missing helicopter or attack on Ortom (The crying governor of our time), the police ignored them. But when IPOB/ESN denied responsibility for the attack on Owerri Correctional Facility or the murder of Gulak, the police insisted that they were responsible. In any case, SC Governor, Hope Uzodinma had announced that 70% of those arrested for the Owerri attack were not Igbos. It was rumoured that he was guarded by about 400 soldiers and two APCs while he was making that pronouncement; a sign of the times. Even the recent 72hour ultimatum to Delta State Governnor by some Unknown Fulani has not received any attention from the security authorities or the Federal Government. If it were UGM…
So, who are these UGM? Are they really UNKNOWN? I believe that the authorities know the UGM. In the first instance the Biafran Revolutionary Force (BRF) has claimed that they are the UGM. (If Fashola, had registered and obtained copyright for BRF, he should quickly brief his lawyer). In the second case, the Police has ascribed all the non-state activities in Imo as being done by IPOB/ESN while the late Ikonso of IPOB was described as the mastermind of Owerri attacks. Thirdly, the Police has arrested several sponsors of ESN, including Pastor Cletus Nwachukwu Egole, of the Holy Blessed Trinity Sabbath Church, Orlu and Prophet Michael Uba, of the Association of Jewish. And when one Joseph Nnachi (Dragon) was killed in a shoot-out with the Police, it was reported that the UGM suffered severe casualties since the Dragon was responsible for 70% of the IPOB/ESN killings in the South-East.
Finally, to say the police do not known the UGM is to underate the unparalleled proficiency of our police men. On 8/1/21, the police in Kastina State successfully arrested two fraudulent ‘evil spirits’. If they could arrest evil spirits, why and how can they not identify and arrest UGM?
The only unfortunate thing is that when the police traced the ‘ESN-murderers’ of Gulak, instead of arresting and quizzing them to get more info on the activities and variants of UGM, they ‘neutralised’ them… and this happened within hours of the murder. That is why I am of the opinion that our policemen are clinically efficient. So, if the police know for sure that all activities UGM are carried out by IPOB/ESN, and knows the key operatives of ESN, then, it does not require Chike OBI to prove that UGM=ESN and that they know the UGM because they know the ESN. So, like the Uknown Soldiers, the UGM is known, at least, by our security hierarchy. QED, QEF!
This reminds me of this story of the tortoise who threatened to trample a pregnant woman to death during an impending stampede. The stampede eventually occurred and those who had legs trampled on the woman but the tortoise was arrested because of his earlier threats. There is also a woman in my community, who alias was onye mmeli gubalu (whoever seeks an easy target). She claimed that because she was an easy target, people always looked for her trouble since they were sure of victory. So, ESN might have been equated to UGM because of some of their audacious threats or because people could easily label them so without any consequences. But our people also say that no sane fellow brings war home or causes fracas in his ‘doormot’. That is, a trouble maker usually makes his trouble outside. This idea is not an exclusive reserve of our people, because in those days when Lagos used to be hot, Isale-Eko was always calm. That was because the resident area boys would ‘export’ mayhem to other places and later return home to a peaceful environment. So, it does not make much sense for the UGM/ESN to cause mayhem in ana-Igbo. Some people have also accused agent provocateurs as being these ubiquitous UGM. Me, I no know!
What are the objectives of UGM? I don’t know. But the way they attack police, correctional and INEC indicates that the UGM are not happy with the state and its institutions or that some forces are trying to paint the UGM in that colour. How do our people live in this era of UGM? Ask them how they responded to the sit-at-home order by the absentee oga on 31/5/21 and further ask them whether it was out of fear or out of love. My people now live in fear; fear of the UGM, fear of the security forces, and fear of impending Armageddon. The young ones do not go out easily now because anybody is Unknown or labelled unknown and they are assumed guilty unless proved otherwise. This scenario is exemplified by the arrests and labelling as UGM, a boy who was in the kitchen with his mother and an oil worker who came to buy things for a funeral both in Owerri. Vanguard reports that the East has not known the current level of killings since 1970 while Soyinka has professorially averred that PMB only shows his capacity for war in the East. There were also reports that soldiers looted peoples’ shops and wares while they were searching for Gulak’s killers; even when the police had already neutralized the killers! But I believe that we, Nd’Igbo have reasons to mourn and that there is nothing wrong with that and that we should not be barred from mourning. As our people would say, you cannot beat a child and at the same time tell him not to cry.
Some time ago, the Anambra State Government organized the ‘ozoemena’ ( may it not happen again) ceremony and constructed a cenotaph in memory of KNOWN Biafran soldiers. If the governments of the East had declared May 30 as a public holiday with lectures, symposia, and film shows in the 1967-1970 era, this May 30th tension would have ceased automatically.
Meanwhile, we also have unknown cane-men; who use canes to instill discipline and enforce judgment. Unlike the UGM, The Unknown Cane Men is not an Eastern phenomenon; it is a Nigerian affair because wherever you in Nigeria, there are UCM. One of my readers had suggested that these UCM should go to Aso Rock and flog out the demons there (Abati, speaking from experience had informed us that there are demons on the rock)! We also have some UCM along our roads; soldiers and policemen( and even area-boys) who maintain discipline with assorted type of canes and at times deploy canes as instruments of warfare.
There is another kind of known and unknown cane man. In the days of yore, the caner was always a man while the canee was always a woman. In the perverted world of today, however, everybody canes everybody; men and women are caning both men and women. But in the original sense of the word, the man usually does the caning because the cane is natural to him. If the caning is voluntary, he is a known cane man; if the caning is imposed, he is an unknown cane man. Do you want more details? I think it was Ferdinand Oyono in the Old Man and The Medal who said My mouth is holy; I cannot say it…
And just on 1/6/21, another unknown phenomenon emerged. Somebody had posted something on WhatsApp and signed off as Mr Anonymous. The following day, I saw an unknown author. Let’s wait and see how this turns out. Those who read the first part of this article have also reminded me that we have unknown Governors (who operate from Abuja or abroad, including a lawyer-governor going to study the agribusiness of cannabis in Thailand ); an unknown President who we never see or hear from and some are doubting whether he is the man we think he is and who loves Niger Republic more than Nigeria an unknown country (whether it is Nigeria or UAR and where some strange fellows are hoisting flags here and there). There are also unknown LGA chairmen; who only show up to collect and share allocations.
The looming danger, which we have not recognized or which we see and look the other way, is the threat posed by unknown knife-men. You see them milling around. All looking alike, in all nooks and crannies of urban Nigeria, clutching very sharp knives. A few are surely looking for odd jobs while others, the real unknown knifemen, are waiting for the opportunity to ‘manifest’ and showcase their capabilities. I saw them at Ilese, Ogun State, when I went for a CIBN function in February. I see them daily at Ijebuode, especially at Molipa Roundabout and they are ‘resident’ in their hundreds at the neighbourhood of MarketSquare., Ago-Palace Way, Lagos. In fact, at the UKM stand Molipa Junction Ijebuode on 5/6/21, somebody was on hand sharpening the knives with a purpose-built machine. Look around your neighbourhood and you see them. Coincidentally, all the UKM are from the ‘North’
Finally, there are also many unknown Nigerians because the government does not know how many we are; our population is unknown and we are working with estimates and guestimates. And in this case, when people do business in Kastina but sleep in Niger Republic and vice-versa, and when the ‘North’ has been expanded to include the Niger Republic, how can we have the numbers? And yet we continue to plan. When the population is unknown, policy outcomes will surely remain unknown.
So, you are all welcome to the world of the unknown. When Professor Omafume Onoge taught me Urban Sociology at UI in 1978, he told us that the key feature of urbanization was – and still remains – anonymity. So, as we are increasingly urbanizing, the degree of anonymity increases, and before long, everybody becomes unknown. So, relax; the unknown phenomenon -including UGM, UCM, and UKM, is a feature of the modern era. But because Nigeria is a peculiar country, we have the queerest types of unknown entities.
Meanwhile, I sincerely feel for our policemen, who have been bearing the brunt of UGM activities. However, I think that these police officers have to realise that their operational risk environment has changed fundamentally; that they are now working and walking in the valley of the shadow of death( Ps 23:4). They are too carefree; they do not act like those in active WAR-FRONTs. Observe them on the road or in their stations. They are NEVER on alert, they are not action-ready. Last week, on my way to school. I observed the policemen at their toll-point on Ijebu-Ode/Ago-Iwoye road. One was collecting money from those from IjebuOde; another was collecting from those moving to Ijebu-Ode, another was handling the okada-riders while the other was dealing you youths dressed in rags but riding exotic cars. Another was in charge of giving change to the drivers. None took cover or mounted sentry. Just before school, I met a two-man police stop. One was at the center of the road with the gun on his left and making phone calls with his right hand while another was sitting on a shed about 10 meters away, also making phone calls. At the Okota police station, you see them milling aimlessly about, at the mama put, exchanging banters, chatting with female hawkers, and everything else but being security conscious. On the highways, they are more interested in searching for kidnappers inside the vehicle Pidgeon-holes or looking for big men to salute and ask: wetin you chop remain for us or your boys are on duty. This is not how to carry one when some wicked UGM are on the prowl.
Ik Muo, PhD. Department of Business Administration, OOU, Ago-Iwoye. 08033026625