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When banditry and killing become new normal

In Nigeria, the new normal, which defines the new way people live, work and relate is not restricted only to the response to Covid-19 pandemic measures, but also relates to acceptance of the absurd and bizarre as normal. One of such bizarre events that seem to have been accepted in Nigeria as normal is banditry. Another is killing.

On daily basis, Nigerian citizens are slaughtered like livestock, remorselessly, a group opens up, lays claim to the killings. Yet, the government, whose statutory or constitutional duty is to protect lives and property of citizens, either keeps silent or condemns the ‘dastardly act’. And that ends it!

For Nigerians, these are perilous times as their already bad situation is made worse on daily basis by a myriad of issues that have gone beyond the daily and normal challenges of life and living. An otherwise rich country, Nigeria has become an enclave where lives of citizens simply mean misery and pain.

Poverty, hunger and long-suffering have become national identities and stubborn visitors to many homes, all because the national economy is down and leadership seems inept, clueless and helpless.

As if these are not enough, the country is today under siege with the activities of people who, for political convenience and other considerations, have been identified as bandits—a nebulous description that neither locates them to any region or district nor links them to any known sect.

The bandits are not only killers, they are also rapists and kidnappers who have made major highways in Nigeria dreadful, risky and unsafe. Like wild fire, the activities of these killer-groups are spreading, leaving in their trail destruction, death and woes.

But there is a greater challenge and that is a seeming conspiracy of silence. This silence, at such trying times as these in the land, is not golden. It is hurting and heart-rending. The silence becomes all the more thought-provoking and head-whirling when the mindless killings by the bandits are placed side-by-side with agitations by groups of peaceful protesters in other regions of the country and the government’s swift reaction against them.

Nigerians are worried that the federal government which once vowed to ‘crush rascals and economic saboteurs’ in the country does not see the ungodly activities of the bandits bad enough to attract prompt and decisive action.

We join the rest of Nigerians to condemn, in its entirety, the activities of the bandits, which negates the sanctity of human life and government’s silence and inaction. The excuse by its apologists that it is dealing with this act against God and humanity silently is also unacceptable.

The views expressed by some politicians that these killings should not be allowed to divide the country are not only hypocritical but also self-serving. We often hear them condemning what they call ethnic profiling of crime. Whatever that means is also self-serving and despicable.

We are worried about all of this and the looming danger if nothing is done to halt them. We are all the more worried by the deafening silence and inaction of the government because this silence has created room for various interpretations of the activities of the bandits.

We believe that the unity of this country is sacrosanct and non-negotiable and therefore, we expect the government to promote this unity by rising to the occasion of protecting lives and property of all Nigerians irrespective of class or creed.

We take exception to the idea of government condemning “this dastardly act” and mobilizing all its security apparatus to “fish out the perpetrators” only when the killing or kidnapping involves a ‘big man’ and his family but turns blind eye and deaf ear when a poor man and his family are involved. The life of every Nigerian should be precious to the government and should be treated as such.

We believe that the impunity which these bandits have exhibited in carrying out their killing trade is because none of them has ever been arrested and none is being tried anywhere in any court, nor is anyone of them in detention anywhere for his actions. This, we think, emboldens them to do more.

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