“History does not repeat itself; man does.” Professor Barbara Tuchmann.
If any state in Nigeria experiences an orgy of violence as we head to the general elections next year, six people should be held responsible – President Buhari, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, the Director General of the Department of State Security, DSS, the Commissioner of Police, the state head of DSS and the state Governor. But, if Akwa Ibom, once again, is gripped in another round of political murders, kidnappings and some arson, then there is one other person to be held responsible – a former political leader in the state. Here is why.
From 2009 to 2011, Akwa Ibom, hitherto, the most peaceful state in Nigeria, without exception, was a disaster area for politicians especially those aspiring to run for the Governorship race in 2011. So bad was the situation that the former state of peace and tranquillity raced to the top of the police charts as the most violent state in Nigeria. Below are some reports from the media houses and the Nigeria Police at the time. They should leave you wondering if Nigeria had a President, an IGP, a DG-DSS and if Akwa Ibom State at the time. But, first read the reports one after the other.
“POLICE SEIZE 15 RIFLES FROM THUGS AS DELEGATES PROTEST
Thisday, Page 10,
Wednesday, January 5, 2011.
Some aspirants and delegates for the State House of Assembly primary conducted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday sealed off the Akwa Ibom State Government House to protest alleged hijacking of nomination materials by aides to the state governor.”
‘”Nigeria records 74,064 murders, other cases in 2 years –
Report *Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Imo top list.
The crime rate in Nigeria seems to be on the increase, as no fewer than 74,064 cases of murder, manslaughter, suicide, and rape, as well as other sundry cases were recorded in the country in the last two years, SUNDAY PUNCH investigations have shown.
Findings exclusively obtained by our correspondent from the Police Annual Report on Friday, shown that 38,955 of such reported offences were committed in 2009, while 35, 109 were recorded in 2008 – an increase of 3.8 per cent.
The document put the crime statistics for 2007 at 34, 738.
The report, for instance, listed Akwa-Ibom State as having the highest number of reported murder cases totaling 177 in 2009.
The State also recorded 62 attempted murders, one manslaughter, eight suicide cases, 21 attempted suicides, 100 cases of grievous harm and wounding, 320 assaults, 18 cases of child stealing, 93 rape cases and indecent assault, 29 kidnappings, 234 unnatural offences and 10 other unclassified offences.”
“Jonathan, Akpabio Aides Clash As VP, Gov Meet Over N’Delta Crisis
SATURDAY, JUNE 6, 2009
By wole Shadare, Lagos and Ayoyinka Olagoke, Uyo.
The Presidential Wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA) was yesterday turned into a battlefield of a sort as aides of Vice President Goodluck Jonathan and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, engaged one another in fisticuffs over security arrangements at the airport’s Presidential Lounge”
SOME OF THE OTHER NOTABLE EVENTS CHARATERISING THAT PERIOD ARE SUMMARISED BELOW.
“Engineer Udonwa, from Maylasia, who declared for governorship on the platform of the PDP was shot.
In addition, his aged mother was kidnapped; kept in captivity and was forced to ask her son to withdraw from the race.
Ransom was demanded; and despite the payment of a large sum, the old woman was murdered and her body dumped by the wayside.
Others who suffered the same fate include Group Captain Ewang”
“The former military administrator of Rivers and Ogun state, Captain Ewang had been lamenting that even after paying N25 million, his wife, Comfort, was yet to be released ; rather one of his boys was equally abducted in the process of delivering the ransom. Another 100 million, he said, was demanded before the duo could be released.”
If there was a state of Nigeria which could be described as “hell on earth” for its inhabitants, Akwa Ibom was it. And if there was a state which demonstrated how Nigerian political leaders sacrifice peoples’ lives at the altar of political ambitions and how the security forces conspire in that crime against humanity, Akwa Ibom was also it. The reasons for making those charges are self-evident. But, for the sake of those who might not be able to figure them out themselves let me spell them out fully.
While all the blood-letting was going on; and while people were being regularly kidnapped, none of the officers responsible for the security of Ibomites even acknowledged the mayhem. The ex-President Jonathan, the IGP, the DG-DSS, the Commissioner of Police in Uyo, the DSS chief raised no alarm about the situation. None of those paid by the Nigerian people to secure their lives did anything to prevent more murders and kidnappings. Inexplicably, nobody can remember any statement by the State Government condemning the attack against the people or any promise to bring the perpetrators to justice. Indeed, given the complicity of all the officers mention in turning blind eyes to blatant murders and creation of a bondage of fear, no single murderer or kidnapper had been brought to justice. Are we to believe that the Police and DSS officers we mentioned are so incompetent as not to be able to solve a single murder case out of over 170 reported and close to twenty five unreported cases? I doubt it. I strongly believe the neglect was deliberate and politically motivated.
Was Jonathan totally unaware of what was going on in Akwa Ibom? Again, I have reservations. GEJ comes across as a weakling such that he could be easily persuaded to comply with anything done as long as it was presented as helping to secure his second term. Otherwise, how could a Ph. D holder agree with members of the Governors Forum that 16 was bigger than 19? Even a kid in nursery one knows that is fallacious. But, GEJ openly operated with that ridiculous arithmetic. “Politics without principles” is obvious here. Today, GEJ is on opposite sides of the political divide with those in charge of Akwa Ibom state at the time. The murderers he refused to investigate are now on the other side. And, violence is raring its ugly head again. One only hopes that Buhari, the current IGP, the DG-DSS, the Commissioner of Police at Uyo and his DSS counterparts will not repeat the mistakes made by Jonathan and others. They must ensure that nobody gets away with murder this time.
Already, we have seen some of the same disreputable activities the state experienced in the past. The State House of Assembly has been invaded by armed thugs and five or six representatives wanted to impeach the rest and the Governor as well. Leopards never change their colours. Even if whitewashed by others they remain predators feeding on human corpses for political gain.
“Winning is not everything; it is the only thing.”
Vince Lombardi, Coach of American Football Team, Green Bay Packers in the 1960s.
Vince Lombardi’s often quoted statement created an unethical situation in American sports which took years to correct. The idea that the end justifies the means, a Machiavellian notion, meant that you could deliberately maim your opponents just as long as victory is secured. Nigerian politics is headed in that direction and the graveyards of other states will soon be as full as those of AKS in the years 2009 to 2011.
Nigerian politics often ends up creating several strange bed-fellows within a political party. The urge to win elections at all costs invariably turns people into ethical monsters. The most surprising about the current political situation in AKS lies in the fact that most of the leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, were fortunate survivors of attempted murder and kidnapping during the years of rage. Several fled to Abuja and still prayed that their loved ones living in the state would not be deleted. Those of them who spoke to me mentioned only one name as the person behind the mayhem. Have they forgotten so soon? Should I remind them? Their statements to me was what confirmed for me the complicity of the officials paid to defend the people of Akwa Ibom and who failed to do so. The man who could have gladly sent them to kingdom come is now in APC and all is forgiven. Have they given any thoughts to the 170-plus dead, the brutalised and the humiliated as they embrace their new “god”? And, if so many people knew who did it, why was it so difficult for the Nigeria Police to solve even one murder case? Certainly, it cannot be for lack of leads.
“Appetite grows with eating.”
Even if what you eat is human flesh. We can now safely assume that if there is widespread violence in AKS, as there was in 2009 to 2011, it is because Buhari, the current IGP, the DG-DSS and others named above have allowed the carnage to occur by repeating Jonathan’s horrible mistake of allowing a mindless killer to go on a rampage again. Anybody who flags off a political campaign by talking about war should be taken seriously. He probably means it. If he has his way the peace of AKS will be destroyed for years to come for one simple reason. He caught everybody by surprise the first time – like Hitler did in Warsaw. But, when the potential victims re-grouped and armed themselves, the aggressor suddenly found himself and his supporters at the receiving end. Today, the people are ready to defend themselves. One man muttered to my hearing at Uyo recently “if they want war, we will give it to them.” Ominous words which everybody should take seriously because nobody is going to have a monopoly of the violence in 2018-9 in AKS. In every war, irrespective of who starts it, the battle that counts is the last. The man who marched into Warsaw ended up committing suicide in a bunker in Berlin. I hope somebody has not foretold his own fate.
A word is sufficient for the wise on both sides of the political divide in AKS.