On Wednesday, I watched a video in which some soldiers unleashed the crudest terror on some alleged members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The Stalinist soldiers forced their hapless torture objects to lie face down in a pool of muddy water while they played ping-pong with whips on their backs. These victims of dehumanisation have not been convicted of any crime, or alleged to have committed any offence.
As a matter of fact, Nigerian soldiers are the archetype of turpitude. I say this with conviction, there is something dreadful about Nigerian soldiers. They are a band of violators on the payroll of the government.
On Tuesday, journalists doing their legitimate duty at the Nigeria Union of Journalists office in Umuahia, Abia state were bludgeoned and had their work devices thrashed. As a journalist, this may sound personal, yes it is; I have no respect or admiration for Nigerian soldiers. They are unchanging brutes who exploit every leeway to violate private citizens.
In December 2015, they killed more than 347 Shiites and buried them in mass graves. In November 2016, Amnesty International revealed that some soldiers mowed down 160 peaceful pro-Biafra protesters. But no single soldier or officer has been made to account for these killings.
Soldiers across the world have evolved to “humane-sapiens”, those of Nigeria are still primates trapped in the minds of the brutal Josef Stalin regime of defunct Soviet Union.
I blame President Muhammadu Buhari for giving Stalinist Nigerian soldiers the fodder to unleash violence on citizens in the south-east. By his action, he has given IPOB ammunition for malevolence.
Besides, the atrocities committed by soldiers in the region will give legitimacy to the agitations of the group – that a northern president, who has left the Igbo out of his government, is also targeting them for elimination. The fact is, Buhari has shown himself to be an unthinking potentate by deploying troops in a peaceful region.
It is important to state that former President Olusegun Obasanjo faced stiff opposition from the north, which sought Sharia as praxis of government. There were riots and protests in the north for Sharia, but he did not deploy troops in the region to crush them.
Obasanjo wrote in ‘Making Africa Work’, a book he co-authored with Greg Mills, director of Brenthurst Foundation; Jeffrey Herbst, president of NEWSEUM and Dickie Davis, that he was careful not to make any wrong statement or take corrosive action on Sharia agitators “because an ‘infidel’, an anti-Muslim president would be seen as trampling on the holy religion of Islam”.
“Throughout this controversy, the only statement I made was to the effect that if the sharia that the governor of Zamfara was touting was genuine, it would survive and thrive. If not, it would fizzle out,” he said.
Sometimes, I wonder who the advisers of the president are. Or is there really an evil force in Aso Rock, as Reuben Abati claimed, which makes leaders do the stupidest of things. Is it not obvious that sending troops to a peaceful region that feels disconnected from the centre and henpecked, will combust a delicate situation?
In conclusion, I urge President Buhari to order the withdrawal of troops from the south-east. There is no war, terrorist operation or insurgency in the region. He should give room for dialogue, which south-east governors have initiated with the agitators. As long as agitations and protests are civil and within the bounds of the law, there is absolutely no reason to use the sledge hammer on the dissenters.
The Buhari government is a seismic blunder. The walling of the south-east with soldiers shows it lacks the acuity to handle tenuous situations like protests and agitations.
This government wants to fight hate, but what it is doing in the south-east will ossify the frosty relationship between the Igbo and the Hausa/Fulani. I am moved to say President Buhari does not give a hoot if the region burns; he is too vacuous to care.
I hate to be the harbinger of doom, but there will be more deaths in Umuahia – the place is now a compost of tension – because the Nigeria army is grossly unprofessional, tribalised and violent. The army killed 160 peaceful Igbo sons and daughters in 2016, according to Amnesty International.
I want a united country, but I must speak out when my people face violent extirpation. I don’t empathise with IPOB, but with the toiling and peaceful Igbo sons and daughters who will be caught in this unfolding tragedy.
IPOB targeting the Hausa
IPOB resorting to violence and targeting the Hausa in the south-east, whether provoked or not, has severed every umbilicus with civil humanity. The group must reap the hurricane from this tempest. Any agitation that wanders off the civil path to the dark and atrocious route is immoral, senseless and wrong.