by ‘Káyọ̀dé Oyèró
And Kpeti’s great household is no more,
Only the broken fence stands;
And those who dared not look in his face
Have come out as men.
How well their pride is with them.
Let those gone before take note
They have treated their offspring badly.
What is the wailing for?
Somebody is dead. Agosu himself
Alas! a snake has bitten me
My right arm is broken,
And the tree on which I lean is fallen.
(Stanza 5, Song of Sorrow by Kofi Awoonor)
Her butchered head, yanked off her neck, slaughtered like chicken. Her stabbed stomach, splattered out her guts, rivulet of blood trickling out of it, meandering into nearby gutters, horrifying. She was massacred under the nose of the almighty general.
Of course, the general is silent on the issue. Indifferent and nonchalant as usual, he is unruffled in his nest in Aso Villa, like it is normal. He is thinking: “all they need to hear to keep quiet is the police have made some few arrests and have started investigation.
It is not a matter of the state. I don’t need to condemn it. Okay I will – to keep their mouths from running that it is because she is not of my faith. This will keep them permanently quiet.” Welcome to the season of anomie!
In my beloved fatherland, you don’t need a concrete slab in some abattoirs to slaughter like a chicken. You don’t need to hide under the dark night to slaughter like a chicken; you can do it in the open and go unscathed and unscratched. You can slaughter anybody and go scot-free – if only it is for Islam. You can try it one of these days.
It started many years ago, extrajudicial killings, manslaughters, jungle justice, homicide, genocide; whatever lexicon the English Language gives to describe barbaric killings with religious affinity.
Let me take you on an excursion down sorrow lane.
In the beginning, sometimes in 1995, Gideon Akaluka’s head was chopped off by all forms of manual guillotine that one can think of. His crime: he desecrated the Qur’an.
Then in 2007, in Gombe state, far North-East Nigeria, Christianah Oluwasesin was lynched by her own students, the very secondary school students she taught. Oluwaseun was invigilating an exam. She caught the lads with shrewdly creased paper with answers scrawled on it – expo, then snatched it from them. They claimed it was the Qur’an so they meted out justice on the spot. What a way to reward a teacher disciplined enough to rebuke examination malpractice!
Unfazed, in 2009, the train of savagery preened to Maiduguri. Grace Ushang was molested, raped and eventually murdered for wearing NYSC Khaki trousers. Her crime: the Khaki trouser clung too tightly to her limb, revealing her ‘sacred parts’ – her bum, hips and curves in a seductive way that Allah hates.
It is natural for one to think that it is a full-stop to manslaughter with religious connection. Of course, seven years is enough for one to conclude so. But like a sword of Damocles, the serial killing only went on a fleeting pause to resume on Thursday, June 2 2016.
Bridget Patience Agbaheme stirred the hornet’s nest this time around and so she was beheaded on the streets of Kano in broad daylight. Not just that, her head was paraded about like a trophy won, her killers jeering heartily. So many virgins await them in Al-Janah Fridaus. For taking the life of an ‘infidel’?
Then, barely a month after, these fanatics crept into Kubwa in Abuja. They released their venom and spite 42 years old Mrs Eunice Olawale, a mother of seven. Her supposed crime: she blasphemed and defamed Prophet Muhammed, Quran, Islam, any or the entire trio.
Slit at the throat, Eunice was slaughtered like chicken during salat’ul Subhi. This makes the mind wonder if Islam is a religion of peace or pieces.
“Everybody is just saying it is well, nobody can understand how I feel. She is innocent; she didn’t do anybody any harm. She uses just her megaphone and Bible; just preaching. They just killed her like a chicken and left her there.” Eunice’s 15-year old first daughter told Vanguard Newspaper. You can imagine the grief in her voice, the trauma in her emotions, and the ridiculous comparison of her mother’s killing to a chicken’s.
The questions Nigerians seek quick answers for now are these:
Where is the government in the picture?
Is investigation on-going on these killings?
Has any arrest being made or albeit, court sentence in connection to all these jungle justice with religious affiliations?
Would Eunice’s case be different in terms of arrest and court sentence or would the government and police wait for the hot waves of the moment to cool off, for the ocean crest of forgetfulness to hit the shores of public memory, blow the event off, then wash it away in the vast ocean of the many uninvestigated socio-religious killings, then everything becomes normal again?
Would the slaughtering of Eunice like a chicken be treated the Nigerian way like other previous cases swept under the carpet like Pius Adesanmi once described as ‘grudging condemnations, a few statements of regret here and there. No arrests.’?
If we constitutionally claim there is freedom of expression, should there not be freedom after expression as in the case of Eunice? And if we claim there is the rule law, should it not be used to pursue and bring the lawless to book?
These questions chime a bell of sorrow in my heart, rowing it with ridges of sadness. Not just because I sincerely do not have answers for these questions. But action, they say speaks louder than voice.
For instance, nothing has been heard or read from the almighty general and his garrulous wife. The general is very busy with matters of the state not the manslaughter of one ordinary preacher. She is a half-born; not of his religion so does not deserve any state concern.
And his ever-loquacious wife too is too busy to pay Eunice’s family a condolence visit considering her proximity to the deceased’s residence; Kubwa is a very far place from Aso Rock Villa. Asides, she is very busy with Twitter, raking and ranting like an enraged bull.
Like husband, like wife.
My heart bleeds, wrenching out agony in spasm. I won’t be surprised that just when the wound is healing, another will happen and nothing will happen thereafter. I won’t be surprised if my neighbor wakes up tomorrow morning and slaughter me like a chicken because he detests my looks or perhaps he finds my carrying the Bible or my devotion to Ifa blasphemous to his Quran.
Kofi Awoonor prophesied it long time ago: The tree on which I lean for order, protection and security of life and property is fallen! Impunity has replaced sanity. The tree on which I lean for fight against anarchy is fallen! The security and prosecution apparatus of the state is fallen! So, feel free to slaughter me like a chicken.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
‘Kayode is a product of Grace and a Bridge-builder. He writes from Lagos, South-West, Nigeria. His works aim to inform, transform and reform. He can be reached via [email protected] or @Imodoye_1
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