This year was relentless. Is the country burning?
The Alleged Rape of Keren-Happuch Akpagher
14-year-old Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher, a student of Premier Academy, Lugbe, Abuja was allegedly raped in her school and left in septic shock, a situation that eventually led to her death. While advocating for justice, the parents of the slain child accused the school of deliberate distortion of facts in order to preserve their business interest. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has stepped in to investigate but nothing much has come out of it.
Banditry in the northwest
About 140 students went missing in July after armed men raided Bethel Baptist, a boarding school in Kaduna state. This was only the latest mass school kidnapping in the northwest. Authorities have attributed them to armed bandits seeking ransom payments. These bandits have made an industry of kidnapping students for ransom with Kaduna state hardest hit. They have taken nearly 1,000 people from schools since December 2020, more than 150 of whom remain missing. Roads, private residents and even hospitals have not been left out.
Dismal security infrastructure
The nation’s insecurity infrastructure dipped to perhaps record low levels this year. In the southeast, there was the escalation of clashes between security agencies and local insurgents that prompted president Buhari’s now infamous deleted tweet. At least five Policemen were also killed in Okigwe, Imo. Extrajudicial attacks went almost unreported. In hotspots like Benue state, killings went on almost on a daily basis. There was an attempt to assassinate the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom. Seven internally displaced persons taking refuge in a Camp in Abagena, Makurdi were murdered.
Economic insecurity, rising inflation
This year was a difficult one as Nigeria’s annual inflation climbed to a more than four-year high in March, rising 82 basis points from a month earlier to 18.17%, according to the bureau of statistics office. Galloping food prices on basic items like bread. potatoes and rice among others heaped pressure on households. Add to this a shrinking labor market and stagnant growth at a time of mounting insecurity. Nigeria’s inflation rate is now over 16% and prices of essential commodities continue to rise worsened by a dismal Naira- dollar exchange rate. The World Bank has noted that 91 million Nigerians may be pushed under the poverty level due to rising inflation.
Homes damaged by flood
As many as 300 homes were damaged by severe flooding in several communities in Jalingo, Taraba after heavy rains in July. About 4,000 people were displaced by the floods according to the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA). Heavy rain overnight were compounded by poor drainage systems and buildings erected within the flood paths. Heavy rainfall in the northeast in August also triggered severe flooding in parts of Bauchi state. Hours of heavy rain caused a river to break its banks near the town of Jama’are, resulting in destructive floods. Five people lost their lives and over 1,500 houses and farms were damaged as a result.
Ikoyi building collapse
On 1, November a 21-storey “luxury” building located in Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos collapsed after work continued on the site even after it had failed a structural integrity test. The structure, which was being developed by Fourscore Homes founded by Femi Osibona, caved in killing Osibona as well as at least 45 others. In response, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu inaugurated a six-man panel to investigate the cause of the collapse and signed an executive bill giving legal backing to the panel. He also indefinitely suspended the general manager of the Lagos state building control agency.
Itunu Babalola and the value of a Nigerian life
The already tragic case of Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian incarcerated in Côte d’Ivoire on charges of human trafficking somehow hit rock bottom when she died in prison in November. Babalola reportedly got entangled in a legal battle when she reported to the police that her house in Bondoukou, Cote d’Ivoire, had been burgled. She was charged, accused her of human trafficking and then convicted and sentenced to a reduced 10 years in prison. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, boss of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission has since been on a media tour explaining away the failure of leadership at all levels involved in this case.
Murder on social media
The collective power of social media for good was deployed sometime in April when a nationwide search for 26-year-old Uyo based graduate Iniobong “Hiny” Umoren began on Twitter after a concerned friend cried out about her disappearance under suspicious circumstances. A #FindHinyHumoren hashtag started trending and one Uduak Frank Akpan was identified as the prime suspect. Sadly, these heroic efforts arrived too late as Umoren was sexually assaulted and murdered by Akpan who had invited her for a job interview. He is awaiting trial and remains in police custody.
Nigeria bans Twitter
In June, the federal government of Nigeria placed an indefinite ban on Twitter, restricting it from operating in Nigeria after the social media platform deleted tweets made by president Buhari warning Igbo people of a potential repeat of the civil war due to insurgency in the South eastern states. The government claimed that while the deleted tweets factored into their decision, the ban was ultimately based on other problems “where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences.” The meltdown was instant and played out beyond Twitter into other platforms.
The Sad death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni
Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, a Junior Secondary School 2, student of expensive but shifty private school Dowen College, Lagos died under controversial circumstances. The school authorities claim Sylvester sustained injuries while playing football, but his family says he was tortured by school bullies. The 12-year-old student succumbed to the wounds allegedly suffered from this violent beat-up triggering a massive outcry and condemnation. Following the incident, the Lagos State government sealed off the school pending the outcome of an investigation into the case.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.