Nameless, shameless and clueless?
SOMETIMES you wonder whether you had unconsciously left something out in your previous writings to warrant this repetitive lamentation. When the entire madness began to unfold, everyone had thought it was a rude awakening that would soon evaporate into thin air, ending as abruptly as it began. Days ran into months, months into years and we, the lucky ones alive, have come to accept President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration that terrorism has come to stay with us. It is the sad and terrible reality of our new dawn. Today, as I settle to write this, I can’t help but ponder over what we have lost to this gripping monstrosity, this harvest of bloodletting. Aside the constant erosion of our humanity in words and in deeds, is anyone out there taking stock of the gradual collapse of that building block called trust among the various ethnic groups and religious divides? And are the authorities weighing the long-term implications of this eerie feeling of mutual distrust in a nation already cursed with a near-dysfunctional political system? Of course, we had lived in denial for months with the hope that the government would deliver on its dud promises to put an end to the killings, maiming and daily dehumanisation of the citizenry. We even delude ourselves with the lame thought the no Nigerian would dare wire himself up with bombs just to commit mass murder. We said Nigerians love life too much to contemplate death! However, the unfolding events in the last few weeks must have awakened many Doubting Thomases to the real futility of living in a fool’s paradise. With the insurgents unleashing bombs after bombs at different locations while deploying female suicide bombers to wreak havoc during the Eid-El-Fitr holidays, it just dawned on us that a once fading fear of the unknown bomber is now fully engraved in our hearts. And so, within a 24-hour interval, three female suicide bombers were at their suicidal best in Kano and they could have effected maximum damage but for providence and the valiant efforts of security men on duty. Yet, lives were needlessly lost at a period when Muslim faithful were celebrating the successful end of Ramadan. It could have been worse if the officers of the Nigeria Police had not moved in swiftly to detonate the bomb-laden Peugeot car parked in front the Eid mosque in Kano. We can only imagine how many lives would have been lost if a vigilant resident had not reported the strange presence of the car in that vicinity at that awkward time to the authorities. Yet, in spite of the ‘minimum’ damage wrought by the insurgents over the weekend, we should not forget that the people that died were not that ‘common’ to their family members. They were not nameless. Few moments before their untimely death in worship places, fuel stations, markets, villages, homes and even on the roads, they had interacted with friends and associates and had looked to the future with renewed hope. But then, they were hacked to death by that faceless female suicide bomber; that brainwashed coward that threw grenades into the church during mass; that gun-toting extremist who opened fire on defenceless residents of Garkida in Adamawa State; the equally avoidable massacre of over 30 Shii’te members in Zaria including three sons of its spiritual leader and the twin bomb blasts in Kaduna which almost claimed the lives of two very prominent northerners. It was yet another week of sorrow, pain and anguish. As the monster growls in pursuit of more blood, we quiver in silence knowing that the authorities would always dribble round the issues concerning our safety. How misplaced can hope be on this canvas of blood? To my mind, the greater tragedy lies in the facelessness of the suicide bombers. In saner societies, a DNA test would have revealed the identities of the three female bombers that died in the Kano tragedies. Okay, there was a faceless, fourth bomber a day after. But, as I write this, all we could rely on are the conjectures of sources regarding the average ages of the harbingers of death. They remain nameless, rootless and traceless other than being teenage female bombers! How pathetic. To add salt to a festered wound, there was no report of any CCTV recording of any of the blast to, at least, give one a glimpse of the modus operandi of the sect. In any case, how can anyone be sure that the Kano bombers were actually young ladies when the security agencies had recently exposed a male bomber who disguised as a woman in the Kaduna blast? And if we are to believe that the female gender is being massively proselytized into becoming human bombs, can we trust the authorities to get to the roots of this and nip it in the bud before it metamorphosed into a huge killing factory? Particularly more saddening in the novel deployment of female suicide bombers for attacks on innocent citizens is the involvement of a 10 year-old girl. Security agents arrested a pair of suspected Boko Haram members, who were allegedly travelling in a Honda CRV with a 10-year-old girl who was wearing a suicide bomb apparatus along a road in Katsina. The child, named Hadiza, was later discovered to have been strapped with an explosive belt. Anguish, anger and anxiety mounted further about the possibility that some of our Chibok girls could be brainwashed into such acts after their prolonged captivity. Of course, the government has vehemently denied the rumour, claiming knowledge of the location of these ones. I believe the government the same way I believed The Presidency when it denied offering financial gratification to the parents of the abducted girls who visited Jonathan last week! I can only imagine that the N22.4 million that was disbursed to some of the parents in their hotel rooms was a ‘gift’ from the concerned presidential aide that did the disbursement in the dead of the night! Pity. The outpouring of emotions notwithstanding, there is an urgent need for the government to re-strategise on its fight against terror. We need to focus attention on the new trend in which women and young girls are being abducted by insurgents each time they raid communities. It is scary to think of what they could do with the 219 school girls that were abducted over 110 days ago in Chibok. Beyond the mental torment and dehumanising abuse which the girls must have been experiencing in the hands of their heartless captors, what would happen if these extremists succeed in brainwashing them into becoming suicide bombers like the three alleged female bombers in Kano and the one that killed a soldier in a recent suicide attack in Gombe? What if any of these ones had succeeded in penetrating a crowded place at any location? Would we have been satisfied with the muffled explanation of a ‘female bomber between the ages of 16 and 18?’ The point needs to be made that it shouldn’t take the assassination of a General Muhammadu Buhari or Sheik Dahiru Bauchi for the nation to be thrown into a deadly turmoil. The killings in Zaria were, to say the least, uncalled for. Though the military has pleaded self-defence in the killing of over 30 members of a group on a peaceful protest, there has been no evidence to suggest that those killed bore any arms or threw grenades at their killers. Surely, the lives wasted were not just numbers. They were known faces being mourned by family members. We need to understand that nothing estranges the citizenry than a situation where they are confronted with a military that pays scant or little regards to the sanctity of human lives. Why should anyone feel comfortable justifying the use of live bullets against armless protesters? What happened to the use of water canisters, tear gas or other softer, less armful method of dispersing a crowd? If there is anything that is as clear as the daylight, it is the fact that the carnage is not about to stop. In another needless attack on Wednesday, a female suicide bomber killed five students at the College of Islamic Studies, Kano State Polytechnic, Kano. She was said to have joined a queue of students checking the list of postings by the National Youth Service Corps. And in Potiskum, Yobe State, 13 lives were wasted by suicide bombers when two mosques were attacked late on Tuesday night. The list of the injured keeps increasing as the harvest of tears continues. Nothing suggests that these faceless and nameless killers are by any means clueless. Not with the accuracy with which they continue to pick their targets in recent times. We have heard that this is not, by any means, a conventional war. We have been told that the security agencies are closing in on the insurgents and the abducted girls would soon return home to their parents. We have been admonished to cooperate with the security and report suspicious movements in and around our environment to the appropriate authorities. We have witnessed how timelines have been given and shifted severally in the fight against terror. Inasmuch as we want to believe those who say they are on top of the situation, our minds are troubled because we are not sure anymore. The upsurge of female suicide bombers calls for worry. The clinical execution of deadly bombings in states under emergency rule calls for worry. The focus on politics as the country burns is nonetheless troubling. And the mere thought that those who tell us not “to panic and go about our normal business” might just be as clueless as the rest of us sends shivers down our spines. And then, we ask: would there ever be an end to this endless bloodbath as the President assured us, once again, in his condolence message to the families of the Eid-El-Fitr killings? Only the President and his lieutenants can answer this question and that’s if they are not as clueless as the rest of us!
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