It was the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan who wrote some years ago: ‘A genocide begins with the killing of one person-not for what he has done, but because of who he is’. Recent events about abduction and killing of young men and women from Plateau, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa confirm this assertion.

But as we mourn the harvest of deaths cutting across these states, and whose apparent direction the killers want to take us to; it is safe to ask: Can it not be said that leadership has failed to accept the gospel truth that the fight against terrorism has since become a way of making money in the North East?

Don’t get it twisted: More of the insurgents and other criminal elements have chosen to inflict pains in different ways on Nigerians than what we are made to believe. Isn’t it time that we are told the truth by this administration than what we currently told about the idea that the Boko Haram has been decimated? This is not to degrade the enormous contributions the security has put in the war and the wastages of lives in the prosecution of the war.

The idea that we are engaged in the war with the need to bring the state back to normal is not questionable. We must not exaggerate whatever progress we have made in this regard. Indeed we can do more, particularly so that we are not fighting another country.

The death could have happened to anyone of us. It was not a choice and this makes it the more painful coming to terms with it. Even at that, let us establish a thread that appears for me regrettable about his death: The fate of a man must not be determined by these four things: State of origin, religion, tribe and place of birth.

The world certainly has woken up with the events of last week. Apart from the abduction of Ropvil Dalep, Lilian Gyang, Bashir Abdulhamid and many others who have not been mentioned, it is sad to come to terms with the reality of where the insurgents are taking us to.

We may not have had sufficient publicity of certain sons of Plateau State who were victims of the group. They may have gone unannounced, but on Thursday, January 23, 2020 last week, we got to know that Dauda Gojang Gaskiya of Kazuk village and Joseph Wutuk of Amper both from Kanke were fell down in one swoop by the knives of the insurgents on December 23, 2019 along Maiduguri-Damaturu road.

Don’t be quick to forget, Lawrence Duna Dacighir and Godfrey Ali Shikagham, two carpenters from Kombun, Mangu local government area, who were abducted October 1, 2019 and killed or Jennifer Ukambong Samuel and Michael George Danbaba from Kanke, who were abducted December 22, 2019 but fortunate enough to live to tell their stories. Others were unfortunately not; they paid the supreme price.

Darlington Davou and Steve Rowland Ronku both students of the Plateau State College of Health Technology, Zawan are allegedly thought to have been abducted sometime between March 12-17, 2018. It is said that their whereabouts are still not known.

Given this analogy, couldn’t we come to the conclusion that a gradual reduction, a war of attrition to dismember the state has been put in the way of Plateau State? Several people have seen this and may have explained it in the press statements in the last couple of days. It is a war not declared on the Berom, Ron/Kulere, Ngas, Irigwe, Mwaghavul; it could be visited on the Taroh, Jhar, Gamai, Jukun, Boghom, Tehl or Pyem. Christians or Muslims, none is spared. Every tribe and persons could be targeted for annihilation.

But the persecution on Christians is needless. Mourning the loss in the state has been defining of its resolve to avoid the present danger to its harmonious coexistence with other tribes and nationalities. No one as well as religion has been spared, given the inflammatory remarks in the videos and the attention they want to generate.

They are deliberate; and for which discerning minds must watch out, so that the state does not slip into an ethno-religious conflict. They are concerned with the interest such act will generate as to pitch one group against another. Perhaps that is why to share such videos is a plus to the group, even as we know that they crave for publicity in whatever guise.

The profiling by the insurgents is for a reason; they have a grand desire to make the people of the state hate others. I have read different comments from people from different religious persuasion condemning the execution. It means there are people who are not in league with terrorism. It is easy for ethno-religious violence to be ignited and as such, we can only be careful to refrain ourselves from hating one another on the basis of what the state is going through.

Hard as it may come, the people of the state have every reason to be calm. The government has a responsibility to attend to. It is not a fault to have come from Plateau State, neither is it a crime to live life to its fullest. The future of the youths is currently being jeopardized.

Therefore, the gruesome murder of Ropvil Dalep is indeed a sad reminder of where we are heading to, and for which quick intervention is needed if we must continue as a people belonging to a commonwealth. While some may have enjoyed watching the video clip, I found it nauseating to our humanity.

This scenario has gone on for a period without serious interrogation from our leaders on how to stem the tide. Remember the two carpenters from Mangu LGA sometime last year whose fates were determined in the same fashion? What we have often heard are media statements condemning the act and trusting that the families would overcome the predicament.

It is common knowledge that Daciya Ropvil Dalep of Jing, Pankshin local government area of Plateau State and student of Biology/Education, University of Maiduguri was abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents on January 9, 2020 while returning to school. Together with one Lilian Daniel Gyang from Foron in Barkin Ladi LGA of the same institution were reported to have been isolated for a treatment meant for people in that ‘class’.

Also, recently the travails of one Bashir Abdulhamid from Kanam LGA, who has been in the Boko Haram captivity since December 2019 has further compounded all efforts been activated to save such unfortunate victims. Abdulhamid is an adhoc staff of the World Health Organization who was on his way from Gembu to Maiduguri to deliver a polio specimen. He was, if you like on a national assignment given the dangers of polio in Nigeria.

While we know that the present danger is indicative of what the future holds, it is our responsibility to keep appealing to government to put more efforts on all fronts to protect Nigerians. We deserve that the future of the country is taken seriously, while also appreciating what the security agencies are doing.

It must be reemphasized that given the deluge of statements from leaders and groups, the most visible being the press conference held by the family of the late student and the Rt Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, representative of the PankshinKankeKanam federal constituency, it is expected that it won’t stop at just platitudes.

What should be done? What can the state government do? Getting admission in another university apart from the two in the state is not a bad thing at all. After all, other people from states not close to Plateau gain admission in the ones domiciled here.

Students as well as other people traveling through the Maiduguri road deserve to be protected always. Indeed there are all manners of Nigerians who ply that road every day; and are left at the mercy of insurgents. Some of the students may have been denied admission in universities close to them. They jump at such opportunities to study away from home.

Is it not possible for modalities to be worked out for those who are yet to secure any admission to seek for openings at home? Is it not right to consider certain peculiarities as it is now, and ward off any danger they may face if they were to go this far? Again, some of the students would prefer they are admitted far away from home. It is a matter of choice determined by certain admission indices.

Whatever it is, if ex-insurgents can be rehabilitated into the society, what would a government not do to protect the lives of its law abiding citizens, who are daily harassed, abducted and killed? They deserve all the protection they can get. This is the cry of the people through the various messages that have been sent out to the world since the gruesome execution of Ropvil. If the killers can be rehabilitated, pray tell Nigerians what should be done to other citizens who are daily eking for what to eat or building the road on how to survive?

No one, indeed no Nigerian deserves to be killed in the manner he was. There is no justification to take the life of any person on account of his religion or where he or she comes from.

Nowhere are killers left to walk freely; we know it cannot engender the culture of peace, reconciliation and justice. It is high time Nigeria moved from ‘talking to taking action’.

 

 

 

Categories: Column

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