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I Blame My Conscience

February 9, 2010
Just yesterday when I made my usual foray to the SaharaReporters website, what I saw in some video clips on extra-judicial killings by Nigeria’s security forces knocked me flat out.  There were four clips in all—two were derived from the Al Jazeera cable Televison network. The other two came by the way of SaharaReporters’ sources.  I must make bold to mention a-priori that I’m not a chicken-hearted individual.  In deed, that was exactly why I proceeded to see the details of the contents of the clips even though the preceding “viewers’ discretion” warning by SaharaReporters was enough indication that they were gory.  But I must confess that I wasn’t in the least ready for what I saw. 
In the one that was captioned: “Army officers of the JTF killing the Boma Brothers in the Niger Delta area”, which I clicked on first, what I saw in the very first few seconds whipped my sensibilities so hard that I simply shut down the clip: There was this Army officer in full combat fatigue strutting up and down the deck of what could have been a water craft of some sort.  He was obviously barking out orders to his men.  Nearby were the bloodied bodies of the “Boma Brothers”, I presume.  One was lifeless, laying face up for the duration; at some point the other who laid face down began to move his shackled right hand from the wrist slowly, up and down.  He then raised his head up a little, in obvious agony, of course.  It was at that point that I shut the clip down.  I couldn’t stand to watch when the officer ordered his men to finish him.

From the video, one could discern that the officer is not a Niger Delta indigene.  What justifies his presence in that region and his involvement in the extra-judicial murder of its indigenes if not the authority of the Nigerian State?  What wrong did the Boma Brothers commit to justify the way they were murdered?  Couldn’t they be arraigned in a court of law?  There’s everything wrong with Nigeria!

I felt so violated by the little portion of that clip that I viewed.  About the same time when I was trying to watch the said clip, some human beings like you and me were busy in Abuja wheeling and dealing to contrive yet another pile-up of illegitimacy to save the Nigerian State in whose name and authority the kinds of unconscionable atrocities in those video clips were committed and are still being committed daily all over the landscape called Nigeria.  Through the benefit of SaharaReporters, the world continues to witness such atrocities.  What do you say about them?  Are your hands tied?
The other time, the same Umaru Yar’Adua who lies comatose in an unknown location somewhere in Arabia deployed troops and mobile police in Bornu State and quickly flew out to Brazil on a state visit.  In the name of putting down the Boko Haram religious riot, those troops went out of control killing and maiming people with reckless abandon.  A video of their unwarranted blood-letting surfaced on SaharaReporters soon after showing how they murdered the leader of that riot in cold blood while he was in their custody.  Al Jazeera has come up with some more. Why couldn’t they arraign him and his followers in a court of law?  What do you say about the violations captured in the clips?  Don’t they prick your conscience?

The piece—“The Real Situation”—that I penned yesterday was the only avenue through which I could reclaim some of the sanity that what I saw in the afore-said video clip yanked off me.  I blame my conscience for making me vulnerable to such violations. But it also worries me some, in fact, a lot that rather than step forward too and condemn the wellspring—the Nigerian State—of the kind of dehumanizing acts in the video clips that are inflicted on fellow human beings in the name of the Nigerian State, some individuals resort to casting aspersions on me each time that I do.  Some prefer to settle for pointing out a few misspellings and typos in my pieces and proceed to use same to question my education.  Each time when I read some of the warped reactions to what I write, I don’t help asking: Do those people who react in such a pedestrian manner have conscience at all?  What makes them human beings?  I still wonder!  Would they be at peace if I take advantage of my education and join the lunacy that the Nigeria project is?

I don’t see how any one with credible claim to membership of our species would feel peace over Nigeria and all the atrocities that are committed in its name and with the authority of the Nigerian State.  The more troubling aspect is that such people don’t hide their aversion for the arguments made by people who share my position on Nigeria that there are in deed alternatives to this Nigeria.

All said, I self-console whenever I remember that in this life, bad acts have ways of coming around to afflict people who wreck them on others.  Their supporters hardly go scot-free, too.  Sometimes when they escape that affliction, it awaits their off springs.  The other day, I read the biography of the late Afrikaner lawyer, Bram Fischer, the grandson of one of the actors who laid the foundation stones of what eventually morphed into apartheid in South Africa.  Although Bram Fischer pitched his tent with the likes of Nelson Mandela and co. to struggle for the defeat of apartheid, he died a painful death after he developed untreated cancer in apartheid’s jail.  His painful death was the dear price that his grand father paid by proxy for his role in laying the foundation for the system that consumed his grandson, Bram, his wife, and even scattered his family several decades after. 

The Nigeria project is evil.  I don’t know about you, but my conscience would not let me to be part of or condone an evil project that inflicts misery on people.  The possibility that as an evil project, it can potentially harm one of my own during my life time or thereafter is sufficient ground for me to decry and pitch against it.  No amount of aspersion would deter me.   

● E. C. Ejiogu, PhD is a political sociologist.

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