Images are a million times more powerful the words we read or hear. I was reminded of this by the recent clash between the Shi’ites and security men in Kaduna on Thursday.
I had seen the headlines on Nigeria News. I refused to read the stories because I figured it was just another group of stone-throwing youths expressing their anger over the unlawful detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
But I was forced to open one linked that claim the rioters (or demonstrators if you like euphemisms) had stoned a policeman to death. Really?!
I opened the link; and there it was, a grisly and disturbing picture of a policeman lying in a pool of his own blood, lifeless. Around his body were stones of varying sizes, the murder weapons in plain sight for all to see.
I wished I hadn’t. That could be somebody’s father, brother, a son, husband, a breadwinner. Even though the police are not my favorite people, seeing one murdered that way in the line of duty completely humanized the cop.
Killing a man is never something anybody should take for granted no matter what they did.
It was really upsetting.
The last time I ventured to open a link like this was when Boko Haram was making a mockery of our army in the previous administration.
The link was a video of the terrorist killing a Christian. I went into a mild depression after seeing how the female Youth Corner was decapitated with a knife while she still alive.
The men watching (fellow Boko Haramists) were shouting ‘Allahu Akbar‘ while this was going on.
It was then I promised never to open a link like that. Until now.
What were the Shi’ites thinking for God’s sake? We all know how this problem started about three years ago.
The Shi’ites had blocked traffic in Zaria. Unfortunately, the Army Chief was on his way to an official assignment that day. They refused to allow his convoy through.
In the end, they were forcefully dispersed with bullets. Reports say many died there on the expressway.
The army though were not satisfied with just clearing the highway. They proceeded to the home of the Shia leader and allegedly killed more people before arresting him.
He has been in detention since then in spite of several court rulings that he should be freed.
It is either the Shia youths have no sense, were ill-advised, felt like being martyrs or have very short memories.
If several of them were killed for just blocking a highway 3 years ago, can they imagine what would happen now they have killed a policeman?
Have they forgotten this is a lawless country were SARS get away with murder and other human rights violations daily?
Extrajudicial killings by the police and other security services are so common we now take it for granted.
When almost 40 corpses were found floating in Ezu River in Amansea, Anambra State, in January 2013, nothing came off the outrage from conscientious Nigerians.
The Government then didn’t think the dead men were important enough to order an investigation.
The closest the victims got to an official acknowledgment was when Governor Peter Obi visited the scene and hurriedly planned a massed burial, pre-empting any autopsy on the bodies thereby hampering proper investigations. That effectively killed the case.
It is not likely the Shi’ites would stop all these demonstrations anytime soon. Most of them are not afraid of death because they believed it is a divine calling. Many of them even welcome it.
This is a certain slope the Shi’ites are going down as they seek to have their leader released. What they would meet at the bottom of the slope is clear.
For the rest of us, this is one more crisis the country doesn’t need. The Boko Haram problem escalated almost the same way. The members turned to armed conflict after their leader was arrested and extra-judicially killed.
We are still grappling with that problem and paying the price almost a decade later. The human cost of the resulting conflict is incalculable.
At this point, it is the responsibility of government to learn from history and rein-in the police. They should not be allowed to go on a killing spree to avenge their murdered colleague.