While we are still unraveling the madness that happened at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, something shadowy, with a seeming touch of ethnic coloration (you can’t be sure for now) and/or propaganda, is happening somewhere in Oyigbo, Rivers State. The scene seems to be a carryover of the results of the EndSars protests, or to capture it well, the effects of the Lekki Massacre but for a 24-hour curfew imposed in the place, we can never get enough data.
It was earlier reported that protesters killed three police officers and another report attributed the killings to the members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, a secessionist group under the control of one of Nigeria’s craziest citizens, (he wouldn’t even agree he’s Nigerian), Nnamdi Kanu. The accusation is not new to the group and as usual, it was easy to get support against the group.
So many things have been attributed to IPOB without any proof and considering the incompetence and the stand of the Nigerian state on their separatist move, or anyone for that matter, you can’t really tell what is true or false especially when it is coming from the government. In fact, for most reasonable Nigerians, it is easier to believe a citizen than the lying government. Most governments lie by default.
In the beginning, we heard the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, in his typical dictatorial manner; set the pace. He accused a certain Mr. Mgbere of inciting violence and placed a 50 million naira bounty on the man he claimed was the leader of IPOB in the state. IPOB denied the story and on his part, Mr. Mgbere spoke from a hideout that he wasn’t a member of IPOB but a believer in one Nigeria.
A photo that trended online showed the accused carrying the Nigerian flag, a thing his defenders claimed, is not in the to-do list of many IPOB members, and in this case, a leader. For them, that will be sacrilege. The government led by Wike tried to rope IPOB into the murders but looking at it from the factual front, the protest and killings that happened all around the country were not spurred by either tribal or secessionist coloration.
A handful of secessionists may have hijacked (hijacked? Those few deluded youths we saw in videos bragging online cannot really hijack anything. The protest and aftermath were bigger than them) the cause in the later stages of the mayhem but the killings and destruction of property that happened in Oyigbo and other parts of Nigeria were committed by angry and hungry Nigerian youths, angry for many things, poverty and joblessness at the top of the list.
Today, what we read is that not only has the killings been equalized, but despite the fact that some of the hoodlums who deed the murder and their praise-singers arrested, we hear that the homes of the residents of Oyigbo Local Government Area, River State of Nigeria are been attacked and residents killed on sight. These attacks, according to the reports, do not go on in the daylight but at night when people are asleep or resting in their homes.
It is hard to tell what is true without concrete video evidence the type we got when people were massacred at the Toll Gate in Lekki. There are claims that the Governor of River State, like the Governor of Lagos State, had invited the murderous security operatives who are happy to do the job in Oyigbo and hell has been unleashed since then. It seems there is a humanitarian crisis in Oyigbo.
In less than a month, we have seen some questionable actions by Governor Wike and the reasons have been to protect the state security. First, he banned the EndSars protest in Rivers State but the protest went on and when he spoke to the public who dared him by taking the protest to the Government House, he spoke of security and other bullshit the government utters when it is trying to attack human rights.
Then, without conducting an investigation, he accused a man of being the IPOB leader in the state and a 50 million Naira bounty placed. Next, he accused the IPOB, without conducting any sound investigation too, of killing police officers in the state. A few days ago, he signed an executive order proscribing the group just like the federal government had done. It seemed like he wrote and narrated the story.
Knowing the group for mild violence (verbal violence, actually) it wouldn’t be illogical to assume that some of the members of the group will join the killings and looting of properties but there seems to be something going on here. These guys are not really peaceful in the moral sense of the word but in the democratic and legal sense they have not really done anything wrong and this attack seems premeditated.
No proper investigation was done before arriving at these truths. We know that looking at the utterances of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, in faraway London, England, there is a possibility that these guys can become terrorists. A possibility, not a fact! Their leader is vile and full of hate for Nigeria and the different tribes across Nigeria and he doesn’t hide it. He transmits this hate to the members who in turn pass it to the members of the society.
There is potential for terrorism. But despite this, there has been really no terrorism from them. No investigation from an independent body has found them guilty of terrorism and on that note the few of us who understand why most governments hate separatists consider their declaration as terrorist group utter bullocks. It makes no sense. It only makes sense if that is what you want to believe.
To most Nigerians who have been loathed by the group (not that they are innocent either. Nigerians hate each other but IPOB has not perfected the art of pretense), the trick is working. Look at this way. What better way is it to deal with a certain section of your state you loathe if you don’t demonize the majority of the populace there?
For sure, we don’t know what is actually happening there but we can make deductions from the governor’s statements and from the people of Oyigbo. We have heard of violence between residents and the Fulanis but we have also heard of issues preceding the EndSars protests like the fact that the people of Oyigbo say they are hated by the Governor. This wouldn’t be shocking because it is a typical trait of our leaders. In fact, it is a requirement.
This is how it stands: First, the people of Oyigbo have issues with the state Governor and it seems to me it is vice versa. There is no love between the two and there is little to show that one will do better than the other if the situation is reversed. Secondly, it seems like the Nigerian tribal thing is also going on. In all (ethnically) heterogeneous states across Nigeria, the leaders are often drawn from the ethnic group with the most population.
For example, in Benue the Tivs (who always rule), Idoma and Igede despise each other and in Rivers, the Ikwerre’s (who are the ruling group), Okrikas, Ijaws, Opobos, Ndokis, Igbos and other ethnic groups despise each other. For starters, Wike seems to be channeling this supremacist spirit, and despite the counter and often stupid condition of identity crisis from him and others (this will be a topic for another day) he has come to identify the Oyigbos as Igbos (The place was originally Obigbo, meaning heart of Igbo).
That wicked primitive spirit full of hate for other Nigerians and the desire to exterminate them if possible has been awakened in him. Using words like ‘security reports’, ‘peace’ and other nice-sounding words are just smokescreens for the spirit to wander. Oyigbo is not the only place in Rivers where destruction happened but because it presents a good opportunity to torture the enemy, an enemy wouldn’t hesitate. He succeeded in isolating the place by burying them with the IPOB tag.
Why is it impossible for the same person who condemned the Lekki Massacre to condemn the Oyigbo Massacre (or at least condemn the Idea of it)? We are not sure what is happening there and we shouldn’t just believe anything we read on the internet but what about condemning the idea? The idea of Soldiers slipping into people’s homes at night murdering them can never be a good way for any democratic government to solve a problem.
But not only are the majority of us not shocked by the idea of an Oyigbo Massacre we also encourage it. We love it because Mr. Wike has made sure the argument follows the pattern we love. He demonized them by putting them at par with the demon you love to hate and from that height whatever you see is good. It is a great trick and it works when you are as blind as him. We may not really know if the depth of the humanitarian crisis going on (as videos are hard to find) but it is easy to see why the idea wouldn’t shock a typical Nigeria. The trick is gold but it keeps working because there is a devil in many of us.