Whether it happened is no longer the argument. Whether the security forces shot at the protesting and defiant protesters is no longer a contention. Whether the bullets that left those rifles hit some persons is not the question. Whether the arrogant protesters played a role in bringing this to light is not the question. The argument is the motive behind any drill in that place. The problem is the death and injury to some of the residents who in a drill that was supposed to begin today. The problem is the ignorance of the role of the men in those uniforms in protecting a nation. The problem is the result of such type of patrol in instituting peace. The problem is how the muscles of Nigeria’s unity is atrophied by invading the hometown of Nnamdi Kanu.
On Sunday, the 10th of September, 2017, some members of the country’s security outfit stormed the village of the leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, on account of trying to stabilise the place and create peace. Chaos was not recorded or reported by any press until they arrived. Their was no report of crises in the area before that time. The operation Python Dance 2 which was supposed to begin today, 15th of September and end on the 14th of October, was kick started on that Sunday. It was done to create a peaceful environment in the region. Though it is difficult to see any logical reason why it was needed. Their are military drills in all sections of the country but none has taken it to the streets. The security men who patrolled on that Sunday didn’t add to the peace.
Contrary accounts of what transpired has been released by the Nigerian Police and Nnamdi Kanu. Kanu narrated that the security forces tried to get into his family home but was stopped by his security team. In response, they shot at three persons and took their bodies to a hidden place. The official Police’s account was that they were on patrol when the residents started pelting them with stones and they shot to disperse them and injured three persons. They later took these persons to their clinic to treat them only that before the newsmen arrived,the Commissioner of Police said, they have been discharged. Some IPOB members who captured the scene on camera released a video showing a dead colleague been dragged. The military released a video showing the people pelting stones at them and threatening with sticks. A lot was wrong with what happened that day.
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1. It’s Against The Tenets Of Democracy
We love to define Democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people. We agree that the rights of people in a democracy must be respected and that no one life is more important than the other. We also agree that every security outfit that exists in a democracy exists to protect the life of the people. We can not agree with all these conditions and still tolerate the disdain of certain persons for these terms. You can’t be drowning people in mud gutters because you are trying to establish peace. It is illogical and antidemocratic. A people are allowed to have the most radical of ideas in a democracy as long as they don’t use physical force to have citizens agree with them. The punishment for anyone who throws stones at the military is a defensive mechanism. It is the use of water cannons and pepper spray to douse the tension and not to shoot at them with live ammunitions.
I was shocked to see some Nigerians cheering the military for putting to death a member of IPOB. These Nigerians were of the opinion that since these guys want to secede, since they want to tamper with our unity, they deserve any unjust death meted to them. Some of us cheer the security men, created to protect us, when they shoot at innocent or/and protesting Nigerians. That is not democracy. In a democracy, anyone can protest on account of whatever idea they share and no soldier, police or security personnel has the right to shoot at dissenters or protesters. When we cheer our security men for abusing the law we give them wings to soar higher. And the thing is, one day it will come around. One day the same people we cheer for acting in ways that are antidemocratic will give us a dose of that medicine we helped cook.
2. More Sympathisers Are Created
No one would like to see their mentally unfit siblings killed by anyone. No one would like to see their loved ones who are unproductive killed. No one would like to see an unjust treatment of their extended families. This is human nature and it is logical. It would be mischievous to pretend the clash was not between IPOB and our security men or that the bullets that left those nozzles and the stone pelting exercise weren’t because of both factions respective bias for each other. Whatever happened that day happened because the IPOB members and our security officers have a history. A bitter history of the death of protesters. A bitter history that helped to tighten the grip of the hate both now commonly share. A history of abuse of human rights on both sides.
Actions like this will only succeed in bringing more people for the cause the secessionists are fighting for. Their are so many Southern Easterners who disagree with the IPOB ideology and their modus operandi. There are so many of them who are against the idea of a divided Nigeria. You are doing them and the country a disservice when you show them, continually, that the life of their brothers on the other side is not important. You are bringing more followers for the cause when you attack, kill and injure persons who are interested in achieving Biafra. People are not stupid. They watch and learn from your treatment of all types of evil and their perpetrators. When you show them repeatedly that the sins of their siblings are worse, even when they can see otherwise, you are simply encouraging them to come to the aid of their siblings.
3. It Raises The Dis-Unity Level In The The Country
In the history of human existence, no where has unity been achieved with the barrel of a gun. No period in the record of human existence has unity been achieved through the use of force. It is impossible. What force only achieved for our world today is chaos and hatred everywhere. It didn’t make the world safer. The idea that a world where countries spend billions of dollars yearly on security, is at peace, is an illusion. You can not buy peace with money. You cannot buy unity with the message of a gun. You can not buy unity with the use of force. Every problem only gets solved on the negotiation table and not the battlefield. More enemies are created for our world when justice is delivered poorly. More catastrophe awaits a world that is using weapons to achieve unity.
You don’t maltreat people and expect them to be at peace with you. You don’t bully people into unity. Guns and the use of force are false methods of achieving it. You will only end up creating an atmosphere of fear which fades away once the force men fade away. It is not wise to negotiate unity with a gun as unity is not something money or a gun can buy. It is not wise to negotiate unity with force as unity is not something force could get you. That village was at peace before they went in and created that unpalatable atmosphere. That is what the unity of force can get you. The only time where force should be used in solving any problem is when the purpose is to destroy the carrier of the problem. If you want to solve the problem and leave its carrier unharmed, you will sit down and talk.
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4. An Ideology Is Not A Physical Thing
An ideology is not something you can shoot down with a bullet. It is not something you can terminate with the roar of machine guns. It is not something you can bury by burying its originators. It is not a material thing you can squeeze and throw in the trash can. An ideology is mental, immaterial and physiological. It is like a drug that controls the functional anatomy of its patient. It CANNOT be shot down by a bullet. The only way to destroy an ideology is by creating a stronger ideology that counters and ridicules it. Take for example the explanation of geocentric and heliocentric universe. In the past, people believed the earth was the centre of the Universe but repeating the same today will be considered silly. Something changed. Facts and greater tools came on and proved that the Sun is the centre. That is any any ideology can be destroyed.
If our security men and leaders think force will destroy the idea, they are simply giving the idea more followers. The world has both people who are sympathetic and people who pretend to be. It may not be evident in this country Nigeria due to the fact that our shock absorbers have been shattered but the civilised world is watching. They know it is not wrong to demand for your own country. They know that even stupid people have rights. They also know that a person with a stronger ideology doesn’t need force and they will act once it gets overboard. To destroy the Biafran ideology the government of Nigeria have to show the agitators why staying in Nigeria is better than secession. They have to show them that they can achieve all they intend to achieve in Biafra in Nigeria and even more. When you pick a gun and shoot at defiant protesters you are not interested in peace.
5. It Could Radicalize Them
In 2009, Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram was killed in custody of our security operatives. He was accused of preaching a dangerous sermon that has the potential to radicalise the people. He was preaching to the people that all forms of Western Education is a sin against God. The solution we employed then was to arrest him and put him to sleep. We didn’t try him in court. We didn’t go to those people he was already preaching to for reorientation. We didn’t even try to counter his ideology with a stronger ideology. We failed to see that any influencer of the mind is powerful. We thought him to be too stupid to be engaged in a conversation and used a very poor method to counter his ideology. Did we succeed? It is September, 2017, and we are still trying to defeat Boko Haram.
Though Nnamdi Kanu, has repeatedly said, the group will never resort to arms but you never can tell. This is what could happen from the use of force. Some persons could be of the notion that any radicalization of the group will help the nation destroy them faster. The truth is, radicals influence because a large number of people are on their side. Most times, they hate these radicals but external forces make them realign their position. The middle east is an example. Some families in the middle east have always hated the behavior of internal terror groups in existence. They hate them with every fiber of their being. But as time passed, they saw that the external aggressors kill hundred innocent people for one terrorist and the only persons who care about them are those radicals. Things change.
6. Morality And Equity
It is morally wrong to shoot at anyone or group because they are standing on your way. It is like bringing a knife to a fistfight. It’s unfair. It is also wrong to pelt soldiers with stones or sticks. This is not a question of what is legal but what is good and evil. Most often, you need to win the moral war to win both the psychological and ideological war. People also want to see that you treat all evil the same way. They don’t want to see a situation where evil from a certain person is ignored while that of another is given attention. Unity needs justice and equity to function. They don’t just want to see that your actions are good, they also want to see that your action is not selective. The family of a culprit will likely support you when they are sure you are doing what is right and your prosecution method is not jaundiced. They will support you when it’s beyond every reasonable doubt you are fair.
Isn’t it troubling that persons who are agitating for a some new country are given brutal treatment while the herdsmen who have been rampaging and directly threatening the unity of the nation are treated with kids glove? This is both a moral and equality problem. It can’t be graver to simply agitate for a new nation than butcher and take farmers on their own lands. People are not stupid. People know that what is good for the goose should be good for the gander and they recognise what happens when it doesn’t work that way. This connection will be drawn and their support for a united Nigeria will be based on the results of their assessment. Why exactly is their a military drill in all sections of the country? Is it a way to check the activities of kidnappers, criminals, secessionists, to threaten the people of all regions or to help in maintaining the peace of the nation? Can’t the Nigerian Police handle the scope of these drills?