Where is Bishop? What is the latest on the last news of the suspects that were caught? Who did Bishop had the spar with that led to the killing of those persons at Ozubulu in Anambra State, Nigeria? Who has really been arrested and when will they be charged to court? Where is the media whose mantra is ‘bad news is good news’? Today makes it exactly 27 days that unknown gunmen opened fire to injure and kill more than 10 parishioners worshipping at St Philips Catholic Church, Amakwa Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of the state. Within five hours, the Police came out with a report that traced the attack to a drug war between two brothers in faraway South Africa.
When the news broke in the media, their were accusations and counter-accusations between persons of that region of the country and peoples of other regions. The act had the trademark of the Boko Haram group and the rampaging Herdsmen killing and raping old and young women and this made it difficult for some persons to believe it is the product of a drug war. They argued it is not in the nature of an Igbo man to kill other innocent Igbos worshipping in church because he has a problem with one Igbo man. They argued that because the Igbos treasure and value the church, especially, the catholic church, the likelihood of such happening is impossible. To many, they had a point.
The IPOB’s argument was more introspective. Its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, blamed the leadership of the state and the elders, accusing them of supplying the materials that aided the massacre. The state government explained that the gunmen had gone to church that day to kill the drug lord who goes by the name Bishop. It was said that Bishop’s father had gone to church riding in his son’s car and the hitmen followed him to finish him off. According to the priest, who officiated the mass, Reverend Father Jude, when these hitmen entered the church, they simply opened fire and shot to kill at no one in particular but to make a horrific mess of human lives. So, when the Police released that report that day, some of us who understand how Nigeria worked were baffled at the speed of the report.
Today makes it exactly 26 days since this happened and we have not found anything new to hold on to. The last time their were photos of the said Bishop, who is being wanted and looked for, in the hospital wards attending to the injured persons. He was moving with boldness and even demanded that the members of the media stop peddling his name around. He also claimed that he had no connection to any drug business, that he loves his people and has always helped them and will continue doing so. A video was circulated showing Bishop, in company of the State Governor, Dr Willie Obiano, spraying money at an event and chants of ‘Escobar’ from the youths around him greeted the atmosphere.
The news trended for about a week before it all went silent. Nothing was heard of the Bishop again. We simply heard that some persons have been arrested in relation to the gruesome murder but nothing else was said of who these persons were, their names, what they do for a living, where they were caught arrested, their confessional statements or their cell. Nothing else has been said and people are not outraged. The catholic church had to set up a committee to have full knowledge of what happened that day and also to take care of the wounded persons and deceased. The Governor has not deemed it fit to update the people on the latest on the matter. Neither has the Nigerian Police done so.
What this event points out is that we are a people whose sense of outrage is not real. What we showed when that was shown is the same thing we show when we watch a play that ends in tragedy. It is not real and those emotions exercised at that moment exists for the moment. Our sense of outrage is simply being controlled by the media. All those gains assumed to have been reached in terms of civilization of the mind is a facade. Once the media, for whatever reason, decides to stop a particular news or have little to report on a matter, our sense of right and wrong, our sense of justice, returns to its faluty default settings. The media alone decides what makes us empathetic and this is modern slavery.
That you show attention to evil deeds only when a group of persons tell you to tells a lot about you. It shows that your mind is slipping away from your hands. This is exactly what has happened here. No one is asking questions. No media outfit is calling for accountability on that matter. No argument has been presented, to explain to us why a man whose alleged illegal dealings led to the deaths of many and injury to others, is walking boldly without being detained or arrested by the same men who accused him. This is strange. It isn’t something that should be swept under the carpet so soon. We have to establish and define properly what happened that day. We must not pretend that all is well.
What we have seen so far is the exercise of that amnesia we often collectively deploy in tackling evil in our society. That collective show of shame given wings by the media people we love to trust. That erroneous believe that some day, without any effort of our own, we will see the light and rise above mediocrity. Other uncivilized habits are still going on but because we wait for the media to give it relevance, we pretend like it doesn’t matter. We don’t talk about the evil in the neighborhood. We don’t condemn or find them outrageous until somebody makes a video about it and sends to a media house. Then we chisel our moral compass, get mad and talk about the wickedness of man. Our outrage is fake. This is something we see everyday but pretend it is not real.
Recently, the former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, also known as OBJ, told some newsmen that what is needed in this country is a change of mindset. That as long as the minds of citizens of the country is not salvaged, attaining salvation in attitude and positive growth is impossible. I don’t admire the character of OBJ but he had a point. His statement was not a new revelation. It was commonsense. It is something that should be done by all serious people. The only thing he failed to mention is that you need people to inspire change. You need someone to raise the mental awareness of the people. And this must be done by someone whose mind is salvaged and not a mental prisoner.
I partially blame the media for what is happening in the world and Nigeria today. I partially blame the media for the response that those events at Ozubulu generated. Our media people have the power to execute this transformation. The media shape opinions and could be a force for good. They could be more useful to their society and still make money. When so much trust is placed on you by both gullible and smart people, you owe them a certain level of responsibility. What will happen if the media placed more emphasis on eroding the things that erode our society? What will happen when they follow stories that promote peaceful existence and humanity? The answer is more humanness. People will be influenced to promote good and denounce evil.
Cases like the Ozubulu attack shouldn’t pass by as though nothing happened. It shouldn’t be treated with kids glove but unfortunately that is what is happening. Our sense of outrage should be channeled in events like this to avoid any future occurrence. Who struck and why? Why were innocent church members who have no business with a feud involved in that feud? Why is the accused moving boldly on the street? Why should we believe the Nigerian Police? What investigations were carried out within those few hours the event happened? Who was queried? Why does it seem like it is a forgotten story? The fact is, if we want to be taken seriously, we must have a real sense of outrage to matters like this. Our outrage should rise above the ineffectiveness of the media. Failure to do this, this circle will not stop.