By Rev. Fr. Felix Uche Akam
To the dead, those who received on our behalf the death brought to our doorsteps with a code name, Operation Egwu Eke II (Python Dance II), I say rest in Peace. You will not experience injustice and hatred again, you will not be discriminated against because of your tribe nor will you die anymore. You are now with the righteous King.
To the bereaved, I say, be consoled. Your loved ones didn’t die stealing or raping; neither did they die kidnapping. Theirs came as a belief that there is a limit to oppression, that there comes a time in life when death is nobler than slavery. They believed that freedom is never given but earned. Like historic freedom fighters, they died on the road because their types never get to the Promised Land; they only steal its view from a distance. Look at the biblical Moses; look at Martin Luther King Jr. in America; they could only point at the Promised Land from a mountain distance.
To Nigerians, this is the time to be least proud of our origin. Our unity as a people has never come this loose nor hatred ever obviously celebrated with government army. A month ago, I shared my dream of an impending bloodshed and went on summer break with a promise to return after six weeks. Four weeks after, I feel uncomfortable if I do not voice out my heart at this infamous moment of our history. I have never seen an army come too low in military ethics than they have done in “Operation Egwu Eke II.”
Dooms-week scenario! Severed limbs! Disgorged brain and viscera! Gored bodies! Scalded lapses! Bloody mouths! Shattered fists! Not even Hollywood will create such crude scene in its filming but that was how a Nigerian Army hacked her own citizens. They were whipped to the point of death. They were ordered to get drowned in muddy waters with army boots on their heads and cudgels on their bodies to ensure they sink well. They drank until their intestines got filled up, breathing became impossible, blood gushed through noses, ears and mouths to pollute the muddy water; eyes turned brown, gave up their sight; ears got blocked and enthusiastically the soldiers watched their countrymen twitched slowly as they turned to corpses. We have got gory videos no man should ever pray to watch.
When we come face to face with ghastly atrocities, we are appalled and want to ask, “But what has happened to our humanity that we have become inhumane?”Is that not how we felt when we encountered the horror of Holocaust or the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when we heard of the horrible goings-on of an Idi Amin or a Bokassa, when we learned of the vicious occurrences in the killing fields of Cambodia, the excesses in Bosnia and the genocide of Rwanda? Were we not equally appalled by the gross violations of human rights in many Latin America countries and South Africa, the massacre at Odi and Zaki Ibiam?
To watch innocent citizens plying their normal trades on the streets of Aba and Umuahia being pursued, overrun, maimed and some killed by government military trucks is scary. Even prisoners of war deserve respect. Not even in Guantanamo Bay is such treatment meted out.
Hate IPOB the much you can but our common humanity is the denominator of how we treat a human person. The current Nigerian government has not hidden its hatred for Southeast in thoughts, words and action. The president said it in post inauguration interview with foreign media; implements it in his every appointment and reinforces in all his body languages. There have been calls to balance appointments both from Nigerians and international community. The just concluded Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria highlighted painfully the obvious exclusion of a regime in their communiqué. But the presidency remains unperturbed.
We all may not support IPOB and we don’t need to. However, the IPOB represents dominant feeling among people of Southeast. Every Jew prays for the peace of Jerusalem but differs on how to achieve it. Currently, we have Likud, Yisrael Beitenu, Zionist Union, Yesh Atid, Shas, The Jewish Home (Habayit HaYehudi) United Torah Judiasm (Yahadut HaTorah Hameukhedet), Meretz, Wamab, Kulanu. While some parties agree to a two-state solution with Palestine; some do not. Some believe in mediation; others in meditation. At the end, it is the majority that informs government’s decision.
The military invasion of Southeast in all its intents and purpose has been condemned as a calculated aggression against psychologically wounded people. The clashes were provoked to pave way for maximum damage. The statement of the presidency that IPOB is inviting them to wipe the entire Igbo race has historical antecedent. Hitler crossed his army to Poland and ordered them to fire Germany, filmed the shooting as an aggression of Polish army against Germany. Hitler might have invaded and killed many Polish but Poland has outlived Hitler.
The branding of IPOB as a terrorist organisation is not surprising either. When Taliban regime held sway in Afghanistan, what is today known as Taliban terrorist group was the national army. All freedom groups were outlawed by Taliban government until America ousted the evil regime in Kabul and installed lame democracy. When the national army is sympathetic to a jihadist government, we expect even human right groups to get terrorist tags.
The proscription of IPOB by Southeast Governors’ Forum reflects the language and personality of her chairman more so when he is the smartest of the ignoble five fingers of a leprous hand who can trade entire race for their political ambitions.
Sieve the leaders alphabetically! The Abia heavyweight has spent two years battling to save his first mandate. The mud and pools in the viral videos show how the state has decayed under his watch. The Anambra guy-man is only good in concluding investigations into terrorist attack in ten minutes just to move ahead with his re-election matters. The Ebonyi Machiavelli is a PDP governor who wastes no opportunity praising APC government at the national level and has vowed to vote against the PDP come 2019 presidential election. He was the first governor to promise Fulani Herdsmen grazing routes in Nigeria. The Imo self-acclaimed orator is a jihadist-drone planted in Igbo land. He lost sense of governance ever before inauguration. The big brother from Enugu sank in his ottoman while Fulani herdsmen slaughtered his people; he then commanded them to fast and jetted off to prostrate before the President and share wine with him in Aso Rock. The national assembly members are personal assistants to their respective governors who need 2019 badly.
The sad news? The Igbo have no leaders but politicians who immediately after inauguration start thinking of next elections. People do not expect them to support IPOB but to provide them with leadership. If they could rise from their meeting without condemning the invasion of their region and the killing of their people who are not all IPOB members, they have failed their people again.
To other Nigerians mocking IPOB, I hear your voices but I take you to the Scriptures. Once in Israel, Galileans led by a certain Judas denounced Caesar, resisted foreign domination because only God is king. As the Roman governor in Syria, Pontius Pilate wanted his water project to be financed with certain Temple monies. Perceived as a sacrilege, the Jews were up in resistance. Pilate instructed his soldiers to disguise, infiltrate and disperse the crowd with cudgels. Acting far beyond their instructions, the soldiers killed a considerable number of Jews. This sowed enmity between Pilate and Herod which was later reconciled during the trial of Jesus. Referring to that incident during His ministry Jesus said, “Do you think that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because this happened to them?” “I tell you, No,” he answered.
Mockery is a tribute a coward pays to the brave. Our Galilean brothers drank mud, received gunshots and died once. But as long as we remain excluded in governance we remain perpetually trapped in muddy water of Nigerian ethnic politics. To remember that we have no leader makes it more painful. But the sight of young men holding stones and resisting soldiers armed to their teeth paints a picture of future Nigeria if she refuses to reform. Biafra agitation resurfaced after the war ended 50 years ago because army can never bring peace; only justice does.
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