Nothing better captures the above headline than the attached photograph, which I stumbled upon on one of the numerous social media platforms. It is that of a thoroughly battered policeman, gasping for life, and leaning on an officer of a local vigilance group (whom we call Vigilante) for support. The caption read: “Vigilante rescues police officer from kidnappers…the opposite keeps happening in Nigeria”.
Few days ago, there was another caption: “Kidnapped DPO regains freedom, after paying N3m ransom”. Yes, even police now pay ransom to kidnappers. Yet, they ask the rest of us unarmed bloody civilians never to pay ransom, but to let the police handle the matter. They say kidnapping has grown into a big business because families of kidnap victims continue to pay ransom behind the police, instead of allowing the police to track and arrest the kidnappers.
But the reality remains that in virtually all instances, the police would encourage the victim’s family to pay, on the reassurance that, not only would the kidnappers be arrested as soon as they have taken the money and released the victims, but that the ransom money would also be recovered. But not too many stories of such recoveries abound. The families are often too happy for the release of their loved one to spare any thought for the ransom money. And then, we move to the next new case. Yes, the opposite keeps happening. It is the season of anomie!
I’m even tempted to add the Ibrahim el-Zakzaky Indian adventure on the list. But I’m always scared of writing on anything that borders on religion. For once religion is mentioned, common sense takes flight, especially since nobody seems to agree that IMN/FG saga is simply put, an Iranian (Shiite) and Saudi (Sunni) shadow boxing. So, one is not at liberty to call for a thorough interrogation of the IMN cleric’s fears that the doctors at the Indian hospital had been compromised and that he no longer felt safe entrusting his health (and life) to them. Could it be that El-Zakzaky actually had good reason to suspect that he could make the return journey from India in a body-bag, if he submitted himself for treatment there?
But there is also a reverse side to the coin: How so very sick was the cleric that the trip to India became so compelling? How did the all-important visit to the hospital (chosen by the cleric) suddenly cease to be a matter of life and death? When did it suddenly become unheard of for a sick person (especially a big-man patient) to ask for his own doctors to be part of the team treating him?
And if the Indian hospital agreed to have some of Zakzaky’s preferred doctors in the team of doctors, why would the Sheik insist on being treated exclusively by his own doctors? How would the Nigerian government, which officially has the custody of the patient, be able to vouch for the fidelity of the treatment he is given?
But, amidst all these, why would a man, who was ill leave hospital, on his own accord, without taking as much as a tablet of Paracetamol? So, what now happens to his illness (and treatment)? Is he coming home to die in Nigeria? Since he has now returned to the same medical facility that he said was very poor? Isn’t that suicidal? Surely, the revered Sheik is not a suicide bomber? Or did El-Zakzaky just get well by merely stepping his foot on Indian soil?
We can never know, with all the magical powers some of us grew up believing existed in India.
And then, there is the added poser over how a seriously ill old man would find the strength to be sending video and audio messages – made in Hausa (and, therefore, presumably targeted for the consumption of a particular group of people, who might be less-critical, as the rest of us who have read too many books). How does a five-star hotel figure in a purely medical trip? What would the very-sick Sheik be doing with his international passport inside the hospital? How much of all this information flying around from both the Federal Government and the Sheik’s camp is true? Which one is propaganda? And which one is outright falsehood? How does the asylum sub-plot come into this plot?
All I can see is a case of mutual suspicion and mutually hidden agenda. Unfortunately, we the Plebians have since taken sides, and are ready to crack one another’s head on their behalf.
But, like I said, I’ll never dabble into this matter because I don’t know where the religion stops and where politics starts. I learnt my lessons with the Boko Haram insurgency. A few years ago, we were told that those fighting them were merely looking for excuse to keep bombing the North. Later, they told us it was a war against Islam, again, because the C-in-C was a Christian.
However, when the thing now got out of hand and the blood hounds began to attack mosques, we began a campaign to stop addressing them as Islamists. We reluctantly began to address them as insurgents. And now, terrorists. But we had, due to selfish politicking, lost the opportunity to nip the monster in the bud. Today, we still continue on the path of deceit and prebendal politics, even as the terrorists have now morphed into ‘gunmen’ and ‘herdsmen’. We are still reluctant to call evil by its name. And the season of anomie continues.
Of course, the season of anomie is not restricted to Zakzaky and Boko Haram. It can also be seen in the fact that our soldiers are turning their bayonets on us and our police; that police is turning against Civil Defence, DSS is turning against EFCC, APC is fighting APC, etc. It is also explained in the fact that ‘Barr.’ Obono-Obla, who had terrorised every opposition element in the firmament with accusation of graft and impropriety, is now handed the wrong end of the reed.
The anti-graft infrastructure, after all, was standing on a faulty superstructure. Thankfully, President Buhari now has chance to take a second look at all those who were hiding under a pretentious Buharist (Hailers) support cloak to fleece the country. That is what the new AMCON law is all about. That is also what the investigation of Oyo-Ita might be all about. I refuse to join the anti-Cross River narrative: Onoghen to Obono-Obla to Oyo-Ita.
Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a few members of the cabal in the dragnet before 2023 gets round the corner.