The Killings in Emene should stop!
By March 1968, the story of the Igbos had become a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. As hunger and thirst grew, so did despair, confusion and desperation. Nigerian fighter jets hovered over ancestral homes of Igbos as they conducted military air raids, bombing any standing or moving object. It was simply horrible!
In the early stages of the horrific 30-month encounter, one of the greatest pieces of stories I had ever read is how young girls volunteered their skills and services to keeping decorum, mobilizing popular support for the People’s Army and not least injecting hope into the struggle. Noticeably, some young girls had taken to controlling traffic in major towns and cities to facilitate the easy or free flow of human and vehicular traffic as people of Eastern Nigeria jostled chaotically and/or gasped for survival, fleeing from armed intimidations from brutal federal forces to their home towns.
The young girls did that on a daily and coordinated basis until the later part of the struggle when it became fully genocidal. As a consequence, this supplied energetic young men (in their numbers) to military formations closest to one for voluntary enlistment into the People’s Army (Army of the Republic of Biafra). What a determined people!
The calamities of the war are unspeakable. For instance, after air raids, occupational forces would move in, raping virgins, young girls and women and shooting young men and even boys in their foreheads as they often resisted the reign of the federal troops. The federal forces committed their atrocities by house-to-house searches all over Eastern Nigeria, now Biafran enclave; killing, maiming and destroying.
Historically, the Igbos have had to endure premeditated killings — mostly unprovoked, of its members by armed authorities. Fast forward to last days of August 2020. I was in my village for our annual masquerade carnival and New Yam Festival where my joy was short-lived. While we seated in intimate circles, partying and drinking, news broke out in the media that killings were going on in Enugu. It is customary that during new yam festivals, friends and neighbours would invite one another to feasts where new yams are prepared with burnt cocks and served with freshly tapped palm wine.
We jubilantly drank, from one or two tumblers, not because there was a short supply to go round; it is the grundnorm. In my part of the world, friends and brothers eat from a common source. We do this in celebration and defence of our intergeneration covenant for peace, justice and brotherhood. Perhaps, apart from women, we share every other thing.
On this particular evening, as we partied, the shooting and killing of unarmed “protesters” in Enugu was a spoiler. Before I could finish narrating the breaking news, my mood had deteriorated. Of course, the reason for the deterioration was unhidden and so was the concomitant grief by other participants in the gathering.
After some rounds of palm wine, we collectively agonised and mumbled over the senseless killings in Emene. After that evening, it was more than clear that Nigeria is a “walking corpse”. Uncountable Nigerians have lost tremendous faith in her and others more than ready to give up their all for a new country — whose foundation they theorised would be “divinely” breathed.
If you triangulate the story of the recent killings in Enugu and other parts of the country, you can decipher who the enemy is. Murder and mayhem can occur quickly at night and in the day and nobody would be held accountable.
In Congo, its unruly, underpaid soldiers often collaborate with rebels, selling them guns and tipping them off. Sometimes they kill and loot together. The situation is not different in Emene — uniformed forces are proving to be more murderous and dangerous than rampaging herdsmen and “unknown” bandits. Like in 1968, that security agencies were going from house to house, arresting people and ending their lives extra-judicially should be a cause for public outcry and concern. Not only outcries, but offenders should be apprehended and prosecuted!
Nevertheless, young people in Emene should review their routines and avoid troubled spots as much as possible. Since these spots are our ancestral homes which cannot be abandoned for strangers and enemies, we can only excuse them for the meantime for the clouds of dust to settle. We cannot say that anywhere in Nigeria is safe but at least, we cannot abandon our ancestral home for marauders. We know who the enemies are and they can no longer be said to be hidden. The killings in Emene should stop!