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02.07.2014 Opinion

The Unnecessary Northern Impunity

By Eddie Onuzuruike
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In the dark night of June 14, 2014, a surreptitious caravan-like movement loomed from the far north, undetected until it zoomed across Abia. A robust synergy in surveillance by security agencies in Abia realized that such a convoy may not mean well for the peace and tranquility that Abia has become synonymous with.

The swift intervention and interrogation that followed confirmed their fears. The findings of the interrogators were mind-blowing in that 486 men with few women numbering about 8 moved in 35 unmarked buses in one direction. This led to many unanswered questions.

The 144th battalion at Asa, Ukwa East, of the Nigerian Army are in custody of the suspects and are presently grilling them to know if they actually have good reasons for their movement. Dr Khalid Abubakar, the general secretary of Ja' Amatu Nasril Islam, spoke before he thought, ordering the immediate release of the people. He called it a crackdown on innocent Muslims. Like a concerted effort, the Jigawa assemblymen threatened to take Gov Orji to court for detaining their brothers. If they knew the governor well, they would not have thought about the court as he has triumphed over twenty court cases in the past. Another Salvo was fired by a Jigawa State representative at the National confab. In his words, the people detained, 'were itinerant 'traders' criminalised on account of their religion and ethnic origin. Another group threatened to retaliate if nothing was done.

Such statements are highly inflammatory and suggest that these hasty defenders care less about the degree of insecurity these numbers of gangs would raise if allowed a free ride.

It is necessary to inform these reckless defenders that beside being inflammatory, that their statements make them accessory to crime by the mere fact that a most wanted Boko Haram operative was found among them. This has implicated the sojourners to a large extent if viewed from the police investigative angle.

Now the real questions: Why would 486 people undertake such a journey at night? Even if it is a Gold Rush, why such a large number in a single movement? What are their skills? Who arranged or created this labour market? Who paid for the buses when the ancient mariners scarcely had more than one thousand in their pockets? From experience of so many years, people from the North who offer services in the South-East and South-South are known to have distinctive trades as largely untrained cobblers with their boxes of scanty tools. Did these 486 have these credentials? Others are normally cattle rearers and butchers; were there evidence to identify them as such? Did these hasty defenders find out the personality and language of these massive travelers? How did they know that they were Muslims as claimed by Dr Abubarkar and the Rep in Abuja confab? Too many questions, aren't they?

With hindsight as a guide, most of these tradesmen come to the East in a special transport, joining trucks and trailers laden with goods where they pay little or nothing as fare, but the 486 were in cozy buses, some of them air-conditioned. Probably they were on a jihad or pilgrimage?

From reports garnered, two buses escaped. Why would they skedaddle if they were on a holy mission? More worrisome is that among these, a most wanted Boko Haram operative was found. Isn't that enough damage to harbor a wanted man? It was claimed that they were headed to Port Harcourt and we ask, what is the population of Rivers State to require overnight the services of 486 people in one fell swoop.

This country belongs to all of us. People should be careful lest they import mayhem.

It has been a concerted effort in the whole of the country to release the Chibok girls. Abia State particularly abridged the May 29 democracy celebrations in solidarity with the moves to get our girls back. Prayers were ordered by Her Excellency, Chief Mrs Mercy Odochi Orji for God's intervention. A jingle: release the Chibok girls, Is at present, running in our broadcast radio, the BCA, sponsored by Her Excellency. Nationally, huge efforts and collaborations have been on with other countries urging same. Our newspapers have not relented with such messages on the headlines of their newspapers.

The habit of inflicting injury and sacrificing our security by some groups with impunity should be condemned and punished.

Come to think of it, if these war mongers are truly caring for their brothers, would 486 drift in one batch to the South-South for jobs?

The statement of Chief Edwin Clark on The Sun Newspaper that some Northern governors are less concerned with the security situation should be taken seriously. It is typical of what the old man saw sitting down that cannot be seen by a young man atop a tree.

These same people have done little or nothing over the missing Chibok girls. The speed at which they reacted with threats in defense of the night riders portend evil and suggest that they may be part of the intent and mission of the movement.

I commend the Nigerian Army and associate agencies for their intense scrutiny.

The planned bombing of Winners Church in Owerri is a big pointer that the insurgency is on the drift to the East.

The recent bombings in some cities are as if in war, with bowels of citizens spruced like tomatoes, bones laid bare and arms flung far off from dismembered trunks. Bloodletting scenes hitherto spared from our children's view are now shown freely. Bomb making, reserved for military engineers are now informal lessons behind secondary schools and backyards. Bellowing smoke, the aftermath of Boko Haram desolation has made Hiroshima and Nagasaki green with envy.

We survived a civil war. It may not be necessary stumbling twice on one stone.

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