Men of the Nigeria army yesterday under the orders of Governor Rochas Okorocha allegedly killed a 10 year old boy at the Ancestral Ekeukwu Onunwa in Owerri.
A Governor that was once loved by the people has turned his back on them, unleashing great terror and affliction on his own.
That is the case of Owerri traders in Imo State who buy and sell at the popular Ekeukwu Onunwa market after three people were killed on Saturday by security operatives.
During the sad incident, a certain 10-year-old boy, Somtochukwu Ibeanusi was brutally murdered by soldiers from 34 Artillery Brigade, according to a report by Punch. The incident happened while the victims were protesting the relocation of the Ancestral Ekeukwu Onunwa market by the state government.
The security operatives made up of police and army invaded the market to carry out an order by the state Governor Rochas Okorocha to evict occupants of the market who for over three years now have been protesting against the government’s plan to relocate the market. Begging, pleading and even getting a restraining order from a court couldn’t stop the Governor from doing what he had made up his mind to do.
The traders had asked the government to change its mind on the relocation of the Ancestral market as it is a cultural heritage/symbol of the Owere people. Instead, the Governor like a tyrant, refused to hear the explanation of the people. The people meant nothing to him, after all, he will rule the maximum 8 years prescribed by the constitution and wouldn’t need them in the future after winning the Governoship election some years ago.
Successive governments -civilian and military – in the past tried to relocate the market but were made to understand its cultural value which forced them change their stance. Okorocha was given the same reason. But, Okorocha wouldn’t hear a thing from the same people who voted him into power. The reason by the traders and Owere people sounded stupid to him, like a dictator, he ordered his security operatives to uproot anything in his way. The callousness at which the security operatives executed his orders shocked the traders and at the end, three innocent lives were lost.
It has been alleged that the demolition of the market was carried out for sinister reasons. Many who are against it believe that the government forcefully evicted the traders because they have vested interest in the land. In fact, those in government stand to earn billions if the land is sold to a multinational for development some have alleged. This many believe is the reason the government risked everything to make sure the traders are evicted. Their personal pecks from the deal are too priceless to miss.
Because of a culture of impunity, many traders have said that the relocation plan won’t work as it will not be judiciously carried out to reflect equity and fairness. The fear that the process will be highjacked by government agents who would use the opportunity to exploit the traders was another problem on its own. They complained about the politicization of the relocation whereby shop slots are given to people who are favoured by the government. Most of the traders expressed concerns about movement to a new location and difficulty in getting new shops and starting business afresh. These concerns and many more forced them to stage a protest as government’s plan was obviously unfavourable. Sadly, Rochas refused to hear a ‘NO’.
As a civilian government with the mandate of the people, it is expected that the government should in most cases listen to the yearnings of the masses. If possible, meet traditional rulers and make sure such matters as delicate as this does not escalate or end in a bad way. Government must not win all the time because it is there to serve the people. Even if Okorocha disagrees with the traders, using force to shed innocent blood is a curse that will haunt him for years to come. His advisers didn’t do well.
It is certain that his refusal to engage traditional institutions through peaceful resolution tactics resulted in the loss of lives as he opted to use force. By acting like a dictator, Okorocha has shown to the people the kind of person he is. Such an individual is capable of excuting extreme callousness when given higher positions of authority.
Some people have also expressed concern that the government might have acted against court order to evict the traders. As at July 18, an Imo State High Court presided over by Justice K. A. Ojiako restrained Imo State Governor and others from demolising and evicting the traders from the market pending determination of a suit filed by the traders. Sadly, all these could not prevent the government from doing its bidding. The killing of the three innocent people portrays Okorocha as a cold-blooded killer who does not have the interest of the masses at heart.
It is idiotic on the part of the Governor to enforce an order that is detrimental and against the wishes of Owere people who overtime have refused to relinquish a cultural symbol handed down for generations.
By giving such an order, the Governor has convinced many people of his deep hatred for Owere people. The foolishness of our leaders to exert power/violence against their own people is a folly that must stop. What is wrong if the government upgrades Ekeukwu market to an ultra modern market thus opening up the area for development and modernisation? The excuses given for the relocation of the market are nothing but too flimsy.
The total disregard for traditional institutions exhibited by the Governor shows how inane his thoughts are about his roots. The sacrilegious instinct to destroy a cultural heritage shows his bias for our culture. One who is not brought up in his land, spending years ‘abroad’ overtime forgets the importance of his own origins. This sad bastardization is as a result of years of disconnection with his people’s history. Going against the culture of a people is a taboo that will come with great consequences and enmity between the Governor and Owere people that will last for a long time.
The action of the Governor sums up the attitude and manner at which leaders interact with those they govern in Nigeria and Africa in general. They see them as mosquitoes that must be squashed with the palms for making displeasing sounds. When a government policy is rejected by the people, instead of finding an alternative, the hopeless leaders we have in Africa always use force against the people instead of a peaceful resolution, even in a democratic dispensation.
The stupid mentality of being ‘lord over all’ makes them act like tyrants and see the masses as ants who have no say in governance. The people are maltreated, cheated, beaten, exploited and killed by the harebrained leaders who think only about themselves. It is this same disjointed mentality that made Okorocha refuse to pay medical doctors in his state their full salary for 18 months now. A statutory right being denied workers in the state. The same Okorocha enjoys all the pecks of his office without conceding anything, yet refuses to pay doctors their full salary. How wicked! Tomorrow, Okorocha will come out to campaign and make promises while begging to be elected into power. SMDH.
Police and army
I am totally disappointed with the leadership of the Nigeria police and army. I refuse to believe that it is mostly dominated by fools and charlatans. For the umpteenth time, these two government establishments are supposed to look out for the welfare of the people and not murder them. When will they ever live up to the expectation of the people? What’s all these show of imprudence from them?!! These two authorities must stop its men from being used to take lives of the people they are to protect.
It’s a big shame that the police and army in Nigeria have become tools in the hands of politicians to unleash terror on the masses. The two forces are now used to do the dirty work of those in power. Tell me, how can it be that a responsible leadership is manning these establishments and in this 2017, its officers go to disperse traders with live bullets? How stupid can they be? How do you even begin to shoot in the air numerous times, wasting bullets when you can use tears gas for crying out loud. Who gave our force men this doltish mentality? What happened to rubber bullets? How sadistic can they be?!
The police and army now orgasm by killing innocent people when the can barely tackle the real challenge in the north east. How kooky!
I am seriously piqued that Nigerian soldiers and their police counterpart in 2017 are still thinking like rats. This overbearing attitude to impress politicians by murdering innocent masses is a curse that will plague the perpetrators for generations to come. In a time like this, when the army are supposed to be the pride of the nation, defending us against enemies, instead we are being killed by those we pay their salaries from our taxes.
Cursed are all these barbaric police and army officers who waste innocent lives on the orders of politicians for their selfish gains. Shame on the army and police authorities who allow their men to be used as purveyors of such dastardly act without punishing the offenders. Daily, the police and the army give the masses reasons not to trust them. The wanton murder of innocent people by security operatives on the orders of political office holders is an aberration the authorities must look into. The Muhammadu Buhari-led government has been hammering on the need to save and spend less in this time of recession, yet police and army officers daily waste bullets by shooting in the air for no just cause. How do we get there when such impunity is left unchallenged?! The killers of the three innocent people at the market must be brought to book. No better time than now do we need such scapegoats to serve as deterrent to others. In a society where punishments are not served, lawlessness is bound to take over.
Our leaders must learn first that they are in power to SERVE the people. People like Okorocha must be made to understand that those who kill and shed the blood of the innocent will have same fate to contend if not now, then later. As he smiled and laughed after visiting the market where the security men he sent killed three innocent people yesterday, let it be made known to him that the blood of the innocent he killed hovers over his head until they get justice.
As the victims’ parents, loved ones wail and cry over their deaths, so will he and his family wail at the right time to feel the anguish he brought upon people who died defending a land where they earned their living in a system that is as whack as my black bum!
-Alexander Thandi Ubani is an Editor with tori.ng
He writes from Lagos.