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Dead lovers, wives and surviving terrorists

This has been a bad week for love in Nigeria. Two deaths recorded—at least the ones reported—over lovers’ tiffs that have caused some level of…

This has been a bad week for love in Nigeria. Two deaths recorded—at least the ones reported—over lovers’ tiffs that have caused some level of consternation and chatter. Both are tragic stories that could have been avoided. 

The first has an international dimension. A Chinese man whose name is given as Geng Quanrong, was rejected by the Kano woman he coveted, a woman named Ummukhulsum Buhari otherwise known as Ummita. As is the nature of such stories, the truth lies somewhere between the bloody hands of Mr Quanrong and the now still, cold heart of Ummita. What we know is that the man went to her house in Kano and banged on the gate apparently for an hour until her mother opened to tell him to leave. He shoved her aside, rushed to Ummita’s room and stabbed her to death. The sheer viciousness of the intent is numbing.  

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The other is very local and just as tragic. A middle-aged woman in Calabar reportedly saw her husband and another woman emerging from a supermarket. Determined to catch them red-handed, she tried to block his car’s exit but the man, seeing what was about to happen, pulled out his Mission Impossible moves, manoeuvred away from the imminent blockade and zoomed onto the expressway. His wife gave chase. He drove like a man whose marriage was at stake. She drove like a woman whose life was at stake. She lost control, the car veered off the road and crashed. Her remains were later recovered by the police. 

Shocking incidents in both cases. Different dynamics. But the conversations around these incidents have vacillated between the kind and considerate to the outlandish, bizarre and downright insensitive. 

In the case of Ummita, rumours have been spun by people who did not know her or know anything of her story with her lover turned murderer. They justified her death on assumptions that she might have collected his money and then spurned him. These rumours have been denied by her brother and her close friend in separate interviews, both of them saying moving things about the deceased. But the fact that people gossiped about it, some even suggesting that she might have got what she deserved, not only because of the allegation of her entanglement with the Chinese man but because as a Muslim woman, she had no business getting romantically involved with a non-Muslim, Chinese man. There are social, racial and religious dynamics involved here that will require some unpacking. This will be possible when a fuller picture of the facts emerges. 

The major speck in the eye of some people revolves around Mr Quanrong’s religion—if he was Muslim or not and thereby qualified to be in a relationship with Ummita. As his fate is yet to be determined by a court of law, the question of his faith remains undetermined in the court of public opinion. 

Whatever the case, the fact is that they once had a relationship of some sort, even before her marriage and after her divorce, that she spurned his advances and that he felt justified in a sick way to murder her. Prima facie, as lawyers would say, there is a clear indication of wilful intent, that the murder was premeditated. Under the penal code operational in the North, if found guilty of first-degree murder, Mr Quanrong might face capital punishment. 

The Kano State government has sworn to see that justice is done. But the question is: will the racial politics that shadowed their relationship affect the dispensation of justice for his crime? Will the Chinese government intervene on behalf of its citizen to ask for leniency, as Nigeria has been invited by its own citizens to do on behalf of Nigerians facing punishment in other countries for various crimes? If they do, will the diplomacy of nation states play into the politics of a love gone sour in a house in Kano? 

Already, the Chinese Business Community Association of Nigeria (CBCAN)had issued a statement condemning the crime and pledging their support for justice to take its course. It is a predictable, if necessary, move. Considering the nature of the parties involved in the crime, and the potential volatility of the situation, it is easy for dubious characters to create chaos and attack the Chinese community in Kano. Reason has prevailed, perhaps helped by the fact that Mr Quanrong has been arrested and is in custody, and no agents of chaos have triggered any shenanigans. 

As a case of public interest, however, one hopes that the Nigerian Police, with its penchant for what it has always had a penchant for, and the Nigerian government treat the case both expediently and transparently. 

With regards to the Calabar deceased woman, who has so far remained unnamed in news reports, there have been suggestions that she was careless and reckless and some Nigerians have even suggested stupid for contesting her husband’s desire to date or keep another woman. Some men have offered defences for the husband’s action even though they have not heard his side of the story yet. It must be pointed out that even if the majority of those snarking at the deceased are men, some women have decided to direct criticism and insults at her as well. Quite unfortunate. 

There is no vindication for this. A family has been broken, whether by the husband’s infidelity or the wife’s tragic death. There are most likely children involved who will suffer the emotional and psychological trauma of this for the rest of their lives. We ought to think about them. 

It is incidental that both victims are women. If they had been men, it is obvious the nature of the accusations, rumours and name-calling would have been significantly different. Yes, these are the nature of things but it does not speak to our sense of fairness. 

In both cases, if common sense had been applied, these tragedies would have been avoided. But matters of love are often not model examples for the application of common sense. 

This would not be the last time a lover’s advances would be unrequited and it would not be the last time a spouse would be unfaithful. Hopefully, this will remind people to act with more consideration when such things occur. 

While lovers and wives are dying, terrorists in Nigeria are refusing to. Reports of a targeted air force strike in Zamfara at first suggested that notorious bandit leader Bello Turji might have been killed at a friend’s wedding. Hours after the strike, the mass murderer surfaced in photos wearing a police officer’s uniform, brandishing his gun and his smile. 

The Nigerian and Zamfara State governments seem to be on different wavelengths on this Turji matter. While the Zamfara State government claims he has repented, (I know, I know. We have heard that before) and is now helping them eliminate other bandits, the FG seems to consider him a fair target. 

Either there is variance in Zamfara and the FG’s approach to the Turji problem or there is miscommunication along the line. What there is no doubt about is the inconsistency with which Nigeria is addressing men like Turji and his ilk. The notorious Evans, the kidnapper was finally sentenced to life in jail for his many crimes. Even if the trial dragged on forever, there seems to be justice being done, which is as it should be. With regards to Turji and his ilk, who add mass murder to their kidnapping crimes, well, it would seem there is no consistency in approach—should they kill him, jail him or pardon him? Of course, the answer should be to let the law take its course. But the inconsistency is undermining our national security. 

In the final analysis, Ummita and the woman in Calabar are dead, Turji is alive and well. There is no justice in that.  

May our loved ones live long and be blessed and may those who wish us harm get what they deserve. May the victims of love and terrorism get their justice.


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