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Ghosts are on the loose in Kogi State

On April 4, 2024, gunmen invaded Agojeju-Odo in Omala Local Government Area of Kogi State and killed more than 30 people.   The aftermath of the…

On April 4, 2024, gunmen invaded Agojeju-Odo in Omala Local Government Area of Kogi State and killed more than 30 people.  

The aftermath of the deadly attacks in a state that has managed to check Nigeria’s alarming body count within its boundaries has elicited the usual noise from the authorities; ‘The killers will be caught and punished. The communities would be secured.’

So far, there’s been nothing said about compensation, how to compensate the living for the losses and for their loss for being citizens of a country that is failing to secure them.

The clearest hurdle to Nigeria’s rather feeble efforts to check those who kill and destroy its people is that there is no genuine commitment. If there was, the bloody experience of the last decade would have been mined to provide a lasting solution to insecurity. Because with the killers, it is more a question of when and where rather than will or if.

Every society exists on the basis of a social contract variously hailed as the masterpiece of social engineering, and the engine of every seamless social machine. When a society calcifies into a country, any existing social contract acquires a sacred status. It is this sanctity that the Nigerian government is currently desecrating by failing to keep life and property safe.

Nigeria has become one large litter of displaced people woven together by their anguished desire to return home. Some of them have suffered the spectral humiliation of their attackers occupying their ancestral homes.  Some of them have nothing to return to but memories, but are homesick because the squalid camps where they live render their displacement in even starker reliefs.

But to return, the ghosts, those they know and those they are better off not knowing must be kept at bay. It centralises the question of what to do with memory but especially how to treat crime so that criminals no longer have to control the lives of their victims.

Loss as sudden and as severe as those occasioned by insecurity often rips open an unlatched trapdoor through which its victims continue to fall often with no light or soft landing. However, the government must attempt the impossible this time around: to break the fall of victims of yet another attack on the defenceless community, and most importantly, latch the door after they have gone through.

 The good people of Agojeju-Odo deserve to return to the detritus of their insecurity-scarred lives. They deserve to exit the grim hopelessness of their present situation and be supported by the government to return to some semblance of normalcy.

The door must be shut against these agents of insecurity once and for all. It must become impossible for them to come and go to communities as they please.

They who seek to streak the skies hovering over communities with the blood of innocent people and smoke from razed silos and stables until Nigeria’s sky is unidentifiable for its crimson and soot can have no place in the almost sane society Nigeria is trying too hard to become.

Nigeria’s security agencies usually so driven in the pursuit of petty criminals including crossdressers and internet fraudsters must now show that they have an appetite for bigger fights and fish by going against those who have so far proven to be formidable foes.

Nigeria is trying to break free of the past under a new government which has promised renewed hope. Surely ghosts, old and new, cannot be allowed to derail such a timely project.

 

Ike Willie-Nwobu can be reached via

[email protected]

 

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