The killing of parents by children is, without a doubt, among the most heinous crimes all over the world. Sadly, it is gradually becoming rampant in Nigeria, with many reported cases, as captured in a story by the Daily Trust of Saturday, May 20, 2023.
According to the newspaper, no fewer than 47 parents were reportedly murdered by their biological children between 2020 and now. Out of the number, 29 were reported to be fathers, while 18 were mothers.
Many cases, the newspaper report noted, may have gone unreported because they were settled locally or at the family level, for fear of the consequences that may follow, or for other factors. This, in itself, is worrisome because shielding criminals for crimes committed in the family only emboldens the perpetrators and gives them the opportunity to do worse in the larger society.
Different reasons have been advanced by psychologists as to why children turn against their parents, ranging from unhealthy and unhindered access to illicit drugs, broken homes, money-making rituals, as well as irresponsibility on the part of parents. Data from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) suggests that adolescent murderers are almost all terrified victims of severe child abuse, neglect and dysfunctional parenting.
A few years ago, in what many described as drug abuse-induced schizophrenia, a young man said he killed his 65-year-old father in a village in Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State because the father wanted to use him as a sacrifice to please his cult members.
In April this year, an 18-year-old suspect said he killed his 52-year-old father in Oyo State because the father used to beat his mother. “On that day, all of us were sleeping in the house with my father. I woke up around 11pm and I went straight to where my father was sleeping, and I picked up an iron rod and hit him on the head, and I went back to sleep,” he said when he was paraded alongside other suspects by the police.
In Kano, a mother was killed by her 22-year-old son in Nasarawa Local Government Area of the state metropolis. He was alleged to have killed her under the influence of drugs. A neighbour narrated how the victim was stabbed several times with a knife.
There were also stories of a 21-year-old young man from Anambra State and another one from Jigawa State, both of whom killed their parents under the influence of hard drugs. Some parents, however, miraculously survived attempts on their lives, such as the case of a teenager who put rat poison in his father’s food deliberately “to kill him to inherit his wealth”.
This trend is an unfortunate development, just as it is alien to our culture and society. We, at the Daily Trust, therefore condemn the acts in very strong terms and urge that all stakeholders must rise to address this nightmare with all sense of seriousness. We agree with psychologists who advise that the family, educational institutions, religious bodies and the government – as agents of socialisation – should understand their roles in the successful upbringing of children as responsible members of society who can be useful to themselves and to others. So, the place to start is at the family level.
Situations where mothers, for instance, will set their kids against their fathers or vice versa, or parents surrendering their guidance roles to social media, or abandoning their children who find their way to criminal gangs on the streets, must not be allowed to continue.
Our schools should support their guidance and counselling units – and set up one where non-existent – to be able to guide the children to a bright future. With good observation in schools, deviant behaviours would be easy to notice and address before it was too late.
Religious and community leaders also have a role to play. As respected figures in their communities, they have the power to raise awareness and influence attitudes, behaviours and practises. The religious leaders must drive home the teachings of the holy books. They must never shy away from speaking the truth from the pulpits. We need to go back to the era of our rich African heritage, where the upbringing of children was the responsibility of all, not just those who seared them.
Furthermore, we call on sociologists and academic researchers in our universities to study the problem in-depth and proffer solutions to the government.
For its part, the government, as captured succinctly in Section 14(2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, has as its sole purpose the security and welfare of the people. It should therefore protect the people’s sanity and well-being by addressing the twin evils of unemployment and the proliferation of illicit drugs in our society. This is because drug users are more likely to commit crimes and engage in violence to feed their addiction and dependence.
All hands need to be on deck to stop this menace of children killing their parents. It calls for unity of purpose because it leaves no room for any stakeholder to falter, lest we continue to count victims.