Bestiality was taken to another level recently in Anambra state when gunmen killed at least 12 people, including a pregnant woman and her four children. The pregnant woman, Harira Jubril, and her four female children, Fatima, 9; Khadijah, 7; Hadiza, 5 and Zaituna, 2, were butchered by the gunmen in a gruesome manner.
A community leader said that the pregnant woman and her children were returning home on a motorcycle taxi when gunmen ambushed them in the Orumba area of the state. Reacting to this horrendous development, religious and community leaders have condemned the killing, in particular, of Harira and her children.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) condemned the killing, saying the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is creating an atmosphere for ethno-religious war. In a statement the association wondered if IPOB was “fighting for a country of the dead or the living? “They should know that their criminalities are not helping the case of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu. They should not turn the South east into a ‘no man’s land’ in the interest of the founding fathers of this country who hailed from the zone.
On its part, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), described the killing of Harira and her kids as brutish, horrendous, and barbaric, saying “No family deserves to be wiped out in this manner. It appealed to the people in the north not to retaliate as vengeance would only ignite a cycle of violence.
The National Human Rights Commission described the killing as one of the worst forms of criminality and human rights violation, which had needlessly portrayed Nigeria in a very bad light. As if that was not bad enough, 24 hours after, gunmen beheaded a lawmaker in the state, Okechukwu Okoye.
Also in May, gunmen killed five persons at a drinking joint in Osumenyi and a policewoman in Ukpor, all in Nnewi South Local Government Area (LGA) of Anambra state. Another set of hoodlums in the early hours of Monday, killed four more people in different parts of the state.
In May, Gunmen killed and behead two soldiers in Imo. The victims, A. M. Linus, said to be a Sergeant of the Nigerian Army, and his unidentified wife, said to be a lance corporal in the Army, were reportedly beheaded after being shot dead by the gunmen. Their corpses were said to have been dismembered by the gunmen. A gory image of their heads has gone viral on various social media platforms.
There was uproar in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State as gunmen killed a police officer.They also chopped off the private part of the victim identified as Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Ukam Efut
From this horrific summation, It is safe to argue that the non-state actors are turning the South east into another killing field. The killings and the ill-advised sit-at-home orders are making life unbearable for the citizens. Regrettably, the killing of Harira widened the fault lines of ethnicity and religion in the area and is capable of creating ethnic conflict across the country.
It is gratifying to note that the presidency moved swiftly to calm frayed nerves by cautioning against any knee-jerk reactions, the creation of panic, disruption of lives and livelihoods, or even retaliatory violence following the viral videos of the alleged killings of non-indigenes by the Eastern Security Network (ESN) and IPOB.
They also called on all citizens to avoid hasty steps or conclusions that could exacerbate the situation. The government also admonished the people to keep to a line of conduct that will help the law to take its proper course.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, more drastic actions are needed to stem the tide of killings in the South east. The governors in the governors, political leaders and other stakeholders must demonstrate responsible leadership in ending this carnage. The security agencies must rise to their responsibility to tackle the rising criminality in the South east and, indeed, other parts of the country with similar challenging security situations.
We commend the efforts of Anambra State governor, Charles Soludo in fighting criminality in the state. Consequently, before the south east becomes another epicenter of insurgency in the country, we call on the government to identify the criminals, their sponsors, and weapon suppliers. And run them out of business.
Furthermore, political, religious, and traditional leaders across the country owe themselves a duty to stop treating the criminals with kid gloves and other tendencies towards blamestorming. The war against criminals will not succeed without a strong buy-in from the local communities. Similarly, the security agencies must demonstrate the necessity of carrying the communities along and protecting them as sources of vital information needed in the effort to restore normalcy in the affected areas.