The pin­na­cle of sac­ri­fice

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT - By Cor­nelius Afebu Omonokhua Fr. Omonokhua is the Di­rec­tor of Mis­sion and Dia­logue of the Catholic Sec­re­tariat of Nige­ria, Abuja (

The re­port by Premium Times (on line, Oc­to­ber 29, 2018) that “the Paramount Chief of Adara, Agom Gal­adima, who had been in the den of his ab­duc­tors since last Fri­day (Oc­to­ber 26, 2018) has been killed” is the pin­na­cle of Sac­ri­lege against the tra­di­tional lead­er­ship in Nige­ria. The at­tack on the Emir of Kano, Al­haji Ado Bayero by gun­men, op­er­at­ing on mo­tor­cy­cle in 2013 would have been a clear in­di­ca­tion that the tra­di­tional roy­alty in Nige­ria was un­der a se­ri­ous siege. Then I ex­pressed my fear con­cern­ing the dan­ger ahead in three ar­ti­cles. I rec­om­mended a con­sti­tu­tional pro­tec­tion for the royal fa­thers in the ar­ti­cle, “Where is Africa’s royal rev­er­ence” (Cor­nelius Afebu Omonokhua, Dia­logue in Con­text, A Nige­rian Ex­pe­ri­ence; Kaduna, Vir­tual In­signia, 2014, Page 144). I also sug­gested the means to pro­tect the kings in the ar­ti­cle, “The Hel­met and Shield for our Kings” (Dia­logue in Con­text, Page 147)

The cul­ture and tra­di­tion of the var­i­ous tribes in Nige­ria pro­vide a struc­ture that calls for rev­er­ence for the tra­di­tional rulers. The Obas, Sul­tan, Emirs and Kings in Africa are revered be­cause it is be­lieved that the Supreme Be­ing is the king maker. This ex­plains why the sub­jects are ready and will­ing to do ev­ery­thing to serve and pro­tect the king. The re­port, “Un­sung He­roes of Kano Emi­rate” on Jan­uary 27, 2013 in the Sun­day Trust tes­ti­fies to this. The palace guards of the Emir of Kano were re­silient, loyal, trust­wor­thy, lovely and ready to sac­ri­fice their lives for the king. Two of the guards laid down their lives, shield­ing the monarch from a bar­rage of bul­lets that rained on the 83-year-old monarch’s car. Apart from kid­nap­ping and killing tra­di­tional rulers, re­li­gious lead­ers, priests and con­se­crated per­sons have suf­fered pains and death in the hands of crim­i­nals. It ap­pears as if Nige­ri­ans are now get­ting used to this sac­ri­lege on royal fa­thers and re­li­gious lead­ers. This is not nor­mal. No one knows the ex­tent this would go given that some serv­ing and re­tired se­cu­rity agents have also been vic­tims of this crim­i­nal war on the so­ci­ety.

Do we need to wait un­til the crim­i­nals pen­e­trate the se­cu­rity walls of po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and make them vic­tims? The way things are go­ing, what guar­an­tee do we have that one day a gov­er­nor or even the pres­i­dent will not be kid­napped and killed? Now is the time to trace the root cause of this sac­ri­lege and nip it in the bud. African tra­di­tions and cul­tures are known for re­spect of el­ders, par­ents and those whom God has cho­sen to be le­git­i­mate lead­ers in the so­ci­ety. Tra­di­tion­ally, African chil­dren do not call their par­ents and el­ders by name. These were out­ward signs of the re­spect and ado­ra­tion they gave to God. In the Holy Bible, the Old Tes­ta­ment warns: Do not blas­pheme God or curse the ruler of your peo­ple (Ex­o­dus 22, 28). It is for­bid­den to in­sult or at­tack a prophet: “Touch not my anointed and to my prophet, do no harm” (Psalm 105, 15). The Lord said to Moses: “If any­one curses God, he will be held re­spon­si­ble; any­one who blas­phemes the name of the Lord must be put to death. The en­tire assem­bly must stone him; whether an alien or na­tive born, when he blas­phemes, he must be put to death’’ (Leviti­cus 24, 13-16).

We must there­fore go be­yond con­demn­ing the var­i­ous killings in Nige­ria to ac­tu­ally know­ing the un­known gun­men. Let us stop giv­ing re­li­gious la­bels to crim­i­nals. They do not dis­crim­i­nate in their killings. They would love to strate­gize on how to cause an­ar­chy in Nige­ria by in­sti­gat­ing a re­li­gious war. The Nige­ria In­ter-Re­li­gious Coun­cil (NIREC) be­ing a na­tional body of lead­ers of Is­lam and Chris­tian­ity could be an um­brella body for us to work as a fam­ily to stop this men­ace. The tra­di­tional rulers who are mem­bers of NIREC must go be­yond at­tend­ing meet­ings to es­tab­lish­ing grass­roots ac­tiv­i­ties for Chris­tian and Mus­lim youths in the var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties.

Given that every Chris­tian and Mus­lim in Nige­ria is a stake­holder in NIREC, all of us in this fam­ily should be­gin to build trust to ex­tin­guish the fire of mu­tual sus­pi­cion that could prevent us from com­ing to­gether to strug­gle for a se­cure na­tion. This is nec­es­sary be­cause so many peo­ple are merely sur­viv­ing with wounded hearts and var­i­ous hurts. Nige­ri­ans have gone through many faces of vi­o­lence, slav­ery and colo­nial­ism to the ex­tent that the value of trust has been re­placed with prej­u­dice, pre­con­cep­tions and mu­tual sus­pi­cions. To­day, Nige­ri­ans are not col­o­nized by for­eign­ers. The mod­ern col­o­niz­ers are fel­low Nige­ri­ans. This is why we must col­lec­tively iden­tify means to re­con­struct pos­i­tive at­ti­tudes through men­tal re-en­gi­neer­ing and change of neg­a­tive at­ti­tudes. These call for ed­u­ca­tion, de­brief­ing, healing of mem­ory, men­tal re­con­struc­tion, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and com­pas­sion. This is the time to col­lec­tively raise ques­tions on how to stop be­ing wolves to one an­other.

Denys Gauer, out­go­ing French Am­bas­sador to Nige­ria be­lieves that the killings in Nige­ria are from within and not from with­out. He at­tributes the killings in Nige­ria to im­punity and the in­abil­ity to ar­rest, pun­ish and bring the killers to jus­tice. Gauer says that the killings would stop when there is jus­tice. He urged the gov­ern­ment to per­se­cute those re­spon­si­ble for the killings in or­der to put an end to it. He sug­gested that since some peo­ple are fight­ing for land, there must be di­rect pol­icy to de­velop agri­cul­ture and an­i­mal hus­bandry. (­rie­ what-must-be-done-to-stop-killings-in-nige­ri­afrench-am­bas­sador). If for­eign­ers are not in­volved in the killings in Nige­ria, we must there­fore see if the tra­di­tional means could be use­ful. In every com­mu­nity, there are means for checks and bal­ances. Good peo­ple and evil peo­ple are known in the com­mu­ni­ties. These crim­i­nals should not be covered up by those who sus­pect them.

Some peo­ple sug­gested re­struc­tur­ing for the mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity agents when an army cap­tain and four po­lice­men were bru­tally mur­dered in Iko­rodu, a La­gos sub­urb, on April 9, while res­cu­ing some kid­napped vic­tims. This was be­cause of the rate of killings of se­cu­rity agents like when some Niger Delta mil­i­tants bom­barded the Ishawo com­mu­nity in the Iko­rodu area of the state, killing a Nige­rian Army of­fi­cer, four po­lice­men and other civil­ians. The sug­gested re­struc­tur­ing would in­clude a sec­ond look at the se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture in a way and man­ner that se­cu­rity is not con­trolled by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment that is too far away from the grass roots. This means that polic­ing should be de­volved to the con­stituent units, as is the prac­tice in other fed­er­a­tions of the world. (­­date/ dan­ger­ous-trend-of-killing-se­cu­rity-agents-in­la­gos). Again, the lead­er­ship of Nige­ria must re­visit the chal­lenge of un­em­ploy­ment. Many be­lieve that if the young grad­u­ates are gain­fully em­ployed, the rate of crim­i­nal­ity would stop. There is need for co­op­er­a­tion among all the arms of gov­ern­ment to put a stop to this sac­ri­lege. I pray that God will pro­vide se­cu­rity to this coun­try in dis­tress.

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