What could be the cause of frequent extra-judicial killings, especially by security agents statutorily charged with the responsibility of protecting life and property? Well, besides obsession for show of power, I think the reason can be located in extreme intolerance verging on sadism. And guess what? It seems generally to be part of our character.
Many citizens are so intolerant of opposing views. They hold passionately to their opinions (sensible or not) and do not take kindly to being opposed or contradicted, tend to hate anyone who dares to challenge their view or hold opposing view. Many will not mind seeing their ideological ‘foes’ dead, in fact to some, it would be a pleasure. There have been instances where people gleefully announced the death of an ideological opponent on social media. Given the opportunity, many would perhaps kill those who fundamentally disagree with them. Those who for some reasons would not want to stain their hands will refrain from personally doing the deed but will still be happy to hear that the opponents are no more.
Presently, there are two extremes of political leanings in the country. At one end are the so-called Buharists, citizens who worked for the victory of the president in the last presidential election and now constitute a fanatical army ready to not only defend the government, but also pounce on anyone who gives anything short of praises to it. At the other end of the political extremity are the so-called Jonathanians-citizens who supported the re-election bid of the immediate past president. They detest the current president and would do anything to discredit and derail his government. There is little love lost between these two political tendencies. They are locked in a bitter confrontation, and nowhere is the battle as fierce as on the social media. There they tear viciously at each other. I have no doubt that some members of either camp would relish the demise of some opponents. If it were possible to fire a shot via the social media, we would probably be having lots of homicide due to political/ideological differences.
You would agree that many civilians would gladly eliminate whoever strongly disagrees with them or acts contrary to their opinion, we should be thankful that they are not armed and cannot readily have their wish. But the Soldier, the Policeman is armed and may use his weapon on anyone that dares to oppose or disagree with him. Not long ago, many Shia Muslims paid with their lives for daring to obstruct the convoy of the Chief of Army staff. While soldiers did the shooting, civilian Muslims who held opposing belief from the Shias and other citizens who disapproved of their religious conduct applauded or rationalized their massacre. Some others who did not congratulate the troops remained indifferent to the carnage.
IPOB protesters have been repeatedly shot to death by security agents. A recent video showed a gathering of protesters at a school field in Aba. They were surrounded by soldiers with guns aiming directly at them. Some were eventually shot cold-dead, reminding us of the Marikana Massacre in South Africa sometimes in August 2012. As usual, many approved of and rationalized the killing. Some others simply ignored it. It could as well be some pesky mosquitoes that were deservedly eliminated.
But is the ideological leaning and action of the Shias, and especially the IPOB protesters deserving of death? We know that in most cases, the protesters posed no threat to the security agents. So, why do security agents readily gun them down? Why do many civilians applaud the killings or remain indifferent? I’ll tell you. Because those who were killed either held opposing ideology or acted in manners not quite to their taste. Hence, whether they lived or died is of little concern- a manifestation of extreme intolerance.
NB: Views expressed are entirely those of the writer.
23rd February 2016