By Cally Ikpe
THE place of violence in compelling reckoning is fast assuming a worrisome dimension. We condemn the act but inexplicably dignify the perpetrators, as long as they securely control the resources with which they are able to get the cooperation of the police, evade justice and even get the clergy to ceaselessly and fervently cover them in prayers.
Gani Adams, Government Tompolo, Asari Dokubo, and Ayiri Emami: all share something in common. They all command or once commanded an informal army that made loud enough statements to the authorities as to what they wanted. Similarly, Abubakar Shekau and Terwase Akwaza, though presently at large are both forces to be reckoned with. Agents negotiate with the Federal government on behalf of Shekau’s Boko Haram. Terwase Akwaza, also known as Gana, a notorious kidnap kingpin is an acknowledged force in Benue state and environs: He is known to have severally communicated directly via telephone with Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State who had earlier granted him amnesty in a bid to placate him into giving up terrorism. The big question is -if these individuals had not taken this route, would they still have been able to enjoy the privilege they presently do?
Except for the latter two, the rest of them presently walk free and are known to have become exceedingly wealthy from government patronage, as rewards for their guts and bravery. Recently, Nigerians woke up to the introduction of a new super star, Mr. Chukwudumeme Onuamadike, also known as Evans. He is said to be Nigeria’s smartest criminal ever, having evaded arrest for over seven years. He is also said to be the first person to ever demand and collect a ransom of over one million dollars for and from a single victim. I watched in awe as he was being paraded upon his arrest and how dignified he looked even in captivity.
My first quiet observation was that he was being accorded so much respect, maybe because of the magnitude of his exploits. Members of the police excitedly posed for snap shots with him as would be done to a pop star. Our concern now should really not be on why violence occurs but rather on why it is becoming an acceptable alternative to achieving success. The chief reason in my opinion is the exclusionist rhythm of society against the deprived. A friend of mine, Mr. Edi Lawani has always maintained that if the rich fails to share their riches with the poor, then the poor will share their misery with the rich. A society that scorns the have-nots and does little or nothing to ameliorate the sufferings of its people unwittingly cultivates an army of potential nuisance, prostitutes, criminals and terrorists. People will always seek to extend frontiers, remain in the social circle and possibly dictate societal pace. A feeling of being left out therefore begets thoughts of extra measures to keep up. We may just be experiencing a class war (between the privileged and the frustrated) taken too far.
It is not enough to condemn acts of violence where it is apparent the audience is inattentive, given that most are preoccupied with trying to survive. In a society characterised by deprivation, survival of the fittest as a way of living is to be expected. Violence of all forms therefore becomes rampant as the deprived and greedy strive to make ends meet.
I have also listened to some people make a case for Evans, wondering how different he is from dubious politicians and heads of financial institutions who are known to have looted treasury, shared ill-gotten wealth among themselves and then gone on to take full advantage of the weak prosecutorial process to extricate themselves from any blame or at worst endure slight sentences in a manner that smacks of mockery to the judicial system. There are also people who are quick to point out how glaringly the Federal government is trying to sweep under the carpet the recent incidents of recovered funds from particular locations as they fail to name the culprits, the Babachir Lawal grass cutting saga and several other cases in that manner. The reluctance, sluggishness or lack of will to prosecute Hon. Farouq Lawan, a former member of the House of Representatives, alleged to have been involved in a bribery case is a case in point. These incidents if anything have done more damage to our psyche and invariably encouraged criminal acts from amongst the citizenry.
For many others that are unable to engage in brute activities, prostitution and homo sexuality offer a means to get by. Sexual acts, by the way are a sublimation of violence, something many entertainers have decided to exploit to the max. It is common place to behold songs, videos and movies with extreme sexual themes just in a bid to compel reckoning. Interestingly, it has worked for many as far as commercial gain is concerned; for such is the level of moral decadence that has befallen our society.
I must not forget to acknowledge that ritual killings as one of the dark recipes for instant wealth has continued unabated. Regrettably, not even the frequent apprehension and prosecution of culprits has served to deter this practice. The involvement of supposedly men of God who should know better in this act defiles reasoning.
Recently, in the course of my advocacy for a violence-free world, I had visited the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Fr. Mathew Kuka, who alluded to the notion that violence is increasingly being deployed by people across board to attain certain advantages, pointing out that many members of the ruling class have had to ride on violence to get to the top and that most have paid more of lip service to the campaign against violence than commit to genuine actions that will achieve normalcy.
Finally, the above submissions must be understood against the backdrop that violence is an act of aggression that deliberately disrupts normalcy as to cause discomfort and or psychological damage to others. Implicated in violence are the victim(s), the aggressor and the consequence. Violence is not limited to brute force, since other acts like hate gestures, lewdness, obscenity and implied assault on people’s psyche and sensibilities also constitute it. Violence is NEGATIVE and has no justification what so ever, for indeed, even the illusion of opportunism diminishes with the inevitability of general good.