With last Sunday’s attack on St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, the headquarters of Owo Local Government Area in Ondo State, condemnation of this horrific act has poured in from all quarters. Citizens condemn it, traditional, political and religious leaders condemn it. Those in power, whose primary responsibility is to protect the lives and property of citizens, are not left out in condemnation galore.
Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, a native of Owo, called the day “Black Sunday in Owo”. He said it was a personal loss, an attack on the state, an unexpected and shocking development, stating that “we will never pander to the machinations of heartless elements in our resolution to rid our state of criminals”. President Muhammadu Buhari, meanwhile, lamented in a statement by his Special Advisor for Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, that “only demons from the lower region could have conceived and carried out such a despicable act”. Adding that “no matter what, this country will never give in to evil and the wicked and darkness will never triumph over light. Nigeria will eventually win.
This is a road that we have traveled individually in the past and you will be so disappointed if you take these words to the bank and wait to see the government, especially the federal government, which is in charge of the police and the armed forces, take action immediately to rid our communities and our forests of terrorists, because that may not happen. In a few days, the outburst and resentment will be over and the Owo Massacre will be forgotten, just like other similar ugly incidents before it and life goes on as usual.
In addition to the families of some of the victims of the March 28 train attack in Kaduna, who are intermittently staging protests to remind Nigerians that their loved ones are still in the hands of their captors and are calling on the authorities to act swiftly towards their liberation, who else remembers the attack? Since then, we have been moving forward as if nothing had happened.
Unfortunately, when the problem of herdsman killers, farmer-herder clashes started, some southern and middlebelt governors tried to get the killers out of the forest and stop their criminal activities. I remember the forum of southern governors banning the free grazing of cattle in their states. What did the federal government do? Through the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, they were told not to dare, saying the ban violated the herders’ constitutional right to liberty and freedom of movement.
Rather than give in to the pleas of well-meaning citizens for an end to free grazing and for those involved in cattle ranching to adopt other modern ways of doing their jobs that will less harm harmonious relations between herders and farmers as well as local people, the government has announced that it will embark on the recovery of about 415 pasture lanes across the country and has already emphatically started the exercise, according to reports.
Whenever people spoke out against these killer shepherds, the federal government officials especially the “presidency” would rise up in their defense and you would see people or groups challenging the governors for challenging them and going against of their members.
After allowing all of this to continue for all these years, what effect do we expect? It is clear that the consequences of an action determine whether it will happen again or not. Therefore, when a group of people engage in negative acts and there is no reaction in terms of punishment for what they have done, of course, they will be encouraged to do more.
We fed these criminals to the point where they became monsters. Remember that the day you take your goat to market to sell is not the day you start feeding it. The process must have started long before. Right now we are stuck. These killers are in our forests, they have migrated to different parts of the country. Nowhere is safer. You are not safe at home. You are unsure whether to travel by land, rail or air. Children are not safe in their schools. Even in your place of worship, you are not safe. Haha! We are horribly losing Nigerians every day in horrible and difficult to understand ways. We wrote, we condemned, we shouted, shouted and the situation instead of getting worse day by day. Some security experts have even told the public to prepare for tougher security days ahead of next year’s election. Now we want to beg the president and the governors to do everything they can to keep the people safe. Political parties are done electing their flag bearers for the 2023 elections, can we now start to see more efforts channeled into solving the many problems facing the country?
During the just-concluded party primaries, we heard candidates, including those from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), reveal what they would do to make Nigeria a promised land, if elected. . The vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, notably called on the potentials of various regions and states in the country and promised that if elected, he would improve things in the country. And the question a lot of people have kept asking is why the ruling party hasn’t unleashed all of these potentials in the last seven years they’ve been in power instead of constantly blaming the main ruling party. opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the misfortunes of the nation. . The elections are here, what are we doing to protect the people and prevent a repeat of the Owo incident in any other part of the country?
Are there plans to better equip the police to enable them to carry out their duties effectively? Isn’t it high time that the issue of the state police, which has been discussed in different forums, be looked at, as it is obvious that the federal government cannot fund the Nigerian police? There is no doubt that if the police are well equipped and work as expected, people will not enter a church, kill dozens of people during mass and pass out. And nearly a week after the incident, we cannot say for sure who the masterminds and perpetrators were, as no arrests have been made.
A few days ago, following the Owo attack, a group, the Protocol Charter Committee (CCOP) called on South West Governors to launch “Operation Sweep Terrorism out of Yorubaland” . They demanded the arrest and diligent prosecution of suspects, a ban on commercial motorcycles, a residency registration program for all security personnel in southwestern states, among others. Although the courageous decision of this group should be applauded, it is desirable that rather than a regional or state-based approach to the challenges of insecurity in the country, there should be a holistic approach where no state or region is left behind. side.
No state or region exists in isolation. They are usually bordered by other states and regions. And if a particular state or region is safe, criminals from other dangerous places tend to migrate to those areas and wreak havoc.
It is also pertinent that the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria is being revised with the aim of reducing the many items in the exclusive list to give state governors more powers to better administer the states. We cannot continue to have a huge federal budget for security, transportation and other things year after year, and yet there is nothing to show for it. Likewise, state governors and local government presidents should start using their huge security votes that are barely counted, for the legitimate purpose of ensuring security in their domains.
There is no need to remind traditional chiefs, youth leaders and other members of our communities that they all have a role to play in ensuring a secure society. After all, safety is everyone’s business. The proactivity of the people and the leaders with the security intelligence at their disposal will go a long way in determining whether or not there will be a repeat of the Owo massacre. And how criminals will be treated if caught will send a strong signal to other criminals.
By: Calista Ezeaku