When terror, which leads to carnage and the debasement of the populace, is unleashed on any part of your country, you are afflicted with a feeling of humiliation with impulsive immediacy. At such times, you began to question the continuous claim to humanity by those who perpetrate these savageries or are in a position to stop them. When you encounter such events on the pages of literature, the distant feeling of remoteness, that assurance of fictional creativity – after all it didn’t happen – preserves your sensibilities from prolonged exasperation. Even so, there are times when, although you are aware that the story is pure fiction, you agonize over instances of injustice and cases of human degradation. Today, I am faced with reality, not fiction. I am completely violated by accounts of what is going on in the South-East and South-South parts of Nigeria. These narratives injure the crevices of my heart.
The accounts were all over the news, especially the promiscuous social media. First, I dismissed them as mere hysteria, exaggerated stories to hit up the polity. They reported how thousands of Northern youths were transported to the South-East and South-South parts of the country. It was also reported that some of these youths already settled in these places and were unleashing mayhem on their hosts. Well, when these tales became persistent, I decided to speak with some relatives in the South-East and South-South to get a clearer picture of events. After speaking with four different relatives in Onitsha, Owerri, and Port Harcourt, their eye witness accounts confirmed my fears, authenticating some of the news flying around. The tension is palpable. Uncertainties hover around the South-East and South-South like a thick cloud. No one knows what is coming, no one knows what to expect. The unpronounced but obvious reality is – every man for himself, God for us all. Indeed, the security situation in the South-East and South-South is grave and requires urgent, determined approaches.
While I was trying to figure out the rationale behind the mass movement of these people to the South-East and South-South parts of the country, I got a call from a friend who lectures at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, he is Hausa/Fulani from Katsina State. At the time of making the call, he was in Enugu visiting another colleague, an Igbo man, who lectures at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. They are currently working on a United Nations research programme on Female Genital Mutilation and the Rights of the Girl Child in Africa. When his voice came through, the urgency betrayed apprehension, dismay, and anger. He told me how his ethnic compatriots were unleashing violence on their hosts. He narrated how he practically intervened in his friend’s compound when a group of Northern youths invaded the premises, armed with cudgels, beat up the occupants and stole valuables. He condemned the activities of these scoundrels and used the opportunity once again to reiterate the importance of the Third Force that will change the scenario in Nigeria. He is an arrowhead of the Third Force movement.
His intervention stopped the irate youths from leading three young girls away by force. According to him, one Mrs. Enwene in Aguleri, Anambra State was not so lucky. Armed Northern hoodlums invaded the village by 11 pm, entered her house, stole every valuable item, shot indiscriminately into the air, beat her and her husband up, raped, and led their 22-year-old only daughter away. Asked how she knew they were Hausa/Fulani, she said they communicated in the Hausa language with a deep accent and she understood it having spent a few years in parts of Northern Nigeria. When the matter was reported to the police the next day, they showed a lack of enthusiasm to pursue it.
The above account captures the abyss of recklessness and lawlessness into which our country has fallen. I ask, is there no law and consequences in Nigeria anymore? What exactly is the motive behind the mass movement of these people to another region of the country where they brazenly unleash anguish on fellow citizens? There is absolutely nothing wrong for any Nigerian citizen to move from one part of the country to another. Therefore, it won’t be out of place for Northern youths to migrate to other parts of Nigeria. But the mode of their migration raises a big question. While the country was on a total COVID-19 lockdown enforced by heavy military and police presence across the country, these able-bodied Northern youths were clandestinely moving to the South-East and South-South parts of the country under the cover of the night. Initially, one thought that these were Almajiris who were mostly harmless youths looking for food and survival. When my friend spoke with me, I reminded him that maybe these were Almajiris. But he quickly dismissed it, reminding me that he knew Almajiris and that the present crop of hoodlums were not Almajiris but adults who acted as if they were on specific instructions.
The truth is that many South-East and South-South parts of Nigeria are under siege. It appears that there is a gradual but calculated mission to plunder the people of that part of our country. The governor of River state, Nyesom Wike, had to turn back a trailer load of these youths. The governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, had to close the Niger Bridge to stop these hoodlums from making further entry into the state. Evil is evil and should be condemned no matter who is perpetrating it. There are many Northerners who have condemned their people’s commitment to wage unprovoked war on the South-East and South-South parts of the country. Just this evening, I got an email from a Professor at Uthman Dan Fodio University calling my attention to what is going on in the South-East and South-South. In unmistakable terms, he roundly condemned these heinous activities.
Is President Muhammadu Buhari aware of these events? Is the Inspector General of police aware of what is going on in the South-East and South-South parts of Nigeria? Are all the army formations scattered across the country aware of these events? What exactly is going on in Nigeria? The brave among us, across ethnic divides, are looking at the situation in Nigeria as a bad case which requires a response come 2023. We are working under the umbrella of the Third Force Movement to salvage Nigeria from bigots, illiterates, and such persons who, by a stroke of evil fate, find themselves in the corridors of politics and power.
But it appears that the Third Force movement has its work cut out of for it. This is because there is a presage on the lives and properties of fellow countrymen in some parts of Nigeria which threatens their continued existence until 2023. As a matter of urgency, President Muhammadu Buhari should quickly react to these issues and bring an immediate end to the malady. If he is not able to protect people all over Nigeria, he would have failed in his primary responsibilities and his failure will ultimately necessitate the call for arms-bearing by individuals to protect themselves. In the meantime, affected regions should heed the advice by T.Y Danjuma for collective protection. While we wait for the federal government to immediately respond, bearing in mind that violence begets violence, villages, and towns should form vigilante groups to protect the lives and properties of their people. We will certainly survive this onslaught but we will not be stupid again in 2023 to advance this culture of feral impunity.
Promise Adiele teaches in the Department of English at Mountain Top University. He can be reached by e-mail Here.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.