First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
These immortal words from the poem by the German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller who was persecuted and sent to the concentration camp by the Nazis is an eternal call to vigilance over nonchalance, over sitting on the fence, over in our parlance,: ”e no concern me – it is not my business”.
Our Nation is at war! The war is undeclared nonetheless we are at war and the terrorists that war on the people are entrenched and launch their campaigns and attacks from Nigerian territories under their control i.e territory in the case of Boko Haram elements in some three local governments in Borno State, and various base camps and fiefdoms in the case of bandits and militias some masquerading as herdsmen. Any man or woman who says these Islamic fundamentalists and jihadists do no hold any Nigerian territory is in one word which is very civil, considering, – “A LIAR’.
The most recent attacks directed at Christians i.e the massacre at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Ayar-Mbalom, Benue State, where Rev. Fr. Joseph Gor and Rev. Fr. Felix Tyolaha and scores of others were killed has opened a new and alarming vista in that to any keen observer of this “war”, it sets down a distressing marker, that rather than the degrading of these jihadists and fundamentalist elements as we have been told severally, they have indeed escalated and are upwardly growing more brazen and assured.
Speaking to the BBC after these recent killings, Father Amos Mbachie, Parish Priest of the St Theresa Parish in Makurdi, believes the violence now has a religious motivation,- “People come occupy and start building mosques. They know these are indigenous Christian communities, but they come here, they send people away, they stay there and then they start practicing their own religion…They burn churches, they kill priests.”
Nigerians from across the country, from all walks of life must raise their voices against the daily wanton killings and mayhem across the country. Islamic fundamentalists masquerading as herdsmen, bandits and militias are carrying out a well synchronized, well thought out process of ethnic cleansing and if you think you are safe and cosseted in any other part of the country then think again as even though these fundamentalists do not have enough ground troops as they do in the North East and North Central they have shown that they can reach out and touch any part of the country or have these so called herdsmen, militias not killed, pillaged and kidnapped in the South-West, South-East and South-South?
If you think it is only the hoi polloi, the plebs, downtrodden who suffer, then think again as no less a personality than a former Secretary to the Federal Government has been touched in his remote abode in the South West. These marauders have taken a liking to kidnapping for ransom with attendant killings in the process. They have gone this route to shore up their war chests and any one can fall victim on our highways, inter roads or anywhere that they choose to attack. This growing menace is a daily occurrence that gets hardly any media coverage and snares men, women and children alike.
“Their cells and manpower will surely grow across the country as they are allowed to continue to fester”.
Any on the ground, in communities research will reveal that these killings in Benue and indeed other parts of the country are not random but well coordinated, operationally astute with efficient support networks. That there is collusion between these fundamentalists and elements in the security apparachik of the Nigerian State is no longer news. Any knowledgeable observer of the topography and vegetation of the North-East and North-Central will instantly be confronted with the ease, dexterity and assuredness of these blood thirsty marauders in areas where ordinarily due to the sheer amount of time it will take to move from their launch bases to the points of attack they should be in trepidation and not linger especially in these times of modern communication. But, alas, they move like spirits through these long and vast distances, linger at will in orgies of killing, rapine and destruction and then vanish back into thin air.
Former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) has said the armed forces, “are not neutral” in the intermittent attacks on innocent Nigerians by “armed bandits”. The armed forces are not neutral.- “They collude; they collude; they collude with the armed bandits that kill people and kill Nigerians. They facilitate their movement. They cover them”. If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one.“This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State. It must stop in all the states of Nigeria. Otherwise Somalia would be a child’s play”.
There are worrisome trends and pointers to a more very quiet ,very sinister part of this “war” and it is an apparent targeting by killings and kidnappings of aid and support people and by that I mean those individuals singularly or in groups who help and assist what they can without news cameras, who put lives and limbs at risk by assisting communities and shoring up human dignity and humanity, “like I try to contribute so insignificantly in Benue State mostly”. Some of these people, unheralded, through their stance and their humanity have been caught in the crossfire in this “war”. Even more formal aid groups such as under the UN have not been immune as shown in the March 2018 killings of 4 aid workers in Rann, Borno state. I hold firm that there is nothing random in the methodology of these Islamic fundamentalists.
Prof Wole Soyinka, in a recent statement he issued titled,: “May Day! May Day!! May Day!!!,” in commemoration of the 2018 Workers’ Day described the ongoing killings in the country as “ethnic cleansing”. He said,; “It is not enough to back the anti-open grazing laws, so late in the day, but we shall leave that for later. Right now, the violated and dispossessed demand restitution, and with no further delay or subterfuge. All available forces should be deployed to right a hideous, unprecedented wrong that has left the nation drowning in blood – we simply cannot continue one day longer to endure this forceful feeding of human blood”.“The plain expression is “ethnic cleansing” and we must not beat around the bush. The shade of Rwanda hangs over the nation.
Reacting to the recent killings in the country, Sen Shehu Sani, the senator representing Kaduna Central said : “Herdsmen who commit massacre in Benue and Taraba and ‘Bandits’ who commit massacre in Zamfara and Birnin Gwari in Kaduna state ,are nothing but terrorists; except if we want to call a spade a pestle or a spoon”.
While condemning the killings in Benue, Taraba and other parts of the North-East, the Bishop of the Diocese of Badagry, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion ), Rt. Rev. Babatunde Adeyemi, said,: “We (Anglican Communion ), condemn these mindless killings in our country. If the Indigenous People of Biafra could be termed a terrorist group, those who perpetrate these heinous acts should also be termed terrorists.“But because these set of people come from a particular part of the country, they enjoy protection from the Federal Government”.“But we in the Anglican Communion shall not keep quiet because Christians are also being killed in cold blood”.
What is clear and what every citizen must know is that we are at “war”. Muslims in the North “and I am proud to lay claim to some as my best and most cherished friends”, Muslims in the South and Christians everywhere, men and women of goodwill must lend their voices and their actions to fighting this “war” for if it is allowed to fester then a day may suddenly dawn where there will be no “Demilitarized Zones”.
We are in a “war” and the “Terrorists” must be declared as such, for whether they are called Herders, Rustlers, Bandits, Militias or Boko Haram. Whether they are in this faction or that faction, that forest , that camp, across the border or within the border,; “They are resolute in their common “hatred of infidel Christians” and an unwavering intent on “Ethnic Cleansing” ..They are fundamentalists and Terrorists.
“THESE ARE THE WORDS OF – Victor Ikhatalor
Founder of “The MyTribeNigeria Initiative”
LEND A HELPING HAND TO THE TERRORIZED AND DISPLACED!