Wednesday, December 9, 2015

After The Onitsha Massacre

By Chuks Iloegbunam
One of the stories out of last week’s massacre in Onit­sha had to do with a uniformed man who sud­denly paced a few steps ahead of his cohorts, raised his as­sault rifle, trained it on Nkiru­ka Anthonia Ikeanyionwu, a 21-year old undergradu­ate, and pulled the trigger at pointblank range. Red-hot lead homed into her chest. The impact flattened her.

*Nkiru­ka Anthonia Ikeanyionwu: Shot dead by 
security agents during the pro-Biafra peaceful 
protests in Onitsha 

Blood spouted immediately, turning her light-blue dress crimson. She died instantly. She was armed – with her cell­phone! Her scandalized com­rades raised a concerted voice of protest but colleagues of the cowardly shooter covered him with their outstretched arms and led him to their backward formations. Some others re­portedly shot dead in similar circumstances were named as Chima Onoh (Enugu State), Kenneth Ogadinma (Abia State), Angus Chikwado and Felicia Egwuatu (Anambra State).

There was one weapon wielded by almost every par­ticipant or watcher of the demonstration that blockaded the Niger Bridge. That weap­on was the mobile phone. This has heightened incredulity re­garding some other stories in circulation. Since every mo­bile phone has a camera and a cine-camera, was it possi­ble that major aspects of the Onitsha demonstration could have passed unrecorded? How come that, of the thou­sands of photographs taken on the bloody day, there was no single frame and no sin­gle clip that captured a single demonstrator who was armed with a bludgeon, a machete, a gun, or an explosive device? Some were armed with the Bi­ble, singing Christian hymns. Some were armed with the Biafran flag. Most were armed with mobile phones. Yet, their members were rewarded with hails of gunfire!

A fabulous story claimed that the pro-Biafra agitators had burnt down the Onitsha Central Mosque. How come that, to this day, not a single photograph of the incinerated mosque is available for public viewing? Another fantastic story claimed that the dem­onstrators torched branded Dangote vehicles. Why, then, is it that not a single picture of a single one of the burnt vehi­cles is on exhibition anywhere in the world? On the night of the demonstrations, the Sabon Gari Market in Kano went up in flames. Pictures abound of the burnt market; films exist of the market burning. How come that, as concerns Onit­sha, there is no pictorial evi­dence of violent demonstra­tions, no pictorial evidence of the “burnt” mosque, and no pictures of the “torched” Dan­gote vehicles?

Uniformed men had, dur­ing the past month, been threatening to implement their Rules Of Engagement (ROE) once given the orders to halt the pro-Biafra demon­strations. Now that they have actualized their threats, do they not owe Nigerians and the world an explanation of their carnage? Is the mowing down of peaceful demonstra­tors in Onitsha not going to be investigated? If the Presi­dent’s sons and daughters, or the Vice President’s sons and daughters had been central to the Onitsha demonstrations, would any uniformed men have taken potshots at them? Or is it being suggested that the First and Second Nige­rian citizens are blessed with offspring more human than those wantonly cut down in Onitsha?

Onitsha is in the Anambra North Senatorial District. What has its Senator said or done about the carnage? There is a politician repre­senting the Onitsha North and South constituency in the Federal House of Representa­tives. There is a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly representing Onit­sha North. What have these elected officials said or done about what happened in Onit­sha? Miss Ikeanyionwu was from Adazi-Nnukwu, which is in the Anaocha-Njikoka-Dunukofia Federal Constitu­ency. What has the politician representing this constitu­ency done or said about her murder? Adazi Nnukwu is in the Anambra Central Sena­torial District. What has the District’s Senator said or done about Ikeanyionwu’s assassi­nation?

It was reported that Nkiru­ka Anthonia Ikeanyionwuof Abia State cautioned security offi­cials against shooting peace­ful demonstrators. Why have the Governors of Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States shied away from doing like­wise? Indeed, why should any Nigerian Governor not damn, denounce and condemn mas­sacres anywhere in the coun­try?
Nigerians are famous for religious fervor. Is it proper for anyone that calls upon God’s name to embrace silence in the face of the Onitsha atrocity? It has been reported that Rev Father Emmanuel Obimma (Ebube Muonso) of the Catho­lic Church in Anambra State has unreservedly condemned the cowardly massacre of Ndigbo in Onitsha. Bless him! But why are other ordained people of God all over Nige­ria not screaming “NO” to the wantonness in Onitsha? Why should professed people of God not condemn any massa­cres anywhere in Nigeria?

Nigeria bristles with civil rights advocates, radical law­yers, and progressive politi­cians. Why are they not raising a din on the willful murder of peaceful demonstrators? Nige­ria is called a democracy. Why, then, should the lips of people demanding self-determination be padlocked? Why should their lives be snuffed out who demand their inalienable rights? Final thought: If brute force chased peaceful demon­strators from the streets, would it put an end to agitation?

*Chuks Iloegbunam, a journalist and writer, is an eminent columnist

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