An armed man can browbeat anyone to submission. He may lack the physical strength to do so, but the weapon he brandishes is the power he commands. The domineering of one man by another is made possible by the power the aggressor wields. What is this power? Assault weapon!
Since the second half of 2009 until date, Boko Haram terrorists have been wreaking havoc in the North East of Nigeria because they possess deadly weapons. Bandits, as pundits would call them, have been making the lives of rustic farmers in parts of North West Nigeria a living hell. They kill, maim, kidnap and displace people at will because they have assault weapons. Killer-herdsmen, emboldened by the impunity they enjoy, have been wasting precious human lives in the Middle Belt and in the South-South, South East, South West and anywhere else they fancied. The killing spree is not premised on the ability of the evil marauders to use their fists or daggers, but because they have guns and their victims do not.
More than how innocent people at the receiving end are vanquished, the one-sided show-of-force is an obvious act of cowardice on the part of the armed villains. You don’t go feeling like a motion picture superhero because you round up innocent and unarmed people at gunpoint and open fire on them. Perpetrators of such heinous acts are obvious cowards, having all the trappings of shameless brigands.
One day, the longsuffering victims of terrorism and sundry crimes in Nigeria will be pushed to the proverbial wall and they will have no choice but to fight back pound for pound and weapon for weapon. Since light arms and small weapons found their way to the unworthy hands of non-state actors in Nigeria, there has been a surge in crime and criminality and an obvious proliferation of wanton killings. I wish the situation doesn’t have to plunge to such a nadir, I wish also that the obviously overwhelmed security structure of the country is strengthened enough to address all issues before prevailing circumstances get worse than they already are, presently. Without doubt, things will fall apart when the centre cannot hold.
Villages are razed and people are killed from Chibok to Guzamala in the North East, Dutsenma to Sabon Birni in the North West and Kajuru to Barikin Ladi in the Middle Belt. The situation seems hopeless and unending, one that has become a recurring decimal in the polity. Sadly, opinion leaders are silent on the issues. They have since turned their eyes away from the problems, acting like all is well when all is not. But, to what end, ethnocentrism or religious bigotry? The people affected are seldom given the desired hope and confidence by government. They hate to imagine that they are stuck, perpetually, with the ugly trend of events in the country where, as citizens, they are free but definitely not safe.
Jack Vincent Fidelis is a freelance journalist based in Maiduguri
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