The news coming out of Enugu State in the last one week is one drenched in the blood of innocents. In different parts of the state, people wept uncontrollably over the assassinations of a Catholic priest, a university teacher, and a nursing sister – people with the highest credentials in matters of morality. 

Most heartrending has been the murder of the head of nursing in the Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Enugu, Dr Mary Amadi. Hoodlums in a navy blue vehicle trailed the PhD and mother of two and shot her repeatedly as she was entering her compound last Thursday. Although she was still conscious when she was taken to Parklane Hospital, she eventually succumbed a few hours later.

A day earlier, gunmen suspected to be herdsmen had waylaid and killed a senior lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Dr Nnamdi Ogueche, as he was returning from a peace meeting between Fulani herdsmen and his kinsmen in Uzo-Uwani, Enugu State.  He was also the administrative secretary of Uzo-Uwani local government.

Just before the news of Dr Oguche’s murder came the news that the decomposing body of Rev. Fr. Clement Ugwu had been found in a bush. The cleric had been kidnapped from his parish, St. Mark Catholic Church, Obinofia Ndiuno in Ezeagu LGA, Enugu State, on March 13.

Evildoers appear to be on a rampage not just in Enugu but across Nigeria. This week, another cleric was kidnapped in Kaduna, a state currently embroiled in inter-communal wars that have claimed hundreds of lives in the past one month. Needless to mention states like Borno, Zamfara and Taraba; or states like Rivers, Imo, Kano, Delta and Kwara where scores perished on account of fraudulent elections. No state in Nigeria is safe anymore.

Unsolved murders have always constituted herculean tasks for those charged with maintaining law and order as well as securing life and property in the country. On each occasion, the police make promises of finding the killers but fail to achieve tangible results.

 But the best way of checking crime is prevention. All manner of security agencies exists in this country, and each is sustained by public funds. Yet, hardly does one find a dedicated official in any of the agencies. All that matters to many is the fight for the budget or allowances to be received for a job not even done. When one lodges a complaint with the police, for instance, the complainant is expected to pay for the cost of investigation. Police extract money from complainants and suspects under different guises: writing paper, pen, transport fare, bail, “happy weekend” and the like. Police and other security agencies should not be underfunded, however.

Nollywood often shows scenes of evil people contacting “professional” assassins at certain spots and negotiating for the elimination of their targets. Of course, the scripts for home videos are written based on reality. Many cities harbour evil people who commit all manner of crimes for a fee. Is it not the job of an agency like the Department of State Services (DSS) to identify hotspots, infiltrate the criminal gangs, and make arrests promptly? How often have the secret police busted crimes without announcing their exploits in the media? Security agents should stop waiting for reports before they tackle the evil people disturbing the peace of law-abiding Nigerians.

Nigerians, for their part, should learn to be their brother’s keeper. Crime rate was not high in the past probably because people were united in fighting crime then. Landlords must show interest in the kind of tenants they have. Neighbours should watch the lifestyles of their co-tenants and investigate their sources of income. Armed robbers, hired assassins, terrorists and other criminals are human beings who live in our midst. Whoever sees something should say something.

The media should endeavour to report updates of investigations into assassination cases. It is not enough to break the news or quote police spokespersons vowing to be “on top of the situation” or to “commence investigations into the matter”.  Kept on their toes, the police would be able to unravel murders. And, in fact, crime rates are rising because of the failure of law enforcement agents to detect crimes and punish offenders. What is difficult, for instance, in unravelling those who murdered a Catholic priest? Or those who paid assassins to get Dr Amadi out of the way? A visit to the priest’s parish or the nursing sister’s workplace would yield leads. The family members of the victims may also have necessary information. It is always good for everyone to have friends they can confide in.

In the past, it was not common to see a human corpse in the streets of Nigeria. And where it was seen, it was almost always that of a criminal. Nowadays, the corpses seen belong to law-abiding people. What does this show? Our society is dying. There is no hell more terrible than a place people constantly live in a state of fear. It is ironic that the more government allocates money to defence and security, the worse the crime rate becomes.

With: The Oracle Today

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