“Mistakenly” Killed Or Killed For Amusement -By Abdulkadir Salaudeen

In a country where everything goes, citizens, in their hundreds, can be mistakenly killed and heads will not roll. If “mistake” could react, like a living creature, to the recent mass killing of Muslim celebrants in Kaduna State, the killers in uniform should be saying their last prayers by now. But in Nigeria, “investigation” is another victim. This word “investigation” has been victimized. I mean, it has been overly misused such that many of us get confused about what the word actually means. When the authority says it has set up (or will set up) an investigation panel to thoroughly investigate why its citizens were/are killed for amusement, rest assured that the case is closed.

This isn’t the first time, and due to Nigerian rulers’ attitudes towards the souls of common Nigerians, it might not be the last occurrence. We are used to it. But is this something to be used to? To say “we are used to it” is a wrong and disappointing expression. But what expression does the world expect from a sad people who has lost hope of joy? We are literally hopeless people. Life of mosquito is dignified than life of common Nigeria. If you are in doubt, why is it that Nigerians are serially “mistakenly” killed while mosquitoes are allowed to survive as their breeding grounds get multiplying day by day? Have our rulers made any serious attempt to get rid of mosquitoes in our habitats? All they have been doing is to distribute mosquito nets. Do you know why? Life of mosquito is sacred.

But many attempts— deliberately or “mistakenly”—are made and had been made to get rid of us; if not by bandits, then by the bad eggs among our men in uniform. If not by our men in uniform, then by deadly economic policies. If deadly economic policies could not do the killing enough as calculated, then blind looting of the country’s resources so as to starve the masses to death. As I am writing this article, there are many Federal Government workers who are yet to get their November salaries. I mean, by Nigerian 37th of November which is equivalent to 7th of December in other part of the world, some Nigerian workers are still craning their necks to see if some crumbs will fall from the large tables of their masters.

Anyway, this is not surprising. The Climate Summit in Dubai otherwise called COP 28 which Nigerian Government officials attended in their hundreds (as if it were a carnival) and the resources it gulped is enough to engineer the delay in the payment of salaries of government “slaves” whose masters can choose to pay or not to pay what is due as monthly peanuts. How can anyone logically controvert the assertion that the sight of suffering masses is a source of amusement for our rulers? What logical argument does anyone has to refute the claim that our rulers relish to see us writhing in pain?

It is also germane to ask, why are the mistakes of Buhari regime—of sad memory—still being mistakenly repeated in this current regime which “renewed hope” has only translated to renewed suffering? Some say this regime is only keeping the promise it made. It promised to continue from where Buhari stopped. Even if this is true, is it a must to fulfil bad promise? Can’t President Tinubu renege on that unholy promise of continuity which he made just to safe Nigerians from sliding into this shithole of irredeemable hardship?

Six years ago (2017) under Buhari, Nigerian Air Force fighter jet “mistakenly” bombed a refugee camp in Kala-balge Local Government Area of Borno State. More than hundred refugees were killed and a lot more wounded including aid workers. On April 26, 2021, instead of bombing Boko Haram extremists, an Air Force fighter jet bombed men of the Nigerian army which resulted to killing over 20 officers, as reported, on their way to Mainok in Borno State. Fast forward to June 13, 2021, a wedding event was scattered while some guests were killed by bombardment of the Nigerian Air force Alpha jet. Though this was also done “mistakenly.”

All these and many more happened under Buhari and all was well. There seemed to be no one held responsible. Building on Buhari’s record, more than hundred people were killed over the weekend, again, “mistakenly.” The first disturbing question is: were these Muslim celebrants celebrating in the bush and were thus mistaken to be bandits? To say they were “mistakenly” killed raises many questions. Asking questions became necessary even as some survivors and eye witnesses claimed that another bomb was dropped thirty minutes after the first one. If the first bomb was an operational error, never could the second bomb be an error. Some aver that it is a conspiracy against the Muslims. Some even say the so-called Muslim-Muslim Government is now killing Muslims. I am always reluctant to fall for religious conspiratorial explanation for tragedy of this nature as victims could also be adherents of other religions. After all, as cited above, Air Force fighter jet once “mistakenly” bombed Nigerian army which resulted to killing over 20 officers. This is a case of officers mistakenly killing officers. Yet, “mistakenly” cannot and should never be an explanation for this recent bombardment. There is more to it. Yes, there is more to it. How can women and little children be “mistakenly” killed and re-killed as bandits? This explanation is just untenable.

One reaction I find somehow plausible but which still gives me some discomfort is that if this “mistaken” killing had happened in the southern part of Nigeria, the Nigerian State must have been grounded by now with waves of protests. What this implies is that the lives of northerners are, comparatively, less important to themselves (northerners) and to the government. What explains this meekness in the Muslim North is the indoctrination that makes protest—no matter how peaceful and in whatever form—a religious taboo. This gives the impression that some prominent members of the clerical class with their large followers are conditioned to always kowtow before any government in power. They dare say anything against any atrocities committed by the ruling class.

In fact, according to that doctrine, whatever befalls the masses of rulers’ misgovernance must be religiously blamed on the poor masses for their sins. In fairness to some of these clerics, I have seen them condemning this recent killing in their religious gatherings. Not only that, they are insisting that government must pay blood money to victims’ families. I hope northern clerics, perhaps for the first time, will hold government accountable for this atrocious killing and its general disdain for the masses. Resignation to fate, as promoted by some clerics, in the face of artificial calamity without taking any further necessary action to forestall future occurrence is dangerous for the continuation of human existence anywhere. Even natural calamities that are avertable are to be averted. So why should we resign to fate when some efforts could improve our conditions? Enough of these killings!

I join other mourners to supplicate to Almighty God to have mercy on the souls of these bomb victims as they are laid to rest. May He strengthen the relatives of the dead ones and grant those nursing injuries of various degrees quick recovery.

Abdulkadir Salaudeen

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