The Gun Revolution In Nigeria

by SOC Okenwa

A very violent revolution is going on in Nigeria. It is one revolution outside what we have been advocating for. What Nigeria needs now is a true revolution a la Phillipines or Romania which would terminate the circus political show and send those responsible for our misery to the world beyond. A whole lot of the oppressors are still alive and kicking; from Minna to Ota to Kano to many states capitals. This kind of a people power revolution away from the Rawlings military version would seek to end the power comedy and return power to the people in a genuine democratic way. But what is being served right now is a different kind of revolution, the gun revolution, which has profited only a few daring men and women. Alas!

Very sophisticated armed men and women have siezed Nigerian cities; from Lagos to Port Harcourt, Ibadan to Benin City, Abuja to Kano we read daily their dangerous exploits. Hardly a week passes without gruesome reports of their bloody violent passage. Targetting mostly banks, bureaux de changes and other profitable business concerns these hardened armed robbers leave no one in doubt of their sophistication, determination and dare-devilry. In most cases they went in, saw and conquered with the law enforcement officers caught panting and scampering for safety or paying with their lives.

The Anini or Shina Rambo eras pale into sharp insignificance compared with what we are witnessing for sometime now. Today it’s like a Mafia-like hitmen from other planets have struck our land leaving behind econo-social gloom and doom. Those behind the organization of the operations are surely smiling to the bank. While they deposit in the banks the money stolen from the banks it is something tragic indeed that a nation, 47 years old, cannot still guarantee a safe environment for corporate peace and quiet and social safety.

The gun revolution in our land has thrown up many questions. Questions like: how did we get to this breaking point? Has life any more value in Nigeria? When will our police live up to its responsibility of protecting lives and property? How far can a people be more traumatised to reach the very limit of tolerance? Why is there so much violence on our streets? What is the price of crime and criminality? Who cares; does the government care for the people?

You see come to think of it critically, Nigeria is a breeding ground for all sorts of crimes. Most crimes go unpunished because mechanisms do not exist to either enforce the law or punish crime. In a clime where glorified criminals are ‘rewarded’ with political appointments far beyond their capacity or competence what do you expect? Expectedly lower species use the language of violence to even scores, taking revenge on a callous uncaring nation that has sought to kill their dreams, their future!

>From scammers and spammers, hard and fake drug peddlers and distributors, international prostitutes and political prostitutes we have added another odious feather to our over-flowing crime-infested hats: armed robbers. While we produce experts in these terrible fields of human endeavour leadership has been our undoing. How to produce a real legitimate leader who will mobilize, organize and galvanise a national renaissance. President Yar’Adua, many maintain, may be deluding himself that he bears such hope but not much has been done as yet to ignite much optimism in the future. We are watching and listening.

Readers, let us be fair to Nigeria and go global at this juncture. Armed robbery is a global phenomenon; it’s not a Nigerian social malaise alone. Outside our shores more audacious armed robbery operations take place and are reported but the little difference remains that majority of those behind the deeds are often smoked out and punished; they end up where they should be: in jail!

Few years back the Central Bank of Francophone West Africa known in French as BCEAO (Banque Centrale de l’Afrique de l’Ouest) headquartered in Plateau Abidjan was robbed in broad daylight. This imposing regional bank headquarters is just a stone throw from the then African Development Bank headquarters. In French this continental prime financial institution is called BAD, Banque d’Afrique de Development.

The gateman there Sia Popo organized the huge robbery operation with a logistical support of a dangerous crime godfather. The 5-man gang struck the bank and made away with billions of CFA emptying the vault. The chief informant, Popo, took his share and slipped through the porous border at night into Ghana! He stayed there for weeks and arranged a Ghanaian international passport. As he made an attempt to board an aircraft bound for Germany dressed as a woman he was nabbed in Ouagadougou International Airport in Burkina Faso.

The Ivorian government shocked beyond explanation had assembled a strong detective team from the Judicial Police known as PJ to unmask the robbers and bring them to justice. And they did a wonderful job out of the task! How? They got cracking visiting the headquarters of ‘Orange‘, the major mobile phone service provider where they got the conversations prior to the attack between Popo and his gang. The boss of the gang had deposited his own share in his aged mother’s house under her bed in a suburb of town.

The detectives used the Orange connection to gather information culminating in the discovery of his frequent caller who happened to be his girlfriend. The girl was tricked out and arrested and she in turn tricked out the ‘Capo’ who was apprehended also. Just only one of the gang members was smart enough to escape to Europe but his properties were confiscated. Popo and others are serving different jail terms in prison in the Ivorian capital. Almost ninety percent of the money stolen was recovered in cash or otherwise.

The gun revolution in Nigeria is more or less a backlash of our collective moral elasticity. In a land where depraved politicians are competing with armed robbers for headlines, in a country where an audacious armed electoral robbery was organized on April 14 and 21 this year by Obasanjo and his gang (Maurice Iwu, Ali, Anenih, Bode George, Adedibu, Uba) is it not uncharitable to single out those terrorising Lagosians with guns as villains?

It was Ken Saro Wiwa, the late Ogoni activist and President of MOSOP who once described governance in Nigeria as “organized banditry that goes in the name of go

vernment”. Today the organized bandits in the corridors of power are becoming more audacious, more crime-friendly, more corrupt and more unpatriotic. In fact madness has set in with Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala ‘sacking’ the entire Oyo state workforce because they are asking the Adedibu lackey to respect a binding agreement over minimum wage signed between organized labour and the Ladoja administration. With the help of natural leaders Akala has been healed of his political madness by capitulating to the workers demand.

Armed to the teeth with sophisticated weapons our police force only wished to be equipped with and dynamites and driving in convoy in large numbers the armed men (and women) of the underworld are at war with the system; a notoriously corrupt system that produced Speaker Etteh who considered it wise spending 628 million naira to renovate her official residence and that of her deputy. With such scam coupled with other hair-raising revelations of how politicians are serving themselves to the national cake how could a jobless graduate be silent for so long?

While the gun revolution could be said to have begun in Niger Delta and was hitherto masked as ‘resource control’ struggle the kidnapping and oil bunkering lawlessness has brought out issues far beyond oil and gas or the control of its proceeds. Of course there’s crass injustice in Niger Delta but has Niger Deltans taken time to ask how Peter Odili, Alams, Victor Attah, James Ibori as their former governors managed or mismanaged their resources, the huge monthly federal allocations that ran into billions of naira?

Unless the people are massively empowered with the provision of employment opportunities, social security micro-credit schemes then the future is fraught with dangers and horrors. Besides there is no way these could be done without massive investment in infrastructural development. There must be good network of roads, power supply must be constant, hospitals must be made to work, universities must revert back to the good days of yore when academic pursuit was a pleasure, pipe-borne water must be available at every nook and cranny of our federation, poverty must be overcome.

I rest my case here forthwith. May God help and save Nigeria!

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