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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Numan May Be Different

Just two days before the Numan massacre, cattle rustlers attacked a village in Zamfara killing over 25 people and injuring many. I have not heard of any panel of inquiry, no condolence. It was reported for a day in the Hausa international channels and it is gone... Why? Because we have normalized killings by rustlers there and the news no longer move us beyond just a temporary sadness.
Before it was Mambilla. An ethnic group was targeted by their neighbours. Hundreds were killed, their cattle destroyed and houses burnt. Nobody is charged for anything. The crime was committed by wind or a natural agent that cannot be arrested or controlled. Sorry, I forgot. The VP promised that a panel will be formed to bring the culprits to book. Yeah. The Vice President also sounded “condolent”. Thereafter, nothing happened. It is gone...until the second round comes up early next year when the anti-open grazing bill is implemented in the state.
Now Numan. I waited for days to hear from the other side. What were its casualties or even grudges. None. Did the victims kill one of them? No. Did the victims encroached into anyone’s farm? No. Their only crime, it appears, was their ethnicity.
This time it is not our generous VP on the seat. But the President, who has become notorious for silence over anything this side. 1000+ were massacred, not a whimper came from him. Why would he now waste his words for just 50 children and women who are not victims of Boko Haram attack that is on the radar of the international community? He will rather reserve it for the life of someone more deserving, from a quarter more important: Chief Alex Ekwueme.
Unlike the former VP, the victims in Numan, Zamfara and Mambilla have only an electoral, not human, value. They thought, we thought, that our votes will earn us the premium of humanity that would shield us from these horrific, genocidal killings. They did not. The victims were wrong. We were wrong. Today, our lives are neither insured by the votes nor assured by the government.
Yet, I hope Numan may be different because of the leadership demography of the state. The state government has set up a panel; the police has made arrests; the victims are from Lamido’s ethnic group; the Hamma Bachama has condemned the atrocity and affirmed that all NigerIans are free to live anywhere they chose to, renouncing the ethnic ideology behind the killing. There are civilized elders within the Batchama who will not tolerate this. I know.
May be this time, for the first time since Zangon Kataf, those arrested will be charged in the courts. We will see them. We will learn about their intentions and motivations. May be, just may be, our leaders will allow them sentenced even if for some few months for killing innocent children and women.
In all these, I am beginning to worry at, one, our normalization of killings; some of us even justify and moralize them as divine acts that will be rewarded by God. The more the killings, the more we normalize them and consider them not even worthy of mention.
Two, we will start to blame the victims who are attacked either for their wealth or their ethnicity. It has even started. This emboldens the murderers and encourages their impunity.
With the above two, I think we have enough oxygen to keep the fire of hate induced killings burning. And the world is simply watching.
Why would the Nigerian and international media waste its time reporting killings among people that no longer care about their own lives? Charity begins at home. Your value in the eyes of others is the value you attach to yourself.
I want to give the benefit of the doubt to the Governor, the Lamido and the Hamma Batchama. May God guide them to let the law take its course.
My condolence to all, especially to the victims’ relations who are used to this treatment for centuries. As they survived such massacres since ancient Mali, they will survive these ones too. Killing 50 in a locality will not wipe out their race, in sha Allah, even if repeated 100 times.
In Guinea, Ahmed Sekou Toure killed more than 40,000 of them for the same reason as his Mellinke ancestors did. They are still the largest ethnic group and the wealthiest there.
Here too, they will remain.
Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
23 November 2017

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