Whereas as a despondent citizen, whose level of trepidation can never in any imaginable dimension approximate the utter despair experienced by the parents of the abducted Dapchi girls and the overwhelming hopelessness thrust upon the parents of the girls still missing, I still verily lament the evolution of the repugnance that has ensnared the nation, steals our daughters[i] and kills our sons[ii] with callous impunity;
And whereas, I refuse to cower powerlessly in the domain of lassitude, the uncertainty amid the swirling disparate official news accounts conjoined with these loathsome incidents confounds reason;
And whereas, I am extremely thankful that many of the Dapchi girls have been reunited with their families and communities, it is nonetheless extremely perturbing that six of the girls have not been released;
And whereas, those six captured Dapchi girls were classified in an official press statement as “yet unaccounted for[iii]”, reports otherwise infer, that five of the girls are apparently deceased[iv], as mournfully bewailed by a father of an innocent girl, whose young life, was reported as tragically truncated prior to the commencement of her prime[v];
And whereas, there are reverberating news accounts that another young innocent girl, Miss Leah Sharibu[vi] remains pugnaciously and illegitimately detained, allegedly because she expressed her inalienable right of religious freedom and refused to renounce her Christian faith[vii] [viii], which acts constitute unambiguous religious persecution and moreover which religious affiliation in the purported secular and democratic society of the nation is guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended (1999 Constitution);
And whereas, an iota of incontrovertible truth that exits in the midst of, the dense fog of imprecision, attending this national misfortune and further barricades the obstructed view of verifiable facts, is that, the name Leah Sharibu, is not imprinted on the official list of Dapchi girls released[ix];
And whereas, the 1999 Constitution, guarantees all Nigerian citizens irrespective of their faith, the assurance of religious freedom, supposedly Miss Sharibu’s liberty, under the tyrannical boot of oppression, in brazen contravention of the said 1999 Constitution, appears illegitimately predicated on the proposed specious extraction of a coerced renunciation of her religion;
And whereas, the incongruous accounts in governmental proclamations regarding the status of Ms. Sharibu’s release have bewildered confusion and amplified the terrifying foreboding in segments of the nation[x] [xi],
And whereas, irrespective of the religious persuasion of any citizen captured and held in continued unconscionable detention by any group, solely because the civilian vehemently refuses to repudiate their faith, the nation’s condemnation should always be swift and compelling in the quest for justice for any Nigerian;
And whereas, to the consternation of a nonplussed nation, the insurrectionists erroneously appear to establish governmental policy by supposedly prohibiting the Dapchi girls who were returned from resuming their education, as fearfully conveyed by a released girl[xii];
And whereas the unresolved Chibok debacle[xiii] subsists in the nation’s collective consciousness, the recurrence of such malevolence mystified the fatigued populace and transcended the peaceful aspirations of the country;
And whereas, some of the Chibok girls were traded like chattel and married against their will[xiv] and remain forcefully estranged from their families, with no persuasive governmental argument that such abomination shall not reappear, a drained nation quivers in persistent fear;
And whereas, when in unbridled defiance, our virtuous treasure is apprehended and ignominiously traded, back and forth, on the gangway of shackled liberty, the country still paradoxically presumes that our liberty is assured as it nonetheless totters in the figment of freedom;
And whereas, the Nigerian government is obligated to faithfully protect the nation’s citizens, anticipate risk and danger, prevent treacherous harm from taking permanent abode within the country’s geographic territory and decisively obliterate such evil, and when it is unable to conclusively discharge these responsibilities, should in utmost good faith engage national and international assistance to categorically terminate a national scourge;
And whereas, the Nigerian democracy, established on the immutable principle of the accountability of an elected government to its sovereign, the Nigerian people, who fortified by the promise of the 1999 Constitution and for the sake of the nation, make bold to adamantly inquire the following:
- Which news accounts, the official press statements or other reports, should the nation believe and rely upon during turbulent times like these?
- What are the answers to accusations that the nation after the Chibok predicament, failed to take necessary precautions and categorical measures to avert this abominable occurrence[xv]? What are the responses to further allegations that no help was immediately forthcoming despite the pleas relayed to authorities on the fateful day of the Dapchi kidnapping[xvi]?
- What has the government done since the Dapchi calamity to address the horrendous underpinnings of the kidnappings or prevent another incident? What has been done to protect all schools in the nation, particularly the high-risk schools?
- Is it true that as reported, the release of more of the Dapchi girls was because unlike the Chibok girls, most the Dapchi girls were Muslim[xvii]? What has the Nigerian government done to address this sordid development and assuage the fear of the citizens? What does this development portend for other religious groups in Nigeria?
- Where is Leah Sharibu, the reported sole retained captive of the Dapchi abduction? When will she be released? How did the negotiations pertaining to her extrication fail? What did the government do when it determined that, one Dapchi girl, a Christian, would be retained in abhorrent internment because of her religion while others were released? Has the government demanded and received assurances that she will not be dehumanized in captivity as a result of her faith?
- Is the 1999 Constitution guaranteeing religious freedom to all citizens still the supreme law of the land or does it now assume a fragmented scaffolding that has been surreptitiously supplanted? If it is still the supreme law, how can the unconstitutional detention of any Nigerian remain unchallenged?
- Where are the five other Dapchi girls classified as unaccounted for? Are they alive or not? If they are dead, should the nation not collectively mourn our shared loss?
- Where amidst these calamities is the unrelenting quest for justice for Nigeria or is it absolutely vanquished alongside the fatalities of this declared war?
Yet, although the flurried news accounts attendant with the abductions are somewhat divergent, the irrefutable fact is that, an evident undercurrent of the nefarious conspiracy, scheming to undermine the national structure and fragile cohesion stands wholly unmasked in the public square of our beleaguered democracy tolling a discordant bell of disarray. What has been done to eliminate this unabashed national threat?
The profound skepticism, of the citizenry regarding the government, ensuing from the cascading confusion of the official accounts pertaining to incidents of such national upheaval, is indicated. In addition, the inexorable dread, attached to the maelstrom of killings and kidnappings, gradually permeating the fabric of the nation, is warranted. These murders and abductions constitute ammunition in the arsenal of calculated tactical bombardments on the country wherein girls are targeted, enslaved, transacted for defilement and money and become causalities, dead or alive, in the continuing unfathomable quagmire besieging the nation. The sons of the nation abhorrently have not been spared from the wrath of the ignoble agenda as many have been killed[xviii] in the fury of the sinister vortex. A nation steadily losing its youth, with no explicit course for rectification, manifestly embraces a consuming identity crisis and verges perfidiously towards annihilation. Where lies our lasting refuge?
The discomfiting inference from the Leah Sharibu case, also equally alarming, is that eventually citizens of certain religious persuasions in Nigeria may endure the brunt of this open and propagating warfare. Furthermore, this existential threat to the country, somewhat cohabiting within the national territory, is blatantly maneuvering the nation towards a foreseeable cataclysmic conclusion. The obvious aggregate of these dastardly machinations is an internal conflagration of deadly and divisive ramifications. The repercussions are far too daunting to excuse staring in idle contemplation or abet ignorance of the incoming fusillades of destruction because the vociferous admonition of history shall also judge and condemn the community of silent detachment.
Thus, even amid a tenuous framework of democratic accountability, it is insufficient for citizens to simply lie impotent, capsized and wrought with grief during an ominous tide or sit immobile in desperate apathy, with weary hands, clasped overhead and thereafter, wailing in desolation simply rend the tattered national fabric bloodstained with lifeless bodies and the corpses of stagnant hope. To the contrary, fueled by moral courage and civic obligation, let it be audaciously proclaimed in our national chronicles, that for the greater purpose of principled humanity, some did defend the nation’s democracy and raised their spirits and voices to confront the escalating subversion and awaken the consciousness of the elected, who are sworn to serve and protect, towards decisive action.
A nation’s hope and an authentic democracy, cannot in isolation achieve the sheer magnitude of their essence. Rather, they require the resolute commitment and tenacious participation of the citizenry, lest both fade into oblivion beyond a disintegrating illusion of the mirage and are irretrievably lost forever. Therefore, to assure an enduring just republic, reverse the despicable currents of the treacherous conflict and ensure that the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain; the populace galvanized by the words of the national anthem, as one nation, hopefully bound in freedom, and as true compatriots, Nigeria’s call must ardently obey, in the quest for peace and liberty, which now both, appearing precariously distorted, still yet, stridently sound the clarion call of distress.
Dr. Yemisi Solanke Koya, Esq.
Dated this 4th day of April, 2018.