If the massacre of innocent lives at saint Patrick Catholic church,Amakwa, Ozubulu in Anambra state was shocking, bestial, the cacophony of tales tumbling from the mouths of those who claim to know the behind the mask executioners is unfortunate, toxic and indeed provocative. The immediate narrative was laced around two feuding ‘brothers’ who were both in South Africa doing drug trade. Names were not mentioned, motive not stated.
The subsequent tale on social media indicted the bishop of the church is alleged to be involved in a drug ring with drug peddlers based in South Africa. When Nigerians thought the multiple tales was over, an “eye” witness insisting on social media that government was not generous with the facts, adding that attackers were masked, wearing army uniforms. The inconsistency of the last narrative raises red flag. First, the person stated they blocked the gate with a private car, dressed in mufti, and he fled the scene before the killings. Same person changed the story explaining how they methodically carried out the operation while he was hiding under the pew.
Distortions of facts, poor management of information, absence of technological equipment, make Nigeria a place for soft target attackers. Gov Willie Obiano was proactive, emotional and appears plunged into unraveling killers of the church worshippers. What the governor lacked in his state broadcast is the name of the attackers who he alleged were business partners. Those who advised he should shield their names have only given speculators and hatters the opportunity to peddle names and pictures of people who may not be connected to the dastardly act.
In developed countries, pictures of the alleged brothers, partners, and bishop will be on international media. The governor in his broadcast may have wished the act is not linked to terrorism, but I am puzzled as to what to classified the act with if not with its rightful cognomen, terror. In all the perspectives emerging from last Sunday killings, all are nebulous, drafted to tacitly blindfold the general public from knowing the monstrosity that hit the community. Every source of information appears to be doing subtle public relations for somebody, something somewhere. What those behind the half-truths have failed to realize is the dark cloud hanging from above.
The social media is a platform where so many sides of the story are told on a single issue with platoons of blind followers camped along basic interests. For those who may be unfortunate to have their pictures in circulation, death by assassins, mob or security operatives may be their macabre fortune. Sadly, the government may have fueled the confusion by deciding to keep the culprits away from the public domain – albeit palpable claims they are presumed innocent.
What does not really add up in the whole saga is how the connection of a drug fueled feud precipitates in the killings of innocent worshippers. Naturally, drug lords kill themselves to satisfy their bloodlust. It is indeed difficult to link women and children to drug trade that will demand their lives. About the version of the Bishop alleged links, the church allegedly built on property in contention among the druggists, it still defies logic to take lives of those whose only offense was to perform their religious obligation.
In ample time, the real face behind the dancing masquerade will be unveiled once the foot at the door is removed. The tacit lesson based on information trickling is for Nigerians to vet free donations. So many Nigerian communities have benefitted from proceeds of blood money especially in the south eastern part of the country. perhaps its time to query sources of income before accepting donations in places of worship and community development generally. Once you accept gifts from the devil, it won’t be long before demands of sacrifice require exchange of life.
The increasing quest to get rich in Nigeria is largely traced to social demands/expectations. Politicians loot treasuries to keep the people as conquered territories. Business moguls go into robbery, kidnapping and ritual killings to make money and impress the young, dazzle the elderly and oppress their peers. All along the society cheer them up. The more money you can spray, donate or dash, the more the titles, recognition and the higher the person climbs in the social pyramid of relevance.
Fake news can only gain traction once government encourage half facts, which only makes the country a conducive place for heinous crime that may slide with culprits eluding justice. It is instructive to be detailed to avoid news fakers rally the public to the wrong direction. So many people have died, communities in melee over fake news. Nigeria is still way behind in the area of managing itself administratively and providing security for lives and properties – for starters, we must have reliable information to prevent mischievous, misleading tales.
Written by, Israel A. Ebije.