By Ibrahiym A. El-Caleel
Ideally, I should begin this letter with the epistolary salutation. “Dear brothers” would have been a good salutation, to begin with, but it would be deceptive. I am neither a bandit nor a kidnapper; neither do I have a rifle, nor do I live in the woods. I feel emotional when people die natural deaths. I feel depressed when people are killed. Even in my wild dreams at night, I have never seen a mirror image of myself with a gun. Thus, if I salute you as “Dear brothers”, it will be ungodly deceitful to both you and I.
The enigma in writing you this letter doesn’t end with my failure to find a befitting salutation. It furthers my lack of faith that this letter will reach you. Despite all its mighty capacity, the Nigerian government does not have your full address. Certainly, as a poor Nigerian, I also do not have your address to deliver this letter. In case this letter comes to you by accident, I appeal to you, kindly spare some minutes out of your busy schedule to read it.
Earlier today (9th July), residents of Maradun Local Government in Zamfara lowered 35 bodies into graves. These are the 35 people you killed yesterday. On Monday (5th July), you also ‘worked’ in Tsauwa village in Batsari LGA of Katsina State. You dispersed the villagers, running after them on your motorbikes and shooting them as they flee. You also burnt their houses and farm harvests. Anyway, on Wednesday, they also had to lower 19 bodies into their graves. About a month ago, precisely on Thursday 10th June 2021, you struck Kadawa village of Zurmi LGA in Zamfara State. There in Kadawa, after your bloodbath, they did the burial of the 93 people you successfully butchered. In this case, survivors narrated that you spoke French during the operation. This means you are also now operating as a Multinational organization.
I could go on to narrate your operations, from Zamfara to Kaduna, from Katsina to Niger States. You have become one of the most active and busiest workers in Nigeria today. Hardly does a day or two passes without your career activity making headlines in the national dailies. I am not being satirical. I am being euphemistic so that you become aware that we are feeling the pains. The agony! You have pierced a fat needle into our skins, aggressively drawing our blood. We are eager to know when will your syringe be full? How much volume of our blood can satiate your blood thirst? Does it have to be this cruel?
We have always wondered what is it you want with this ruthless bloodletting. It was only recently that people like Shaikh Dr Ahmad Gumi and journo Abdulaziz Abdulaziz took the courage of walking into the bushes to converse with you, to hear the reasons. Their reports centred around your bitterness with the Nigerian government’s neglect of you; also about how Nigerian security outfits have persecuted you, and how they couldn’t secure your cows from being rustled; also about how common Nigerians have abandoned you in the bushes without care. I honestly do find any cogent reason among all these claims.
Your dwelling in the bushes was by your own choice. Common Nigerians shouldn’t be your enemies on this. If the Nigerian government has maltreated you, what stops you from following a legal process via MACBAN to address this? How does killing innocent people and driving them out of their homes help you?
These innocent people you are killing on a daily basis are also victims of Nigerian state neglect. Had the Nigerian state not neglected term in terms of securing their lives, you won’t even have the chance to kill them in scores as you do. They are your partners in suffering from this bad leadership culture that has stayed for long in Nigeria. Killing them and destroying their properties is the height of your own injustice. Unlike you, these victims suffer a two-way transgression: one from the Nigerian government, then the second from bandits and kidnappers.
Even if you must transfer your aggression to these innocent people, what stops you from seizing their material wealth alone and leaving them with their lives? Your predecessors in this criminality (armed robbers and thieves) mostly kill only when they ask for money, and it’s not given. In your own case, you do not even ask for money or anything. You just ride your motorcycles into a random community and make bullets fly.
What specifically do you want to achieve?
What point do you want to prove?
What is it you all want, please?
How can we go back to a time when we could sleep with both eyes closed, please?