By Kayode Ketefe
Justice Rhodes-Vivour and his kidnapped wife
The kidnapping of the wife, daughter and the driver of Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour of the Supreme Court has introduced a dangerous dimension into the hitherto intractable security challenge of the country.
The development is a symbolic representation of the infernal depth to which law and order has sunk and a worrisome reminder of the speed the nation is moving towards a failed state status. As one unfortunate incident follows another in seemingly perpetual succession of woes, it has become imperative for the governments at all levels to synergistically rise to rescue the nation from the brink of utter failure.
After all, the safety of lives and properties is the preponderant duty of a government. Imagine the height of national embarrassment that is spawned if a judicial officer of the highest institution of law is being blackmailed to offer ransom to some faceless and lawless elements as an inexorable barter for the safety of members of his immediate family! It is tantamount to laying the institution of justice prostrate. It is a symbolic stripping of our highest institution of justice of its aura and inviolability.
This unfortunate incident came on the heels of yet another national tragedy cum embarrassment as evinced in the recent mindless massacre of dozens of law officers. Specifically, 93 police officers and 10 operatives of the Directorate of State Security were killed by Ombatse militiamen at Alakyo village, Nasarawa State last Tuesday. It was the singularly bloodiest onslaught on law enforcement agents in Nigerian history during a “peacetime”.
I have not heard of any country that lost about 103 law officers in just one day in a non-war situation. A Red Cross official painted a terrifying sight of the conditions of these slain law enforcement agents when he said: “More corpses are still in the bush.
We tried to pack them but the bodies are breaking into pieces, so we will need shovel to pack them,” The mode of extermination of a whole “battalion” of security forces by Ombatse cultists itself should ordinarily provoked numerous questions. The combined team of the police and the DSS was said to be on a mission to destroy the shrine of the outlawed cult group and arrest its leaders when they ran into an ambush laid by these same blood-thirsty cultists.
Now the questions: How could a convoy conveying a supposedly crack team of police officers and detectives moved in such a huddle and non-strategic way as to expose themselves to a clean wipe out by a faceless mob? Is it true or not that our security operatives flout even routine precaution in their operational methodology? How could sophisticated weapons of the nature and quantity employed in the dastardly massacre have found their ways into private hands in a nation where possession of firearms is yet to be liberalised?
The cultists are by no means omniscient. Who are the fifth columnists within the security personnel who leaked the plan of the raid to the cultists? All these are worrisome questions that inspired answers not far from systemic failure. Back to the Justice Rhodes-Vivour issue.
Now that the monster called kidnapping is fast becoming more and more indiscriminate in its choice of victims, nobody is feeling safe. There was a time in this country when headlines-making kidnappings were only cases of foreign oil-workers. It was after this that the scope of the criminal enterprise was expanded and “democratised” to include the rich and not-so-rich indigenes. With the latest development, it could be said that the already fragile Nigerian institutional structure is about to suffer a further seismographic shock with the current unfolding saga.
This is so because the development is bound to generate some disquiet among the judicial officers, and once the emotion of fear is thrust into the judicial parlance, the administration of justice is automatically endangered. If the state fails to protect the judges, the judiciary would not be able to protect the people.
Every day, the now famous “America’s prophecy” that putatively hinted at Nigeria’s implosion and disintegration in 2015, which has attracted heavy criticisms and denunciation from the Nigerian establishment, is becoming a probable theory.
As at the time of writing this column, news filtered in that President Goodluck Jonathan has declared state of emergency in three northern states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno. It seems as if some unseen forces are tinkering with the destiny of the nation in a manipulative game that nobody knows how it would end. Every day, numerous forces are at work to subvert law and order in the country.
The current rulers of Nigeria therefore, need to do all within their power to re-orientate and rescue the nation from the fatalistic fulfillment of unwanted, but seemingly ineluctable destiny.
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