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Justice for murdered corps members still in Abeyance

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Image: NYSC

May.02, 2013


It’s been two years since the April 17, 2011 presidential elections that ushered in President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, but the concomitant tragedy or ‘collateral damage’ that berthed Mr. President’s ascendancy is still a bitter taste in the mouths of many Nigerian families whose graduate sons and daughters were brutally murdered during the electioneering process, while they were undergoing the mandatory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme in some States in the North. We recall that sequel to that election, over 15 serving corps members were brutally murdered in States like Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Gombe, etc., amongst other innocent Nigerians. It will be recalled that most of the slain corps members were dutifully engaged by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of that epoch-making elections, the success of which many have attributed to their involvement and immeasurable contributions to the process.

It was however, a tragic end for the young boys and girls who thought they were serving their fatherland at a most crucial period, when rampaging political thugs and insurgents in the North who could not muster the courage and decorum to respect the results of the elections, resorted to premeditated bouts of violent protests which eventuality led to the savage murder of the corps members.

There was great uproar, particularly in the South where most of the dead corpers came from. A lot of Nigerians even began to question the continued relevance and validity of the NYSC scheme itself, as instituted by the Gowon military regime in 1973 to serve as a platform for national cooperation and integration of young Nigerian tertiary graduates from diverse backgrounds, in a country that was struggling to recover from the devastating and divisive trauma of an internecine war. These genuine outbursts of the people caught the Federal Government’s attention and elicited immediate intervention into the matter.

President Jonathan, as a measure of assuagement, announced a donation of N5m to each of the bereaved families, an employment to a graduate sibling of each of the victims in any federal parastatal of their choice, immortalisation of the victims and, above all, bringing the perpetrators of the barbaric act to swift justice. So far, only the promise of N5m donation has been fulfilled by the Federal Government. The other promises of Mr. President to the bereaved families of the slain corps members are still in abeyance.

The point must be made here that amongst all the unfulfilled promises of President Jonathan on this matter, that of identifying the culprits and bringing them to instant justice is the most urgent, cogent and desirable to Nigerians. The reason for this is not far-fetched: we cannot continue to pretend to have a country where innocent citizens are murdered in cold blood on the streets and nothing happens at the end of the day. One of the cardinal features of a modern state is that it must possess monopoly of the capacity for utmost violence within its territorial jurisdiction, as all its coercive apparatuses depict. And anyone or group of persons who attempt to breach the laws of the state must be promptly subdued. The knowledge of this fact is what assures the citizenry that they can go about their daily activities and vocations without any fear of molestation from any quarters. No government can achieve such assurance and gain the confidence of its people through mere speech making. The precise five-day procedure adopted by the American government to decisively quell the looming terror generated by the aftermath of the recent Boston Marathon bombings is very instructive here. No doubt, on that Friday when the surviving suspect, Dzoukhar  Tsarnaev, was apprehended, the American people spontaneously poured out on the streets of Boston chanting “USA!” “USA!!”, while congratulating their governments and security agencies for a job well done. The suspect is already undergoing trial, even while recuperating in a hospital of gunshot wounds. In fact, the court was relocated to his hospital bedside for preliminary proceedings

What obtains in Nigeria is rather the opposite. In the past five years, over 3,000 Nigerians have met their untimely deaths in the hands of armed insurgents and terrorists, but not one case has been tried and conclusively dealt with by our governments. Even with the capture of some Boko Haram islamists suspected to have bombed churches, newspaper houses, the Police Headquarters or even the UN building in Abuja over a year ago, not one trial of such suspects has properly commenced.

In the instant case involving the massacre of youths who were rendering compulsory national service to their country, we implore the Federal Government not to treat it with kid gloves, rather, to accord it the importance it deserves by going all out to apprehend, investigate and prosecute the culprits. We need a glaring precedent to serve as a deterrent to any person or group of persons who will attempt to attack the future of the country any further. President Jonathan must prove to Nigerians that he is running a responsive and responsible government by fully keeping his promises to the families of the slain corps members and making his word to Nigerians his bond.


Article Credit: Daily Independent Newspaper

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