It started suddenly in April of 1994 in the beautiful city of Kigali the capital city of Rwanda. The day took off like every other and families woke up without any premonition of what the day would bring. Kids prepared for school and parents preparing for work all oblivious of how the day would turn out. The sun was bright and it the day was full of promises but no-one was to know the day would turn into night and before it was over one million Hutu’s were dead, the world especially the United Nations had turned a deaf ear to the cries and pleas from these people when they needed help urgently. The day lay wasted with corpses thrown everywhere as the perpetrators marched on the streets chanting war songs and brandishing dangerous weapons as they went, entering homes forcefully pulling people out into the streets and killing them simultaneously. The earth experienced a river of blood unlike any other in the history of the world.
Here in Nigeria, extremists called “Boko Haram” which means “Western Education is prohibited” came into the country under the disguise of fighting for the “Sharia law”. They came like a mist and suddenly became powerful yet invincible that people still think they are a myth. They have overtaken the North-eastern part of the country comprising Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states unlashing terror and mayhem on its communities. Communities across lay in waste and in ruin across these states as they terrorize, maim and kill innocent civilians who are unfortunate to be on their path of terror and violent destruction. Women and children in most cases are the victims of these wanton destruction of lives and properties with little regard for the children and the psychological effect this experience would have on them and on their future.
Despite the state of emergency in these states, violent and coordinated attacks on innocent citizens persist almost on a daily basis and one is left to wonder at this riddle. These men display such fine prowess using sophisticated weapons and machinery at their disposal, they seem to be highly trained for combat and to survive the jungle and harsh weather conditions adapting so perfectly like they are “ghosts” but the trail of wanton destruction of lives and properties is a rude wake-up call.
The battle between Fulani herdsmen and farmers at first started in Benue State and then spread to Kaduna and Nasarawa states with severe and often violent clashes and attendant loss of lives and properties and yet no lasting solution has been proffered from either the federal government or the stakeholders and everyone is watching as this is becoming a “Horror Movie” right in our faces. The dust is yet to settle down and again the storm blows and this time its Taraba State and in each clash “Death walks away with its victims who are speechless not realizing that they have a new home now” and the casualty keeps rising as more and more villages are attacked and innocent lives lost.
Whether we choose to acknowledge the truth staring at us in the face, or continue ignoring it even with the mounting facts and evidence that assail our eyes and ears on a daily basis, the ominous signs are on us and we have to find lasting solution to these incessant attacks and devastating loss of lives and properties before genocide stares at us right back in the face. It was once upon a time in April that the Rwanda Genocide occurred and took everyone’s breathe away.
As Africa and indeed the world reminisce and marks of the 20th Anniversary of Rwanda’s genocide, there is urgent need for us to reflect on the lessons from the April 1994 massacre, in order to re-evaluate Nigeria’s security challenge.
George Olalekan Jimoh,