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After the Onitsha massacre – By Chuks Iloegbunam


One of the stories out of last week’s massacre in Onitsha had to do with a uniformed man who suddenly paced a few steps ahead of his cohorts, raised his assault rifle, trained it on Nkiruka Anthonia Ikeanyionwu [above], a 21-year old undergraduate, and pulled the trigger at pointblank range. Red-hot lead homed into her chest. The impact flattened her. Blood spouted immediately, turning her light-blue dress crimson. She died instantly. She was armed – with her cellphone! 

Her scandalized comrades raised a concerted voice of protest but colleagues of the cowardly shooter covered him with their outstretched arms and led him to their backward formations. Some others reportedly shot dead in similar circumstances were named as Chima Onoh (Enugu State), Kenneth Ogadinma (Abia State), Angus Chikwado and Felicia Egwuatu (Anambra State).

There was one weapon wielded by almost every participant or watcher of the demonstration that blockaded the Niger Bridge. That weapon was the mobile phone. This has heightened incredulity regarding some other stories in circulation. Since every mobile phone has a camera and a cine-camera, was it possible that major aspects of the Onitsha demonstration could have passed unrecorded? 

How come that, of the thousands of photographs taken on the bloody day, there was no single frame and no single clip that captured a single demonstrator who was armed with a bludgeon, a machete, a gun, or an explosive device? Some were armed with the Bible, singing Christian hymns. Some were armed with the Biafran flag. Most were armed with mobile phones. Yet, their members were rewarded with hails of gunfire!

A fabulous story claimed that the pro-Biafra agitators had burnt down the Onitsha Central Mosque. How come that, to this day, not a single photograph of the incinerated mosque is available for public viewing? Another fantastic story claimed that the demonstrators torched branded Dangote vehicles. Why, then, is it that not a single picture of a single one of the burnt vehicles is on exhibition anywhere in the world?

On the night of the demonstrations, the Sabon Gari Market in Kano went up in flames. Pictures abound of the burnt market; films exist of the market burning. How come that, as concerns Onitsha, there is no pictorial evidence of violent demonstrations, no pictorial evidence of the “burnt” mosque, and no pictures of the “torched” Dangote vehicles?

Uniformed men had, during the past month, been threatening to implement their Rules Of Engagement (ROE) once given the orders to halt the pro-Biafra demonstrations. Now that they have actualized their threats, do they not owe Nigerians and the world an explanation of their carnage? Is the mowing down of peaceful demonstrators in Onitsha not going to be investigated? If the President’s sons and daughters, or the Vice President’s sons and daughters had been central to the Onitsha demonstrations, would any uniformed men have taken potshots at them? Or is it being suggested that the First and Second Nigerian citizens are blessed with offspring more human than those wantonly cut down in Onitsha?

Onitsha is in the Anambra North Senatorial District. What has its Senator said or done about the carnage? There is a politician representing the Onitsha North and South constituency in the Federal House of Representatives. There is a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly representing Onitsha North. What have these elected officials said or done about what happened in Onitsha? Miss Ikeanyionwu was from Adazi-Nnukwu, which is in the Anaocha-Njikoka-Dunukofia Federal Constituency. What has the politician representing this constituency done or said about her murder? Adazi Nnukwu is in the Anambra Central Senatorial District. What has the District’s Senator said or done about Ikeanyionwu’s assassination?

It was reported that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State cautioned security officials against shooting peaceful demonstrators. Why have the Governors of Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States shied away from doing likewise? Indeed, why should any Nigerian Governor not damn, denounce and condemn massacres anywhere in the country?

Nigerians are famous for religious fervor. Is it proper for anyone that calls upon God’s name to embrace silence in the face of the Onitsha atrocity? It has been reported that Rev Father Emmanuel Obimma (Ebube Muonso) of the Catholic Church in Anambra State has unreservedly condemned the cowardly massacre of Ndigbo in Onitsha. Bless him! But why are other ordained people of God all over Nigeria not screaming “NO” to the wantonness in Onitsha? Why should professed people of God not condemn any massacres anywhere in Nigeria?

Nigeria bristles with civil rights advocates, radical lawyers, and progressive politicians. Why are they not raising a din on the willful murder of peaceful demonstrators? Nigeria is called a democracy. Why, then, should the lips of people demanding self-determination be padlocked? Why should their lives be snuffed out who demand their inalienable rights? Final thought: If brute force chased peaceful demonstrators from the streets, would it put an end to agitation?

Chuks Iloegbunam

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