The Gubio 70 lives matter

by Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi

Entire United States cities rose up in protests to speak up against police brutality and racism, after the death of George Floyd, a 46 year old black man who was arrested and manhandled for using a counterfeit dollar bill. He was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after police officer Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes, while Floyd cried, “I cannot breath”, repeatedly, as he lay down handcuffed. Two other officers further restrained Floyd while one other prevented the crowd from intervening. In the last 3 minutes before his death, Floyd lay motionless on the ground but that still did not deter officer Derek from his Knee-hold on him. Floyd died instantly and his death according to an autopsy, was a homicide. Since then, the US has been embroiled in protests all over its cities, both democratic and republican states. Confederate statues have been brought down across cities, including a sculptor of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy in Virginia. Another statue of Robert E. Lee, the most honored general of the confederacy, was also removed infront of a Montgomery high school that bears his name. A section of the 16th street NW in downtown Washington DC, a street leading to the Whitehouse, was named black lives matter street by the mayor of the city, on the 5th of June, 2020. An entire country of well over 300 million people is in protests and riots over the death of one man, George Floyd. Not just that black lives matter, but in America, every life matters. 

Last tuesday afternoon, Boko Haram fighters drove into the herders village of Felo, in Gubio District, and massacred well up to 70 people or more, just about 80 km from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. That is 70 ‘George Floyds’ massacred at once. Oh blimey! Idris Ahmed of Aljazeera had reported that those who tried to flee were run down. Women and children were watching over their cattle at a watering hole outside the village when the attack happened. Locals believe that the attack was a retaliation for the killing of members of an armed group by the local self defense unit, formed to protect against attacks, and theft of cattle. It is claimed that over 1,200 cattle were carted away in that gubio attack. The village head was also abducted in the attack along with a few others. Despite the gains of the war against terrorism, it is bewildering and frightening that an attack of such a huge magnitude can still take place, while 1,200 cattle can also be moved away, just 80km from Maiduguri.

Nigerians’ confidence in their military was reignited by the recent onslaught against the terrorists, with the Chief of Army Staff himself at the battle front line to boost the morale of his soldiers. So much success was recorded, with the army chief declaring that over 1,429 Boko Haramites were killed in the last two months of the army’s operations in the Lafiya Dole onslaught. Military spokespersons gave almost bi-weekly reports of the successes of their operations. Videos of troops in the battlegrounds suggested a new drive in their campaign against terror. Sometimes they danced and sang war songs of victory, annihilating most of the terrorists that came their way. Then came the news of a re-armouring, with the army’s desire to re-equip its soldiers against a more sophisticated terrorist group. The army had purchased brand new VT4 Main Battle Tanks and it seemed total victory was just round the kerb. It was even reported that the terrorists were waving the proverbial white flag, beating a retreat, and were willing to surrender and call off the war. It was said that the army would have non of that as earlier agreements of a ceasefire by the terrorists resulted in ploys for the terrorists to regroup and rearm. The hot season was also favorable for the army to penetrate all the enclaves of the terrorists and almost everyone was confident that the terrorists were cornered and it was only a matter of time before the 10 year old war on terror is won. With the Gubio attack, does it mean the grip our soldiers have on the war is fading once again? Does it mean the rainy season is another season of success for the terrorists? What has gone wrong?

Until the Gubio massacre, the war on terror was making tremendous gains and hopes were really high in army camps as well as with civilians in the cities, even though most of the military’s successes were under reported. But as the terrorists were on their knees, another kind of terror was finding its head and spreading its tentacles all over the North Western Region of the country. Over 300 deaths have been recorded from Sokoto to Katsina States, and as lives were being saved in the North East and hundreds of hostages were being released, more lives were being lost to banditry in the North West. This surely makes one wonder whether the perpetrators of the terrorism in the North East are not one and the same, with the bandits in the North West? Could it be that they have crept across the army lines and moved over with their trade to the North West? After all, all they do is kill and maim innocent northerners and that is what both groups have been visiting upon Northern communities. 

The PMB campaigns in 2015 rode on a campaign that promised security, as that was what happened to be Jonathan’s greatest undoing. Its been six years now and we are still talking war on terrorists and bandits bandits; which happens to be the epicentre of our problems. Bandits have killed more people in two weeks, than what corona has killed in 4 months in Nigeria. The corona talk is opening prayer, agenda and closing prayer – and no refreshments whatsover, in the Federal government program. Alas the virus that is eating away the Federal government’s patients is not corona, but insecurity. The preparedness, the attention, the campaign, and all the energy invested in the corona fight should be channeled to the actual man killer viruses – bandits and terrorists. 

It would be a beautiful thing, a sight to behold, should this administration bring an end to this wanton killing of lives and property. That would be the most remarkable change. Not even the electricity promised by the Siemens 2023 deal would rival an end to banditry and terrorism, should it be actualized. Katsina being the home state of the president is under heavy banditry attacks and that is definitely a very bad dent on this administration’s hour glass. Tons of George Floyds are lost daily in our clime and the nation goes to sleep and says just as well. Every life matters, be it in Gubio or in Abuja. Every life matters and these monuments that have come to devour lives in hundreds must be removed before they become confederates, towering above us, ruling over us. This is what PMB must deliver above all. Without this, it’s just another sad story.


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