Home / News / Africa / Ember Dismemberment Pt 1 By Martins Onyeike
Nigerian youths seen waving the national flag in front of a crowd in support of the protest against the unjust brutality of The Nigerian Police Force Unit named Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Lagos on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Benson Ibeabuchi / AFP)

Ember Dismemberment Pt 1 By Martins Onyeike

Nigerian youths seen waving the Nigerian national flag in front of a crowd in support of the ongoing protest against the unjust brutality of The Nigerian Police Force Unit named Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Lagos on October 13, 2020. – Nigerians took to the streets once again on October 13, 2020, in several cities for fresh protests against police brutality, bringing key roads to a standstill in economic hub Lagos.
Demonstrations organised on social media erupted earlier this month calling for the abolition of a notorious police unit accused of unlawful arrests, torture and extra-judicial killings.
The government gave in to the demand on October 11, 2020, announcing that the federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was being disbanded in a rare concession to people power in Africa’s most populous nation. (Photo by Benson Ibeabuchi / AFP)
In Nigerian lexicon, the “ember months” loosely refers to the last period of the calendar year between September to December. Customarily, this 4-month span holds a renowned acclaim for providing the stage for all sorts of drama and intriguing theatrics.

To some, this portion of the year comes with a spiritual coloration that reflects a hue of bad tidings and uneventful mishaps in the run-up to the yuletide season. Sadly, the parlous state of affairs at the moment alludes to those sentiments.These are really perilous times.

As if the excruciating hunger and impoverishment compelled by an astronomical hike in the prices of staple food and other items is not enough; the perennial issue of insecurity remains an albatross around the neck of a nation desperately gasping for breath.

On the back of the recently held COP26 conference on climate change where a pact was reached to phase-out the use of burning coal due to its affinity for increasing global average temperatures above pre-industrial levels. Additionally, its menacious link to tuberculosis, asthma and lung cancer in humans is another cause for worry.

For exigent reasons, hapless Nigerians who can no longer afford a commodity as basic as LPG (cooking gas) now see the use of coal and firewoods as convenient substitutes. Suffice it to say that as Nigeria’s representative at the summit, President Buhari’s signature on that pact is not worth the paper it is written on.

Verily; when a jester is in power, the entire nation becomes a circus. While serious nations are steadily building a template for the inevitable switch from transition fuels to renewable energy; a country that prides itself as the giant of Africa decides to take its populace on a bumpy reverse trip into the era of antiquity.

With the imminent dangers of global warming, increase in greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, deforestation and other threats on the climate; the indiscriminate use of coal and firewoods for cooking should be considered an alien topic of discussion in the 21st century.

In no way is this the fault of the ordinary Nigerian, whose knack for survival, even in the most uninhabitable terrain has become well documented. No doubt, the failings of this government is beginning to make most rudimentary necessities appear luxuries. As the inflation induced by incompetent handling of the economy continues to take its toll on our purchasing power, only one item on the shelf remains cheap: HUMAN LIFE!!

Just as the report of the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters was hitting the Governor’s desk, some minions of the government embarked on a filthy mission to discredit the report which unequivocally states that 9 people were shot dead, 4 presumed dead and at least 48 shot, injured with bullet wounds or assaulted by soldiers at the Lekki toll gate.

Their shallow arguments are shakily premised on some perceived discrepancies contained in the leaked panel report. While waiting for the white paper from the state government, this should ordinarily serve as a moment of sober reflection and prayers for the repose of the souls of the fallen. Why anyone will choose to play politics with a matter as touchy as this is really heart wrenching.

Whether 1 person or 9 people were mowed down on that day, what happened to the sacrosanctity of human life and the spirit of empathy in us? What happened to our humanity as a people? As witnessed in Kogi state last month, a team of unscrupulous policemen assaulted a passenger and extorted the sum of #25000 from him. Is it back to business as usual for the terrorists in black? Apparently, these state actors are allergic to revamping and recompense.

During this same “ember” period, there was something in the proportions of a massacre in Sokoto state. Some reports have it that at least 100 were killed in one fell swoop, yet, we took it in our strides like it is no big deal. Apart from the government’s rhetorical messages of warning to the bandits, no affirmative action whatsoever.

Disdainfully, the absurd has become the norm. In the words of David Levithan: “What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”


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