Gov. Obi’s supervision of demolition of hotel housing human skulls shows collision of due process with moral decadence
By Ken Okorie
USAfrica, Houston: There is ongoing debate and public outrage over an incident in the town of Onitsha in Anambra State of Nigeria where the State Governor, Peter Obi, personally supervised the demolition of a three-story hotel where human skull, guns and ammunition were found in a room. My initial reaction to that report cautioned that everyone should tread carefully because, in a matter like this, due process should guide the actions of government, law enforcement, affected individuals, including lawyers who are reportedly lined up in litigation mode. I also expressed hope that the lawyers in particular would be objective, non-political, and singularly motivated to ensure justice. All of those remain my position.
How ever any of us feels about what happened in Onitsha, one thing thatt must not be forgotten is that the reported “three fresh human heads wrapped in a cellophane bag neatly kept beside the bed” in a room in the demolished hotel belong to human beings. They too were persons whose right to life, freedom, and happiness should be sacred and respected. One whose life has been taken can no longer assert any other right, property, freedom, etc.
One bad act does not justify another “bad” act, assuming the governor did not follow the due process as some have alleged. Indeed I had also suggested that hasty action by the governor could undermine proper investigation of the crime and indeed facilitate a cover-up. Thus caution and due process are key.
Our more urgent and troubling challenge should be the rate at which crime and immorality have overrun our communities, especially in Nigeria. The human skulls, AK47 riffle and piles of ammunition did not casually place themselves in the hotel room. Someone or some people did, and should be held accountable.
Yes, the hotel proprietor, Chief Bonaventure Mokwe, has every right of protest and it is civilized that lawyers are assisting to make his case. Perhaps rather than only cry foul over what the governor did to his property, Chief Mokwe should also assist investigators to establish exactly how these horrible items got into a room in his hotel. That should not be difficult, especially if he has nothing to do with the crime as he has explained. Everyone’s interest, his included, is best served if the perpetrators of this heinous crime are caught, prosecuted and, if found guilty, punished to the full extent allowed by law. Doing so would serve as deterrent and help to root out similar situations. That way, we probably would not have to worry about anyone “taking matters into his hands” as some have alleged against the governor.
A converse to the sentiments and legal counterpoints that have been unleashed against Governor Obi’s actions (and indeed a fitting corollary to those arguments) is that it would be egregious irresponsibility if government did nothing when a crime of this magnitude occurs.
Recent events in nearby Rivers State of Nigeria, where a Governor appears to have become subordinated to his Commissioner of Police, raise questions as to who really is in charge in the Nigerian formulation. But the norm in civilized society is that the head of government is also the chief law enforcement officer of his jurisdiction. Ultimately, responsibility resides at his desk.
Nigeria has problems of indiscipline, crime and immorality, and a serious one at that. I remember growing up in a Nigeria in which mere hearing that death of an unknown person occurred in a distant place frightened or even traumatized, especially younger people. I once watched instant mob justice against a thief inside Ogbete Market in Enugu, then capital of all of Eastern Nigeria (now subdivided into 8 states). The sight of a crowd-pursued naked young man bleeding profusely from stones and other objects hauled at his severely brutalized and weakened body was not pretty. I was frightened and horrified. Traumatizing as those experiences were, I look back today earnestly searching for a community with those moral standards; for the Nigeria where human life had value, and people had fear of God. It was a Nigeria where Church and Culture uniformly taught and persistent against crime and immorality. Each community guarded its reputation through hawkish interest in the propriety of how its citizens acquired wealth. Anyone presenting questionable or unclear moral vibes had serious explaining to do. By extension, the government used this community standard as the yardstick for justice system.
I am speaking of a Nigeria where smoking marijuana attracted no less than 10 years in jail, selling 20 years, and growing it life sentence. Coincidentally, that was also the period Nigeria produced and supplied lawyers that developed the judicial systems in some other countries of the British Commonwealth, serving as Chief Justice and in comparable high levels. It was not today’s Nigeria where massively corrupt leaders are openly celebrated and claim the front pew in the church. It certainly was NOT a Nigeria whose citizens trafficked drugs anywhere. The government of that Nigeria did not engage in pretentious noise about corruption.
Did I hear someone say to ask the military how we lost our morals, virtues, and where the shoe was dropped?
•Okorie, attorney at law, is a columnist and editorial board member of USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston. He served as first Secretary-General of the World Igbo Congress.
There’s a compelling political trinity to Nelson Mandela: the man, the messiah and the mystique. https://usafricaonline.com/2013/07/18/mandela-95-hearty-cheers-to-his-footprints-of-greatness-by-chido-nwangwu/
President Barack Obama, an inheritor of the global fruits of the multi-racial, progressive and inclusive works of Nelson Mandela (and others like Mandela), will never meet a very physically fit and totally aware Mandela. As a student of history, leadership and communications, I believe that Obama’s handlers made an egregious error, a critical, even if symbolic failure to have planned and scheduled and executed since 4 years for the 44th President of the United States, the first African American to hold the most powerful office in the world to engage and fraternize face-to-face, to meet the same great man that the 51-years old Obama said he spoke to on the phone, a couple of times, in seeking his wisdom on a few matters. I think they waited 4 years and more, too late…. ———
CNN International profiles USAfrica’s Founder Chido Nwangwu. https://usafricaonline.com/2010/06/29/cnn-chido-usafrica/
Also, see Tiger Woods is no Nelson Mandela!
Eight lessons of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston. https://usafricaonline.com/2009/11/01/chido-8lessons-rwanda-genocide/
—— Forthcoming 2013 book: In this engaging, uniquely insightful and first person reportage book, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Footprints of Greatness, about two global icons and towering persons of African descent whose exemplary livesand friendship hold lessons for humanity and Africans, the author takes a measure of their works and consequence to write that Mandela and Achebe have left “footprints of greatness.” He chronicles, movingly, his 1998 reporting from the Robben Island jail room in South Africa where Mandela was held for decades through his 20 years of being close to Achebe. He moderated the 2012 Achebe Colloquium at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.”I’ll forever remember having walked inside and peeped through that historic Mandela jail cell (where he was held for most of his 27 years in unjust imprisonment) at the dreaded Robben Island, on March 27, 1998, alongside then Editor-in-chief of TIME magazine and later news chief executive of the CNN, Walter Isaacson (and others) when President Bill Clinton made his first official trip to South Africa and came to Robben Island. Come to this island of scourge and you will understand, in part, the simple greatness and towering grace of Nelson Mandela”, notes Chido Nwangwu, award-winning writer, multimedia specialist and founder of USAfricaonline.com, the first African-owned U.S-based newspaper published on the internet, in his first book; he writes movingly from his 1998 reporting from South Africa on Mandela. http://www.mandelaachebechido.com/
Margaret Thatcher, Mandela and Africa. By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica, and the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com. Click for newscast video of London-based SkyNEWS, the global, 24-hour British international tv network’s interview with USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu on April 11, 2013 regarding this latest commentary http://youtu.be/G0fJXq_pi1c )
FULL text of this tribute-commentary at USAfricaonline.com click link https://usafricaonline.com/2013/03/22/long-live-chinua-achebe-by-chido-nwangwu/