In yet another sad event that underscored the little premium placed on human life in Nigeria, Eunice Mojisola Olawale, a 42-year-old Ekiti State indigene and Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) pastor was, on Saturday, July 9 this year, hacked to death by suspected Muslim fanatics in Kubwa, Abuja, while on an early-morning evangelism. The killers, who had reportedly warned her to stop her evangelism in the past, symbolically left her megaphone and mobile phone untouched.
The evangelist had celebrated her 16 years of marriage on July 1 and was preparing to celebrate her 42nd birthday on July 24, but fate dealt her a cruel blow near her home at Gbazango, a backwater area of the Federal Capital City (FCT). Husband of the deceased, Olawale Elisha, on identifying the body of his wife and mother of seven children at the Kubwa police station, retained no strength to drive back home. Commendably, he later called for restraint on the part of all those aggrieved by the incident, dousing the ethnic and religious storm gradually festering since the incident.
However, even though the family of the deceased and the RCCG have shown restraint in their utterances, it must be recognised that the commission of a crime has absolutely nothing to do with how relatives of the victim(s) feel. As we noted in our previous editorials, the kind of fate suffered by Mojisola Olawale has the tendency to provoke ethnic or religious conflagration, and is becoming too recurrent in the North. Government certainly must not take the restraint of the families affected so far for granted because, at a point, the elastic resistance of people is bound to collapse if such killings go on unabated. Surely, no Nigerian wishes to go back to the era of loading dead people in trucks.
As outrage grew across the country over the dastardly incident, the National Assembly rose to the occasion, calling on the security agencies to act fast. The Senate, while asking governments at all levels to provide more security facilities such as close circuit television all over the country, was particularly pained that “as she was being attacked and was shouting for help, no one came to her rescue.” The House of Representatives, on its part, urged the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration to demolish all shanties across the nation’s capital, where miscreants were said to be hiding.
Sadly, however, while the two arms of the National Assembly condemned the dastardly act, the Presidency, custodian of the state apparatus of legitimate force, appeared ensconced in lethargy, inadvertently delegating the job of assuring the populace that justice will be done to the Nigeria Police which moved in swiftly and arrested suspects, only to later release four of them for want of evidence. Yet if the recent terrorist attacks in Europe are any indication, swift action from the executive in dousing tensions following acts of barbarism is the least that law-abiding citizens can expect from their government. Although the Wife of Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, condoled with the family of the deceased, her visit was that of a private citizen who also happened to be a member of the deceased’s church.
Given the huge cost of violent censorship and suppression across global history, the nation definitely cannot afford to overlook the potentiality of untamed violence in radicalising impressionable youths. If, by its lethargy in apprehending religious fanatics, government conveys to the youths the idea that taking the law into their own hands in enforcing religious ideas is a legitimate enterprise, then it can be safely assumed that the Nigerian society is actively preparing for itself a future ensconced in misery. The state must never give the impression that it is tacitly complicit in murder, even of those whom it does not approve. Conversely, it owes the citizenry a duty to ensure that those who make life in modern society nasty, short and brutish come to no less a fate than they consciously engineered for others.
Those minded to plunge society into war through spiritual arrogance informed by theological ignorance must be made to realise that they would have had no human society in which to grow up in the first place if the kind of order they are striving to impose on society had been applied in the years gone by. This is why hate preaching, the source of the pretended liturgical supremacy that informed the murder of the Abuja evangelist, needs to be tackled vigorously using extant laws. By so doing, the Federal Government would have succeeded in passing the message that brute force is no substitute for gentle persuasion in a democratic society. Sections 33, 38, 39 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which make it unlawful for any Nigerian to commit murder must be enforced to the letter.