Through email, Facebook messages, and blog comments, many readers shared interesting stories and perspectives with me in response to my April 27, 2013 article with the above title. See a sample below:
You hit the nail right on the head. For me, personally, I always get scared whenever I see uniformed security men on the road in Nigeria because you never know what mischief they can do. There was a time that after checking my vehicle for any kind of fault and finding none, the police went to the extent of checking my tyre pressure. But the officer didn’t know what the correct reading should be for my type of car and when I declined to tell him, he scolded me and threatened to arrest me! Don’t even talk about developed countries like the US; even here in Kenya the police are viewed by the vast majority as protectors and friends of the people. I always feel relieved when I see them on the road, no matter the hour of the day. Nobody did anything after Odi and Zaki Biam massacres, and I guess nothing will happen for Baga as well.
Ibrahim Gashash, Nairobi, Kenya
It's only news when the JTF exceeds the threshold of 10 murders, which is their routine. Interestingly, the rather artificial ethnic and religious divisions allow these killings to fester. As a people, we do not value human life. Human life is only as valuable as the murdered person's proximity to us, so there is never outrage when these coldblooded murders take place.
Last year, during the fuel subsidy protests, President Jonathan personally ordered the coldblooded murders of over 20 unarmed, nonviolent protesters. Photos showed protesters taken alive by policemen and shot dead minutes after, yet no trial of the officers involved. These officers were identified! So, as we say here at home, "God will help us."
Odoh Diego Okenyodo, Abuja
That's a very apt description of Nigerian security agents. Your story of jumping the queue to get fuel reminds me of the day the police turned the tables against me because I did a news story in a TV station that showed them jumping a long queue at a petrol station to get fuel in several 50 litre jerry cans. I was then a news editor in the said TV station. At the time, the state governor was a Military Administrator and he ordered for the arrest of the about 5 mobile policemen who were shown in the story. But later the police tried to arrest and frame me on a false charge of extorting money from the filling station. Of course they could not pin anything on me! But those are the kinds of things that make Nigerians despise the police.
Ahmed Abdulkadir, Sokoto
I had a similar experience in Chicago. We were waiting to board an Amtrak train. Some of us had been standing for like 30 minutes on the queue because it was during the rush hour. The attendant called on two soldiers to go ahead and board 5 minutes before our trains were supposed to board and the crowd cheered and thanked them for their service to the country. I had goose bumps all over my body because in all my years in the Nigeria Army I have never seen such in Nigeria.
Patrick Enweonwu, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
By now I’m sure you may understand why some, especially in the North-East, have been calling for negotiations with Boko Haram. They have long ago realised that the JTF does not have the capacity to deal with the insurgency as they are part of the problem. Why? Their recent brutality in Baga is one out of many. They have burnt villages and wards in Maiduguri, looted houses and shops, they have killed hundreds of innocent people, and many hundreds are in detention in what the locals call Guantanamo.
Their brutality is the most under- reported by both local and international media. More than 1000 complaints have been filed against them. In addition to their brutality they are corrupt and incompetent. Their checkpoints are called ATM. They request and collect money from motorists and allow them to pass without any checking. Victims of their arrests are asked to pay hefty amount of money before they are released. You may not believe this: in spite of the trillions of naira being budgeted for security, the JTF cannot even boast of metal detectors, not to talk of bomb detectors. Now tell me how they are going fight BH and end the insurgency. The JTF needs more than change in attitude. Investigate and punish the culprits? It does not happen in Nigeria, especially in the Military. What to do? ICC and negotiation.
Abubakar Haman-Tukur (email@example.com)
"Justice is the soul of peace." Some weeks ago, 12 policemen were killed by militants in Bayelsa State. Not even an animal was hurt in retaliation. Why Baga? Are we not the same Nigerians? Is the JTF sent from above to weak the amnesty committee? For God’s sake, how do you achieve peace with this madness? "A nation can survive pagan leadership but cannot survive Christian or Muslim injustice." The day I watched the news (via aljazeera) I cried. There was nobody to console me in my room. I had to return to God and pray against evil and weak leadership.
Yunusa Lawal (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I just read your article on Boston and Baga and can't help but shed a tear for my country’s security apparatus. With all the trillions spent on security, the result is more loss of innocent lives. I agree that people are fed up with the JTF.
Job Egila, Abuja
I am mesmerised by the [alliteration] 'telling tale of two tragedies'. Kill one American, the whole police, FBI, military, Marines, dogs, CCTV + robots will fish you out pronto! But Kill one million Nigerians, you will be granted amnesty and be decorated with national honours. Unfortunately, Nigeria is a butcher’s [paradise] and a fulcrum of bloodbath.
Lanze Kasim, Lafia