What is the value of human life in Nigeria? This is the question that stares at the face each time Nigerians are mowed down needlessly by security forces during confrontation across the country.
Just on Monday, no fewer than 30 members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Biafra Independence Movement (BIM) and the Movement for Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) were allegedly killed in Anambra State by security forces, portraying how cheap human life has become in Nigeria.
The deceased were among IPOB, BIM and MASSOB members who were commemorating the 49th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra Republic by the Late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
Aside those killed, several other members of the pro-Biafra groups were injured during the clamp down by the security forces in Anambra State. Over 50 of them were arrested by the military and taken to their 302 cantonment in Onitsha, the commercial city of the state.
The clamp down on the pro-Biafra groups also took place in other South East states, with police arresting 320 MASSOB members in Ebonyi; 50 in Owerri, Imo State and 40 in Nsukka, Enugu State.
Expectedly, the Nigerian Army, on Tuesday, defended the action of its personnel, saying they shot the pro-Biafra protesters over “unwarranted attack, breach of peace and creation of wide spread panic, tension and apprehension”.
The police also defended the role of its personnel in the clamp down of the pro-Biafra groups, following this up with the arraignment of those arrested in Ebonyi State on Tuesday.
From any angle incident is looked at, it is clear that the deaths could have been avoided if the security forces had not employed lethal weapons in their confrontation with the pro-Biafra groups.
Though it is the constitutional responsibility of security forces to ensure that there is no breach of peace by individuals or groups, the pro-Biafra groups inclusive, they should realise that the killing of the pro-Biafra members was needlessly. The incident does speak well of them. Our security forces should emulate their counterparts in other climes who employ non-lethal weapons to quell protests. This way, our security forces will be able to minimize if not eliminate the fatalities that always trail confrontation with protesters.