Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd. – Bertrand Russell
The gruesome killing of Bridget Patience Agbahime, 74, by a religious mob in Kano has left a sour taste in our mouth and a tragic image in our minds. It is one killing that is coming at a time when some form of religious cohesion is being recorded in the North Central part of the country.
Agbahime, a trader in domestic wares was reportedly killed in Kofar Wambai market in Kano after a disagreement with a fellow who accused her of “insulting” Prophet Muhammed – ostensibly to rile up mob anger against the septuagenarian.
The deceased who has been described as “decent and easy going” was said to have been killed right in the presence of her husband – a church pastor.
It is inconceivable that a group of individuals will, in broad daylight, attack and kill a helpless woman in the full glare of people who could have helped her. It is even more mind-boggling that such an act was perpetrated without prompt reaction from the police. The failure of security agents to save the life of this woman is a sad commentary on the Nigerian police and a blight on our collective civility.
And this is one failure too many as it follows a spate of mob attacks enacted by misguided individuals who expect to go scot-free after perpetrating acts of criminality in whatever guise.
The Aluu killing of 2012; murder of Akinnifesi Olumide Olubunmi, a suspected gay man in Ondo in February; and many more attacks across the country is a testament to the fact that these killings, in whatever form they take, are a statement of distrust Nigerians have against constituted authority.
Extrajudicial killing is a crime as much as it is a vote of no confidence against the police whose authority the people should defer to in such cases.
Personalities like the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Obiageli Ezekwesili, notable religious clerics of Kano origin and more have also called for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of this heinous crime, while the Igbo community in Kano led by Chris Chukwubuzor Asuka have released a statement “calling on authorities to take every step needed to investigate the incident properly so as to ascertain exactly what happened and to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
“We are worried by the alarming culture of violence and bloodshed in Nigeria where faceless elements take laws into their hands often on the ground of religion without recourse to the rule of law,” he said.
The Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje has reacted promptly to the killing by actively engaging the police, Igbo and Christian community in the state as well as meeting with the victim’s husband, Pastor Mike Agbahime. The government’s action has served to calm frayed nerves and instill confidence in the state government but more still needs to be done.
After failing in its statutory duty to protect Mrs. Agbahime’s life, the Nigeria Police Force must ensure the alleged killer, Alhaji Dauda faces the full extent of the law and gets punished for his crime. And every one who contributed to the escalation of violence must be arrested and punished.
The Police must use this opportunity to make itself clear on the consequences of impunity. And nothing explains this more than ensuring that all cases of mob actions before it is given the attention it deserves – no half measures.
Citizens expect decisive actions from the police before the fact; anything short of this will portray us to the world as a nation of barbarians. We expect our security agents to do better in enforcing law and order. We await justice for Bridget.