Crime Review for 2013: The Nays Have It


Nigerians were excited as 2013 rolled in. The year 2012 had a lot of memories which Nigerians did not wish to remember and so 2013 was ushered in with high hopes and prayers. While many prayed for a better year in general, some hoped that the Federal Government in collaboration with security agencies would curb the menace of increasing crime in the nation and most hopefully, rid the north of insurgents.
While Nigerians still hoped for a better 2013 in terms of improved security, the year opened up with a bang. On the 19th of January, over 40 decomposed bodies were found at Ezzu River in Amansea, Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra state. The furore that greeted that incident was alarming.
Civil liberty groups cried fowl pointing accusing fingers at the State Anti Robbery Squad in the state, MASSOB cried blue murder claiming the decomposed as their members and further more fingered the police as the architects behind the gruesome murder of the deceased men.
The Senate and House of Representatives charged the Police to fish out the culprits, Governor Peter Obi cut short his trip outside the country to promise his people that the culprits would be fished out soon and the Police guaranteed Nigerians that it would begin investigations into the matter. 11 calendar months after that incident, Nigerians are yet to know who they men are and who carried out the gruesome murder.
Also in the month of January, Nigerians were stunned to learn of an attempted gun attack on no mean person than the revered Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero. The attack left three persons dead and some others injured.
Nigerians also were stunned in the same first month when on January 28, an FCT High Court in Abuja handed down a mere two-year jail term sentence to a director of the Police Pensions Office, Mr. John Yusuf, who had previously been found guilty of conniving with some people to defraud pensioners a whooping N27.2bn. To further spite Nigerians, he was given an option of a N750,000 fine for the offence which he paid and walked away a free man from the court premises.
Nigerians cried foul at the judgment of the High Court and demanded the removal of the trial judge, Justice Abubakar Talba
The high point of the month of January was the conviction of Edmund Ebiware, an accomplice of Henry Okah in the October 1, 2010 bombing near Eagle Square. He was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The month of February witnessed the affirmation of the death sentence passed by a Lagos High Court on the General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly, Chukwuemeka Ezeugo also known as Reverend King. He was found guilty of murder and also of attempted murder.
In the same month, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, arraigned Hon. Farouk Lawan and Hon. Boniface Emenalo, both members of the Federal House of Representatives at a Federal High Court for demanding and receiving $620,000 from a renowned businessman, Femi Otedeola. The court ordered them remanded in prison custody.
The shock of the month came when the State Security Service made an announcement that it had uncovered a terror network coordinated by Iranians in Lagos.
Just as its name implies, Nigerians marched into the month with high hopes only to be dampened by the announcement that President Jonathan had granted a former governor of Bayelsa state, Chief Diepreye Alamieyesiegha, who had been found guilty of corruption and was convicted state pardon. This decision drew the ire of Nigerians and even the international community as the US threatened to cut off aids to Nigeria.
Also in the same month, the hands of terror struck a deadly blow on Nigeria when a bomb explosion rocked the city of Kano killing over 30 passengers in an inter-state luxury bus. The dreaded Islamic militant sect, Boko Haram soon claimed responsibility for the attack.
Also on March 26, a South African court sitting in Johannesburg sentenced the former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, Henry Okah, to 24 years imprisonment for masterminding the October 1, 2010 bombing at Eagle?s Square, Abuja.
The month of April did not leave fond memories in the hearts and minds of Nigerians. In the early days of the new month, members of a cult, Ombatse, ambushed and killed over 50 policemen in Nasarawa State in what became an embarrassment to the security apparatus of the country. The gruesome killing of police officers by the members of the cult left us all in bewilderment as it gradually began to dawn on us all that even security operatives were not safe from the onslaught of terrorists.
Also the month of April played host to one of the worst bloodshed incidents since terrorism became almost a daily affair in Nigeria, a bloodbath in Borno State between Nigerian Army and Boko Haram left 185 people dead in a single day in Baga, Kukawa Local Government Area. It was later revealed that most of the victims of the massacre were civilians. President Jonathan promised to punish those behind the massacre.
The month of May brought some sweet and sour news to the ears of Nigerians. After months of repeated onslaught against innocent Nigerians by the Boko Haram, the need to counter terrorism and crack down on terror cells in Northern Nigeria led to the declaration of emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states by President Jonathan.
This declaration was greeted with mixed feelings. While many Nigerians greeted the news insisting that the action was long overdue, political opposition parties flayed the move. What really interested Nigerians in the debate was the fact that the governments in the respective states hailed the move by the Federal Government.
Also in the same month, two British-Nigerians, 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo and 22-year-old Michael Adebowale, made headlines around the world after they hacked down to death British soldier, Lee Rigby, in broad daylight in Woolwich, London.
Later that month, the Joint Task Force uncovered a Lebanese terror cell in Kano State.
The month of June came in and gave Nigerians a break from the senseless killings that had characterised the previous months. However one piece of news that did not go down well with Nigerians came on June 24. The British Government announced a scheme that provoked the minds of Nigerians, one that would require every Nigerian traveler to Britain to deposit ?3,000 as bond in case they overstay their visa limits. The Federal Government had, at the time, risen stoutly against the policy and threatened a reprisal. The policy was to be reversed months later in November.
The month of July brought some bitter memories to our nation. In a cold-blooded, heart chilling attack, gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect, raided and killed 29 pupils and a teacher in a Yobe state government school on July 7, 2013. This attack was greeting with huge condemnation from all parts of the country. The sight of the bodies massacred school children was one gory sight that Nigerians would not forget in a hurry.
The month also witnessed a major twist in the judicial system of the country.  The Appeal Court upturned a Lagos High Court judgment sentencing Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, a former Chief Security Officer to the late military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, to death.
The Court decision drew reactions which revealed opinions that differed along geographical lines. In the South, particularly South-Western Nigeria, public opinion was critical of the judgment while the North gave their son a huge welcome party after 12 years incarceration. Al Mustapha and another person, Lateef Shofolahan had earlier been convicted for the murder of a pro-democracy activist, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. Alhaja Kudirat was the slain wife of the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 annulled presidential elections, Chief M.K.O Abiola.
Another news that drew a lot of bad blood was the unjust deportation of 72 Nigerians of Igbo extraction by the government of Lagos state. The deportation saga drew widespread debate with Nigerians supporting and others opposing the action of Governor Fashola. The governor would go on to apologise to the Igbo community in the month of September.
The month of July ended on a bloody note with the multiple bomb blasts that went off in Kano city, killing scores of people and injuring many others. Boko Haram was suspected to be responsible for the attacks, with AFP reporting that at least four explosions occurred in the Sabon-Gari neighbourhood, where most non-indigenes reside.
The month of August started where the previous month stopped. Gunmen suspected to the members of the Boko Haram struck a major blow on Islamic worshippers who went to the mosque to pray. The assailants gunned down 44 persons praying in a mosque in Borno on August 12, 2013.
Also, the month of August witnessed the dismissal of a Police officer, Sergeant Chris Omeleze, attached to the Lagos State Motor Traffic Division, MTD who was caught on video demanding for bribe from a motorist. The Sergeant was reported to have arrested a motorist who was returning from the airport, for contravening traffic rules. He was said to have entered the vehicle, threatening to take the motorist who was with a female passenger to the station.
However along the line, he reportedly demanded for the sum of N25,000 from the motorist to allow him (motorist) go. But the motorist offered the sum of N2000, pleading that he had only N500 on him, an offer the policeman bluntly refused. But unknown to him, the negotiation was being recorded on video.
The incident exposed the behaviour of some officers of the police but the authorities in a swift move dismissed the erring officer and warned others to desist from such acts.
A few weeks after the incident, Nigerians where left dumbfounded when news of a teenage stowaway boy hit the stands and the airwaves. The boy, Daniel Ihekina, who thought that an Arik plane was US-bound, had beaten airline and airport security at the Benin Airport, to hide in the tyre compartment of the aircraft.
While some people praised the boy?s daring act, some others asked that he be punished for what they considered to be suicidal. Two state governors who rewarded Daniel?s bravery also received public criticisms for encouraging more youths to attempt similar dangerous acts, in their bid to travel abroad at all cost.
In what seemed to be a major plus in the fight against the Boko Haram in the North, the Joint Task Force in Borno state, Nigeria speculated in a statement on August 19 that Abubakar Shekau reputed to be the leader of the Boko Haram sect could have been dead as a result of multiple gunshot wounds sustained during an encounter between military groups and the terrorists in one of their camps at a Sambisa forest around June 30.
However, claims of his death are still being puzzled especially after a video was being released by the Boko Haram Sect with him present in it claiming responsibility for recent attacks in the country. Although the authenticity of the video is yet to be confirmed by the Nigerian security services, it is highly doubted that he is dead.
The month of September witnessed a lot of political drama all around the country. This political drama was however silenced in the later days of the month when members of the Boko Haram struck again and this time, it was at a College of Agriculture in Yobe State, where they killed 50 students.
The month of October could be said to be a black month for Nigeria. On October 3, 2013, a plane belonging to Associated Airline which was carrying the corpse of the former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Segun Agagu, took off at about 9.30am from the domestic terminal of the Muritala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, with 20 persons on board, including the crew. The ill-fated plane never made it out of the airport as its engine failed on take-off and it crash landed on the airport?s premises. Sixteen of the passengers lost their lives in the crash, some instantly.
The crash shook the entire country, most importantly Lagos, the country?s commercial nerve centre where the incident occurred. Many clamoured for the heads of key administrators in the aviation sector and anyone found to be guilty of negligence. Not many would quickly forget the statement of the country?s Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, who had referred to the incident as an ?Act of God?. Her statement seemed to have further infuriated the members of the public, but in the end, nobody provided answers to the many questions from the public begging for answers.
To even make matters worse, a report broke in the same month that the Aviation minister had sanctioned the purchase of two armoured BMW vehicles for N255m. Also, this generated public outcry and calls for Oduah?s sack, which amounted to naught as well.
One month after the ill-fated plane crash, members of the Boko Haram attacked a wedding convoy in Borno, killing the groom and 29 others. The attacks came after a brief but quiet period of terrorist attack in the country.  These actions by the Islamic sect made Nigerians query the state of emergency that had been in place in three north eastern states, including Borno.
Nigerians were also left bemused by the alleged ill treatment of Mrs. Clara Chime by her Husband, Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu state. The wife of the governor cried for help alleging maltreatment by the governor which led to her house arrest on the orders of the governor. She called upon human rights advocacy groups to come to her rescue and even solicited the help of respected legal luminary, Femi Falana SAN to take up the matter.
The governor in his response to the allegations revealed that his wife was suffering from mental torture and so kept her under lock in the state government house to protect her from ridicule. It is learnt that she has been evicted from the government house and sent back to her mother where she is recuperating. Mrs. Chime has however denied allegations suggesting that she has mental problems.
The month of December could be described as a month of letter writing between the trio of former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, his daughter, Ms. Iyabo Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Supreme Court in Abuja in the month of December set aside the conviction of former NPA Chairman, Chief Bode George and five former directors of the NPA. Chief Bode George had been convicted by a Lagos High Court in 2009 for offences bothering on Corruption, inflation of contracts and contract splitting. The Supreme Court Judgment has drawn mixed reactions from Nigerians across the nation.
Also, suspected members of the Boko Haram sect struck as the group sacked a military base in Borno, killing scores of people and burning a police station and five aircraft.
The increase in rape cases, incest, kidnaps and a lot more have made the year 2013 a most memorable one. We hope and pray that the incoming year would proffer solutions to the various security challenges being experienced in the country.

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