Media events of the last few days surrounding the reported rescue of one of the Chibok girls are so morally reprehensible that they should be a great concern to everyone with any sense of decency and respect for human dignity. What should be obvious to every fair minded observer is that this horrendous saga is not the tragedy of just one unfortunate schoolgirl (or the hundreds of others whose fate still unknown is keeping their traumatised families in unimaginable distress!) It is the entire nation that is being raped in full public view and every genuine lover of peace and justice cannot but feel scandalized and outraged by the ugly dimensions of this sorry episode.
May 18, 2016 was the day it all began, all Nigerians initially excited and cheering at breaking news that Amina Mkeki, one of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted some two years ago by the infamous Boko Haram terrorists had been rescued by the Nigerian military from somewhere on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest.
A not-so-surprising detail was her four-month old baby girl, now a living proof of the ordeal and nightmare that this young schoolgirl had suffered in the hands of her conscienceless abductors. Beyond that multifaceted signpost, however, stood also a most offensive, repulsive and provocative spectacle, to wit the very height of naked impunity, in the person of a male figure. This latter character was introduced to the benumbed public as father of the infant child. More offensively, he was also brazenly purported and celebrated in various media pictures and reports as Amina’s ‘husband’. The said individual has since been identified as Mohammed Hayatu, a self-confessed Boko Haram member known also as ‘Amir’.
Shades and Shadows of Shame
Conflicting statements in the official report of Amina’s rescue have done absolutely no credit to the credibility and image of Nigeria’s military establishment or to the Federal Government of Nigeria and for that matter, the Presidency itself. However, that is not the focal point of our immediate concern here.
As patriots and Christian faithful, we take strong exception to the virtual VIP treatment seemingly being accorded this captured male terrorist suspect. The emerging picture is as dumbfounding as it is egregious, Momammed Hayatu being ceaselessly portrayed as Amina’s decided husband.
We see this unfolding aspect of the matter as most disgusting, unconscionable and abhorrent, a spiteful slap on the face of all civility and decorum. It amounts to the casualization of the most heinous crimes if not a callous endorsement and glorification of criminality. Not only does it suggest a wicked disposition to heaping of unmerited favours on a criminal at the expense of his victim, it veritably rewards a captured bandit with his loot, as fruit of conquest and a fait accompli. Nothing could more odiously, signal to the whole world that the Nigerian state is indeed regressing very dangerously. Nigerians of all faiths need to pray hard for our beloved country. No group must shove us into the primeval depths of the dreaded Hobbesian canyon.
Amina is a Christian girl child by all known records. She was one of over two hundred school girls forcibly abducted from school by a marauding band of criminal insurgents that has been fighting the Nigerian state and citizenry for years in the name of Islam. Boko Haram’s avowed goals, all of which are blatantly treasonable, include the forceful conversion of all Nigerians to their brand of violent Islam. It is no secret that the abduction of the mostly Christian Chibok schoolgirls was a devilish stratagem aimed at procuring sex slaves and child-bearing sub humans to be married off willy-nilly to persons unknown.
To the best of our knowledge, Amina was never betrothed or given away in marriage by her parents. She was still a minor at the point of her reported abduction and had not attained the age of consent. How come she returns with a baby and a suspected rapist is being paraded as her husband?
Where are Amina’s rights and freedoms as guaranteed for every citizen by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? Where is any respect for her feelings as a human being and where is any sensitivity for the terrible anguish the embarrassing and highly obnoxious portrayal of a terrorist suspect as her husband is causing her entire family and community?
Facing the Immediate Future
We are thankful to the Almighty God of all creation for sparing the life of this young girl and bringing her back home from twenty-four months of cruel captivity. What Amina and her devastated family need most at this time is public respect of their right to privacy. They must be allowed the space and quiet they need for rightful healing and constructive rehabilitation of their shattered lives. Enough of the inordinate rush to make political capital or journalistic scoop out of the poor victims of this national tragedy. What our Government must keep faith with is timely and transparent prosecution of Mohammed Hayatu and his cohorts to ensure that the cause of justice is not only well served but seen by all as well served.
Nigerians would want to be reassured also that their Government is fully committed to and capable of protecting the citizenry from vandal bands of rampant killers and kidnappers, rapists and paedophiles. Boko Haram has sponsors and surrogates all of who must get the clear and unequivocal message that their crimes against humanity will never be allowed to go unpunished. Regarding the said Mohammed Hayatu, the captured Boko Haram suspect, his obvious desert is to be held in confinement away from public view. What is more, he must be earnestly interrogated by the security forces, bearing in mind that the good people of Nigeria deserve to be told something definite about his date in court.
Conversion of Women by Rape and Violence
It is pertinent to comment here also on the pernicious and cynical tactic of forcing underage girls into non-consensual sex or mock marriage. It is most unfortunate that any person or group in the present day and age could be seeding or in any way supporting such a nefarious and barbaric crime or using it in any shape or form as a pragmatic tool to push the expansion of any particular religion.
As now quite obvious to the whole world, Boko Haram is doing just that in its undisguised and unmitigated espousal of terror and violence. Clearly also, however, that savage group is not alone in pushing their most ignominious agenda.
There are countless other cases of a subtler or more covert nature coming to light, the recent Ese Oruru saga being an eloquent ready example. All those are painful and present reminders to every Nigerian that our nation is today facing a looming threat of ambush by its own conflict of values. The dire need for an urgent meaningful conversation is staring us all in the face.
Let it be restated that marriage and childbirth are at the very heart of life values. They are key levers of regeneration and continuity of the human race – which indeed is why they must be maintained and protected at premium principles and standards of law and order, justice and equity. Every genuine civilization owes that unchallengeable duty to mankind as a whole and Nigeria by its written and operating Constitution is a foremost subscriber to those standards and principles.
The Christian community in Nigeria therefore rejects and refuses to recognize any purported conversions or dagger-point marriages or sex-related liaisons of any type secured by duress or arising from evident abuse of underage girls.
President Buhari hosted the rescued Amina and her baby at Aso Rock Villa and it was a telling media event. Sadly, however, the atmospherics of that event failed to reflect sufficient sensitivity, so much so that it almost appeared as though what the whole nation is being made to celebrate is the fruit of terrorism.
The world is now waiting for assurances of Amina’s complete and effective rehabilitation as a human being and as a Christian. She must be allowed to regain her life and faith, all that she was as a person before her lawful rights and liberties as a free citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria were so criminally violated. Anything to the contrary would make all the stakeholders (not excluding the government of the day) seem complicit to criminality or render each and everyone of us as a nation an accessory-after-the-fact to the travesty.
In the meantime, may we not conveniently forget the 215 other girls who are still missing, the painful count of days….and the untold agony these virgin daughters and their distraught families are still passing through.
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