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EDITORIAL: Dr Chike Akunyili’s murder: A stigma on all of us

More than two weeks have passed after the brutal murder of Dr. Chike Akunyili, medical doctor, philanthropist and husband of the late Dora Akunyili, ex-minister of information and communications.

Dr. Akunyili was shot dead by “unknown gunmen” at Umuoji in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State in the evening of Tuesday, September 28, on his way home from an event at Onitsha, where the University of Nigeria Nsukka Alumni Association (UNAA) honoured his wife posthumously.

Dr. Akunyili’s police orderly, driver and five others, who were in the vicinity of the shooting, also lost their lives.

Expectedly, the incident drew shock, outrage and condemnation, as the former minister’s husband was not a politician and had neither done anything nor uttered any statement that would warrant his brutal killing.

The finger was pointed at Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) militants for the killing. The separatist group had threatened to thwart the Anambra governorship election scheduled for November 6. But the spokesman of the group, Emma Powerful, had debunked the allegation. He said the IPOB had no reason to kill Akunyili. He claimed that Dr. Akunyili’s death was a political assassination perpetrated by those participating in the Anambra governorship election.

The state governor, Willie Obiano, in a broadcast, blamed outsiders for the killing and others recently witnessed in the state.

Obiano announced a N20 million reward for information on the killers, and urged security agencies to speed up efforts to find and arrest them.

In the same vein, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, said the security agents had been directed to find the perpetrators.

The president assured that the killers would face the judgment of man, and that of God.

The days following the killing of Dr. Akunyili and the other victims of the reprehensible act are rolling into weeks and the outrage waning, leaving only the families and close associates of the dead to grieve and suffer the shocking departure of their loved ones.

The killers are still walking free. No one has stepped forward with the information that would facilitate their arrest. And as the rampage continues, who will be the next victim?

Before and after the Akunyili murder, many other innocent citizens had been unfortunate victims of mindless killings in different parts of the country.

In May this year, Ahmed Gulak, Adamawa-born chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and former political adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, was killed in Imo State.

On October 7, two lawyers were waylaid by gunmen, driving a Lexus SUV in Onicha-Igboeze community in Ebonyi State.

The gunmen killed the lawyers, set ablaze the SUV they operated in and fled the scene in their victims’ car.

Similar killings of citizens are being witnessed in other parts of the country in such frequency that leaves no doubt that the spilling of blood of the innocent has become the norm. We condemn this reality where the lives of Nigerians now attract a dismal low value.

The primary responsibility of government is to ensure the security of lives and property. In the nation’s peacetime history, the Muhammadu Buhari administration, unfortunately, holds the unenviable record of the most incidents of innocent citizens murdered by gunmen, who evade arrest and escape justice.

The government should not merely continue to give directives for the arrest of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, which most times remain unresolved. Such lame directives expose the deficiency of the Nigerian government to protect the lives and property of citizens.

At a time that the country’s economy is wobbling and the populace suffering, gun attacks will discourage local and foreign investors and further deteriorate the wellbeing of the citizens. There must be an end to the senseless killings.

The security agencies should employ international best practices to unravel these killings. Nigerians must also realise that security of lives is the duty of all citizens. The murderous group of persons called “unknown gunmen” is not spirits. Citizens do not need to be promised rewards before stepping forward with information that will assist the security agencies in the arrest and prosecution of criminal elements.

The killers of Dr. Chike Akunyili and other innocent victims of reprehensible murders must be exposed. Failing to do so is a stigma on all of us.