The whole world on lockdown or accepting the necessity of locking down. And Nigeria slowly heeding the directive by President Buhari to lock down not only in Lagos and Ogun states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) but also nationwide. All in the effort to enforce social distancing as a major crux of the global battle to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
Humans being humans, it is often necessary to compel obedience to acts that are in their own interest, and so policemen and women were called to duty to ensure that citizens would agree to stay home and reduce their chances of contracting the Covid-19 coronavirus. But it is Nigeria, so armed soldiers were also out in the streets. Since Lagos State, the hotspot of outbreaks of the virus in Nigeria — due to its status as the most cosmopolitan city in Nigeria — led the way with a lockdown, we have heard of the excesses of the police who destroy the puny articles of trade of petty traders, many of whom HAVE TO SELL SOMETHING daily in order to eke out a meal for themselves and their families. We have also heard of corporal punishment — for instance, flogging and frog-marching citizens found outdoors.
And today, the second day of the lockdown in Delta State, a soldier, eager to save from himself a 28-year-old citizen, Mr Joseph Pessu, who was in the street, concluded that the only way to do so was to kill him. After all, a dead person cannot contract a disease of any kind. So he pointed his gun at Mr Pessu and pulled the trigger! There is no report so far that Mr Pessu was armed, but even if he had been and threatening the life of the policing soldier out to save him from a virus, it would still be shocking that the soldier did not choose the non-lethal option of shooting to disable — at the leg or hand, if he must.
And that invites the question for the umpteenth time: if Nigeria’s armed security agents, in this case soldiers, are regularly evaluated for mental health fitness. Could this murderous soldier, his whereabouts and name yet to be disclosed, be suffering from what may justifiably be called SOJAVIRUS? Not new at all, this virus — were he alive today, Fela might call it Zombie-virus just to bring his diagnosis up to date. We all know that the overwhelming number of Covid-19 victims survive and that, in general, recovery is within two weeks. There is no question of Joseph Pessu recovering, having been murdered by a soldier in the advanced stage of Sojavirus.
The Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector-General of Police must ENSURE that the murderous soldier is fished out from wherever he is currently hiding—he fled the scene of his crime—and tried for homicide. And the Federal and Delta State governments must not only show true contrition for this needless killing of a citizen but also compensate ADEQUATELY the family of Joseph Pessu. This is the only way not to discredit the laudable efforts of President Buhari and the state governors to prevent a truly frightful, near-apocalyptic, scenario breaking out in our country, as we are seeing in Italy, Spain and the United States.
– Ifowodo is a Nigerian lawyer and poet