Monday, August 3, 2009


Thats what we call our brothers from Africas most populous nation, Nigeria. Last week, the army ended up killing about 700 people in pursuit of a rebel group that was seemingly small and seemingly relatively harmless. But it turned out the group was not that small. What worried me though is the fact that the army captured the rebel leader alive. They then handed in over to the police. This is perfectly legal and normal, except if you become aware of the fact that this guy had orchestrated the deaths of several policemen as his rebel outfit was targeting them.

And so whilst the world was being shown a video of the man confessing his sins and expecting to hear of the court dates, and trial dates etc, we were shocked hours later to see pictures of an arrested man who walked into the police station come out in a body bag with his body riddled with bullets.

Did the end justify the means? That is the question we need to ask. In most cases in Africa decisions and actions are taken on a populist basis or they are taking riding on emotions. I agree the rebels had to be eliminated (Legally of course) for the government to take effective control of the whole country. but riddling a person with bullets under police custody still baffles me.


  1. It does baffles me too, Pen Powder. I have not been following this story. Just heard a friend talk about it and caught a glimpse on CNN or BBC. I don't agree that an arrested rebel leader should be killed. If anything at all the most acceptable and explainable event would have been when the killing was done whilst in pursuit.

    In Ghana, there is a subtle and unspoken law moving among the police service against armed robbers: Shoot to kill. In one night as many as eight armed robbers were killed when they stopped and opened fire on a police patrol. Just yesterday about four armed robbers were killed by residents in an area. According to the majority of the people such armed robbers must be killed on the spot and must not be sent to the police station, this is a populist opinion, but is it not also said that the voice of the people is that voice of God? Yet, does it also not defeat democracy with its rule of law and human rights appendages? So some human right activists have taken it upon themselves to take the matter up and sue the police service. Whilst this is a good development, one deserving praise and accolades especially on our infant democracy, don't those men and women who are killed, raped, robbed and maimed by the armed robbers also have human rights? Should we wait for the harm to be done? These are some of the problems we encounter in democracy but not one which is unsurmountable by democracy.

  2. I agree with your sentiments, but society must always be careful about armed robbers. These people are dangerous. However, the bottomline is that once they have been caught and are under arrest, they must be able to exercise their rights which include a right to a fair trial, a right to a court appearance, a right to be informed of the charge etc.

    It must never be accepted that when you get arrested, nobody can guarantee what may or may not happen to you. In Zimbabwe, the despotic Mugabe regime has been abducting people and torturing them merely for having differeing views with their own. There is presently before the courts the case of one Jestina Mukoko, a human rights activist who was abducted in her night dress in September last year. The police denied knowledge of her whereabouts although they are the ones who had taken her. She only resurfaced four months later after relentless international pressure after being bruised and battered by the police. She is now suing the government for USD200,000, but in Mugabes land where all the judges are loyal to him and not to the rule of law, she has very slim chances.

    Africa is sweet o!