The early morning murder of Hon. Ahmad Gulak last Sunday in Owerri, Imo state, sent new shockwaves down the spines of many citizens and signaled a new spectre of insecurity ripping across the South-east. The brutal murder introduced a despicable innovation for those engaged in collaborating with dark forces working against the unity of our country and peace in the South-east.
By killing Gulak in Owerri while on a national assignment, his murderers attempted to instigate Northerners to rise up against the South-east. Unfortunately, the killers of this Adamawa-born politician were thrown into an ocean of frustration as many discerning citizens were quick to see the underhand works of a fifth columnist.
Even when the Imo state police command disclosed that Gulak’s killers were bandits, not a few believe that such a despicable act had some political undertones that were fraught with the intention of throwing the nation into catastrophe. As if acting in tandem with what these criminals desire for our nation, a group known as the Northern Youth Council of Nigeria had quickly issued a two-week ultimatum on Governor Hope Uzodinma to either fish out the killers of the politician or be declared persona non grata in the North.
Like a well-crafted movie, in less than 18 hours after the killing, the police announced that Gulak’s assassins had been eliminated in a shootout. Even as the national discourse was still divided over who the real identities of Gulak’s killers were, various social media platforms were ubiquitous in spreading various narratives on why Gulak was killed. One of the laughable versions is the allegation that Governor Hope Uzodinma was behind the killing over an alleged financial deal.
Some of the social media postings that gained traction on the killing were not only garbage but also bereft of truth. Some persons who were unaware of the real reasons on why Gulak was in Owerri had ignorantly assumed he came on the invitation of the state governor. Even when the office of the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, clearly declared that the murdered politician was on the invitation of the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution, and had nothing to do with the governor, some proved hesitant to let go of the falsehood.
Like Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State said, the murder of Gulak has the footprints of a fifth columnist whose sole aim was to instigate mutual suspicion among Nigerians and set the country on the path of conflagration. For those conversant with the spiraling level of violence in the South-east, the Sunday murder may have been a ploy at enthroning criminality in politics to settle scores and at the same time portray the South-east zone, especially Imo state, as an emerging epicentre of violence.
In the death of Gulak, there is more politics than criminality, so it seems. While it is presumptuous to settle on a particular narrative to arrive at a just conclusion, it is needful to stress here that all allegations must be looked into with the hope of identifying the actual perpetrators of the murder. However, it is apparent that the killing has the capacity of fueling desire for the actualisation of Biafra as it was capable of igniting the angst of the North against the South-east. Though the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has denied involvement, the murder could have led to the heightening of ethnic tension over the assassination. Secondly, any attempt to pigeonhole the reason behind the killing around a particular issue or identity is aimed at obfuscating other storylines that could provide leads to the real killers.
More importantly, the footprints of Gulak who was said to have supervised the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries could widen the scope of investigation for possible leads. Gulak was said to have escaped from Owerri in the middle of the night after he turned down a bribe of $2 million from another camp that was desperate to ensure its candidate emerged as the party’s governorship candidate for the state. Was Gulak’s murder a fallout of the APC primaries?
The growing insecurity ripping across the South-eastern states poses grave apprehensions to national unity and cohesion. Not only have some of the states in the South-east witnessed recurring violence and destruction of national infrastructure, the resurgence of the Biafran secessionist group has resonated with reverberating impact.
As it is, political tension and destruction of lives have continued unabated. In a related development, a retired judge of the Enugu High Court, Justice Stanley Nnaji, was killed within the week in Enugu by unknown gunmen that are still at large and unknown. Beyond the threat by President Muhammadu Buhari to deal with the secessionist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its military wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), there is need to engage all groups for a dialogue in finding a solution not only to the monster of insecurity bedeviling the South-east but the entire nation. Without any form of contradiction, our nation is set to walk the path to Rwanda. Brutalised by increasing waves of kidnappings, abductions and killings of citizens, a subtle force is working assiduously to destroy our country.
These efforts at destroying what has become known as Africa’s giant are further fueled by unpatriotic elements that are deploying various social media platforms to further promote falsehood and creating various conspiracy theories in achieving their nebulous objectives. This ploy to set aflame Nigeria on the mere figments of some creative scoundrels to attain some political goals could gain support from unpatriotic politicians ahead of 2023. In the passion of anger over the destruction of lives and property, any society is poised to walk the path of destruction. The Igbos are known to be wealth creators and cannot in any way be engaged in destruction. Considering the economic prowess of the South-easterners and their versatile capacity for investments, it will be a tragedy of a monumental proportion to allow the South-east be turned into an oasis of destruction. The dregs of Ndigbo and their collaborators that are involved in destroying the South-east must be fished out and be summarily punished.
However, the Igbo elite must avoid a repeat of what has happened to the North. When Boko Haram started in 2009, the Northern elite ignored the little fires ignited by these insurgents. Presently, these insurgents and other criminal groups have grown strong wings, no thanks to the silence of the elite that gave them oxygen. These criminal groups are now the nightmare of the region. The South-east must not allow itself to be brought under some criminals working for the destruction of our country.
Gulak’s brutal murder should be seen as a wake-up call on both state and national leadership to rise up and stave off further destructions in our nation. Our national leadership should commence pursuing inclusiveness of all groups as an answer to the myriad of problems plaguing Nigeria. Gulak’s assassination symbolises the horror of what to expect if we don’t play our politics right. The Biafran dream should rightly be interpreted as an urgent call to redress the cascading injustices of a country whose national clock is ticking towards Armageddon.
Reef writes from Kaduna