Charles Darwin’s evolution theory and its upliftment of the doctrine of “survival of the fittest” may have painted a picture of a human race primarily consisting of selfish humans only interested in themselves. However, people have repeatedly showed that humans are not some overtly self-centred species lacking the capacity for compassion, but that in the midst of a fight for survival, many humans would stick out their necks to save others, even if those needing salvation were random strangers. It then becomes sad when we see humans acting like a herd of giraffes that leave the weakest for the stomachs of approaching lions.
Last week, I came across a video on the Punch Newspaper’s website showing the killing of an innocent pedestrian by some effectively crazy Nigerian police officers. In the CCTV footage, a police truck is shown escorting a money-transporting bullion van, and other vehicles and pedestrians are seen plying the road. Suddenly, one pedestrian drops to the ground, hit by a bullet from one of the police officers. He jerks for a while on the ground while other road users continue their activities. After about 140 seconds, some persons come near him and Punch reports he was taken to a hospital where he later died.
At the vanguard of this talk on humaneness is the Nigeria Police Force and its officers’ penchant for treating human life as garbage. Whereas in several “sensible” countries, people would be saddened by news of a pet cat getting shot by an air gun, in Nigeria, human life is worth less than a kobo a dozen. Maybe police officers feel Nigeria’s 180 million citizens is a number too plenty and have decided to form a depopulation squad because the way police officers and other legally-armed terrorists kill unharmed Nigerians, one would wonder if they are unemotional robots devoid of any sense of morality.
Every day a Nigeria steps out of his/her home, that person risks being shot by inhumane security operatives. The term “accidental discharge” has become synonymous with the Nigerian police. Sometimes, people are killed over their refusal to be extorted by the same people paid to protect them. Stories abound of despicable police officers boasting that they can shoot a person and dump the corpse and “nothing go happen”. Looking at this bullion van incident, one would ask why a police officer felt the need to fire a shot when neither the money nor the officers were at any risk of attack. When you shoot at people just because you have a gun in your hand and a police badge, it makes you equal to a terrorist who goes into a shopping mall and empties a magazine on innocent people. The Nigeria Police Force needs to replace its inhumane robots with human beings who appreciate the value of human life.
Coming to the passers-by on that road, I wonder why it took more than two minutes for anyone to come to the aid of Mr Ese Akpan. This incident took place in Rivers State where at least 90% of the population is either Christian or claims to be Christian, and would have heard of Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan. With the prevailing sanctimonious nature of many persons, it can be assumed that they would have spat at the priest and the temple assistant who bypassed the victim in Jesus’ story. Now, this was their chance to prove themselves “better” than that priest, and they woefully failed.
Let me be clear. This is not a case of a gun battle where everyone goes into hiding. In this case, one person was shot, struggling on the ground, the murderous gang of officers had gone, yet people chose to drive/walk by. Could it be that they had no interest in helping a person in need, or they were afraid it was a setup or did not want to risk prosecution from the police. Nigeria is a country where hospitals would request for a police report before treating a gunshot victim. Let me assume that this is the reason behind the callous display on that road. Then, the police have the doubly vile reputation of being legal terrorists and then making it hard for victims of their terror to get help; something similar to ISIS or Boko Haram’s modus operandi.
Whatever may have led to human beings abandoning another human to struggle for his life, our humanity is questioned. Are we human or robots? Do we still have the capacity to show compassion, or has the Nigerian hustle tipped us over the line and we now fully embrace Darwin’s “survival of the fittest”. If Ese Akpan was our sibling, would we be happy that people ignored him when he needed urgent help? I could go on with more questions, but I would end with this quote by Alan Paton: “There is only one way in which one can endure man’s inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one’s own life, to exemplify man’s humanity to man.”
Image Credit: Jesus Film Project