How fortunate one must feel to be a Nigerian, to come from a country where absolute freedom is not a myth and impunity reigns supreme. When a great man (we are not sure which one) famously proclaimed that “your liberty to swing your fist ends just where my nose begins,” he certainly had not heard about the wonderful country called Nigeria. He, especially, betrayed his ignorance of that special creature known as the Nigerian Policeman or the Nigerian Soldier because, for them, the liberty to swing their fists ends wherever the fists end. Full stop.
Nigerians have absolute freedom — as long as they are lucky to make it into the armed forces or into the top cadres of politics. For the unfortunate ones who are neither calling the shots nor firing them, well, their rights have to be limited to create room for the gods to thrive. Fundamental Human Rights are very much like energy: they can neither be created nor destroyed but can only be transferred from one person to another. As with everything else under the sky, there is hardly enough to go round.
To cut the long story short, the result of this arrangement is that people die — extrajudicially. How, you ask?
As a policeman, for example, you could be going about your normal duty, dutifully serving your fatherland as you tax road users for all the good things the country has done for them. And then one stubborn man, thinking he knows the law better than you, refuses to part with his money. I mean, how more unpatriotic could a person be? On top that, the rebel has the audacity to have all his vehicle papers complete and updated! Does he have two heads? Imagine how much such an experience would boil your blood, and already you have been roasting under the sun like chicken suya for several hours. The little gin dancing tesumole in your bloodstream is also not helping matters and you are left with no choice but to teach Mr Lawyer here a lesson he would never forget — and maybe also one he would never remember. The highway is safer without people like him causing traffic congestion anyway.
As a gallant member of the Nigerian Army who is not busy fending off insurgents in the Northeast, you often have to put up with ‘em bloody civilians every now and then. Just imagine one small boy standing shoulder to shoulder with you and looking you in the eyeball as he addresses you. Is it because he has what look like six packs? Does he know how much you have sacrificed for this country? Does he know you were a confam agbero in Lagos before poverty pushed you to join the army? Is he not seeing, hanging majestically under your armpit, your shiny AK-47 rifle newly imported from Russia and thirsting for its first blood? Yet, he dares look you in the eye. Yet, he dares maintain a shred of dignity while rolling in the mud and doing frog jump? Such treason must not be allowed to go unpunished. Even your colleagues will not be pleased with you later at the bar that evening if you don’t deposit some bullets in the fellow’s body.
But then, even though you are gods with veto power over who lives or dies, you must understand that all gods are equal but some are more equal than others. Your superiors in divinity may be forced to take actions against you in order to prolong their god-hood. You must avoid this scenario as best as you can, great one. Here’s how.
Ensure nobody finds out
Even though the whole of Nigeria is your turf to do however you please, you have to understand it is easier to get away with (extrajudicial) murder in certain places, namely highways, bushes, rural communities, dark alleys, police stations, and so on. That way, you can chop (off a person’s head) and clean mouth without ever fearing that you might lose your privilege to less-deserving people.
What to do with the body? Just take it to a nearby cemetery or find some remote area, dig up a self-containment for it in the soil, and check it into its eternal resting place. If the family members are rich enough to have internet access, photos of the victim (do not mind the word choice) will be circulated on social media. After a few days or weeks of running from the pillar of one police station to the post of another, they will finally accept their fate. You might even see the photo shared by one of your contacts on WhatsApp stories. “This bastard even has people who love him,” you would chuckle and scroll on in search of more videos of fine, twerking girls.
Leave no witnesses
If you had no choice but to summarily sentence a person to death where there are other civilians, make sure you leave no witnesses who would cause trouble. Be particularly wary of people holding their phones above their waist; they are the messengers of Instablog and Minister Tunde Ednut who have been sent to put you to shame. Get that phone and smash it. Then throw a dice in your head on whether the phone owner’s head should suffer the same fate.
When you think of tying the loose ends, whatever image comes to your mind is what you should do. You might have to liberate more bullets in the direction of the witnesses but, not to worry, all is fair in love and war. Collateral damage is part of life. Nigerian life, especially.
Blame the victim
Okay, it is possible that you are not able to take care of all the eyes and lenses that might have witnessed you “playing God”. The game is not over, gallant one. At this point, what you want to do is paint the deceased in devil red. If possible, attach a set of horns to his head for effect.
You know what they say about giving a dog a bad name to hang it? Only this time, you are giving it a bad name to avoid being hanged yourself. Let the world know immediately that the victim was a suspected terrorist or armed robber or cultist based on watertight intelligence. You have to use heavy words from the Criminal Code; nothing else would do. You cannot say for instance that he offered to bribe you with N50 instead of N200.
Before you know it, patriotic Nigerians on the internet would come to your defence pro bono (without getting paid one kobo).
Say you are conducting investigations
There is no better way to get the wolves of social media off your back than the assurance that the army or police is “on top of the situation”, “has arrested the (nameless) perpetrator”, and is “conducting investigations”. You all know, of course, that the investigation does not extend beyond the one-paragraph press statement from the media and propaganda department.
If some nosy journalist calls to ask weeks later for updates about the investigation, simply ignore them or say, “investigations are still ongoing as we want to leave no stone unturned in the interest of justice”.
Transfer the operative to another unit/base
We have to admit, there are rare times when the police or Nigerian Army needs a scapegoat — though, in this case, not to deter bad behaviour but to play a fast one on the public. The punishment usually ranges from a warning from your superior to getting transferred to another location where the people will not be quick to recognise you and where you can start afresh (with plenty of fresh blood). Life goes on, my friend.
Kill another person
If all the previous tricks do not work, there is one final thing you can do to get away with (extrajudicial) murder as a Nigerian demigod: Find another unfortunate person to kill. Yes, you read that correctly. In this country, there is no better way to quench the fire of a scandal than with the fire of a bigger scandal (—or giveaways, but that is talk for another day).
It is not every time you will have to go to that length though since there are other ways to make front-page news as well. Allegations of corruption. Appointments of people from a particular ethnic group into a top office. An entertainment celebrity’s baby mama finally putting to bed. Just name it. Pick one, get it to the press at a strategic time, and watch your old sins wash away like makeup on a rainy day.
God bless Nigeria and long live the Nigerian gods.