By Chidiebere Nwobodo

Ethnic cleansing does not usually start when hundreds or thousands of people of the same ethnicity are gruesomely murdered on the account of ethnicity, it begins when one life is snuffed out as a result of ethnic prejudices, innuendoes, biases and hatred. Before the cleansing commences, there is orchestrated campaign of ethno-religious profiling, stereotyping and venomous propaganda that charges the polity with vile and bile sentiments.

In the last few years, we have seen how this profiling is increasingly heightened from xenophobic cum incendiary rhetorics of “5%ers” to “Biafran boy” to “dot-in-a-circle” to “spare parts dealers”, all targeted at Igbos, especially of South-East extraction that is gradually become persona non grata in Nigeria yet IPOB members are being persecuted for demanding Biafran Republic. What a contradiction!

When AGF, Abubakar Malami, made the infamous and outrageous comparison between marauding Fulani herdsmen and spare parts dealers, little did we know that such unrestrained sadistic prejudices that inspired such irrational comparison, could be violently and brutally unleashed against innocent and unarmed Igbo traders at Ladipo Market yesterday, because of a mere trade dispute between an officer and a trader.

In the morning of 13th July, 2021, when Igbo traders went to shop to start business of the day as normal at Ladipo Market, they did not envisage unprovoked military brutality and carnage that were in the offing. Based on real time account that have been collaborated by several witnesses who were at the scene and experienced the horror, a senior security officer returned car engine he bought since mid-last year, the trader refused neither to accept it or make a refund—in line with business principles.

That was how the gates of demons were let loose on these helpless traders. The officer reached out to “his boys”, who invaded the market with a convoy of three military vans and started shooting sporadically in a crowded market; beating and inflicting third degree injuries on defenseless traders. Pandemonium ensured in the market. People were laying on the floor and crawling just to avoid being hit by stray bullets.

By the time the carnage was over, three traders were confirmed dead—two died at the spot while one gave up in the hospital. What was the offense of these Igbo traders? they refused to be intimidated in their business premise by a litany of security rascals who believed they were of “superior ethnicity” unleashing mayhem on a beleaguered traders that are just “dot-in-a-circle” and “Biafra boys”.

At the heat of the crisis, I got a wind of the ugly development; reached out to my close relatives in Ladipo Market, they were terrified and psychologically abused. From their voices one could discern a people with feelings of not only under siege but have become endangered species and unwanted in their own country.

While I engaged some of them on phone, I could still hear horrific sounds of gunshots as if it was a military operation taking on dreaded bandits in Kaduna forests. No, it was Ladipo Market being pummeled with rounds and rounds of bullets, just to massage ego of power-intoxicated and blood-thirsty security personnel.

I use this opportunity to call on Ohaneze Ndigbo, South-East governors and other leaders of thought in Igbo nation to investigate this grave insult on our people and ensure that those involved in this military brutality are brought to book and adequate compensation paid to family of the victims.

Lagos State Government should set up panel of inquiry to x-ray this man inhumanity to man, because these traders make up part of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state. For biased section of the media that reported killing and sadistic torture of helpless traders as “clash”, I leave you to your conscience. May those who referred to hardworking traders as “touts”, be visited with the same injustice in the future. This is my honest prayer.

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