13 February 2013

Nigeria: Yobe and the Murder of Korean Doctors


In the logic of the monsters that have made life unpleasant in parts of northern Nigeria, good work is now a cardinal crime. That, perhaps, was why gunmen assassinated nine women health workers who were vaccinating children against polio in Kano last Friday. And, in the early hours of this Sunday, the gunmen struck again, killing three Korean doctors in the most gruesome manner in Potiskum, Yobe State.

One can only imagine the calibre of physicians whose lives have been wasted by illiterate hoodlums that are not even fit to be their gatekeepers: Dr Kim Myong Hak, ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist; Dr Jong Myonyzum, acupuncture specialist; and Dr Pak Thee Jong, a consultant gynaecologist. To make good people around the world grieve more, the sadists killed them by slitting their throats; one was beheaded and his head hung on the entrance gate. All this atrocity was committed in the presence of their wives! But what was the offence of these Koreans? Coming to rural Potiskum to save the lives of poor, ignorant, sick and helpless men, women and children.

Though such mindless killings in the country have often been attributed to "unknown gunmen", the government of Yobe State should be held responsible for the killing of the Korean doctors. How could the government have invited foreign doctors to live in Potiskum without providing them any security in these turbulent times? It is instructive that the state police commissioner, Sanusi Rufa'i, said the state government did not take even the most basic step of informing the police of the presence of the expatriates or requesting any special security arrangements for them. For one year or so, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam and his commissioners have abandoned Yobe, paying only occasional daytime visits. Many other wealthy and important people have fled the state out of fear of the criminal gangs that have unleashed hell on that north-east axis. Not even National Youth Service Corps members get posted to Yobe State anymore. Yet the governor invited expatriates to live and work in the same place without obviously giving a damn about their security.

Had the huge security votes embezzled by state governors been used judiciously, maybe the Korean doctors and others martyred in Potiskum would have been saved. It will not be out of place for the public to demand valid explanations from Governor Gaidam and the security forces of Nigeria. For they all have blood on their hands. It is not enough for the state government to condemn the killings and send condolences. Those claiming to be "on top of the situation" or promising to find the murderers before the next daybreak should not be taken seriously. We have heard those words a thousand times, even as they have failed to resurrect over 3, 000 Nigerian residents felled by assassins' bombs and bullets in the last two years.

It's doubtful if the marauders are "Boko Haram" members; the sect has since declared a ceasefire. The passion of these daredevil gangsters is simply to do evil. Cowards who operate under the shadow of darkness, they are incapable of confronting government or its officials directly; they could only attack the poor and the innocent. In their crooked thinking shaped by hard drugs like cocaine and marijuana, killing doctors and other health workers would lead to more deaths and their own satisfaction. Indeed, assassins are the basest of beasts.

By destroying local businesses and scaring off foreign investors, the evil men have worsened the unemployment situation and life expectancy in the north. They have attacked schools, churches, mosques, markets and banks. They have killed many innocent people (including the Korean doctors) in their homes. The murder of vaccinators is meant to sentence more children to death or endless suffering as polio victims. And who knows how many patients that have died in Potiskum since after the slaying of these specialist Korean doctors?

Will the state government succeed in bringing more professionals (from other parts of Nigeria and overseas) to Yobe hospitals again? Because of the Sunday killings, many private doctors in Yobe towns and villages are sure to relocate to safer areas and many Yobe residents will continue to die of preventable or curable diseases. Other professionals direly needed in backward states of the north are now likely to stay away from them.

Since Nigeria's security agents have failed to protect ordinary Nigerians, it is necessary to start a mass movement that could deal with these primitive vampires once and for all. Political philosopher Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." We should not surrender our freedom or live at the mercy of hoodlums whose ultimate goal is to destroy life and property.

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