The Evans Saga: Quid Pro Quo

Nigeria is a tense drama with new twists. As Shakespeare suggested, the world is a stage and we are actors on it. Imagine my surprise when I and other Nigerians were introduced to the person of Chukwudemeje George Onwamadike (popularly called Evans).

We will briefly skip over the sparse details of his biography to why he was caught. He was a high-profile kidnapping suspect on the run from the police till he was caught on June 10, 2017. Not long afterward, an interview was arranged with media where gave details of his exploits and modus operandi, one of his most notable feats being the attempted kidnap of “The Young Shall Grow Motors” boss, Chief Vincent Obianudo. One must admire the qualities of tenacity, creativity, and efficiency displayed in his method of operations, inasmuch as it was condemnably directed towards illegal acts that caused families untold sorrows and stress.

Here are some pointers as revealed in the media.

* He had 2 gangs for specific operations who were unaware of each other. One gang ran undertook the kidnapping while the other attended to the victims who were kidnapped.

* None of his kidnapping gang members knew him in person; they communicated with him indirectly.

* He collaborated with telecoms workers and had sophisticated anti-tracking devices to prevent the police from knowing his whereabouts.

* He didn’t even save his gangs’ number on other phones, except for the one used to call them.

* He never bought with proceeds of funds in his name.

It is unsurprising to me really.

Nigeria never became the sordid reality it is for lack of talented minds but the twisted paths which they chose to take.

There is even a part the Federal government played in the rise of his evolution into a crime kingpin: he was a secondary school dropout. The question must be asked: how many more civil Nigerians will turn to Evans before Nigerians together realize we have the responsibility to unite and speak the truth to power and hold them accountable?

The looters of state funds, many whom we know and praise, walking as free men in the society are as much deserving of Evans’ fate. It is their foolery which cascades into tragedies linked to the Evans saga.

I am a victim too. I lost my mom to what I concluded in hindsight was diarrhea, a treatable disease. My Dad died from a stroke, he was kept alive on a ventilator assisting his breathing till there was a power cut. I am certain other Nigerians have their stories which touch the heart. Poor leadership translates into dead citizens given scarcity of good, basic infrastructures.

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There is also the familiar tragedy called the Nigerian Police Force. It is absurd that Nigeria has roughly 380,000 officers for a nation comprising of over 180 million people. The security agencies are understaffed, underpaid and under-equipped. It shows the level of the ineptness of Nigeria’s security apparatus that one man was able to outsmart the combined efforts of Nigeria’s internal security forces.

Understaffed police force

One of the statements made by a former victim suggests that there were accomplices (possibly unwittingly involved) in the police force. It has been established that Evans’ had help from workers in the telecoms sector who enabled him to escape the tracking efforts of the police. Another sorry dimension to the whole saga was the widespread distrust of the Nigerian Police Force. Many of his victims’ families simply complied with his request not to involve the police because they did not trust them. This delayed gathering of vital clues that would have aided his arrest at an earlier time. The subsequent indiscreet action by the police of releasing the identity of the person who aided Evans’ arrest further justifies this sentiment. Security as a personal and communal responsibility cannot be over-emphasized: there is only so much the Nigerian police can do. Inform yourself on security tips readily available on the Web.

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The lesson society shows regarding the treatment of criminals like Evans’ doesn’t sit well with me. It reminds me of a conversation I had where my acquaintance stated that if you must steal, steal big, then Nigerians will respect you. The #FreeEvans campaign which saw its day on Twitter appears to verify this.

The petty thief in the market who steals a loaf of bread because of hunger is more likely to get lynched, another victim of the barbarism that jungle justice takes on in Sub-Saharan Africa. Make that petty thief a wanton thief of state funds and he/she will be given the full benefits of the justice system replete with lawyers, trials, bails etc. It appears the amount of money you steal is directly proportionate to the ‘executive treatment’ you get. This should not be so.

All persons are deserving of equal treatment before the law, but reality never conforms to man’s ideals. From experience, I know the jumble of confusion that the Nigerian justice system is. Nigeria is a corrupt society, an infamy where norms of honesty and hard-work have been thrown to the pigs.

Remember, the politics of now; success anyway, which way, my way. That is the story of Evans, that is the story of looters in the political class, that is shame in places of worship where the new idol is money, it is the sort of desperation that drives Nigerian parents to sell their own children.

Let us not be deceived, for we were all once so, and our children are watching and learning.

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