Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Unveiling Nigeria’s merchants of death

“No evil deed can go unpunished. Any evil done by man to man will be redressed, if not now, then certainly later; if not by man, then certainly by God, for the victory of evil over good can only be temporary”
- Dele Giwa (March 16, 1947 – October 19,1986)
 Merchants of deaths, who are they? Are they only in Nigeria? What is their modus operandi? How do we check them? In truth, merchants of deaths are ubiquitous. They are found in every clime, creed and cranny. Africans believe in witchcraft, sorcery and forces of darkness that are capable of using some metaphysical powers to destroy lives, property and destinies. They form a part of the merchants under discourse. What about the terrorists and insurgents? I mean the Boko Harams of this world, the campus cultists, the armed robbers, the kidnappers, the ritual murderers, the hired assassins who kill, maim and destroy not with any supernatural powers like witches and wizards but with rifles, bayonets, grenades, Improvised Explosives Devices, rocket propelled launchers, among others. They are also merchants of death.
Away from the terrorists and insurgents, we also have another category of death traders. These are the quacks, counterfeiters and adulterators. On Friday, June 27, 2014, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control at a news conference in Lagos paraded some suspected fake drug peddlers. The Director-General, NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii, while addressing newsmen, said that a joint operation tagged ‘Operation Porcupine’ in conjunction with the Lagos and Federal Task Force on Fake Drugs between June 24 and 26 swooped on some illegal drug shops in the Sabon Gari area of Kano State as well as Idumota and Mushin drug markets in Lagos State. The operation resulted in the arrest of many fake drugs peddlers. According to Orhii, 400 shops were sealed off while counterfeit drugs worth over N700m were seized. Orhii stated that 350 shops were sealed off in Kano and another 50 in Lagos. While watching this on television, the NAFDAC DG said a drug faker stockpiled a twin two-storey building with counterfeit drugs in Kano.
This is not the first time the agency will smash fake drug syndicates in Nigeria. It has become a routine exercise. What other name can one give to these counterfeiters and adulterators who for a mere pecuniary gain do not care a hoot about human lives? They are simply merchants of deaths.
Those marketers who sell adulterated kerosene to unsuspecting domestic users are also nothing but merchants of death. Their greed has sent hundreds of innocent people to their untimely death due to explosions caused by their adulterated products. Likewise, those spare parts dealers and auto mechanics who sell or use counterfeit parts (popularly called Taiwan) as original for unwary customers thereby causing preventable accidents on the highway are also merchants of deaths.
Those quack doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists and pharmacists who attend to patients without requisite skills; carry out damaging surgeries on the sick; conduct bogus laboratory tests on patients; administer fake and expired drugs on those who are unwell, are all merchants of death. Those building contractors who construct houses, roads, bridges and public buildings with fake and substandard materials are part of the ring of merchants of deaths as their activities have led to thousands of untimely deaths across the country.
Those commercial drivers who are reckless behind the wheels, and have no respect for both traffic light and road safety measures and regulations are all part of the circle. It is an irrefutable fact that their indiscretions have caused so many avoidable accidents and taking in their tow innocent lives. Those operating cholera joints in the name of restaurants or cafeteria, who prepare unhygienic food and drinks for human consumption, are also merchants of deaths for obvious reasons. The security agents who hire or sell arms and ammunition to night marauders and insurgents are part of those trading in deaths.
It is a long list and I will just name one more category. These are corrupt officials, be they in government or the private sector. I am referring to those who embezzle funds meant for development, who privatise our common wealth and use it for personal aggrandisement. They are original merchants of deaths because the stolen resources were meant to serve wider interests and needs and not meant to serve selfish, narrow or parochial interests.
We all need to have an introspection and retrospection on where we are culpable and desist from such ignoble paths. National development, law and order, peace and progress will continue to elude us in as much as the rank of the merchants of death continues to soar. Law enforcement agents need to do more to investigate, arrest and prosecute these scoundrels and fiends. They need to pay dearly for their sins against humanity. That is one sure way to check them. Our religious institutions also have roles to play, particularly in handling the metaphysical forces of darkness. Even in dealing with the various criminal gangs, faith-based organisations have a role to play in praying against these evil doers as well as counseling them to do away with their crimes and allow God to reform them for good. Both the mainstream and social media are also not left out in the campaign against these merchants of death. There is the need to educate and enlighten the public on these evil deeds and their repercussions.