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Monday 2 April 2018



Written By Paul Ihechi Alagba,
For Family Writers Press.

There is nothing hidden under the sun. If we are then made to believe in the existence of spirits, the immortality of the soul, and the complexity of the universe,  then it is logical to assert that there is equally nothing hidden beyond the sun.

Its very unfortunate that some people are actually still waiting for how the trial of IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and four of his codefendants will end. At this juncture, we no longer need a magnifying lens to see that the most popular and anticipated trial in Africa is currently directionless, factless, meritless and a brazen telecast of the integrity-somersault of the Nigeria judiciary, as well as the federal government's exhibition of tyrannical foolishness.

The comic episode that transpired at Federal High Court Abuja on Friday March 23, reminds me  of what happened when I accompanied a very good friend of mine to his community's masquerade festival at Orlu in Imo state in September 2006. It's an annual cultural celebration which I discovered is highly cherished by the entire community. The natives, especially the youths such as my friend, Chika, usually travel from far and wide to grace the occasion. This year I volunteered to accompany Chika in order see things for myself; and what  I encountered is an epic adventure that force us into a state of uncontrollable laughter whenever I recount the story with my friend Chika.

It is the second day of the three day masquerade festival, and as usual, we drove out in the evening to the village square where all sorts of masquerades, both the offensively ugly and the most beautiful ones have gathered to showcase what they've got to entertain the natives and tourists like me. While the well furnished and beautiful masquerades were entertaining thousands of people with their dancing steps and local band crew, the extremely ugly and wretched ones known for their troublesomeness, were busy engaging in a hot race with some youths and teenagers who deliberately throw unwarranted jibes at them to provoke a sudden attack.

Well, I was still enjoying some couple of undiluted palm wine and a well garnished 'Nkworbi', also known as 'bush-meat' with my friend and his relatives when suddenly, within two seconds, we heard not less than ten rounds of gunshots close by. The sound was so sudden and unexpected to the extent that the reactionary pandemonium is another laughter delicacy at its memory recall. People started running, falling on top of each other and rising up again to continue a marathon that has no destination, without even knowing what caused or who is behind the cacophony of strafing from the supposedly AK-47 riffles. My friend's fiancee would later apologise to me when I informed her she threw her cup of 'Small Stout' beer mixed with '5-alive' juice on my body while taking cover from the shelling. Chika and I stayed cautiously behind.

At the direction from which the shootings came from is a group of heavily armed Policemen, surrounded by masquerades, some young men and elderly chiefs who engage them in a heated argument that is almost about to result to a bloody fight. Chika and I braved up and walked into the tensed scenario with a bag of questions on what is really happening.

"A masquerade is under arrest, Aru!(abomination)," replied a young man. Before he could finish entertaining our curiosity, the policemen are already dragging a masquerade into their van. No amount of plea could stop them, and the youths were as powerless as a Christmas foul to stage a protest. Nobody in his right senses wrestles guns and bullets with bare hands. A masquerade is truly under arrest; A spirit is now a suspect.

My friend insisted we head for the police station, of which I obliged after considerable hesitations. It is at the police station we got full details of what actually transpired.

 The controversial masquerade had stopped the police sergeant on the way and demanded for some money. The officer who was on mufti attire refused to offer any money, resulting to a brutal long cane-spanking from the masquerade. The policeman didn't utter a word; however, he quietly left in pains and blood, only to invade the festival arena few minutes later with dozens of his colleagues who started shooting sporadically.

At the police station, the custodians of the tradition insisted that it is a taboo and a sacrilege to arrest a a masquerade. According to them, the responsibility of the police is to checkmate the activities of human being, and not that of the spirits of the land. The traditional custodians threatened that all hell will be let loosed if the masquerade is not released immediately.

While all these were going on, the alleged spirit is already behind the counter. But as intense arguments were ongoing, and heap of threats started climbing on top of each other, Sergeant John did the unthinkable; without a second thought, he defied the living and dead. Like a drone, he flew and landed on the masquerade, and with a venomous rage, his sparkling knife which makes light in the night was all over the masquerade. In a split of seconds, the spirit was made man. The Masquerade's garment is already lying on the floor revealing a man in boxers and singlet.

"You Again?!" Sergeant John who was still gasping in the euphoria of an accomplished vengeance couldn't believe his eyes, as evident in his exclamation. The masquerade that nearly flogged him to death is the same notorious young man whom he had arrested on several occasions over his criminal activities, Mr John explained afterwards. It is certainly the end of the road for Osita, the wounded man revealed in the masquerade, because almost all the people that were protesting in favour of the masquerade had at one time or the other been at the receiving end of his terrific way of life.

"If I had known it is Osita in there, I wouldn't have wasted my time and energy coming here," my friend muttered angrily as we joined the recession of masquerade sentimentalists. Only the custodians of the tradition are the only people that stayed behind to see if the complicated situation can be salvaged amicably.

Now, relating this fascinating encounter with the drama that has been playing out in the trial of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu and his codefendants, it is very evident that just like Mr Osita thought that being inside a masquerade would guarantee him absolute immunity and invisibility, the Nigeria politicians also have similar mentality, in that they hold dear the believe that their political status is a stepping stone to impunity and manipulation of justice.

Who else could have thought it possible, that in a supposedly democratic society in this modern era, a masquerade trial can be boldly staged in a court whose jurisdiction is supposed to be unbiased and immaculate?

One good thing that can be drawn from the travail of Nnamdi Kanu and his codefendants is that it is exposing to the rest of the world the true obnoxious identity of the Nigeria state. The world can now understand why Nigeria is an unworkable entity, which can never stand the test of time.
Now, one can fully comprehend what Nnamdi Kanu meant when he made it clear that Nigeria cannot survive his trial, because only his evidence is enough to unmask and throw the country into ultimate comatose. Not even his kidnap by the Nigeria military or the masquerade trial of Biafra activists would be enough to redeem whatever remains of the battered image of Nigeria, both locally and internationally.

 At the end of it all, we will have IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu to thank, for accomplishing what many had thought to be impossible.

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