Recently, the media was awash with news of the arrest of a kingpin notorious for armed robbery and kidnapping, Chukwudubem Onwuamadike, known as Evans. He was arrested in his palatial home at Magodo area of Lagos State. As usual, Nigerians celebrated his arrest. They always demonstrate outrage in unison against petty stealing and such other acts of desperation often caused by hunger and immediate need. It is worse usually against a felon who has inflicted pain and desolation on his fellow citizens.
Social media, that 21st century medium that presents an unfettered platform for self-expression witnessed a deluge of activity, some with ominously seething rage all on Evans’ saga. The celebration by members of the police force who captured him was understandable because the young brigand had caused them sleepless nights; his continued elusiveness raised a question about their competence.
The police was committed to using Evans’ case to challenge a general impression that they are a part of security with the most subversive complications. After all, Evans has admitted that he and his wife were arrested early this year and arraigned but were promptly released unconditionally. Reports have it that while Evans and his gang operated, they pulverized the social space, pilfered and plundered the neighborhood. The entire Evans’ tale provides a momentary respite from the ethnic brouhaha ravaging Nigeria. While the ideologically handicapped Igbo youth continues his agitation for the actualization of Biafra, his bigot Hausa counterpart responded by issuing a quit notice to all Igbo people living in Northern Nigeria.
Reports have pointed to the dislocated upbringing Evans had which only gave rise to the kind of life he eventually embraced. According to the media, he dropped out of school in JSS2, went to Nnewi to learn the popular trade in that part of the country, automobile spare parts business and was eventually accused by his boss of stealing an undisclosed sum of money. Promptly, as Evans recounted, his father disowned him and he moved in to live with his mother who was already estranged from his father. Not long after, his mother raised money for him to come to Lagos and the rest as they say is history. How complicit is parental failure in producing the notorious kingpin is a matter for another day. While I totally condemn the recounted dastardly activities of Evans and his gang, while I also support whatever punishment the long arm of the law metes out to him, his case provides a big opportunity for discerning minds to examine closely the kinds of acts perpetuated by many Evans in our society.
Today, everybody is quick to berate Evans, calling him names and pontificating on what a heinous thing it is for a citizen to unleash mayhem on his fellow countrymen. The question is- how many Evans do we have in this country hiding under the protective arm of the law? How many of those who find themselves in positions of authority have decimated our collective patrimony and in the process impoverished fellow countrymen consigning the underclass to a life of peonage and penury? Let us for one moment assume the freedom to reconstruct the Evans narrative.
If after Evans collected a total of about $7m USD ransom from his victims, he went to his village, did a few physical projects and became a member of a popular party in his state; if realising that he was not qualified, he bought a university degree either here or abroad irrespective of whether he could string two correct sentences in English or not; if he inebriated the entire political class with stupendous display of cash and won his party’s primaries as a candidate for either the Senate or the House of Representatives; if he befuddled electoral officials, won the election proper and pronto, he became an honourable or distinguished lawmaker while his past remained impenetrable; if for any reason his past is exposed, he was promptly discharged and acquitted and a mammoth crowd would ride with him to his house to a raucous welcome and a lavish party. The refrain would be God has vindicated me.
Today, so many Evans strut the corridors of power and other public offices while being protected by the law. The real Evans, now in the custody of the Nigeria Police is no less guilty than political and civil service potentates who embezzle billions of public funds and transfer same to other climes for safe keeping. Where these funds cannot be transmitted abroad, they are buried in holes, wardrobes and sundry places where moth or the selective olfactory sensibilities of the EFCC will not be able to reach.
In his new status, the Evans in our reconstructed narrative would join his fellow countrymen in government who have distinguished themselves in lethargy, rascality and the domestication of economic ruin. Let posterity judge this matter between the captured Evans and the Evans who wield political power in the three arms of government. Indeed, these Evans are more dangerous than the scoundrel who has been paraded before the press!
Adiele wrote from Department of English, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos.