AN 18-year-old man, Ayodeji Obadimeji, has allegedly confessed to beheading 14-year-old Joseph Makinde at Shapati town in Ibeju-Lekki Local Government Area of Lagos State. Obadimeji, said to be a friend of the victim’s elder brother, is also an apprentice at the welding workshop of Kayode Makinde, the father of the victim. It is rather surprising and unsettling that these ties counted for nothing as they did not sway Obadimeji from allegedly committing the gruesome murder. The motive for the heinous crime is even more bizarre: the suspect had allegedly committed the crime to raise fund for the naming ceremony of his newborn. The severed head, according to him, was to be sold for N200, 000. To think that Obadimeji killed a fellow teenager to celebrate the arrival and christening of his own baby! What a warped logic and callousness fuelled by selfishness.
Apparently, Obadimeji planned an elaborate naming ceremony and it would not matter if that would be brought to fruition at the expense of his neighbours who would be thrown into mourning, grief and excruciating pain. And indeed, Makinde’s family is currently in agony even if Obadimeji’s other ignoble objective has been punctuated consequent on his arrest by the police. So many horrible things are happening in the country virtually on a daily basis, the interpretations of which are really ominous. Evil and dastardly acts that were hitherto rarities have suddenly become commonplace. The society is literally breaking down, many are bereft of scruples; a lot have no moral restraint, while respect for the sanctity of human lives has declined remarkably. Very awful anti-social behaviours and morally reprehensible conduct have taken the centre stage among youths and adults alike. Indeed, the country, judging by the daily worrisome occurrences, is symptomatic of a society that has lost its bearings and all senses of value and humanity.
It is even more worrying that the observed spate of misconduct and the preponderance of outlaws in the country only captured reported cases. Many cases go unreported. For instance, if Makinde, the victim in the matter at issue was a truant and the police did not apprehend his killers, the incident would not have come to light. Yet there are many children like him who are in the urban streets whose parents do not know where they live, how they feed, what they do or what fate has befallen them. The point we are making is that the dangerous trend that is causing many discerning compatriots heartaches may indeed be more pervasive than what has been reported.
Several questions may be asked: what has the society become? How did the country get to this dire straits? For instance, why would any sane person kill to organise his son’s naming ceremony? And why did the father of the victim allow his 14-year-old son to run errands for his friend outside his house in the night? There can be no gainsaying the fact that things have really fallen apart in this society. To be sure, the recovery of time-tested societal values and humanity by many Nigerians will prove very crucial to turning things around for better. The value currently placed on such enviable traits as honesty, industry, integrity, diligence, compassion, patriotism and so on should be reviewed upwards. There should also be a re-think on the premium placed by the society on wealth and wealthy people without any regard for the source of the wealth. The society should revert to the era when questions were asked whenever a person’s lifestyle overstated his/her legitimate income. For instance, if Obadimeji had succeeded in hosting his relations and friends to a grand naming ceremony from the money realised from his murderous act, no one would have asked the 18-year-old apprentice where he got the money from.
Even the extant legal system places the burden of proof on accusers. Ordinarily, this ought to be the other way round, especially in cases of criminal or illegal acquisition of wealth. That is the kind of society that exists today but in the good old days, eyebrows would have been raised even by Obadimeji’s parents. Then, unlike now when wealthy criminals are honoured in palaces, mosques and churches, there was no incentive to earn income illegitimately or through criminal acts because perpetrators were stripped of honour and respect and even alienated by their own relations. A great deal of reorientation and moral rearmament will therefore be required at the family, traditional, religious and official levels in order to alter the observed lapses.
The country needs a resurgent society that embraces discipline, good morals and humanity and where material well-being, good as it is, will not solely constitute the definition of success. Meanwhile, the law should take its course in the current case. The gruesome incident of the beheading of Makinde must be painstakingly investigated so that Obadimeji and his accomplices, if any, are brought to book as speedily as possible.