When the Ogun State Police arrested Joe Chinakwe after his neighbour reported him for naming his dog “Alhaji Buhari”, and for walking the same dog in their “Hausa dominated neighbourhood,” they did not try to mask why they took that line of action. According to media reports, they charged him to court because his “provocative” act could cause a breach of peace, and that was because “an average Northerner would feel bad over such a thing.” Underlining their motive is the reality of our socio-political environment. When law enforcement admits to arresting a man to preserve the feelings of his accusers who can launch gratuitous violence, they mean the evil we are dealing with surpasses their level of efficiency.
History has taught us that whenever the “average northerner” says he “feels bad over a thing”, the rest of us are supposed to hurriedly rearrange our manners. We are told to take heed of invisible limits that “infidels” are not permitted to cross. Alarmingly, a number of us have restricted ourselves to this emasculating avoidance of wrath. We have mapped out “no-go areas” of public discussion that we trespass at grievous risks to ourselves. We have seen the repercussions of trespassing these bounds and they are not pleasant. From Gideon Akaluka’s killings to the Reinhard Bonnke crusade violence, the Miss World riots, the Danish cartoons saga, and many other instances of unwarranted violence that have occurred, we have long realised we are dealing with a short-tempered evil spirit who demands a sacrifice of our collective dignity so he can let us live.