By Okike Ezugwu
The first place I met Oyibo Chukwu, the assassinated candidate of Labor Party for the Enugu East Senatorial District, was in the Enugu state High Court. I was waiting for my matter to be called up, and Oyibo, a well-spoken senior lawyer, was cross-examining a witness. In the courtroom, he was not only armed with the knowledge of the law, he was incomparably entertaining and dramatic. Woe was your lot if Oyibo was the Counsel on the other side. He bullied both Bar and Bench and truly enjoyed his game; with a confident smile which hung over his charismatic face. He was that figure who left unforgettable impression. I did not again see him conduct trial. Now and then, I would knock into him within the court premises and lost no moment to greet him. Oyibo was a towering intellectual and lawyer. I would meet him again when he gave an informed and stirring lecture in a Pan-Igbo conference. It struck me, then, that the lawyer whose court room vibe and brilliance riveted my attention was not all wig and gown. Oyibo was a man of his time and country.
I woke up that terrible morning, like every other conscientious person, traumatised by the heart-shattering news of Oyibo’s immolation. Since this political season began, the rumor mill has been very busy. I first suspected it was fake news. I could not have stretched my credulity long enough to believe that a human being would consider a crime so cruel and senseless. And so inhuman and barbaric in execution. It was later confirmed that Oyibo, alongside his friends and allies, had been cold-bloodedly and gruesomely killed and charred in one of the ugliest murders now defacing the history of human memory.
Crestfallen. As a little boy, I had a weird habit of feeling vicarious guilt. Put in another way, I put myself in the shoes of murderers and other important sinners, and felt the oppressive weight of responsibility for their dark deeds. I pitied the man or men who planned Oyibo’s murder. It would be too much for the conscience of one man or even a group of men. If a man baits his trap with an elephant, our fathers reasoned, you would stretch your imagination in vain to guess the game he hopes to trap. The social philosopher was right: the criminal needs the society to save him from his crimes.
You should now, I suppose, know how I got emotionally involved with Oyibo Chukwu. And even if you dismiss metaphysics completely, it is settled science that we see our obsessions in dreams.
I slept, troubled by the return of mindless evil in my darling Enugu state. Oyibo appeared in my dream. He was a very immaculate-looking ghost and did not look like any object of pity. He was handsome and upbeat, that condescending smile, that smile —at the risk of contradiction—of inoffensive superiority, played on his face still—like it did the day I saw him put a Witness to the test. His appearance caused one to think of a martyr celestially crowned.
“Enugu people must avenge my blood,” he said and pushed the air. “It is necessary to ensure that nobody would again be killed in the future because of politics. They must vote out the political structure and clique that organised my killing. They must not dishonor my blood and struggle. They must not support bloodshed by casting even one vote for those that killed me,” he concluded.
He started moving backwards into neighboring clouds. I was clutching and desperately seeking audience with him. I don’t even know what I wanted to ask him. I struggled only futilely to utter a word. He was gradually carried off into the sky by a roomy block of snow-white cloud. As he neared inner heaven, he broke down and began to cry. I woke up and could not defend myself from tears.
Okike Ezugwu, a lawyer and writer, can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org