Dread times, indeed!

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Uh, oh! Not another limb of the law brazenly assaulted! Say it ain’t so, Mr. Attorney General and Mr. Police Commissioner! Sadly, it was.  The shocking news that shattered our relative sense of safety broke at about 5:30 this past Friday evening. The word was that a dearly-beloved Customs officer, Nigel Christian, had been accosted at gunpoint in the sanctity of his family’s abode at McKinnons. His body was found shortly after in the Thibou’s Estate area near the village of New Winthorpes. Was this a simple coincidence? Was this dastardly crime in some way connected to the barefaced assault on Cornell Benjamin, another Customs officer who was shot in his yard by person or persons unknown? And if it be the latter, it begged the questions, “who” and “why?” Enquiring minds want to know.

Terrified Antiguans and Barbudans want to know. And aghast Customs officers, especially those who may have knowledge of alleged shenanigans at the port want to know. They cannot be sleeping easy at nights. They dare not venture out into their backyards without arming themselves. They must be fearful for their families’ safety. Remember, a gun was reportedly shoved in the face of Nigel Christian’s motherat the time of the kidnapping. This is not good! And of course, those officers who are actually a part of the team investigating the million-dollar hanky-panky at the port, must be living in mortal terror. Good grief! This is what we’ve come to here in this once-peaceful, idyllic State of ours! Help us, we beseech Thee, O Lord!

It is with this palpable sense of dread, that disgusted Antiguans and Barbudans will be picketing the offices of our Attorney General, the Honourable Steadroy Benjamin, this coming Tuesday to demand that outside investigative bodies like the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Scotland Yard or the Canadian Mounties, be brought in to get to the bottom of this cesspit of murder and mayhem. They have stressed that this is not a political rally, and they have determined that persons wearing political colours will be asked to leave. This is a clear and present danger that transcends political party affiliation, and these assaults on the very fabric of our society – the pillars of law and order, ought not to be used as a political football. We here at NEWSCO support that call that no effort be spared in bringing these murderous thugs to justice. 

Meanwhile, consider, if you will, the case of the yet unsolved murder of Ethlyn, Paul ‘King Obstinate’ Richards’ sister. We mention that case, because as it was then, so it is now.  If you recall, Obstinate made a plaintive plea to then-Commissioner of Police, Wright George, to act with dispatch in finding her killer or killers. Cried he, in that famous song, WHO KILL MEH SISTER: “King Obstinate is asking / Who kill meh sister Ethlyn / De murderer is still running around / And poor Ethlyn lying underground / Police Commissioner, tell me / What are you doing about this tragedy? / So much police in de place / Eatin’ drinkin’ fullin dey face / Government money is goin’ to waste / Murderers, dey can’t find a trace / It’s a sad situation for de whole population / Because police protection is for every Antiguan / Time to face reality / Ethlyn’s killers are now free / Such senseless brutality / Could have happened to you or me / Look, New York, London and Tokyo / Miami, Bonn and Chicago / They are large cities / And yet police can find man, bird, or beast.” Hmmmm!Wethinks the words are fitting for these dread times.

To date, nearly forty years later, that murder has not been solved. Neither the murder of Shera McNaught Thompson, or that of Father Ralph Brown, or a handful of others. Which means that there are wretched killers walking amongst us. Of course, those are old unsolved murders that have long gone cold, but recently, our Police Commissioner, Atlee Rodney, cited two fresh ones. We’re talking about his plea, about five days ago, for anyone with information as to who killed Troy Neyland ‘Monkey’ Baptiste of Bendals who was murdered in January of this year, and Dave Anthony who was shot multiple times in March. Clearly, our Commissioner has his hands full. And we wish him all the best in the investigations into those murders, as well as that of Nigel Christian, and the attempted murder of Cornell Benjamin. This is not Dodge City! And the citizenry is demanding that those fiends who perpetrated those dastardly deeds, be brought to swift and sure justice! Of course, if we see or saw something, or know something, we ought to say something.

Our Prime Minister, the Honourable Gaston Browne, has condemned the killing and offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators. The Comptroller of the Customs, Mr. Raju Boddu has also expressed his horror at this heinous crime on one of his own. The aforementioned Messrs Benjamin and Rodney have also pledged to leave no stone unturned in the search for those who dared attack all of Antigua and Barbuda with such gall. We are holding them to their word.

In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, one of the great literary classics of all time, a broke former law student, Rodion Raskolnikov, murders a pawnbroker, Aloyna, to whom he is indebted. He also murders her half-sister, Lizaveta. He thinks that he can get away with it because of his unquestioned brilliance. But his conscience bothers him, and he begins to wonder if there are folks who suspect him of the murders. He becomes paranoid. The burden of what he has done weighs on him. Eventually, he confesses his crimes to Sonya, a prostitute with whom he has become friendly, and later, he tells all to a policeman. In like manner, may the consciences of those who killed Nigel Christian, give them no rest, no peace. May they lie awake at nights wondering who knows about their heinous deed. May they hear the voices and the mournful wails of the heartbroken family. Especially the bewildered little children. May they wonder if one of their unsavoury cohorts will have a qualm of the conscience and approach the authorities with a full accounting of who hatched the plot to kill Nigel Christian, and why. May they bare their tormented souls to a spouse or a girlfriend or a boyfriend, as did Raskolnikov.

Antiguans and Barbudans are demanding justice for Nigel Christian! His shed blood cries out from the soil for justice! And may it be served, sooner rather than later. NEWSCO mourns with the grieving family and friends of Nigel’s, and we extend our deepest condolences. Our hearts have been torn asunder. We cannot believe it – it’s like the blood-drenched script from the GODFATHER or SCARFACE movies. Sadly, it is our grim and harsh reality in these dread times. But we will not relent!        We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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