Requiescat In Pace (RIP), Brother Nigel

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This past Thursday was easily one of the saddest days in recent memory here in Antigua and Barbuda. It was the day in which we took time out to celebrate the beautiful life and legacy of our dearest Nigel Christian, before saying a tearful goodbye. We look forward to the day when we will be reunited with such a noble gentleman in the Great Beyond.

Alas! Who could be so heartless and cruel? And to what end? And for what price? Ah, our fallen brother’s shed blood cries out from the soil of New Winthorpes and Judges, where he reportedly took his last breath! It is not difficult to imagine the sheer terror that he must have experienced in those waning hours of his life. Neither is it hard to think of the shock and fright suffered by his dear mother, the gracious Condasy Peters-Solomon, as a gun was shoved in her face. Oh,  the foreboding and dread that she must have gone through as she watched him being taken away by hoodlums. We immediately think of the Biblical account of Mary, the mother of Jesus, her face streaked with tears, as her dying son cried out from the cross, “Woman, behold thy son!” [John 19:26 – 27]

No parent should ever have to bury a child, let alone under such dastardly circumstances. And we can imagine that as she gazed at the closed eyes of her handsome son – eyes closed forever, that she would have gladly taken his place. Such is a mother’s love. His was a life full of so much promise. He had so much to offer. There is a void in our hearts that will not be easily filled.

Antigua and Barbuda, look at what we have come to – four assassins, with impunity, and in broad daylight, accost a decent, law-abiding family in their place of abode and then execute their beloved son, Nigel, in cold blood. This ought to shake us to our core. It is for this reason that we here at NEWSCO join with the Concerned Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda who have mounted pickets and written letters to the authorities demanding that no stone be left unturned until his killers are brought to justice. We concur with Benjamin Franklin that, Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Folks, we cannot sit idly by as the authorities fiddle with this case. We must be outraged enough to get up and shout and do something – something about the many unsolved killings and attempted killings, or we will rue the day of our apathy, as did Martin Niemoller, a German minister who repented of his silence during the Nazi atrocities in Germany and Europe. May we never confess these awful words: “First they came for Troy Neyland Baptiste, and I did nothing because I was not Troy Baptiste. Then they came for Cornell Benjamin, and I did nothing because I was not a Customs officer. Then they came for Nigel Christian, and I uttered not a word, because I was not investigating an alleged Customs fraud, and I had no connection to the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA); ‘til they came for me, and there was no one left to stand up for me.” Remember Edmund Burke’s famous quote about how evil will prevail when good men do nothing. We ought not to forget the lessons of history.

It is said that Brother Nigel was as straight as an arrow; a man in whom there was no guile; not a smidgen of corruption. It was on account of his unimpeachable character that he was put on the ASYCUDA unit. It was on account of his unquestioned integrity that the Comptroller of Customs, Mr Raju Boddu, described him as “his eyes and ears.” With his assassination, good governance, and accountability has been dealt a mortal blow, and with the disrespectful and shocking absence of all the ranking members of government, with the notable exception of our Governor General Sir Rodney Williams, Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez, and Member of Parliament Asot Michael, Christian’s family was slapped yet another time in its face and his corpse was stabbed over and over by the distinguished and honourable absentees in a shameful and final act of perfidy.

Seems, MP Samantha Marshall was too busy making sure that the “Barbuda people MUST COMPLY. Apparently, MP Jonas was too busy worrying about Serpent, his formidable challenger in St George. Minister Melford Nicholas was also quite busy doing whatever the hell it is that he does.  Minister Weston was too busy looking about Minister Weston. MP Chet Greene was too busy worrying about his most worthy challenger, Dr Cleon Athill. The attorney general was too busy pondering the supposed reluctance of Scotland Yard to assist with the investigation unless certain assurances were given them. PM Browne was too busy doing all the thinking for all the other absentee ministers and giving them their opinion. Good grief!  It mattered not that the assault on Nigel was an assault on law enforcement, an assault on government, an assault on society. It mattered not that this was a most egregious assault on decency, on our senses and sensibilities, indeed our very humanity, officialdom could not be bothered. Folks, Maya Angelou once said “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Enough said, but let us never forgive or forget this monumental faux pas by those in high placesthosewho should have been the mourners and comforters in chief, and sadly, were conspicuous by their absence.

Thankfully, our former Prime Minster, Dr Winston Baldwin Spencer, never mind that he is grieving the loss of his dear mother, national treasure, Alexandrina Joyce Martin, was there to provide comfort and show empathy. As was the political leader of the United Progressive Party, Mr Harold Lovell.

As the body of our dear Brother Nigel was being led out of the cathedral, the rafters of the venerable edifice rang with the strains of the Nunc Dimittis, and there were silent tears and goosebumps all around. There really is nothing quite like hearing the Nunc Dimittis on the pipe organ at the cathedral. It wafts the soul heavenward. It is the hope of the ages, that when our time comes, we will be able to depart in peace. We certainly trust that Nigel will be able to Requiescat In Pace – sleep in the peace that eluded him in the final moments of his precious life. Again, we here at NEWSCO offer our heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family. We feel the pain!

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