Boko Haram, plot to destabilise Jonathan – S/South leaders

By Jimitota Onoyume

Sout-South Delegate 2 (The Guardian)

PORT HARCOURT – ELDERS and leaders of the South-South region have condemned the activities of Boko Haram, describing it as an orchestrated plot by a tiny minority to make the country ungovernable under President Goodluck Jonathan.

South South Peoples Assembly, an umbrella body of people of the region, in a statement by Ambassador Mathew Mbu, Justice AdolphusKaribi-Whyte (rtd) and Dr. Kalada Iruenabere called on President Jonathan to fish out sponsors of the terrorist religious sect for prosecution.

They called Boko Haram a political tool in the hands of a small group it described as “power merchants and economic parasites,” seeking to achieve their earlier threat made during the struggle for Jonathan’s presidency to destabilise the nation.

The group said: “SSPA does not believe that the Boko Haram of today is the offshoot of the one crushed by the Yar’Adua administration. Rather, we are convinced that the name has become a metaphor for a more sophisticated struggle for political power. We daresay that it is a tool in the hands of those who threatened to make this country ungovernable and who lectured us on the inevitability of violent change in the heat of the struggle for the Jonathan presidency.

“Boko Haram cannot be pursuing a religious agenda. It should be obvious that exploding bombs in Abuja will do very little to advance the cause of its fanatical Islamic ideology.

“On the contrary, we are convinced that the group’s agenda, clearly that of its urbane sponsors, is to make the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan unworkable.”
Source: Vanguard, 29th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram: Fact-finding Panel Submits Interim Report

Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, SGF
Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, SGF

The  Presidential Fact-finding Committee set up to discuss the best way out of the security challenges posed by the Boko Haram Islamic sect in the north-eastern part of the country has submitted an interim report, three days behind the deadline.

 While submitting the report to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Thursday, the committee asked for a two-week extension to allow them time to put finishing touches to their findings.

Responding, Anyim granted the team an extended period of two weeks and noted that the details of the “interim report” would not be disclosed until the final report.

He commended the efforts of the committee and urged them to stick to the terms of reference, which include review of all issues of security challenges in the zone and proffer solutions/recommendations which would bring about a speedy resolution of the crisis; to serve as a liaison between the Federal Government and the State Government, where necessary.

 They are also to liaise with the National Security Adviser (NSA) to ensure that the security services discharge their respective assignments with optimal professionalism; consult with stakeholders from time to time for suggestions and to ascertain the true state of affairs; and consider any other initiatives that will serve to engender enduring peace and security in the area (Borno State/North-east).

 It would be recalled that the seven-man panel headed by Mr. Usman Galtimari was inaugurated on August 02, this year to create a forum for a pool of suggestions that would guide the federal government on whether to negotiate with Boko Haram or not.

The panel was given two weeks to submit its report. Galtimari, however requested that  they be allowed more time beyond the August 16, this year deadline and as well co-opt a few hands to ensure a comprehensive work in a final Report to Government.

He gave the assurance that if given enough time, the committee would get to the root of the problem, saying that the security challenge posed by Boko Haram was not insurmountable.

He also called on the members of the Islamic sect to embrace the peace efforts of the federal government and promised that their ‘genuine grievances’ wiould be given due considerations in their recommendations.

 “I assure them that all their genuine grievances will be addressed by the committee and appropriate recommendations made. The members of the sect are our children and grand children. They should appreciate the fact that the government is not against them and the society is not at war with them,” he said.
Source:  This Day, 19th August 2011.

 

Clerics Flay FG on Boko Haram

By Yinka Kolawole  and John Shiklam 

Catholic Bishops of Ibadan, Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo, Osogbo and Ilorin have decried the diplomatic approach the federal government was adopting in handling the issue of Boko Haram in the country, saying it was unacceptable to majority of Nigerians.
The clerics position came on a day the Chairman of Chanchangi Airlines, Alhaji Ahmadu Chanchangi, denied allegations that he was one of those sponsoring the activities of the group.

Rising from a one-day meeting held at Saint Augustine Regional Pastoral Institute, Ede, Osun State weekend, the clerics condemned the ‘diplomatic’ approach adopted on the issue, saying it was at the expense of Nigerians’ lives, peace and tranquility.
The clerics said: “Nigerians will benefit more from strengthening of rule of law, whereby security agencies will promptly bring criminals to book than negotiate with murderers and criminals. We have seen the government seeming to speak from both sides of the mouth on whether or not to negotiate with the Boko Haram.

“The unfortunate ascendancy of this group has once again exposed the dirty backside of the security set up and agencies in our country. The federal government’s approach to this issue has been decisive in some ways but inadequate in others. This issue of amnesty has also been raised by some eminent Nigerians. This so-called ‘diplomatic’ approach at the expense of Nigerians lives, peace and tranquility is unacceptable.”

Represented by  the Managing Director of Chachangi Airlines, Mr. Trevor Worthington, and the Executive Director (Operations), Alhaji Musa Chanchangi, the businessman said he: “Is not one of the sponsors of the activities of the sect and he has nothing to do with them.”

Wellington stated that: “Alhaji Ahmadu Chanchangi is preoccupied with his aviation business and philanthropic works in an effort to contribute towards the development of the country.”

The clerics, who also called for extensive debate on the proposed Islamic banking, faulted the pronouncement by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, on the issue, describing it as ‘governance by ambush’.
Source: This Day, 22nd August 2011.

 

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Obama Bars Boko Haram Backers, Others from U.S.

FROM LAOLU AKANDE, NEW YORK

UNITED States (U.S.) President Barack Obama is getting tough on human rights violations, atrocities and widespread

Barack Obama 1

violence around the world.

Nigerians and other nationalities identified by the American government as perpetrating these acts and   supporting atrocities including Boko Haram and religious violence would be denied entry into the U.S.

According to a recent White House  statement, Obama has signed an executive order suspending entry privileges to the U.S. by any alien “who planned, ordered, assisted, aided and abetted, committed or otherwise participated in, including through command responsibility, widespread or systematic violence against any civilian population.”

Specifically, a White House official yesterday clarified that the order would affect  Nigerians against the backdrop of recent Boko Haram violence and other atrocities that have already been and may be recorded in the country.

Answering questions from The Guardian whether this order has anything to do with Nigeria and the country’s encounter with Boko Haram and religious violence, Caitlin Hayden, Deputy Spokesperson of the National Security Council at the White House answered in the affirmative and said late Monday that “in answer to your questions, the President’s Executive Order applies globally.”

Hayden added that the presidential order also empowered the Secretary of State with the “responsibility for implementing the order, including identifying those persons to which it applies.”

According to the presidential order released early this month  - August 4 -President Obama determined that “that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict the international travel and to suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of certain persons who have engaged in the acts outlined in section 1 of this proclamation.”

The section lists violence against civilians, war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of human rights. Indeed the section says persons who even attempted or conspired to perpetrate any of these acts would also fall under the no-entry to the U.S. hammer of President Obama.

U.S. officials explained that while the presidential order should not be seen as targeting any specific individual or nation, recent acts of terrorism and widespread violence in the Arab world and rising terrorism and violence in Africa may have influenced the presidential declaration.

Late last month while meeting with four African heads of state from West Africa at the White House, Obama personally expressed concern at the troubling rise of terrorism  in Africa.

At the July 29 meeting with President Boni Yayi of Benin; President Alpha Conde of Guinea; President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger; and President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire, Obama noted that “we are partners in resolving conflicts peacefully and have worked effectively with ECOWAS and the African Union to resolve crises in the region.”

But he also pointed out an important concern, adding that the U.S. appreciated “very much the assistance that we’ve received on battling terrorism that currently is trying to gain a foothold inside of Africa.”

According to the order, the U.S. President proclaimed that “ the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of persons described in section 1 of this proclamation would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

U.S. sources say the order has already entered into force and both the U.S. Secretary of State and the Homeland Security Secretary will play important roles in its implementation globally.
Source: The Guardian, 24th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram has links with al-Qaeda, says US General

By Our Reporter

Commander of the United States military operations in Africa, Gen Carter Ham, yesterday said the Boko Haram group has links with al Quaeda and al Shabab –two established terror groups. 

Gen Carter Ham

Gen. Ham told The Associated Press that “multiple sources” indicate that Boko Haram made contacts with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates in northwest Africa, and with al-Shabab in Somalia

“I think it would be the most dangerous thing to happen not only to the Africans, but to us as well,” Carter said.

Ham said there is no specific intelligence suggesting the groups plan attacks against U.S. or Western interests in Nigeria, but the nation is a major supplier of crude oil to the U.S. and is an economic hub drawing foreigners from across the world.

Ham said it appears Boko Haram may be splitting with one section focused on domestic issues and another on violent international extremism.

Boko Haram has links with al-Qaeda, says US General

“What is most worrying at present is, at least in my view, a clearly stated intent by Boko Haram and by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb to coordinate and synchronize their efforts,” the general said. “I’m not so sure they’re able to do that just yet, but it’s clear to me they have the desire and intent to do that.”

Ham said “loose” partnership also would include al-Shabab. A suspected al-Shabab bombmaker now facing terrorism charges in New York was at one point detained by secret police in Nigeria. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, also known as AQIM, has issued statements in support of Boko Haram, and both use similar logos in communiques.

A recent video indicates that two men, a Briton and an Italian who were kidnapped in northwestern Nigeria, are being held by AQIM.

Ham met this week with Nigerian military and security officials during his first visit to the country as the head of the U.S. Africa Command, known as Africom and which is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Ham said the U.S. would be willing to share intelligence and offer training to Nigerian security forces.

“We have a lot of folks who are pretty good about taking multiple pieces of apparently disparate information and putting that in a way that can be useful to operational commanders in a very short period of time,” the general said.

That assistance also could be used if the country requests it, Ham said. 
Source: The Nation, 18th August 2011.

 

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U.S. army chief links Boko Haram to al-Qaeda, others

FROM MUYIWA ADEYEMI (ADO-EKITI) AND LILLIAN CHUKWU (ABUJA) (WITH AGENCY REPORT)

Catholic bishops oppose dialogue with group

THE fundamentalist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, whose continued violence has defied the nation’s security apparatus, may be operating with the support of al-Qaeda’s African branch and the al-Shabab terror group of Somalia.

The top United States (U.S.) Military Commander for Africa, Gen. Carter Ham, told the Associated Press (AP) yesterday after a visit to Nigeria that there were “multiple sources” that showed that Boko Haram wanted to co-ordinate its efforts with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Ham said there were also signs that the two terror groups wanted to form a “loose partnership” with al-Shabab.

Ham of the U.S. Africa Command said such a co-ordination “would be the most dangerous thing to happen not only to the Africans, but to us as well.”

A suspected al-Shabab bombmaker now facing terrorism charges in New York was at one point detained by security agents in Nigeria. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, also known as AQIM, has issued statements in support of Boko Haram, and both use similar logos in communiques.

A recent video indicates that two men, a Briton and an Italian, who were kidnapped in northwestern Nigeria, are being held by AQIM.

Ham met this week with Nigerian military and security officials during his first visit to the country as the head of the U.S. Africa Command, known as Africom and which has its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Ham said the U.S. would be willing to share intelligence and offer training to Nigerian security forces.

Also, Catholic Bishops under Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province have called on the Federal Government to be decisive in dealing with the Boko Haram sect just as they advised against granting amnesty to the religious sect members.

The clergymen also called for more dialogue on Islamic banking and criticised Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for not allowing a thorough dialogue before approving the bank.

The bishops, who rose from their meeting yesterday in Ede, Osun State, challenged the government to arrest and bring to book the perpetrators of the violence that have claimed hundreds of lives and property of Nigerians across the country.

While sympathising with families that have lost their loved ones to the killings and bombings of innocent lives in parts of the country by the Boko Haram sect members, the bishops called on the government to strengthen the rule of law and security apparatus in the country and bring the members of Boko Haram to book rather than negotiating with them as being canvassed by some individuals.

The statement added: “The Federal Government’s approach to this issue has been decisive in some ways but inadequate in others. We have seen the government seeming to speak from both sides of the mouth on whether or not to negotiate with the Boko Haram.

“The issue of amnesty has also been raised by some eminent Nigerians, the so-called ‘diplomatic’ approach at the expense of Nigerians’ lives, peace and tranquility is unacceptable.”      .

The bishops in the statement signed by Most Rev. Felix Alaba Job and Most Rev. Felix Ajakaiye, blamed Sanusi for the controversy the issue of Islamic banking is generating.       .

The statement added: “In a democracy, Nigerians should have been allowed to discuss such an important and sensitive issue before Malam Sanusi would make a pronouncement on it which sounded much like law.

“Reactions to the proposed introduction of Islamic banking have shown how divisive such an issue, important and useful though it may be, can be when it is not carefully presented.”

The Catholic clerics also asked the government to tackle the growing unemployment rate in the country, saying security of lives and property could not be assured where unemployment was not firmly dealt with.

While commending the last general elections and urging the government to build on them, the bishops appealed to the various election petition tribunals to treat all petitions before them speedily.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government has pledged to train citizens on emergency response to terror attacks.

Deputy Head, Israeli High Commission, George Deek, made the pledge yesterday in Abuja at a one-day partnership forum and media briefing organised by Global Medical Horizon and Plusfactor International on enhancing emergency response and ambulance services in Nigeria, using the Israeli model.

He listed terrorists’ activities as kidnapping, fire, politically- motivated violence, ethnic clashes and bomb blasts. “Terrorism is one of Nigeria’s biggest and most immediate challenges. It is not a secret that Israeli expertise can significantly assist Nigeria in countering terrorism. On behalf of my country, I present our readiness to expand our partnership in Nigeria,” he said.

In a paper titled: “The Israeli model of emergency response as a tool of counter-terrorism”, Deek listed Israeli expertise in emergency preparedness, given frequent encounter with terrorism-related emergencies, as public education, training, drills, awareness and willingness to take part in activities.

Others, according to him, are the authority (the issue of who is in charge), police, emergency medical services, healthcare workforce and co-operation between all arms of government.

He said part of the Israeli success in achieving a high level of public readiness was due to its long-term approach that invests heavily in creating a resilient public, especially in the effective engagement and mobilisation of the public in support of counter-terrorism policies.
Source: The Guardian, 18th August 2011.

 

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Nigeria: Boko Haram - Suicide Bomber Killed in Maiduguri
Dauda Mbaya And Achor Abimaje

A 25-year-old suicide bomber was yesterday shot dead by the police when he rammed the vehicle he was driving into the gate of the state police headquarters in Maiduguri, Borno State and headed straight for the main building in an attempt to bomb it.

Suicide bomber shot in Maiduguri (Daily Trust)

The suicide bomber was suspected to be a member of the Boko Haram sect in the state.

Confirming the incident to journalists during a press briefing at the state police headquarters, Maiduguri, the commissioner of police, Borno State Command, Mr. Simeon Midenda, said that sometime last week, his command received a threat text message, that the police cadet officers screening exercise slated for yesterday would be disrupted by a faceless group.

He said the development prompted him to beef up security around the police headquarters and other formations.

Narrating the incident, Midenda explained that at about 12:15pm, the suicide bomber crashed through the gate of the police headquarters in a Honda Accord saloon car with registration number AP 851 ABJ, and headed for the main building with the intention of detonating bombs close to his office.

However, before the bomber could carry out his plan, armed policemen on guard within the premises opened fire on him. He further said, "On reaching the vehicle, our men discovered that the boot was loaded with gas cylinders containing explosives connected with wires ready for detonation."

The commissioner said that the bomb disposal unit was promptly drafted to the scene, where, he claimed, they successfully incapacitated the improvised explosive devices (IED).

Our correspondent also gathered that items recovered from the car included six 13.6kg gas cylinders, each connected with wires; one air conditioner gas cylinder; two 25 litre jerry cans of fuel; one tin of Abro, five-litre volume and one Acid Orange drum of 28kg weight.

The CP said no written documents were recovered, saying that investigations had begun in earnest to unravel those behind the dastardly act.

He also called on the general public to continue to pray for the police so that God would touch the perpetrators of the continued bomb attacks to have a change of heart, so that peace, which had eluded the state, would be restored.

Recall that a suicide bomber, the first in the history of the country, had similarly crashed his way into the force headquarters in Abuja recently, where life and properties were lost, a development that led to criticism of the police by the general public.

Meanwhile, Bauchi State governor, Isa Yuguda, has said that the Boko Haram religious sect in the North is an offshoot of the Taliban, adding that only the present generation of Nigerians could tackle the problem.

Yuguda, who spoke during an interaction with journalists at the presidential wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, yesterday, said that the head of the Taliban was arrested some years back, while urging President Goodluck Jonathan to help in addressing the Boko Haram issue.

Meanwhile, riots erupted in parts of Plateau State yesterday, forcing the newly constituted state executive to call off a one-week retreat which was due to hold at Obudu Cattle Ranch, Cross River State. The development came just as no fewer than 15 persons lost their lives in the northern senatorial district of the state in a midnight attack.

Thousands of travellers remain stranded at the Maraba Jama'a area with the members of the Special Task Force (STF), who have been accused by the youths in Korot village, Foron district of Barkin Ladi local government area of providing cover for their assailants.

Chairman of Barkin Ladi, Hon. Emmanuel Loman, who confirmed the attack could not say who the attackers were, just as he said some people were pointing accusing fingers at the STF.

The situation in Jos remained tense as people abandoned their duty posts to rush back home because of the heavy presence of STF men, who took over strategic points to guard against any further breakdown of law and order.

It would seem that all the five local governments of Plateau State's northern senatorial zone are under siege, as there has been a series of random attacks.

The Heipang attack on the home of Mr. Nnaji, an Igbo man, while watching the Nigeria-France tournament allegedly left seven members of his family dead.

An unsigned document, released by the STF spokesman, Capt. Charles Ekeocha, said the youths in Heipang, who demonstrated over the killings, demanded for the immediate withdrawal of troops, as they reportedly stoned STF vehicles and soldiers' residences, which they ransacked in the area.

The statement confirmed that in retaliation of the youths' attack on the soldiers, "one of the vigilantes with AK-47 rifle and 30 rounds of 7.62 (special) was shot. He died on the way to the hospital".

It added that, "To avoid more casualties, troops have been withdrawn to Maraban-Jama'a, Jos. However, the general area has been beefed up with troops of STF".

Mrs. Margaret Deme Dung, whose husband was allegedly shot in her presence, said those who killed her husband came in black attire and were escorted by soldiers.

She also claimed that when they knocked on their door, her husband, who was an official of First Bank and was in the village for the weekend, opened the door and was subsequently shot and killed, leaving her with five children to cater for.

The attackers were said to have gone to their next-door neighbours, where they reportedly shot dead two brothers, Samuel and Adamu Gwom. Their mother, Ngo Chang Gwom also told newsmen that some of them wore army uniforms, while others were in black attire.

Reacting to the development, the special adviser to the governor on media and publicity, Mr. Pam Ayuba said government was making frantic efforts to unravel those behind the killings, which he said were disheartening.

He said that Governor Jang was "really pained" over the sad incident, adding that a security meeting was underway and the outcome would be made known with time. He advised that people should give peace a chance, because government attaches importance to human life.

Meanwhile, the STF has arrested one Mr. Isaac Namua, Daddy Moses and Lawrence Dina in Angwan Rukuba in Jos, Plateau State, in connection with the killing and dumping of the corpse of Kamilu Yahaya, a commercial motorcyclist, into a river.

According to the STF, the suspects on arrest, confessed to the killing and were handed over to the police for investigation and prosecution.

Also, another bomb attack occurred yesterday in Tambuwal community, a 100km from Sokoto city, the hometown of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal. The police in the state said the command was on the top of the situation adding investigation was ongoing on the matter.
Source: Leadership, 16
th
August 2011.

 

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Boko Haram, threat to African peace – US
By Fidelis Soriwei

US Flag 2

The United States on Tuesday confirmed fears of a possible threat to the peace in Africa by the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, and volunteered to collaborate with the government in curbing the sect’s threat. 

 The US told the Minister of Defence in Abuja that Boko Haram had links with other extremists’ organisations outside the country.

The Commander of the US Africa Command, Gen. Carter Ham, said the Boko Haram menace in the North-Eastern part of the country was not just of serious concern to Nigeria but to the US and indeed the international community. 

Ham said, “We are very concerned about the linkages between Boko Haram and all other extremely organisations in Africa and other places and so we will find way to collaborate to address this.”

He did not mention the said fundamentalist bodies. 

Ham said the sect, founded in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, in 2002, posed many security challenges to the African continent.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the July 16, 2011 Nigeria Police Force Headquarters bombing in Abuja. The police in Borno also said they suspected that a suicide bomber shot dead in Maiduguri on Monday was a member of the sect.

The suspected bomber had driven a Honda car laden with explosives and attempted to force his way to on the premises of the police headquarters in the town at a time about 1,500 potential recruits were being tested.

The AFRICOM Commander who spoke during a courtesy call on the Minister of Defence, Alhaji Bello Mohammed, said that the US was interested in addressing the menace. 

He also said that the US, which was determined to strengthen the existing relationship between both countries, would aid the country’s efforts in Maritime security. 

He said that the US would also work with the country to curb the incidence of violence and to support the nation’s role in regional security. 

“The security challenges that Nigeria faces are exactly the same security challenges that the United State faces, so the purpose of my visit is to share our common view and to find ways that the armed forces of the United States and the Armed Forces of Nigeria can increase our cooperation and synchronisation to address our shared issues. 

“And it has been a very interesting opportunity to meet with the Minister of State for Defence as well as senior military and civilians leaders in Nigeria to exploit the possibilities of strengthening what is already a very good partnership,” he added 

The Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Olusola Obada, who represented Mohammed, commended the US for the donation of a ship ‘Thunder’ to the Nigeria Navy, which she said would soon arrive in the country. 

She commended the US for the support it had given to the Nigerian military in the area of peace operations under the United Nations and others. 

She also thanked the US for its support to the nation’s military in the fight against terrorism. 

Obada said that Nigeria was aware of the efforts of the US in the sustained fight against terrorism at the global level and was ready to give the necessary cooperation to it. 

She said that it was logical for the US and Nigeria to work together in the offensive against terrorism as both countries needed peace in their respective societies. 

She said, “I want to thank you most sincerely for the cooperation that you have given to the Nigeria military over the years and most especially in the area of peace-keeping operations to the UN and other area. 

“We appreciate also your cooperation for the security of the Gulf of Guinea and also the area of counter-terrorism to bring this to the lowest level and totally eradicate it in the African sub-region and not only Nigeria. 

“We can appreciate all the help you can give us and then of course training requirements, whatever you can do to train our people in counter-terrorism, intelligence analysis. 

“Nigeria is very grateful to your country for the past role and we are hopeful for a greater cooperation in the future being more or less the policeman of the world. 

“Nigeria appreciates this for the role you have been playing not only in the African sub-region but in the whole world and we look forward to greater cooperation. 

“We are hoping in the area of counter-terrorism. We will be able to work to bring this to zero level so that we can have peace. The most important thing we are looking for is peace; we want peace in our country Nigeria and they want peace in their country in America and we need to work together to ensure that this happens.
Source: Punch, 17th August 2011.

 

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Boko Haram In Many Of Us

ONE thing that really gets to people about the Boko Haram sect is the violence associated with its clamour for change, the way it understands change. Were it just a sect that defended its religious fervour peacefully, the opposition to its existence would have been mollified.

It is the streak of violence that has drawn parallels with the militant groups in the Niger Delta and the requests that similar measures be applied to stem the killings that have become a feature of North Eastern Nigeria in the past two years. The increased violence before the elections was wrongly judged as part of the political calculations. The violence has been sustained and daily acquires a different dimension.

Suggestions about how to contain Boko Haram’s violence have remained contentious.

However, a non governmental organisation, NGO, the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria, FEHN, thinks that the key to managing violence is education.

FEHN which played a major role in the training of more than 26,000 ex-militants in Obubra, Cross River State believes the programme in addition, has returned stability to the Niger Delta where oil and gas productions have resumed without the tensions usually associated with them when the militants held sway. Yet there is danger in handling these matters in isolation and that is why the introduction of non-violence training in schools is important.

“The government should introduce non-violence training in the schools to fight incidents of violence in the country. The violent culture in Nigeria is growing and it is very scary. Non-violence training should be inculcated in the curriculum of our schools. It can be a compulsory course for everybody passing through our schools,” it said

The challenge for the government is to simply be proactive. We cannot wait until violence breaks out before thinking of ways of handling it. We do not know what part of the country would be next. While it is at it, government also needs to deal with the social issues that fuel violence – poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment.

Another disturbing issue is illegal arms. From the experience of working with the former militants in Niger Delta, it was established that huge amounts of illegal arms are available to groups opposing government.

If access to illegal arms is not minimised, violence would continue. Boko Haram attacks indicate sophistication, maybe not in the types of arms availability to the group, but in the ability to improvise. Either way, it is dangerous.

The advantage that non-violence education has is that a change of the individual’s mind could mean that he would not use arms even if freely offered to him. Today’s growing army of dispirited youth would engage in violence unless governments address their plight through education and provision of resources to keep them human.
Source: Vanguard, 16th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram ‘ll destroy Jonathan if... –Akinola
From Moshood Adebayo, Abeokuta

Former Primate of the Anglican Church Nigeria, Jasper Peter Akinola yesterday warned that the Boko Haram may destroy the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan if concrete step was not taken to stem the violence which the Islamist group masterminds.

The cleric lamented that the Federal Government was handling the issue with kid gloves, just as he stated that the single term tenure as being proposed by the federal executive should not be a priority.
Akinola, who spoke in Abeokuta insisted that what matters most was the re-orientation of the minds of Nigerian politicians.

“It is unfortunate that the government is not strong enough to deal with these evil people and if you fail to deal with evil, evil will overwhelm you.” Akinola expressed fears that if President Goodluck Jonathan failed to deal with the situation, “this same evil will destroy his government.”
He described the investigative panel set up by the government to handle the Boko Haram issue as useless and exercise in futility and queried what they were to investigate.

Akinola, who alleged that some “godfathers” were behind the Boko Haram sect also urged the government to fish them out for the appropriate sanction.
According to him, granting the Boko Haram members amnesty was not only hypocritical but also unrealistic.
“It is unfortunate that those promoting it (amnesty) have failed to realize that this “sect has taken Nigerians hostage and all that we can do is to pamper them.”

He called on Nigerians not to see the activities of the Boko Haram sect in isolation, insisting that their aim is to “Islamise” Nigeria. “They (Boko Haram) believe our financial, education and political system is wrong so they should be “islamised.”
On the single term issue, he said: “If the motive behind the single term tenure is to give every section in Nigeria the chance to rule, then Nigeria is not going anywhere. What we should look for is the best candidate, it doesn’t matter whether he comes from Zamfara or Ogbomoso.”

“The problem of this country is not our constitution but the operators so it doesn’t matter whether it is single term, two terms, three terms or five terms. It is the minds of the politicians that needs to be converted”.
The Primate who also commented on the zoning system described it as a myopic idea which might have worked in the “18 century”, added: “Good governance is all that Nigerians want so we must concern ourselves with who is disciplined, honest, diligent and intelligent to move Nigeria forward, no matter where the person comes from”.
He charged church leaders to be courageous to speak against evils in the society instead of fraternizing with politicians who have questionable character.

“My advice to them is to choose to be on the side of God. If they do so, they will not be on the pay roll of the governments and they will not take handouts from the government.
Akinola warned that if the government did not take immediate steps to address the worsening living standard of the people, the end result might not be pleasant, “Because the revolution that we don’t want might happen”.
Source: The Guardian, 16th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram: Suicide Bomber Shot in Maiduguri

Written by Yahaya Ibrahim, Maiduguri

Suicide bomber shot in Maiduguri (Daily Trust)

The spirited attempt by a young man suspected to be a member of the Boko Haram sect to blow up the Borno State Police Command headquarters in Maiduguri was thwarted yesterday when police guards managed to shoot the man before he could explode the bomb-laden vehicle Daily Trust gathered that the suspected suicide bomber, estimated to be in his mid-twenties, crashed his ash-coloured Honda Accord car into the gates of the police command headquarters at 12.15pm. In the process, he knocked down several policemen at the gate. But armed police guards recovered quickly and opened fire. The driver was hit; he lost control of his vehicle and crashed it into a tree right in front of the command’s main building. 

At the time of the attack, some 1500 young men who have applied for enlistment as police cadet inspectors were undergoing a screening exercise at the police training school adjacent to the police command headquarters.

Borno State police commissioner Simeon Midenda, who briefed newsmen, said a suspected bomber forced himself into the command headquarters at 12.30pm with a Honda accord saloon car, knocking down policemen at the gate before heading towards the main building of the command.

He said when his men opened fire, the suspected suicide bomber slumped on the steering wheel inside the car. CP Midenda said when his men approached the vehicle, they found that it was loaded with gas cylinders connected together by wires.

He also said, “The Police Bomb Disposal squad was promptly drafted in. The squad successfully defused the Improvised Explosive Device.” He said they had early last week received a threat message from a faceless group that promised to disrupt the cadet officers’ screening exercise which commenced yesterday. He also said the threat led to the beefing up of security around all police formations in the state.

CP Midenda recalled that when he resumed as police commissioner in the state some weeks ago, he called on the people to pray for peace in the state, saying it was the people’s prayer that prevented the disaster. He urged all groups in the state to shun violence and address their grievances through peaceful means saying, “The police is not at war with anybody or group but if you take the fight to us as we have witnessed today, we shall address it appropriately.”

At the scene of the incident our reporter saw the ash-coloured car with registration number AP 851 ABJ, together with the lifeless body of the suspected bomber. Also at the scene were six 13 kg cylinders, one air-conditioner gas cylinder, two 25 litre jerry cans of fuel, one 5-litre tin can of ABRO can and one orange-coloured barrel of acid.

Yesterday’s episode in Maiduguri would have been the second suicide bombing of a police command in the country, following the bombing in June of Force Headquarters in Abuja by a suspected suicide bomber. Seven people died in that attack, according to official figures. The Boko Haram sect later claimed responsibility for the attack.
Source: Daily Trust, 16
th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram’s plan has failed, says minister

By Gbenga Omokhunu

The Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, has said the plan of the Boko Haram sect was to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Goodluck Jonathan. 

Boko Haram Bomb under rail track

He noted that some people have been making efforts to undermine the victory of Dr Jonathan in the April presidential election.

The minister said such plans have failed.

Moro spoke in Abuja when he received members of the David Mark Senatorial Campaign Organisation in his office.

He said internal security machinery had been placed on alert to contain the situation.

The minister emphasised that the era of “government-can-do-it-alone”on the issue of security was over, urging Nigerians to believe in making the system work.

He said: “As you are aware, I have been placed in the Ministry of Interior at this time that Nigeria faces a lot of security challenges. There is no doubt that the activities of sects, the activities of religious bigots, activities of unwanted elements have translated in recent time to activities that seek to make Nigeria ungovernable.

“Yet, as you are aware, all hands are on deck and all internal security machinery has been placed on red alert to contain the situation. I am happy to inform you that despite the challenges that are ahead, Nigerian security agencies are on top of the situation.

“Efforts have been made to ensure that the victory at the polls of President Jonathan is not undermined by people who are not satisfied with the results and the victory. Today, Nigeria is at the threshold of transforming from a country of unbelievers to a country of people who believe that things will work in the system.

“Mr President expects some level of passion for the reformation of this country and, today, all activities of government are geared towards ensuring the total transformation of this country. Nigerians can start believing now that the system can work again. I want to assure you that with the passion, commitment and determination of the Federal Government that in the next couple of years Nigeria will be gradually limping into the realisation of our Vision 20:2020. 

“I want to invite all of you to share the challenges of nation-building, to share in the challenge of ensuring security in this country. As you are all aware, security is a shared responsibility.
Source: Business Day, 15th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram: FG deports 3,185 foreigners

BY Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief & VICTORIA OJEME
ABUJA — In the wake of concerns over collaboration between the Boko Haram sect and foreign Islamic insurgents, the Federal Government has deported 3,185 foreigners.

Public Relations Officer of Nigerian Immigration Service, Mr Joachim Olumba, who disclosed this to Vanguard, weekend, said the foreign nationals were deported after rigorous and enhanced screening at the nation’s legal entry points, noting that the deportees included those whose presence in Nigeria was found to be inimical to national security.

He said 31 Somalis and 382 Sudanese had been screened and had been established to be legal residents in Nigeria and legally engaged in the country as well.

Meanwhile, the eight ex-militants who were ordered repatriated from Sri Lanka by the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chief Executive of the Amnesty Pogramme, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, for indiscipline would be handed over to the State Security Service when they returned home this week.

The Amnesty Office said in a statement by the Head of Media and Communications, Mr. Henry Ugbolue, that Kuku had to take a firm action against indiscipline among the ex-militants to ensure objectives of the amnesty programmes were achieved.

The ex-militants were expelled from a vocational training centre in Sri Lanka for offences ranging from fighting to wilful destruction of training equipment.

The statement read in part:

“The six trainees were expelled from a vocational training centre in Sri Lanka for offences ranging from fighting to wilful destruction of training equipment.

“The Six trainees who travelled out to Topher Zhang Maritime Vocational Centre Sri Lanka just a month ago to commence vocational training in either undersea welding or boat building are due back in the country this week and shall be immediately handed over to the Department of State Services (SSS) for proper profiling and possible prosecution.

“Further, Hon. Kuku has instructed the Accounts Department of the Amnesty Office to stop forthwith the remittances of monthly stipends to the accounts of the affected trainees. The Federal Government will no longer condone serial cases of indiscipline among Amnesty Programme’s trainees posted to vocational or skills acquisition centres both within the country and abroad. Indeed Hon. Kuku says the Amnesty Office is considering outright expulsion of unruly trainees from the Programme”.

The list of the indicted trainees were: Chinese Igoli, Weri Kingdom, Ekankumor Ogosi, Prince Jonathan Omie, Brinimugha Orunisiede, Elvis Oto, Agbabo Suama, Sinclear Thursday.
Source: Vanguard, 15th August 2011.

 

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Boko Haram: Morning yet on the road to Sudan

The sudden emergence of the Muslim militant sect with its earliest base in Borno State within the past two years had gradually assumed the ferocious dimensions of an Aqaeda group whose pattern of killings and bombings is beginning to be a thorn in the flesh of security agencies in Nigeria.

It started as an innocent revolt against Western education and all it represents, the seeming secularity of its democratic forms of government based on the rule of law and democratic best practices modelled after Western countries, including the US and Britain. Boko Haram appears to be hinged on the hard core Sharia inspired laws and allied Koranic injunctions.

It has patently called a Jihad to forcibly enthrone Sharia laws in at least 12 states of Northern Nigeria, and currently it seems to have some presence in Borno,Bauchi,Adamawa,Katsina, Yobe and Zamfara states where it is sporadically painting cities and country sides red with the innocent blood of Nigerians- irrespective of religious persuasions- Christians and Muslims alike.

Their activities came to an agonising bold relief when one of its adherent boldly breached security of the Inspector General of Police convoy and succeeded in detonating a bomb at the visitors car park of the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, Abuja. The explosion claimed the lives of more than eight persons lost their lives, while over 70 cars were burnt to ashes. In fact, it literally shook the seven-storey force headquarters building down to its foundation. The IG, Afiz Ringim, we were told, who was the target narrowly escaped being burnt to ashes.

The IGP, we later heard, had boasted in a fit of anger to impress or please his employer, Mr. President, to smoke out the Boko Haram sect within weeks. But ironically, he escaped with the skin of his teeth from being smoked and bombed out of existence in a Boko Haram, Alqaeda- style bombings. This serious security breach within the precints of the Three ArmsZone in Abuja, where the legislative buildings, the nation’s seat of power, Aso Rock Villa and the Supreme Court building are huddled together prompted a presidential visit to the scene of destruction where President Goodluck Jonathan told the IGP: “You are not alone in this Boko Haram bombing, I too I’m a target. Don’t lose hope but rise up to the occasion, get cracking”.

To the casual observer, Mr. President’s seeming cavalier attitude to the horrific incident smacked of what many critics may ascribe to his typical lackluster response to an internal security issue that touched on the nerve-centre of the nation.

Many observers, and even newspaper columnists, believe Mr. President should show greater teeth and perhaps bite deeper than what comes across as a President who does not know how to use power. Many think that unlike his military predecessors in office, the Obasanjos, Babangidas and the late maximum ruler in Gen. Sani Abacha, he has so far failed toapply the dynamics of power.

We may recall OBJ’s exploits in Zaki Biam, Odi and Abacha’s handling of the Ogoni saga which led to the death of the poet, playwright and environmentalist Kenule Saro Wiwa, through the hangman’s rope. This came on the heels of the Ogoni-Nine and Ogoni-13 tragedies in Rivers State.

These were dark chapters in the nation’s history under jackboots of military dictatorships.

It has been a baptism of fire for Jonathan, a new breed President whose mantra of rule of law does not necessarily permit arbitrary deployment of troops on an all out war against the citizens he has sworn on oath to protect and whovoted for him as a national consensus presidential candidate.

He would not dare. Not because he lacks the courage so to do. We must also remember that as a product of the militancy revolt from the Niger Delta, brewed and bred in the brackish waters of the oil polluted terrains, he would not resort to the popular AK 47 rifles rampant in the mangrove swamps and made popular by hairy- chested Egbesu freedom fighters. When the push comes to a shove, Mr. President would not be found wanting, and would definitely hold his grounds against any charging Boko Haram sect members.

Nigerians should not mistake his ready made toothpaste smile for weakness; because beneath those easy-going handshakes and gentle mien and civilized good breeding and education, lies the tough and granite heart of a lion in sheep’s clothing.

Ordinarily, one would have recommended the Barak Obama’s seemingly bestial side when he literally took out Osama Bin Laden, the former king of Alqaeda, in his one million dollar rented hideout inside Abbotabad in Pakistan with the special squad of US Navy Seals and silenced him for ever after throwing his carcass into the Arabian seas.

Boko Haram is, to most Nigerians, a bunch of rag-tag unintelligent freaks and miscreants, who are carried away by the avoidable aftermath of the last presidential elections which led to the unleashing of violence by a similar band of street urchins who killed and maimed many innocent people in some cities in the Northern parts of Nigeria. They left in their wake burnt houses, cars and charred bodies of victims.

Poverty and unemployment of youths had been blamed for the virus of ‘Boko Haramic’ tendencies in the North, where the hydra-headed dragon, is rearing its ugly head.

Many Nigerians believe and perhaps, rightly so , that if the menacing spread of Boko Haram virus is not checked early in the day as their preachings of hatred and anti- Christian messages, might culminate in a religious war between Christianity and ‘Muslimity’.
Mr  Willy Bozimo, a veteran journalist, wrote from Asaba.
Source: Vanguard, 15
th
August 2011.

 

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How to contain the Boko Haram menace, by Navy Capt Ogbonna
Navy Captain Jerry Ogbonna (retd.)was the Senatorial candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) for Abia-South during the l

Capt Ogbonna

ast general elections . In this interview with Daily Sun in Abuja, he questioned the methods so far adopted by the government in warding off the Boko Haram crisis. 

He also argued that Government of National Unity (GNU) an idea President Goodluck Jonathan tinkered with, is a distraction to the sustenance of strong democratic culture in the country. Walter Ukaegbu brings the excerpts.

The Boko Haram saga
As far as I am concerned, the Boko Haram issue is a mere  storm in a tea cup because people believe that this Boko Haram issue is going to cause the disintegration of Nigeria. If you look back, you will remember the Maitasine issue. That too was a sect we also had in this country, and General Buhari and Babangida were able to peep into that and that was the end of that issue.
 

So, I think Boko Haram, is a fall- out of the agitation of those Northern states that advocated for Sharia. We thought that the Boko Haram people, because they say they don’t want western education, were really illiterates but we can see that they are not illiterates. It is an ideological war that they are fighting and l think it will come to an end as soon as the security services are able to apply themselves to it and from our own knowledge, they are applying themselves to it. 

Creating traffic jam and stopping people from moving and going about their duties is not a way to fight terrorism. I think terrorism is better fought by state security services being empowered to do their job. Following the bombing in the United States, which has been going on since the 9/11 attacks, the terrorists have been making efforts but they have always been caught by the security services.
 
lt is not work for the army, neither is it the work of the navy nor the airforce because they are not equipped to fight such wars.

I think it’s a war for the SSS (State Security Service). The SSS would do better fighting this war and be able to get those boys who are involved. In fact, this war should be fought without the citizens knowing about it, especially in a democracy like ours. This war should be fought without any reference to the innocent civilians, who are going about doing their duties. But now that the army has made itself known, how do you think they will capture these boys by being on the streets in the traffic, preventing people from coming to work. 


That doesn’t solve the war. There have been so many attempts, right after the bombings in U.S. Nobody gets to know about them because the people are always arrested promptly by the security services. Now, l think that it is time for the National Security Adviser (NSA) to go back to the drawing board and find solution to this.

Measures used during the Maitasine menace
Of course, if you also remember the Maitasine issue, the way the government took care of that was never noticed by me you and. Despite the fact it was a military regime, nobody really knew how they were taken care of. The military intelligence people were the ones that suppressed the Maitasine uprising instead of using the ordinary soldier on the street. They never used anybody. You never really knew that the war was going on. In fact, government was able to bring down Maitasine, using purely intelligence, and that’s how they got them. I saw them, they all had marks on their body.
 

l am sure, if you  remember, none of us was disturbed on the streets or in traffic because they were looking for Maitasine. With proper intelligence they will combat it. So, making the fight now visible as the army is doing, is not the solution to it. I think that if the army intelligence work with the SSS, airforce and navy intelligence, they will have the capacity, to solve this problem, rather than making it so visible and disturbing people on the streets. The army has no reason to stop people on the streets because they are fighting Boko Haram. No. That is not a solution to it. That is my own opinion and I think it will be the view of other people, who understand what I am saying.

Sharia system in at least 12 states in the North
Some states in the North had decided to go for Sharia which was unconstitutional. They started implementing Sharia in their various states and the consequence of implementing Sharia is for purity.If you actually implement Sharia properly it is for purity but you should not steal peoples’ money under Sharia regime. If you want Sharia, then you have to apply Sharia properly. let us bring it down and do the Sharia properly.
 


You can not be doing Sharia and at the same time you are stealing money. You are not educating the people, you are not providing any thing for your people.  So these boys are asking for purity. If you want to apply Sharia, apply it properly since you asked for it. Boko Haram is a fallout or the   fulfilment of a  prophecy. Sharia is an Ideological issue within the community; who is afraid of Sharia? Sharia is also made in such a way that if you are a Christian and you live in a Sharia state, you are free to go through the normal legal system and the Sharia system and still live your life.
 

But what we are saying is,  this is the problem, we are not saying that Boko Haram is right in what they are doing. Nobody has the right to take the lives of other people because of their ideology. It is left for the people, it is left for the various states that have adopted the Sharia to practice it strictly. Look at children on the streets in the North, who have no future, the Almajiris, take care of them, don’t take their money. 


Do it based on how God said you should do it. They are not doing that. Some people take other people’s money, go to Dubai, Saudi Arabia, buy houses there, is it not their fellow men who made Saudi Arabia what it is? Is it not their fellow Muslims who have made Dubai what it is? So, why would they carry their money and go to Dubai to buy houses while their own place is in total depletion and poverty.

Other causes of Boko Haram
We are living in a society where justice should prevail, we are living in a society where things should be done properly and that is what democracy is all about.Whether democracy is practised within the Muslim system or within the Christian system, within the western education or not, there should be justice. We must make sure that people are not unduly oppressed by keeping them hungry. You oppress people by taking their money; so, that is what is happening here.
 


Those boys, the Boko Haram people, are not illiterates. They have a lot of educated ones among them. They cannot get a job. Everything surrounding it is people’s personal aggrandisement. They take people’s money, belonging to the society, which they are supposed to use in addressing the poverty in the land, they take it to build houses in South Africa, in Dubai. So, this is the consequence of this act. There are so many other militia groups in the country that I know and am confident  that their actions cannot destroy this country, neither will it destroy the unity of this country. But the issue of justice, people must begin to look at how to address the issue of justice. You don’t elect people then after the election, you now back down and continue to what they were doing. 
 

This is happening in my village anyway. After this election, all the issues that they raised, has our Senator gone back to see what is happening in our Senatorial zone? It’s the same thing that is going to happen in the next four years. And that is the issue these young men are complaining of. There is  a growing generation of young Nigerians, who what to work for their country irrespective of religion, to move forward, to move ahead we are not applying that in solving the problem 

Jonathan and transformational agenda
My impression so far is that nothing has changed. Also, yes, we can all shout that the election was properly conducted. If the  elections were free and fair, we elected free and fair people, we cast our votes freely and fairly but the compilation was not free and fair. So, some people have been imposed on the system.  There is no way anybody can tell me that my state governor won the election. Ok, people use coercion, the military was even used to suppress our people, to bring them back into power, but there are no changes going on.  Nothing is happening.
 

Talking about the transformation for Jonathan, he said he can actually transform the nation, you must transform the minds of the people and that transformation of the mind must start from the point of policy making and implementation. How do you transform a society? How do you transform Nigeria. For example, the poverty alleviation programme linked to Keke NAPEP, it was like in NAPEP or is it Keke Nigeria as I viewed it 15 years ago, had manufactured its own equivalent version of that vehicle, But N4 billion of our money was taken to India to a manufacturing outfit in India, and that is where   we went and imported these things. 


I can show you  the photographs so you could publish. They are   here. They went to India to buy the same vehicle for poverty alleviation. Wouldn’t it have been better to use N4 billion or may be, get and build a  small factory that produces that prototype, by Nigerian engineers, prototype, which is tested and is functional. Why could they not use that machine manufactured locally. That is the issue somebody; wanted to make money. They would make their money by importing it from India. 
Source: Sun, 15th August 2011.

 

Judges scared to try Boko Haram suspects — Investigations
By Our Correspondents
Facts have emerged that the Federal Government’s apparent unwillingness to put Boko Haram suspects on trial is as a result of apprehension among judges, SUNDAY PUNCH has gathered.

Security sources disclosed to our correspondents that efforts made to arraign some of the arrested suspects had failed following the refusal of judges to preside over their trials.

The judges fear that they and their families may become targets of attacks by members of the sect if they appear before their courts.

Over 200 members of the sect have been arrested in different parts of the country for offences ranging from planting of explosives, jail breaks, attack against security agents to disturbance of public peace.

One of the highly placed sources said the judges initially claimed that the suspects could not be prosecuted because Nigeria had no terrorism laws.

He said, “When we arrested the first batch of Boko Haram members last year, the judges openly told us that they could not accept the cases because we didn’t have terrorism laws.”

The source further said that even after President Goodluck Jonathan signed the anti-terrorism bill into law, the judiciary was still reluctant to handle such cases.

He added, “We thought the anti-terrorism law would make a way for the prosecution of the Boko Haram suspects but the judges did not budge after the passage of the bill. It was then we realised that they are all afraid.”

On June 6, 2011, the president signed the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 which establishes measures for the prevention, prohibition and combating of acts of terrorism and the financing of terrorism.

The reluctance of the judiciary to accept Boko Haram cases after the signing of the Terrorism Bill into law has been deduced as one of the reasons the FG set up a committee to negotiate with the sect.

On July 29, the FG announced the establishment of a Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North-East of the country. One of the committee’s terms of reference is to “initiate negotiations” with the Boko Haram. 

Recently, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, complained that the FG was giving preferential treatment to members of the Boko Haram.

The militant group expressed dissatisfaction and said the government was ‘displaying double standards” because the Boko Haram members arrested in connection with the recent bombing of the police headquarters in Abuja were not prosecuted. 

The Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, Mr. Ayo Nath-Emmanuel, however said it was not true that judges were afraid of the Boko Haram sect.

The CR who spoke to our correspondent in a telephone interview on Friday said, “I don’t think it’s true. The security agents should be able to prove it. Let them provide the charge sheets of the cases they brought to court that we rejected.

“I am not aware of any criminal matter that was brought before the Federal High Court and was turned down. It is not true. I even know of two Boko Haram cases before the court. No judge has the right to reject cases because he is afraid.”

The Force Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Shola Amore, told SUNDAY PUNCH that he could not make any statement on the Boko Haram cases because the Deputy Inspector-General in charge of the cases was not available. 

Amore said, “The DIG is not around. When he comes back, I will be able to tell you the situation of the Boko Haram cases.”

Meanwhile, security agencies have placed no less than 10 fundamentalist sects under watch in an effort to curtail the rise of terrorism in the Northern part of the country.

The move is to prevent more fundamentalist groups from joining the violent campaign launched by the Boko Haram fundamentalist sect.

Security sources told our correspondent that the public declaration by another sect, Akhwat Akwop, to avenge the killings of Christians in the North and unleash attacks on selected targets in cities with majority Muslim population confirmed fears that the Boko Haram was just one of the many groups that threatened the stability of the nation.

Shortly after the Akhwat Akwop made this pronouncement, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, warned terrorists and radical sects to leave Nigeria as there would be no hiding place for them henceforth.

The CDS said, “Terrorism is alien to Nigeria and government forces are ready to give the terrorists a big blow.”

Amore told SUNDAY PUNCH that the police were being proactive about the situation. He said, “Don’t forget that we have our intelligence that gathers information about the sects to forestall future danger. Apart from forestalling, we also have enough men on ground that are ready to respond to distress calls when called upon in any part of the country.” 

Some of the sects under scrutiny include the Shitte Movement, the Taliban, Jalawa, Hijrah, Darul Salam, Karangiya, and Kalo Kato.

ZARIA: Shitte Movement 

Est. membership: 2.5m

Though originally formed to be non-violent, the group led by Sheikh Ibrahim Yakub El-Zakzaky later became renowned for its confrontation with military juntas in the country in reality with its abhorrence to military and dictatorial civilian governments. It has about 2.5m adherents scattered nationwide, with a strong presence in the northern parts. They are more prominent in Zaria (its headquarters), Kaduna, Bauchi, Kano and Borno axis. 

MAIDUGURI: Taliban

Est. membership: 200,000

This sect is believed to have either melted or transformed into what is now known as the Boko Haram. It’s members spread across some major northern states and recruits into this sect are mainly university undergraduates between the ages of 20 and 30. 

KANO: Jalawa

Est. membership: 50,000

This sect is said to be opposed to most of the concepts in the teachings of Islam. Formed as a non-violent group, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that as a result of the intense pressure and hatred towards them, the group later embraced violence as a defensive mechanism.

Their mode of operation, our correspondent gathered, was to push their women and children forward to carry out deadly attacks. 

YOBE: Hijrah

Est. membership: 100,000

This sect has its roots in Yobe State, but has spread as far as Maiduguri, Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states. It is a collection of Islamic fundamentalists whose main belief is that Armageddon (end time) is near. 

NIGER: Darul Salam

Est. membership: 3,000

This sect was based in Mokwa, Niger State before its members were sacked from their settlement sometime in late 2009. Though the group has not exhibited any trace of violence, the fact that they live in isolation has raised fears in the communities where they reside.

Akhwat Akwop

Est. membership: Unknown 

The group came into the consciousness of Nigerians a month ago after it threatened to avenge the death of Christians in the North who were at the receiving end of the Boko Haram. 

KANO: Karangiya

Est. membership: 2,000

The members of this sect are said to be followers of Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky. They are however a splinter group that do not practise Shiiteism, as done by El Zakzaky’s followers. The sect subscribes to Sunni doctrines. The originator of the splinter sect is the late Mallam Abubakar Technical. 

Kala Kato

Est. membership: Unknown 

This sect opposes the West and its culture. It also detests Islamic adherents who patronise products of the West. The spread of the group cuts across most parts of the North where they still exist till date and the faithful have continued to spread the ideals of their late founder and leader. 

Jamaatul Tajdildi Islam 

Est. membership: Unknown

This group was formerly known as Moslem Brothers. It was created far back in 1978 under the leadership of Sheikh Ibrahim Yakub El-Zakzaky.

It draws its membership from 18 northern states with the exception of Benue. The sect has no history of being antagonistic to anyone or religion.

Almajiri

Est. membership: 8m

With the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Northern Nigeria, especially since 1999, one group that has become a tool for perpetrating non-state terrorism and violence is the Almajiri (street urchins). Even though it cannot be described as a sect, security agents believe that the Almajiri systems possess a growing potential for terrorism.
Source: Punch, 14th August 2011.

 

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Dialogue with Boko Haram is an insult to the nation – Adeleye

Bishop Tunde Adeleye is the Bishop of Calabar, Anglican Communion. He has been a vocal voice on national issues, in this interview with Johnbosco Agbakwuru, he speaks on the recent proposal for introduction of Islamic banking, the menace of Boko Haram and other issues. Excerpt
The proposal for the introduction of Islamic banking or non interest banking has topped the front burner in the country, as a minister of God, what is your comment on this?

My comment is very simple. The present Governor or the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is somebody I admire a lot. I admire him for his intelligence and I think in my opinion he is a very intelligent man. For some of the things he is doing with banks of recent, I think he is a very considerate man too.

I think he is a well exposed man, that is my opinion and I also believe that he has some residual of banking knowledge which I believe can be beneficial to Nigerians. But the Islamic banking which he has just brought up is very offensive to Nigerians. It is an insult, it is basically an insult and I think it is also the consequence of the constipation arising from over feeding.

I don’t think he thought of it very well because in this country once something has a religious connotation no matter the content, it is against the constitution. I will give you an example, we have a school in Awka (Anambra State), a University, we applied to the Nigerian University Commission to call the school Saint Paul’s University and the Nigerian University Commission rejected our application because of the name saint.

They told us to go and change the name, remove saint, so today the University was approved as Paul’s University. So if they did that for us, why put Islamic banking whether it is non interest or free interest or the bank to go and collect money to do nothing.

As far as I am concern, it is insulting, it is offensive and inciting.

But if the Christians do not like the Islamic Bank, why not float their own non interest bank to help the masses?

For how long will that go, any time one religion does a thing, another religion will go and do a parallel thing is that how to run a country, for how long are we talking about? So if tomorrow they now set up Islamic tailoring international outfit, where you can sew your dresses free of charge or halfcost of how much it is sold in Ariaria market in Aba then Christian will go and set up Christian tailoring outfit a little less than that so is that how to run a country? That is creating a greater dichotomy and then to do that for the economy of the country, it is heating the nucleus power of the country, it is unfair.

The reason they are doing that is because Christians are quiet. Naturally, Christians do not quarrel, they do not fight, Christians don’t burn houses, Christians don’t run after anybody, Christians just watch and pray, that is why they do all these.

After the April general elections in the country, there is this insurgence of a religious sect known as Boko Haram which has been killing people and burning houses and property, now some people are calling on the Federal Government to dialogue with the sect, what is your comment on this.

To dialogue with Boko Haram is an insult. Does that mean that if I want government to talk to me , I should cause trouble, I can call it Adeleye mobilization power and then I will gather youths they just start causing trouble every where, then government will just call me for dialogue, it is another insult, so the dialogue is I have been thinking I do not know, may be I need somebody to educate me the dialogue is to achieve what, if somebody is waging a war with a country, is it one of the strategies of ceasing the war to dialogue with the people, I don’t know.

But the Federal Government dialogued with the Militants in the Niger Delta region

The people fighting there were reacting to what they saw as operation on them. They owned the land naturally but they cannot farm, they cannot drink the water, if you hit a stick on the ground three times fuel will come out, so the people said you have taken money from us and you have not given us anything back, they started rebelling so dialogue with them and to train their children which could not be done on the ground there, to my opinion it was a kind of appealing to them so that things can go on fine.

But this Boko Haram people, what did we take from them, did we carry their kolanut, what did you take from them, nothing. They are opposing western education; western education is not by force. If you don’t like western education, then don’t go to school, let those who want, go. So what are we dialoguing with them for, what did we take from them, what were they cheated for, that is where I have problem and I need somebody to educate me in case I am not well informed in this matter, what did we take from them and then the issue of the kidnappers in the South East if any body followed it very well, they dialogued with the people that were captured. Kidnapping is not a trade, it is not a profession, it is not a job, it is a criminal offence and bombing is a criminal offence.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s proposed one term six_year bill for political office holders, especially for the president and governors has continued to generate controversies. What would be your comment on this?

First, I will want to give a general reaction to it from there we can go to specifics. Nigeria is such a funny place that no matter what system you bring, once it lands on the soil of this country, it is going to get destroyed, and this is a very unfortunate situation with us. For example, the straight six_year term has its pros and cons, but those are not even my fears. My fear is that Nigerians, being Nigeria again, the pros will turn to cons and the cons will turn to cons.

However, the intention of President Jonathan, as he said, was to allow someone run for one term. If it is true that it is not going to include the President, then I will advocate that we should listen to him. We should examine what he is saying. We should try to listen to what he (President Jonathan) is saying as probably being a way out of the numerous national problems and political engineering in this country. People are very suspicious that he wants to include himself.

I have interacted with some members of the National Assembly and politicians, who are my friends, and they are very suspicious that President Jonathan if the National Assembly should accept and pass that proposal it will be backdated. So, nobody is actually considering the contents and advantages of having that bill, all the focus is that if this man wants to do it, we suspect that he wants to include himself_ that is where the problem is. But if you ask me, I will suggest that the nation should use this time to focus on national issues and problems and leave this tenure issue, for now. This is because there are more grievous problems on ground. As we speak, the organised Labour is not telling us that they have arrived. Labour is threatening, the governors are telling us that they cannot pay the N18, 000 per month; some have agreed to pay while others are still arguing.

The whole place is in shambles and then to add the issue of tenure readjustment at this time, in my opinion, it will confuse the political arena, which is already very well confused. We appreciate President Jonathan’s effort in trying to do the thing better, but this one may make it more complex. It can come later because it is an issue, but for now, let us clear the desk.
Source: Sun, 13th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram is a challenge for northern leaders – Seigha, President NDNF

BY DAPO AKINREFON

MR Manager Seigha is chairman of Niger Delta Nationalities Forum in Lagos State. In this interview with Vanguard he bares his mind on contemporary issues including the challenge from the Boko Haram sect and the proposal for a single term for the President and Governors. Excerpts:

THERE have been mixed reactions to the proposed six years single tenure for the President and governors. Most people are of the opinion that the president should focus on developmental projects instead of the proposal. What is your group’s position on the proposal?
Our group is aware that there are mixed reactions to it but we want Nigerians to know that it is the best proposal that has come from the presidency. Our group thinks the president has started very well.

The Niger Delta Nationalities in Lagos support it because previous elections have cost the nation huge sums of money and this has to be repeated every four years. Nigerians have lost trillions of naira as a result of conducting elections in the country.

We think what the president is trying to do, is to reduce the amount of money Nigerians will be losing every four years. The economy is the one at the receiving end. What the president has done is the best thing that can happen to Nigeria. We also believe that Nigerians who voted for him should stand by him and support him on this proposal.

We have always identified four groups of persons who are against this proposal. The first group comprises of those who lost out during previous elections and feel the proposal will not be good for them. The second group comprises those who feel that their contemporaries have spent two terms in office and thereby they will be shortchanged at the end of the day if the proposal scales through. The third are those who have not contested elections before, who have not borrowed to run for elections do not understand what the single term means. For them, they believe that the proposal should not be.

The fourth group ferociously against it comprises enemies of the president. These are people who never liked him while aspiring to become president. They are mobilizing their people to make sure that whatever comes from President Jonathan should not be accepted. We are urging Nigerians to come out and support this bill, they should appeal to their legislators to support this cause because it will be good for Nigeria at the long run.

Aside this proposal, what areas does your group think the president should focus on in the next four years?
For our group, the president comes from our geo-political zone and we are very worried that he is representing us. In the next four years, if the president fails to perform well, it will rub off on all of us and that is why we are agitated. What Nigerians want from the presidency is for him to tackle electricity. We think if he spends most of his time to fix the epileptic electricity, Nigerians will appreciate his administration.

Nigerians are not after who will occupy office for four or six years, they are looking for a president that will do their bidding and that is why we think fixing the electricity problem is one thing he can achieve.

We know that he has set the ministers to work; he has given them a standard and his only thinking is to provide good leadership. What we also want him to do is seek advice from foreign experts to tackle the electricity problem. If he does that, he would have done a great job.

What do you make of the president’s transformation agenda?
The president has garnered a lot of technocrats who have excelled in their chosen fields. However, there are three significant things we will want the president to focus on. We would want the federal government to withdraw itself from federal roads because every nook and cranny of this country belongs to everybody. If it were possible, the federal government should share all the federal roads in the country among all states of the federation.

Each state should tar the roads. Another significant thing we would want him to do is for him to make a mega city from each of the geo-political zones. That will be another landmark achievement for his administration.

Negative implication

The activities of the Boko Haram sect have raised issues of insecurity in the country. How can the federal government tackle this problem?

First of all, it is not our place to say Boko Haram should not be given amnesty, but giving amnesty to Boko Haram has its own negative implication. A negative implication in the sense that you are asking other self determination groups to demand for amnesty, that negative tendency should not be allowed.

Giving Boko Haram amnesty is not the best, but the generally known method of carrot and stick is adoptable.
Source: Vanguard, 12th August 2011.

 

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Boko Haram crisis requires holistic approach – Gambari

Abuja — Professor Ibrahim Gambari, UN Under Secretary-General, has advised the Federal Government to address the Boko Haram crisis with the same zeal deployed in its international peace-keeping operations.

Prof. Gambari said at a forum of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN,  in Abuja that the solution to the Boko Haram crisis required holistic approach and urged government to equally tackle the problem of unemployment.

The diplomat emphasised the need for government to address all sectarian crises in the country considering Nigeria’s status as an international peace-keeper.

“We are trying to bring peace to other parts of Africa but charity must begin at home. We must develop mechanism where we are able to address our own problems that are sometimes similar in nature to those of the problems outside that we try to address.”

Gambari stressed the need for Nigeria to urgently find a lasting solution to its internal security challenges considering its position as a candidate for a permanent seat of the UN Security Council.

He said:“It will be a hell of a shame that we are so good at helping others to find peace if we ourselves are not addressing issues at home that have the capacity of actually undermining our social cohesion, our unity particularly at a time when we are an aspirant for a permanent  member of the UN Security Council.”

Gambari expressed optimism, however, that Nigeria had the capacity to surmount the problems facing it based on its antecedent in dealing with similar volatile issues like the Niger Delta crisis and the Maitatsine crisis of 1980.

He called on government to get to the root cause of the Boko Haram problem and deplore the right mechanism to tackle it just like it did with the Niger Delta crisis and similar other crises of the past.

He stressed the need for government to urgently address the issue of unemployment, education, health and infrastructural development in the country.

He explained that investing in youth employment and infrastructural development would help the country to deal with its expanding population, which he noted might see Nigeria becoming the third most populous nation in the world by 2050.
Source: Vanguard, 7th August 2011.

 

Dousing the Boko Haram menace

President Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in as the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, this year. By now, one expects that he should have settled down to the serious business of governance. But, rather, the man is still grappling with only just one problem- the challenges of security. Especially that arising from the Boko Haram crisis.

Though the Boko Haram attacks had been on, even before the run-up to the last general elections, it intensified after, becoming more incessant and deadlier than ever. To many, this did not come as a surprise, only the magnitude. They interpret the new twist as the actualisation of the threat of some politicians who contested against Jonathan. They had threatened that they would make the country ungovernable should he stand for and win the election. One of them had specifically instructed his followers to lynch anybody who might stand in the way of his own success. The main grouse against the President was that he refused to respect the Peoples Democratic Party’s zoning arrangement. So, the perpetrators of the current insecurity in the land had long ago planned andarranged how to thoroughly harass President Jonathan and scare him off his pants, if he eventually mounted the saddle.

Though we have a myriad of other security challenges like armed robbery, mugging, cultism, kidnapping and political assassination, the Boko Haram wahala stands out because of the seeming facelessness of the perpetrators and the mystery surrounding their real agenda. “I doubt if we understand what Boko Haram is all about,” says the former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa.

The Chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, opined in the Guardian newspaper of Thursday, July 7, 2011 that Nigerians should first be convinced about the identity of those called Boko Haram. While many believe that it is a religious sect which frowns against Western educationsince Boko Haram translates to mean, “Western education is a sin”, Musa interjects that it is not. Rather, he asserts that: “It is a reaction to a negative state of the nation. We are not talking about Western Education. Western Education is just Education… and even Moslems recognise it”.

According to him, Moslems are not opposed to Western education or any form of education. “What they are opposed to is exploitative Western civilization and culture,” he added. Whatever Boko Haram may be, one fact sticks out: There are basically two distinct groups involved: Those who naively hold the belief that they are engaged in a jihad (holy war) and those exploiting the ignorance of the supposed jihadists. The latter is highly suspected to be largely made up of self-centred politicians who lost out in the last general elections. To resolve the Boko Haram brouhaha, many concerned citizens have volunteered divergent opinions.

Some are urging the Federal Government to adopt the amnesty option by inviting those who feel aggrieved to the roundtable, with the ultimate aim of pacifying such individuals. But others disagree and asked the government to pick up the stick and whip sense into the heads of the perpetrators instead. In a burst of anger, the former Director General of the Centre for Democratic Studies, Professor Omo Omoruyi had said: “Let there be a referendum and give them their own country”. But Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State prefers “a careful diagnosis” and warns about the “consequences of wrong conclusions”(Tell magazine, July 2011).

Many are of the opinion that the issue of Boko Haram could be tackled if government shows willingness and honesty. But this depends on varieties of steps: The Federal Government must first establish contact with the Boko Haram people in order to open up dialogue with them, especially the innocent ones being used by the mischievous politicians. There is need to locate their actual grievances in order to know what the group actually want. And as Governor Fashola advises: “If it is something that can be accommodated, then there is no reason for violence”. This is to win back their confidence and reintegrate them into the mainstream of the society. They should be made to realise that they will be better off on the side of the government than aligning themselves with disgruntled politicians who are only out to use them. As the cliché goes: “To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war”, any day. Meanwhile, individuals who are hiding under Boko Haram to foment trouble should be fished out and ruthlessly dealt with.

There is so much suffering in the land, the unemployment situation is alarming. Government should, therefore, make efforts to create jobs for the many unemployed youths roaming all about. If the quality of life amongst the masses is improved, it will be difficult for anybody to set them against the government.

Skill acquisition and training centres should be established for the youths in order to take them away from the streets, thereby making them useful to themselves and the society. More schools should also be built in order to reduce the level of illiteracy and ignorance. Borno and Bauchi states are hotbeds of Boko Haram largely because many of the youths are not in school. Hence, they are easily available for recruitment by evil politicians. For instance, the Nigeria’s Education Data Survey (2006-2010) conducted by the Federal Ministry of Education in conjunction with the National Population Commission revealed that states in the North West and the North East geo-political zones have the lowest literacy rate in Nigeria. The report stated that non-attendance is highest among states in these two zones-”72 percent of children between 6-16 years never attended schools in Borno State!” Also, Yobe State has 58 percent and Bauchi State 58 percent illiteracy.

According to the recommendation of the World Education Forum held in Dakar in 2000: “We must expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children … ensuring access to complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality”.

Mr godwin igharo is a staff of the Federal Ministry of Information and Communications.
Source: Vanguard, 7th August 2011.

 

Why we can’t negotiate with Boko Haram, by govt

FROM SAXONE AKAINE (KADUNA), EZEOCHA NZEH AND ABOSEDE MUSARI (ABUJA)

Northern CAN opposes talks with sect

EVEN as it set up a panel on security challenges in the North-East zone, the Federal Government yesterday restated its resolve not to engage members of the Boko Haram sect in any form of dialogue.

The Islamic sect has claimed responsibility for the series of violence and bombings in some northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

At the inauguration of the eight-man presidential committee on security challenges in the North-East zone, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, said the government could not negotiate with the sect because “it is a faceless organisation.”

Anyim told the panel members that their duty excludes negotiating with the group because “you don’t talk with whom you don’t know.”

But officials of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 northern states and the FCT, apparently relying on earlier reports, have faulted the alleged decision of President Goodluck Jonathan to raise a team comprising of Arewa leaders to dialogue with the Boko Haram.

The region’s CAN alleged that the same Arewa leaders that Jonathan had deployed for truce talks with the armed group were behind its activities.

The Secretary-General of northern CAN, Saidu Dogo, said in Kaduna yesterday, that the government committed a fundamental error by asking members of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Borno Elders Forum to engage the militant Islamic sect in dialogue on behalf of other Nigerians, saying that “it is an exercise in futility… because prominent northern leaders are behind the security challenges the nation now faces.”

Anyim, at the event, said the setting up of the committee was consequent upon the President’s meeting with Borno elders, who appealed to the government to adjust in the handling of security situation in the state.

He explained the meeting was called to interact with the elders and leadership of the ACF, where it was also agreed to create a forum that would give the elders and the general public a role in finding a lasting solution to the security situation in Borno and some parts of the North.

The SGF said: “The purpose of the committee is not to negotiate with the Boko Haram sect. This is because we cannot negotiate with whom we do not know. This is not a negotiating thing; the committee is only to among other terms of reference review all the issues of security challenges in the zone and proffer solutions or recommendations, which will bring a speedy resolution of the crisis.

“Negotiation may be after the report of the committee, if it is recommended that government should try to negotiate with the sect, then it may be considered.”

He also charged the panel, which has two weeks to submit its report to liaise with the National Security Adviser (NSA) to ensure that security agents discharge their assignments with optimal professionalism, as well as consult with other stakeholders regularly to ascertain the true state of affairs.

In his speech, the committee’s chairman, Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari, pledged that the members would work towards the realisation of the government’s aims and urged the sect to embrace the gesture. He stressed that the committee would work to guarantee all rights and privileges of the sect’s leaders and members if they come out to talk with the committee members.

He, however, asked for more time for the panel to submit its report, noting that the Ramadan period might pose a threat to its efforts of reaching out to all the stakeholders to the crisis.

Other members of the committee are Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, Senator Bala Mohammed (FCT Minister), Emeka Wogu (Labour Minister), Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed (Defence Minister), Col. Musa Shehu (rtd), Mr. Joe Kyari Gadzama and Abdullahi Shehu of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who will serve as the secretary.

In his criticism of the move, Dogo said: “Let me tell you, nobody will say they are Boko Haram and negotiate with the panel. So, it is an exercise in futility. It is a matter of fact. When America took on Afghanistan; initially they harboured fundamentalists who were bombing and killing people. The Americans never sat with anybody to negotiate with. They went there with the might of the army, subdued the Talibans and put a more trusted leader, and that is why Kazir is there in Afghanistan today. They put in place a strong security system in that country to neutralise the activities of terrorists.

“Those people had to leave Afghanistan and the Americans started training the natives to take over their own security and it is working. The Americans will never see any Al-Qaeda and suggest that let them sit with him in a dialogue. They pursued all the leaders and made sure they were eliminated. And ever since they took the war to dislodge this people, never again has Americans been attacked.”

Dogo argued that the strategy is that government doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, adding that since the Boko Haram has listed its demands, which are impossible to meet, especially adopting Shari’a in the whole Nigeria, “why then do you start something that will end in futility. It is not going to work because they have their beliefs. That as long as the Nigerian nation exists, Sharia must be practised and imbibed by everybody, which can never happen.”

Dogo asked:  “What is the government going to negotiate with the sect? Would the government ask them to forget their Islamic belief?  To me, I feel that this is an exercise in futility. The government should not have constituted the committee. First, they have the federal might, if they mean business, in less than one month, Al-Qaeda or Boko Haram can be uprooted from this country.”

The CAN scribe said the sect’s issue is different from that of the repentant Niger Delta militants, who were fighting “to control the resources in their land, the government can negotiate with such people.”

Dogo alleged that some well-placed persons in the North adopted Boko Haram to cause mayhem. He asked: “Where will these people (Boko Haram) get resources to buy explosives and chemicals and put them together to make bombs and start attacking innocent Nigerians? If the security apparatus we have in this country meant business they can fish out those responsible and stop their activities.”

He said CAN had earlier complained of the training of terrorist groups in Jigawa State sometime ago, “when some leaders of the terrorists had the audacity to be called ‘Commander from Niger,’ ‘Commander from Chad,’ ‘Commander from Cameroun’ and so on. We reported the issue to the authorities but they did not listen to us.

“In Zaria, there was a training camp and we complained about it. The Commissioner of Police then sent a signal to the Inspector-General of Police then to investigate what we said. There was nothing done on the issue. The immediate past Director-General of the State Security Services (SSS) confirmed what we were saying. You see, they know where the problems are but the authorities just look the other way.”

Dogo said most of the people causing problems in the North are not even Nigerians. “They are Chadians, Nigeriens, Mauritanians, Camerounians, among others who were brought here to terrorise our people.

“It is our leaders in the North that employed them and encouraged the crisis. Go to any local council in the North, including Kaduna North and Kaduna South, somebody who came from Niger Republic would be given indigeneship and certificates while somebody from the southern part of Kaduna or other parts of Nigeria who is not Hausa/Fulani will be denied, even if such a person is born in the North.”

Meanwhile, CAN Secretary in Jama’a Local Council of Kaduna State, Rev. Joe Yari, has faulted the comments of the state Police Commissioner, Ballah Nassarawa that the people of Southern Kaduna were not attacked by the armed Fulanis who invaded their villages.

Yari at a press conference in Kaduna yesterday said: “To make the matter more suspicious and unjust, it has come to our notice that the 15 people arrested have been released. The police boss in the state was being economical with the truth, and this is a bad omen for peace and stability in Kaduna State.”

The civil society in Nigeria has however urged the government to establish clear rules of engagement for the Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed in Maiduguri as a way of curbing the alleged extra-judicial killings, rape, destruction of property and intimidation of the civil populace.

While it admitted that the activities of Boko Haram had assumed economic, political, social and cultural dimensions, it insisted that the allegations against JTF should be investigated.

These were the suggestions from a round-table organised by The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) in Abuja. The recommendations were contained in a statement made available to The Guardian yesterday.
Source: The Guardian, 3rd August 2011.

 

Don’t negotiate with Boko Haram, FG warns committee

ISAAC AREGBESOLA, ABUJA

Anyim Pius Anyim, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) yesterday cautioned the newly inaugurated committee on how to find lasting solution to the Boko Haram crisis, not to engage in negotiation with the sect for now, because the committee was a fact finding team and not a negotiation team.

Anyim, who maintained that government could not negotiate with faceless people, said the assignment of the committee did not include negotiation but was limited to reviewing all the issues of security challenges in the zone and proffering solutions which would bring a speedy resolution to the crisis.

Anyim stressed that: “Negotiation does not come in at this stage, the purpose of your assignment at this time, does not include negotiation; negotiation does not come in because you don’t know the people you are going to negotiate with. But this is not saying that after your report, whatever you recommend to us, we will not implement.

So, I want to clarify that the purpose of this committee, as I said earlier, is to create a forum whereby everybody who has suggestion or opinion will be able to give it to the committee. The committee is to sensitise and advise us. I emphasise that the committee is a fact finding team and forms a forum to proffer solution to the crisis he stressed.

Anyim also said the duty of the committee was to serve as a liaison between the federal and state governments, where necessary, liase with the National Security Adviser, to ensure that the security services discharge their respective assignments with optimal professionalism, as well as to consult with stakeholders from time to time, for suggestions and to ascertain the true state of affairs and to consider any other initiative that will serve to engender enduring peace and security in the area.

Usman Gaji Galtimari, Chairman of the Committee, had in his remark, called on the leadership of the Boko Haram sect to embrace dialogue and that if they did so, all their rights and privileges would be granted.

There will be no harassment or molestation in any form. They are free to come out and speak to us and we, by the grace of the Almighty Allah, we shall come to a happy conclusion, Galtimari said.

He added: I would like to plead and call on the sect to embrace this dialogue process. I assure them that all their genuine grievances will be addressed by the committee and appropriate recommendations made. I want them to accept this peace process which would not only translate into peaceful co-existence of all  of us, but to enable them to freely come out and settle down to practise their religion and carry out other activities, like any other Nigerian.

The committee members include Bala Mohammed, FCT Minister, Bello Mohammed Minister of Defence, Musa Shehu, a retired colonel, Emeka Wogu, Labour Minister,  Joe Kyari Gadzama, Ali Ndume, and Abdulahi Shehu who is the secretary of the committee.
Source: Business Day, 2nd August 2011.

 

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Boko Haram is aimed at destabilizing Jonathan’s presidency – Mudiaga-Odje

DR Akpor Mudiaga-Odje is a human rights activist,   constitutional lawyer and facilitator of the Niger Delta Democratic Union, NDDU, a group formed on October 1 2001. In this interview, he spoke on Boko Haram attack, proposed introduction of Islamic banking, President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and other issues of national interest. Excerpts:

Bombing of the Police HQ 13

Immediately after the general elections, the Boko Haram sect has been unleashing terror on Nigerians particularly  Christians in the North. As a Nigerian, what is your reaction to these series of attacks?

Naturally nobody will be happy about the attacks going on in the country especially the ones from the Boko Haram sect. I believe that violence has never and will never lead to peace, rather the innocents are the victims of violence. We believe that government should try to arrest the situation, stand up to the fight, know what it is fighting and get its acts together. The security agents and every other person including each member of the community should be a stakeholder in this matter.

In fact, we had a conference, a well organized conference of the SSPN. In that lecture, former Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro delivered a lecture on security and it was made clear to us that in this country we do not have any trained personnel to fight terrorists. So we believe that they should be trained and retrained because it is a very big cankerworm.

What is your reaction to the approach of the Federal Government to the series of attacks in the North especially in Borno State?

The damage has been done. The next day it happens again they say they are on top of the situation. I think they have to be proactive now, by taking preemptive strides, computing data of people, premises. There has to be co-ordination among the security agencies. It is purely a security matter nothing more; so government should take it very seriously.

Don’t you see these attacks as  attempts by some cabal in this country to frustrate the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan?

Indeed, you cannot take that away. These things apparently started the moment results were announced especially through the BBC Hausa Service. That is why the president has to try his best to contain these because it is something that is on the ground to deflect him and we pray he will not be deflected.

Some Nigerians are calling for the extension of the amnesty programme to the Boko Haram sect; as a Niger Deltan what do you think of it?

I don’t know what their cause is. I believe the agitation of the people of the Niger Delta is a genuine agitation; for management and benefit from their God given resources. One is a just cause; I don’t know what the other is.

The people of the Niger Delta for over 50 years have given this nation its wealth, its development yet they still live in squalor, endemic poverty and in a state of arrested development. So the  agitations of the freedom fighters of the Niger Delta that culminated in the amnesty programme was genuine, legal, constitutional and internationally accepted because the United Nations said the right of the people to have permanent sovereignty over their natural resources is guaranteed. So our agitation is indeed just, but I don’t know about the other.

How do view allegations that the proposed  introduction of Islamic banking would turn the country into an Islamic nation?

The position of the CAN and PFN are not thoroughly and dispassionately looked into. They have genuine grievances and the points they have raised cannot be brushed aside by Mr. President. If the constitution has provided under section 10 that Nigeria shall not promote a state religion, then every other thing directly or indirectly or by implication contravenes it.

The issue is not whether they are operating in America, UK or in China, the issue is that, we should look at the constitution of those places where it is alleged to have been practiced or being practiced and juxtapose it with that of our peculiar circumstances. I believe it is that mutual suspicion  that made the constitution to say every man to your own tent, serve your God your own way, the state will not promote any form of religion. You could see that these things have religious undertones and it is not good for Nigeria. If something will cause discord, in the sake of national interest, we should leave it; that is what I feel. Whether it is done everywhere is not the issue and even the timing appears to be wrong.

So what do you think is the solution to the insecurity caused by the Boko Haram attacks?

Apparently, we have to talk to their scholars, talk to respected Moslem leaders, dialogue with them and I believe that will be the first point not necessarily going to attack them as well. They are killing innocent people. People are vulnerable, that is the point. People are just being killed for what they know nothing about, so government should, first of all, open up a channel of dialogue and negotiations with them; that is what I believe.

On the 30th you will be launching a book, ‘Niger Delta, Electoral Reform and Leadership’. What is this book all about and how is it  going to affect the electoral process of this country?

The book is actually in commemoration of several of my presentation, public lectures that I have discussed and in those lectures I accentuated the need for the people to benefit from their resources and it cuts across electoral reform, Niger Delta and the leadership question. We are looking at perspective of electoral reforms.  What are the ways and needs , how do we reform the electoral process to ensure transparency?

The 2011 elections, we cannot say they are 100 per cent perfect but indeed they were very commendable departure from the existing order. To that light, Prof. Attahiru Jega has proved that he is a hero of our time. He has given us a glimmer of hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  So what we ask Jonathan is to try to change Nigeria so that our children can live in peace.

You are at the forefront of the agitation for the development of the Niger Delta region. Do you see the problem of the region being addressed by President Jonathan?

I believe now that he has a full term of four years, having freed us from the emasculation of acting and pretending presidency syndrome to a full president, now by the grace of God, elected president. I believe it is time for him to look into the laws that regulate and touch on oil and Niger Delta. One thing I must tell Nigerians and my brothers in the Niger Delta is that the challenges and problems of Niger Delta are constitutional rather than political because of the laws of our land like the Land Use Act, the Petroleum Act, section 44 (3) of our Constitution, interpretation Act.

Section 18 of that Act has defined land as excluding mineral, so land is just the surface, you don’t own any mineral below. So if you have a South-South president, he cannot help you except he repeals those laws. The law of our land has restrained our agitations and made our challenges more difficult.

So I will ask Mr. President to please repeal and when necessary, pressurize for the respect and amendment of these laws, so that we can have enough time to manage our resources. Take note of the revenue allocation formula, since 1999 till date. What they are using is Act 106 which was a Military decree by Babangida but started by Obasanjo as an Act.

On a general note, how will you assess the administration of President  Jonathan?
It is too short to assess him. We had the danger of trying to disentangle ourselves from the protracted if not fabricated circumstances by which he came into office. We had problems trying to stabilize him. We even said let him act like an actor like a movie star, they refused so it was a long battle.
Source: Vanguard, 29th July 2011.

 

Boko Haram means terror

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THERE is no let-off to the mindless and  incessant attacks on innocent citizens by Boko Haram, a faceless group of blood-thirsty sadists marauding as new day Jihadists.

Distressing images of gory deaths, lost limbs, arms and eyes as well as wanton destruction of properties mostly churches in the North-Eastern part of the country, notably in Maiduguri, the Bornu State capital, is what Nigerians are being forced to endure. The sect has made incursions into Bauchi, Kaduna and Niger states. They are getting more daring by the day.

Last month’s attack on Force Headquarters, Abuja underline their potency and leaves no one in doubt that they are able to strike at any target in the country and it appears our security forces are hamstrung to deal with their menace.

Unsubstantiated claims that members of this notorious sect are enlisted among our security operatives, if true, must instil fear and sheer terror in us all. No one knows where or when the next bomb will go off. Effectively, Nigerians are being held hostage in their own country by their own people although foreign involvement in this terror campaign against Nigerians cannot be ruled out.

In the run-up to the last elections, large caches of arms capable of mass destruction believed to have been imported from Iran were seized at the ports. Did our security forces bother to establish if that was part of an orchestrated plan to what is presently being played out? Were those behind it identified and brought to book? This is Nigeria’s own war on terror.

Terrorism breeds fear, mass terror and insecurity which compel their targets to capitulate and succumb to unreasonable demands. Nigerians are watching with bated breath to see if the Federal Government will cower to terror or take a stand against an unholy blackmail.

Bombs and guns not bows and arrows, are the key weapons being used by Boko Haram to wage its war of terror on Nigerians. Bomb as a terror weapon entered the lexicon of Nigerians when it was first used, peace time, to brutally terminate the life of a defenceless Nigerian patriot and frontline journalist, Dele Giwa on October 19, 1986 during the regime of maverick military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida.

Dele Giwa’s gruesome murder via a parcel bomb was the defining moment that heralded the use of bomb as a terror weapon rather than the struggles of NADECO against the despotic regime of maximum ruler, Sani Abacha or the Niger Delta restiveness as erroneously posited by the impeached former governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa. He had claimed bombing started with NADECO and MEND.

In the confessions made by the Boko Haram bandits arrested with their leader Mohammed Yusuf in 2009, most of them cannot read or write, they cannot even read the Holy Quran which they purportedly want our secular country to adopt!

It is obvious these bands of itinerant dregs have some collaborators with bomb-making skills who are able topackage bombs, possibly as sponsors who understand terrorism as a modern political tactic. It is inconceivable that illiterates could gather bomb-making materials, assemble them as bombs and use it to maximum effect. Using them as couriers who deliver these deadly weapons, all their sponsors would have had to do is to indoctrinate the mumus, what a fool believes, he sees. Karl Marx once said that “religion is the opium of the people”.

The economic reality on ground is, to say the least, harsh. There is massive unemployment and poverty literally walks on four legs. Power remains an intractable problem, there is infrastructural decay and the cost of living is simply prohibitive.

Those in employment earn pittance compared to the ruling elites. While the NLC is struggling to secure N18,000 as the minimum wage for Nigerian workers, our lawmakers are pushing for the maximum increase in their salaries and allowances which already put salaries of lawmakers in the developed world in the shade! A fairer and more equitable distribution of our country’s wealth among our people is one sure way to prune the staggering gap between the elites and the common man. It is a panacea for peace, development and harmony.

But, it is dishonest to adduce these as the reasons for the nefarious activities of Boko Haram bandits as advanced by their apologists. Based on empirical study or cognisance fact, Boko Haram’s terror bears no semblance, direct or implied to either the Tunisian Intifada or the Egyptian Intifada. Both were intensive campaign of civil disobedience for meaningful change.

They were mainly non-violent, the violence recorded were by the security forces against demonstrators from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds. Consequently, the geriatric regimes of Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak were toppled by people’s collective action.

Whereas Boko Haram’s stated goal is to impose Sharia on everybody, Muslims, Christians, indigenous African faith believers and atheists in Nigeria, from the semi-arid Bornu to Lagos and from the Sokoto Caliphate to Eket! Boko Haram literally means “Western education is sin”. Their ridiculous slogans are “Education is prohibited”, “Western education is banned”.

Judging by their atrocities, Boko Haram means terror. Its members and sponsors are a mob of scoundrels. Eye-witness accounts claimed to have spotted some of them wearing jeans and T-shirts while bringing terror to bear on innocent people!

They are oblivious that these clothing are indices of Western pop-culture. Some of their field officers were also seen wearing jackets from kitchen-boys suits, the type that doesn’t fit anybody. As an avowed group that is against Western culture, one would have expected them to wear kaftans! It was also beyond them that guns and bombs were inventions from the Western world.

Mr. AKIN OJO,  a  journalist, wrote from London.
Source: Vanguard, 29th July 2011.

 

Boko Haram means terror (2)

BY AKIN OJO

WHAT has Western education got to do with killing policemen on the beat or bombing churches and pepper soup joints? They are not true Muslims.

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Hiding behind the facade of religion to perpetrate dastard acts of killing and maiming innocent people is not Islamic. The Holy Quran abhors such atrocities. According to Surat Al Maidah 5, Ayat 32, to kill a man unjustly is like killing humanity while to save a soul is like saving humanity. Christians, Mulims, followers of other faiths and atheists number among the victims of Boko Haram’s atrocities. Their terrorist acts run counter to their Muslim faith. Boko Haram’s terror is not Halal but Haram, hence its followers cannot be holy warriors. Islam is a religion of peace.

One cannot help the feeling that there is an underlying political agenda to their terror campaign. It would appear these violent terror campaigns by a loony sect which operates on a lunatic fringe are part of  an orchestrated attempt to destabilise the present government as promised by some desperate Northern politicians.

Typical of most terror groups, Boko Haram thrives on threats and assault on the public psyche (terror) so as to inspire dread and to paralyse the will to resist their objectives. Recently, a leader of the Boko Haram sect, Abu Zaidi accused Governor Isa Yuguda (Bauchi State) and two former governors, Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe State) and Ali Modu Sherriff (Borno State) of being unfair to the sect.

He demanded an unreserved apology from all three. They were also accused of colluding with the Federal Government in the plan to eliminate them. Hence, Zaidi issued a “fatwa” on them until they come out publicly and apologise to the terror group. Additionally, the three politicians must distance themselves from “this illegal democracy and give unalloyed support towards entrenching Sharia system”.
The threat against the three notable politicians from the North-East on its own is criminal. If a serving governor is not safe and subject to the fear of an outlawed group, who else is safe? Also implicit in these threats is treason against the Federal Republic of Nigeria government. The three spineless politicians have duly complied post-haste as if to confirm that the fear of Boko Haram is the beginning of all wisdom!

Governor Yuguda should have distanced himself from this “illegal democracy” by abdicating his position as Governor to demonstrate full compliance with the terrorists’ order. Perhaps, the next thing Boko Haram should ask for is an apology from President Jonathan for putting the JTF on the streets of Maiduguri and its environs with specific demand that he surrender our sovereignty to these monsters of terror. Thereinafter, they can rename Nigeria as the Islamic Republic of Yusuffiyya! Cowardice is not a mark of leadership.

What manner of leaders do we have in Nigeria? While police men are being killed and members of the public are being slaughtered almost on a daily basis by a group whose savagery is a blot on all true Muslims and civilised people, politicians from Borno State are rooting for a negotiated settlement rather than a decisive military option that will permanently deter the terrorists and their sponsors.

While hundreds have been killed, many more are on a life-sentence living with disabilities these myopic and selfish politicians are pressing for the withdrawal of JTF, a stabilising force and are demanding for Amnesty to the terrorists as a reward for their cruelty! Quite unreal, the time to take a decisive stand against terror is now. Each time we succumb to terrorists threat terrorism wins and each time terrorism wins it will make additional demand on us. The government must be alive to its responsibilities. Dr. Jonathan’s response will to a large extent define his presidency.

The President must assuage the fears of every decent Nigerian who view Boko Haram’s atrocities with sheer terror. An indolent leadership who in the face of rebellion grovels to terror is a feckless leadership.

Experiences of the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Afghanistan should serve us in good stead.
Much as it is true that security is our collective responsibilities, it is imperative that the security services step up intelligence gathering through surveillance. Members of the public for their part must be willing to assist the police with useful information to aid their efforts to curb this menace. Those culpable, regardless of how highly or lowly placed, must be made to account for their misdeeds.

There must be no sacred cows and there should be no resort to extra-judicial killings either in the form of pre-emptive strikes or in response to terror attacks. Summary execution of arrested sect members is just as barbaric as the despicable acts of terror being prosecuted by the terrorists. Religion is no alibi for terrorism and politics is no excuse for murder.
Mr. Ojo, a  journalist, wrote from London.
Source: Vanguard, 1st August 2011.

 

 

The Lexicon of Boko Haram

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SIMPLY put, a lexicon, among other meanings, connotes all the words and phrases used in a particular language or subject; all the words and phrases used and known by a particular person or group of people.

With the effect of time and circumstances however, lexicons evolve, as well as wither, in any given society. Some impact positively, leading to positive change while others inspire fear, apathy or outright repulsion as can be seen or deduced from events and experiences in other climes.

Nigeria, overtime, has had a fair share of these apprehension raisers or mood swingers and incidentally has displayed an uncanny ability to adapt to or cope with them. Today we are confronted with the unenviable scenario of Boko Haram, whatever it really means. For the typical Nigerian today, whether those described as naïve, the sensitive or the hypersensitive, Boko Haram, as a lexicon means trouble!

It means bombing and it means “pull the system down’’. Otherwise what justification would there be for what they are doing now? The truth, so to speak, is that Nigeria is a country so well loved by God, and richly endowed with overflowing human and material resources, enough to meet all our development needs.

Throwing bombs into market places where everybody, irrespective of social or religious persuasion would need to go and transact for a living, and spraying bullets in both relaxation spots and places of worship only means that the perpetrators neither want people to relax  in the physical nor obtain benefaction from God. What an irony. Equally, being overtly anti-government, hostile to peace and public order, and blasting bank volts give the actors the colours of brigands and marauders.

Some people have said Boko Haram may represent a cause, and may perhaps be a revolt arising from social deprivation, and illiteracy. If that were an argument it would de begging the question or amount to a fallacy. A socially and economically deprived person would not have the type of funds needed to purchase and import arms. Likewise an illiterate person would not have the savvy to do the sort of high intelligence activities that the Boko Haram people are doing.

The real Boko Haram people are not the downtrodden mob that we see carrying the swords and daggers, and who are being manipulated. Those ones are in need of empathy, education and empowerment. Ordinarily they would not want to do what they have been led into doing if they had an option. They would rather want better education, better welfare, a secure and guaranteed future, and an unimpeded enjoyment of the full benefits of being proud Nigerians. The real felons are the faceless people who are taking advantage of the poor and hungry.

No doubt there have been challenges of development all over the country which predate our independence and still exist to the present time. It is incontrovertible also that previous leaderships did not address Nigeria’s corporate development problems squarely, and did not justify the funds appropriated for developmental programmes, leading to the coinage of lexicons like MASOP, Egbesu Boys, Niger Delta Militants, MASSOB, OPC, etc, whatever they stood for.

The profligacy of yesteryears, the poor governance index at all levels, the high incidence of personal and group indiscipline aggregated to predispose our society to the prevalent present day dangers staring us in the face.

Indeed, until recently that President Goodluck Jonathan is insisting on paradigm shift and transformational governance, Nigeria’s political evolution had not produced personae that are the actual choices of the people. The judicial reversals of declarations of some previously declared winners in elections give credence to the dire need to reform Nigeria’s electoral perspectives.

It is to President Jonathan’s credit that he maintained his pre-election pledge to give Nigeria a credible electoral process and he did.

Prof. Attahiru Jega and his team will evidently go down into history as persons who did a damn good job, thus setting the tone and ambience for improvements in future elections in Nigeria. The innovations they put in place and the calibre of persons with names and pedigree to protect, brought in to perform a number of functions during the elections, was one of Jega’s masterstrokes.

Of special note has been the President’s own lexicon in responding to the menace of Boko Haram. Before the elections it was: “I have no enemies to fight”. Today he has not shifted from his humane and conciliatory nature. His security agencies have talked tough and do have the capacity to move from snarling to biting. But as a father to the nation, the President has rather encouraged dialogue and logical reasoning to prevail. He has spoken peace all through and has urged all Nigerians to pull together in the interest of the nation.

What remains now is for Boko Haram to seize opportunity of the conciliatory posture of the Federal Government and change its lexicon which does no one any good. It should give up on the pursuit of revenge as some people have imputed.

The members should see the brighter side of life and if need be, organize themselves into a coherent and legal entity to press their cause. Who knows whether its energy could translate into a propulsion for accelerated national development. Who knows if the fear of the types of Boko Haram could lead us into a new consciousness that will make us better people and a greater nation? In that way, Nigerians and even the international community will stand behind them. But now that the language is still crude, outrightly sanguinary and targeted at every body, the pertinent answer to the Boko Haram question is an emphatic NO.

CHARLES CHIKEZIE works with the Federal Ministry of Information & Communications.
Source: Vanguard, 29th July 2011.

 

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What is Boko Haram Fighting For?

Eddy John
analysis

Boko Haram Logo

THE response of the Borno leadership under Sheihk Muhammad Al-Kanemi to the attack on Borno and allegations of un-Islamic practices at the beginning of the 19th century was clear, simple and straightforward. In his efforts to ensure peace, he carried on series of theological, legal and political debates through letters with Sheihk Usman Dan Fodio and later with his son, Muhammad Bello. Their message was clear:

"We are Muslims and do not harm innocent souls, much less fellow Muslims. Any interpretation or understanding of Islam, which justifies killing of innocent people is condemnable and should be rebuked totally."

Perhaps, the present generation Borno leadership did not give a serious consideration, when in 2002, Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf gathered a handful of like-minded fanatics in Maiduguri and brain-washed them into believing that a replica of a volatile Far East state could be made out of Nigeria. No one gave a serious thought, when in 2004, Yusuf moved his newly-birthed outfit to Kanamma, Yobe State, where he set up a base and called it Afghanistan, from where he began to actualise the group agenda, unleashing ferocious attacks on nearby police posts, killing police officers and innocent citizens alike.

Today, the menace of Jama'atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda'wati wal jihad, also known as Boko Haram, that seeks the imposition of Sharia law in the northern states of Nigeria, is on the verge of plunging the entire nation into anarchy through series of indiscriminate bombings. Consequently, Borno State, an acclaimed "Home of Peace", has suddenly degenerated to signify violence, with evoking fears to outsiders, forcing mass exodus and evacuations of non-indigenes from the volatile state.

What exactly Boko Haram is fighting for and whose interest they are representing are yet to be clearly defined. Etymologically, the term Boko Haram comes from the Hausa word boko, meaning "animist" western or otherwise non-Islamic education, and the Arabic word haram, figuratively meaning "sin", literally "forbid- den". Figuratively, therefore, Boko Haram is translated as "Western education is sin."

Ideologically, Boko Haram opposes not only western education, but western culture and modern science as well. For instance, in a 2009 interview, granted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the leader of the sect, Yusuf, stated that the belief that the world is sphere is contrary to Islam and should be rejected, along with Darwinism and the theory that rain comes from water evaporation by the sun.

From the above, it could be established that the current state of insecurity and deplorable state of affairs are not unconnected with the attempt to impose the opinion of a small group on a larger society, a situation which clearly abridge the freedom to hold and express one's opinion that is fundamental and inalienable in any given society. Whereas, the virtues of tolerance, being a brother's keeper, good neighbourliness, social justice, accountability and honest leadership still remain the hallmark and enduring legacies of Islam, one could not but agree with the generality of peace-loving Muslims, who have widely condemned the position of Boko Haram as un-Islam.

Going down the memory lane, Borno State, as a society, has had her fair share on instability and even wars in her chequered history; the sacking of Birnin Ngazargamu by the jihadists in 1808, Rabih's invasion and occupation in 1893, and the Maitasine riots in the 1980s. In all these crises, destructive and vicious as they were, the wars did not degenerate into killing of innocent souls, targeting of public recreational centres, places of worship and killing of unarmed civilians, as the Boko Haram sect is perpetuating it today. Presently, the cumulative effects of Boko Haram are telling heavily on the image of Nigeria as a country and her sovereignty is seriously under threat.

However, President Goodluck Jonathan should be commended for the Joint Task Force (JTF) put in place to monitor the security situation in Borno State. The President should ignore those agitating for its withdrawal without a tangible and sustainable alternative to fill the security vacuum.

Meanwhile, government should not reject the offer made by French Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Jean-Michel Dumond, to cooperate with Nigeria to fight this scourge. Also, the accusation of ex-Borno State governor, Modu Sheriff, by the chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum, Gen. Jerry Useni, as being the godfather of Boko Haram, should not be taken lightly.

Above all, government should constitute a fact-finding commission, involving major stakeholders, to sit down and listen to those who are directly or remotely connected to Boko Haram so that the spate of violence can stop.

 

Boko Haram Leaders Are Political Elite – CAN

BAYO OLADEJI

The leaders of the dreaded Boko Haram, the Islamic sect that is threatening the security of the country are not illiterate but of the educated and political elite, who enjoy support from civil servants, students and the intelligentsia.

This assertion was made in Ibadan yesterday by the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in its 11-point communiqué, issued at the end of its National Working Committee (NWC) meeting held in Ibadan on Thursday and signed by its national publicity secretary, Lai Mohammed, on the persistent Boko Haram crisis.

Although Boko Haram simply means ‘Western education is ungodly’ and this lends to the picture being painted that they are a bunch of illiterate drop-outs, the party disputed this, even as it faulted the involvement of the military in an attempt to restore sanity to Borno State.

The party also regretted the mismanagement of the security system that is making the issue to degenerate into another needless ‘Christians versus Muslims’ controversy in the country and tasked the federal government to wake up to its responsibility before the situation gets out of hand.  

The text of the communiqué reads in part: That the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is seriously concerned and alarmed at the inept and clueless handling of the BokoHaram crisis by the federal government, which has shown clearly that it is suffering not just from a failure of leadership, but also a failure of initiative in tackling the crisis.

That the deployment of troops to tackle the crisis has instead stoked the fire, hence the need by the federal government to review the tactics so far employed to curtail theBoko Haram phenomenon.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the ACN, Chief Bisi Akande, has urged legislators elected to the National Assembly on the platform of the ACN to kick against any constitutional amendment aimed at supporting a single tenure for the president and the governors of the 36 states.

Akande said this in Ibadan yesterday while speaking with reporters after the retreat of National working committee of the party.

He pointed out that the proposed amendment was deceptively self serving and a terrible misadventure warning that it was like putting the cart before the horse.
Source: Leadership, 29th July 2011.

 

Buhari: Jonathan can’t handle Boko Haram
Sect doesn’t deserve amnesty, says Ijaw group

From KOFA KINGS, Ughelli

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From the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Western Zone came a warning at the weekend on President Goodluck Jonathan not to grant amnesty to the Boko Haram fundamentalists. The sect had made Borno and other states in the North ungovernable recently. With the warning came a damning verdict from Gen Muhammadu Buhari saying the government can’t handle the sect. 

And bothered by the attacks in Northern parts of the country by suspected Boko Haram members, churches now frisk their congregation at the gates before being allowed entry. A number of churches had been bombed lately by people suspected to be Boko Haram, even as a director in the Amnesty Office in the Presidency called for a programme to cater for youths.

But the IYC argued that there was no comparison between the Niger Delta militants and the Boko Haram sect. It decried the comparison of the Islamic fundamentalists and Niger Delta combatants. 

In a communique issued at the weekend after the zonal meeting in Arogbo, Ondo State, the IYC warned: “ If the Federal Government should bow to calls for amnesty for Boko Haram, the fund accruing from the Niger Delta oil should never be contemplated to facilitate such amnesty programme. 
“While the council condemns the activities of Boko Haram in strong terms and maintained that there was no basis for comparison, as some have done, of the Moslem group with Niger Delta combatants fighting for the criminal neglect of the region by the Federal Government that feeds fat from its resources,” the statement further added.

The Ijaw group, however, hailed President Jonathan on the re-appointment of Kingsley Kuku as Special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs, adding that Kuku had applied his “wealth of experience in fast-tracking the amnesty programme.”

The IYC, among other things, tasked President Jonathan to establish standard tertiary institutions in Ijawland “to reconcile the backward region to the rest of the country,” adding: “To that effect, Congress calls on the Delta State Government to properly fund the Delta State Institute of Marine Technology, Burutu to enable it succeed in its purpose.”

Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Buhari has bemoaned the insecurity in the nation, saying the President cannot handle the Boko Haram sect.
The former military Head of State, who spoke through his spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, noted that the major issue is that we live in denial in this country and we don’t want to get to the root cause of all problems, saying we just see them on the surface.

“The issue of Boko Haram has become a major security challenge and like many other groups that are taking up arms against the state, they are products of injustices.
“When you look at the Boko Haram, Boko Haram is an anarchist group that is a response to the neglect of the poor, to the kind of inequality in the society that has confined majority to poverty, while a few take all the goods of the society. 

“And these people are responding to the crisis in their own way and in the process, have taken up arms. 
“I have not seen any issue where the President has shown capacity that he can address Nigeria today. He has not shown that he can address any serious issue confronting the country,” Buhari said. 
On the way forward in putting to rest, the insecurity in the nation, Buhari said it is so clear that the signs are not very good at all, adding that they are dangerous signals. 
“Only this morning, we read in the papers that some groups are circulating leaflets in our 10 states in the North, that they are also Christian militants and that they are ready to engage Boko Haram. 
“If care is not taken, I think those are dangerous signals and rather than engaging or encouraging this kind of thing, because when you look at the country where this kind of thing is happening, it is a bad signal and we have just been rated as the 14th most failed country in the world.

“If you allow this kind of thing to go on unchecked, uncontrolled and without a serious approach, which requires sophisticated thinking, we will be heading for trouble in this country,” Buhari said. 
While saying that Nigeria needs serious leadership at this moment and not politics, Buhari also said that “with what we have seen in the last one year, we want to play politics with security at every critical juncture,” saying “that is why we have not been able to address the question of security challenge.”
On its part, a director in the Amnesty office in the Presidency, Dr. Ferdinand Ikwang, said agitation for resource control and wanton destruction of lives and property are two different things.
He called on the government to design a programme that would cater for the needs of all the youths in the nation’s six geo-political zones.
Ikwang, who spoke against the background of the call for amnesty for Boko Haram lamented over the violence carried out by the group.

Speaking in Lagos at the weekend at the sendforth of 50 Niger Delta youths to Sri Lanka for vocational training, Ikwang declared: “Every zone should be dealt with by its merit. We should also look at what will be of strategic national, economic, and security interests of the country and then what are we looking out for in the future,” said Ikwang.
Source: Sun, 25th July 2011.

 

Boko Haram: It’s sad Nigeria is becoming another Afghanistan – Bishop Onuoha

*Divergent views have severally been canvassed by Nigerians on why the nation has virtually remained stagnant in the past 50 years. Our Correspondent, CHIDI NKWOPARA, cornered the Anglican Bishop of Okigwe South, Rt. Rev. David Onuoha, and he bared his mind about the Nigerian project. He also spoke on a number of other issues. Excerpts.

Bombing at Police HQ

What is your view on the vexed issue of Islamic banking in Nigeria?

It is a time bomb that is about to explode. This nation is secular in nature. It is a constitutional stipulation that no religion should be adopted as a state religion. The fact remains that Christians cannot claim to be the sole owners of Nigeria. Muslims and African Traditional Religion practitioners cannot equally claim to be owners of Nigeria. If that is the case, foisting or attempting to foist the religious practices of a particular religion on this nation is a time bomb that will explode.

What really is Islamic banking?
Islamic banking by that name also means Sharia banking. There is no way this nation can still be one when it starts operating two legal systems, our Constitution and Sharia. If this happens, then Nigeria is as good as forgotten. All we are saying is that Islamic banking is not in the interest of this nation. If they are proposing a non-interest banking, that is a different thing altogether. Let the CBN come out with the defined policies of non-interest banking and make sure that it is not a religious thing. Definitely, certain percentage of the gain that will accrue from the system will go to further the cause of Islamic religion. I don’t know how the Christians can, without knowing it, contribute to the funding of a religion that is in all intents and purposes against his own faith.

What is your advice?
We call on the Federal Government to immediately intervene and stop this attempt to islamize this nation through the Sharia banking. I also want to call on the CBN governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to resign because we no longer have confidence in his ability to stem the tide of confusion that will arise. Honestly, Sanusi has derailed and he should resign.

How do you see the spate of bombings by the Boko Haram sect?
It is very unfortunate that Nigeria is witnessing what we used to hear about Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. That such things are happening in Nigeria today is very unfortunate.

Does religion teach violence?
Religion is for nation building. Religion promotes values in a society. Religion is for the good of the society. Any religion that encourages violence is no religion at all and should not be allowed to continue as a religion. Honestly, government must stand up now and ensure that this ugly development does not continue. It is most unfortunate that Nigeria is witnessing such a thing in this day and age. Again, there should be the political will to put an end to this. There are people sponsoring these extremists. It is not enough to set a commission of inquiry, which will submit a report and it will end there. Government should go a step further to identify the masterminds, the sponsors and deal decisively with them. We must do everything to stop it now otherwise it will stop Nigeria. That is my view on this issue.

We recently concluded another round of elections. Where do we go from here?
Let us start this way. Our dear nation celebrated her 50th independence anniversary last year. Not too long ago, leaders were inaugurated at the state and national levels to pilot the affairs of the country for the next four years. It is only right to expect that this is the administration that will lay the foundation for the growth and development of this great nation as we begin the second 50 years, leading to our centenary celebration. The crucial issue here is whether it is going to be business as usual. In the face of abundant human and material resources with which we are richly blessed, are we still going to tempt and provoke God with all those attitudes and behaviour that hinder the realization of His blessings for us as a nation? Are we still going to sow to the winds as we did in the first 50 years of our nationhood? These are the solid issues that should occupy our attention.

What do you think is wrong with Nigeria? Is it in our stars?
Quite frankly, there is nothing wrong with the entity called Nigeria. This is a land of blessings and infinite opportunities. These have, however, remained elusive. Definitely not because we do not have good laws or intelligent people to harness our potentials for the good of all. It is the hardness of heart that has made corruption in its ramifications, pervasive, permissive and pernicious. It is the same that has dried up the milk of kindness in most people that wanton destruction of lives and property have sadly become the order of the day in this day and age.

So, where do we go from here?
I prescribe a new heart. This is what all of us need to unlock our potentials and blessings both as individuals and as a nation. A new heart is possible. My plea is that we walk and pray towards this goal. This is the key to our individual and collective survival. Let us resolve not to hold on to those old ways and practices that offend and provoke God. Let us approach both our religious and civil obligations and duties with a new heart that is sensitive and responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We must as a people march towards our own promised land, convince ourselves that this call is for our own benefit and advantage. A changed heart leads to a change of attitude, style, orientation, values and concept. It is a necessity for peace, progress and out-pouring of God’s blessings. It makes possible for one to rediscover oneself and retrace one’s steps back to God. It is only when this happens that safety, fulfill-ment, satisfaction and restoration are guaranteed. The prodigal son is a good example here. His change of heart made it possible for him to realize his misadventure, saw the danger he was in and enabled him take the right decision that restored all his rights and privileges as a son.

Let us take a quick look at the last election. What is your view on it?
First of all, I salute President Goodluck Jonathan for his courage and discipline in not meddling with the functions of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. We pray that he will use this opportunity to make this country a place where every Nigerian will be proud to call his or her nation. Similarly, I congratulate Prof. Attahiru Jega and INEC for a job well done. The conduct of the 2011 general election has been adjudged credible, free and fair. It is true that there were some flaws and irregularities, yet INEC tried very hard to maintain the posture of an unbiased umpire, the sordid activities of some bad eggs within the Commission notwithstanding. We call on the Federal Government to give Prof. Jega and all the committed members of his Commission the opportunity to continue in office and at least conduct the 2015 general elections. This plea is very necessary because the experience gained from the just concluded elections will be of immense benefit in our search for true democracy.

What is your take on the mad rush for wealth by public office holders?
This is a good question. This has been our problem. Our nation woke up some time last year to hear the chilling revelation that 25 per cent of Federal Govern-ment’s overhead cost is spent on the National Assembly. When you put two and two together you will realize that more or double of that percentage would go to the executive arm of government. We have all watched with disbelief, the repeated increase in the salaries and allowances of political office holders in this land, so much so that the monthly take home pay of a senator is more than a school principal’s or medical doctor’s pay in 10 years! This is not only ridiculous but also very shameful and embarrassing.

Is this why politics has become a do-or-die affair in Nigeria?
You are perfectly right. Political offices and positions are the easiest and fastest means of personal economic well-being today. This is no longer news to all of us. One wonders why this should be so in a nation where more than 80 per cent of the populace live below poverty line. We do not know if the only work the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission does is to continually increase the wages of political office holders. To have the wages of a section of the society regularly increased when other sections have to go on strike to receive attention is immoral and uncharitable.

What is the likely effect of this on the rest of us?
It sadly creates the impression that the duties of political office holders are more important than those of university lecturers, the medical doctors, school teachers, the police and a host of other public servants. This is very wrong and misleading. The perpetrators of this injustice cannot justify their act in any way.

What then do you advice?
Government will do well to merge this Commission with the National Income and Wages Commission so as to have one body regulating the wages of all those who serve this country in whatever capacity. This will make it possible for justice and fair play. Secondly, government should review the wages of political office holders downward to reflect the economic realities of the time. Government should also reduce drastically, the number of political appointees, so as to conserve funds for the improvement of the infrastructure and other programmes that will improve the lot of average Nigerians.

Let’s look at Imo State. What is your view about the recent hand over of schools to their original owners?
The immediate past administration of Chief Ikedi Ohakim made good his promise of returning schools to their original owners. These schools were confiscated by the defunct East Central State government at the end of the war in 1970. Anglican Boys Secondary School, Onicha Uboma and Girls Secondary School, Ezeoke Nsu, have been returned to the Diocese of Okigwe South. As a matter of fact, I do not know whether to rejoice or weep at this development. This is because while they took over the schools with good infrastructure and neat environments, they returned to us thick forests with more than 90 per cent of the infrastructure irredeemably dilapidated. We call on the present administration to review the whole situation and work out a modality of making these institutions conducive for human habitation and learning before perfecting the handing over process.
Source: This Day, 24th July 2011.

 

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Boko Haram: Israeli agents storm Abuja
MALACHY UZENDU, ABUJA BUREAU CHIEF

Bombing at Police HQ 5

Threats by Boko Haram are not being taken lightly by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as it has engaged the services of some Israeli security operatives to provide security at this week’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party.

Reliable sources told our reporter that already top flight Israeli operatives who have been hired by the party have carried out "security audit" at the premises, with a view to identifying all objects which could impede security in the premises.

They were also said to have mounted needed security gadgets within the premises, including Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras at strategic points within and outside the party premises.

Similarly, the police personnel and private security operatives who have been detailed to provide security at the Wadata Plaza headquarter premises of the party have been receiving series of drills on tips on security threats as well as associated programmes.

For some time now, security challenges posed by the Boko Haram has taken the country’s security network to task, especially as the dreaded sect had successful carried out their nefarious activities thrice in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The bombing of the headquarter of the Nigeria Police, which killed over 35 persons and damaged more than 50 cars vehicles raised the level of consciousness of those in power to the sinister capabilities of the Boko Haram, leading to several frustrating security checks mounted on all entry roads to Abuja, since then.

With the PDP NEC around the corner, where contentious issues like zoning and approval of the elevation of former National Secretary of the party, Alhaji Kawu Baraje and his deputy, to the positions of National Chairman and National Secretary respectively, the need to up security measures became paramount to the party’s leadership.

It is expected that apart from just ratifying the zoning of national offices of the party ahead of next year’s national convention, other contentious matters like crises rocking some state chapters which the former acting National Chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Haliru Bello was unable to discharge before he transmuted to ministerial position, would top discussion at the meeting.

With claims, counter claims, threats and counter-threats by the Boko Haram to wreck more havoc in the country, the ruling party believes it is the prime target of the sect, especially as most of its chieftains from the northern parts of the country, were visible targets of the group, who either killed their relations or burnt their property.

Anonymous but highly reliable sources told our reporter that "we have just carried out security audit in this place supervised by some Israeli security agents. We do not want to take chances at the NEC meeting or even from now on, which is why we have gone for the best.

"It would be a shame that these Boko Haram elements succeeded in wrecking havoc in this place during or before or even after the NEC meeting. If you noticed, management had approved that we topped up security measures in this place and we will not rest until we successfully conscientised our people on the need to always be security conscious.

"Management is insisting that the security measures to be adopted at the NEC meeting would be different from what it used to be and it is normal that we did so, to avoid any eventuality at the end of the day," the sources stated.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Professor Ahmed Alkali who spoke on the NEC meeting last week, confirmed that the meeting is likely to begin the process of approving the modalities for early convention next year.

He also confirmed an earlier statement by out-gone Bello that the proposals for ratification of acting appointments to the Chairmanship and secretary-ship of the party would be ratified at the meeting.

Meanwhile, other leadership bodies of the party like the party caucus, the Board of Trustee (BoT) as well as some other informal bodies have been meeting since last week to sort out grey areas.
Source: Daily Champion, 25th July 2011.

 

Tough-talking Hafiz Ringim

Bombing of the Police HQ 7

RECENTLY, the news of the suicide bombing in Abuja hit me like a bucket of cold water. I stayed glued to my radio set  so as to get the true story of this gory incident,  but my neighbours’ dog, Jimmy, would not stop barking, the same high, rhythmic bark. Damn this dog, I’ve got to listen to this news.

A bomb blew up inside the Nigeria police headquarters killing a suspected suicide bomber and others, witnesses and officials said. The blast tore into a police car park at the compound in Abuja, throwing people to ground and destroying several vehicles. Holy Mary, Mother of God! This is the first suicide bombing in Nigeria as we face a growing threat from Islamic militants. Boko Haram Islamic  sect, we gathered has  claimed responsibility for this bombing that left eight people dead and 77 vehicles destroyed. A statement from a senior member of the group, Abu Zaid, said the attack at the police headquarters was to prove a point to all who doubt the capabilities of the sect.

It said it was angered by a police declaration that the days of Boko Haram are numbered.

The Police have claimed to have randomly detained at least 58 Boko Haram sect members. The 58  members we were  told  were moved to Abuja aboard a military aircraft. This  Boko Haram  members are full of hate. They are now the monster that grew out of despair.

Bombs are going off everywhere in Nigeria, even in places which are supposed to be the safest due to their supposedly tight security. With the adoption of suicide bombing by this sect, Nigeria is now unsafe. If suicide bombers can detonate bombs at the National Police Headquarters,then nowhere is safe again.

The Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Hafiz  Ringim had in Borno State announced that the days of Boko Haram were numbered, and that the police will soon flush out the group. Tough- talking Ringim. He can go ahead to jump and talk the entire tough about how he can flush out the Boko Haram group. He can bang his  fists on the wall, beat his chest, kick  and shout till he is hoarse, but we want to see action. He should make things happen.

To me, it is time we find someone that can restructure the police, overhaul the system, improve the  intelligence gathering efforts and capabilities. For now, the Nigeria Police is obsolete in attitude, training and functions.

Kenneth Uwadi, Mmahu-Egbema,
Imo State.
Source: Tribune, 1st  July 2011.

 

EXCUSE ME: Fragments

Bombing of the Police HQ 9

By Victor Ehikhamenor

The log of wood seen on the distant shoulder of a stranger has suddenly become the charred corpse of a relative. What we used to witness from a distance has hit us squarely – Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen. Places where cafes and bars clinking wine glasses compete with shattering window glasses to ring death knells.

In CNN and Al Jazera, it used to be a far away smoke that emits no smell, so you go about your business and say it will never happen here because you are used to ordinary guns, machetes at most, cocktail Molotov thrown on unsuspecting houses, and Jos.

Or flying boats blazing the oily waters of the Niger Delta with ammunition snaking down defiant necks. It will never get to us here in Abuja, they said, and threw billions into burning militancy – go in peace and scream no more.

The broken sounds were so distant – it is up north sir, not anywhere close by – they said. They were comfortable in measuring lives in distances, away and so far away that they refused to think clearly and reasonably about Boko Haram.

They couldn’t imagine their faces and complexity, unlike Ku Klux Klan burning blacks and flags in hooded reverie, like Al Qaeda, like Taliban ramming planes into tall buildings.

Distances illuminate things with the wrong light, but they were okay with the tinted coloration of truth. They are yet to pinpoint what the problem really is, but tanks have already been rolled to the streets, as if the untrained soldiers know what to look for in a car meant for carnage.

Amnesty is for the living. Oil is thicker than blood sprayed on dusty arid regions. No time for viaticum, for death sends no notice anymore. Another attack in Maiduguri scrolls at the bottom of the television and you do a sign of the cross and mutter quick prayers for the departed souls. Last week, it was 25. Yesterday, the numbers were uncertain. Today, it is three.

They say everything is under control and those behind these heinous crimes will be brought to justice. But Maiduguri murders are being measured mathematically by the minute. Promises are the fastest action they take when outwitted and outdone by a more superior sect. But we say Amen and Hamdillah, at the same time curse the day the unrelenting bombers were born. We rub our hands together and pray for distances. But viaticum is for the dying, not the dead.

What about Hunger and Deprivation, as agbada become khaki and khaki becomes babariga? The knotty question of the Have nots and the Haves are relegated to closed ears, as politicians scramble for juicy positions.

David Mark’s gavel is already hitting the oak table in accelerated clearing of the next batch of ministers. Opposition questions are swallowed by belches from overfed breakers of law in our Law-Making House. What we see on TV as screening and grilling is a rehearsal of the drama that has already played out in dimly lit chambers where we were never an audience.

Boko Haram cannot be wished away, this is as certain as the bombs going off every minute. A disease whose secret is unknown is hard to cure. In the name of who did the butchers of Bauchi slaughter, Youth Corpers? No answer. Yet we moved on as if five million naira is the exchange rate per Nigerian youth these days.

Caught in the dark vestibule of violence, our security chiefs are groping in the dark and echoing boastful words that resonate in the ears of those that do not matter. They are talking to themselves because every attack is an opportunity for them to defend their secured lifestyle instead of Nigerians.

Our police chief parades Washington giving speeches like a molue preacher. Madness is a man who goes weeping about his flaming trousers when his testicles are already charred. The military is hurried out of the barracks to mingle with bloody civilians and everything crawls faster than a dead snail in the capital.

We are afraid to clap to any quick-dry glue applied to our fragmented mirrors blown from glass windows. Niger Delta. Jos. Bauchi. Kano. Jos. Nigeria. Who can catch the whirlwind that uproots palm trees? Our land has become a loose translation of what the Mansai call Menengai – a place of corpses.

The iroko is discharging fire, let mothers that have errant children drag them by the ears to safety. Our days and nights are ruled by fear while our rulers guffaw in bunkers and bullet proof jeeps. Glasses can shatter and bottles can break. Mangled motor engines of yester bombs prove that iron can bend in seconds if not checked on time. Ashes are easier to make when things burn unquenched.

Who will be bold enough not to steal the money ear-marked for security and step on the toes of those that toss bombs from motorbikes and buried in the boot of used cars? Attempting to stop Boko Haram by boasting into press microphones is like catching a porcupine with bare hands.

The solution to this carnage lies beneath unopened reports used in propping up broken tables in obscure ministries. An ignored sore of today is the gangrene of tomorrow. Stop. Think. Strategise. And refrain from saying “Thank God, it is only three people that died.”
Source: Next, 1st  July 2011.

 

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Beware, Gift items Could be Ladened with Bombs – Army chief

Bombing of the Police HQ 13

By KINGSLEY OMONOBI

ABUJA – Against the backdrop of bomb explosions in the country by Boko Haram members, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Azubuike Ihejirika, has warned Nigerians to beware of gift items they receive during special or auspicious occasions as this could be avenues for terrorists to perpetrate their dastardly acts.

At a briefing, yesterday, Ihejirika explained that there were so many types of bomb or explosives that Nigerians were not aware of, which they should be cautious about. They include liquid bombs, several which can be put on gift items, parcel bombs and others.

The Army Chief noted that of the three bombs that were planted at the Bauchi Barrack Mammy Market, one of the bombs was a liquid bomb kept in a jerry can and left in the shop of a woman. Unknown to the woman, she thought it was kerosene that the owner forgot.

She subsequently carried the ‘jerry can of kerosene’ outside her shop and kept it somewhere far from the shop, where it eventually exploded. But for that singular act of the woman, the number of casualty in her shop would have been much”, the COAS said.

He then warned that Nigerians should not only be vigilant, they should ask questions when someone no matter how close is sending them on errands, as some people can innocently become couriers of explosive materials for terrorists without knowing. In particular, we should be wary of gift items.

 I know Nigerians like gifts a lot. Gift for birthdays, gift for marriages, gift for anniversary and even gift for churches. We should all be careful to avoid being caught unawares now.”
Source: Vanguard, 1st  July 2011.

 

In Defense of Boko Haram

Bombing of the Police HQ 10

Written by Osita Ebiem   

Just this last Sunday, the 26th of June 2011 it was reported that the Boko Haram Islamic State Movement, BHISM in three separate bomb and indiscriminate shootings attacks on beer gardens in the city of Maiduguri of Borno State in Nigeria killed 25 and wounded 30 people. This is coming within a week of the suicide bomb attack of Nigeria police headquarters by the same separatist group. BHISM is just one amongst several other

 separatist movements in today’s Nigeria. BHISM is fighting for a separate independent and sovereign state whose legal system shall be based on the Islamic sharia. This is their fundamental human right as members of our common humanity. That is their way of life and they are entitled to it. 

The other groups that represent the other ethnic groups in Nigeria also claim to be fighting to preserve their own unique ethnic culture/religious values in separate and independent sovereign states. Presently, Nigeria as the terminally ill orphan is being denied and abandoned by all the various parts that had connived and colluded to murder the parents of the child. But the most honorable thing to do by all concerned is to come together around a table and give the doomed child its befitting final rites. Do we hear someone saying that it will take some men and women with guts to do that? Not necessarily, guts is only a small part, we believe that it does not really take anything more than sincerity, honesty and a will to do the right thing. Incidentally, in a society that is fundamentally faulty those three qualities that should be taken for granted are really the big issues. Nevertheless, they may not be completely lacking. Let’s cross our fingers and pray fervently that that is the case. 

There may never be a better time than now to convene a conference by the Nigerian state to decide what each ethnic group wants out of the final disintegration of the union. The BHISM group representing the North of Nigeria has made clear their demands and it is fair that the other parts should be given the opportunity to state their own last wishes from the sinking ship. BHISM wants sharia within its own enclave and the Southeast/South/South is free to state their own demand. They can choose to be governed by Church canon or whatever they feel comfortable with. The Southwest and the Middle Belt can also ask to be administered by whatever tenets that seems right by them. This is the era of Self-Determination and it is fair and square. 

Among the things that characterize the human dignity is living for something, living a life with a purpose; having something that one lives for or is prepared to give his or her life in exchange. It is when a people can begin to exhibit such attribute that they can actually claim to have evolved beyond the first level of the base animal. Education plays a very significant role in helping us human move steps upwards along this evolutionary ladder. And yet we hear most of the commentators on the recent incidents happening in Nigeria continue to emphasis the stupid statement that Boko Haram translates from Hausa into English as western education is sin as if that means that education is sin. It only states that a certain kind of education is to be accepted with some pinch of salt which is different from saying that the acquisition of all kinds of education is wrong. Education is only worth its value when it can elevate one’s consciousness into living a life that is based on principles or beliefs instead of on the base instinctual materialistic level. Base animals spend their days and, nights for those that hunt at nights, chasing after food and basic necessities rather than on ideologies. They live just for the moment and when they happen to chance on some kind of windfall or abundance then they grab and grab and accumulate not because they have need for these things but because they can grab and do not know the difference.

By the acts of the BHISM they have continued to demonstrate that they are better educated and more highly evolved than most of their critics who merely live for what they need to satisfy their primary material needs. The rest of the ethnic groups in Nigeria as represented by Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, Middle Belt Federation, MBF, etc may continue to remain chicken in heart and pretentious as to not knowing what they need but here we must give credit to those who are bold and prepared to go for what they want, the Boko Haram group. These other groups may in self-delusion consider their approach as civilized while in actual fact they are indeed very primitive because they base their approach on fear and dishonesty. Fear is a characteristic of primitiveness and has always been retrogressive and a reason for why societies do not progress. Boldness, sincerity and honesty have always advanced societies and never the other way around. 

Boko Haram Islamic State Movement, BHISM is bold and has the courage enough to go for what they consider good for themselves and their people. We must get the picture right, what one group may consider good for them may not necessarily feel good for the other people, but what does that matter. Each group should be able to define what is good for them and their people and be bold enough to go for it. So far, all the moves of the BHISM are commendable because the world has always belonged to those who are bold, sincere, honest and proactive and never to the sissies and the ‘politically correct’ ones. The chickens in heart only issue threats in such flowery languages that lull children and weak minds to sleep. They use some self-serving ‘politically correct’ languages and never effect any positive change whatsoever.

When any group has a genuine interest of their people at heart they will give a fight to preserve and advance those interests. As it is right now, all the Igbo, Yoruba and all other separatist ethnic and self-determination groups in Nigeria are nothing more than threat mongers. In self-delusion they issue warnings after warnings that are completely worthless and very aggravating to all observers because these watchers know that nothing ever gets done through the mere calling of bluffs. This is particularly pathetic since these groups are supposed to be the vanguards of their various ethnic people. But in the meanwhile they are morally bankrupt and are yet to consider their peoples’ cultures/religions and way of life worth fighting for not to talk of dying for. And the truth is that the so-called non-violent agitation is not what makes your method a better or more civilized, it is what one is fighting for that justifies their means. Down through the

 ages nothing that is meaningful has ever been achieved by any people by mere pronouncements that are not backed by enforceable sanctions. On the other hand, for all those who accomplish much, they just implement the details of their blueprints rather than make pronouncements after pronouncements that do not have the hearts of the announcers anywhere near their utterances. You become jokes when you continually make statements that you have no intention of backing up with actions.

All the activities of BHISM have remained consistent with the tenets of the sharia system. The 12 Northern Nigeria Sharia States have already adopted a set of legal system that they consider right and conducive for their people and why should anyone else complain about it. Among the implications of adopting the sharia legal system is that there should be strict implementation of the rules within the enclave where the laws apply. If therefore Borno State, Bauchi State and other 10 states have adopted sharia why would anybody frown at the moves of the members of Boko Haram Islamic State Movement trying to enforce the strict adherence to sharia within the Sharia States? Such frowning only amounts to nothing more than insincerity and hypocrisy on the side of the detractors. All those who find sharia too harsh should relocate. This is simple enough. Other people from other areas should go back to their own places and implement whatever they are comfortable

 with. Maybe in so doing they will be finally forced to sit down and honestly rethink the stupidity of one-Nigeria.

IN DEFENSE OF BOKO HARAM
By Osita Ebiem

 

 

We’ll defeat you, Defence chief tells Boko Haram
•••Commissioned QIP for Jaji community

Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Onyeabo Azubike Ihejirika

From GARBA MUHAMMAD, Kaduna

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petirin has assured that the emerging challenges of insecurity posed by the frequent attacks by the Boko Haram sect in the country will soon be conquered.

He lamented that over 100 innocent people had been killed by a ruthless and violent extremist organisation, which had introduced the indiscriminate use of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) into internal environment, targeting innocent civilians for murder. “Many commentators expect that the emerging challenges will take many turns we cannot predict, yet I am certain of this, we shall defeat them,” He re-assured Nigerians.

Addressing graduands of Senior Course 33 ahead of their graduation ceremony scheduled for today at a regimental dinner on Wednesday night at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC), Jaji, near Kaduna, the CDS lamented that civilians who had not harmed anyone but were going about their daily lives were the victims of these attacks. He said, “their only offence was that they were in the right place at the wrong time and are instantly killed by a group that preaches an ideology that is denied by their own.”

The defence chief represented by Air Vice Marshal Dick Enavere warned that the military would not put their faith in the world of tyrants, who want to score political point by terrorising the same people they claim to represent.

“The attacks we are facing nowadays require only a few evil and deluded men to cause chaos and suffering at much less than the cost of a General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). We need to be reminded that these new threats require new thinking because of this shadow terrorist who neither have a territory nor citizens to defend. The choices we will face are complex and the work ahead is difficult.

“This kind of security will require the best intelligence to reveal threats hidden in high density areas and will require transforming the military. You will lead a military that must be ready to strike at a moment’s notice in any corner of the country. The pursuit of professionalism has always been important to the military throughout history, not only because it enhances the capacity to prosecute wars but also because it enhances the social responsibility of the personnel and his capacity to manage violence.

“So, as you leave this great institution, it becomes your challenge as well and we will meet this challenge together,” the CDS told the graduands. In a related development, the CDS yesterday commissioned a military Quick Impact Project (QIP)undertaken by the AFCSC to impact on the health, safety and standard of living of the host community and to erode negative perceptions of the Armed Forces, leading to alienation of poor civil-military relations.

The projects included a bus stop and adjoining car park and pedestrian walkway to reduce the alarming rate of road traffic accidents around the Jaji Market as well as bore holes at Ungwan Pete and Wunoso to improve the health and well-being of the community.
Source: Sun, 1st  July 2011.

 

Nigeria is spiritually knocked down, socially ruined, intellectually worn out. She has blindly cut herself out from her creator

What is your message for Nigeria?

A new nation will flourish. Isaiah’s call came in the temple in Jerusalem falling into a Trance. He saw the vision, he heard the Voice of Jehovah saying whom shall I send and who will go for us, Isaiah answered, here am i, send me, in the vision, Isaiah was (charged to tell the Israelites of the coming destruction of their land. A judgment   on them for their moral perversions. Isaiah’s mission to the Israelites laid stress on moral conduct, injustice, murder, bribery and oppression of the poor and helpless.

What is God plan for Nigeria?

The sovereign lord never does anything without raveling his plans to his servants the true prophets. A prophet is God’s mouthpiece. He is a man of God. God’s spokesman to any given generation. He acts as middle man between God and his people. He is a man chosen by God for important service and receives credentials to carry out such service. He is anointed man of God who represents God before the people and represents the people before God.

The prophetic message is often more of warning. His message is to his own day and time and for immediate application to existing condition. The message contains prophetic elements of warning of the consequences in the future because of Disobedient. The message contains in greater degree messianic hope for man’s salvation. A prophet is always an uncompromising individual. He is one conscious of privileged access into the inner council of God. He is one conscious of God’s authority and backing. A  man of prayer and communion with God. One of clean  and consecrated in life and character. One  outspoken of specific evil in the society God’s channel to unveil the future to his people.

I prophet of prophets Anthony Nwoko is a mouthpiece of God anointed and spiritual crowed for the nation and the world. I have been sent on a special mission for the glory of God and at the same time for the downfall of a multitude of people in our nation and the world, to confirm the word of a prophet. John8:32 say, and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free. The truth is finally here but Nigeria finds it difficult to believe. The truth is sweet, Nigeria tastes it bitter, the truth is light, and Nigeria prefers darkness. The truth set people free, the nation still remains in bondage. The spiritual responsibility of promoting, spreading and upholding righteousness has now been transferred to Nigeria since year 2000. And Nigeria refused to assume the spiritual global manifestation of God’s glory through the priceless gift of Jesus given to Nigeria since the year 2000.

What is the state of Nigeria?

NIGERIA is a wicked generation. Though there is a proliferation of churches in Nigeria many religious leaders are evil. Some of the prophets have gone into rituals. Some have gone into cultism. Some have been silenced by sin. Some have gone into materialism. Many have died of their wicked acts. The nation is in crisis are pastors are busy preaching prosperity when there is no food for the people. The house of God is in disarray. The corruption in the church stinks to highest heaven. A sick church cannot bring healing to a dying nation like Nigeria. Nobody or a nation battled with God and has lived to tell the story especially, when God is against such moves. Nigeria’s problem is an act of God.

Religious leaders have taken over from the Lord of the temple and had become Lords of the temple by themselves. They fought a battle against the Holy Spirit in Nigeria. They were destroyed by the Holy Spirit. That’s Nigeria’s problem.

For the past 25 years I have been outstanding in seeking divine healing rather than man made solutions to the catalogue of problems now ravaging the country but Nigeria refused to follow the path of God. Nigeria is anti christ nation. Ninety per cent of so-called men of God in Nigeria are false, in short. Nigeria is sick. She has stolen God’s mandate. The nation is sick like any other sick animal; she can never function normally, until she is cured of her ailments. Nigeria is spiritually knocked down, socially ruined, intellectually worn out. She has blindly cut herself out from her creator and the creature cannot see the light of the day without her creator. Nigeria refused to recognise the presence of the Anointed Saviour of the world, because of tribalism. Nigeria has disobeyed God. Disobedience to God is always catastrophic and calamitous he dealt with Pharaoh when he disobeyed him he never spared Israel when she disobeyed him in the wilderness. He threw Jonah into the belly of fish, when he disobeyed him. In fact God does not treat disobedience with kid gloves, therefore Nigeria’s case of disobedience to him should not be a peculiar case.

Anger of God in Nigeria

Nigeria rebelled against God’s anointed king form the East Psalms chapter two .The spirit of God has refused another 4 years of poverty starting from May 29 2011. Because of disobedience in Nigeria. There is oppression, plane crashes, armed robbery, kidnapping, corruption, marginalization, tribalism, assassinations, protests, students crisis, hatred, labour strikes, religious crisis, Niger Delta, bomb explosions, floods, that characterized Jonathan administration.

Because of the burning desire not to deny Nigeria of this divine glory; I have decided to call Goodluck Jonathan and the elects of God in the nation to come together. To seek the face of God and lift his Holy name high in Nigeria. The spirit says, blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the sons of God. The Holy Spirit has come down to make peace for Nigeria. Jonathan is John the Baptist, who will usher messiah from South East. Jonathan mission is to make way for the messiah that will evoke the revolution which Nigeria have been clamouring for. Long before Jonathan emerged, I had predicted that he would be president, and he did with his emergence, he has simply come to play the role of John the Baptist. He will anoint the leader that would bring economic and political change in the country, that is, the messiah Nigeria is waiting for he is the light of the world the prince of peace, the president of presidents, the lion of Nigeria, he has come the second time to sanitise the Holy house. There will be peace in the land if President Jonathan will obey this commandment from God Deuteronomy 28: 1-14 and recognise the presence of the Saviour in Nigeria Jonathan’s name will be written in the book of life. Jonathan will usher in the Messiah that would cause the change the country needs. So further attempts, by any individual or group to frustrate his effort at doing so will be visited by the wrath or God.

The religious leaders have been placed the blame squarely at the door steps of the other prophets in Nigeria. The prophets have refused to crown the anointed in spite of the divine direction to that effect. The Christian Association of Nigeria has foreseen the glory since 1985 but they have refuse to let the glory go all over Africa and the entire world to the this is why were having this great in Nigeria. It is of the strong conventions that just as prophets in the early days of Israelites proclaim their kings so also should Nigerian prophets proclaim and crown the anointed king in Nigeria. A king is born to lead Nigeria, Africa and the entire world he is the moon, a star born, the president of presidents, the light of the world it is a glory for Nigeria. A gift given to Nigeria but Nigeria has neglected it and that is why you see Nigeria in negative form. The spirit says, touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm. Instead Nigeria planed to destroy the anointed man of God by trying their demonic spiritually power to eliminate the son of man for the second time. Thank God the Holy Spirit has triumphed to save Nigeria, he is the mighty man in battle.

On Boko Haram sponsors

God has warned that strange deaths would soon befall sponsors of the Boko Haram group if they do not resist for their violent activities. Further attempts by sponsors of the Boko Haram sect to undermine the leadership of the country and plunge the nation into more crises would be resisted by the Almighty God who has enthroned President Goodluck Jonathan as the man to usher in the messiah the country needs now.

Can’t Nigerian politicians save the country?

The spirit says the Senate, House of Representatives, Federal Ministers, State Commissioners, State Governors do not have the spiritual and heavenly backing to set Nigeria free because corruption have eating deep in them rather they should repent for God to heal the land called Nigeria.

On religious leaders

The spirit says, he that is standing should stand firm so that he or she does not fall. The religious leaders have failed the nation. The judgment will be upon them for denying Christ his glory it is easier for former President Olusegun Obasanjo to go heaven than the religious men in Nigeria to make heaven because they saw glory in Nigeria but they could not deliver.

Finally, the Spirit of God, the son of man, the black Saviour have been in the wilderness for 41 years praying fasting, fighting a battle against the evil forces in the nation for a better Nigeria. But the hour has come when President Goodluck Jonathan will recognise the son of man whom the heavenly Father has sent with the seven spirits from above to guide him and save the country from destruction

God’s mercy on Nigeria

A New Jerusalem has emerged in Nigeria. God’s mercy towards Nigeria is a promise that his light has come upon the new nation. She shall arise and shine. His people shall know the truth and the truth shall set them free. God in his infinite mercy after serious supplies from dedicated Christians and Muslims nationwide. He has promised to forgive Nigeria her sins and bless her. Just as he forgave Nineveh when he sent Jonah to preach repentance. God will heal the conscience of the nation. Workers able to earn a living by sincerely devoting time to paid employment and or business enterprises so much so that service attracts a just reward and guarantees personal fulfilment in every area of their lives. The Father promised to heal the international image and take disgrace and oppressions away from Nigeria sons and daughters abroad. The nation will stand tall among the nations of the world as a force to be reckoned with. All who hatred Nigeria will seek to make friends with Nigeria again. Many Nigerians would return home because things will be better in Nigeria than elsewhere in the world where they have gone to guest for green pastures. Food shall flourish and Nigeria will glorify God. The mineral wealth under the soil shall flourish and blossom. I blessed Nigeria. I will make her a blessing to other nations for his Glory.

The nation will become the greatest and best country for pilgrimage in the world. The nation will be called Holy, because the runners in a race only one takes the price, which Jesus has won for the nation. I hereby declare to Nigerians and the world that Jesus the governor amongst the nation, he has stepped into the terrain and he is going to reign in Nigeria as the Prince of peace, the light of world, the Messiah. Only one moon covers the whole world. That moon or the star is Nigeria. All that is needed is for President Goodluck Jonathan to recognise the presence of the saviour and welcome the glory. Nigeria will have everlasting peace. The spirits of God have come down with the host of angels from above to sanitise the nation in 2011. This message is for the President, the Governors, the Media, and Senators, the House of Reps, the federal executives, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Muslims, the politicians and the entire nation. God bless Nigeria.
Source: Daily Champion, 24th July 2011.

 

Nationalism: Key to Nigeria’s rebirth 

Azuka Onwuka ,azuka.brand@augustconsulting.biz  0809-URBRAND

Nationalism is devotion or commitment to one’s own country. It is synonymous with patriotism. It is not a habit to exhibit at events for the sake of the cameras. Although wearing of items that bear the national colours on one’s body or on one’s car or adorning one’s private or business premises is commendable, it is not the best way to gauge one’s sense of patriotism or nationalism. This may be a show meant to score cheap political points like the politicians and political office holders do to win votes or retain their posts. Nationalism is a way of life. It is passion. It burns in the heart and manifests in all actions of a person, including the thoughts of such a person concerning his/her nation. It manifests in what one is willing to sacrifice in the interest of one’s nation.

Regrettably, Nigeria has been consistently taking actions that tend to deepen the gulf that exists among the ethnic groups within the nation. The quota system or federal character policy that is meant to ensure that the weak is not suppressed and sidelined by the strong has been employed to deny Nigerians things that they should ordinarily get on merit. It has helped to create bad blood among the people. It has helped to promote mediocrity, especially in education and employment into government institutions. In addition, state of origin rather than state of residence/birth is emphasized in all government forms. This continues to deepen the gulf between the “sons of the soil” and the “settlers”, which has led to many clashes and killings in several parts of the country for decades.

If we stretch the leadership issue further, some trends will be obvious. Let’s ask why Nigerian-owned institutions are crumbling but the private ones are flourishing or staying afloat. The same leaders run the public and the private institutions but the public ones continue to nose-dive across all sectors. Why has Daily Times crumbled but The Punch and The Guardian and others are waxing strong? Why is the MUSON Centre blossoming but the National Arts Theatre that is more beautiful, spacious and bigger has been battling to stay alive? Why is the Nigerian Telecommunications is dead, but MTN and Glo and others are solid? Why are the federal government-owned teaching hospitals a sorry sight but the private hospitals are above average? The same question needs to be asked about government schools and private schools. The answer is simple: Nigeria is seen as no man’s business, a country that needs to be exploited to the fullest by anyone who has the “good fortune” to be in charge of any sphere of its national life.

It is painful that Nigeria is seen as a national cake that is available for cutting by those who are fortunate to be in political power. The nation is seen as “abandoned property”. It reminds one of the story of a whale washed ashore the Atlantic Ocean which attracted hundreds of people with axes and machetes with which they cut off as much as they could while the largesse lasted. If a petroleum pipe bursts in any part of Nigeria, the first reaction of the locals will be to rush to the site with containers to scoop as much fuel as possible, but if the wall of a community hall in Nnewi, Kafanchan or Ijero-Ekiti collapses, the locals will not rush in to cart away the furniture and electronics. On the contrary, the locals will stand guard around the site to ensure that nobody steals from the community hall. The reason is simple: Nigeria virtually belongs to no one, while the communities are seen as personal. Nigerians see Nigeria as “their own”, while the respective ethnic groups see ethnic groups or towns as “our own”.

Notwithstanding the bad scenario, there have been some Nigerians who recorded excellent achievements while handling one government agency or the other. Let’s not mention their names to avoid being accused of patronage or favouritism. But a look at some of these figures, especially those that held sway in the last decade, will reveal that they were all highly passionate about their jobs. They took their duties personal. They took on the high and mighty who were clogs in the wheel of progress. Most importantly, they were ready to die in the service to their fatherland: some of them even had gun attacks in the course of performing their national duties but they refused to be cowed. That was a display of nationalism and patriotism.

 Only when Nigerians are ready and willing to die for Nigeria in the course of their duty, if need be, can Nigeria experience tangible growth and progress. Only when Nigerians are eager to think Nigeria first will they be able to rise and demand good governance. For several decades this nationalistic fervour has been lacking in Nigerians. It needs to be inculcated. But also the led need to know that the country will protect them always, in whatever part of the world they are. They need to know that if they die for the nation, the nation will honour them and remember their efforts. The President needs to exude a high level of patriotism. Our national emblems need to be vigorously promoted. All these will help to reshape the image of Nigeria and place the nation on the path of rebirth.
Source: Daily Independent, 24th July 2011.

 

Of Boko Haram and Nigeria’s unity (1)

Bombing at Police HQ

By Olugu Orji

Someone who had read a piece I wrote some weeks back titled, How I became a Nigerian confronted me with this question; Do you believed in Biafra? I guess the query arose because I’d indicated that Biafra was the first country I came to know as a child. I actually did have to become Nigerian.

Before I address the question, let me state something by way of definition to eliminate all ambiguity about what Biafra is.

The Biafra in question is certainly not a personality nor is it a political unit with cadastral limits. That Biafra expired in the wee hours of 1970. That leaves us with the issue of Biafra as an idea. That, I think is the one I’ll be dealing with.

To get a grip on the concept of Biafra, we must revisit the unfortunate events of the ill-fated first republic.

After being granted that dubious independence in 1960 and becoming a republic two years later, the ship of the Nigerian state careened from one crisis to another in its elusive search for stability and legitimacy. And you can trust politicians on this count: their characteristic hubris and unbridled corruption will always nudge the polity to the edge of the precipice. In 1966, a group of ambitious, middle-level army officers took one look at the emerging scenario and elected to intervene; violently. Through a quirk of fate, the putsch was successful around the federation save in the south-east. Incidentally, the ring leaders of the initiative were mostly of south-eastern extraction or more specifically, Igbo. On the whole, that audacious initiative failed; as I believe it was destined to. The first republic effectively expired ushering in military rule headed by the inimitable General John Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi: an Igbo man.

Predictably, there were reprisals against the Igbo and their interests especially in Northern Nigeria. Thousands of Igbo were horrendously slaughtered in a pogrom that was a precursor to the genocidal war. Aguiyi-Ironsi himself was to pay the supreme price in a well articulated military ambush in Ibadan. He was felled alongside his host, Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi; then military governor of the Western Region.

The Igbo, no longer assured of safety outside their homeland, were compelled to make the unpalatable and precarious journey home; abandoning all their properties and investment. The cerebral Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, then military governor of Southern Nigeria, was under intense pressure to extract some form of guarantee for the safety of the Igbo across the federation. There were numerous summits and conferences convened in a bid to hammer out a compromise. In spite of the celebrated meeting of all stakeholders in Aburi, Ghana, then Nigerian head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon could offer no such guarantee as the killing and persecution of the Igbo continued unabated. It was this dire situation that forced the hand of the south-eastern leadership towards secession thereby declaring the sovereign state of Biafra in 1967. The horrors of the 30-month long civil war are properly documented for the benefit of all who’re not afraid to confront the crude truth.

•Olugu Orji, Plot 542 Durumi District, Abuja
08051130539, 08032648369
oluguorji@yahoo.com
Skype: olugu.orji3
Source: Sun, 28th June 2011.

 

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...May split Nigeria like Darfur –Gambari

Bombing at Police HQ 1

From YINKA FABOWALE, Ibadan

Nigeria can not afford to ignore the festering terrorist attacks by Boko Haram sect and other internal security threats, but had better tackle it headlong to prevent the nation going the way of war-torn Sudan and Darfur.

Former Nigeria permanent representative to the United Nations, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, gave the advice yesterday as the guest speaker at a lecture organised by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CEPACS), University of Ibadan (UI) to commemorate the World Refugee Day.

Gambari noted that recent events in the country such as the Boko Haram attacks, the bloody violence being perpetrated by members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers and militancy in the Niger-Delta region, among others were threats to national cohesion and economic development.

In his words: “They are pointers to the fact that Xthe nation is still far from being there.”

Prof. Gambari, the current Special Representative of the Joint African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) especially observed that Nigeria shared so many affinities with Sudan, particularly in terms of plurality of religion and ethnicity, which made it susceptible to possible disintegration as the Central African country.

To this end, he said the situations must be critically studied for the country to learn how to prevent similar crisis.

The diplomat, who spoke on: The Challenges of Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons in Peace Processes and in Rapidly Changing Times: The Case of Darfur, said in as much as the nation’s intervention was needed in the war torn- Darfur, the Federal Government must put its house in order to prevent the country from suffering a similar fate.

His words: “There are seven million Sudanese of Nigeria origin in Sudan, the only country separating us is Chad, so Nigeria cannot ignore the conflicts in this area, we must study it and learn from it.

He tasked the Nigerian government to rise to the task and ensure that the human rights of the people and its democratic process were put in order.

He stressed the need for Nigerian leaders to prevent the normalisation of the seeming domestic abnormal situation as well as the abnormal situation in the crisis torn Darfur whereby huge numbers of internationally huge persons continue to live in camps and refugees reside abroad.

“Let us also remember that peace and security are prerequisites in the path to prosperity, therefore, Nigeria has a responsibility to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in our region and continent. This country must work harder to establish internal cohesion, political stability and socio-economic development. This will enhance the credibility of its foreign policy.

He also lamented the increased number of refugees and internally displaced persons across the world, saying about 1.7 million people are currently displaced in Darfur while there were over 300 refugees in Chad.

Gambari said Nigeria had an obligatory leadership role in the region and must rise up to the challenge and prevent disintegration in the war Ztorn area.

He said, XNigeria, with its immense human and natural resources has an obligatory leadership role in the region and the world. It is the strength of the Nigerian people and the strength of the institutions in the country that can translate this leadership into a force for good by strengthening our role in conflict prevention, peace keeping and peace building. I would like to reiterate that the nature of conflict has changed, Africa has changed and the Nigerian leadership is wanted, desired and needed. Today, Africa and the rest of the world expect us to lead our region in making the 21st century the African century.î

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole, appealed to Nigerian leaders to steer the country away from degenerating into arefugee situation by promoting good governance.

* The current situation in Darfur, Rwanda, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan is not far from us, unless we retrace our steps and embrace dialogue, with our current population of over 150million we are capable of displacing the entire West African sub region and African continent and causing huge political, social and economic dislocations.
Source: Sun, 21st June 2011.

 

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Lesson in Terror 101

Bombing at Police HQ 5

Engagements By Chidi Amuta. Email & Tel: chidiamuta@thisdayonline.com, 08056504733

Two days before the bomb attack on police headquarters, a title for my next column continued to play repeatedly in my head. It was simply this: “I Am Afraid”. The inspiration, the palpable fear of clear and present dangers, came from a quiet analysis of what I consider the looming dangers ahead of us: massive youth unemployment, angry demonstrations against thieving legislators, endless labour unrest for minimum wage, fuel price hikes, imminent bankruptcy of 65 per cent of state governments, depreciating naira value, flood in susceptible but most unlikely places because of climate change etc.  When I ran this list by a friend, he laughed and quoted the Biblical advice to St. Paul: “Thy much learning maketh thee mad.”

A great deal of discourse on last week’s Boko Haram attack at Louis Edet House may be missing the point. People are not contextualising the incident in the recent political history of the country. In the post military period since 1999, violence or threats of it has become, as it were, a legitimate tool for extracting political and economic concessions from the central authority. I am afraid that the emergence of Boko Haram and its recent activities, including the Louis Edet House bombing incident last week, forms a new chapter in the post-1999 politics of violent blackmail and choreographed intimidation.

In the aftermath of the June 12, 1993 election cancellation, the South-west, first with National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and later with Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and Afenifere, made the business of national governance more difficult. It was not so much actual acts of violence as threats of it and of course the inevitable deafening noise that compelled the nation to settle for some of restitution for the region in order to assuage the feelings that had pent up over the June 12 matter.

In the end, the 1999 elections were between two candidates from the South-west - Olu Falae and Olusegun Obasanjo.  The standard war cry of that campaign was the need for “true and genuine democracy”, which was a short hand for the imperative of a Yoruba president. The Federal Government had to engage the OPC and its allies in a series of dialogues. The inevitable consequence was that Obasanjo “won” the 1999 and 2003 elections and ruled Nigeria for eight years. While that lasted, the shout for “true democracy” was somewhat drowned. The man even dignified the struggle that brought him to power by decreeing May 29th, the date he was sworn in as national democracy day.

While that lasted, the Niger Delta was allowed to fester into a zone of embarrassing instability and national security nightmare.  Subsequently, no set of political calculations about the future of Nigeria could be complete without factoring in the Niger Delta in the contest for national leadership.  Again the war cry was the need for “resource control” and justice and equity in the disposition of oil revenue. A chain of kidnappings of oil operatives, disruptions of oil and gas supplies, a feast of oil bunkering and countless pipeline sabotaging as well as orchestrated campaigns internationally and locally followed. Bombs were exploded in Warri, Port Harcourt, Asaba, Atlas Cove, Lagos and the precincts of Eagle Square to drive the message home.

At the height of it, the Federal Government of President Obasanjo had to negotiate with an assortment of militant leaders. On one such despicable moment, the presidency sent a presidential jet to fetch one of the militants, red carpet and all. The late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua followed in the same vein until he lost his patience and stormed Camp 5 in Delta State. That is the effective background to the political concessions to the Niger Delta and the Goodluck Jonathan presidency.

The political wing of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) staged a series of political skirmishes to drive home the claims of the North on political leadership of the nation in the 2011 elections. The collapse of the Atiku Abubakar bid and the entire consensus candidate project was not going to be the end of that interest. Boko Haram may not be a logical consequence of the political sequestration of the North.

Boko Haram has not stated any political or economic claims per se.  But they are claiming responsibility for nearly every act of instability in the Northern half of the country. Their war cry is an insistence on the introduction of sharia law in as many Northern states as possible. But that may be politics by other means. We have heard that before.  Rewind to the Obasanjo regime: from nowhere a movement to enthrone sharia rule in most states of the North arose and acquired a life of its own. Some governors who ended up being branded common thieves spearheaded the movement, which ordinarily should have dictated that they lose their limbs severed in accordance with the cause they were championing. Obasanjo called it “political sharia”. No one knows whether the sharia of the Obasanjo governors of the North and that of Boko Haram are the same.

For now though, the perpetrators of the series of bombings in the Northern half are not to be dismissed as a bunch of misguided or naive fanatics. There is a deep strategic pattern to these attacks. The targets are carefully selected: police barracks, police armouries in Maiduguri, army camps in and around Abuja, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) logistics centres in Niger State right in the middle of the country and now the police headquarters in the heart of the federal capital. A building that looks more like a hurriedly built general high-rise elite high school or general hospital than the headquarters of a serious police force. The fact that the Boko Haram should graduate into an itinerant bomb throwing squad at a time that the Northern half of the Nigerian federation is smarting under the loss of political control of the country is an untidy coincidence.

The geography of the Boko Haram thing must concern all those who are security perceptive. It took roots in the Northern fringe of the country, a vast and bewildering stretch of territory that, unmanned, can stretch to Chad, Niger, Sudan etc. It offers access to influences and forces that are dangerous to both Nigeria and international security in matters of Islamic religious fundamentalism and its attendant terrorism

It is also true that they are not taking hostages and asking for money. Anyone who has studied the pattern of use of violence to attain political ends in the Islamic world would know that the foot soldiers of these movements do not care about material gains. A suicide bomber cares little about living to the next moment. He has his rewards set somewhere higher. Hostage taking for money is not for these guys. And they have a staying power too.  Above, the system with its deprivations and pervasive poverty has a way of reproducing foot soldiers for jihadist movements. Go to Yemen and see the relationship between pervasive poverty and hopelessness on hand and fundamentalist violence on the other.

And with Boko Haram, the Nigerian security system enters a fresh zone, war with an invisible adversary; with no address and no borders. With the Niger Delta, the security forces knew the camps of the militants. Once Yar’Adua decided to take out Camp 5 in Delta State, all militant formations in the region knew the game was up. Their followers scampered in all directions. The offer of amnesty was easy to put forward for all those that did not want to be wiped out. Pax Nigeriana however came in exchange for the key to the presidential mansion to a son of the Niger Delta.

What to do now?  We dialogued with OPC and Afenifere. We even waived party registration criteria to get Alliance for Democracy (AD) on the ballot. We dialogued with all the formations of the Niger Delta militancy movement. Our presidents had photo opportunities with all manner of miscreants and opportunists, most of who cannot stand for or win elections in their wards. So, discussions with Boko Haram must now resume for the sake of innocent people who stand to lose life and limbs in this frenzy of bomb throwing that may continue. The possibility that last week’s attack may have been suicide bombing (I suspect device mistiming, though!) increases the urgency of this dialogue.

If anybody or group of persons feel so strongly about any issue that they are ready to ride in a bomb laden car or strap themselves with suicide belts and pull the detonator, then minimally we should hear them out. When suicide begins to hold an appeal to youth, it is either that their lives have become so meaningless that there is no difference between living and dying. It may even be that the causes for which they are ready to die have become more important than the ones worth living for. It could also mean that they have crossed that point where they know that those responsible for their woes would kill them all the same either instantly or slowly if they make their grievances known. In every way, we are in that realm where economics, politics and violence meet in tragic tangle.

When a people famed for their love of life begin to show signs of opting for instant death because the good life they love is no longer attainable or worth waiting for, then we must stop and listen to the echoes of our own errors.

But dialoguing with terrorists has its problems. It emboldens others and elevates common criminals into celebrities. Once a legitimate government begins to hold talks with illegitimate vendors of terror, the monopoly of authorised violence, which belongs to the state alone, is compromised. New groups emerge. New factions crawl out of the woodwork. Soon the matter gets out of control and the management of terror becomes a full time national undertaking with the attendant diversion of much needed resources to a war against terror. Add to this the fledgling financial terrorism of the legislators and the nation may be headed for an apocalyptic precipice.

On the general matter of the weakness of our national security apparatus and its dated operational code, we must remain insistent. No number of advertorials by the national security chiefs will replace the intelligence that is not being gathered about too many simple things. National security is not just a matter of helping politicians identify their opponents or swamping VIP convoys with myriad guards brandishing big guns.

Beyond all these, we come back to the ultimate responsibility of the state. When a state weakens itself to the point where it has to dialogue with revolving factions of its own citizens simply because they are competing with the state on the use of violence, we have a problem.  When a state becomes incapacitated by bands of miscreants and needs to bribe them in order to carry on the business of governance or national economic activity, then we are in trouble.

In every situation, threatening the state with violence must remain criminal and treasonable. Love of peace and democracy cannot absolve the state from the imperative of stamping its authority on every inch of the Nigerian space. Once the state makes terrorism and armed insurgency unattractive, we will have peace and quiet. If it does otherwise (as is the case now), we will live in fear. But for now, each new chapter of dialogue with terrorists is an invitation for greater terror.
 

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Boko Haram: The Unconsidered Variables

Boko Haramers Arrested

The Verdict According To Olusegun Adeniyi. Email, olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

When the BBC published the photograph which showed that Mohammed Yusuf was alive when captured by the army, I knew we could no longer keep quiet and that the point had to be made that extra-judicial execution had no place under the rule of law. As, I however, waited to see the president who was in a meeting with the VP, I made the mistake of openly voicing out my concern about what I considered extra-judicial execution. This did not go down well with a PDP Governor from the North East who was also waiting to see the president. “Segun, I sometimes wonder on whose side you really are. This is someone who killed several policemen and innocent people and all that concerns you is what some human rights noisemakers would say?”

The Governor and I had a hot exchange on the matter and since he saw the president ahead of me, I was not surprised when my principal bluntly refused to discuss the matter. While I worried about the image of the government, I could also understand the anger of the police whose men were brutally killed. Photographs of the murdered officers were so gruesome that it was difficult not to comprehend the raw emotion that could have led some people into taking the law into their own hands. Some of these photographs were handed to the president. While I appreciated his feelings, I also believed that jungle justice, no matter the provocation, cannot be justified by agents of state. To compound the situation, someone posted on YouTube a video stream of the interrogation of Yusuf by the police after he was captured and shortly before he died...

The Boko Haram menace was one of the issues the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had to confront in his last year in office as can be glimpsed from the above excerpt from my coming book, a recap of something that happened in 2009. While the jury may be out now on whether his approach was the correct one, there was no doubt about his determination to root out different forms of extremism from our body polity using carrot or by stick. In the light of last week’s attack on the Police Headquarters by a suspected Boko Haram ‘suicide bomber’, however, I believe the security agencies should adopt a more open mind in their current investigation. Except they do that, they are likely to continue to grope in the dark with dire consequences for the nation.

It is for instance baffling how someone could jump to the conclusion that it was suicide bombing a few minutes after the explosion just because the suspect also died in the attack. What about the more plausible theory that another person (standing at a safe distance) might have held the detonator to the bomb and decided to trigger the explosion on seeing that their man would be apprehended? If it was suicide bombing, why drive to the general car park when there were several policemen at the gate or the IGP's car pack where there would have been more impact? And if it is not suicide bombing as claimed, has the entire investigation not been compromised?

These are some of the several questions begging for answers but there are far more fundamental issues to deal with if we must get to the root of the Boko Haram problem. The guiding philosophy behind this sect, as we have been told over the years, is opposition to all forms of Western education but the pattern of their attacks since formation in 2002 reveals something else. For a group supposedly opposed to secular education, not one single school or an institution of learning has been attacked. Rather, what the adherents have been attacking are police barracks and supposed supporters of the former governor of Borno State, Alhaji Modu Ali Sherrif.

While there have been several collateral damages--as it is common in instances like this where innocent bystanders get caught in the crossfire--the spokesmen of the sect have never minced words about the fact that they are after Sherrif and the police. Instructively, the newly elected governor of Borno state has proposed granting amnesty to Boko Haram faithfuls as a way of ending the problem. Whatever the merits of this proposition, it also conveys a profound message because amnesty (which cannot be a cure-all for every security challenge) is only given and accepted in a political dispute between two parties known to each other.

What that means in effect is that the Boko Haram leadership, like the Niger Delta militants, are known to the Borno authorities and their grievances are such that can be addressed. This is also fine except that it then brings us to one inescapable conclusion: this is not a religious crisis as being presented by the media and the authorities; Boko Haram, when stripped of all its pretensions, is a political crisis which could be resolved once the adherents find common grounds with the police authorities and the Borno state government.

That the late Boko Haram leader was given the Osama Bin Laden treatment by the police is now almost beyond dispute but they were not clever and for that reason nearly ruined the career of a brilliant military officer who commanded the 2009 Boko Haram operation which captured Yusuf alive. But for the timely intervention of one official, Col Ben Ahanoto would have been dismissed from service based on spurious reports from people who were looking for scapegoats to cover up for their own failings.

Even at that, I do not buy the argument that it is because of the killing of Yusuf that Boko Haram men are attacking the police. That cannot be the case given that policemen have been their targets since they came into public reckoning. To find a solution to this problem therefore, government must be able to ascertain what their real grievances are. This is important because the sect comes under the guise of religion which we all know is an easy recruitment tool in a nation with millions of idle youths and where doing God’s business is now the biggest business.

While Boko Haram, however, poses a serious challenge, I do not subscribe to the hysteria that Nigeria has become an unsafe place on account of their audacity of last week. I just believe what happened merely exposed the inadequacy many Nigerians have always suspected in our police. That security would be so casually breached at their headquarters is a profound message that shames the Inspector General of Police, Mr Hafiz Ringim, who must now know (assuming he did not know before) that he has a lot of work to do.

What is particularly worrisome for me is the reportage in a section of the media which tends to glorify the violence. Quoting imaginary sources within the sect who promise to unleash all manner of mayhem and giving such reports sensational treatment is very unhelpful under the current circumstance. It can only fuel the problem and even encourage political lone wolves who may hide under Boko Haram to perpetrate havocs just to destabilize the system perhaps to prove some sinister point against the current administration. That would not be in the interest of the nation we all call our own.

The security agencies definitely need to do more to engage senior people in the media. Slanting the Boko Haram narrative into the politics of North and South and the emergence of a Southern Christian president is just the kind of journalism we do not need right now. I don’t think that the heightened spate of attacks by Boko Haram has anything to do with the election of President Goodluck Jonathan though if care is not taken it could well be exploited by unconscionable politicians.

The point being made here is that there does not appear to be any religious underpinning behind the ‘suicide bombing’ of last week at the Louis Edet House. It looked more like a failed attempt on the Inspector General of Police, if only to send a message to his men and officers that they are not beyond reach. That explains why I am confident that a solution will be found to the Boko Haram problem the moment the authorities addressed the political element while dealing with the security challenge posed by the porous border between Nigeria and some of its neighbours, particularly Chad and Niger.

Error of Fact

Following the conclusion of my two-part column, ‘The Days of the Cabal’, last week, a senior professional colleague, Mr Tony Iyare, drew my attention to a factual error committed in the piece. I had written about the charge against the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua that the three spokespersons appointed by President Olusegun Obasanjo were Yoruba and Christians. But while the three were indeed all Yoruba, only Dr. Doyin Okupe and Mrs Oluremi Oyo were Christians. Mr. Tunji Oseni, of blessed memory, was a Muslim. I stand corrected.

The True Essence of FoI Act

Right from the time I started writing this column more than a decade ago, I always made it a point of duty to personally reply all mails from readers, including the critical ones, because I believe I am also accountable to them. But given the huge number of mails I have received in recent days, it is very difficult for me to reply all individually. I therefore use this forum to express my appreciation to all who have written in. In the deluge of mails, however, I take note of a particular one. The writer said pointedly that I no longer have any credibility to comment on public issues because at a critical time in the life of the nation when he and several people looked up to me, I colluded with the ‘cabal’ and am only now talking because I got a soft landing. He added that whatever I wrote in a book would not change his opinion of me. I appreciate his mail as I do hundreds of others which were very supportive.

The writer is entitled to his opinion and preference, but I want to correct the impression that my coming book on the Yar’Adua years is an attempt at self-justification-- far from it. The idea behind the book was to proffer a better understanding of governance in Nigeria with all its promises, foibles and failings using my experience as a case study. Fortunately, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs provided me the platform for such introspection. With a nice office and a lot of time to myself, a brilliant undergraduate as a research assistant and the enormous intellectual resources of Harvard University at my disposal, I spent the better part of the last one year in the United States reflecting on our challenge as a nation.

While conceding that I might have committed some errors of judgement in office, I can live with the consequences of the choices I made for which I have no regrets. I am writing out of a conviction that people who go to public office must enrich public discourse with their experience and now with the Freedom of Information (FoI) already signed by President Jonathan, there is no longer any excuse for not doing so. What is baffling to me, however, is that our public officials are actually very meticulous when it comes to keeping record for themselves. General Ibrahim Babangida duplicated all the State House files and went home with them. They are in his private library in Minna. 18 Years after he left office, he has not provided an insight into a single issue on what was actually a momentous period in our socio-political history. President Olusegun Obasanjo even did better: he went back to Otta with all the original State House files leaving his successor to start running Nigeria on a clean slate!

Interestingly, what I have been getting since last week is this subtle ‘advice’ from people within and outside government that ‘it is too early to write a book about government’. When I counter that elsewhere, as people leave government, they settle down to the immediate task of documenting their experience and insight, the retort has been: ‘But this is Nigeria’. What is so different about Nigeria? Nothing except that we enjoy deluding ourselves that we are different. We are not. In fact, this culture of secrecy associated with public office was not in our character until perhaps about three decades ago. As young as some of us were then, we read varying accounts of the civil war from the memoirs of principal characters like Olusegun Obasanjo, Ben Gbulie, Ademola Ademoyega, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, David Jemibewon et al. So if public officials wrote memoirs in recent past, why has that culture not been sustained? Where exactly did we lose it?

I believe that the real essence of the FoI Act is to demystify government by dispensing with the culture of secrecy associated with it in our country. Increasing public scrutiny on how critical decisions were made can only help to promote a structured engagement in which public officials are held accountable by the people whose interest they seek to serve. I believe that those who go to government must begin to see writing a memoir as part of their civic responsibility central to nation-building, democratisation and development. Perhaps, the knowledge that they would have to render such account after office might even be a sort of check on reckless behaviour.
Source: This Day, 23rd June 2011.

 

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