The Politicking Of A Nation’s Insecurity By Rotimi Fashakin

I f there is anything that is currently giving sleeplessness to
Nigerians, it is problem of Insecurity. Quite rightly so because
the Nigerian President asserted in May 2014 that Boko Haram
insurgency had ensured 12,000 deaths and 8,000 crippled
people. If the constitutional provision in section 14 which states
inter alia- “the primary purpose of the government shall be
the security and welfare of Citizens” – is anything to go by,
Nigerians ought to be comforted by this that their government
shall bring succor to them. Unfortunately, this is not so? Owing
to the insecurity ravaging the Nation is squarely placed at the
doorsteps of Boko Haram, it is necessary to ask ourselves: What
is Boko Haram?
Boko Haram was created in 2002 by Mohammad Yusuf
(1970-2009), a radical Islamist cleric, in Maiduguri, Borno
State. The group had ulterior political goals to create an
Islamic state and impose Sharia laws. The Boko literally means
fake but used for education, while Haram means forbidden. In
concrete terms, Boko Haram means western education is
forbidden. The radical and often violent nature of the
teachings, especially with the declaration on July 30, 2009 by
Mohammad Yusuf that democracy and western education must
change, the security forces stormed the Boko Haram base in
Maiduguri and arrested the leader. Less than twenty four
hours later, Yusuf was later found dead while still in police
custody. The failure to prosecute those security personnel who
were responsible for the extra-judicial killing of the Boko
Haram leader represents one of the primary grievances of the
members of the sect, and can be seen as fanning the embers
of the Boko Haram terrorist campaign against Nigerian
security forces and authorities. In addition to the killing of the
Boko Haram leader, some Nigeria Police operatives were
captured on video in the extra judicial killing of more civilians
(some on crutches!); the attendant failure to prosecute these
trigger-happy cops, in what has defined the injustice of the
Nigerian state, is another grouse of the Boko Haram with the
Country.
The narrative of insurgency in Nigeria (in the last five years)
has been that the Northern Muslims are unwilling to allow a
Christian from the Minority in Southern Nigeria. This has also
been buoyed by the fact at the time that when the late
President Umar Yar’adua was incapacitated – due to the
debility of a terminal illness – to perform his presidential
functions, a tiny clique associated with him prevented the then
VP Goodluck Jonathan from assuming the office in acting
capacity in accordance with constitutional provisions. The
proponents of this view point failed to understand that the
refusal to allow Dr. Goodluck Jonathan become the Acting
President was not a Northern agenda per se but that of a
selfish and greedy cabal, which also included a fellow Christian
Southerner from the Niger delta region, James Ibori.
Furthermore, it needs restating that, in those heady days,
General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB), a Northern Muslim,
personally took a letter to the Senate President, Mr. David
Mark, urging the Nigerian senate to pave way for the swearing
in of the VP Goodluck Jonathan as acting President with full
Executive Powers!
The complexion of insurgency in the last five years has
necessitated a perspicacious analysis of this menace as a way
of properly situating it within the context of the dynamics of
the political and religious balance in the Nigerian state.
Broadly, any breach of security in Nigeria is attributed to
Boko Haram. Whilst the notion that Boko Haram started in 2002
as a result of the need to create an Islamic jurisdiction
whereby sharia laws subsist may have some vim because a
Christian southern was a President then, this argument
becomes deflated by the fact that, in 2009, the group assumed
some frightening state of disorder under a Muslim President.
This, obviously, necessitates the question again: Who is Boko
Haram? Indeed, analyses have shown that there are, at least,
three variants of Boko Haram:
1. The Original Boko Haram led by Mohammad Yusuf which has
an axe to grind with Nigerian security forces, and invariably
Nigeria, for the extra-judicial killing of its leader and
members.
2. The Criminal Boko Haram is involved, through its possession of
lethal weapons, in criminal activities for pecuniary gains.
3. The Political Boko Haram is interested in profiting politically
from deadly insurgent attacks in the country. This is by far
the most virulent of the three Boko Haram variants!
Truly, in view of the mystified phenomenon this insurgent
group has become, it is of paramount importance to probe what
Boko Haram truly is. It is noteworthy that, today, all acts of
infamy bothering on breach of the nation’s security, are
labeled ‘Boko Haram’ because, as it were, this phenomenon
seems to have defied rational logic. Again, let us ourselves:
what is Boko Haram?
Many of the proponents of Boko Haram phenomenon being
Islamic, especially from the predominantly Christian South,
have often argued that the spate of bombings of Christian
churches reveals the agenda to ‘Islamize’ Nigeria. The
propagators of this viewpoint also assert that the petulant
promise by some Northern elements from the core Muslim
North to make Nigeria ungovernable for the current Nigerian
President, who is from the minority Christian south, is the
kernel of the current insurgency pillaging the Nation state.
Though unable to pointedly place their fingers on the identity
of the said Northerners, these people have given full rein to
their line of thought without giving consideration to the
contradictions in this polemic assertion.
First, the spate of bombings or attempted bombing of some
Mosques in the North seems to have removed air from the sail
of the aforementioned line of argument.
On June 23, 2012, attempted bombing of a Mosque in Fage Local
government area of Kano was aborted. As usual, Boko Haram
was credited with this terrorist act. But in a swift reaction,
the Boko Haram group vehemently denied this in a statement
written in Hausa and translated to English:
“Blessed and thanks be to Almighty Allah and merciful. And to
also his Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). After this we wish to
react to what we heard in the media yesterday Friday that
some people attempted to plant bomb in one of the Friday
mosques in Kano City. This jihad being advance by Jama’atu
Ahlissunnah Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad wish to distance itself from
this atrocity, and we are aware that it is such mischief being
orchestrated and in line with the operations of SSS like their
counterparts in other parts of the world; all in the bid of
blackmailing Mujahedeens. And they will not succeed by the
power of Almighty Allah, because everybody knows that we are
doing only Jihad towards ensuring adhering to Muslim system.
It is because of this that we were being said to be “Islamic
Extremists”, and so how can we bomb where Allah is being
worshipped? Because of this, it is just mischief of those kicking
against the realization of Islamic state, and they will not
achieve their sinister plot with the power of Allah on our side.
“We are happy to express our happiness and joy because of the
gallantry Almighty Allah granted our brother Habibu Bama, we
are hoping Allah accepts this act of martyrdom and his
sacrifice to Jihad, dying in the field of war is a pride and most
cherished last pride of a real Muslim. “Again, we are warning
the media up to now to brace up, because like they know we are
working very hard to avoid face up with them. But up to now
some of them did not understand us. Because like we put it as a
condition to them, any media outlet that knows they will not
report our messages as we put in correct form, it should not
disseminate it completely, even from the government side
concerning us and even if it is Goodluck Jonathan that talk
about us. They shouldn’t make a mistake and report it. And if
they make mistake and report it, then whatever that befall
them, they should cry with themselves.”
After this incident, there had been actual bombings of other
Mosques in the North:
(a) Emir’s Mosque, Kano was bombed on April 4, 2013 leaving
one person dead. This came less than 24 hours after the
inauguration of the 26-member Boko Haram committee by the
Federal Government.
(b) A Mosque in Konduga in North East region, leaving 44
persons dead on August, 10, 2013.
(c) On April 6, 2014, gunmen with IEDs reportedly came in 15
Hilux vehicles and attacked a Mosque in Buni/gari, Yobe State.
17 persons were killed and several houses were torched! It must
be noted that Buni/Gari is six kilometers south of Buni / Yadi
where, a month earlier at the Federal Government College, 29
male students were killed and the girls were abducted.
Second, it is also important to note that the killing of Major
General Mohammed Shuwa, a notable Northern Muslim and civil
war veteran, on November 2, 2012 by four gunmen who posed as
his guests in his Maiduguri residence has also dealt a fatal blow
on this argument of the insecurity in the North being
orchestrated to force President Goodluck Jonathan, a
Christian from Minority southern ethnic bloc, out of office.
Boko Haram also brought out a swift statement, through its
spokesman Abu Mohammed Abdulaziz, exculpating the group
from any complicity in the cold-blooded murder.
Third, if there is still any vestige of doubt left in anyone about
the unmeritorious content of the aforesaid argument, the last
Wednesday (July 23, 2014) attempted Murder of the former
Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) through a
car bomb in Kaduna, should dispel such as this murderous
impudence could not have come from Boko Haram. On the same
day in Kaduna, an Islamic scholar and preacher, Sheik Dahiru
Usman Bauchi, was targeted in the first car bomb that
altogether left about 89 persons dead and scores injured. What
is befuddling in the Wednesday bomb blast, especially the one
involving GMB, was the spontaneity of a large army of
analysts, like a herded community, argued against the
possibility of any complicity by the government! What was most
baffling was the nabbing of a cross-dressed young man,
caught by the military near the bomb blast, and accused as
being responsible for the blast. It seems to be a sordid way of
sinking to the ludicrous level in absurdity!
On the contrary, the protagonists on other side of the
polemical exchange have argued that the spate of bombings
should be placed squarely on the laps of President Goodluck
Jonathan’s government. This view, according to these elements,
is based on some verifiable facts:
a. On October 1, 2010, while the 50th Independence
Anniversary was going on at the Eagle Square, Abuja, two
bomb blasts occurred outside the venue. Eight persons
were confirmed dead. The explosions came an hour after
the main militant group in the oil-rich Niger delta, the
Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
(MEND), threatened in an email, about an hour earlier,
to attack the festivities and warned people to evacuate
the area. “Several explosive devices have been
successfully planted in and around the venue by our
operatives working inside the government security
services,” the email, signed by spokesman Jomo Gbomo ,
said. “In evacuating the area, keep a safe distance from
vehicles and trash bins.” President Goodluck Jonathan,
who was inspecting a guard of honour at the time, called
it a “wicked act of desperation by criminals and
murderers”.
b. However, President Goodluck Jonathan later absolved
MEND of any complicity in the blast when he said: “It is
not MEND.” This statement raised eyebrows across the
land as the official statement from the security agencies
on the cause of the bomb blasts had not come. The
question was: Did the President know who did it since he
knew who did not? In a new twist to the issue, Mr. Henry
Okah, the MEND leader, deposed to an affidavit (in case
no:A570/10) in faraway South Africa that MEND was
not only responsible, but that President Jonathan knew
about it and wanted them to pin it on some Northern
elements who were contesting the People’s Democratic
Party (PDP) presidential ticket with President Jonathan
at the time. High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, the campaign
manager of one of the contestants (former Military
President Ibrahim Babangida) was arrested by security
Agencies in connection with the bomb blast. But as soon
as General Babangida withdrew from the race, Dr.
Dokpesi was released and adopted into the campaign
organization of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan! It should be
remembered that about a month before the blast
(September 8,2010), President Goodluck Jonathan
removed the Muslim Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General
Abdurrahman Dambazzau and appointed, in his place,
Major General Onyeabo Ihejirika, a Christian from the
Southern Nigerian Igbo ethnic stock.
(b) On June 16, 2011, an unnamed man held a meeting with
former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Hafiz Ringim, and
later joined the convoy of the Police chief to the office. Within
the precinct of the Police Force Headquarters, this fellow
reportedly detonated a car bomb that killed sixty persons,
including a Commissioner of Police.
(c) On August 11, 2011, a car bomb ripped apart the United
Nations office building in Abuja leaving many people dead. At
the scene of the carnage, President Goodluck Jonathan
reportedly told Journalists, inter alia: “Other countries have
experienced terrorism, may be this is the turn of Nigeria.”
(d) Nuhu Mohammed Marafa (Alias Babawo), a suspected
financier of Boko Haram and close associate of Vice President
Namadi Sambo, was arrested on January 17, 2012 for illegal
possession of Arms and ammunitions. The case, charged to a
Magistrate Court, was dismissed for lack of diligent
prosecution.
(e) President Goodluck Jonathan, at the Ecumenical center in
Abuja during the 2012 Armed Forces’ Remembrance Day, said
that his government had been infiltrated by Boko Haram
elements. But till date, no single high profile arrest has been
made of anyone (in his government) connected with the Boko
Haram group.
(f) On April 28, 2012, the late National Security Adviser (NSA),
General Andrew Owoye Azazi, at an interactive security
conference in Warri, asserted that the Boko Haram insurgency
ravaging the country was from the People’s Democratic Party
(PDP). On account of this straight-from-the-gut assertion,
General Azazi was unceremoniously removed, though he was
from the same Ijaw ethnic stock with President Jonathan.
(g) Senator Ali Ndume, through his lawyer (Mr. Ricky Tarfa,
SAN), deposed to an affidavit on May 26, 2012 that Vice
President Namadi Sambo gave Boko Haram the telephone
number to call for peace process and that, all his dealings with
the group, were with the acquiescence of the President’s
deputy.
(h) On November 2, 2012, President Jonathan’s Federal
Government announced that Boko Haram had appointed
General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) as its negotiator in the
proposed peace talks. Quite expectedly, GMB refused to swallow
this gambit saying, he could not negotiate on behalf of a group
whose murderous escapades across the land were clearly
anything but Islamic. He also seized the occasion to lampoon the
Federal Government for deploying soldiers that mindlessly
killed indiscriminately in the North on the pretense of fighting
terrorism. This view, of course, tallied with views by the
Northern Elders’ Forum, and for which a formal protest to the
International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague was planned, that
the Army under the former Chief, Lt. General Azubike
Ihejirika, used the war on terrorism as a subterfuge for
massive killings of innocent Northerners with outright genocidal
intent.
(i) On May 26, 2013, Emergency rule was declared on Adamawa,
Borno and Yobe states , three Northern States – considered to
be on the frontline of the Insurgency campaign – as a result of
loud uproar by the citizens about President Jonathan’s seeming
reticence in frontally confronting the menace. But the spate
of increased bombings in these states did not really justify the
increased presence of the Military in the last one year. For
instance, on February 25, 2014, gunmen violated the serenity of
the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi. After the dust
settled, twenty-nine male students were killed and the female
counterparts abducted. These dead young Nigerians were not
even considered worthy of respect with a minute silence at the
centenary celebration that opened about twenty-four hours
later. Till date, President Goodluck Jonathan has not thought it
worthy to visit the school. Also, on the night of April 14, 2014,
two hundred and seventy six female students were abducted in
Chibok, Borno State. This particular infamy drew the outrage
of the world because there was deafening silence by the
government concerning this unfortunate incident for about a
month. Later on, the insinuation from the Federal Government
was to inelegantly impugn the veracity of this abduction. It
was clearly a disingenuous way to play politics with a national
calamity! Quite unfortunately, it took the visit of the
Seventeen-year-old Pakistani girls’ rights activist, Malala
Yousafzai, in convincing President Jonathan to agree to meet
with the parents of the abducted girls. Over one hundred days
after the abduction, the girls have not been safely brought
back to their homes.
It is the desire of the teeming population of the Nigerian
people that enough of playing dirty politics with the problem of
insurgency in the nation. Whatever political gains expected to
be garnered are not in comparison with the unimaginable
damage already inflicted on the Northern part of the country.
The humongous losses in human lives leave sour grapes in the
mouth about the unbecoming show of insouciance at the
nation’s seat of power. After last Wednesday’s bombings in
Kaduna, the former military president Ibrahim Babangida
admonished that the bloodshed in the nation should stop NOW.
Whether this will create a kindred spirit in us and bring about
the needed peace, time will tell.
May the Almighty God grant us respite from these self-
inflicted travails, as we pray for the nation’s virility.
God bless Nigeria.

Rotimi Fashakin (Engr.)
Monday, July 28, 2014

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