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Boko Haram menace: Why is Nigeria not listening to this man?
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By Segun Otokiti
March 18, 2012 14:28:51pm GMT      |      Views: 2063
Boko Haram members arrested by security agents

WorldStage Newsonline-- It's still a surprise to many how the Boko Haram phenomenon has stolen into the list of woes that the Nigerian society has had to put up with today. It's also still a surprise why the Federal Government has remained helpless in bringing a stop to the phenomenon and its deadly campaign, given its advantage of possession and authority to use superior weapons and intelligence. Many people would query what the capacity and number of Boko Haram insurgents is, compared to the federal machinery, that the country's entire populace would now have to relapse to living at their mercy.

The Boko Haram crisis first erupted in July 2009 when a little-known Islamic sect operating in Bauchi and Maiduguri decided to fight the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police in response to the killing of their members by officers of Operation Flush, a joint police-military task force operating in Borno State. In that conflict, soldiers and policemen fought pitched battles with armed members of the Boko Haram sect, which ended with the capture by the Nigerian Army of Muhammed Yusuf, the sect’s leader.

Though the group emerged in 2002, their attacks, which began in 2009, have claimed unbelievable figure of victims, among whom are Christians, soldiers, policemen, prison wardens, politicians connected to the Borno State Government and the All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP), former Borno State ANPP Chairman and in-law to former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff , the former governor’s elder brother, the Borno State ANPP governorship candidate and two men of the State Security Service attached to him, a ward head, and an officer of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps who also happened to be a younger brother of the present Shehu of Borno.

The crisis has reached such an alarming proportion in recent times that many are affraid that if care is not taken, it may undermine the unity of the country and worsen the already fragile and suspicious relationship among her heterogenous citizenry.

The Boko Haram members are reportedly attacking their victims with Kalashnikov rifles and ride to their targets on motorcycles, with which they escape from the crime scene. But not a few are in wonders why the Borno State Government and the nation's security services have not capitalize on this weakness to anticipate and avert attacks. However, the group seems to have added a new dimension to the problem, with the recent use of explosive devices in their operations. When members of the group recently killed a senior prison warden outside the premises of a private school in Maiduguri, they detonated a device which exploded and burnt his vehicle, after evacuating his three children. And the group has claimed responsibility for the recent bomb blasts in Bauchi, Zaria and Maiduguri, which claimed the lives of many and injured more.

It would be an understatement to say the group's attacks have been overwhelming, costly of lives and properties as well as destabilizing. As it stands today, some are of the belief that government's inability to arrest the attack is delibrate. They argue that the ineptitude of government to prosecute suspects and arrested culprits following previous attacks gives it away as an accomplice, or a weakling. They also argue that if government cannot bring members of the group to book, who else can.

Since the outbreak of the religious insurrection in 2009, founder of the Living Water Church, Maryland, Lagos, Pastor Ladi Thompson has not relented in analysing the development and suggesting the way out of the crisis. He indeed warned in several interviews and stories published in many of the national newspapers that the Boko Haram phenomenon is a project whose current execution is a product of sustained conception and planning. He had also hinted of the compromise of the country's security apparatuses and personnel, as being suffered today, through the machination of the insurgents' powerful backers, among whom are former military leaders of the country, Emirs, influential intellectuals and politicians as well as key government officials.

Surprising enough, it appears no notice has, or is being taken of his analysis and warnings and the country has continued to slide into all the circumstances against which he forwarned, making the whole situation look like a script being plyed out. Pastor Ladi Thompson is one of the religious leaders in the country who have been officially involved in peace initiatives with leaders of other religions, and had after all previous religious crises in the north, along with others, come to the aid of victims of attacks.

He has also always conducted studied appraisal of any such crisis as it occurred.

According to him, the operation mounted by the “boko haram” sect is bound to embolden the global Islamist operations, whose sponsorship was acknowledged by the Northern governors, when it is considered that the Police Force was incapable of handling the insurrection.

His words: “Global Islamist strategists are bound to have observed that it took the Nigerian Army several days to quell the rebellion using mortar. It would only be logical for the strategist to focus their researches on how to disable the Nigerian Army. If we remember that the same Army was fractured along tribal lines in the nineteen-sixties, it would not be too difficult to cook up a recipe that would encourage a division along religious lines. Several incidents can be cited in other Islamist uprisings in the past to buttress the existence of this fault line.

“A report from the Jos crisis in 2008 witnessed such an example when a Muslim soldier gunned down a pedestrian at the accusation of a Muslim civilian, the (Christian) mobile policeman on duty at the same check point did not hesitate before shooting the soldier. The incident was quickly doused by the wise and swift intervention of superior officers. Eye witnesses of Muslim soldiers neutralizing innocent Christian victims across the Northern belt in times of crisis also abound. Elder Saidu Dogo and Arch Bishop Achigili watched in utter unbelief when young Islamist militants in blood stained clothes were released by the Kaduna State Police in 2000 while they were locked up on trumped up charges. The normal pattern tells us that the Islamist groups will reinforce and regroup when the political noises die down. The training pattern of militants will be readjusted to correct the mistakes made in the “Boko Haram” operation and the next major attempt will see a networking of diverse militant groups. Greater pressure will be mounted through the democratic process to emphasize the supremacy of Islamic instructions above the Nigerian constitution. A well coordinated nationwide clarion for jihad will catch non-Muslims unawares and the Police will again be overrun while the Army will be rendered immobile from within. A phase of instability could be all that is needed for all to welcome the peace of Islamism.

“When all the factors are put together and studied by the intelligence back up behind the propagation of Islamism in Nigeria, there are four major directives that are involved for the next stages of Boko Haram's operations. These are: Disabling the Nigerian Army, reinforcement and networking of Islamist groups, simultaneous nation-wide Jihad and, establishment of the peace of Islamism.

“From the remote and immediate factors studied, it is clear that the Christian community must awake to the reality of: a resurgence of fundamentalist Islam in Nigeria; the global dimension of terror in each internal explosion; a determined, funded, patient and planned execution of an Islamist agenda; the infiltration of government and political circles by the agenda and its funds; possible plans to fragment the Nigerian Army; possible nationwide surprise “jihad” operation; Islamist collusion of certain states in the African Union; a call for the declaration of an Islamic republic of Nigeria and; an attempt to enforce sharia through the Nigerian territories.

“The above factors make it imperative that effective and uncompromised Christian leadership has to be instituted to initiate a unified, strategic and robust campaign to neutralize the advance of Islamism. The campaign would have to be nationalistic in outlook but global in execution. The re-evaluation of human worth in Nigeria would be one of the main thrusts and every single institution of governance and public life has to be scrutinized. Christian leadership will have to stand up to be counted as there is no other constituency that can handle the looming challenge. The principles of our engagements must reflect the Christian faith, meaning that method of resistance must be non-violent; objective is to defeat the terror of Islamism not Muslims; innovative platforms of persuasion must be erected; creative channels of progressive dialogue must be deveoped; evaluation of human worth must be the mainthrust; appropriate media cooperation is paramount and; there must be closer supervision of political contentions.

“Western diplomats worry that the security vacuum may allow foreign terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda to move in. Osama bin Laden is widely admired in the arid north. It has become fashionable for Muslims to name their sons after him, while his picture adorns T-shirts and posters. In a speech in 2000, Bin Laden named Nigeria as among "the regions most qualified for liberation." "Clearly there is a lot of concern in Washington with the idea that al-Qaeda can gain a foothold within the 65 million–strong Muslim population in northern Nigeria," says the U.S. official. Even if that doesn't happen, local extremist groups could present a headache for years to come.”

In order to prevent a repeat of the radical Islamist teachings that led to Boko Haram's existence, Nigerian clerics and a coalition of northern governors once decided to set up a council to regulate the activities of preachers in the north.

But many consider it a shame that there are laws that could have prevented the death of several that died in the previous crises, but that those laws are not applied in the north. Although most northern clerics and leaders have firmly come out against Boko Haram, it's being questioned whether or not there is no indication of such radical preaching. In fact, a conflict specialist, Mohammed Sanusi, said: "Many people have known of the existence of this group, silently and within the community, especially in the most recent years. They are becoming more extreme because in the past there wasn't a major push in place to check their proliferation.

"They are taking advantage of a broken-down structural condition in Nigeria that people can take the law into their hands without getting reprimanded."

But as anxiety is mounting over the activities of the Boko Haram group, some Muslims are defusing the fear as misplaced. They see the group as only a new breed of young Muslim activists who have aggressively embraced a stricter version of Islam, rejecting anything Western and Christian. Boko Haram began life as a peaceful group focused on the study of the Koran, according to Abdulmumin Sa'ad, a Muslim scholar and professor of Sociology at the University of Maiduguri. "The idea was that there is a lot of sin in the larger society and their parents had amassed a lot of ill-gotten wealth," says Sa'ad, who taught some of the militants. "There is widespread immorality, and so the best thing to do is to remove themselves and camp elsewhere, where they can concentrate on their religion, mediate, reach out and begin to form a fellowship." Sa'ad claims that the group turned violent when authorities harassed it.

Some people are however quick to ask where the misplacement then lies in the anxiety being harboured by the public about the group and their intention as described above by Sa'ad, moreso given the declaration below by Mallam Sanni Umaru, Acting Leader of Boko Haram, on August 09, 2009.

Umaru's declaration: For the first time since the killing of Mallam Mohammed Yusuf, our leader, we hereby make the following statements-

*First of all that Boko Haram does not in any way mean 'Western Education is A sin' as the infidel media continue to portray us. Boko Haram actually means 'Western Civilisation' is forbidden. The difference is that while the first gives the impression that we are opposed to formal education coming from the West, that is Europe, which is not true, the second affirms our believe in the supremacy of Islamic culture (not Education), for culture is broader, it includes education but not determined by Western Education. In this case we are talking of Western Ways of life which include: constitutional provision as if relates to, for instance the rights and privileges of Women, the idea of homosexualism, lesbianism, sanctions in cases of terrible crimes like drug trafficking, rape of infants, multi-party democracy in an overwhelmingly Islamic country like Nigeria, blue films, prostitution, drinking beer and alcohol and many others that are opposed to Islamic civilisation.

*That the Boko Haram is an Islamic Revolution which impact is not limited to Northern Nigeria.

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