BOKO HARAM INSURGENCE: CHALLENGES TO GOOD GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA
– Hanafi A. Hammed
College of Law, AL-Hikmah University,
PMB. 1601, Ilorin, Nigeria
Nigeria returned to democratic governance in May 1999. Since then, it has been facing series ofsecuritychallenges ranging from politicalassassination, kidnapping, militancyand proliferation of arms and ethno-religious conflicts. Nevertheless, the outbreak of the Boko Haram insurgence in July 2009 heralded new security challengeto peace and security in Nigeria. The emergence of Boko Haram is unique because of the faceless nature of the perpetrators and the obscurity surrounding their agenda and grievances.1 Muzan2 opines that, Observers of the country and every stakeholder with vested interest must be worried about the fallout and its seemingly insurmountable nature. The challenges are intricate, blend of religious, political, economic, ethnic, legal and constitutionalchallenges which have been bedeviled the countryin high decimal never experienced in the turbulent and checkered history of this wealthy nation. The exact date of the emergence of Boko Haram sect is shrouded if one relies on media reports.3 The first open challenge to government authority in this area was by a tiny group of people who withdrew from the urban landscape of Maiduguri to rural Kanama in the Yunusari local government area of Yobe State in North-Eastern Nigeria in December 2003. They referred to themselves as the ‘Nigerian Taleban.Their choice of rural Kanama as camp was made with an eye for military details.This site was cautiously selected for its solitude and defensibility. The Kanama camp was forested and ensconced between two bodies of water near the Nigeria-Niger Republic border. Trenches were dug and camouflaged across the only two accessroads from Kanama and the exit road to Niger Republic. Sandbags were used to reinforce defences.4 The militants then launched attacks on police stations, government buildings and generally wreaked havoc on the Yunusari, Tarmuwa,Borsari, Geidam, and Damaturu local government areas of Yobe State between 21 December 2003 and 1 January 2004.5
Between January and September 2004, this group terrorized the inhabitants of Damaturu, the Yobe State capital and Damboa, Bama, and Gwoza in neighbouring Borno State, attacking police stations and attempting prison breaks.6 Theyfinallytook a last position a top the Mandara Mountains, from where they were dislodged by the Nigerian military, using artillery shells.7 In October 2004, they held 12 policemen hostage in Kala Balge and not much was heard of the captives for a long time.8
Members of this group were mostly young people in their twenties. This was avery diverse group included females who were responsible for domestic tasks such as cooking, fetching firewood and water. Some of them were children of notable public figures, including a nephew of the then serving Governor ofYobe State, a son of the secretary to Borno State government and five children of alocal wealthy contractor.9 MohammedYusufwas neither anactive physical participant nor a prominentfigure at Kanama.10 However, he shared the same creed as the group. The remainder of those who survived the Kanama misadventure joined Mohammed Yusuf upon his return from exile in SaudiArabia in 2005 to bulge the assemblage. The survivors of Kanama became the hawks within the Yusufiyya movement. MohammedAli, the leader of this incipient group was in part responsible for initiating Muhammed Yusuf into militant jihad ideology and world view.11 MuhammadAli was the dominant influence in the indoctrination of Mohammed Yusuf. It was the years under Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam that radicalized as well as apparently legitimised the proselytisation (dawah). This mostly accounts for thesense of betrayal and the stupendous energy expended in attempts to dissuadeYusuf from his new- found ideology and chosen course by veryprominent Wahhabi scholars such as Ja’afar Mahmud
Adam, Sheikh Muhammad Abba Aji, and Imam Ali Gabchiya. Mohammed Yusuf usually agreed with Sheikh Ja’afar on the shortcomings of his position in private disputations but reverted to his original position as soon as he conferred with his followers.12
As noted earlier, Boko Haram is an Islamist movement which operated in North-Eastern Nigeriaand came to prominence in 2009. It was a fringe group under the leadership of Mallam Mohammed Yusuf, a fiery scholar resident in Maiduguri, who had not fully committed to violence before 2009.13 Through restrained and open pestering, Boko Haram was motivated into an open confrontation with the Nigerian state and violently suppressed in July 2009. Thereafter, it went underground, rebuilt and resurfaced in October 2010 with a remarkable prison break at Bauchi and has since changed its tactics to targeted assassinations, drive-by shootings, suicide bombings and massive deployment of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), vehicle-borne, kidnapping and hostage taking. Thus, from 2010 onwards, Boko Haram committed itself to a symmetric warfare. Sinceits re-emergence, the group had tried to mimic and adopt the tactics and strategies of global Salafist movements such as Al-Qaeda. Although, heavily influenced by the message ofAl-Qaeda and external developments, Boko Haram’s grievances remained local at inception. However, there have been attempts to link local grievances to international developments in Maliand beyond.Three distinct and yet overlapping phases can be discerned in the evolution of Boko Haram.
The first phase is what can be termed the Kanama phase (2003-2005),when a militant jihadist group waged war on the Nigerian state but was repelledwith casualties on both sides. This group was led by Muhammad Ali, a Nigerian who was radicalised by jihadi literature in Saudi Arabia and was believed to have fought alongside the mujahideen in Afghanistan.
The second phase began with the collapse of the Kanama uprising and ended with the suppression of Boko Haram proper in July 2009. This period, which can be dubbed the dawah phase, was devoted to intensive proselytisation, recruitment, indoctrination and radicalization of its members. This phase involved extensive criticism of the extant secular system, debates with opposing clerics (ulama) on the propriety or otherwise of Western education and culture, democracy and secularism and unceasing criticism of the corruption and bad governance under Governor Ali Modu Sheriff (2003-2011) of Borno State as well as the striking consumption and sumptuousness of the Western-educated elite in the midst of poverty.14
The third phase began with the 2009 suppression of the movement and the killing of its leadership in brutal and barbaric form by Nigerian security agencies. Boko Haram went underground, re-organised and resurfaced in 2010 with a vengeance. They are not only targeted their perceived opponents but indiscriminately attacked security officials, politicians associated with the ruling All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) government in Borno State.15 In June 2011, Boko Haram bombed the national police headquarters in Abuja. A car laden with explosive, drove into the compound of Louis Edet House, a block of office previously thought secured in Abuja’s government zone, by following a convoy of senior officers through gates.16 It was believed that the driver intended to pack near the entrance stairway as the senior officer entered but he was directed around the back of the building by guards, where the bomb detonated in the car park because it was possible that the bomber had been delayed in Abuja traffic.
However, in August 2011, doubts were removed when a man drove a car into the UN compound inAbujaand detonated a massive bomb, killing twenty-three people and wounded scores of people. The attack launched Boko Haram into World news and established it as a militant group with the technical and doctrinal capacity to produce suicide bombs.17 As the military crack down intensified, they became frantic and more confrontationalthereby resorting to more desperate measures, which they had despised in the past, such as burning of school buildings, attacking telecommunications base stations, killing and kidnapping of foreigners, slaughtering as opposed to shooting of opponents and killing of health officials at routine vaccination clinics, as well as random shooting of pupils and teachers at schools.
PRINCIPLES AND CAUSES OF BOKO HARAM
Boko Haram considered western influence on Islamic society as a basis of the religion’s weakness.18 It opposes secular government, conventional banking, taxation, jurisprudence and particularly, western education which is believed not founded on moral teachings. This explains why the group is popularly called Boko Haram which means ‘Western education is forbidden. Meanwhile, a statement released inAugust, 2009 by self-identified interim leader of the group, Mallam SanniUmaru, rejected the media description of it as Boko Haram. He said:
Boko Haram does not in any way means that western education is for bidden 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 opposed formal education coming from the West…which is not true, the second affirms our belief in the supremacy of Islamic culture (not education), for culture is broader. It includes education but not determined byWestern Education.19
The group preferred to be addressed as Jama’atu Allissunnah Lida’awati Wal Jihad, which means people committed to the propagation ofthe Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad. Its ideology is rooted in Salafi Jihadism and its actions are driven by Takfirism. Salafism seeks to purge Islam ofoutside influences and drives for a return to the Islam practice by the pious ancestors, that is, Prophet Mohammed and the early Islamic community.20
The entire faith of a true Muslim also argued that western education was un-Islamic as it embodies all that Islam projected, while it propagates the negative of what Allah and His Prophet had ordained. For instance, mixing boys and girls under the same shade, the propagation of the theory that men evolved from the family of monkeyas well as the sun in the sky is static. According to them, there is conflict with the direct words of Allah Who said Muslim must not mix sexes under the same umbrella and that He created men from clay as well as the sun, earth and the moon, each move on its own axis. They further argued that today’s banking system is shylock and Islam forbids interest in financial transaction just as the laws of the land are manmade in replacement of the ones ordained byAllah. It was on their bid to run away from all of these vices that members of the sect decided to cluster themselves in strategic location in the outskirt of most major town of Bauchi and Yobe states.21
Mohammed stated that the main planks ofYusuf’s narrative were framed, though not exclusively around the following issues:
i. The concept of taghut (idolatry), including secularism, democracy and partisan politics;
ii. Western education and westernization;
iii. Working for an un-Islamic government; and
iv. Repudiation of the charge ofKharijism leveled against thembythe local ulama, especially his former colleagues in the Wahhabi group in Borno.22
The concept of taghut, its rejection and replacement by Shari’ah is a current radical Islamic discourse that goes back to Ibn Taymiyyah, the scholar after whom the Yusufiyyah named their mosque, Markaz Ibn Taymiyyah. Mohammed Yusuf described as taghut (idolatry) any form of executive, legislative or judicial function derived from a secular Constitution rather than from Islamic law. This is the remote cause of his opposition to secularism, democracy and partisan politics as practiced in Nigeria and it led him to collision course with Nigerian authorities on several occasions, culminated in the 2009 crisis. As far as he was concerned, fidelity to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and subjecting oneself to the institutions created byit, amount to unbelief.Those who formulated evil laws in their parliament have made themselves partners to Allah, whether or not they felt it, whether or not they agreed to this or disagreed, whether or not they meant it…. Those who followed the legislative system and agreed to take their cases to those courts are in agreement with taghut and are idolaters.23
The symbolic bowing to the mace in the legislature did not escape Mohammed Yususuf censure who insisted that:
Parliamentarians and members of assemblies have combined between them making themselves gods and ascribing partners to Allah. This is because their mace is their object of worship in various ways such as bowing to it, subjecting themselves to it, loving it and using it as a symbol of shirk (apostasy), as they do not pass any Bill or make decisions without it. Without the mace, such decisions are unacceptable and have no legal backing.24
It is apparent from the foregoing that anyone who superintends or abides by the laws and regulations within Nigeria secular system is an unbeliever.
The Holy Qur’an forbids Muslims to kill fellow Muslims25 but after the death of Prophet Muhammed, who had left no male heir, his disciples fought over the leadership oftheCaliphat, war broke out and the factions accused each other of not being sincere Muslims. In order to stop these intra-religious wars which were threatening the very existence of the Ummah, the great schools of Islamic Jurisprudence sought to ban fighting over religious doctrines and the proper implementation of Shari’ah. They acknowledged that many faithful were lax Muslims who broke divine injunctions but this did not make them infidels who merited death. Whoever claimed to be a Muslim should be treated as such. There were however exceptions, namely, those who supported the enemies of Islam. It was obvious that they had the right to attack those who had betrayed the Ummah and abandoned the cause of Islam.26
Boko Haram is fighting for Islamisation of state and society through a strict application of Shari’ah which was propagated by Hausa/Fulani politicians more than ten years ago. They frown at the moderate style of Shari’ah which has been in force in most Northern states since 1960. They are calling for full fledge implementation of Shari’ah by the state governments in the North.27 Most politicians and religious leaders declared that a moderate mode of Shari’ah was incompatible with their religious convictions. They averred that God’s law must not be restricted to cases of inheritance, matrimonial affairs and other civil matters but must be practiced in wholly. Attempts to extend the jurisdiction of Islamic Law courts has been a subject of controversies between Muslims and Christians and the political elites in the North know that, full fledge implementation of Shari’ah would sparkle violent conflicts. In February, 2000, about 2,000 people were killed as a result of Shari’ah clashes in Zamfara, Kaduna and other Northern states. This made President Olusegun Obasanjo appealed to the concerned state governments to suspend the Shari’ah legislation to prevent further bloodshed.28 In order to accomplish the full implementation of Shari’ah law, some politicians went as far as demanding total commitment and self-sacrifice. Muhammed Buhari, one of the prominent politicians in the North assured his follower ‘I can die for the cause of Islam,’29 and the Governor of Yobe state, Bukar Abba Ibrahim added, ‘If necessary, we are prepared to fight another civil war. We cannot be blackmailed into killing Shari’ah.’30 Clarification is imperative here on the position of prominent politicians from the North on their calling for full implementation of Islamic Legal system. Their calling has nothing to do with the Boko Haram insurgence and they cannot in any way be linked with the activities of the insurgence in Nigeria. Boko Haram’s militancy is in part, a reaction to the cynical game of politicians who mobilised religious sentiments in the interests of their political ambitions. By posing as campaigners of Islamic renewal, they had discredited themselves. In fact, there was a rumour that the Sultan of Sokoto, like many other Muslim Dignitaries was not pleased with the way and manner the issue of Shari’ah is being handled by Boko Haram group but he could not openly declare that God’s Law should no longer be binding. Though, most political and religious leaders supported the full fledge introduction of Islamic law in the far North but to be implemented only in selective and half-hearted way.31 No prominent politician in the North has dared to confront religious leaders by suggesting that Shari’ah law passed in 2000 and 2002 be abolished. This makes it difficult for the Islamic establishment to denounce militants like Boko Haram, who are simply demanding what politicians promised but failed to deliver.
Many analyses about the Boko Haram and its splinter factions limit its root causes to issues of religious fundamentalism and fanaticism. However, it is imperative to note that the reasons underlying the crises go far beyond issues of ideological radicalism. The rebellion is born out of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. It is a response to corruption and social neglect. Given the shocking disparities in wealth, analysts in the West have argued that the government in order to stop the violence has to address the root causes of the crisis.32
It is colossal to state here that the transformation of Boko Haram from dawah to an arms- bearing sect was in the making of security agencies, which approached the situation as one of law and order and responded as such with disastrous consequences. There was no attempt to perceive the issues raised by the sect in its broader versatile prism as political, social and economic. The crisis in Borno began over a contest for ownership of a place of worship with the Izala at Monguno in December, 2008. Boko Haram members had been thrown out of Izala mosques as a result of a complete break with the Izala over the Izala’s inability to dissuade Mohammed Yusuf from his firmly held convictions. Owing to the close association between the two groups up to this period, and because they had worshipped together in the same mosques before then, the ownership of the mosque became the subject of bitter disputes. In such incident while on their way to Monguno to reclaim a mosque from the Izala, 67 Boko Haram members, including Abubakar Shekau were arrested and locked up at the Maiduguri prison by state authorities, apparently, at the instigation of the rivals. Mohammd Yusuf vowed to recover the disputed mosque through due process.33 The security agencies mismanaged the crisis fromthe inception and in the process forced the group to the extreme end of spectrum.
The first was the setting up of the Joint Military Operation Flush II which tried to draw Boko Haram out for a fight by harassing members going to or returning from dawah as they called their preaching activities. Restriction of movement of motorcycles at night and the attempt to enforce the use of crash Helmets were all aimed at achieving this. The mandatory use of crash Helmets by motorcycle riders, although, a nationalpolicy but was not enforced in other places with the same zeal. In fact, the enforcement policy opposed once the movement was crushed in July, 2009.34
Secondly, the onslaught on Boko Haramby Operation Flush II and the shooting ofits members at the Gwange cemetery in June, 2009, which precipitated the force at Maiduguri. Boko Haram members were going to bury one of their members who died in a car crash, when security agents shot and wounded 17 of them. They were further provoked by being refused access to the injured members who were admitted in the hospital. Boko Haram preempted this as declaration of war against them.35
Thirdly, the massive onslaught on the sect and the killing of its members and extrajudicial killing ofthe sect leadership, including Mohammed Yusuf and other members further radicalized members. Those who fled either went for further military training or went to hiding without renouncing their beliefs. This extrajudicial killing and wide spread dissemination of the video footage locally and its broadcast by the Al Jazeera cable satellite network further enraged members.36 In fact, there are numerous cases of documented atrocities by Joint Task force (JTF), including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary dragnet arrests, illegal and arbitrary detentions, arson, rape and stealing.37 This demonstrated the mode of operation of military response in Maiduguri.
Once the sect was militarily crushed and their headquarters, the Markaz Ibn Taymiyyah, burnt and razed to the ground, the remainders of the leadership went underground while most members either fled or melted into the local population. The state compelled traditional rulers to expose Boko Haram members in their society and in the process, many were identified and handed over to the security agencies. But lack of confidentiality within the security system and Boko Haram’s intelligence network ensured that they got to know who gave information about them to the state security. Therefore, the first phase of resurgence was marked by targeted killing of ward and village heads that collaborated with the state security agents, prison officials whom they accused of torturing or poisoning their members in detention, prominent politicians of the ruling All Nigerian Peoples party (ANPP), government of Borno State and all security officials.
Coupled with the above, elections in Nigeria are very competitive with a high turnover of incumbents. Citizens have little influence on this process because decisive policies are taken by cliques of politicians behind the scenes. However, during the campaign for the full implementation of Shari’ah legal system, it seemed as if ordinary citizen would be able to have influence on the government policies. In Borno state for example, the incumbent governor lost out in 2003 to his rival within the ruling All Nigeria people’s Party (ANPP), Modu Sheriff, who promised to be serious about the implementation of Shari’ah and who on that premise, won the support of Islamists like Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of Boko Haram. Ali Modu Sheriff won the governorship election, created a Ministry of Religious Affairs and appointed a closed confidant of Mohammed Yusuf in charge of the ministry in return for the support that he got from Boko Haram during the election. Beside this, he did not care much about divine justice as expected by the Boko Haram sect. In 2003, when the second term of Ali Modu Sheriffas governor of Borno state was scoming to an end, the ruling partywas mainly concerned about keeping the governor’s family in power. Political controversies revolved around the question of whether Modu Sheriff’s cousin or his younger brother would succeed him. Pro- Shari’ah activists felt tricked. Sheriff had turned into betrayal; he had sided with the secular government inAbuja and called in soldiers and policemen who murdered Mohammed Yusuf in 2009,38 travelling became inconvenient because of many roadblocks, economic activities were hindered and high decimal rate of extortion by police.
Also, ordinary people and those in authority were accomplices in the embezzlement of public fund. Their behaviour was guided by similar maxims: thus, it was difficult to take principled stance against social vices. Both rich and poor presented themselves as pious Muslims but took a very limited, selfish interest in the law of God. Most kept their wives in purdah but had little compunction committing adultery with unmarried girls. All these infuriated Boko Haram.
According to Uzoigwe,39 the most viable explanation for the insurgency including religious and sectarian violence is the failure of good governance in Nigeria. To be more precise, Boko Haram is a symptom of multiple rationales characterized by corruption, mismanagement and unresponsive government, grievances over persistent government corruption and mismanagement economic injustice and poverty especially in the Northern part of Nigeria. This has been one of the underlying causes of sectarian violence in the country’s history since independence. The Niger delta crisis and Maitatsne crisis of 1980 are graphic cases in point. Although, Nigeria remains one of the largest producers of oil in the world, about 69% of the population, 112.6 million people lives below poverty level according to Nigeria Poverty Profile Report, 2010. The North-west and North-East geopolitical zone of Nigeria, the home region and bastion of Boko Haram are the areas with highest rate with 77.7% and 76.6% respectively. For severaldecades, the Northern part of Nigeria as remain impoverished and underdeveloped with a very high rate of youth unemployment, poor health care, poor educational facilities and poor infrastructures. The unemployment statistics from the Nigeria bureau statistics in 2010 for example, showed that the Northern state of Yobe, Zamfara and Sokoto remains the area with highest rate of unemployment with 39.0%, 33.4% and 32.4% respectively. This contrast sharply with the Southern States such as Lagos, Oyo and Ogun which have unemployment rate of 7.6%, 8.8% and 9.9% respectively. Thus, development in the Northern part of Nigeria is a sharp contrast to that of the South. According to the adherents of Boko Haram, bad governance and acute corruption account for this economic injustice and underdevelopment. They attributed these political cankers on the influence of modernization and western education on those who govern the State. The group ambitions therefore, are to mobilize against modern State formation and government establishment which is seen as the root cause of the social ills and establish an Islamic State to be governed by Islamic law.
Another major factor foiling the Boko Haram violence is the indiscriminate imprisonment and arbitrary killings of Boko Haram members by the Police and the Military and failure of Nigerian government to prosecute security officers implicated for the extra-judicial killings. Ever since the insurgence began, no single Police and Military officer so far has been held accountable or convicted of the death of Boko Haram member, Mohamed Yusuf who died in Police custody and other unlawful killings reported by groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. In reaction to the so-called injustice meted out to them by the State, members of the Islamic sect vowed to revenge the killing of their members, especially Mohammed Yusuf which they now seem to be honouring with increasing leather attack on security forces and government authorities. Boko Haram’s attack on Christians also reflects the long-standing political, ethnic and religious divisions in Nigeria. There is a long historyof pluralization between the majority Muslim North and the majority Christian South mainly over issues of political inequalities and political power struggles. Many Southerners for example see the ongoing attacks on Christians as a deliberate attempt by some Northern elite to make the country ungovernable for President Goodluck Jonathan because he ignored an informalpower rotation agreement that should have kept a Muslimas President after the demised of Muslim President, Umaru Musa Yar’adua in 2010. Some people have also cited economic inequality between North and South as another factor accounting for the ongoing crisis. For instance, the disparity in terms of economic development between the North and the rest of the country particularly the South is very wide to the extent that while about 72% people in the North live in abject poverty, in the South it is only 27% of the population.40
PROPAGANDA BEHIND BOKO HARAM
Boko Haram considered Christians and Muslims who do not share their opinion as enemies and genuine targets of assault. There is no doubt that Boko Haramhas beenassaulting Christians and their places of worship and creating social tension and disharmony between Christians and Muslims in the Northern States of Nigeria. Some Southerners perceived Boko Haram as mechanism for Islamising Nigeria. The leadership of the ChristianAssociation of Nigeria (CAN) has equally considered the insurgency as a ploy to impose Shari’ah and Islam on the country.41 Boko Haram attacked at least 18 Churches and killed 127 Christians between 2010 and 2012. These figures may be underestimated as a Christian leader told Human Right Watch that in Borno State alone, not fewer than 142 Christians were killed between June 7, 2011 and January 17, 2012 in what appeared to be a systematic plan of violence and intimidation.42 According to Human Rights Watch, the rationality behind Boko Haram assault on Christians is to start a full scale war between the Muslims and the Christians.43
El-Rufai, in his reply to whether Boko Haram is real or the metaphor of an agenda against a section ofthe country, he said that without doubt, there is Boko Haram which aims to establish, according to them, a just social system of governance as they understand it, which path to its establishment is strewn with violence.There is a Boko Haram which uses the violence of the authentic set as a cover for its own violence aimed at psychological warfare, the need to maintain the status quo of northern division and to, through massive propaganda, cast a sect of northern leaders or politicians as sponsors of terrorism because they have lost political power. Anyobjective observer could not have missed how certain northern politicians, through massive propaganda are being made to look like the sponsors of the terror group because of their insistence on President Jonathan to honour the zoning accord of his party, Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) cleverly avoiding the fact that the terror group’s existence preceding the zoning debate. In fact, this deliberate misinformation willbenefit those who want to perpetrate the ethno religious division in the north more as these select northern leaders are cast in the mould of the Hausa/Fulani enemies of Christianity bent on enslaving or exterminating the northern minority tribes to engender a Hausa/Fulani hegemony or oligarchy.44 He further postulated that Boko Haram could possibly be a mix of some Christians and Muslims psychopaths who can do any work for money in the same fashion as there are gangs of armed robbers with membership cutting across religious and ethnic lines. He however cited the following instances:
1. The reported arrest of the suspect that sprayed bullets on the Gombe Deeper Life Church worshippers of which the suspects arrested were alleged to be Igbos. Keen observers would remember that ‘Boko Haram’ claimed responsibility for that attack. Noteworthy also is the fact that the arrested suspects were moved from Gombe to Abuja and since then, nothing has been heard about them.
2. Shortly after the Gombe Deeper Life Church massacre, following quickly also after the Gombe township bombing fiesta, two men, named Hassan Ojudu and SamailaYakubu, all of them Christians, were arrested in the same Gombe town with a vehicle loaded with explosive devices and ammunitions. If they were part of those who did the bombing fiesta Christians should note that “Boko Haram” also claimed responsibility, and if they were not a part of the bombing fiesta be assured that if they had not been arrested and they succeeded in using their own merchandise ‘Boko Haram’ would have claimed responsibility. Curiously, since they were moved to Abuja nothing has been heard about them.
3. If the eight COCIN Church members arrested with explosive devices at the Miya- Barkatai branch of the Church in Bauchi State had succeeded in detonating what they were arrested with, be assured ‘Boko Haram’ would have claimed responsibility and since the village is near Jos, Plateau State, some brainwashed youths with hearts filled with hate would begin to pounce on any available Hausa/Fulani on sight for revenge.
4. If Emmanuel King, the guy who disguised as a Muslim wearing a turban and kaftan, had succeeded in bombing down the Redeemed Christian Church of God inYenagoa, the Bayelsa capital ‘Boko Haram’ would have claimed responsibility, and the intended desire for reprisal would have further brought the real desire, which is polarization. It does not matter whether the guy is sane or insane as he was later touted to be. Also, possibly in further pursuit of this polarization agenda, some persons were reported to have burnt down a worship centre of the Church of God Mission International in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.45 Who did it may not be known now, but there is the possibility to be meant to trigger some kind of attacks against some undesirable elements with the added benefit of maintaining a national division.
5. If Madam Ruth had succeeded in bombing down the ECWA Church in the Kalarin area of Kaltungo in Gombe State, no doubt Boko Haram would have claimed responsibility not withstanding whether she was hypnotized or not as some may want to claim.
6. On January 11, 2012, two Nigerians, named, Sunday Eze from Anambra State and Samuel Taiwo from Ogun State and some three Ghanaians were arrested in Ghana with some heavy weaponry carefully concealed in a truck, which was to be brought to Nigeria. Opposing bail for the suspects in court on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 the Office of the Attorney-General of the Republic of Ghana said ‘the arms and ammunitions seized on transit to Nigeria were to be used to fuel terrorists’ activities in the country.’46 These Nigerian suspects are from southern Nigeria and bear Christian names. So, on whose behalf were they bringing in those arms of which the Ghanaian authorities said were to be used for terrorism in Nigeria? And which terror group do they belong to?
7. On Tuesday, April 10, 2012, a 38 years- old man named Monday Davou was arrested while planting a timed Improvised Explosive Device (IED) or time bomb at the Makera weekly market in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State. This was with intent to commit mass murder. Now if Monday Davou’s bomb had exploded, it is obvious that ‘Boko Haram’ spokesperson would have claimed responsibility and even before the statement of claim comes, Monday Davou’s kinsmen would have launched ‘reprisal attacks’ on any person that looked like Hausa/Fulani and their properties and would have probably roasted some of the Hausa/Fulanis and eaten them like they did sometime in 2011.47
8. Furthermore, 11 cartons of explosives imported from South Africa and carefully packaged to beat security checks were intercepted by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) at the Murtala Muhammed InternationalAirport, Lagos. The consignments were said to be for Miero Marble Granite and Stones Limited in Kaduna State, with one Mr. MichaelAwara Ernest as the representative to collect the explosives at the cargo terminal. The Customs Area Controller in charge of the airport, Mr. Charles Eporwei Edike while parading the suspect said: ‘If these items were released to him, they could have been used to cause mayhem; we are now going to hand him and the items over to the police for further investigations.’48 After the handover of the suspect to the police nothing has been heard about it again.
9. The THIS DAY Newspaper culled a news report from the BBC in which a British- based arms dealer; Gary Hyde was being prosecuted in a London court for unlawfully arranging the shipment of about 80,000 guns and 32 million rounds of ammunition from China to Nigeria in 2007. But, the big question is, to whom did he make his shipment? To Muslim radicals or to some church going criminals?49
10. Lastly, on Sunday, February 19, 2012 four persons were arrested while trying to detonate explosives at the St. Theresa’s Catholic Parish, High-level in Makurdi the Benue State capital. Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the state’s command, Mr. Alaribe Ejike saying those four persons arrested were Christians and not Boko Haram members as speculated by members of the public.50 He said: ‘We are still trying to find out certain things about them, but we have not confirmed whether they are Boko Haram members. It remains one thing, and as soon as we find out, we shall inform you accordingly.’ Up till now nothing has been heard from the police. But, poor Alaribe Ejike may not have known that there is a “Boko Haram” with members possibly cutting across religious lines impersonating Boko Haram for some people’s strategic interests.
It is obvious that Boko Haram attacked Christians, there were disgruntle elements among Christians acting on their own that are also attacking Christians using Boko Haram style tactics. The case of Lydia Joseph and the Miya Barkate Eight in Bauchi State indicates that some Christian elements also attacked Churches in the name of Boko Haram, especially in area with history of inter-religious disputes. On 29 August, 2011, Lydia Joseph was apprehended while trying to burn St. John’s Cathedral in Bauchi.51 More so, on January 2012, eight young men, all Christians were apprehended attempting to bomb the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) at Miya Barkate in Bauchi State.52 This could have successfully passed as a Boko Haram attack and some Boko Haram spokemen might have even claimed responsibility if it had succeeded. Despite the fact that the perpetrators were caught committing the crime, Rev. LawiPokti, the BauchiState CAN Chairman, absolved his men ofresponsibility. However, he confirmed that there was an argument within the Church over the location of its headquarters between Tilden Fulani and Miya Batkate.53
Although the western media and many Nigerians opined that Boko Haram attacks mostly on Christians and burnt Churches.54 The ChristianAssociation of Nigeria (CAN) insisted on the possibility of a religious war and found fault with President Goodluck Jonathan’s statement that Boko Haram killed more Muslims than Christians.55 The first and foremost targets of the Boko Haram were indeed the security forces and bad Muslims not Christian communities. This writer disagreed with the western media, CAN and many Nigerians who believed that the major targets of Boko Haram were Christians and their places of worship. The argument based on the fact that the first recorded act of violence committed by the sect in November, 2003 was struck against political targets and police stations which were sometimes the only effective presence of the state in remote villages, prisons which were attacked to release militants, schools that symbolized western educationand the colonialisation ofthe mind, mosques and Muslims scholars who contested the moral authority of the deviant sect, politicians and godfathers who were fraudulently elected and who were accused of failing to implement Shari’ah legalsystem. It was after the assault of armyand the extrajudicial killing of Mohammed Yusuf in Maduguri in July 2009, the group then started to operate outside Borno and Yobe, hitting Churches in Jos in December, 2010 and United Nations offices in Abuja in August, 2011.56
BOKOHARAM INSURGENCE: CHALLENGES TO GOOD GOVERNANCE
Nigeria has witnessed immeasurable damage in everyfacet of life since the inception emergence of Boko Haram insurgence. There is no doubt that it has slowed down the national economic growth, good governance and sustainable development because no investors would prefer to invest in a nation ridden in crisis. More so, huge amount of money which ought to have gone into provision of social amenities goes for security. It has further heightened the problems associated with the relocation of Multinational Companies to other Africa countries such as Ghana due to infrastructural decay. One of the noticeable challenges has been the tendency to worsen unemployment leading to youth restiveness, thereby making crime a profitable venture and attractive.57
It also has negative effect on tourism industry as the nation loses huge foreign currency that could have accrued from this sector. In addition, according to Nigeria Food Security Outlook, 2013, the bane of Boko Haram may gradually lead to food scarcity in Nigeria on the long run though, a glimpse of such was experienced in July 2012 when the prices of food items and vegetables sky rocketed in the South. This was as a result of inability of traders from the North to transport commodities due to general insecurity in the place.
The government has not pay attention to the dangerous nature of exodus that is currently experienced in Nigeria for the first time. In this instance, it is not the Southerners alone that are migrating from the North but also the Northerners are evacuating from the North on account of insecurity. Most of the migrants from the North are in their productive ages who are mainly farmers and trades men and women by profession. According to Chukwuyere, this explains why most of the Okada riders in the Western States are of Northern extraction. The danger is that they have abandoned their profession (farming) as this will reduce food production and compound the problem of food importation.58 For the past few years, Nigeria spends over 10 billion dollars yearly on importation of food items alone like sugar, wheat and rice. Though, President Jonathan said that the situation was unacceptable but the long run effects of the insurgence have not being given justifiable attention as governments in Nigeria pay lip services to agricultural revolutions.
Furthermore, there is no doubt that the migrants will put additional pressure on the host communities in terms of infrastructure and security challenges. With the banning of Okada riverson major roads in places like Lagos, the Eastern parts of the nation may be a viable alternative and there is the tendency that the migrants might be a security threat and take to crime as a means of livelihood. Ilorin, the Kwara state capital is feeling the purse of decision of Lagos State Government, banning Okada riders and extraditing beggars from its land. Kwara State now remains the alternative settlement for them thereby facing unprecedented security challenge. More than that, such frustrated elements might easily be influenced to serve as agents for the Boko Haram in the South. Any successful attack by the sect in the south might lead to reprisal, the effect that might not be predictable with respect to good governance and corporate existence of Nigeria. The insurgence has the tendency to lead more Nigerians into poverty. Presently, many able bodies have been rendered jobless, particularly in North East of Nigeria. If the scourge is not tackled, many able hands will be rendered jobless because of the high rate of migration and this will definitely feedback to the challenges imposed by insecurity. In an attempt to address insecurity, there is the tendency for governments to increase its spending on security, while resources would be diverted from socio-economic development programmes that could transform the nation and provide conduit pipe for fraud and misappropriation of fund in the name of security coverage.
Moreso, Boko Haram insurgence may affect the corporate image of Nigeria within committee of nations. Internationally, the image of the nation is dented while prostitution, crime, drug trafficking, fraud and high level of corruption are the issues that are negatively affecting the reputation of Nigeria and Nigerians anywhere in the World. For a decade, efforts were made without success to rebrand the shattered image of Nigeria. There is no amount of image laundering that can change the impression of the international community if negative news on daily basis emanate from the nation. The activities of the Boko Haram in Nigeria has also led to palpable fear among the citizenry and high sense of insecurity due to regular loss of lives and damage to properties and infrastructures on account of bombings and reported cases of assassination. This shows that there is no good governance and that government is helpless and incapable of handling the situation as this has left the populace at the mercy of bloodthirsty sect and everybody to himself. The attacks by the sect showed that it had no respect for any establishment including Mosques and Churches, Security agencies, International agencies, Press, Private individuals, Emirs, etc. It has left the impression that nobody is safe while it questioned their avowed commitment to Islamic revival.
Furthermore, the experience of Miss AgnesAgwuocha, a seventeen-year old student in Kano captures the state of palpable fear when she narrated her experience as follows:
We are afraid of Boko Haram. Daddy and Mummy keep awake all night in case the attackers decide to invade our home. They would lock all the doors tightly, pray all Night and ask us to sleep. However, we never can, for we do not know what will happen next… They said we would soon go home, so we are waiting.59
Moreover, the insecurity also has the tendency to breed religious unrest because of multitude of attacks on churches and of recent on Muslim prayer grounds. Reprobate elsewhere can hide under the banner of Boko Haram and use the opportunity to further perpetrate havoc. The inability ofgovernment to addressing the challenges led to the generalbelief that everybody needs to provide for his or her security coverage and this will further compound the problem associated with proliferation of light arms.
Similar to this, the insurgence may lead to politicalinstability, civil wars, genocides and politicides and this lead to increase in international migration and internally displaced persons.
BOKO HARAM AND NIGERIA SECURITY
The efforts of the federal government to tackle the Boko Haram insurgence has to some extent being insufficient and intransigent without tackling the root causes ofthe conflicts. Since the beginning of the Boko Haram insurgence, the federal government has engaged in a severe battle with Boko Haram and maintained heavy Police and military presence in Borno, Kano, Kaduna, Jos and other neighbouring states in an attempt to eradicate Boko Haram crisis. One of the efforts of the governments to curb the insurgency is the formation ofanti-terrorist squad otherwise called Joint Task Force (JTF) in 2011, a special security unit trained purposely to counter terrorism. Another effort made by the Federal government was the dismissal of the Minister of Defence, Mohammed Bello Haliru, and senior security adviser, General Patrick Owoeye Azazi, and the appointment of retired Col. Sambo Dasuki, as the Senior security Adviser and KabiruTanimuTuraki as the Minister of Defence, following an attack by the sect that resulted to the death of about 150 people. Curfews have also being imposed in the areas considered as flashpoints of the insurgency on several occasions at different times, such as
Yobe, Borno, Plateau, Niger, and Adamawa, to control and prevent the activities of the Islamic sect. Recently, the Federal government setup a committee to constructively engaged key members of Boko Haram and define a comprehensive and workable framework for resolving the crisis of insecurity in the country. The president also approved constitution of the Federal Government committee on the proliferation of smallArms in keeping with his pledge that Nigeria will work with the United Nations and other countries to stem the worrisome proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their use in creating insecurity in Nigeria and other countries. However, the president has been criticized for using forced-based approach which has compounded the problem without any meaningful results. The crisis continues to aggravate with many sporadic attacks causing more deaths and destruction of property. More significantly, the failure to end the insurgency has exposed the operational constraints of the Nigerian security services, further raising questions regarding the ability of the government to respond to the threat. Accordingly, there appears to be no end in sight for the deadly attacks masterminded by Boko Haram as the group continues to cause more casualties and increase in lethality in its assault. Unquestionably, the use of heavy-handed tactics and the over-reliance on it has hindered any chances of a negotiated settlement and peace because it is not addressing the underlying grievances fuelling the crises.
Moreover, although there have been some attempts in the past to engage in dialogue with the Islamic sect, it has not yielded any success due to lack of political will on the part of the federal government. Past mediation efforts by President Olusegun Obasanjo with the Islamic sect, for instance, stalled when one of Boko Haram’s interlocutors was killed by the military shortly after the meeting. Besides, President Goodluck Jonathan has also recently challenged Boko Haram to come forward and state their demands as a basis for dialogue although their demands are well known publicly. However, what remains to be seen is whether Boko Haram will respond to the President’s request. Presently, members of the Islamic sect remain highly suspicious of the government’s offer to discuss their grievances because of the? Betrayal characterized byexperiences. Some have also called on the federalgovernment for unconditional release of all of their members detained in the various prisons across the country before they can accept any dialogue. But will this be feasible?60
There is no difference between Boko Haram and other Muslim organisations in the North. For instance, Izala sect equally maintained that western education had been polluted by ungodly principles and regarded co-education system as immoral. As long as Muslims lacked the power to purge the school curricula, they grudgingly accepted secular education because it was indispensable to enhance their influence in the state machinery. As a temporary solution, they could only supplement and partially correct the official syllabus by offering additional afternoon classes in Islamic studies.
Security is every person business. Therefore, there is need for well-trained community policing officers for effective means of promoting public safety and to enhance the quality of life in their neighborhoods.
It is further recommended that Nigerian government should take drastic effort to eradicate poverty and social injustice. There is need to pay attention on the causes of the crisis and improve living condition of citizens in the Nigeria and in the Northern Nigeria in particular instead of focusing on military repression. There is need for sustainable development, mass economic empowerment, skills acquisition and effective administration.
The Supreme Muslim Council for Islamic Affairs and other mainline organisation must be proactive in educating the masses about the true Islam. The challenge here is that, religious expert hold many divergent views about some Islamic principles which of course leads to dichotomy of practices among various Islamic sects.
There is need for religious tolerance among the adherents of the two faiths. On the part of Muslims, The Non-Muslims who live in an Islamic state and enjoy all their human rights which are enshrined in the Shari’ah are called Dhimmis, the covenanted people. The Dhimmis living in an Islamic state are guaranteed the protection of their life, property and their honour exactly like that of a Muslim. The rights given to them are irrevocable and it becomes every Muslim’s religious duty to protect life, property and honour of a Non-Muslim since it forms part and parcel of his faith. The Non-Muslims are called Dhimmis because they are under the pledge of Allah, the pledge of the prophet (S.A.W) and the pledge of the Muslim community so that they can live under the protection of Islam. The pledge of security and guarantee given to the Non-Muslims is like the political nationality61 given in the modern times on the basis of which people acquire alltheir rights as nationals of certain country and become liable to responsibilities. They are people of abode of Islam and hence the possessors of Islamic nationality.62 On the other hand, the Christians need to under to certain extent, the concepts and principles of Islam rather than outright condemnation of any move made by Muslims. Imaging the out crying by Christians on the issue of Islamic Banking. It is recommended that recourse should be made by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to some Christians that have some level of knowledge in Islamic principles. Among Christians are people like JosiahIdowu-Fearon, a Ph.D holder in Islamic Studies and at the same time, a co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christianity at Kaduna, Professor OgunbiyiA. Issac of Lagos State University, a Professor of Arabic and many others. In fact, these are the caliber of people that should be appointed or elected as CAN President in Nigeria not just somebody who knows nothing about the other religion.
The ruling elite had to completely change its ways and assume responsibility for the masses, improving the living condition and bringing social justice. If this cannot be done urgently, Nigeria may eventually fall apart and political class would lose its sources of income.
The Military headquarters that is currently at Federal Capital Territory, Abuja need to be relocated to the turbulent zone of Boko Haram otherwise, paying occasional visit to the scene of the crime will amount to treating the symptom and not the cause.
Lastly, our political elites must be ready to provide quality and good governance as magic potion for the insecurity challenge in Nigeria. War against insecurity could be won by raising governance standardsthat is, cultivating the culture of good governance where the government is responsible and accountable to the people. Security arrangement cannot be separated from good governance. Many others have linked security to good governance system. The general opinion is that peace and security is determined by good governance.