This Nigerian War Is Uncivil
The blood cuddling violence that has enveloped significant percentage of the states in the North of Nigeria and even Abuja the nation's political capital is spreading like wild fire and majority of Nigerians who live far away from the epicenter of the well coordinated terrorists strikes which is in the North Eastern part of Nigeria are now sleeping with an eye open. On June 25th 2014, the dare devil bombers again desecrated the sanctity of several lives of innocent Nigerians when they successfully detonated several high caliber improvise explosive devices around a packed shopping mall known as Emab Plaza in the most busy side of Abuja, Wuse two.
Contemporaneously, the bombers from the dreaded armed Islamic sect- Boko Haram also successfully detonated several explosives at the strategic Apapa Wharf area in the metropolitan city of Lagos, Nigeria's largest and most populated state. At the last count, nearly half a dozen Nigerians laid dead from the consequences of the bombing campaign in Lagos.
The Lagos state police command in an attempt to cover up has reportedly said the explosions were accidents that emanated from the fuel tankers packed along the road but most Nigerians who witnessed it said the cause of that deadly and heavy explosion was surely a car bomb because they reportedly sighted a certain veiled woman who allegedly perpetrated the devilish act of planting the bombs shortly before they went off. Many people who live approximately five hundred meters from the site of the Lagos bomb blasts said their houses shook violently upon the impact of the heavy noise generated by the explosions.
Not long ago, some four hundred plus men suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect who started a late night journey from some Northern States and headed to Port Harcour, the Rivers state capital were intercepted by some eagle eyed soldiers near the commercial city of Aba in Abia state.
Few weeks before these strange travelers were intercepted for questioning in the wee hours of the night, the leader of the Islamic terrorists group Abubaar Shekau who is reportedly in hiding had threatened to send his foot soldiers to bomb crude oil facilities in the oil rich Niger Delta and even threatened to take his fight to all corners of the Nigerian nation in their murderous campaign to destroy Nigeria if their evil plot to establish their harsh version of Islamic Sharia law is not declared in every part of Nigeria even against the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution which guarantees freedom of worship and conscience to all Nigerians and in section 10 clearly outlaws the declaration of any religion as the official state religion.
Six suspected bombers planting bombs at the Living Faith Church in Owerri, the Imo state capital were arrested by the Imo state police command after some vigilant private security guards suspected their movement around the Church premises and reported to the Police. These rash of arrests in the Southern states of Nigeria have been largely politicized by those in some parts of Northern Nigeria who do not wish Nigeria well but are rather wrongly accusing the Abia state government of witch hunt over a security action taken by the Nigerian Army.
The Police command in Imo state must transparently and openly investigate these six bombers and should not attempt to conceal any evidence that may be useful to obtain conviction of these terrorists in the competent courts of law. Besides, I am of the opinion that Nigeria should set up independent anti- terrorism military tribunal for the prosecution of these bombers since their actions touch the very fundamental basis of our sovereignty and have virtually destroyed most arts of the territorial entity called Nigeria. The local court system has failed to speedy up the prosecution publicly of some of the arrested terrorists. Thousands of victims of these attacks have yet to get justice. Government has set up mechanism to address these issues and resolve the terrorists attacks. Nigerians are obliged to assist the Nigerian Government to achieve success in the war against terrorism.
Interestingly, the arrest of these four hundred and something suspected members of the Boko Haram about the same period that Abubakar Shekau the leader of Boko Haram threatened to attack Southern Nigeria and the Borno state Governor also warned that the dreaded sect may take their bombing campaign to the South has ignited understandable fears and apprehensions in the minds of most residents of the Southern parts of Nigeria even as the recent suspected bomb explosions in Lagos is interpreted as the actualization of the threats issued by Abubakar Shekau in a video recording played in YouTube to attack facilities and institutions in the Southern part of Nigeria.
Sadly, certain politicians in Jigawa and many other states in the North West including the government of Kano state introduced dangerous political interpretations into the arrest of the over four hundred suspected Boko Haram members who were headed to Port Harcourt by the Nigerian Army. The 36 states of the federation must actively partner with the Nigerian Federal Government to collectively and jointly battle the scourge of terrorism.
All the major political parties must unite with the Federal Government to wage a successful war against terrorists because the essence of Nigeria's unity is about to be eroded because major political actors use the binoculars of politics to analyze any reported case of arrest of suspected members of Boko Haram who have unleashed violence on an unprecedented scale.
It is evil for the All Progressives Congress to oppose the arrest of some suspected terrorists in Abia state who were headed to Rivers state even as it is the highest display of heartlessness that the so-called Publicity secretary of APC in the South East but who is based in Abuja could issue a flippant but provocative press statement criticizing Imo state government's decision to introduce biometric Identity Cards for all resident in order to check the infiltration into the South East of these undesirable elements from the North who have already destroyed the North with their murderous bombing campaign.
Some persons who said they were speaking for the North but certainly were not speaking for the patriotic Nigerians of Northern extraction, had even proceeded to use some accounts on the social media to threaten to attack Igbo interests wherever they can locate them and few days after, the largest commercial complex owned by an Igbo in Wuse two [Emab plaza] was bombed and several poor Nigerians battling to eke out a living were needlessly wasted by the members of these terrorists group.
These and many other threats and actual attacks including the late night massacre of 123 villagers in Sothern Kaduna local area known as Sanga by some suspected armed Fulani herdsmen said to be on a revenge mission over the alleged killing of their clan head, have surely reignited my interest in studying the fundamental kernel of the import of the concept of 'civil war' and to state that the version of civil insurrections and rebellion going on in parts of Northern Nigeria can not by all stretch of imagination be classified as civil since brute and gruesome force are applied maximally to unleash devastating violence across board resulting in the killing of thousands of Nigerians in the last three years and the destruction of several villages in most Northern states including Benue state.
Apart from the massive destruction of lives and property of Nigerians by the activities of Boko Haram, the economy of the North has crumbled even as thousands of school girls can no longer go to school for fear of abduction by the armed terrorists who are currently holding hostage over three hundred school girls they kidnapped on gun points in Chibok local government area council of the North Eastern state of Borno.
For many years I have often wondered why the decent terminology of civil can be added to qualify such outrageous and evil criminal acts such as the brutal killings happening all over Nigeria being perpetrated by persons who seek the destabilization of the Nigerian state as it is currently constituted because of their selfish religious and political pursuits. I had all these while been thinking that the term civil was added to the concept of war as a way of a metaphor but the more I stretched my sense of imagination to comprehend the reason behind the application of this good term civil to the bad term war I have come to the conclusion that it was an accident of terminology.
My conclusion comes from the fact that from my broad knowledge and encounter with Philosophy as a field of scholarship and also my lovely encounter with logic demonstrated clearly that it is unlikely that bad can cohere with good since these two terms are diametrically opposed to each other in meaning and significance. For instance, my conventional wisdom tells me that in a war situation, the combatants are bound to respect certain international provisions on humanitarian laws governing wars such as desisting from killing unarmed civilians and the aged including women and children. Under the Geneva Convention places such as hospitals and worship centers are also clearly exempted for attacks by warriors but the case of Nigerian Boko Haram is anything but civil since the most sacred places have all been attacked with over twelve thousand persons killed.
But still, the writers of a piece on civil war published in the popular Wikipedia online encyclopedia insist that there is indeed a concept called civil war and proceeded to define it as thus; "A war between organized groups within the same State or Republic or less commonly between two countries created formerly as united political entity and that the aim of the combat by one side is to seek to take over control of the country or a region to achieve independence for a region or to change government policies". Boko Haram has very clearly made known their evil intention to either institutionalize their own version of Sharia states in Northern Nigeria or to completely destroy the political entity known as Nigeria. The Nigerian State has also classified the rebellion as purely a civil war but at the same time stated that even the 1969 civil war in Nigeria in which over three million persons of South East extraction were mostly killed is not as bad as what is going on now in Nigeria.
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan had recently insisted that the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East is worse than the Nigerian civil war.
Receiving the College of Bishops of the African Church led by Primate Emmanuel Udofia, who paid him a courtesy visit in State House Abuja, he observed that whereas the battle line was drawn in the case of the Civil War and the enemies known, the war on terror is complicated because the enemies are faceless and are within.
He was reported by the Nigerian media as saying that in spite of that, the enemies will not be able to achieve their goals especially because of the prayers of the faithful.
Jonathan said: "Whenever I have the opportunity to interface with clergymen and Christians generally, I always thank them for their prayers because this country is facing challenges that we never expected.
"I always say that apart from those of us from the Eastern region who witnessed the effects of the civil war, people have not witnessed this kind of insecurity in the country.
"In the North-East, it's almost like it's even worse than civil war because in the civil war, you know if you are here, you know the battle line, either a Biafran or Nigerian. You know where to run to. Right now, you don't even know where to run to because the enemies are in sokoto pocket. So, it's a problem.
"But with your prayers, God has been kind and whatever the enemies contemplate, we will never get there."
President Jonathan also used the opportunity of the working visit by the religious leaders to reassure Nigerians that the challenge of Boko Haram will come to an end as he noted that "everything about terror is evil. It represents negative forces on earth and all over human history, negative forces, terror terrorises people for sometime but the light always subdues it with time."
A very negative development in the terrorism campaign by these mass murderers is that some Nigerians are seeing and analyzing the entire scenario from their whimsical parochial and paranoid perceptions. Politicians of the two dominant divide-Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress have shown the greatest sense of unpatriotic and unabashed readiness to compartmentalize the bombing campaign in some partisan perspectives. These terrorists are killing everyone on their way including moderate Moslems even though their self acclaimed leader has clearly marked Nigerian Christians and the Nigerian state institutions as their primary targets.
It is incomprehensible to even imagine that some Nigerians will be sympathetic to these deadly sectarian bombers who have completely destroyed their Northern regional economy and are spreading homelessness and destitution all over the North with a determined intent and meticulous speed to spread their tentacles to other parts of Nigeria outside of the North. For instance it is a well known fact that some military operatives and officers are sympathetic to Boko Haram and indeed actively supply them with the necessary weapons and information on troops movements which jeopardizes the lives of the military combatants who have died in large numbers.
I suggest that those military officers and operatives caught collaborating criminally with the insurgents should be made to face public execution after facing court marshal in the military tribunal. Those who steal and divert weapons and huge cash meant to purchase state of the art fighting facilities and weapons in the Nigerian ministry of defence should similarly be publicly executed for they are the worst saboteurs against the territorial integrity of Nigeria and have assisted in diminishing Nigeria's sovereign rights.
Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and [email protected]; Human Rights Writers's Association of Nigeria - Home.