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When amnesty grows hysterical

By The Citizen
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For the thousands of direct and indirect victims of the four-year indiscriminate terror campaign unleashed on innocent Nigerians by the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, hysterical and largely-misleading media messages like the latest one by Amnesty International claiming that hundreds of terror detainees have died in detention centres as the military battles to crush the insurgency amount to very little comfort, if not a downrightly wicked sense of humour. For them, it is easy for the global human rights watch-dog to sit comfy in London and pontificate on unsubstantiated figures churned out to galvanise propaganda for criminals who have serially demonstrated their readiness to kill pupils in their sleep or rip open pregnant women for a dark and ignoble cause.

In case the organisation is not aware, popular feelings of despicability for atrocities so far committed by the terror group that enjoys clandestine and lavish support from politicians within and beyond the country is so intense that most Nigerians do not even care anymore if suspects are strewn together in the scorching desert sun to die painfully and in instalment. Or, if they are executed summarily on apprehension by security agents, thousands of who have been 'terminated with extreme prejudice' (TWERPed) by the terrorists. Amnesty International must be wary not to be used in a propaganda proxy war that unwittingly jams the cymbals in celebration of criminals, instead of excoriating them appropriately for the mindlessness of terrorism.

Is the group aware that before his untimely death in a controversial navy helicopter crash, former National Security Adviser, Gen. Andrew Azazi, accused ranking members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party of masterminding the insurrection which is a corollary of their threat to render the country ungovernable for President Goodluck Jonathan? Is the organisation also aware that Azazi was post-humously vindicated when a former Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Gambo Jimeta, subsequently accused truculent members of the Northern Elders Forum of inspiring insurrection to settle personal scores with the minority-led administration that the region has yet to accept as a fait accompli? It is difficult to imagine that the organisation is deliberately volunteering for recognition from some attention-grabbing civil society groups that forfeited credibility the moment they lost moral leverage on the terrorist group.

Is the unsubstantiated allegation of the death of hundreds of terror detainees a deliberate show of insensitivity to the memories of those innocent passengers from the eastern part of the country whose bus was blown up in a motor park in Kano, allegedly by the terrorist group? Or, is it a memento for the 60 students of the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, who were slaughtered in a fit of murderous intolerance? Or, is it in honour of the worshippers of St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, near Abuja, who were bombed to satisfy the senseless fury of the Nigerian Talibans? It is certainly difficult to ruminate over the outrage perpetrated by the terrorist group without arriving at the inevitable conclusion that the allegation amounts to a red rag provocatively dangled to further enrage an already furious bull.

Like they say, anyone who is afraid of heat has no business in or near the kitchen. If there has been collateral damage in the course of the global alliance against terror, as there is bound to be, that is no sufficient reason for Amnesty International to wax hysterical by creating the false impression of wholesale elimination of terror suspects in detention centres across the country. Victims of the atrocities of the terrorist group do not require the body's or any organisation to lecture them on how best to swallow the extremely bitter taste of  the effects of the insurgency on their lives. If a man murdered sleep, what right has he to complain of insomnia which weighs most insignificantly on the scale of notoriety, compared with terrorism?

It is imperative that organisations like Amnesty International begin to appreciate the fact that the lure for patronage has become so compelling and lucrative that self-serving civil society groups/contractors would do anything to attract sympathy. But experience has shown that by its very nature, extremism recognises neither logic nor common sense, otherwise British security agencies would not have warned Britons to be eternally security conscious because fundamentalists operating in that European country consider every target, including kindergartens and churches, as legitimate targets for terrorists. And if that is the warning from British security agencies, Amnesty International has no moral right to lecture Nigeria on how to deal with criminals who have no qualms about killing children or elderly women, asleep or awake.

Because terror recognises neither reason nor logic, the governor of the Afghan province of Logar was blasted right inside a mosque as he was exchanging pleasantries with well-wishers, just as several bombs have exploded inside and soiled the sanctity of mosques in war-scarred Syria. As difficult as it may be to rationalise the bombing of worship places like the churches that have been flattened in Nigeria, it becomes even more difficult to rationalise the bombing of mosques by fellow Muslims. This is one madness that has become familiar in several areas of the Muslim world, including Nigeria where terrorists do not discriminate between victims, targeting the crescent and star as well as the cross.

But particularly contemptible has been the spate of killings of students in northern Nigeria, mostly always in their sleep, as if the criminals were too chicken-hearted to look their victims in the face. The first of such dastardly incidents was recorded in Zamfara State, whose former governor who is now a senator, Sani Ahmed Yerima, goes about defending child marriage as if paedophilia is synonymous with Islam. And the second has been Yobe State, whose former governor and now a senator, too, blames tear-jerking poverty in the zone on President Jonathan. To vindicate Jimeta, the former governor always conveniently failed to spend the funds of the state on creative ventures that would have banished poverty among the people. It was tactical- to provide justification for the mischief of blaming President Jonathan for this veritable heritage of feudalism.

If the truth must be told, no Nigerian with tears still welling in their eyes from grief imposed on them by Boko Haram is impressed by the false alarm raised by Amnesty International. Everywhere you go to across the length and breadth of the country, the only emotions reserved for the terrorist organisation are fear, hatred and loathing. As a matter of fact, the easiest way for anyone to forfeit the respect and sympathy of the average Nigerian is to be associated with the terrorist group and the despicable barbarism that it represents. Was it the intention of AI to align itself with such odium by propagating falsehood and mischief on behalf of common criminals and killers of sleeping women and children? If the organisation is unaware or does not want to answer to hysteria, Nigeria is the only country where indicted terror suspects continue to enjoy lavish benefits in the hallowed chambers of parliament! It is also the only country where serving security personnel, including a general, could be accused of collaborating with the enemy as in the Jaji military barracks bombing or snitching on colleagues as in Nasarawa State where such betrayal caused the death of over 60 cops and DSS men.

•Umosen, a communications strategist, wrote from Anchor Point, Ketu, Lagos