Musings On Boko Haram And Their Sponsors: Its Time To Stop Them or They Stop Nigeria!!
By Ola' Idowu
I have always thought of penning down something about different issues concerning my dear country Nigeria in the last one year or more, but each time I got on it, the issues just kept on multiplying and you never know where to start from. The recent abduction of over 300 young school girls and the multiple bombings in Nyanya, Abuja by the deadly sect Jamaatu Allus sunna lil daawati wal Jihad fondly called Boko Haram has finally brought me down to writing and I won't stop now till I get my messages across.
There is no doubting it that Nigeria is in a state of war and no matter how much President Goodluck Jonathan had tried pretending everything is fine, the chicken has come home to roost. The Bring Back Our Girls social media campaign has finally forced him and his litany of advisers to their senses and now they have to do something about this deadly virus called Boko Haram. There is no going away anytime soon of this menace and its either we stop Boko Haram somewhat or they stop Nigeria, its as simple as that!!
For too long we allowed this problem to brew and get to the stage we've gotten to where it seems obvious the unity of Nigeria is at stake. First, was the barbaric way the sect was routed in 2009, when late President Umaru Yar'adua ordered a massive security clampdown on them and their leaders. The late Mohammed Yusuf Abubakar (Boko Haram founder and then leader) was caught by security forces and murdered without recourse to a trial, hundreds of his sect followers were killed either in a shootout or extra-judicially. Their places of worship and homes were destroyed. Their wives and daughters raped, killed or incarcerated and the worse part of it disabled and vulnerable adults were arrested, accused of being Boko Haram members and summarily executed by the police and we all went to sleep believing the problem had been solved. There was to be very little activity on the part of Boko Haram after that massive and mostly illegal routing by the Nigerian state, chiefly because the late Yar'adua (a muslim president) was still in power and it suited the present sponsors of the sect whom I would henceforth in this article refer to as the Hausa/Fulani cabal.
With the disputed People Democratic Party's (PDP) primaries over the choice of Goodluck Jonathan as presidential candidate and his subsequent election as president in 2011 following the untimely death of Yar'adua, it was time for the Hausa/Fulani cabal to resurrect Boko Haram for their political gains and make good their promise of making Nigeria ungovernable for Jonathan. The sect then found willing sponsors in them and as they grew bolder in their attacks as they aligned themselves with Al-Qaeda and became one of its franchises, as well as with state sponsors of terror like Sudan and Iran – who already had dormant Hezbollah trained terror cells in Kano via the Shiite led group of Ibrahim el-ZakZaky. Its no wonder the Israeli government has concluded with some degree of certainty that Nigeria has become a hotbed for Iranian/Hezbollah terrorist activities.
Dawit Giorgis, a visiting fellow at the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies in an article for CNN traced the emergence of Iran's version of Hezbollah to some northern members of Nigeria's Muslim Student Society who travelled to Iran in the 1980's in the wake of the 1979 Iranian revolution where they were trained to repeat the revolution in Nigeria. These students formed the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) which flourished with cash, training and support from Iran. The IMN has gone on to provide Hezbollah-style military training to hundreds of Hausa/Fulani youths throughout northern Nigeria and the result is what we are witnessing today. < http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/14/nigerias-hezbollah-problem/ http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/14/nigerias-hezbollah-problem/ >. The leader of the student group then was Ibrahim Zakzaky, a firebrand Sunni muslim turned Shia religious extremist who initially was influenced by the works of Sayyd Qutb, the intellectual force behind Eygpt's Muslim Brotherhood and whose ideas form the basis of al-Qaeda's ideology today. Giorgis also noted in his article that Zakzaky has over the years worked hard to ensure that his members are recruited in the Nigerian army, police force and the state security establishments like the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Department for State Security (DSS or SSS as we popularly call them).
The major fear was if Boko Haram links up with Hezbollah and Iran, with the powerful tool they had in place in Nigeria waiting for mobilisation, how much damage they would go on to cause. Unfortunately, it's quite clear they already have through their Hausa/Fulani cabal sponsors and also they have linked up with al-Qaeda too. Proof can be found in how according to the BBC, they have become better resourced, well drilled and planned in their attacks and their level of motivation to do battle with the Nigerian state. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-22538888). While Boko Haram follows the Salafist Sunni tradition of Islam as attested to by its leader Abubakar Shekau in his recent video and receives support from al-Qaeda in the Northern Maghreb (AQIM), Hezbollah, Iran as well as Zakzaky are Shiite, Iran despite its differences with al-Qaeda has always demonstrated its willingness to work with al-Qaeda on occasions, in order to attack the West. The Iranian motives are clear and according to a former Iranian diplomat Adel Assadinia who defected to the West, in working with such groups as IMN led by Zakzaky and in teaming up with al-Qaeda franchises like Boko Haram, Iran's objectives are to establish a local power base to exert influence over the national government and to act against Western interests particularly in the oil industry. With Nigeria being Africa's largest producer of crude oil and having the second largest proven oil reserves in Africa second only to Libya, its easy to understand why Iran needs a power base in the country. While oil production takes place on the coast, and away from Boko Haram's centre of power, as long as Iran can destabilise Nigeria enough through them and Zakzaky's men with the active connivance of the greedy and imbecilic Hausa/Fulani cabal, they could disrupt the oil industry. Add to Iran's control of the Strait of Hormuz (where a third of global oil ships passes through), its present influence over militias in Libya and alliances with nations along the Red Sea like Egypt until the recent overthrow of the Morsi led Muslim Brotherhood government, then it becomes clear the formidable power Iran has to disrupt world energy supply and force the West to negotiate with it on its evil nuclear ambitions.
The US states department in its recent report on global terrorism continue to list Iran and Sudan as state sponsors of terror despite recent warming of relations between United States and Iran ( http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/225043.pdf http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/225043.pdf ). Sudan on its part has long been a shield for the offshoot of al-Qaeda and harboured terrorist camps led by Osama bin Laden all through the 1990s. In a recent interview with Punch newspaper and widely reported on Saharareporters former Nigerian diplomat Ambassador Bola Dada who served for many years in Sudan disclosed how lots of northerners including top politicians, diplomats, army officers and youths came into Sudan and got trained personally by Osama Bin Laden in his terrorist camps back then. One of such official he mentioned was former Governor Sani Yerima (a man known to have married a 12 year old girl and fought for the age of marriage in the Nigerian constitution not to be raised to 18 years old but left at pubic age for any intending girl who wants to marry). There is no difference between such a man and a certain Abubakar Shekau who abducts 15-18 year old girls and promises to marry them off into slavery, the obviously share the same views on teenage marriage. It does not matter if one is a senator and the other a known terrorist during the day, they could both marry their views at night when no one is watching. Another well known figure who has traversed through Sudan is Sanusi Lamido who obtained a degree in Sharia and Islamic studies from the country and lived there for some years in the 1990s during the period Bin Laden ran his terror camps. He was at a time referred to by the US christmas day shoe bomber Farouk Mutallab as his mentor and he himself would refer to Farouk's dad Umaru Mutallab as his own mentor following the period when he was incarcerated under late Sani Abacha for his growing militant and Islamic views during the periods he shuttled between Nigeria and Sudan. It was Mutallab who rehabilitated Lamido and brought him into the Nigerian banking sector though he had done some previous banking jobs abroad in the late 80s.
Adamu Ciroma, a long time northern politician is also another name who has one or two links with Sudan and was part of the faceless Kaduna Mafia in the 1970s – 1990s. The origins of the Kaduna Mafia can be traced to the demise of the first republic during the Kaduna Nzeogwu-Emmanuel Ifeajuna led military wipeout of northern leaders. The coup prodded a group of Northern Nigerian intellectuals, civil servants, remnant politicians, business tycoons and military officers residing and doing business in and around Kaduna to start the group to rally opposition against the government of General Aguiyi Ironsi especially when they perceived he was not doing enough to bring the killers of their leaders to justice. The mafia group consisted aristocrats, civil servants and young military officers who were mainly Muslims, most of them educated at the famous Barewa College in Zaria and were known for their commitment to the traditional values and socio-political interests of Northern Nigeria. Hence when such a man makes a threat like he did in 2010 together with a certain Lawal Kaita, a close associate of Abubakar Atiku, that Nigeria would be made ungovernable for Jonathan should he run for President in 2011 we ought to have long taken it serious and properly investigated them. ( http://dailyindependentnig.com/2012/06/making-nigeria-ungovernable-for-president-jonathan/ http://dailyindependentnig.com/2012/06/making-nigeria-ungovernable-for-president-jonathan/ ). The first to have made such threat was so called Kaduna based civil rights activist Shehu Sani who in 2010 despite admitting the unconstitutionality of rotational presidency went on to threaten Jonathan not to contemplate contesting the 2011 presidential elections as any attempt for him to do so amounts to an incitement and recipe for political instability. Atiku himself warned Jonathan that those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable. When a Lamido Sanusi as CBN Governor insists on creating a Sharia banking system without proper public consultation, when he dresses in full Kano Emirate regalia to office despite being a public servant, you know such a man has not lost his Sudanese form (as per Sharia studies) and his Northern Nigeria socio-political beliefs despite any pretences to the contrary.
These are the men (all mentioned above) that should be spoken too by the US government counter-terrorism officials when they come to Nigeria, and be placed under thorough surveillance to understand the Boko Haram menace, their religious/political agenda and where they get their finances and instructions from. A proper investigation of these mentioned men and so many others hidden in the corridors of power and influence in Northern Nigeria would produce evidence as to how the terror of Boko Haram has become such a malaise that is threatening to bring Nigeria apart. These are the men aggrieved that the presidency did not come back to the north in 2011 and see no other way to have a northern president except through the North/South PDP rotation arrangement Nigerians did not put in place. To be clear the religious/political Boko Haram are not the only 'type' of Boko Haram. There is also the 'Boko Haram' sponsored by the Nigerian state. Yes, the Nigerian state!. Remember the fuel subsidy protest across the country in 2012 when Tahir square in Kano was going to be the real epicentre of the protests. Muslims and Christians showed unity in their all night protest vigils at the square like it was done in Egypt and at a stage Christians provided security for their Muslim counterparts when they took breaks to pray in the evenings. It was a massive show of unity and solidarity until a few days later when gunmen on motorbikes killed over 50 worshippers in a church in Kano and it was blamed on Boko Haram. The gunmen according to reports from survivors and eye-witnesses used semi-automatic rifles (Israeli made Uzi semi-automatic baby rifles) instead of the usual AK-47s used by the Boko Haram terrorists which put an end to the protests and the show of unity amongst the Muslims and Christians in Kano. The Israeli and Czech made automatic rifles they used are the type issued to secret agents who guard the president and top government officials and not the type you find commonly on the market to be purchased for use by Boko Haram.
This goes to show that the presidency in some ways have hidden under the cloak of Boko Haram to carry out some heinous crimes against its own people. Add to that some southerners who have been caught in the past trying to bomb pentecostal churches in the north without any of them prosecuted and you know Boko Haram menace has been used by politicians within the PDP for their own devious means. Also, armed bandits from Niger and Chad who long before Boko Haram have always crossed the porous boundaries between Nigeria and those two countries to commit crimes, have also used the mayhem surrounding Boko Haram to raid banks and rustle cattle in Katsina and other northern states across the country, but the main danger to Nigeria's survival remains the religious/political Boko Haram headed by al-Qaeda/Hezbollah linked Abubakar Shekau and promoted as well as protected by the Hausa/Fulani cabal. It goes without saying that Nigeria at this rate is tethering on to its end.
Its time we stop this Boko Haram madness somewhat or it stops Nigeria!. The Nigerian government needs as a matter of urgency to prosecute the policemen who murdered Mohammed Yusuf (former Boko Haram leader) captured but not tried before been killed (prosecution was brought against four policemen some years back who allegedly committed such heinous crime but stopped after some days). Their destroyed places of worship needs to be rebuilt and their wives and children in detention released. The police and military men who killed defenceless disabled and vulnerable young men accused of being Boko Haram militants in 2009 need to be prosecuted and sent to jail. The videos of these extra judicial killings are available on Youtube and the families of the murdered disabled young men should be compensated. Two wrongs they say can never make a right. We can't be complaining of Boko Haram and giving Shekau the necessary tools to recruit more youths into his fold. All he needs to convert new recruits is not only to tell them about their despondent future in a country called Nigeria, but to also show them the youtube videos of the extra-judicial killings of disabled and vulnerable young men who were laid face down and executed by the police and military in 2009. If we want to do any psychological operations (psy-ops) to win the hearts of young men in the north we need to start by giving those families justice and by releasing women and children accused of being families of Boko Haram militants. While doing that, the Nigerian government and the United States counter-terrorism team can then go after Shekau and his gang wherever they are hiding in the forests of Sambissa or the snaky caves of Gwoza hills in Borno state as well as their sponsors.
For those who still think the Nigerian Army can do it on their own, they are either uninformed or just playing up to stupid hubris (or false pride as Wole Soyinka aptly put it). The Nigerian Army has only been good at one thing for years now – propaganda!. They were heavily defeated by the Niger-Delta militants during the Obasanjo era despite the massive force deployed against them and the willingness of the northerners within the army to fight against them. Lots of soldiers from barracks in Borno state where deployed to the creeks of the Niger-Delta to fight MEND (its the usual style of the Nigerian army to deploy soldiers from an area/ethnicity who have no affinity to an area of insurrection in the country with the thinking that they would see no qualms in killing their fellow Nigerians) and they lost their lives in droves as the militants were fierce in battle, knew the terrain and had moles within the military and intelligence bodies. When they were losing men and hardware, lots of southerners in the army, including mobile policemen were forcefully ordered to Jaji, Kaduna for quick two weeks paratrooper and sharp-shooting training and sent to the Niger-Delta but they still met their waterloo. Eventually, the soldiers and commanders made deals with the militants and even when they knew the camps of militants like Tompolo (who stayed in a place called Camp 5) they never attacked it and when under pressure to act they gave him information hours before they arrive at the camp so he could escape and put up no resistance against them. The JTF (Joint Task Force) then kept giving false estimates of militants killed and under-reported their losses and with no one there to verify, the truth could not be ascertained. What was true was that the country's oil production was going down and it took the combination of the arrest of Asari Dokubo, the subsequent arrest of Henry Okah (alias Jomo Gbomo) through the help of the United States after his interview in 2007 with CNN's Jeff Koinange on the creeks of the Niger-delta, as well as the amnesty programme by late president Yar'adua to stop the oil-decline and disruption to the global energy market.
Fast forward to 2014 and the story is still the same. This time the northerners in the army on the instruction of the Hausa/Fulani cabal are not fully committed to the fight against Boko Haram. The Middle-belt and some Southern officers hurriedly trained in a counter-terrorism operations for two weeks last year, are being fiercely routed by Boko Haram who know the terrain better, well armed, tactically drilled and are aided by moles in the army command, the NIA and DSS who give them information. Last week in the attack on Gamboru village in Borno state, villagers recounted that the military men guarding the village got 'fake' intelligence report about militants operating in another town and one hour after they relocated away Boko Haram descended on Gamboru village and killed 330 people. This proves the amount of insider support these extremists get from within the military and intelligence service and how the men fighting them are made helpless. Add to that the fact that they are ill-equipped and not well armed (a fact attested to by president Jonathan in his presidential media chat where he stated that the Nigerian military is 10 years behind in terms of military hardware, training and modernisation), and the soldiers are not being rotated say after every six months leaving them open to fatigue from offensive and defensive actions, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), then you know its only silly for anyone to question the need for foreign help and intervention. The Nigerian army fighting Boko Haram just like they did with MEND have made deals with them and would not attack them in their camps in Sambissa forest reserve and Gwoza hills in Borno state or in forest reserves in Yobe state.
Its time to stop Boko Haram and their sponsors before they stop Nigeria. The abducted Chibok girls (about 246 or more still missing) may all not be found in one place as they may have been moved around within the North. I do not believe all those rubbish about them being moved to Chad and Cameroon as that makes it hard for Boko Haram or their sponsors to have any influence over them if moved abroad, especially with US spy drones flying from Niamey, Niger and watching the borders of Chad and Cameroon. There are many sugar-cane farms in Bacita, Niger state owned by some of the Boko Haram sponsors where these girls can be hidden and seriously speaking lots of densely covered farms and forests in Borno and Yobe which US spy satellites cannot track and the girls can be hidden. So called 'civil rights' activist Shehu Sani mentioned recently that his knowledge of Boko Haram (where does he get such knowledge from) means that they may want to exchange the girls for their own detained wives and children and not necessarily sell them. If Shekau wants a swap of their wives and children in detention for the abducted girls then it should be granted anything else no chance. The families of the abducted Chibok girls may have to just prepare their minds not to see their girls for a bit longer until Shekau is captured or destroyed. Its time the US government send not just spy planes over Nigeria but drop some hell-fire missiles over him and his marauding demons. Hekimullah Mehsud, the late Taliban leader in Pakistan evaded US drone strikes for many years due to his often secretive nature and nondescript background whenever he did any video. When in 2013 he decided to come out of hiding and did a video with enough background information and even did one showing his softer side as he and his militants dived into streams swimming and were openly happy, he was tracked a few months later and killed by US drones in November 2013. Abubakar Shekau's latest 57 minutes video rant with enough background information showing him in a forest and an armoured carrier behind him, (which is quite incredible not even Bin Laden had an armoured carrier) is more than enough information to track down his terrorist group and destroy them with hell-fire missiles and keep them on the run making it hard for them to plan attacks. Shekau may escape and be holed up in one of the guest houses of his sponsors (like Osama was holed up in his house in Pakistan while everyone thought he was in a cave) but if his sponsors are put under real surveillance he would be captured or killed with drone missiles while planning any further attacks.
The Jonathan led government can sign an agreement with the US government for the use of lethal drone strikes for a period of three months renewable every three months after a review of its effectiveness or stopped if ineffective and causing civilian damage. If the aggrieved sponsors of Boko Haram particularly the Hausa/Fulani cabal and the faceless Kaduna mafia believe the only way to get back to the presidency is by fomenting trouble a la OPC and MEND did in recent past then this one is one trouble too many. OPC and MEND called for secession, I've never heard Boko Haram or their sponsors directly call for one all they are talking about is having Jonathan convert to Islam (effectively calling for a muslim or northern president). Senator Jubril Aminu warned many years back that the greed and selfishness of the Hausa/Fulani ethnic tribe would ruin Nigeria. He was aptly right and for any of the Hausa/Fulani cabal who think they can frustrate Jonathan out of power using Boko Haram they have miscalculated. Surely Jonathan would run for president in 2015 and would win against any northern candidate not because Nigerians love him as he is actually the most clueless, clownish and childish president the country has ever had but because southerners who are being forced to accept a reign of terror would vote for him in protest against the north, add to it couple of votes from the middle belt and a bit of rigging, then we wait to see the next line of action of the greedy and selfish Hausa/Fulani cabal.
I leave the cabal with words of General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) who in 2011 could not hide his feelings toward President Jonathan's presidential ambition as he said: “There may be no Nigeria. I draw parallel with Somalia so many times. I am scared about that. Somalia, they are one ethnic group, one religion, Islam, but for 18 years, Somalia became so selfish, so corrupt, so undisciplined and they have wrecked the country”. The last part of his statement to me should read the “Hausa/Fulani cabal became so selfish, so greedy, so undisciplined and they have wrecked Nigeria”. Its time to stop Boko Haram and its sponsors somewhat or there would be no Nigeria!!
Ola' Idowu a Management Consultant, Researcher, Political enthusiast and Humanist writes in from the UK. email: [email protected] or mailto:[email protected] [email protected] mailto:[email protected]