Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Jonathan Saying “Thank You, Boko Haram, for this Lake of Blood”

BY NKEM EKEOPARA

The current Nigerian ruler, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan continues not to
“give a damn” in his inconsiderate decisions since coming to office in
2011. Now, it appears he is about to make what is sure to become the
most inconsiderate of them all; granting amnesty to the Northern
Nigeria-based jihadist group Jama’atu Allus Sunnah Lilda wati Wal
Jihad notoriously known as Boko Haram, which means Western education
is sin in Hausa Language.

As Dr. Jonathan primes himself to take this decision, like hundreds of
improvised explosive devices (IEDs) exploded by the terrorist group to
massacre and maim innocent Nigerians, especially the Igbo, it is
important that one not only reminds him of what they or their ilk
represent, but acquaints him with the inhumanity and recklessness in
such a decision and, of course, the dangers that lie ahead.

Already, he has set up an Amnesty Committee as a prelude to granting
amnesty to a sect that emerged on the scene with a clear mission of
propagating Islam through jihad. He reached this decision after a
nocturnal meeting with the group styling itself as Northern Elders
Forum on April 3, 2013. Many members of this group have in recent
weeks called for amnesty for this terrorist group that in 2004 branded
themselves as ‘Talibans’ and named their first base in Kanamma in Yobe
State, North East Nigeria, ‘Afaghanistan’, from where they attacked a
nearby police station.

The aptness of their associating themselves with the Taliban that
ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, who apart from dehumanizing
their own people, provided a haven for Osama bin Laden to plan and
launch attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11,
2001, should not be overlooked. It must be noted that what has come to
be known simply as “9/11” was welcomed with wild celebration by
jihadists in Kano, where the Igbo were gruesomely massacred in bomb
blasts at a luxury boss station on March 18, 2013. It is not out of
place to mention too that t-shirts with the image of Osama bin Laden
became a fashion statement for some Northern Nigerian youths who are
of the Islamic faith soon after 9/11.

In a country that thrives on convenient amnesia, it is not strange for
some people in Nigeria, including its ruler, Dr. Jonathan, to say that
they are ignorant of the fact that Boko Haram members are waging a
jihad against the Nigerian state. It does not matter that there are
security reports that they have links with al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb
(AQIM) and the fact that their techniques of perpetrating terror on
their targets are the same. It does not matter that, like their fellow
Islamic militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan where polio is endemic
just like in Northern Nigeria, they murdered health workers
administering polio vaccines on innocent children. It does not matter
that, like the Taliban, they are murdering teachers, burning down
schools and eclipsing the dreams of millions of Malalas. It does not
even matter that in the first week of August, 2009, the Nigerian media
was awash with gory details of how under the supervision of their late
leader, Mohammed Yusuf, they decapitated three pastors in their
Maiduguri camp for refusing to accept Islam. And it does not matter
that one of the conditions they gave Dr. Jonathan for dialogue was
that he must convert to Islam. Interestingly, these are the same
people he is now planning to grant amnesty.

Naturally, the core questions that arise are: Has Jonathan now
converted to Islam? Is he doing this because of the political capital
his opponents are alleging he is hoping to gain? Yes, some of his
opponents even while supporting this evil move, believe that he is
doing it to gain support for a second term in office.

Whatever is the reason, it must be pointed out that he wants to take
an inhuman decision. It is inhuman because if it is taken, it will
ignore the feelings of the loved ones of thousands of people killed by
members of Boko Haram. Such a decision will also ignore the feelings
of thousands of others maimed in Boko Haram’s unjustified attacks.
Beyond the regular rephrasing of texts condemning these attacks and
the empty security assurances from Aso Rock (Nigeria’s seat of power),
how many of the scores of Boko Haram members captured by the security
forces have been brought to book? None! How many would be brought to
justice? Definitely, none, since an amnesty scheme is already in the
works for them. The blood of thousands of Igbo people killed by Boko
Haram, most of them, buried in unmarked mass graves, is crying for
justice. The blood of many others murdered in cold blood is crying for
justice.

Also, let it be pointed out that if Jonathan goes ahead and grants
these terrorists amnesty, it will be the height of recklessness with
power, and very dangerous too. The implication is that any group,
knowing full well that Nigeria’s armed forces are incapable of
containing it, could rise up tomorrow, pick up arms, and intimidate
the Nigerian state. Of course, this is the impression being created.
The Nigerian security forces have allowed some powerful Northern
elites and Western diplomats and media to spread the disinformation
that the security forces are violating the human rights of the people
in the affected areas. Sometimes the way it is being mouthed, one
would think that the Nigerian military is sending dozens of drones
each day against these terrorists and causing the kind of collateral
damage the US causes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But we know it is
not so!

Furthermore, granting amnesty to Boko Haram will create a false sense
of security among the populace. It will allow these terrorists time to
recruit and train more of their fold; procure more deadly arsenals;
strengthen their organization, and perfect their strategies for better
co-ordinated attacks. The outcome in terms of loss of lives and
destruction of landmarks will be calamitous.

If the truth must told, the whole idea of dialogue with or amnesty for
Boko Haram is an attempt by the Northern ruling elite to ‘smartly’
stave off the ultimate days of reckoning and to use resources that are
not generated in their communities in the first place to settle the
mass of their people who have for decades remained unreceptive to
modernity and change. And these elites cannot be exonerated from this
state of affairs. The fact is that those who will come forward for
amnesty, claiming that they are repentant jihadists (never heard that
in my life because that in itself is haram) are not really members of
Boko Haram or Boko Haram splinter groups.

It is well-known that no true jihadist is motivated by material gains,
but by spiritual ends. If it were to improve their material condition,
then, the likes of Osama bin Laden and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the
Nigerian-born underwear bomber, would not have made their infamous
marks in global terrorism. Both have aristocratic roots. It beats my
imagination as to how a group that is averse to Western education will
even advance materially and not become economic leeches to the
Nigerian state. Dr. Jonathan should ‘shine’ his eyes.

Lest we forget, recently, a Nigerian journalist, Mr. Ahmad Salkida,
reputed to be the only Nigerian journalist who had routinely filed
detailed reports on the Northern Nigeria-based jihadist group, Boko
Haram, was reported to have fled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates,
fearing for his life and that of his family. It was reported that in
an email he sent to two editors of Premium Times, one of the media
houses he worked for while in Nigeria, he wrote: “After my most recent
expose on the scandal (read scam) going [on] in respect of purported
ceasefire negotiated between government and Boko Haram, the danger to
my life has escalated to new heights. I have had to go severely
underground for several weeks leading to my decision to flee Nigeria.”

It should be recalled that on January 28, 2013, one Sheikh Mohammed
Abdulazeez, a self-proclaimed second-in-command to the Boko Haram
known jihadist group leader, Abubakar Shekau, declared in Maiduguri
their willingness to lay down their arms after a meeting with Borno
State governor, Kashim Shetima. He said he had the authority of their
leader, Shekau. However, a few days after his pronouncement, Shekau
strongly denied the idea of laying down their arms. Their attacks have
escalated since then.

The Nigerian people are used to their rulers presiding over all manner
of scams. Mr. Salkida has given a clue of what all these could be
about; a scam. But it will be a costly scam because terrorism is a
global phenomenon and no nation negotiates with terrorists or
jihadists. Therefore, it is required that Dr. Jonathan thinks deeply
and asserts his powers as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the
so-called Federal Republic of Nigeria. He should not give in to this
booby trap, but rather, he should strengthen the security forces and
combat these terrorists as being done by nations around the globe.

However, the permanent solution to avoid another civil war, which the
Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has said is where Nigeria is
headed to is the immediate convening of a Sovereign National
Conference to discuss our terms of remaining together or parting
peacefully.
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