The world was jolted by the suicide bombing of the United NationsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria on August 26, 2011 by Boko Haram, the radical Islamic sect. About 18 persons lost their lives in the bomb blast and many others sustained injuries of various degrees. This is the second suicide bombing that has been Ã¢â‚¬ËœsuccessfullyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ executed in Nigeria, the first being the attack on the Police Headquarters, Abuja on June 16, 2011 in which many lives were also lost and about 60 vehicles completely burned in the inferno that ensued. One of such suicide missions was said to have been foiled some days ago and the suicide bomber gunned down.
Before this, the members of the sect had thrown a hand-propelled grenade into the van conveying the security operatives attached to the JTF on July 19, 2011 in Maiduguri, Borno State, wounding three soldiers while others escaped by whiskers. This does not include the numerous attacks on police stations, beer parlours, markets and private homes which have left many people dead. With the activities of the Boko Haram sect especially the bombing of the UN Headquarters, Nigeria has consolidated its position of 14th out of 177 countries in the Failed States Index, 2011, released by a US based group, Fund for Peace (cf. Source Magazine, July 4, 2011, pp. 18 & 19).
The term Boko Haram figuratively means Ã¢â‚¬Å“Western or non-Islamic education is a sin.Ã¢â‚¬Â Its official name is said to be Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦JamaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢atu Ahlis Sunna LiddaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means, Ã¢â‚¬Å“People committed to the Propagation of the ProphetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Teachings and Jihad.Ã¢â‚¬Â The literal translation is Ã¢â‚¬Å“Association of Sunnis for the Propagation of Islam and for Holy WarÃ¢â‚¬Â (Newswatch, August 1, 2011, p. 20). This deadly sect was said to have begun in the 1960Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s but began to draw attention in 2002 when Mohammed Yusuf assumed its leadership. Two years after, in 2004, the sect set up a base called Ã¢â‚¬ËœAfghanistanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ in Kanamma, Yobe State from where it began its preliminary activities of attacking police stations, which of course had no serious response to such threats. That was how the group grew and later relocated to Maiduguri where they set up a religious complex which included a school and a mosque. The aim of the group is said not to be limited to doing away with western education. It is said that, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Boko Haram also wants sharia imposed in its strict form in 12 out of the 19 states in Northern NigeriaÃ¢â‚¬Â (The Source, July 4, 2011, p.17). This is the introduction to the forceful islamization of the whole country. In an interview which he granted to BBC in 2009, among many other grievances, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yusuf stated that the belief that the world is a sphere is contrary to Islam and should be rejected, along with Darwinism and the theory that rain comes from water evaporated by the sunÃ¢â‚¬Â (Newswatch, loc. cit). Yusuf was later killed in Police custody on July 30, 2009.
Since after the death of Yusuf, the activities of the sect had risen and become deadlier, probably to achieve its leaderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dream of an Islamic Nigeria and avenge his death by the tactical elimination of fellow Muslims who opposed them and extirpation of non-Muslims whom they regard as infidels. A crack has appeared in the walls of the Boko Haram, throwing up a new group called Yusufiya Islamic Movement. This group has dissociated itself from Boko HaramÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s modus operandi, maintaining that its members are up in arms particularly against the security agents and the former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff for the murder of their leader.
One intriguing aspect of the Boko Haram sect is the ease with which it beats the security networks. If they can find their way into the Police Force Headquarters and the UN Headquarters, it means that the security of the country is at a minus and even the Aso Rock is at risk. There is this strong feeling Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ that the group has collaborators within the security forces and receives external training and funding supportÃ¢â‚¬Â (The Source, op. cit. p.17). The same school of thought also has it that some Ã¢â‚¬Å“Influential backers of the Boko Haram Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ facilitate the shielding of the top members of the sect from public view and possible arrest. They are also the ones who always secure bail for the sectÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s combatants whenever police arrest them and even fund jail breaks in the case of imprisonmentÃ¢â‚¬Â (The Source, op. cit. p.18).
This might have accounted for why no culprit has either been prosecuted or sentenced. Instead, the alleged murderers of Mohammed Yusuf have been docked, probably to please the sect. The Northern elders have been largely accused of being among the sectÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Ëœinfluential backersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. This is borne out of their call to the Federal Government to withdraw the soldiers deployed to Maiduguri whereas no such loud call was given to the sect to stop its carnage. There is a saying that Ã¢â‚¬Å“an elder does not look on while the she-goat delivers in tethers.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has not done enough to convince Nigerians that it is in charge of the country as its action as regards the Boko Haram has not exceeded its words. When the Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron cut short his holiday and returned to his country at the heat of the London Riots, his speech on the event left nobody in doubt of whether he is in charge or not. He gave a stern warning which was followed with action immediately and in just a few hours, the offenders were apprehended and the streets were sparklingly cleaned. Can we ever see such in Nigeria? President Goodluck Jonathan must stamp his feet on the ground against the cancer of Boko Haram. This again brings to focus the speed with which the law enforcement agents pounce on the non-violent MASSOB at the slightest provocation. Chief Ralph Uwazurike and about 280 members of the MASSOB are presently in detention and charged for Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ levying war against the Governors of the South-East and enthroning the state of BiafraÃ¢â‚¬Â. This of course is treason which is punishable by death under Section 37(1) of the Criminal Code Cap. 38. If a man is charged for treason just for holding a gathering, what happens to people who declare a state within a state and go on to actualize it with violence?
Again, the coincidence of the renewed Boko Haram insurgence and the zest with which the Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi pursues the cause for Islamic Banking is not just disturbing but highly suspicious as well as suggestive and unbecoming of a public servant. The general belief is that Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ the Islamic bank crusadeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ is all part of the wider Boko Haram Islamization agenda of powerful Islamic irredentists in the North. The fear is that the Islamic Bank, when established, will serve as a ready source through which Boko Haram and its likes will be massively funded internally and externallyÃ¢â‚¬Â (The Source, op. cit. p.21). I do not fear the Islamic banking stuff. But what I abhor is intimidation in the name of religion. Why did the private universities drop names associated with any particular religion? It was done in order to maintain the secular nature of Nigeria devoid of any manifest religious sentiments. Then, all of a sudden, the Islamic banking rises and the secular nature of Nigeria quickly jumped the wall.
There are calls from some quarters for the Federal Government to dialogue with Boko Haram in the way the Niger-Delta militants were engaged in dialogue. By the way, what are Boko HaramÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s grievances? Calling for dialogue with an unjust aggressor is insulting the sensibilities of Nigerians who have suffered in the hands of the sect and whose image it has dragged to the mud. In so far as I do not support militancy, the Niger-Delta had a good cause which should have been looked into earlier than now. Nigeria drilled its oil, polluted its air, land and water, impoverished and left it without compensation. Frustration led its youths to take arms. Even when Ken Saro Wiwa was murdered by the Abacha regime, the Niger-Deltans remained calm. A fair comparison of any other region with the North shows that the North has been the greatest beneficiary of the project of Nigeria which was originally designed to favour it by the British. The North has been in leadership for the greater part of NigeriaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s golden jubilee and its greatest annoyance seems to be the displacement from this position because it was Ã¢â‚¬Å“born to ruleÃ¢â‚¬Â.
All these point to one thing; there is an urgent need to redefine what we call Nigeria and agree on how to live as one. If we cannot co-exist as one people, if one group believes that Nigeria belongs to it and calls others slaves in this modern time; if this one group believes in violence and goes on to unleash it whereas the others are at the receiving end; if this same group believes in breaking the rules because they do not believe in them whereas those who believe in them suffer under their yoke, shall we be foolish to say like the Israelites, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What share have we in David? No share in the son of Jesse! To your tents, Israel! Now look after your own House, David!Ã¢â‚¬Â (1kgs.12:16). No one prays for this but it is better for Boko Haram to stop pushing the rest of us to the wall.