Texas, United States – Days after a surprised nation quelled the violence unleashed by the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, there are signs that the group lives. It not only continues to be a residual threat to national security, but a veritable tool to rush Nigeria towards predicted political destruction.
Statements credited to the living remnants of Boko Haram by the mass media indicate the group has not died and, in fact, plans to spread its version of violence to southern Nigeria “until the country is totally Islamized, which is according to the wish of Allah." The sect, claiming to have sympathy for Al Qaeda, has now declared war on all of Nigeria, allegedly because most of its followers were killed by members of the police and the Army who were southerners.
It is saddening that Nigeria will again be infected by religious bacteria. Boko Haram’s widely successful spate of murder is nothing but a new breed of Maitatsne and other similar religious bigotry before it that have been allowed to breed in northern Nigeria by the political elite, who turn a blind eye to feign religious piety. We have seen something like this before in the north, but this is the first time such a group will attempt to migrate down south.
Until Boko Haram struck in the northeast region early this month, the Federal Government, the police, the military and the political elite in the north knew of its existence, even embraced it as intelligence reports show, but did nothing to stem its impending attack.
Leaders of the Islamic sect, we now know, did hobnob with the political elite in the north until the ill-fated attack. Its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, and deputy, Ustaz Buji Fai, a former commissioner under Governor Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno State, were quickly and brutally executed by the Nigerian government, inarguably to keep them quiet forever. Fai held high-level state government posts, including commissioner for religious affairs, commissioner for water resources and chairman of the state’s Kaga Local Government Area.
Yusuf had a close working relationship with at least one other state official — Borno State Deputy Governor, Adamu Dibal, who has professed to have interceded on the sect leader’s behalf in recent years whenever Yusuf crossed paths with Nigerian security services. Indeed, meetings occurred between Borno State police officials and the sect’s leadership after the first clashes between armed forces and Boko Haram, when the Nigerian military launched “Operation Flush” on June 14 and killed 17 sect members in Maiduguri. The meetings that followed indicated that Boko Haram had political patronage.
If Boko Haram had operated at such a high level without the security agencies being able to anticipate and stop its activities, it is only legitimate to assume the group is still able to carry out its wishes by spreading intolerant religious violence to the southern parts of the country. No wonder, the Western political activism group, Odua People’s Congress, otherwise called OPC, replied by daring Boko Haram to venture outside of its enclave.
National Coordinator of OPC, Mr. Gani Adams, condemned the threat, insisting that the Yorubas would not fold their hands and watch Islamic fundamentalists cause mayhem on their land. Adams said: “We have our men on alert already since the police arrested some of them in Abuja coming to Lagos. We are ready for them. They should not come and disrupt the harmony in Yorubaland. We have a secular society in place here and they won’t come and disturb it. We have a plan in place that would effectively curb their advance anytime they decide to come to the South West.”
The “be my guest” response of the OPC notwithstanding, patriotic citizens should be sensitive to the potential crisis at hand. Politicians, willing to use religious and other forms of blackmailers to perpetuate their influence and power, have always used groups like Boko Haram to operate, and if care is not taken, the fire this time may be too furious to contain.
Without being careful of being politically correct, the fact is that violent and reactionary bind of Islamic fanatics have always ruled in the north. Even when they don’t understand the issues, they react so violently that they endanger national security and innocent lives. How many times in the past three decades have these fanatics killed innocent citizens in the name of religion, particularly those from the south? Too many! These fanatics, together with their influential supporters who normally keep quiet, fail to acknowledge that the Nigerian constitution guarantees a secular society, where the religious beliefs of one man cannot be imposed on another. In spite of the law, the situation in northern Nigeria is such that the law is disrespected while bigots are allowed to go on rampage. While the north has not known religious peace and harmony for three decades, not a single instance of religious violence has ever been heard of in the south.
There is no Islamic Nigeria. Any attempt by any religious group, Islamic, Christian or Traditional, to dream on an unrealistic possibility of theocracy will fail.
Notwithstanding the guarantees in the constitution, you cannot just worship or exercise inalienable and fundamental rights anywhere in the north. The freedom that can be enjoyed in the south is a privilege over the Niger River. For how long will we maintain a divided nation where law is disallowed by a few powerful elites only interested in showing pious attributes among their local followers while they live like free men outside of their domains? These fake elites are the same people who sponsor groups like Boko Haram to polish their public image, but myopically create problems that bring the nation to harm.
The principle of avoidance, patronage and pacific co-existence with religious fanatics in the north has to end, particularly with a group like the Boko Haram, which is not afraid to align itself with the satanic Al Qaeda.
It seems the Presidency has been completely hijacked by regional political elite suffering obsessive paranoia. If President Umaru Yar’Adua is able to disencumber himself from political operatives that surround him, let him focus on the problem and nip Boko Haram in the bud right now.
Since we cannot depend on the lame and slow executive arm of government, the Citizens for Nigeria call on the National Assembly to do what it has been elected to do by legislating Boko Haram and similar organizations out of existence. It should become illegal to make inflammatory and incendiary religious remarks in a nation as secular as ours. In Nigeria, citizens’ right to freedom of expression, just as it exists in most civilized countries, ought not to include the sort of religious incitements to mayhem that is being espoused by the hollow minds behind the Boko Haram fundamentalist sect.
If this ugly and unfortunate situation of verbal and exhibited recklessness by the likes of Boko Haram is not immediately curtailed, Nigeria will be driving at break-neck speed towards the fulfillment of the prediction of the United States Secret Service and British MI5, that Nigeria could become an irreversibly failed state in about a decade.
In the report, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World, by the United States’ National Intelligence Council, it is clearly stated: “Because of the encroaching desertification in the north, the religious clash between Muslims and Christians is heating up. Another Biafra-like civil war - only this time along North-South lines - is not inconceivable.”
Food for thought, Nigeria.
Released by: Henry Ayo Abimbola, Texas, USA