It is a known fact that human beings distort whatever message of peace and tolerance a religion preaches. This was no doubt the fact that a TIME Magazine writer, Rana Foroohar, tried unsuccessfully to dodge. In the TIME Magazine article, ‘Missing Girls: The End of Terror is Nowhere in Sight’ (which was reproduced in the Daily Trust of Tuesday, May 13, 2014) Foroohar published this view about the Boko Haram Islamic militant sect: "Unless we create more jobs, we won’t eliminate Boko Haram.  Even if we do, another such group will come." Foroohar was quoting Mr. Aliko Dangote, the Nigerian business mogul and Africa’s richest man.

Nothing could be more misleading. As much as it is pertinent to absolve Islam and Muslims of blame over the atrocities of the Boko Haram sect, it is equally imperative not to place it on the wrong door step else we may fail to find the elusive medical leaf for treating this fatal ailment that is fast becoming cancerous. Boko Haram demonic acts must never be justified by hunger or employment. Boko Haram Sect members are no ordinary criminals who have taken to mass murder of innocent children, kidnaping of school girls, destruction of schools, government and private properties and killing of Christians and burning their places of worship. They are religious extremists who have been negatively indoctrinated over the years with our successive government failing to check them in the name of religious freedom. Boko Haram is a wound that was allowed to fester and has now turned cancerous.

The Boko Haram militant sect is into their vicious acts because they wrongly believe that they are in in Allah’s service and that Allah will reward them with firdaus. But their reward will be in the hottest section of hell reserved for the devil and his Boko haram followers.

But how did the sect became so powerful that it has access to so many effective weapons of mass destruction? How come that it has become as slippery as a fish in the water, outsmarting our soldiers with ease and have now become a terrible nightmare for our various security agencies?  How come that that they are so powerful that they are mobile and effective? Beyond the motivation to please this non-existent deity, Boko Haram is successful in its campaign of mass killing because it had the support of enemies in our midst.  The enemy within is always deadlier than the enemy without. These enemies are heartless and ruthless, always striking like a thief in the night and effectively sabotaging our intelligence networks.  Except they are fished out from their hiding places, we will be wasting our time inviting Israelis, American and the rest.

The kidnapping of the Chibok school girls and the recent Nyaya, Abuja bombings by the satanic sect calls for sober reflection. It is time to sit down and ask questions: Where did we go wrong?  We must trace where the rain started beating us else we will fail to know where it stopped, to quote the Igbo adage. How we interpret the Boko Haram challenge and how we manage it will be decisive for Nigeria as a nation. The truth must be told. Nobody can separate religion from the murderous activities of the Boko Haram sect. We must stop using poverty and employment to justify the mass killing of Boko Haram sect members. It will not help us in tackling the challenge.  Besides, it is great injustice to the victims.

The North must make hard choices. They will have to choose between a secular society and a theocratic government ruled by barbarians bent on dragging us back to ancient times. Boko Haram tragedy should be the beginning of a wake-up call to draw a clean line between religion and the state. Religion and government are two strange bed-fellows. They are like oil and water. They do not mix. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon and a host of them are good examples. We are already on the road to Mogadishu. We still have enough time to turn back before it is too late to do so. Boko Haram is a religious extremist group offering oblations to a non-existent deity. We must not join them. It is time to put away our religious and political difference and destroy the Boko Haram sect before it eclipse Nigeria from world map.

Patrick Tagbo Oguejiofor is the President of Christopher Okigbo Literary Society

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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