Nigeria crisis: Boko Haram attack Maiduguri airbase
Boko Haram insurgents have attacked a military airbase in north-eastern Nigeria, destroying two helicopters, the authorities say.
Eyewitnesses say hundreds of militants attacked several areas of the city of Maiduguri, starting early on Monday.
A 24-hour curfew has been imposed in Maiduguri. Its civilian airport was also briefly closed.
A BBC correspondent says the large-scale, co-ordinated attack is a big setback for the Nigerian military.
Thousands of people have been killed since 2009, when Boko Haram launched its campaign to install Islamic law.
In May, a state of emergency was declared in Borno state, of which Maiduguri is the capital, as well as two neighbouring states, while there has been a massive military deployment to the worst-affected areas.
'Crying and wailing'
Ministry of Defence spokesman Brig Gen Chris Olukolade said in a statement that two helicopters and three decommissioned military aircraft had been "incapacitated" during the attack which had been repelled.
He said some army bases had also been targeted, while 24 insurgents had been killed and two soldiers wounded.
Local residents told the AFP news agency that hundreds of heavily armed Islamist gunmen besieged the air force and army bases, razing buildings and setting shops and petrol stations ablaze.
"I saw two air force helicopters burnt," a local official told AFP.
Bomb and gun attacks were carried out in Maiduguri, an AFP reporter in the city said.
A resident said: "We heard women and children in the barracks crying and wailing. At the gate, I saw some vehicles destroyed and the checkpoint there in shreds."
There are reports of military checkpoints being attacked in different parts of the city.
Some eyewitnesses told the AP news agency they had seen bodies with their throats slit. Others said several vehicles had been driven out of the air base carrying the bodies of victims. Government and military officials said scores of people may be dead, AP reported.
A spokesman for the Nigerian civil aviation authority told the BBC that the airport had not been attacked, while Brig Gen Olukolade said flights had now resumed.
Recent Boko Haram attacks have been in more rural areas, and it had appeared as though the military operation had made Maiduguri city far safer, says the BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross.
Mobile phone links to the city have been cut since May, when the state of emergency was declared. Boko Haram was founded in Maiduguri in 2002 and was also the scene of its first uprising, in 2009.
Considering the way Nigeria is reacting to Uncle Sam's designation of the fundamentalist Islamist sect, Boko Haram and its break-away faction, Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organisations, FTO, it's as if the intervention is one that comes with all gain and no pain. Both from official circles and the average Nigerian, the story is the same. Everyone is seeing the classification as a step in the right direction.
The Nigerian government reacting to the designation in a statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ogbole Ode said it's "a welcome development, as it will strengthen cooperation between Nigeria and the United States in the fight against international terror; enhance the capacity and legal basis for concerted actions against both groups; and enable the two countries work more closely towards reducing the capability and capacity of the groups to unleash terror".
Earlier on, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke SAN, in his reaction said: “The US stance is a welcome development; we salute the US government for partnering with the federal government to root out terrorism. This step will assist this nation to deal with these renegades. It will also help in strengthening the proscription of Boko Haram by the federal government."
Our Defence HeadQuarters too couldn't resist the urge to join the fray. It spoke through its spokesman, Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade thus: “It is a welcome development, we hope it will further bring the required international understanding and co-operation to deal with the terrorists. It shows a better appreciation of the security challenges that we are dealing with.”
A serving military general reacted to the issue by pontificating that the designation takes away all political colouration to the crisis. He stressed that those who support or identify with the two sects risk forfeiting their wealth and other interests outside the country and could be picked to face the wrath of the United States at anytime.
For members of the Free Readers Association of Nigeria ie. those who congregated at a popular news stand visited, majority concluded that Boko Haram has met its waterloo by the designation. Two specifically advised the federal government to spare its energy for other engagement and allow the Americans go all out on the radical Islamist sects. One expressed concerns about what the decision portends for the sovereignty of Nigeria, while another saw it as a minus to the push for dialogue in resolving the crisis wrought by the sects.
Going by these reactions, I'm tempted to believe that if Washington decides to take over the governance of our country today some of us would simply oblige without asking questions. Those at the power corridors would quickly relinquish authority after securing mouth-watering deals for themselves and then tell us 'it's a welcome development'. But, let me perish that thought and instead pray that subjecting our country to another bout of colonialism doesn't catch the fancy of Uncle Sam.
As exhilarating as their reactions are, I still refuse to utterly buy into this move by the US government. This is based on some equally palpable reasons. But before these reasons are reeled out, it'd be very appropriate to first illuminate on the new branding of Boko Haram and Ansaru. For one, the classification makes it a crime under US laws to provide material support to the groups just as members of the groups, wherever they are, will now be targets of air strikes from the US military among other decisive actions.
It gives Washington the legitimacy to clearly view the threat of Boko Haram as part of wider Islamist militancy in Sahel region that covers Niger, Somalia, Mali, Mauritania, Algeria and Libya. The FTO listing will bring many aspects of the US pursuit of Boko Haram to the open and systematise certain activities. It is believed that US had sent surveillance drones to Nigeria as early as last year, albeit not in an overt manner. But with this latest act, we should expect drones, any type of drone that is, without the US government being cryptic about it.
Indeed, any type of drone should be expected. While Washington has said it doesn't expect to deploy troops and drones, it is yet to be seen how such stance would be sustained should Boko Haram went ahead to prove its newly-bestowed international acclaim or aggressively go after US interests.
Already, the US flies unarmed drones from an airfield in Niamey, the Niger's capital which helps collect some intelligence information on the movement of militants with links to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). It then means it could easily arm those drones should Boko Haram or Ansaru misbehaved.
Put in another way, the interpretation of the designation is that members of Boko Haram and Ansaru alongside their partners could be tracked down anywhere in the world by US law enforcement agents and prosecuted in the US. It also directs US law enforcement and regulatory agencies to block business and financial transactions involving the Boko Haram and Ansaru sects along with their members.
No doubt, the classification would come with extra scrutiny from US law enforcement officers in search of sponsors and financiers of the groups, not leaving out the militants from the close study. This will pose an encumbrance for travel plans, ease of transacting business and transfer of funds across countries. Oh! I forgot, this should be about elucidating the designation, why then am I already delving into the implications? It is because they are inweaved as you can't talk about one without inadvertently talking about the other. That's why it calls for surprise that we can't see the downsides to this move.
While we essay to stomach Abuja's acceptance of the intervention, it becomes too large a morsel for our throat for Abuja to tell us that the designation does not come with any consequence. Did government really say that? Yes it did! That much was said in the same statement by the spokesperson of the Foreign Affairs Ministry thus: “It also wishes to assure the public that the designation of Boko Haram and Ansaru by the US government as FTOs would not lead to any negative repercussions for Nigeria and Nigerians."
Holy Moses! Our government can be preposterous sometimes. Isn't this tantamount to adjudging charcoal as snow? Or claiming that 'good morning' is very appropriate for a hot afternoon? Well, since government wants to take us for a fool, let's refer it to what one of its own told us about a year ago. Or don't you think somebody in the pedestal of a Nigerian ambassador to the US is one of government's own?
The ambassador, Ade Adefuye in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP newspaper sometime last year gave five reasons why Boko Haram shouldn't be designated a foreign terrorist organisation. He began by saying it'll mean 'that Nigeria is not able to deal with Boko Haram'. He continued that 'it will give such psychological boost to Boko Haram among other terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, which can be tempted to embrace them and support them.'
For the third reason, the diplomat said it 'would discourage investors from coming to Nigeria because nobody wants to go to an area where a terrorist organization resides.' He also said then that designating Boko Haram an FTO would betray US as illogical since they failed to declare Niger Delta groups, which also threatened their interests, an FTO. For his last reason, he opined that an FTO listing for Boko Haram would subject Nigerians travelling to the US to 'horrendous search at US entry points'.
With all these grounds, as germane as they are, proferred by the envoy, what other ground remains for a government official to stand and tell us that that act of US government wouldn't be detrimental to us? Let's hope that as they lie to us about the matter, they aren't acting on that lie. Better still, that they aren't lying to themselves as well. They'll be acting on that lie if they do nothing to mitigate the fallouts from this intervention by the US.
Our government must take care so that the case of Pakistan doesn't become our lot. We know how the US military in that country unilaterally launch military operations there in the name of fighting terror. That can worsen the crisis instead of dousing it.
There is this report by the American newspaper, New York Times which quoted Edward Snowden to have identified Nigeria’s SSS as one of the security agencies in the world that America’s NSA had been bugging. Our government haven't found it expedient to react to this. Yet it has gone ahead to welcome their intervention in taming the Boko Haram and Ansaru sects. We had better be mindful before Aso Rock itself becomes bugged (that is if it's not already).
Now, don't get me wrong. It's not as if I'm against the US wading into the matter. Why should I be when the situation seem to have defied the handle of our government? My point is that Abuja must insist that Washington doesn't cross the line. It must ensure that the territorial integrity of Nigeria as well as the rights of Nigerians are upheld even as they intervene. Let's not go to sleep thinking that it has now become the headache of Uncle Sam. If we do, we'd wake having migraine instead.
The United States formally designated Nigerian militant groups Boko Haram and Ansaru as "Foreign Terrorist Organizations and Specially Designated Global Terrorists" on Wednesday, the White House said in a statement.
The groups have been responsible for thousands of deaths in northeast and central Nigeria, including attacks on churches and mosques and a 2011 suicide bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja, the statement said.
A poster advertising for the search of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is pasted on a wall in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno May 13, 2013. CREDIT: REUTERS/TIM COCKS
"By cutting these terrorist organizations off from U.S. financial institutions and enabling banks to freeze assets held in the United States, these designations demonstrate our strong support for Nigeria's fight against terrorism and its efforts to address security challenges in the north," Lisa Monaco, President Barack Obama's top homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, said in the statement.
"We encourage Nigeria to pursue a comprehensive counterterrorism approach that uses law enforcement tools effectively, creates economic opportunity, and ensures that human rights are protected and respected," she said.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland)
(Reuters) - Suspected Islamist insurgents who hid weapons inside a coffin have shot dead 13 people in an attack targeting informants in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, two witnesses said on Sunday.
Friday's attack came as Nigeria's military makes its most concerted effort yet to end a four-year insurgency by Boko Haram, a sect that has killed thousands in a campaign to create a state governed by Islamic law in Nigeria's northeast.
Fearing the northeast was turning into a de facto Islamist enclave similar to northern Mali before French military action in January, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency last month in three states.
The military claim to have driven Boko Haram fighters out of Maiduguri and from their camps near borders with Chad and Niger.
But around ten men pretending to be driving to a burial came to an area of Maiduguri late on Friday, pulled the guns from the coffin and opened fire on some houses where vigilantes who aid the military live, witnesses said.
"The Boko Haram killed 13 residents during their sporadic gunshots," said an eyewitness, Saleh Ibrahim. He said soldiers later shot dead six insurgents whose bodies were left by the road.
A spokesman for the military joint task force (JTF), Sagir Musa, declined to comment on the attack but said vigilante groups in the area of Maiduguri targeted by the gunmen had helped identify Boko Haram suspects.
"People have been assisting the JTF with information to arrest the Boko Haram, so they were not happy and they came to deal with people there," said another witness, Ali Musa.
Boko Haram and other Islamist groups like the al Qaeda-linked Ansaru have become the biggest threat to stability in Africa's second-largest economy and top oil producer.
(Reporting by Lanre Ola; writing by Joe Brock; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)
Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) National Leader, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has criticised the declaration of state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States and the subsequent military offensive against the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
Buhari, who featured on the “Guest of the Week,” a Hausa programme of the Kaduna-based Liberty Radio, yesterday said the federal government’s action was a gross injustice against the north.
According to him, unlike the special treatment the federal government gave to the Niger Delta militants, the Boko Haram members were being killed and their houses demolished.
He said he was not in support of the declaration of state of emergency in the three north-eastern states because President Goodluck Jonathan had failed from the outset in addressing the security situation in the country.
Besides, Buhari added that the security challenges facing the country started in the Niger Delta region where he alleged that politicians desperate to retain their positions as governors recruited youths and armed them to enable them win elections by force.
According to Buhari, who fielded questions in Hausa language before the English version of the programme, “What is responsible for the security situation in the country was caused by the activities of Niger Delta militants.
“Every Nigerian that is familiar with what happened knows this. The Niger Delta militants started it all. What happened is that the governors of the Niger Delta region at that time wanted to win their elections, so they recruited the youths and gave them guns and bullets and used them against their opponents to win elections by force.
“After the elections were over, they asked the boys to return the guns, the boys refused to return the guns. Because of that, the allowance that was being given to the youths by the governors during that time was stopped.
“The youths resorted to kidnapping oil workers and were collecting dollars as ransom. Now a boy of 18 to 20 years was getting about $500 in a week, why will he go to school and spend 20 years to study and then come back and get employed by government to be paid N100,000 a month; that is if he is lucky to get employment?
“So kidnapping became very rampant in the south-south and the south-east. They kidnapped people and were collecting money.
“How did Boko Haram start? We know that their leader, Mohammed Yusuf, started his militancy and the police couldn’t control them and the army was invited. He was arrested by soldiers and handed over to the police.
“The appropriate thing to do, according to the law, was for the police to carry out investigations and charge him to court for prosecution, but they killed him, his in-law was killed, they went and demolished their houses.
“Because of that, his supporters resorted to what they are doing today.
“You see in the case of the Niger Delta militants, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua sent an airplane to bring them, he sat down with them and discussed with them, they were cajoled, and they were given money and granted amnesty.
“They were trained in some skills and were given employment, but the ones in the north are being killed and their houses demolished. They are different issues, what brought this? It is injustice.”
Buhari also explained why he joined politics after his release from detention by former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, saying that his close associates and those who knew him very well convinced him to join partisan politics.
He said those who knew him, knew that he took on positions of responsibility without begging anyone for appointments.
“I was a military governor in a state that has been divided into six states today; I was minister of petroleum for four years and six months. I was a military head of state. But because these people know how I live my life, they were not coming to beg me for money. They were coming to ask me to comment on issues that affected the nation,” he added.
He said further that the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 also shaped his attitude to politics.
“When I joined partisan politics in April 2002, in my ward in Daura, (Katsina State), they kept on coming. And then one significant thing at the global level happened, the Soviet Union collapsed.
“Out of the Soviet Union, there are now about 18 or 19 republics and that conclusively proved to me as an individual that the multi-party system is the best form of democracy, but with the big caveat that elections must be free and fair. That is how I arrived in CPC today, but first from APP to ANPP to CPC," he said.
Buhari lamented that God has blessed Nigeria with human and natural resources, but “we have failed to organise ourselves”, stressing that one of the problems bedevilling the country is bad leadership.
In an unprecedented move, the United States on Monday posted up to $23 million in rewards to help track down five leaders of militant groups accused of spreading terror in west Africa.
The highest reward of $7 million is offered for the Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, who last week called on Islamists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq to join the bloody fight to create an Islamic state in Nigeria.
The US State Department’s Rewards for Justice program also targeted Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), offering its first ever bounties for wanted militants in west Africa.
Up to $5 million was posted for Al-Qaeda veteran Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed Islamist behind the devastating attack on an Algerian gas plant in January in which 37 foreigners, including three Americans, were killed.
A further $5 million was offered for top AQIM leader Yahya Abou Al-Hammam, reportedly involved in the 2010 murder of an elderly French hostage in Niger.
Malik Abou Abdelkarim, a senior fighter with AQIM, and Oumar Ould Hamaha, the spokesman for Mali’s Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), were also targeted by the rewards program, which will give up to $3 million each for information leading to their arrests.
“AQIM has been increasingly active in north and west Africa. They’re one of the pre-eminent kidnap for ransom groups in the terrorist world right now,” a senior State Department official told AFP, asking not to be named.
“They cause us a great deal of concern. Anything that we can do naturally to cut down on the capabilities of AQIM, anything that we can do to get information on these people so that we can get them in front of a court… That is our goal.”
The United States has been increasingly worried about the spread of Islamist groups in Mali and across the vast and lawless Sahel since a military coup ousted the government in Bamako.
Former colonial power France has led a military offensive since January against the militants in Mali’s northern desert, as the west African nation prepares for presidential elections on July 28.
There are fears however that the spread of militant groups risks destabilizing the entire west African region.
Belmokhtar, who was a senior commander for AQIM, broke away from the group last year to set up his own group dubbed the “Signatories in Blood.”
Branded “the Uncatchable,” Belmokhtar also personally supervised the operational plans for the twin car bombings in Niger that killed at least 20 people late last month, according to a spokesman for his group.
Monday’s rewards acknowledged the growing links between AQIM and Nigeria’s Boko Haram, which is under pressure from a military offensive.
“They’ve had a relationship for some time. They send people back and forth for training, they’ve done the provision of arms back and forth,” the State Department official said.
“The links are… not quite as solid as some of the other terrorist organizations,” he said. “Nonetheless, it’s a dangerous link and it’s something that we feel we should try and stop.”
Shekau, in a video obtained by AFP last week, claimed his forces had made significant gains against the Nigerian army while sustaining little damage since the start of the military offensive on May 15.
“Under his leadership, Boko Haram’s capability has certainly grown,” the State Department official told AFP.
He highlighted how the group set off “their first improvised explosive device in early June 2011. By August (2011) they used a car bomb against the United Nations facility,” an attack which killed 25 people.
“When we see someone like this who… is actually leading to an increase in the capability of an organization, that’s something that we would naturally try to see if we can do something to impede,” he added.
Shekau’s whereabouts could not be determined in the video, in which he is shown seated and dressed in camouflage and a turban, with an AK-47 at his side.
His comments contradict statements from the military, which has claimed major successes during the offensive, including the destruction of Boko Haram camps and dozens of arrests.
Shekau was placed on a US blacklist last year, but Boko Haram has yet to be designated a foreign terrorist organization — an absence which has raised eyebrows among regional experts.
Reuters reorted that, " Gunmen killed 18 people at a market in northern Nigeria where local hunters were selling bush meat from animals like monkeys and pigs, which strict Muslims are forbidden to eat, a local official said. Officials said they believed that the attack in the town of Damboa was carried out by members of the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram. In a separate attack in Kano, gunmen on motorcycles, believed to be Boko Haram members, killed five people playing an outdoor board game, presumably for gambling, witnesses said".
Bloomberg reorted, "Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and most populous nation, is battling an insurgency by Boko Haram that has killed hundreds of people since 2009. The group, which wants to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, has carried out bomb and gun attacks in the mainly Muslim north and Abuja. Nigeria’s more than 160 million people are almost evenly split between the north and a largely Christian south."
The current violence being perpetrated by the group “Boko Haram” is testing the strength and resolve of the union of Nigeria. Some international experts are predicting that Nigeria will not remain as one entity beyond 2015, and within the country those calling for a Sovereign National Conference are simply looking for a diplomatic way of dissolving the union.
Nigeria is a unique and complex country. Similar or even lesser stringent issues have broken so many countries but it will take more than Boko Haram and MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) to dissolve Nigeria. What started out as a group looking to end western education within the Islamic community of northern Nigeria has turned into anarchy, bombing of churches and insisting on a northern president in 2015?
The problem with most African countries in post-colonial era is the fundamental issue of citizenship definition: Who is a citizen? What are rights of a citizen within the context of ethnic diversity and cultural pluralism? What is equality and limit of ambition among ethnic groups? All are the citizens equal before the law? What should they expect from fellow citizens and from their leaders?
Although, all these questions may sound simplistic, but the inability to properly define them is what is manifesting itself in the forms of different separatist groups. In Nigeria’s case, groups such as MEND, Boko Haram, MASSOB, and Oduduwa have become interest groups at the expense of citizenship.
In Nigeria, every political zone wants to produce a president. Such a mind set automatically denies any other group of their full citizenship rights and especially, the right to aspire to whatever office they desire to. It also changes the basis for election of our leaders in democracy from competence and meritocracy, to ethno-religious allegiances and bias.
Instead of Nigeria focusing on electing a competent leader that will build the country and deliver the dividends of democracy comes 2015, instead every region is thinking on how to install “their own” which have proven to produce an inept government.
This issue does not only play out at the national level, but is also present on the state level where the majority ethnic group insists on governing. Even without producing little or no positive results, they continue to have the support of their constituencies simply because they are from the same tribe. The result is a clamour by the minority groups for their own states, just as on the national level the groups that feel marginalized continue to agitate for a separate country.
The Way Forward
At some point, Nigeria has to undertake a true nation building exercise and inventory. The Way Forward is for Nigeria to accept its diversity beyond the three major tribes and allow democracy and federalism to thrive. This will enable religious tolerance and tribal harmony to take root in our diversify nation.
The simplistic framework of post colonial Nigeria that reflects: 3 major languages, 2 major religions and other limited interpretations were instituted by colonialist. The grouping of Nigeria into such simple blocks was important for the British to make colonization and administration easy.
However, a post-colonial Nigeria should open her eyes to her diversity and see it as strength.
We cannot continue to have two separate legal systems – the penal code in north and civil law in the south. What determines a crime should not be based on where you are, what religion you belong to or your social status. A sense of justice has to be implanted into the fiber of the society. Oppression must be recognized independent of the religion, tribe or affiliation of the oppressor.
The union called Nigeria will remain beyond Boko Haram and 2015. However, the fundamental issue of electing leaders must be addressed: Are we going to remain on the path of rotating our leadership until every village rules and we find ourselves in a never ending worsening situation or do we make the tough choices necessary to grow up?
Gideon Nyan is a resident writer for Afripol.
The United States, yesterday, named three alleged leaders of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram as “foreign terrorists”, the first time it has blacklisted members of the Islamist group which claimed responsibility for many bomb attacks in the northern part of the country.
This is just as the alleged mastermind of the bomb attack on the United Nations building in Abuja which claimed 25 lives, Habib Bama, has been arrested after a gun duel with security personnel. The State Department identified the three Boko Haram leaders who have been branded terrorists as Abubakar Shekau, who it called the “most visible” leader of the group; Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi, who it said were tied both to Boko Haram and to al Qaeda’s north African wing.
“Under Shekau’s leadership, Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in northern Nigeria, its primary area of operation. In the last 18 months, Boko Haram or associated militants have killed more than 1,000 people,” the State Department said in an announcement, noting that “these designations demonstrate the United States’ resolve in diminishing the capacity of Boko Haram to execute violent attacks,”
The action by the State and Treasury departments, first reported by Reuters on Wednesday, follows growing pressure on the Obama Administration to take stronger action against Boko Haram, which has stepped up attacks on Christian places of worship this year.
U.S. officials say the decision to list individual Boko Haram members, rather than apply the more sweeping “Foreign Terrorist Organization” label to the group as a whole as some U.S. lawmakers have demanded, reflected a desire not to elevate the group’s profile. The action freezes any assets the three men have in the United States, and bar U.S. persons from any transactions with them.
This is the first such action the U.S. government has taken against Boko Haram, but falls short of demands from some U.S. lawmakers and the Justice Department to designate the entire group as a “foreign terrorist organization.” The State Department has been under pressure to act against Boko Haram for months. In January, Lisa Monaco, the Justice Department’s top national security official, sent a letter to the State Department arguing that the Nigerian group met the criteria for a “foreign terrorist” listing because it either engages in terrorism that threatens the United States or has a capability or intent to do so.
More recently, a group of Republican senators led by Scott Brown of Massachusetts introduced legislation requiring the State Department to determine whether Boko Haram should be designated as a terrorist group. Republican Representative Patrick Meehan, who chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee in the House, also introduced an amendment that would force the administration to add Boko Haram to the terrorism list or explain why it was not doing so.
Boko Haram henchman Habib Bama shot, arrested
Meanwhile, Habib Bama ex-army officer allegedly responsible for bombings of UN offices in Abuja, Abacha barracks and other places has been arrested. He was said to have been brought down in a shoot out with the JTF who shot and wounded him. Habib was declared wanted early this year by the SSS, after the arrest and confessions of Boko Haram spokesman, Abul Qaqa
4 killed as midnight killings haunt residents
There was still palpable tension in Kaduna State, yesterday, despite claims by the government that the area was now calm as it was gathered that four people were killed at Kujama in a renewed clash between some Muslims and Christians. The Chairman of Kujama was, however, said to have explained on the Kaduna State Media Corporation, KSMC, that the fight took place in the market and not in the night.
At Mararaba Rido, Vanguard gathered that rival groups moved from house to house in search of who to kill or maim as well as torching such houses. This came as some medical officers at the 44 Military Hospital said that the mortuary was full with dead bodies even as four other victims being treated in the hospital died between Wednesday night and yesterday morning. There were no fewer than 30 people with serious injuries in the hospital, even as more patients were brought in for admission same Wednesday night.
Reliable sources said the hoodlums took advantage of the absence of both military and police officers on the streets in the night to embark on reprisal killings. It was said that the withdrawal of soldiers from the streets followed allegations that a military officer killed an adherent of a religion other than his own, thus inflaming passion on the side of the religious group which lost its member to the bullets from the soldier.
A resident of Barnawa who craved anonymity said, “there is curfew but without either the military or police on the streets criminals will not be deterred from carrying out their nefarious activities. The government cannot just declare a 24-hour curfew and leave the streets empty. It must deploy security agents on the streets to monitor compliance. We expect Governor Patrick Yakowa to do more by matching actions with words,” the source said.
Calm however seemed to have been restored in Kaduna town and environs, yesterday, at the time of this report. Meanwhile, most streets in Kaduna were deserted throughout yesterday, with schools, filling stations, shops and offices remaining shut, as government re-affirmed its determination to enforce the curfew.
Governor Yakowa had in a statement by his Media Assistant, Mr Reuben Buhari affirmed that the 24 -hour curfew was still in force and warned residents to ensure compliance. The statement read: “The Governor of Kaduna State, Sir Patrick Yakowa, once again commiserates with all. While sharing in their grief, it is however important to inform the whole state that the 24- hour curfew earlier imposed on the state is still in force and security agencies have been asked to ensure its full compliance.
“As distasteful as the imposition of the 24- hour curfew is, the good citizens of Kaduna State should understand that the measure became necessary for the good of the state and the benefit of its citizens. People are expected to cooperate fully with security agencies saddled with the task of restoring full peace and order in our state. The Governor further calls on people to absolutely disregard all mischievous text messages and rumours being circulated on impending crisis or attacks. All these rumours are meant to further throw the state into chaos. He also calls on all the inhabitants of Kaduna State to show love to one another, regardless of religious or ethnic differences.”
However, in the suburbs, residents sat outside, while youth converted open spaces into football fields, even as the wailing sounds of sirens from vehicles of security agents who patrolled the streets rent the air once in a while. The ban on movements was said to be taking its toll on residents, most of whom did not store food and other basic items at home before the bombings and reprisal attacks between Sunday and yesterday.
In more recent history, it was Neville Chamberlain, who as the British Prime Minister in the inter war years, gave the term "appeasement" its worst name, in ceding much grounds to Hitler in Germany, with the Munich Agreement, and eventually plunging Europe into a war with global consequences following Hitler's invasion of Poland.
Appeasement is like sweeping the dust under an already dirty rug. This is precisely what many are pushing the Nigerian president to do in the calls and the pressure to "negotiate" with Boko Haram. I'd like to register a total disgust for that move on two grounds (a) it further weakens the hands of an already weak government and (b) it continues to perpetuate the indeterminacy of the Federal government on matters of national security.
By its own avowal, Boko Haram is intent on overthrowing the Federal Government of Nigeria by force of arms and by acts of treasonable subversion, and having secured its aim, upturn a central, cardinal principle of the Nigerian federation: its status as a secular democratic republic by imposing a Sharia theocracy.
In tune with its aim, Boko Haram has launched deadly, violent attacks against the institutional symbols of the Federal Government of Nigeria - police stations, military installations, the office of immigration, Nigeria's security personnel, as well indeed as churches and mosques.
They upped their ante with the attacks on the United Nations building in Abuja, and the killings of Christian worshippers on Christmas day with the bombing of the St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Madalla, as well as the horrendous attacks on the city of Kano that left hundreds dead. Boko Haram is an equal opportunity killer - they kill Moslems and they kill Christians in the north.
They group has killed over two thousand people and counting since it launched its open revolt against the Federal Government, a situation that has exacerbated the uncertainty of the continued union of Nigeria. In December of 2011 it "ordered" all Christians and Southerners to leave the North of Nigeria, failing which they would be attacked. Boko Haram's plan seems to be working, for quite clearly the migrant frenzy has gripped the Igbo in Kano, with MASSOB reportedly sending a retinue of twenty buses to evacuate many Igbo willing to leave the North and setting up a "refugee camp" in Igboland.
A rising separatist mood is shaping around the moment and it is very obvious that this political game has moved too far, and as some observers of the trend have noted, might require the intervention of Nigeria's armed forces to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria as a nation. Even that prospectis increasingly weakened by the potential fissures within that institution and by a current doctrinal forbearance. But the point this column is willing to make at this stage is that President Jonathan must not, under the current circumstance, succumb to the pressure and blackmail of "negotiating" with Boko Haram.
He must indeed stop negotiating with any terrorist group intent on blackmailing Nigeria into supine tolerance of the very powerful factors and interests that are attempting by their criminal activities to subvert and supplant the Nigerian national endeavor.
Recently, leaders of the Arewa Consultative Assembly began to claim that "only a negotiation with Boko Haram" can solve the problem. But here is the trouble: negotiate on the basis of what? To cede control of the federal government to them? What exactly is Boko Haram fighting for and for whom? Colonel Hamid Ali says "military action will not solve the problem." Perhaps indeed not. But that problem will not be solved either by a dawdling and compromised government willing to appease a mindless and fascist revolt against the Nigerian state. It requires decisive action one way or the other.
It is appeasement that brought us here. The subversion of Nigeria, since 1998 has much to do with the Obasanjo administration's inability to establish a civilized democracy. The idea of democracy as "a civil" government has roots in the notion that law and abiding by civic order is the mainstay of a civil/civilian/civilized society.
But the unresolved killings, political murders, kidnappings, assassinations - including the assassination, execution-style of Nigeria's sitting Attorney-General and such other prominent, public deaths without consequence gave rise to the sense that Nigeria is not only a failed state, and a savage enclave, but one in which atrocity directed at its very soul goes unpunished.
Boko Haram is not the first terrorist group in Nigeria. The Niger delta militia was organized, presumably to fight the injustice of oil exploration in the Niger Delta. In time these "militants" of the Niger Delta, first recruited as political thugs, soon morphed into armed insurrection, killing kidnapping, and generally rendering the creeks impassable and inamenable to oil exploration.
One could sympathize with them on the basis of their fight for economic justice.
But it does seem that the business of national subversion is big businesses - it sells arms and it guarantees huge concessions. Under Yar Adua, the militants were appeased and settled. Today one of them, Tompolo, has a concession for maritime security.
Boyloaf is an international envoy for the president. We reward bad behavior: anybody who could organize a private army against Nigeria is bought off with concessions. That is appeasement. Yet, the problem persists. In the end, in spite of all the killings, and with the pressure to negotiate, President Jonathan is moving towards the appeasement of Boko Haram. Nigerians must reject that option. Indeed, the option left for the president is fairly simple: he must re-establish the authority of the Federal Government of Nigeria, by any means necessary.
It is time this government establishes law and order and bring to the books any Nigerian, no matter how highly placed, who is connected in any way to the subversion of the nation. Selective and dilatory law enforcement is dangerous to the health of nations. The National Assembly must provide the president grounds with a National Security Act to proscribe Boko Haram, MASSOB, Niger Delta Militia, Oodua People's Congress and other fissiparous entities, and to launch a national security initiative to permanently degrade their activities by both symmetric and asymmetrical methods.
It is past time to, as the poet Odia Ofeimun once wrote, take Nigeria seriously. It will not be by appeasement. The greatest security threat to Nigeria is not Boko Haram. It is a government that is unwilling to rise toits highest duty, which is to restore the public trust - the ability to guarantee its citizens national security which includes economic and social security. Selective appeasement of criminal gangs and armed political thugs will not do it.