Insurbgence in Nigeria: the Way Forwrd
Submitted By buchimon
Terrorist attacks are on the rise in Nigeria, which are the increased activities of Boko Haram over the past year. Bombings, kidnappings, and other violent activities of Boko Haram prevent many Nigerians from feeling safe.
Boko Haram is a well-known agent of destruction in Nigeria. Even a casual observer who doesn’t live in Nigeria has likely heard of Boko Haram’s recent 2014 kidnappings of hundreds of children—mostly girls—from schools and villages in northern Nigeria. On the night of 14-15 April 2014, about 276 Chibok school girls were kidnapped by the Boko Haram. These girls were between 17 to 18 years according to a source. They were secondary school students at Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria. Only God knows the nature of what is in-between the legs of the female students at the moment. In the northern part of the country, students cannot complete their studies because of the looming threat of kidnapping and murder.
More than any other issue in Nigeria today, the greatest concern has been the security condition of the country.
Almost on a daily basis, there are accounts of several security threats arising from armed robberies, assassinations, armed militancy and banditry, kidnapping, bombings and of recent, the blood-let from a religious sect called the Jaamatus Alhus Sunnah Lid Daawatis Wal Jiliad (otherwise called Boko Harm) who say they are opposed to Western education and are ready to attack every vestige of western civilization.
Indeed, the rate of crime and criminality, as exemplified in the high incidence of kidnapping, bombings and other organised crimes has sadly moved from the realm of security threat to an area of real and present danger.
The frightening security condition in Nigeria has not only been a source of worry, it has also dented Nigeria’s International status.
For instance, on August 26, 2011 the terrorist group, Insurgency bombed the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s Federal capital city. The consequences of that attack, as of today, are yet to abate.
In the wake of the UN building attack, Nigeria, lost her hosting right of the global food security meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAQ) which was moved from Abuja, to Senegal. The meeting was an assemblage of experts and food administrators all over the globe.
Aside the UN building bombing on August 26, 2011 that claimed 23 lives including 11 UN personnel, local Islamic fundamentalist sect, Insurgency, had until late, been orchestrating series of isolated attacks predominantly in Northern Nigeria. The sect is believed to be targeting centres of international attraction, especially in the Federal Capital Territory.
Curiously, the presidential committee on security challenges in the North East Zone has identified security lapses, inter-service rivalry and lack of collaboration as factors that have encouraged the proliferation of security crises in the Northern part of the country. It also blamed the security breaches on high level of poverty, unemployment and other social ills.
The Nigerian observer is however of the considered opinion that serious security collaboration and intelligence sharing must be urgently evolved to arrest security breaches and this needs to go beyond the shores of the nation. The federal government must build inter-agency cooperation through diplomatic channels/pacts, and international intelligence to ensure that crime of whatever scale is nipped in the bud.
Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914, only about a decade after the defeat of the Sokoto Caliphate and other Islamic states by the British which were to constitute much of Northern Nigeria. The aftermath of the First World War saw Germany lose its colonies, one of which was Cameroon, to French, Belgian and British mandates. Cameroon was divided in French and British parts, the latter of which was further subdivided into southern and northern parts. Following a plebiscite in 1961, the Southern Cameroons elected to rejoin French Cameroon, while the Northern Cameroons opted to join Nigeria, a move which added to Nigeria's already large Northern population. The territory comprised much of what is now Northeastern Nigeria, and a large part of the areas affected by the insurgency.
The security challenges facing the nation include armed robbery, kidnapping, human trafficking, terrorism etc. In spite of official assurances from the managers of the neo-colonial State to guarantee law and order it is indisputable that the territorial integrity of the nation has never faced a greater threat than now since 1914. In examining the topic of our discourse we shall review the genesis of the menace of terrorism and its threat to the corporate existence of the nation. We shall conclude by submitting that insurgency cannot be defeated without separating religion from the State and without addressing the crises of poverty, illiteracy and youth unemployment in the country. CHAPTER TWO
2.1 The Genesis of Terrorism
It is pertinent to recall that the Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha juntas were associated with terrorist attacks of political opponents through state-sponsored bombing, assassination and arson. The late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN was almost killed in 1987 for demanding for the prosecution of the terrorists who killed a prominent journalist, Dele Giwa by a parcel bomb. The era equally witnessed the mock trial and execution of military officers who were implicated in phantom coups. Cultist groups were funded on the campuses to deal with radical lecturers and students. Upon the restoration of civil rule in 1999 the official terrorists were neither prosecuted nor disarmed!
The official manipulation of religion which commenced under the Babangida junta has continued unabated. Indeed, it is the root cause of terrorism in the country. Whereas it is stipulated in section 10 of the Constitution that the State shall not adopt any official religion the Federal, State and local governments have adopted the Islamic and Christian religions. In 1986, General Ibrahim Babangida surreptitiously registered Nigeria as a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. As if that was not enough, he built a mosque in the Presidential villa and appointed an Imam to man it. Similarly, President Obasanjo erected a chapel in the villa and appointed a chaplain to manage it.
On January 27, 2000 the Sharia Law was introduced in Zamfara state by Governor Sani Yerima. Not less than 15 other governors in the North followed suit. Although the action constituted a clear violation of section 10 of the Constitution it was a political move designed to win votes in a Muslim dominated region. The Olusegun Obasanjo Administration decided not to approach the court to test the constitutional validity of the policy so as not to lose the votes in the North in the 2003 general election. Believing that Nigeria had become an Islamic state many misguided persons set up private militias to promote the policy of the state governments. There were violent attacks on Christians while churches were destroyed in many states in the north. Thousands of people were massacred in ethno-religious clashes.
In 2011, the Goodluck Jonathan Administration set up a Panel of Inquiry headed by Ambassador Usman Galtimari to investigate the insurgency in the north east region. In a painstaking investigation the Panel traced the genesis of Insurgency and other private militias to politicians who set them up in the run-up to the 2003 general elections. According to the Committee:
"The militias were allegedly armed and used extensively as political thugs. After the elections and having achieved their primary purpose, the politicians left the militias to their fate since they could no longer continue funding and keeping them employed. With no visible means of sustenance, some of the militias gravitated toward religious extremism, the type by Mohammed Yussuf.
The roots of terrorism, especially in Borno, Gombe, Yobe and Bauchi States, could be traced to groups or associations such as ‘ECOMOG’, ‘Yan Kalare’ and ‘Sara Suka’ which have links to prominent politicians in these States. However, similar to the militant groups in the Niger Delta area, the groups usually grow out of control and become a threat to the politicians that supported and financed them.”
In line with its terms of reference the Committee recommended that the politicians who “sponsored, funded and used the militia groups that later metamorphosed into Insurgency" be brought to justice. Although the recommendation was accepted in May 2012 by the Federal Government the suspects have been treated like sacred cows as they are said to be highly connected to the powers that be. Recently, a former Borno State governor, Alhaji Modu Ali Sheriff was named as one of the sponsors of the Insurgency sect by a Reverend Stephen Davies, the negotiator recruited by the Federal Government to dialogue with the terrorists. In his reaction to the disclosure the ex-governor threatened to sue Rev. Davies for defamation in Australia.
Unlike the negotiator whose indictment was not substantiated I issued a press statement wherein I provided detailed evidence of Alhaji Sheriff’s links with the dreaded Insurgency sect. In particular, I stated that the ex-governor appointed Alhaji Buji Foi, a leading Insurgency member, as the Borno State Commissioner for Religious Affairs to compensate the sect for supporting his re-election in 2003.
As the Federal Government was disturbed by the revelations of Rev. Davies the State Security Service announced that the ex-governor was under investigation for his alleged links with the Insurgency sect. But a few days later, the suspect was a member of the delegation of the Federal Government to Chad when President Jonathan met with his Chadian counterpart, Mr. Idriss Derby to review the war on terror in the north east region.
3.1 Insurgency, the threat to National Security
Notwithstanding the sacrifice of the ill-equipped members of the armed forces the Insurgency sect appears to have gained upper hand in the war on terror. Large towns like Bama, Gwoza, Mubi and Michika and hundreds of villages have been captured by the terrorists. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced while not less than 13,000 have been killed by the criminal gang. Not less than 16 local governments in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States have been annexed while the combined land mass of the occupied areas is said to be 21,545 square kilometers of territory. The terrorists have hoisted their flags in the occupied territory which has been named the "Caliphate Republic".
Out of the 276 girls abducted from the Government College in Chibok, Borno State, six months ago, 57 escaped while 219 remain captive. More women and school girls have been kidnapped by the sect. For instance, 60 women were abducted when the sect members invaded Waga Mangoro and Garba villages in Adamawa State last month. (See Punch, October 22, 2014). When Mubi in Adamawa State was attacked about 350 children were declared missing. (Leadership, November 2, 2014). Bomb attacks launched by the sect have killed hundreds of people in Niger, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Nassarawa, Plateau States and the Federal Capital Territory.
3.2 The Legal Challenge
The arrogance of the ruling class enshrined in section 2 of the Constitution to the effect that Nigeria is "one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state" has been exposed to ridicule by the terrorists. However, in exercise of his powers under section 305 of the Constitution President Goodluck Jonathan imposed a state of emergency on Adamawa, Borno and Yobe State to restore law and order in the north east region. The implication of emergency rule is that the fundamental rights of privacy of homes and correspondence, religion, thought and conscience, freedom of expression, assembly and movement enshrined in sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of the Constitution may be justifiably encroached upon in the interest of defence, public safety and public order. (Section 45 of the Constitution). Notwithstanding the war on terror Nigerian judges have continued to uphold the fundamental rights of Nigerians.
Since the neo-colonial State has failed to provide for the "security and welfare of the people" as required by section 14(2) of the Constitution the terrorists have overrun the north east region. No doubt, the military authorities are embarrassed that soldiers vamoose at the sight of the terrorists. But instead of charging those soldiers with mutiny the defence chiefs ought to have asked the Government to comply with Section 217(2) of the Constitution which stipulates that the Federation shall "equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective" for the defence of Nigeria from external aggression and the maintenance of its territorial integrity.
It is submitted that there is no legal justification for prosecuting soldiers who demand for adequate equipment to fight terrorism. Since the soldiers are entitled to their fundamental right to life guaranteed by section 33 of the Constitution they have a duty not to commit suicide by fighting the well equipped terrorists with obsolete weapons. Therefore, it is illegal and unconstitutional on the part of any court-martial to convict and sentence soldiers to death for demanding for weapons to fight the terrorists. CHAPTER FOUR
4.1 SOLUTIONS TO INSURGENCE IN NIGERIA
The only way Nigeria can solve its many problems is by giving the youth more opportunities to participate in the government, economy, and society. Young people are the prime beneficiaries of school improvement, and the percentage of youth in higher learning institutions is currently very high. If young people were in charge, the educational system in Nigeria would not be in its current state, and unemployment would be reduced.
At the same time, young people shouldn’t wait for good things to come to them, but need to take individual initiative. Youth empowerment and initiative will improve life for all Nigerians. Nigerian government officials and other elites need to share power with the country’s youth and listen to young peoples’ ideas for how to better the country. The young men and women of Nigeria are tomorrow’s elders and, if included, could transform Nigeria. Without the energy of youth, society will decay and perish.
In addition to minimizing of corruption in the country, Nigerians should cultivate the habit of being patient. Why many indulge in corrupt practices is because they are impatient and want to make quick money. In developed countries of the world like the United States, many Nigerians are locked up in the prisons and some have been killed because of the corrupt practices they practiced.
Last month, the Federal Government announced a ceasefire with the Insurgency sect and assured the nation that arrangements had been concluded for the release of the Chibok girls. The Insurgency sect denounced the so called agreement and has continued to unleash mayhem on innocent people. Since it is crystal clear that the ceasefire was a ruse the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Barde who announced it should be directed to resign his appointment. More so, that the same officer had announced, about six months ago, that the Chibok girls were going to be rescued in a matter of days since the army had located them.
To fight the scourge of insurgency the Nigerian people should demand a wholesale re-organization of the armed forces and a probe of the huge funds earmarked for the nation’s defence in the last 5 years. The National Assembly should ensure that the $1 billion loan recently approved for the purchase of military hardware is judiciously utilized by the Federal Government. The members of the Joint Task Force should be motivated through training as well as prompt payment of their salaries and allowances. Those who lose their lives in the battlefield should not be buried in unmarked graves. They deserve to be accorded decent burials in a cemetery reserved for heroes while their family members are promptly paid their entitlements.
The Federal Government should, without any further delay, dislodge the terrorists from the 16 local government illegally occupied by them. In view of the patriotic role of the civilian Joint Task Force in liberating and securing some towns in the occupied territory the youths in the north east region should be mobilized to flush out the terrorists from their communities. While we advocate that the armed forces be adequately funded we suggest that the federal and state governments should religiously implement the policy on the provision of compulsory and free universal basic education for every Nigerian child. The government should also embark on genuine empowerment programs and job creation for our army of unemployed youths. CHAPTER FIVE
The genesis of the Insurgency sect has been traced to members of the ruling class who sponsor violent groups and private militias in the rat race for political power. Now that the crisis of insurgency has gone out of control no faction of the ruling class has any moral right to point accusing fingers. They should be held collectively liable for the promotion of violent politics and the manipulation of religion. Henceforth, the security agencies should be directed by the Government to arrest and prosecute the sponsors and agents of violence in the country.
Finally, while defending and protecting the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to the freedom of thought, conscience and religion in line with the provisions of section 38 of the Constitution the Government should withdraw completely from religious affairs. Without any further delay, the Government should stop the adoption of official religions and ensure that religion is made a private affair by all public officers. REFERENCES
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