BRING BACK OUR GIRLS:
PROTECT THE INNOCENT
|BRING BACK OUR GIRLS GROUP DURING A PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION WALK TO THE VILLA|
In 2006, Nigeria’s Department of State Security Service (DSS) reported the possibility of a breakdown of law and order in the North-East sub-region if the activities of Yusufiyya Movement remained unchecked. Little was done to implement the report to its logical conclusion until the situation snowballed to a catastrophic dimension in 2009 following the ‘gruesome murder’ of the sect’s leader allegedly on the order of the then Borno State governor, Ali Modu Sheriff. It is the opinion of some analysts that lack of proper investigation by security agencies into the killing of Yusufiyya Movement’s leader triggered off revenge missions by members of his sect. It appears that the capacity of the sect for revenge was underrated.
As the sect launched guerilla attacks on security formations, killing, maiming security personnel and ransacking villages, government continued to underrate their capacity despite genuine efforts by those with direct contacts with a cross section of the sect’s leadership for possible solution. Some of the suggestions proffered were utilized by the DSS that maintained high class professionalism and proved its commitment to overcome the problem. Majority of arrests and relative peace enjoyed in prone areas then were due to the efforts of DSS, until the deployment of military personnel at a later date to complement their efforts.
While Nigeria was under threat, the international community kept silence erroneously believing the insurgency was an isolated local crisis as the country’s leadership portrayed it until the worst happened, when over 270 innocent students were lured and kidnapped by the insurgents: an incident that exposed the weakness of the government and security agencies in the prone areas.
Since 2009 when the sect launched its guerilla assault, it is yet to be defeated despite several claims. But before the sect was engaged in full scale battle, some of those with an inkling of their modus operandi had advised government against declaration of a war. In his wisdom, the former Chief of Army Staff, General Iherijika, declared a war against the insurgents, ignoring the fact that they were already prepared for such an encounter having stock-piled enough arms (some seized from police and military formations). Government was alerted on their capability to stand the war, but that warning was ignored. Government is being criticized in some quarters for not reaching out to those with genuine contact with the sect leadership and for appointing wrong people for the job of dealing with the insurgents that has not paid any dividend. In most cases, expired administrators, politicians and retired security personnel were entrusted with such an important assignment. The result of the lukewarm attitude and mistrust of government is what Nigerians are witnessing with regrets. Galtamari, Tanimu Turaki and General Ibrahim Sabo Committees appear to have been put in place for mere administrative convenience. The various reports have not yielded positive results. What were they meant to achieve? Were they supposed to be mere waste of resources? It has been reported that certain personalities that established the necessary contacts and built confidence with the sect were ignored or denied audience with the Presidency for brainstorming for a way out by those expected to act promptly, while others systematically dodged from involvement for fear of their lives.
|The spoke person of the group addressing top government officials during their visit to the presidency, demanding the government to rescue the Chibok girls|
Some Nigerians think that engaging the insurgents in a war was not the best of ideas; others maintain that dialogue remains the only solution, there are yet others whose only concern is for government to end Boko Haram insurgency and free the Chibok girls irrespective of the method applied.
It is being rumoured in some quarters that the major routes used by insurgents to smuggle arms into the country were exposed for action and some of their training camps and corporate headquarters located in the notorious Sambisa forest were identified, but no action to flush them out was taken until they established other hideouts and escape routes. If this rumour is true, then Nigerians in general and the parents of the affected girls in particular have cause to doubt the sincerity of government about tackling Boko Haram and rescuing the Chibok girls.
The situation has continued to escalate and Nigerians are worried about the safety of the girls as days run into weeks since their abduction. President Jonathan should re-examine the composition of Nigeria’s security agencies and his executive council for possible decisive action if safety of lives and property means anything to his administration. Members of his executive council from the North-East should be temporarily redeployed to the sub-region to proffer immediate solution to the lingering problem as their own contribution to nation building on a solid foundation of peace. As indigenes of the region they should be familiar with happenings of the region and be able to employ whatever strategy they deem best to bring normalcy to the region.
Nigeria was told by some foreign experts that poverty, under development and massive unemployment including illiteracy were responsible for the escalation of the insurgency and once tackled, the terrorists would be defanged because their recruitment may no longer be enticing and gainful. As Nigerians continue to suffer in the hands of Boko Haram, one wonders why it took the world so long to respond to the challenge posed by terrorists. One wonders even more why the Northern States Governors Forum remains inactive to supporting the efforts of the Federal Government to crush the terrorists.
In 2011, NSGF appointed a committee to proffer solution to the insurgency. The committee report obviously went the other way similar reports went with the North-East left for Kashim Shettima, Ibrahim Geidam, Ibrahim Dankwambo, Isa Yuguda, Murtala Nyako and Garba Umar to manage. Where then is the northern brotherhood and solidarity? Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi have had their own bitter experiences to tell. What role did the NSGF play to cool tempers and restore confidence in those States? The antecedents of the forum once forced Governors Yuguda and Suswan to suspend their membership to protect their integrity.
Today, the world is weeping along with parents, brothers, sisters and relatives of the Chibok abducted female students now languishing in the hands of terrorists. The world is imagining what the young innocent girls are going through physically and psychologically in the hands of faithless beasts masquerading as religious extremists. But is Nigeria doing everything possible to ensure the safe return of the girls? Is the international community sincerely involved in searching for the girls? As we join other sympathizers shedding tears with intensified prayers for the immediate release of those innocent girls, we reflect on the recent revelation by Amnesty International that Nigeria’s security agencies had information four hours before the girls were wickedly abducted and yet within those four hours, there was no positive action to prevent the heinous crime. If Amnesty was right, then Nigerians may well start preparing for self-defence. However, security agencies have since debunked the report of Amnesty International.
Thank goodness, Nigerians can take solace in the fact that the Jonathan administration has finally invited the international community for a rescue operation. With their joint efforts rescue operation, Nigerians may soon heave a sigh of relief from terrorism. The repercussion of Boko Haram insurgency is that we have almost reached a point of no return in our ethnic, regional and religious relations expected of a united people that fought a civil war to remain united. Escalation of corrupt practices, insincerity, selective justice and infrastructural development and protection of identified suspected criminals are responsible for the ugly situation we have found ourselves in. It is only by divine intervention that Nigeria can bounce back as a united and prosperous country. So, let all patriotic Nigerians join in the prayer to BRING BACK OUR GIRLS.
By Sanusi Muhammad