Home » Boko Haram, Headlines » Boko Haram out to end 1914 amalgamation, install Islamic govt —Sanusi (Please end it and go your way)

Boko Haram out to end 1914 amalgamation, install Islamic govt —Sanusi (Please end it and go your way)

The Boko Haram and its activities are now a serious national concern. Today,
it would seem that the Nigerian security agencies are getting overwhelmed and
lacking in capacity and ability to checkmate it and stultify its activities.
With its serial bomb blasts and promise to do much more, critical stakeholders
have not stopped talking about it, with a view to finding a lasting solution to
its menace and the resultant carnage.

Sanusi Muhammad, a social critic
and radical journalist knows a few things about this terrorist group. He is
based in Bauchi and in this interview, he discussed the group – how it started,
what it wants, and how possibly the authorities could deal with it. He spoke to
our Bauchi State’s correspondent. Excerpts:

 

Can you please give your views on the Boko Haram sect in Bauchi
State?

What I know is that the religious sect, called Jama’atu Ahlis
Sunnah Lid’dawa’ati Wal Jihad a.k.a Boko Haram, was perhaps established to
operate as any other religious sect, organization or group in the country. It
was not founded as a terrorist group as erroneously believed in some quarters.
The sect has been in existence for a good period of time in the North East and
other parts of Nigeria and beyond. It became more prominent after the death of
its founder, Sheikh Muhammed Yusuf.

 

But as a religious organization, is it supposed to be operating the
way it does presently?

It may be difficult for me at the present
situation to assess their mode of operation as you want me to assess. I am not
their member, though ideally, one is expected to be a beneficiary of their
preaching as a Muslim. But as a journalist, I picked an interest in the modus
operandi of the sect. I have studied and even had few interactions with some of
them before the situation snowballed into what it is today. I came to understand
their grievances and why they are violent against the
authorities.

The sect is believed to have turned into a terrorist
group. What can you say about that?

Well, if the truth must be told,
the Federal Government is supposed to dig deep down and investigate more on how
and why the sect turned to be what it is being accused of doing and that is
terrorism. It is not a matter of accusation and counter attack. It is a matter
of reality. The sect perhaps turned to be what it is accused to be doing from
the hypocrisy of those saddled with the responsibility of governance. From my
in-depth knowledge of happenings, some of those in leadership positions today
are not supposed to be there. Some of our leaders are already power-drunk and
hold the notion that they can do anything in this country and get away with it.
Some of them are heartless while some are hypocrites and pretenders. Instead of
them to have addressed the Boko Haram issue right from its initial stage in
their states, they chose the primitive way of doing things and directed for
arrest, extra-judicial killings, maiming and demolishing of structures belonging
to those suspected to be members of the sect.

Those leaders never knew
that they were dealing with intelligent, courageous, determined and faceless
people who were already putting finishing touches to their next line of actions.
There was no proper intelligent report on the sect itself for study and
subsequent implementation by the government. Some of our leaders must have
underrated the intelligence and capacity of the sect, including financial
support, etc. They thought they were the alms-seeking hungry Almajiris that can
easily be arrested, threatened with imprisonment, killed, maimed without any
resistance or reprisal action. Boko Haram has exposed to the world the type of
persons we have in leadership positions in our country today.

It was the
same underrating we witnessed during the NADECO era. We were in NADECO
struggling to unseat the military from power through a peaceful manner but
overzealous security agents were all out to kill, maim and arrest our members to
justify a cause. At the end of it all, NADECO achieved its struggle and the wish
of the people was respected. General Abdulsalami Abubakar restored democracy in
the country. But before then, NADECO was painted in bad light to confuse the
ignorant public. Our leaders were chased out of the country and the majority of
us that remained continued with the struggle. History is repeating itself. In
Niger Delta, the mission of a great patriot, Ken Saro Wiwa and his Movement for
the Survival of Ogoni People were misunderstood. He was tagged as a threat to
national security, he was subjected to a kangaroo trial and without waiting for
the stipulated time of appeal, he was hanged within minutes after the judgement.
That is a case of gross injustice.

At any rate, one cannot blame the
President for the escalation of the various attacks in the country today because
he is supposed to be fully briefed on situations by the relevant security
agencies at the national level and advised professionally on what next to be
done to contain and control the situation. If that was properly done, I don’t
think the situation could have reached its present stage. The national security
adviser is expected to be fully briefed by the various security agencies to know
the exact situation of things before advising the President. That perhaps was
not done and if it was done, it was not done properly. The governors are
supposed to be updated on security situations in their respective states on
daily basis by their security chiefs. In some states, that is not done. I know
of a particular governor who does not even consult most of the time with his
security chiefs until when there is a problem at hand. In some cases, minor
skirmishes are over blown by security agents for monetary gain. The whole
situation is corrupted and that is why we are where we are presently and we
shall remain so unless we change the operational system for the
better.

For instance in Borno State, the former governor was said to be
instrumental to the prominence of the sect. It was alleged that he was one of
their financiers and supporters until the marriage broke down. He should be made
to give an account of his association with them and the roles he played in
nursing the group to its present status. Not only that, when the leader of the
sect was arrested alive, there was an order for his murder. The authority could
have ordered for the immediate arrest of who gave the order for the murder of an
innocent person. If Sheikh Yusuf was not murdered, things could have been
different today.
The other point is that some of our security agencies are
not helping matters. Honestly, there is an urgent need for the disbandment of
the Nigeria Police. The Police have lost confidence of the people. The people
see the Nigeria Police as a corrupt organization that enjoys support from the
government to maintain corrupt practices and crime rather than fighting
it.

In Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe states, most of the people know whom
Boko Haram members are. They know their base but for fear of their safety and
the attitude of the nation’s security agencies towards the citizens, no one is
ready to risk his life to reveal vital information relating to the sect. The
security agencies in most cases treat sacred information with levity or as an
opportunity to make fast money from government or use it for a selfish reason.
In some cases, informants are seen by security agencies as 419ners. In any case,
the situation reached its present stage from so many factors that should be
thoroughly investigated.

The other point is that since the death of
Sheikh Muhammed Yusuf, there was no serious and sincere effort to reach the sect
leadership for dialogue by either the government of Borno State or the Federal
Government. All that was happening was a cock-and-bull story to justify huge
spending on security. Boko Haram members are human beings like any other person
that can be pacified to understand the position of government. On the other side
of it, the sect members were discouraged to accept to dialogue with the
government from their past experience that even led to what is seen as the
extra-judicial killing of their leader. In some states, they were invited for
discussion with government officials but later betrayed. How can they now easily
agree to honor another invitation from the same type of government?

Honestly, there is an urgent need to reach out to the sect leadership
for dialogue. The issue is more than what ordinary Nigerians think. It is a
serious issue that should be tackled once and for all. I had some contacts with
several Federal Government officials on the matter and from the look of things,
the Federal Government is not treating the issue with soft gloves and that is
why it has not even declared a full-scale military action against the sect. Full
military action is not the solution. Dialogue is the best option to the issue.
Security operatives can only succeed in their resolve if they have insiders as
reliable informants.

From your own understanding, what is the way
out?

Well as we all know in the Nigerian context of doing things, no
matter how good your idea may be, if it does not tally with the thinking of
those in authority, it makes no sense to them. Security agencies have said that
they are on top of the situation. The arrests they are making are, to me not the
solution to the problem, since the leadership is still intact. Most of those
arrested are mere followers that work on directives. They are of no help, as
most of them cannot even say where their leaders are or the location of their
base. For instance, in Suleja, it was reported that a cell of Boko Haram was
disbanded by men of the DSS. I later discovered that the said disbanded cell
belonged to Darul Islam, which is another Islamist sect based in Niger State.
But even after the disbandment, they re-established another cell within the same
Niger State. Honestly, the only way out of the sad situation is for the Federal
Government to put the necessary machinery in motion to arrest it now. The
situation is more than what you think. The sect is determined to end the 1914
amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates and install an Islamic
government. The state governments are not strong and serious enough to counter
or control the activities of the sect in their respective areas. It is not a
matter of military or forceful intervention. It is a matter of dialogue and
sincerity. Anything short of that, I doubt if the situation would
normalize.

From my investigation, at a stage, the sect was ready for
dialogue with the respective state governments, but the same state governments
betrayed the sect. As a responsible leader, one is expected to be honest and
sincere in dealing with his people but most of those state governors thought
they could impress the nation by directing the arrest and killing of the sect
members. It has never worked like that. If one is talking of military
intervention or forceful intervention, has America flushed out the Talibans in
Afghanistan or restored normalcy in Iraq etc? When ECOMOG was fighting rebels in
Liberia, did it succeed? Liberia’s problem came to an end through diplomacy, not
through military intervention. In Nigeria, when Ken Saro Wiwa was unjustly
hanged, did it end the problem in the Niger Delta? When Isaac Adaka Boro was
leading his movement in the First Republic against the federal authority, did
force solve the problem? When NADECO members were being hunted by security
agents, did it solve the problem? Let our leaders learn from
experience.

It appears you know much about Boko
Haram.

Hm! I know little about Boko Haram. Mind you, I reside in
Bauchi and I have worked in different parts of the North East as a journalist. I
happen to know some of their leaders even before the sect was established and we
still communicate with some of them on phone just as they communicate with other
people. To be honest with you, most of those I know are highly religious,
educated, exposed, experienced, straight forward and disciplined. I cannot say I
know all the leaders but the few I know can be reached to facilitate a meeting
with the Federal Government if they can be convinced of the sincerity of such an
exercise. The sect has its central leadership and respective operating units
just like any other organization.

I was made to understand that some of
those destructive attacks that took place in some states, particularly in Borno,
were not carried out by the sect. There is a notorious group of professional
hooligans by name ECOMOG that hide under the cover of the sect to carry out such
attacks and robberies. The sect itself is hunting for those hooligans to deal
with them. In Borno, there is ECOMOG, in Bauchi, there is Sara Suka, in Gombe,
is Kalare and so in other states. These killer groups are creations of mean
politicians. The Federal Government should, as a matter of concern, act fast to
eliminate such groups in the interest of peace. In most of the states, the
respective governors are the brains behind the survival of such deadly groups.
This is a known fact to everybody, unless if we are to be hypocritical to hide
the facts.

In some quarters, it is believed that the sect is sponsored by
politicians against the success of the Jonathan administration at the federal
level, because he is not a Northerner and a non-Muslim.
Well, I cannot claim
to be the defence counsel or spokesman of those politicians that are suspected
of sponsoring the sect for whatever reason. First, the sect is there to defend
itself against any allegation and with all honesty, I know they have the
courage, capacity and guts to defend themselves. What I know is that they have
links with Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab, Darul Islam etc.

As for being used
against the success of the Jonathan administration, that I cannot say anything
because I know they don’t even recognize any government in Nigeria. They have
said that several times and not that because the President is not from the north
or because he is a Christian. They never, for a second, recognized or liked the
administration of the late president who is from the north and a Muslim. But for
political reasons, some politicians might like to create such an artificial
hatred to feed fat. We know them very well and we know what a typical Nigerian
politician can do to survive the odds. Most of our politicians are dummies and
fortune-seekers. Some of them are too dull to initiate anything for progress
rather than mischief and deceit.
President Jonathan was ordained by the
Almighty to be the president of Nigeria at this particular period of time. The
Almighty God brought him from the region to make history. Whosoever wants to
fight Jonathan should be ready to have the wrath of the Almighty that made him
the President. President Jonathan never created himself, he never made himself
what he is today and he is not the most educated Nigerian or even the most
educated in the Niger Delta region. He is not the most experienced politician
from the region, neither is he wealthy enough to have bought his way to the
position he occupies. History has it that in his trying period, as a lecturer in
Port Harcourt, his wife had to support his efforts with her petty ice cream
business to cater for the family. So, it was the work of the Almighty. Boko
Haram members are aware of that as Muslims. The Almighty giveth leadership to
whom He wants.

Some state governors are suspected to be in
support of the sect secretly. Are you aware of this?

There is no
smoke without fire and never you trust a typical Nigerian politician for
whatever. Those who made the allegations may have their facts but I am not aware
of any governor that supports the sect and I am not even supposed to know since
I am neither a member of the sect nor a governor. But some of the governors may
be secret financiers of the sect out of fear or otherwise.

Are
you saying that some of the governors are the cause of insecurity in the
country?

That is correct. Some of the governors have already lost
bearing and direction. Some of them are now busy putting the necessary machinery
for 2015 elections instead of addressing critical issues affecting the welfare
of their people. In such situations, poverty rears its ugly head and the end
result is breach of peace for survival. There is rising rate of poverty all
over. Some of the governors are not creative. For instance, there is a governor
that believes the best way to fight poverty is to appoint so many miscreants as
his aides. To me, that is a wrong policy because those miscreants are exposed to
easy money and the day it ceases, that is the day heavens would fall. That
governor could have created job opportunities for his miscreants to learn trade
and be useful to themselves and the society, instead of exposing them to easy
money without sweating for it.

Don’t you think there is political
undertone in the existence of Boko Haram?

With all honesty, I have
no idea of any political undertone because the sect hates anything to do with
politics and material wealth. They are apolitical and hate to associate with any
politician or political party. They want to be seen as purely a religious
organization. But that does not mean I know everything about their interactions
and association. There may be political undertone as you said. Further
investigation can reveal that with time.

From your own
understanding, what caused the post-election violence in some northern states,
particularly in Bauchi?

So many factors were responsible for that
unfortunate incident. First, in some states, it was ignited by the governors who
wanted to rig the elections to impress the PDP presidential candidate, while
some of them wanted to rig the election to cover their flanks. Unfortunately,
most of the governors who claimed to have campaigned for the success of GEJ at
the election never did that. Most of them only campaigned for themselves but
wanted to rig for GEJ. On the other side of it, the electorate viewed the
intention of the governors to rig the election as a crime against their wish and
resorted to violence, since they have lost confidence in the law enforcement
agencies and the courts. You see, jungle justice thrives where there is
insincerity. The electorate were fully aware of how their votes are twisted at
the collation centres in favor of certain candidates. The governors were the
main culprits. Any way, the Lemu report is there for
implementation.

But why did the North hate the candidature of
GEJ, and made all attempts to defeat him at the poll, despite his loyalty to one
of their own as his Vice President?

You see, GEJ was deceived at the
initial stage to believe in falsehood by some of those he trusted with the task
of campaigning for him in different parts of the North. Most of them were not
the type to have handled such an important assignment. Some of them thought it
was an easy-money-making venture and likely enough, GEJ refused to release the
type of money they dreamt of.

Some of the governors had lost the
confidence of the electorate but still deceived GEJ to believing they were in
control and could deliver good results. We raised an alarm through several
articles published in the media, but no one cared until the worst happened. It
is not that the north hates GEJ, but the issue is that those claiming to be
relevant in the North and could deliver positive results, are not of any
political relevance in the region. Name them and I will tell you who they
are.

CPC candidate was better loved not because he is a northerner but
because he had good salesmen that package him for the price of the electorate.
Look at the PDP presidential primary election. Atiku was about to defeat GEJ
despite the power of incumbency. In the North Eeast, GEJ narrowly escaped with
few votes against Atku. That tells you a story. Most of his campaign managers
were sleeping and deceiving him. At the end, they wanted to use state machinery
to rig the election, which was resisted by the electorates to prove a point to
GEJ. Honestly, in some states in the North East, the posters of GEJ were not
even in circulation at all. Instead, it was a trick that was used to deceive him
during his visit to Bauchi. Put it at the back of your mind that it was through
the efforts of the FCT Minister and the former governor of Bauchi State that GEJ
even scored the 20 percent votes he got at the poll

.-Sun

 

 

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