Thursday, June 9, 2011

Resolving the Boko Haram imbroglio

Daily Trust
07 June 2011

Nura H. Alkali
The Boko Haram crisis in Maiduguri has reached alarming proportions in recent weeks, and if care is not taken, may undermine the unity and well-being of Nigeria. As things stand, President Goodluck Jonathan may be forced to declare a state-of-emergency in Borno State, even if reluctantly.  That wil not bode well for democracy, and would please neither the president nor Governor Kashim Shettima, who has spent only a week in office. The former would be exercising his constitutional rights of safeguarding the lives of Nigerians, while the latter would feel cheated of his four-year mandate which he won at a hotly-contested election. No doubt, the governor’s political appointees would also cry wolf, claiming victimization of the ANPP by the PDP-ruled federal government, and wonder why state of emergency was not declared in Plateau, Bauchi and Kaduna, all of which are PDP-ruled states that recently witnessed deadly violence.

But it would be a mistake to compare the crisis in Borno State with those of Kaduna, Bauchi and Plateau. Whatever others would say, the violence in Bauchi and Kaduna was not a pre-meditated action, but was a spontaneous reaction by aggrieved masses displeased with the outcome of the April presidential elections, which was allegedly rigged by the PDP.

The Boko Haram crisis in Borno State is a rather different matter altogether. For the first time in Nigeria’s history, our government is not only facing a domestic enemy that is determined and well-armed, our security agencies also find themselves the targets of the enemy’s attacks. This makes Boko Haram even more dangerous than MEND, which operates out of creeks in the Niger Delta and restricts itself to blowing up oil pipelines and kidnapping foreigners for ransom. The modus operandi of Boko Haram, or the Yusufiyya Movement as it now calls itself, is more difficult to combat.  The group has recently assassinated soldiers, policemen, prison wardens and politicians allied to the Borno State Government and the ANPP. The list of victims is long and include the former Borno State ANPP Chairman and in-law to former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff , the former governor’s elder brother, the Borno State ANPP Governorship Candidate and two men of the State Security Service attached to him, several policemen attached to the Borno State Government House, a ward head, a political adviser to former Governor Sheriff, a senior officer of Nigeria Prisons, several prison wardens, many more policemen and soldiers and an officer of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps who also happened to be a younger brother of the present Shehu of Borno.

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