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Author Name: Anthony Joseph Onoh
Number of articles: 9
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Political Terrorism in Nigeria: Boko Haram – the People and the Government.
Author: Anthony Joseph Onoh | April 19, 2012

Nigerians are consumed with fear as Islamic fundamentalist group called âBoko Haramâ intensifies its activities of terror in mainly the Northern part of the country. The terrorist group, whose original by-line is âJamaâatu Ahlis Sunna Liddaâawati Wal-Jihadâ, which in Arabic means âPeople committed to the Propagation of the Prophetâs Teachings and Jihadâ, has intensified the bombing and killing of innocent people around the country. Its leader, Imam Abubakar Shekau, in a YouTube message, justifies all the killings as âdivineâ, as commanded by his Allah. The madness of a violent minority who seek to blackmail the government by using fear as a weapon against, over 150 million Nigerians served to cause clouds of uncertainty to hover above Nigeria during this past Easter holiday. Boko Haramâs bombers have coloured the streets of Kaduna with blood and darkened the political horizon with the smoke of increasing uncertainty about the future. People live in a state of uncertainty as the hoodlums stay at large, equipped to disturb the peace and unity of the country. Speaking to Aljazeera´s Ivonne Ndege, Amina Mohammed â a Kaduna resident â expressed fear about her personal safety. âEvery day, in the morning, I start thinking: what will happen to my children if they go to school?â She said. âAnything can happen; just like yesterday. Those people who went out in search of something to fend for their families are now dead,â she concluded. The true motivation of this meaningless barbarism is still unknown as the group appears to continually shift from one statement and demand to another at any given instance. Are we dealing with a political action, religious action or simply criminal gangs with an indefinable ideological mindset? Or perhaps, it is all of the above? Given the groupâs successive mixed-messages and conflicting demands, the best analysis is that it is nothing but a bunch of perturbed minds that are ultimately engaged in a struggle for political control, or the control of absolute power, in Nigeria. In that case, the present manslaughter and terrorizing in the name of Islam is only a concealed attempt to achieve political gain. That idea gets validated when we realize, through informed reports, that âmost of the so-called Muslim terrorists are drug addicts, adulterers, and rapists.â Seemingly, the government is overwhelmed by the entire episode of terror. It lacks clear strategic means to combat this meaningless episode that has hit strongly against the cultural and religious unity of Nigeria. Most recently, there have been several shifts in the government position towards the terror group. There has been news of direct and indirect talk with the terrorist leaders, which entails negotiating with terrorists while they continue with their campaign of terror. Political analysts consider it not just immoral, but illegal, to engage in talks with people who have shown no remorse for the pain and grief they have caused thousands of families in Nigeria. Eventually, this precipitated talk with the terror group broke down as they were emboldened by government weakness and lack of direction. Their leader called off talks with the government, while citing unwillingness âto hold dialogue with infidels.â Yet, the lesson was not learnt as the authority continues to yield to the blackmail and humiliation from this daredevil group. While bombs continue to ravage lives and properties of patriotic Nigerians, government incompetence adds to the existing quagmire. The army have been deployed in civilian populated areas and armed with live ammunition to combat an invisible foe. Their frustration has led to the random search of civilians and frequent uncoordinated raids on private homes that often result in fatalities. Of course, any civilian death is universally tagged as âcollateral damageâ but the government has lacked the decency to even borrow that expression. Instead, it exaggerates figures of killed terrorists to cover the number of civilians caught in the crossfire. This constant abuse of peopleâs liberty has shifted the fear from the terror group to government agents. There seems to be some kind of haste in resolving the terrorist activity that has continued to increase in dimension as the perpetrators expand the scope of their targets; prompting the government to increase military presence on the streets. A young graduate who is currently engaged on a national service assignment, in Gombe, North East of Nigeria, described the activities of government agents, as deplorable. Christopher Ibe said, âWe are more afraid of the military and the âmobileâ policemen than the âBoko Haramâ terrorists.â Apparently, the army and the anti-riot police have been given a âshoot at sightâ order. âShoot at sightâ is an unconventional and extra-judicial means that is usually employed by the government to tackle widespread crime or public disturbance. âThe police and the military do stop people at will and restrict people movement during the day and night. They will kill anyone at the least suspicion. We are not treated as humans but as animals,â Christoper Ibe added. The government, instead of looking for a solution, is trying to control Boko Haram, by fielding more military in the cities; among civilian populations, whereby they further restrict the daily routine of the people and the nation. Just like a family, a Nation also needs to stand together. Boko Haram ought not to divide the nation; but this is apparently the result of having a government that is out of touch with the plight of its citizens. Rather than employing brutal force, the government can achieve more by introducing a forum for public discussions, suggestions and solutions whereby Nigerians can congregate to agree on how to preserve unity and save the nation from disintegration. Discrimination, based on religious or regional difference, is further escalating existing political tensions between the numerous tribes, in the country. Suffice it to say that the activities of the army in civilian populated areas have not been helpful in quelling the menace of those minority fundamentalist groups and restoring unity in the country. Mr Chika Eze, an official of the Nigerian Embassy in London, asserted that âmaximum force is required in order to stop the terrorist from holding most part of the country under siege.â His pronouncement confirmed the worst fear of many Nigerians including Mr Ibe who are worried that the presence of the army on the streets is becoming an added problem to any possible solution. âHave you seen how America managed this kind of activity in Afghanistan?â, he queried. âWe need to match their force and I believe that most Nigerians will agree with me,â he concluded. Perhaps there is an element of truth in his assertion as Nigerians are acquainted with deplorable living conditions and multiple violations in respect of their civil rights. Another Nigerian who craved anonymity stated, âConventional wisdom is that humans are social animals. Though there are so many other animal species that live in groups, humans are the only species in the animal kingdom that live in families. The nation is also an extension of the family, and we must be prepared to compromise and adjust for each other.â It is not clear whether she advocates the understanding by people about army personnel, armed with live ammunition, dwelling with civilians on every street or talks of a unified cultural position against the terrorist group. Either ways, Nigerians are lovely people and, undoubtedly, deserving of better society, treatment, government and politics than this. The overall social and political activities in the country are shameful and there is a dire need of effective measures for the restoration of normalcy.

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NGEX welcomes and encourages reader comments. Permission to post reader comments is assumed, and we reserve the right to excerpt or edit for clarity any comments that are posted. We won't be able to publish all comments. And we can't vouch for the accuracy of posts from readers. Nickname or Name will be used to identify your post.
Sola Olukoye    Lagos, Nigeria    April 20, 2012
The Senate has just asked the President to use maximum force. This implies more trigger happy police and military on the street. It finally implies more civilian death, bully and harassment. Only God will save us in Nigeria. We are not safe from BOKO, we are not safe from Government.
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