Thursday, December 29, 2011

Boko Haram: An evil that must be stopped

Stunned church members and security officers 
I crave the indulgence of regular readers of this blog to digress a little from what I traditionally blog about.  I do it occasionally, when I feel very strongly about an issue.  The case of Boko Haram and the evil they have continued to unleash on Nigeria and Nigerians is something that troubles me a great deal.
My heart bled and I shed tears repeatedly last Sunday as I watched the shattered remains of fellow Nigerians being exhumed from debris in Madalla.  I was particularly pained because St Theresa Catholic Church, where the wicked, ungodly act took place is a church I know quite well, having worshipped there a couple of times during visits to siblings in Suleja.  The hatred exemplified by the Christmas Day massacre is simply unimaginable.
An injured worshipper being helped to safety 
While I was still emotionally tormented by the pictures I saw from St Theresa, the news of another bombing flashed past my computer screen this morning.  Not less than 15 people were again killed in another bomb explosion in a hotel in Gombe on Wednesday, December 28.  According to Ojiego Nelson - the hotel manager, three persons came to the hotel at about 10.13pm on Wednesday to explode a device.
Nelson told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he was at the gate of the hotel when the men, who were carrying guns, started “manhandling” the security man and when he asked what was happening, they started shooting sporadically.  “Our customers and everybody started running helter-skelter and the one with two gas cylinders in his hands threw them into our reception area. He threw one into the reception and threw the other one under the cars parked by our guests in the hotel. The one thrown into the reception exploded and damaged the building, so we just managed to escape through the back fence,'' he said.
Another injured worshipper
It is unfortunate that this hatred and killing of innocent citizens has spread to Gombe.  That's a state I lived and worked in in the early stages of my career.  Though a Christian, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Kuri and Gombe city, two places that I still remember with pleasant memories.  Infact, the first award I got as a journalist was from a story I did in that state.  My time as a Maths teacher in Government Girls Secondary School, Yamaltu Deba, Gombe, are memories I will forever treasure.
I am indeed bereft of words to describe how shocked and shamed I am as a Nigerian to see my homeland degenerate to such a theatre of absurdity and extreme lawlessness.  Not even Afghanistan and Somalia with all their problems have seen the number of bombings and killings that Nigeria has seen in the last one year.  Among the many gruesome deaths arising from the Christmas Day bombings, are two families that has had all their members but one wiped out.
Innocent child sent to his early grave
It is an act of savagery of the most arcane nature, to slaughter worshipers on a day which is globally acknowledged, as one in which neighbors should extend their hands of fellowship to believers and non-believers in their faith.  This is not godly service; this is deliberate wickedness that must be condemned and nipped in the bud.
Even more disappointing are the words coming from some northern elites concerning Boko Haram.  I was stunned to read a tweet attributed to Nasir el-Rufai, former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja that Boko Haram “are only taking vengeance against government for injustice committed against their leader and the Christmas massacre was only an unintended target which could have been anybody".    It strikes a huge irony that a group that claimed to be waging war against sin, could itself be committing this horrendous sin against man and God.  Boko Haram is EVIL and I expect el-Rufai to acknowledge that instead of making unwarranted excuse for their misdemeanour. 
A car destroyed by the explosion
More unfortunate is the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan has continued to act as though he is not aware of fact that he is the Commander in Chief of the Nigerian armed forces.   It is unfortunate that the president waited for the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to tell him the naked truth – that Nigerians, Christians in particular, are "fast losing confidence in government's ability to protect our rights".
How long more will President Jonathan watch and ‘endure’ this evil from these nincompoops and rag-tag religious bigots who delight in killing fellow humans as though they are killing cows.  I shudder to think that they even have more respect for their cows and goats than they do for human lives.
A victim of the UN House bombing in Abuja
 Like my equally aggrieved compatriot, Kingston Ekeke, I am tempted to ask - Which God are they fighting for?  How long will the international community look away at a religious terrorism that is capable of obliterating the nation called Nigeria?   Where are the so-called Nigerian leaders and those who claim to govern? When will this foolishness and these kinds of dastardly acts stop in our nation?
 Boko Haram must be fought the same way its global affiliate the al Qaeda is being fought.  It must be stopped the same way Osama bin Laden has been stopped.  I expect President Jonathan to understand that how willing he is to fight this war will go a long way in determining whether there will be Nigeria after his tenure.  President Jonathan, I dare say you must not be last president of Nigeria.  The time to begin the fight is now.  A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.

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