Note: This is an article by Funmi Macaulay, one of the regular readers of this blog and a New York-based Nigerian-American very concerned about the present security situation in Nigeria.
As I write
this piece, I am still recovering from the latest news I ran into in Yahoo earlier
today - another killing Maiduguri, this time in a market. Why would these folks be so heartless? According to the AFP report, “Gunmen believed
to be members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram stormed the fish section of Baga
market and sprayed stallholders and vendors with bullets.” Among the dead are women and children. It is most likely the death toll will rise in
a couple of days.
|Grieving faces of women widowed by Boko Haram|
The war on terror declared by the Nigerian security forces seems to be yielding some dividends with the recent arrest of Abu Qaqa, Boko Haram spokesman and re-capture of Kabir Abubakar Dikko (a.k.a Kabiru Sokoto), the mastermind of the Madalla church bombing last Christmas. Recent reports quote the Department of State Service (DSS) in Abuja as saying that they are extracting useful information from the two detainees.
As Vanguard newspaper acknowledged in one of its recent editorials, “the signs that our state agencies of security, particularly the Nigerian Army and the State Security Services (SSS) are gradually getting on top of this ugly situation are many.” “These include the discovery of their bomb factories and arms dumps in Suleija, Damaturu, Maiduguri and Kano. There also have been a series of foiling of their hits on military facilities in Kaduna and Maiduguri.”
|Church members in Madalla dig graves for 20 victims of the Xmas Day bombing|
While applaud, the security forces, I must say the war is far from over; if anything, the Boko Haram elements are becoming more brazen and determined. They continue to issue threats and live up to their words. Ten days ago in Kano , Alhaji Muhammadu, a 60 year critic of the group, was shot twice at a close range by some unknown gunmen on a motorbike. “"He never hid his aversion to Boko Haram and would voice his disapproval of the sect publicly,” a resident of the area, said of the victim.
Since the beginning of the year, the group have served notice on their next targets and in spite of efforts by the security agencies they were able to pull off stunning raids that left hundreds of citizens dead or injured and property in ruins. In a leaflet distributed around Kano last month, Boko Haram said it would target anyone who "collaborates against the group ", even if he is a Muslim.
Last Sunday, they make good that threat by assassinating Mustapha Geidam, a district head in Yobe State and Sheik Saina Ajiya, an Islamic cleric in Konduga, a town near Maiduguri. Earlier that day, it took the careful surveillance of members of Christ Embassy Church in Suleja to avert the explosion of a bomb hidden near the church where members worshipped.
|Ibrahim Shekarau, acclaimed leader of the group|
It is unfortunate that Boko Haram is bent on collapsing the entity called Nigeria. Despite managing to survive since the Biafran civil war, the cracks that that sad epistle left on Nigeria’s psyche is yet to heal. Now these aimless boobies continue to add insult to the nation’s injury.
While Nigeria often claims expertise in dancing on the brink without falling off, the recent actions of Boko Haram seriously challenges our dexterity in that game. Boko Haram if untamed may finally provide the impetus that pushes the country into the abyss of state failure.
This is why I beckon on every Nigerian at home and in diaspora to join the call for the real faces behind Boko Haram to be exposed. Much as I commend the security forces for, to an extent, rising to the challenge, the war against Boko Haram and its jahidist ideology cannot be won unless the financiers of the group are identified and made to face the full weight of the law. Those felons must be unmasked and shamed if Nigeria would enjoy peace.
The group has mushroomed in the last few years because little is known about its sponsors. There is a lot to Boko Haram beyond the young men that serve as suicide bombers for the group. Behind every Al-Qaeda, there is a rich Osama bin Laden and a network of other financiers that fuel their evil passion with the needed cash.
|The remains of a bomb attack|
Nobody should be considered too big before the law. A lot of names have been trumpeted including former military president Ibrahim Babangida. This is where what I consider the biggest assignment of the security forces lie. Unmask the Osamas behind this Nigerian Al Qaeda, and we are on our way to a peaceful and more prosperous Nigeria. President Jonathan, please know that Nigeria is on the edge. Name and shame those guys before they destroy you and our dear homeland. The time to act is now.
Funmi can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
Funmi can be reached on email@example.com