Boko Haram: The death of innocence
By Mohammed Adamu
What exactly was the object of the State manhunt for the late Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf?’ Was it to arrest and try him? Or to track him down and kill? Should you ask the amazingly civil-minded, suddenly-rights-respecting soldiers who, not only nabbed the man in one piece, but did the right thing handing him over to an investigating authority, or ask that same ‘authority’, the notorious Nigeria Police Force, which, with savage, murderous intent, took the accused in and wasted him.
Yet if there was a Police ‘marching order’ on Yusuf, what was that ‘order?’ We knew the soldiers had a ‘command’. By the eventual fruit of their mission; to ‘arrest and to turn in’! And which they faithfully did. And trust the Army; for excellent economy of words, vocabulary of action’ and a variety of ‘esoteric encodes’. Something like: ‘AO’ slash ‘MA’ dash ‘O’! Meaning: ‘Apprehend Obstacle! Make Amenable to Ordinance’! Six ‘Command Words’! Packed like a magnum, twang! And with military precision they execute that order.
The Police would have wasted eighteen ‘words’ instead -un-coded; packed in a combination at once an ‘order, an ‘errand’ or an across-the-police-counter ‘charge’! Something like: ‘Now, now, now! Go and arrest that culprit criminal and bring the accused offender to the charge office!’ And if ‘words’ were ‘bullets’, you bet all eighteen would be ‘mis-primed’ and inevitably ‘wasted’. Some to ‘accidental discharges’, others to ‘stray bullets’ – and yet all, with magical precision, hitting innocent non-target-passersby or bystanders, leaving the very ‘target’ unscathed!
Marksmanship built on mis-primed reputation?
And talking about ‘marching orders’, would the police have needed any, on Yusuf? Or do the police ever need marching orders, -to do anything?! Have they not, right from college, had their ‘Marching Order’? To ‘Go Get’ the civil society, and teach it a lesson?
At the very least if –in the warped estimation of the Police- Yusuf, as an accused, brought before a court of law, would have no useful probative value -judicially, would he all together add no investigative value to the Police in their search for immediate solution to present security situations or to the more academic, long term interpretation of socio-psychological data to preempt situations? Or how would soldiers know better –not to silence a vital witness- than a veritable investigative body, the police?
And in retrospect, how often have we thought ill of the Nigerian Army. Never inclined to think of the Military except as a haughty, incorrigible antithesis to the norms and ethos of democracy and the rule of law! Or maybe because they are never consistently consistent enough in that democratic good behaviour to earn our perpetual notice in that regard. Yet even as we are apt, always, to remember that soldiers nabbed and handed Yusuf over to the Police, we seldom ever appreciate their will to get so out of military character as to treat a civilian with such due democratic diligence; and thus acquit themselves commendably as potentially a civilizing force.
In fact “The maxims and rules of the army”, being, -as Samuel Adams once wrote-, “essentially different from the genius of a free people”, one still wonders why -in navigating the crevices of civil society to arrest a civilian (Yusuf), the Nigerian Army should be efficiently dark-alley-smart where the Police consistently has been day-light confounded; or that Nigerian soldiers, who are usually scantily respectful of the ‘nauseous’ rights and liberties of ‘bloody civilians’, should lawfully respect Yusuf’s constitutional right to ‘presumptive innocence’, only for the Police (who have virtually a quasi-judicial duty to safeguard these rights), to savagely murder him.
And especially knowing the traditional reputation of the Nigerian soldiers as men of ‘double jeopardy’! When they war, always to ‘conquer and to despoil’! And when they mutiny, to ‘track down and kill’! Killing Yusuf would only have fulfilled a notorious righteousness. It would hardly have been intolerably odious, especially to our resigned civil populace long reconciled with the irrational ways of the military.
You should wonder: ‘when the military got the late Yusuf and handed him over to the police, what was the police thinking? That soldiers did not know how to kill? Or that this very culprit, Yusuf, the soldiers could not kill? Or that the soldiers were simply not in the mood to kill? Or better still, that they knew the police to know better how to kill accused persons?
Or maybe you ask: ‘why did it have to take the military, not the police, to get Yusuf? Was it because the Police ‘could’ not do it? Or that they ‘would’ not do it? If it was because the Police could not do it, could it be due to ‘absence of courage’, ‘lack of skills’ or truly the ‘presence of guilt? –as has always been alleged; that the Police were not keen to bring Yusuf to book because the Police, especially, would have had one too many chapters in that book!
Since ‘bringing Yusuf to book’ would have meant also availing him the opportunity of a judicial avenue, to tell the story of Boko Haram; a reclusive, harmless, puritanical Islamic sect, they said, wanting only to be left alone, peacefully to live away from the ‘vices’ and the ‘injustices’ of so- called democratic society; but which, it was alleged, the police, by their persistent persecution of its members, pushed into militancy!