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Nigeria on Edge: Killing with impunity

By Emmanuel Edukugho
One can only wonder what was going through the mind of President Goodluck Jonathan since about three years on the saddle as the killing mainly by Islamic insurgents went from bad to worse.

Not until May 14th, 2013, when it dawned on him to declare state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, hotbeds of the Boko Haram deadly insurrection that have claimed thousands of lives, now being followed by cult groups and other militias, kidnappers, robbers, miscreants and criminals who seemed to be making the country ungovernable.

Joint Military Task Force (JTF) patroling the streets of the restive northeastern Nigerian town of Maiduguri, Borno State. AFP photos
Joint Military Task Force (JTF) patroling the streets of the restive northeastern Nigerian town of Maiduguri, Borno State. AFP photos

Nigeria has become a killing field which needed extraordinary means to effectively tackle. Although security agencies have been reinforced and several arrests made, but unfortunately, there had been no conviction.

The strategy of dialogue probably made by sympathisers of the insurgency was gradually replacing security alternatives while more terrorists were emerging because those on rampage cannot be subdued. Killings were becoming almost daily affair making rivalry with Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Mali, Congo DR, Somalia, Central African Republic, CAR in terms of insecurity. To compound matters, military and police personnel are now victims of terror attacks, not to mention thousands of innocent people killed intermittently.

From what was believed to be a peaceful Islamic splinter group propagating a controversial ideology against western education and civlisation, Boko Haram which in 2002, attracted national attention when its leader, Muhammed Yusuf, a one-time commissioner in Borno State pronounced that Boko (western education) was Haram (sacrilegious). Among the reasons given by Yusuf who was later arrested and executed summarily in questionable circumstances by the police, were the theory of human evolution enunciated in Western books which frowned at the divine hands of God in creation of humanity and the universe. Yusuf contended that this theory of evolution was contrary to the fundamental principle of Islam that holds God as the Omnipotent creator of the universe and all it contained.

It must be noted also that Christianity absolutely does not subscribe to the theory of evolution which was the brain wave of some European scientists, offensive to Christian religious belief.

But above all, Yusuf denounced western education as being deficient in solving problem of youth unemployment but rather denies them opportunities to acquire entrepreneurial skills to become self-employed. The Boko Haram sect continued to propagate their belief against the terrible escalating poverty and joblessness in the land which the youths are being subjected to.

The sect also called for creation of an Islamic state in the Northern part of Nigeria and continued to operate as “a benign and non-violent group,” until when the Police killed a number of its members during a funeral procession on the ground of not using helmet.

According to Saturday Vanguard check, when all pleas for compensation of the family killed fell on deaf ears severally to the police high command and the erstwhile Yar’Adua administration to intervene, the sect leadership became critical of the Nigerian government. Thereafter, its leaders began to send threats and warnings to the government and police.

This, in a nutshell, was how the sect began its confrontation declaring the Federal Government as unjust and calling President Musa Yar’Adua an oppressor. They began to arm themselves and getting support from the bulk of Northerners of Islamic stock who sympathised with them. So started their recourse to deadly attacks and became so blood thirsty and violent.

Since 2009, over 10,000 people have been killed in violent deadly, sometime suicide attacks,s targeting Christian churches, police stations, few mosques, ultra conservative traditional rulers, prisons, and even the military including western type educational institutions and innocent students, school children and teachers.

The sect members have used suicide bombings, gun fire, explosives, especially Improvised Explosive Device, IED, to eliminate people in churches who were worshiping, schools, markets, police stations, public buildings, mosques, residential places, military barracks, etc.

Since the emergence of Boko Haram which many people believed was politically contrived because the presidency no longer in the hands of Northern/Muslim oligarchy, but now under the control of Christian South with an Ijaw in the person of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as President, the country had been virtually at war within.

Social critic, human rights defender and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka once declared: “I believe Nigeria is at war, the war is between forces of light and darkness, intellect and retrogressive thinking, forces of hatred against humanism,” adding, “I believe that if we surrender to these forces, we cease to be human.”

In declaring state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, President Jonathan stated clearly that these terrorists and insurgents seem determined to establish control and authority over parts of our beloved nation and to progressively overwhelm the rest of the country.

“They have attacked government buildings and facilities. They have murdered innocent citizens and state officials. They have set houses ablaze and taken women and children as hostages. These actions amount to a declaration of war and a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the Nigerian state and threaten her territorial integrity.”

A glossary of Boko Haram and criminally interrelated killings could be frightening and horrific in the past three years which had decimated particularly the Christian population in the North.

Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor was reported as saying that the total number of people killed by the sect members is far more than it is reported in the media since the insurgency began, casualty figures kept rising monthly from 300 to 500 and then to over 1,000 at the peak of every month, with countless others seriously injured or deformed for life, some burnt beyond recognition.

Several churches were burnt or forced to close down as attacks in Maiduguri, Yola, Damaturu, Kano, Kaduna, Madalla, Dutse, Potiskum, Lafia and other major northern cities and towns intensified with thousands of Christians fleeing to safer states and neighbouring countries.

At one point, the Islamists resorted to physical slaughtering using knives and silent weapons in their senseless and mindless killings, often moving from house-to-house in search of Christians to massacre.

According to Human Rights Watch, the sect members have lost all sense of humanity with complete disregard for human lives. So far, over 3,000 deadly attacks have been launched in the past three years, resulting in thousands killed.

Kano recorded some of the deadliest attacks including that at Bayero University in one of the lecture theatres used as worship centre by the Christian community in which scores were killed as Islamists threw home-made bombs into the theatre, shooting at fleeing worshipers with two professors among 19 dead on a Sunday. Even the revered traditional ruler of this ancient city, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero managed to survive an attack in which three of his body guards died. A luxury bus bound for the South fully loaded with passengers mainly Igbo traders was bombed and all the passengers killed at Sabon Gari motor park in Kano.

On Independence day, October 1, 2012, three tertiary institutions in Mubi, Adamawa State were attacked by Boko Haram terrorists, killing 40 students of Southern origin, while on November 22, 2012, 20 ladies on miniskirts were slaughtered in Maiduguri, just 24 hours after 10 people were killed in the same city. There was a bomb explosion on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012, near a church in Kaduna, killing about 36 people, while a car full of explosives driven by a suicide bomber into a church at Yelwa, Kaduna State, during Sunday service killed at least 12 people.

A church congregation in Biu town, Borno State, was sprayed with bullets by gunmen and several persons died, just as 24 people were killed in an attack by insurgents in Dongo Dawa village, Gwari L.G.A, Kaduna, on October 24, 2012.

On Sunday, 24th November, 2012, Boko Haram Islamists bombed St. Andrew’s Anglican Church at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State, killing 15 people.

A suicide bomber struck at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Angwar Yero, Kaduna State, in which eight people lost their lives.

Three persons were killed on March 11, 2012, when a suicide bomber attacked a Catholic Church, while another 10 died during reprisal attacks by Christian youths. On January 6, 2012, Christian mourners at  hall in Mubi, Adamawa State, were attacked by terrorists in which 18 were killed as they gathered to mourn three people killed the previous day.

About 80 people were killed on Christmas eve 2010 bombings of churches around Jos, Plateau State. On November, 2011, at least 65 persons were killed in Damaturu when terrorists bombed churches, mosques and police stations, while in December 2011, bomb attacks were reported across the country on Christmas Day targeting churches with one near Abuja that killed about 37 people and injured 57.

Gunmen opened fire at a church service in Nasarawa, Gombe states on January 5, 2012, killing six people and wounding 10.

In Minna, Niger State, two police men, were shot dead by insurgents while on November 26,2012, gun men attacked the headquarters of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Abuja, killing two officers leading to the escape of 30 detainees.

Conflict between Berom and Fulani in Plateau State had claimed several lives, while six members of a family were killed by Fulani herdsmen in a village in Kaduna State.

JTF reprisal attack for death of a military officer by an Improvised Explosive Device, IED, of Boko Haram sect led to killing of 10 people on October 8, 2012, just as a confrontation with the insurgents on October 7, 2012 caused the death of one of the sect’s leaders in Damauru, Yobe State in which about 30 members of Boo Haram were also killed.

Few days before President Jonathan declared emergency in the three Norther Eastern states, Boko Haram gunmen attacked Bama, Borno State, killing 55 people. According to army account, on May 7, 2013, the terrorists, dressed in military fatigue, attacked 2020 Battalion Barracks in Bama with rockets-propelled grenades, general purpose machine guns, bombs, 18 seater bus and six Hilux vehicles fitted with anti-aircraft guns. The attack was aimed at overrunning the barracks and creating mayhem. It was successfully repelled, but the Bama police station, police barracks, local government secretariat, INEC office, local magistrate’s court and a primary school were burnt by the terrorists. About 105 inmates were set free from Bama prisons.

Those killed in action include 21 Boko Haram terrorists, six police officers, 14 prison officials, two soldiers and four civilians including three children, and a woman who was burnt to death by the insurgents.

About 46 police officers and men, also 10 officers of SSS have been confirmed dead, killed in Nasarawa State by Ombatse cult group when a team of bout 100 police personnel and DSS officers on a mission to arrest the Chief Priest of Ombatse shrine, at a village 10km from Lafia, the state capital. Many of the security operatives are still missing and others seriously wounded.

Before now, about 18 policemen had been killed in Bayelsa and some others in Borno State, prompting the police high command to lament what it described as “unprovoked and brutal killing of scores of policemen who were on legitimate assignment in Nasarawa State.”

Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar declared that the killing with impunity of officers and members of the rank and file of the force in parts of the country had reached intolerable stage, saying that the reign of terror would be brought to an end henceforth.

As if there is no end in sight for killings in the country, Fulani herdsmen last Tuesday raided Zangang village in Kaduna State, killing 11 people and burnt many houses in the attack.


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