NIGERIA revels at copying. We copy a lot and add our own dimension to things. Sadly, one of our latest imported craze is the phenomenon known as Boko Haram. Some of our young men have allowed themselves to be turned into terrorists and stone cold killers. But how did we get to this sorry pass? Why did we start keeping company with Afghanistan and other such funny places? How did we get here, and who are these people?
Back in 2011, when it was looking like Boko Haram was going to careen out of control, former president Obasanjo stepped-in and attempted to unravel the Boko menace.
Off went OBJ to Borno State, the capital of Boko Haram. OBJ got there on September 15, 2011 ostensibly on a condolence visit to the family of a man who was killed back in July 2009. Obasanjo had a full and useful chat with one Baba Kura Fugu who christened himself representative of Boko Haram and spokesperson for the Fugu family. Two days later, Mr Fugu was dead, cut down in the same manner his father, Baba Fugu Mohammed, and his brother-in-law, the founder of the original Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, were cut down.
What was the common denominator in all three assassinations? The office of the Governor of Borno State.
When Mohammed Yusuf was arrested in 2009, he named the then governor of Borno, Ali Modu Sheriff as a major financier of Boko Haram. Very shortly after his revelation, Yusuf was taken from custody and was driven to a deserted area. With his hands still shackled, he was told to walk to another vehicle. The man knew what was coming and so he shuffled along inch by reluctant inch. Halfway through his trudge, bullets rained down on Yusuf. That was that.
His father-in-law, Baba Fugu Mohammed, not having learnt the lesson, went for a tête-à-tête with the Borno State government also in July 2009. Whilst there, he was reportedly asked to cede his land to the government. He refused. He was swiftly detained. A few days later, Mohammed too was assassinated. Then the government went after the Fugu family. Bulldozers were sent-in and the family house was levelled. Moves were made to take over the family land.
The Fugu family headed to court. They sued both the Federal and Borno State governments. Some High Court judge up there awarded the family N100 million. But this being Nigeria, the family never saw a kobo.
After OBJ’s talk with Baba Kura Fugu, the very next day, September 16, 2011, Fugu was invited for a chat with the Deputy Governor of Borno, Zannah Mustapha. Even with all their negative experience with that State government, Fugu went! I guess that is what happens when the premise of your rebellion is based on hatred for education – you don’t think properly.
Anyway, the first thing they did to Fugu and his small entourage when they got to Government House was to take their mobile phones off them. Twenty-four hours later, Fugu was gunned down in his home, sitting under a tree, amongst friends, on the phone with SaharaReporters, clearing his throat, getting ready to spill the beans.
A month before all of that, Boko Haram had struck in Abuja. The United Nations’ office was bombed. The Saudi Intelligence Chief, Prince Mughrin bin Abdul-Aziz flew to Abuja for a private meeting with Jonathan. He handed the President a list of names he claimed were sponsors of Boko Haram. Within 36 hours, our government announced the arrest of about 150 people. And it wasn’t long after this that Jonathan declared that his government and the Security Services were teeming with Boko Haram sympathisers.
Does the name Ahmad Gumi ring any bells? He is the son of the late Sheikh Abubakar Mahmud Gumi. Sheikh Gumi used to be a preacher of note. He plied his trade on the fiery side. He, it was, who once declared live on NTA Kaduna in a fit of haughtiness that Nigerian Muslims should neither vote for, nor accept a non-Muslim leader. Sheikh Gumi was also famous for his many battles with the Sufi brotherhood and the Ansar Uddin Islamic Society; but he reserved his vitriol for the Christian Association of Nigeria. One of the bloodiest religious riots in Kaduna followed a pre-emptive attack by some Almajirai living in the compound of the Sheikh against some Christians who had gathered to protest plans to introduce Sharia law. For all his wonderful work, Gumi received a national award – the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic.
Anyway, his son is Ahmad Gumi. Ahmad’s own teaching is straight forward call for genocide against Christians and fellow Muslims who don’t buy into his brand of Wahabist Islam. Ahmad was alleged to have some links with Farouk Abdul-Mutallab, the failed underwear bomber. So, early 2010, Ahmad was arrested by the Saudis and was thrown into jail in the town of Makkah. A delegation led by General Babangida – yes, the one and only IBB – went to Saudi Arabia to plead that Ahmad be released. The Saudis refused. Pressure was subsequently brought to bear on Jonathan, and finally his Vice, Sambo intervened. Even then, the Saudis held on to Ahmad for seven months until they extracted a lot of information from him about goings-on in Nigeria. Eventually, Ahmad was released to the comfort of his wives and 17 children.
You see why the Saudis were the ones telling Jonathan where to look as matters get ever more haram in Nigeria.
The entity known as Boko Haram as conceived by Yusuf is no more. That original idea of fighting Western education and its presumed influence on the increasing gulf between the privileged and the poor in parts of the North has since fizzled out. What obtains presently are criminal elements that are being enabled, funded, and being used by Jonathan’s enemies. Some folks who lost out in the political scheme of things are determined to make governance and life difficult for Jonathan and for the rest of us. Like bullies, they reckon that if they push hard enough, Jonathan would give in to them. Unfortunately for us, they have plenty of canon fodders available to them.
As the government continues to battle the scourge that is Boko Haram, it will do well to round up all those young men in Borno, Bauchi, Gombe and other states who were sent for paramilitary training in Mauritania, Somalia, etc.
These are the people currently laying to waste a portion of a whole nation.
MICHAEL EGBEJUMI-DAVID, a medical practitioner, wrote from the London.