Can the N-Delta model stop the insurgents?
In what is turning out to be a DOUBLE WAMMY for residents of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, they would now have to contend with the episodic threats of bombings and bombings by members of the Jama’atu Ahliss-Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, on the one hand; and the lock down of the city because of this week’s World Economic Forum Africa summit holding in Abuja, on the other.
Yet, after the summit, would the city remain in lockdown mode? This report examines, once again, Nigeria’s response to the insurgency that has crippled the North-east zone and which has made the city of Abuja a high value target.
Worse still, the philistinic collaboration between Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP; Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM; Hezbollah; Al-Shabab and Boko Haram makes the containment all the more challenging.
Yet, some girls earlier abducted from Kondugha and Buni Yadi are not even on the table for discussion but the sheer number of the girls abducted in Chibok is what has made this incident remain in the front burner.
By Jide Ajani
HARVEST OF FUNDS
They made about $70million (about N11 billion) between 2006 and 2011. That was what members of the Jama’atu Ahliss-Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, harnessed. This revelation was made last week by a retired American military personnel of Nigerian descent, Major Chris Moghalu, on national television.
But Sunday Vanguard has also discovered that many of the bank raids and armed robbery occurrences which became rampant in some parts of the North were orchestrated by members of the sect.
A security source, while corroborating some of the revelations by Major Moghalu, disclosed that the funds did not just come from one mono-source of one trans-national criminal activity.
TRANS-NATIONAL CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES
With a clever web of a series of trans-national organized criminal activities, Boko Haram, a mere assembly of rag-tag political thugs masquerading as Islamic evangelists, has been able to rake in so much money from its sponsors. In the process, the group is also demonstrating that it can inflict maximum catastrophe and destruction on the nation.
The trans-national crimes used to secure funds for the group include but are not limited to the following: drug trafficking, smuggling, weapons trafficking, money laundering, kidnap for ransom, opinion sale and outright armed robbery.
CASH: AQAP and AQIM TO THE RESCUE
It was gathered that the involvement of AQAP and AQIM, as well as Al Shabab from the East African flank, “has made the movement of funds very fluid and multi-optional”, the security source disclosed.
Sunday Vanguard had exclusively reported on September 23, 2012, that one of the money couriers of Boko Haram was arrested with N4.5million. ‘The accountant’ was said to be in transit between Kano and Zaria with the cash belonging to the Islamist group when men of the JTF intercepted and arrested him.
Sunday Vanguard sources said he was travelling in a commuter bus as a cover.
The arrest came barely two days after security agents tracked and killed Boko Haram spokesman, Abu Qaqa, in an operation in Kano.
The Islamist group’s ‘accountant’, it was learnt, embarked on the journey which originated from Maiduguri, Borno State, to make cash transfers. The sources said his cover blew after he and another associate made some money transfers in Kano, an action that aroused the curiosity of bank officials who alerted security agents.
The associate was arrested but, by then, the ‘accountant’ was already on his way to Zaria. Subsequent manhunt yielded fruit as the ‘Boko Haram accountant’ was arrested in transit.
In fact, Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that “the arrest was responsible for the seeming lull in the activities of the sect in the Kaduna/Kano axis for a few months.”
INVASION BY FOREIGNERS
In the area of collaboration, Sunday Vanguard found that the foot soldiers for AQAP and AQIM are now in Nigeria operating alongside Boko Haram.
As part of the network, it was discovered during investigation that the seeming exploits of the group in recent weeks is a direct function of the involvement and full participation of members of AQAP and AQIM.
As a grand design to score maximum publicity (notoriety) with their activities in Nigeria, Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that the trio of AQAP, AQIM and Al-Shabab decided to deploy resources with a view to executing terror campaigns in Nigeria.
A security source pointed out that “whereas there are still pockets of Boko Haram members domiciled in the country and are being picked up, the terrorists involved in cross-border activities are largely made up of foreigners”.
LESSONS FROM NIGER DELTA MILITANTS
Sometime in the fading part of the third quarter of 2009, the then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua made a bold move regarding the militants in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
He sought to grant amnesty after dozens of months of militancy which had seen Nigeria’s crude oil output plummet to less than 20% of total output. But his major headache was how to convince the leaders of the militants who were not only making tens of millions of naira from illegal sale of the country’s crude but were also making the statement that the despoliation of the region needed attention.
Sunday Vanguard learnt last week from a source inside Aso Rock Presidential Villa of the strategy that Yar’Adua put in place and which eventually worked.
Firstly, the then President got a Niger Delta politician cum professional who was not only respected but who also had a voice and could reach out to the militants.
The politician / professional could so do, it was disclosed, because his position as former Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, as well as his outreach agenda across the region, placed him in good stead to pursue the President’s mandate.
That was how he became the chief negotiator preparatory to the amnesty programme which even the United States of America, today, is keen to get more information about because it is the first of its kind in the world where insurgents are disarmed, integrated and comparative peace restored to the region.
In fact, Sunday Vanguard was told of how President Yar’Adua demonstrated his commitment and seriousness to keep faith, “that he sent his Defence Minister, General Godwin Abbe, as well as Chief Tony Anenih, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Board of Trustees Chairman, to the creeks to meet with the militants that this was not just a government gimmick”.
Indeed, a drama of sorts ensued when the militants in Tompolo’s Camp 5 eyeballed General Abbe for threatening them. “They told him that his own community was already surrounded and if he thought he could come to their camp and threaten them, they were ready for him in equal measure to unleash terror on his community, too”, the presidential source said.
Another militant leader, Ateke Tom, had to be prevailed upon to disarm and convince his colleagues by this same set of leaders. In his own case, a helipad was specially built in his camp so that a helicopter could land there for onward movement to Owerri International Airport, Owerri, en-route Abuja.
Both Tompolo and Tom met with Yar’Adua – even then, Anenih still had to prevail on them to disarm. It was, therefore, heartwarming on the last day of the amnesty deadline when Tompolo’s boys engaged a procession to disarm.
Today, there is relative peace in the region.
Therefore, the principles are still the same and the processes that led to disarming the militants can be adopted in a way for the Boko Haram terrorists.
The British government and the IRA reached for a negotiated settlement after decades of a destructive face off. The Tamil Tigers also had to chill after decades of wanton destruction.
WHAT TO DO?
Senator Ali Ndume, Borno South, spoke on the floor of the Senate of how they got information, got in touch with the military authorities about the impending assault on Chibok, but that the military headed in a wrong direction from where the insurgents struck.
Some observers have spoken about the need to boost the morale of the military.
To be fair, the many budgetary provisions made for both the emergency rule in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe were allegedly not spent wisely to cater for the officers and men of the military.
There were insinuation in some quarters that the sacking of the immediate past Chief of the Army Staff, General Azubuike Ihejirika, was not unconnected with the welfare of the officers and men.
A source in the Presidency told Sunday Vanguard that just two weeks after the appointment of a new Chief of the Army Staff in the person of General Kenneth Minima, reports from the field suggested that the morale of the troops was heading for the sky because they were being promptly remunerated.
However, whereas President Goodluck Jonathan would not be expected to be on the field issuing directives, leadership remains a very key factor.
Momentum and morale are key. It appears as though the momentum is on the side of the insurgents, the defence forces have also been doing their best.
“Were they not up and doing”, a Department of State Service, DSS, source told Sunday Vanguard, “what we are complaining about today would have been nothing compared to the agenda of these terrorists”.
He added: “But the pushback that the defence forces continue to give them bloodies their noses and, therefore, they resort to attacking soft targets”.
But targets are targets, soft or hard!
The question to ask is: Who can President Jonathan call on in the North to help spearhead a meeting with the Boko Haram elements?
Even Dr. Datti Ahmed, the respected elder statesman that would have been useful in the early stages of the insurgency, was sold out by some persons within the system. He has since refused to be part of any negotiations with the group. But it is for Mr. President to intensify pressure and get people like that on board.
In his book, MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr, ON LEADERSHIP (Inspiration & Wisdom For Challenging Times), Donald T. Philips highlighted how King, though coming on the stage of emancipation struggle a little late than some leaders of the National Association for The Advancement of Coloured People, NAACP, or the Congress For Racial Equality, CORE, was able to “strategically set out to establish trust and build personal relationships with the leaders of the national civil rights groups.”
King’s Southern Christian Leadership Congress, SCLC, at some point, became the rallying point for the struggle – but not a major domo.
The real question to ask today is: How many of those who spearheaded President Jonathan’s ascendancy as Acting President, using the instrumentality of the Doctrine of Necessity, are still either on the same page with him today or are in constant consultation with him?
No matter how well-intentioned the moves of the President are, he still needs people of character, of stature and of integrity to help at a time of national crisis as is the case with the insurgency today.