JUST five years ago, few believed that the alien and macabre incidence of suicide bombing was possible in Nigeria. Nigerians were known as easygoing by nature, and rated as “the happiest people in the world”.
Suicide bombing was seen as a phenomenon of far off Asian and Middle Eastern countries wracked by religious extremism. But the Arab Spring revolutions that swept through North Africa and the Middle East, leading to the fall of powerful dictators, unleashed a new impetus for radical Islamists such as the El Shabbab of Somalia, the Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghrib (AQIM) and the Boko Haram in North Eastern Nigeria.
The recharged Boko Haram introduced suicide bombing, starting from Abuja and spreading to the north east, wreaking grim harvests in lives and property. Following the routing of the Islamists from the cities, they went into remote areas and started sending suicide bombers as mailed fists of terror.
Today, especially in Kano and adjoining areas, Boko Haram has opened a new, frightening front in the use of vulnerable women and children in the execution of their dastardly acts.
It is obvious that most of the individuals used in this manner are ignorant of the fact that the devices being tied around their body frames are instruments of their own deaths and those of others because they are either brainwashed with religion, bribed, deceived or threatened.
Boko Haram is turning to young, impressionable women and children, as well as homeless people for foot soldiers mainly because many northern cities are teeming with the downtrodden – beggars, abandoned street urchins (known in local parlance as “al majiri”) and poverty stricken women who have been denied of basic care and education. The insurgents reach out to them and find it so easy to manipulate them for anti-social ends.
We condemn the dehumanisation of Nigerian citizens in any form, including assaulting tbeir human dignity and denying them of their right to education. It is lack of care by the government and society that drives them to the fringes – and into the open arms of insurgents and anarchists. We must reclaim our citizenry through good and inclusive governance.
Secondly, we re-emphasise the importance of closing ranks as a people, and cooperating with the security agencies to eliminate all forms of terror from our society. It is becoming more glaring that Boko Haram is merely using the banner of Islam to win support from unsuspecting or evil minded members of society.
Islam abhors the unprovoked killing of innocent human beings, or victimisation of the vulnerable members of society, such as women and children, who should be specially protected, even in situations of war.