In this concluding part of the Vanguard conference hall, discussants insist that now is the time to tackle the radicalisation process that is festering in the country.
MODERATOR: Some people have argued that the proposed amnesty for the insurgents is a double edged sword, yet the likes of Sultan Abubakar Sa’ad, a former military man and intelligence officer, believes that the best option to the Boko Haram crisis, a group that does not believe in dialogue or diplomacy outside its own world view. So where does this leave us?
Rev Thompson: What I am saying is that for the sake of your children and my children, we must tackle this radicalisation of the Islamic faith, because if you think that the radicalisation process has not started in the South, then you are joking. It has started. As usual, when these things started, everybody pretends not to see it, until it has reached the climax. He has told you the truth, that training is already going on in the South too.
Sheik Sulaiman: The training that I said is on going here is not to train people to be radicals, but for them to be educated and know the right things for them. We only ask for right, we don’t tell people to give duties and responsibility.
The truth is that from his own part of the country, there is no compulsion on anybody to accept Islamic faith. But there is an ideology that has entered the other side that has found expression in the use of voilence to propagate the faith. The use of violence is not based on food, poverty, corruption, bad leadership can be catalyst to what is happening but the truth is that until the core problem is properly diagnosed, we will never be out of this problem.
Sheik Adangba: I was in a meeting with the Sultan of Sokoto which is the meeting of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, and there the Sultan emphatically stated that the more the Almajiri school are coming, the more these people are enlightened, and became literate, then know what they are to do and what not to do.
Like I told you I lived in the north and when talking about the Almajiris, there could be up to about 50,000 or even 100,000 numbers of them waiting for just only one order. So this is what has been used by some politicians to go and serve their purpose and the moment you see people coming en-mass what do you do? if not to run away…, they will attack you.
Even the Muslims are affected and that is to tell you that when you talk about the Islamic radicals, I don’t call them Muslim rather they are human radicals, because they are not professing the faith. This means that anybody be it a Muslim or a Christian who cannot create life, should not take it.
Rev Thompson: Let me quickly correct this notion because the Sheik is here and he understands that the division you have in democracy, does not exist in his faith. You are the intellectuals, what we are trying to do here is to give insigt into those areas that can help preserve our nation, and help to keep our peace. The culture that binds us will rise up and defend itself, when the time comes.
Islam has been in Nigeria century before Dan-Fodio came, Islam was not killing anybody, nobody was taking anything by force. When the Sokoto Jihad started in 1804, the people in Kanem -Borno axis also became victims of the expansion but they were able to checkmate the expansion of the Sokoto Jihad.
Unfortunately, when the British came, with their indirect rule system, they empowered Sokoto above Borno, without knowing the implications of their actions. In 1958 when Nigeria was going to come together as a nation, everybody knew that if the issue of Islam and religion was not resolved, there was to be a problem.
After all the White Hall meetings, Northern Nigeria conveyed a meeting in Kaduna, this was in 1958, we had people from Pakistan, people from Sudan attending the meeting.
And what was the point of the meeting? They knew that if they bring the total Sharia, they knew that the rest of the country (South South, South East, South West) would not agree in an accord to move forward as a nation.
Criminal aspect of the sharia
So under the auspices of Northern leaders as at that time, which is documented, 33 compromises were suggested. Out of the 33, 31 were adopted and when they adopted the 31, they were able to bring forward what we call the “Penal Code” and the agreement then was that they will not go for the total application of the Criminal aspect of the Sharia which has Stoning to Death for adultery etc.
This was the accord that was brought to the table on which we all form Nigeria in 1960. now between that time and now, what has now happened is that while Muslims and Christians were happy to live together base on that constitution, base on that simplicity which is “Let me practice my faith and if there is a grey area, let Democracy help us.” There was a minority muslim extremists who said “NO” and who have been working since then, to make Nigeria become a Muslim state.
Finally in 1999, they succeeded when Zamfara state began the movement of adopting Sharia in their state. The basic problem of this country is religion. (Argument…)
Moderator: What started as Boko Haram was a push from north East in Nigeria, using Islam as a faith to achieve political, economic and social aims.
Rev. Thompson: The in
telligence behind this are those who have mixed with global insurgence and they are former military generals. They are using their own interpretation of Islam as a faith to achieve political, economic and social aims. Those days are gone. Whether we are in the military or Civilian, the objectives and ideology is clear. The people who are behind it know what they want and they are unrelenting. They want more than political and economic power. The ideal they have is totalitarian.
And in that totalitarian ideology, if it is to be put in place, if you and I are to go to court, my witness and your witness, it will have to be four of us to come and testify of an issue to one person who is a Muslim. These people are totalitarian. It is you and I that have a price. The core people behind the ideology don’t have a price.
Those behind this ideology don’t have a price, they believe in what they are doing and their faith is strong enough to influence someone to blow up himself with a bomb and kill others with him, not minding what the world will say. The radical process is towards an end. The end is not just political power. A totalitarian regime in the whole of Nigeria which is based on what Afghanistan stand for today.
Sheik Adangba: If we are to get it right, it is either Christianity or Islam. The act of Totalitarian ideology is a bad ideology that will make them take control of everybody that live in that territory and everything.
If you are talking about amnesty, the Nigerian government is telling you that the Boko-Haram are faceless. They have Kabiru Sokoto in their custody, they know where he is because they talk to him and he talks to them and other Boko-Haram members in their custody,
In 2010, our security vote was N432 million, In 2011, it ballooned to N1.2billion. Who is accessing the money, who is retiring the money? To which office are they returning the money? Sophisticated weapons are been used, at will yet we have security agencies.
Rev Thompson: When the people who taught how to make these bomb came in, initially, Nigerians were blowing themselves up, radicals were blowing themselves up until they master it. The other day, the Iranians brought in 13 containers loads in Lagos, still today did the matter see any light.
Moderator: Where do we go from here?
Giving Amnesty is a misnomer. Somebody is committing crime and you are now trying to provide funds for him to commits these crimes. It is a mistake.
So it is not accepted to grant amnesty but we should go down. When there is a problem, there must be a special solution. The government has tried all means to get Boko-Haram but could not. To the best of our knowledge they have tried. But we know that they have not tried.
But the Sultan now said that his people are being killed. Christians and Muslims are those they govern over in the north. The north is not made for the Muslim alone, the Christians are there making their economic living and they live peacefully before the time of this saga.
Now he now said they should introduce a way so that they can come out but they refuse to say what they want, they just don’t want any price. They are looking for something only them know what the end is- Totalitarianism. But what we are saying is: let us grant amnesty for the insurgents. We are unable to know those who we are to talk to. We had talked to Kabir Sokoto and he was not fort-coming, we believe that if there is amnesty, that will bring them out to talk.
Humans are the ones doing this killing. They are not ghosts, they are not angels. Therefore we must bring in the amnesty so that we can bring out Boko-Haram.
Rev. Thompson: If you look at the history of the present Sultan of Sokoto, he was a military intelligence officer and he has proceeds all over the world, Pakistan, Indonesia. Go and take a look at his resume, you will discover that he is a highly intelligent and articulate person who has served in a lot of areas in the world. So he has this extremist problem already.
And while he served there,
his eyes could not have been closed. So potentially, he is one of the greatest assets that Nigeria has and potentially is one of the greatest enemy Nigeria has. Now this is the truth, when he first became the Sultan of Sokoto, you should listen to his initial utterances, they were a bit costly and very instigative then he softens them down. But I could recall many of his interviews when they will ask him questions and he will tell them that exactly what Usman Dan-Fodio will do is what he will do and he defends a legacy.
But while I listened, my ear could pick the difference. What people were hearing was from him was different. When the man said that he is here to defend a legacy of his forbearers what we are talking about? while, later on Wikileaks revealed that quietly and unknown to Nigerians , every time Islamist radicals were caught for breach of security, they handed over to the Security forces who are then prevailed on to hand them over to the Sultan for rehabilitation. Thereafter, nobody hears of them again.