By Ndahi Marama
MAIDUGURI—Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, yesterday, inaugurated Borno State Islamic Preaching Board, BSIPB, to regulate Islamic preaching across the state.
The group is also to spy on preachers who may want to spread radicalised doctrines, even as the governor said plans were on to set up a board to monitor the proliferation of traditional Islamiyya, Tsangaya or Almajiri and Arabic schools for the purpose of “protecting noble schools from infiltration by others that may have hidden motives.”
BSIPB has different scholars from major Islamic denominations comprising the Darika and Izala groups, with the Chief Imam of Borno State, Chief Imam Zannah Ahmed, as Chairman of the Board.
At the ceremony, Governor Shettima gave insight into the history of insurgency that transformed into today’s Boko Haram, saying “majority of us in Borno State have been enthralled by the successes of the Nigerian Armed Forces and multi-national forces in the evident debasing of the Boko Haram terror group.
“However, Boko Haram has a history of being defeated, going underground, regrouping and coming back in a different form.
“When Boko Haram, then known as Taliban, migrated from Borno and launched attacks in Kananma, a border village in Yobe State around December 2003, they were defeated by the military.
“They disappeared completely only to regroup and attack Bama and Gwoza police divisions in 2004. Again, they were defeated by the Military. They disappeared in 2004 only to resurface in 2007 somewhere in Panshekara, an industrial area in Kano State.
“For the third time, they were defeated by the military, but they regrouped as Yusufiyya movement in 2009, with mass followership and high presence in Maiduguri, Bauchi and Potiskum.
“They were defeated after the July 2009 crisis only for them to regroup in December, 2010. When they were chased out of Maiduguri between 2013 and 2014, they shifted their focus to local government areas.
“We must take firm, consistent and knowledge-based steps to continuously separate those clerics who preach in the name of Allah and those who kill innocent souls in the name of Allah.
“Often times, preachers with violent attention start on normal note; tend to start by being nice. They exhibit friendship to gain acceptance, before they systematically begin to share misguided ideologies.
“So the job of the Borno State Islamic Preaching Board is not only to set preaching standard, but importantly, to be alert in spotting unusual and suspicious preaching among Islamic clerics.”