It was a welcome relief penultimate week when indications that at last the federal government would soon unmask the patrons of not only the Boko Haram Islamic group that has claimed responsibility for the various bombings across parts of the north including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, but also, those of the recently identified Christian radical group, Akhwat Akwop.
In various newsrooms across the country, the question was how would the government do that knowing full well the intrigues that herald and later, trail any such decision, even when it was meant to be in the public interest.
The next puzzle was whether it was not just a kite the government was flying given its penchant for suspense, at least, to keep the people reassured that before long, their aggregate fears would be no more.
However, sources inside the country’s intelligence community recently disclosed to The Parliament that the federal government has set up machinery to unravel the identity of those behind the new radical Christian group which issued leaflets in Kaduna and some states days ago warning that it would attack Fulani/Hausas if the radical Islamic sect, Boko Haram does not stop the violence, bombings and killing of Christians in the north.
Akhwat Akwop in leaflets titled ‘Warning to Boko Haram” and circulated in the North especially, in states with sizeable number of Christians and minorities said it “will ever be in the fore front of the struggle for the emancipation of northern minorities (Christians and Muslims) from continued oppression and inhuman savageries perpetrated by Hausa-Fulani terrorist.”
Akhwat Akwop said it would checkmate the radical Islamic group Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad” and also popularly called Boko Haram, (Western education is sinful).
According to the Aso Rock source, “the Presidency is taking the threat by this new rival group seriously. We are taking measures to unravel those behind it so we can address the challenges posed by these radical groups (Boko Haram and Akhwat Akwop) as soon as possible,” said one of the sources.
But Boko Haram’s Teshako last week, told agency reporters that the group also known as Yusufiyya, named after its slain leader, had its original name as the Taliban. He said the name Boko Haram was not its name but that it was given to it by people in the states where they have followers and have been clashing with security operatives.
According to him, when those who formed the group thought that they could manipulate Yusuf into towing their line, but he resisted.
“If he were alive he would have spilled the beans on them. But nonetheless, we will reveal their identity at our convenience.”
And just when the federal government is seeking to unravel the faces of patrons of the new Christian militia group, Akhwat Akwop, their opposite number, Boko Haram revealed that the masterminds of the radical Islamic sect are some prominent Northerners, whose identities would be made public soon.
An adherent of late Muhammad Yusuf, the slain leader of the group, Mallam Ali Teshako told an online newspaper last week that the original brains behind the sect’s formation were Northern elites who under the pretext of sponsoring youths to study in the Middle East subsequently offered them as mercenaries to countries interested in training terrorists.
Independent investigations by The Parliament in the last two weeks however revealed that the sponsors and patrons of the Boko Haram Islamic group are among what can be described as fine crop of Nigerian leaders who many others look up to for exemplary conduct and lessons in peaceful, progressive co-existence.
In the name of implementing the federal government’s policy of funding formal and informal training of young Nigerians offshore in relevant fields for future development of the country, Darma, according to sources, skews the scholarship programme in favour of Muslims youths of northern extraction who are then sent on federal government scholarship to overseas bases of Islamic militancy tutelage.
He is said to have also sponsored cash support to Boko Haram in foreign currencies. For instance, between January this year and July 16, 2011, the PTDF boss is alleged to have spent over $500,000 on Boko Haram as support.
Professor Sambo Abubakar
He is the current presidential adviser on energy. Before now, Sambo was the Director-General, Energy Commission of Nigeria, ECN. He was also the vice chancellor of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, ATBU, Bauchi.
Instructively, when he was nominated minister by then President Olusegun Obasanjo, ATBU students protested leading to his non-clearance then. The students’ grouse was that apart from incompetence, Sambo was not patriotic. Obasanjo’s successor, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua later drafted Sambo to man the ECN.
It was gathered that apart from previous largesse to Boko Haram, just before his latest appointment as presidential adviser penultimate Thursday, Sambo handed bank cheques of huge amounts to many of his staff at ECN. Some swore the about 17 beneficiaries were Sambo’s aides.
The covert strategy employed by Sambo was unique. Every staff so issued cheques, returns with the cash to Sambo and collect some determined percentage, while the former varsity don sends the balance to Boko Haram.
Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate
Dr Pate born September 6, 1968, was the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), in Abuja. He is also a member of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Vaccination and Humanitarian Emergencies at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva. The Parliament International gathered that right from his days at NPHCDA, he has been a funds contributor to Boko Haram.
Together, the foregoing could be best described as Boko Haram’s spies in Jonathan’s administration. They portend serious hurdles to the government’s efforts at resolving the grave security issues the Boko Haram tendency poses to the nation.
But they are not alone. They have their cohorts who give bite to Boko Haram’s war against its perceived enemies, especially in the geographical north of the country.
A recurring figure in the politics of Kaduna state, Hunkuyi who has always sort to govern the state on the platform of different parties at different times was acknowledged by The Parliament International sources as a “one who helps with a lot of logistics when heeded.”He is also said to be one of the few strategic promoters of Boko Haram who recruits foot soldiers for the group.
Instructively, Hunkuyi has a record of falling on the wrong side of the law from which he somehow frees himself time and again.
Aminu aka Billy Kase
A drop-out from the University of Maiduguri, Aminu hails from Borno state. Before the current Boko Haram worries, he was a fan of late Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti as he could off-handedly sing most of Fela’s songs as he smokes Indian hemp up till four years ago when he got linked to Boko Haram.
Currently, he is in Kaduna prison awaiting trial for yet-to-be-disclosed offence.
The current governor of Bauchi state has not convincingly extricated himself from his alleged sympathy for Boko Haram. The only attempt he in the public last month was to issue a statement of apology to the group for any wrong he may have done them.
But it was gathered that he remains a major contributor of funds to Boko Haram, a service which qualifies him as the group’s major sponsor.
Ex-Gov. Ali Modu Sheriff
He has made attempts to debunk the allegations unsuccessfully. The unending violence in the state coupled with the killing of his brother and his preferred successor days before the last gubernatorial poll signpost some form of vengeance by the group apparently, for distancing himself from them. He reportedly lost his bid to return to the Senate due to the foregoing reason.
The wealthy octogenarian owner of Chanchangi Airlines who hails from Taraba state but has since adopted Kaduna as his home has long been associated with Boko Haram that he is well known as a key sponsor of the group.
His antecedents in this direction easily give him out as a backer of Boko Haram too. He had sponsored bids to introduce Sharia as state religion in some northern states in the past. Business protection was said to have been his reason for sponsoring pro-Islamic groups against other groups
On the surface, the appointment of Alhaji Muhammad Sani early june 2010 as the new Director General of the country’s National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA replacing his predecessor and retired Airforce Chief, Air Vice Marshal Audu Bida from his Kaduna State’s Ministry for Culture and Tourism has, was constitutionally right. After all movement of such public officers is the prerogative of the Presidency.
But the mistake in the case of the new NEMA boss is continuing to set the hand of progress in the critical rescue sector several rungs down the ladder he met at the agency.
Beside the fact that his touted track record of service in his native Kaduna State has no close bearing to his present assignment at NEMA, Sidi’s disposition to the job runs counter to the expectations of known patriots whose only crave to serve is service to the government and its people, no matter their social class, ethnic, sectional, political and religious standing.
Save for the fact that that he was a sort of facilitator when Vice President Namadi Sambo was the governor of the state and worked with then governor by way of contracts paving the way for Sambo to recommend him to President Goodluck Jonathan to head NEMA as soon as the tenure of the past Director-General elapsed, Sidi cannot be said to be ably and demonstrably qualified to coordinate the country NEMA.
His membership of the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, ICPEM, International Association of Emergency Managers, IAEM, and the International Emergency Management Society, TIEMS as enunciated on NEMA’s official website does not add to his relevance in the agency. If anything, it throws up many questions as to convincing reasons that informed his appointment in the first instance. Save for the influence of the vice president that pleaded his cause, not a few Kaduna state indigenes hold that Sidi does not possess any qualification or professional experience required to manage disasters in Nigeria, given the increasing challenges being thrown up in an uncertain global environment.
And between September, 2010 and date, the response of Sidi’s NEMA to the many disasters that have befallen the nation within and offshore, has continued to fall short of the expectations of concerned Nigerians.
From the delayed evacuation of fellow Nigerians from troubled sports locally and internationally to search for victims of air crashes, flooding and related matters, NEMA continues to record one failure after another. Save for the strong media propaganda of the agency handled by a professional media man, not a few disappointed fellow countrymen wish that the current NEMA is recording failures through and through.
Last June, in its assessment of the effectiveness of NEMA, Nats Odaudu recalled in a national publication that, “while there are skepticisms about its visibility and effectiveness in the management of disasters in the country, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, is also seen to be grappling with some challenges.
“The news media are awash with different reports on disasters and emergency situations nationally and internationally. While some of the disasters are man-made like terrorism, wars, fire, road accidents and riots, others are mechanical as well as natural disasters such as heavy rains and flooding, epidemics, volcanic eruptions, land slide, desertification, drought and a lot more.
“Although in Nigeria, there are no volcanic eruptions and extreme weather conditions like the hurricane Katrina that occurred in the United States of America, the increasing number of casualties in other disaster areas has attracted curious attention on the visibility and effectiveness of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.
“The high expectation from Nigerians on the agency has given reasons for a cursory look at the mandate of NEMA, because the general expectation of people is that NEMA is expected to be at every disaster scene in every part of the country in no time after occurrence.
“Emergency management, which is the preoccupation of NEMA, is by international standard the coordination and integration of all activities necessary to build, sustain and improve the capability for disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. It is the continuous process by which all individuals, groups and communities manage hazards in an effort to avoid or ameliorate the impact of disasters resulting from the hazards.
“Effective disaster management relies on a multi-dimensional integration of man, resources and strategies and this should be the preoccupation of NEMA. However, the failure or the absence of some of these levels and structures has necessitated the inadequate intervention of NEMA at some crucial times in activities that it should have primarily coordinated.
“In recent past, NEMA has faced criticisms from members of the public in respect of its intervention in rescue missions, especially during plane crashes, floods, ethno-religious crises and collapse of buildings. The agency has often been accused of less than efficient in its performance.”
The enabling Act 1999 establishing NEMA specifies the functions and powers of the agency to include:
* Policy formulation on disaster management and the effective coordination of disaster response plans and programmes.
* Monitoring the state of preparedness of other organisations and agencies that may contribute to disaster management in Nigeria. Some of these include the Nigeria Fire Service, Military, Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Meteorological agency, Nigerian Civil and Security Defence corps, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria and the Red Cross.
*Collating data from relevant agencies in order to enhance forecasting, planning and field operation of disaster management.
* Facilitation and coordination of the availability of necessary resources for search and rescue and other types of disaster response.
* Coordinate the activities of voluntary organisations engaged in emergency relief operations in any part of the federation.
*And liaising with state emergency management agencies in assessing and monitoring the distribution of relief materials to disaster victims.
However, given the deficient abilities of Sidi, many fear that the agency may soon throw the nation into serious cauldron of hopelessness in emergency situation.
One observer noted last week that the NEMA boss’ connection with the violent Boko Haram Islamic group that has continued to hold the northeast region hostage, throwing bombs, maiming, killing and burning has so distracted Sidi that he considers that his primary beat, with that of NEMA trailing from a long distance behind.
On Boko Haram, Sani is known to attend their meetings; and sources close to the group swore last week that between April and June 20, 2011, the NEMA DG has spent about N700million of the agency funds on the group.
For now, the nation wishes for a change at NEMA.
Reports abound on alleged membership of Boko Haram by officers and members of the various security agencies in the country. Most affected are the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Airforce. Services like the State Security Service, National Intelligence Agency among the remaining are least affected from investigations by The Parliament International.
For instance, during the last set of crises in Plateau state, there was an Army Corporal who served as leg man in collecting cash from sponsors of Boko Haram and lodge them in a commercial bank in Jos, (names withheld.)
The complicity of some officers and men of the Police Force in the Boko Haram saga, it was further gathered, may have been due to prevalence lack and want in the service.
It was learnt that so poor are policemen on special duty remunerated that they easily compromise or get compromised on the beat. And their poor allowance of N300 per day is seen as the product of fraud by senior Force officials who collect the federal government’s approved N5,000 per day allowance per policeman, and pay a paltry N300 to each of such officers. “In such a case, there will be loyalty problem. That is when some of us do what you alleged we do,” retorted a police officer in Borno state.
Though the N1,000 per day per SSS official on similar duty is considered motivating, the general opinion across the different security services in that current allowances paid for special duties are inadequate compared to the risk they are exposed.
The alleged bomber of the Force headquarter on June 16, 2011 may have been a sacrificial lamb whose death in the incident may not have been part of the plot to bomb the place.
The Parliament International gathered that the bomber was in the residence of the Inspector-General of Police that fateful morning and met with the police chief before the movement to Force headquarters.
Ordinarily, the usual routine of entrance and exit from the FHQ is that 10minutes before the IGP arrives, the gates are closed and will not be opened until he is inside the premises and seated in his office.
Thus the bombers “sudden” entrance into the FHQ after the IGP’s convoy had entered and the consequences have been raising serious concerns. For instance, questions are being asked as to why the alleged suicide bomber obeyed policemen at the gate when he was asked to stop. Furthermore, there is equally the question as to why the alleged bomber did not drive straight to hit the IGP since he was the prime target. Apparently, the police chief instructed his orderlies to allow the alleged bomber to follow his convoy.
Of note is the fact that the current IGP has been linked to kidnappings in the south-east of Nigeria. To be identified with such actions and got promoted to the office of police chief, ostensibly as a reward, to many, implies that IGP Hafis Ringim must have powerful backers himself; and in this case, only him can tell the details of his meeting with the alleged bomber.
And as if the presidency was in the know, Ringim was to be sacked days before the bomb incident; he apparently got wind of the looming shame, and contrived the Force headquarter incident to attract sympathies.
Beyond all the foregoing is the hidden agenda to oust Jonathan from office forcibly, via a breakdown of law and public order that could warrant a military coup d’etat or abdication via voluntary resignation. “A consequent breakup of the country is also on the card with the ensuing “country” from the north becoming an Islamic nation.
According to experts who should know, any talk about amnesty for Boko Haram would backfire as the stage is almost set for their agenda. No amnesty will deter them for a long time given what informed their action in the first instance.
Confronting the problem
At press time last week, it became clear from shared opinions of a cross section of Nigerians that confronting the Boko Haram issue as well as nipping the looming large-scale insecurity fallouts that may be thrown up would require talking up the above identified Nigerians on their alleged involvement as well as whatever links they may have that directly and indirectly connects them with the religious group.
Besides, it was gathered that the effort of the Jonathan administration to assuage the worries of many as to the Boko Haram issue by setting up of a committee on the matter can only be palliative. “It cannot erase our fears. You set up a committee; you are saying, don’t dialogue with Boko Haram. How will you come face-to-face with their concerns. It is better you don’t start any process like that. Then you must think of other measures. After all, if you kill by the sword, you must die by it; no matter the degree of provocation that lured you into the act in the first place,” retorted a vexed victim of the Maiduguri mayhem last week from his Awka country home.
Perhaps, a resort to the letters allegedly dispatched to Jonathan by Boko Haram and their reactions to a threat to fight back by a Christian group, Akhwat Akwop would also assist in getting to the root of the matter. The exchanges are reproduced below:
Boko Haram’s Letter to Mr. President
Posted: Jul 20 2011
Letter was culled from a website – PASTEBIN
June 28, 2011
Federal Republic of Nigeria
H.E., Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR
BOKO HARAM: THE REAL ISSUES OPEN LETTER TO MR. PRESIDENT
We, the undersigned, citizens of Nigeria, whose domicile of origin is Borno, write to you, as one with overall responsibility for national security to look into the cause of violence that has tragically engulfed Borno State and the sequence of events in the last three years, with a view to finding A JUST AND LASTING SOLUTION, AND NOT A MILITARY SOLUTION WHICH CAN ONLY BE TEMPORARY.
BEFORE THE VIOLENCE
The late Mohammed Yusuf, like any other cleric of any religious sect, had a mosque and a following.
He held weekly public sermons.He was exercising his constitutionally guaranteed right of assembly and worship.At no time was there a breach of the peace.His followers were young, able bodied, unemployed with no prospect of hope in the horizon.
They had Western Education!, and therefore literate and aware of the prevailing social conditions. (even though they declared a jihad against western education)
Increasingly, their sermons were taking the form of liberation theology, commenting on the ills, injustice and inequities, prevalent in their immediate environment. As a result, there was no love lost between them and the State Government.
THE SSS REPORT
Such sermons, publicly made, caught the attention of the State Government. The State Security Service became interested in their activities.Investigations were carried out and a comprehensive report was written and made available to the Federal Authorities. Mohammed Yusuf himself was in regular contact with security services both in Maiduguri and Abuja. He was even charged to court.
THE FLASH POINT
The first trigger for violence was when Mohammed Yusuf’s followers in a funeral procession, on their motorbikes were fired on by members of Operation Flush – a combined force of the Army and the Police – ostensibly for not wearing crash helmets.
About 19 of them were fatally wounded.This force was said to be under the Operational control of the then State Governor.
The incident led to the group taking the law into their hands, attacked and killed security personnel and burnt police stations. (and so they took the laws into their hands and began to kill innocent Nigerians)Two wrongs can’t make a right.
The Federal Government, on the instruction of the late President Umaru Yar’adua, responded with disproportionate, overwhelming and indiscriminate use of force against the entire community.
The leader of the group, Mohammed Yusuf and a former Commissioner of Religious Affairs in the State, Buji Fois were arrested and were summarily, publicly and extra-judicially executed by the police.
Young boys and even invalids on crutches were routinely rounded up, not at the scene of any violence and executed in the same manner.
The footage of these executions were relayed world-wide on Al-Jazeera Television Network and posted on YouTube.
THE SINS OF THE SON-IN-LAW
The late Baba Fugu, was a gentleman in his seventies.He was a respected figure in the local community. He was never declared wanted nor arrested by the police.He was Mohammed Yusuf’s father-in-law. He went to the Police Station voluntarily to make enquiries. He was executed at the Police Station.The sins of the son-in-law were visited on the father-in-law.
Not even Osama bin-Laden’s relatives were ever treated like this. When the U.S. Navy seals attacked Osama bin Ladens premises, they went for their target. His wives and children were spared.
The gravity of the situation led the Federal Government to set a high powered team comprising of the then National Security Adviser, Chief of Defence Staff and Inspector General of Police to investigate and report.
The team went to Maiduguri and wrote a report.
Nothing has been heard of that report.
In order to get to the root of the matter and arrive at a JUST SOLUTION, to consider the following.
a) Why was no proactive action taken and measures put in place as a result of the comprehensive report by the SSS?
b) What Law provides for the shooting of citizens by security forces for not wearing crash helmets?
c) What Law provides for the operational control of Operation flush, a combined team of the Army and the Police by the Borno State Governor?
d) Whether the victims were members of Boko Haram or not. Under what Law did the Police extra-judicially execute Mohammed Yusuf, Buji Foi and the young children and cripples? These are issues of violation of Fundamental Human Rights and the rule and due process of law.
e) Under what Law was Baba Fugu, (father-in-law to Mohammed Yusuf killed)?
f) What is the outcome of the ‘High powered post violence report’?
g) The Governor as the Chief Security Officer of the State and the Police Commissioner in whom operational powers were vested, should be invited to answer under what law they order these executions.
LET THE RULE OF LAW PREVAIL
Borno State is not Camp Delta and members of Boko Haram are not enemy combatants, where human rights and the rule of law can be dispensed with.
THE NEED FOR A STATESMAN-LIKE INTERVENTION
What was once a local affair is now taking a region wide dimension and threatening national security. (they have undermined national security abi? therefore will be treated likewise. The bomb-makers are KNOWN!)
All manner of crime is now conveniently subsumed under the spectre of Boko Haram. Meanwhile, the social and commercial activities in Borno are being grounded. Continuation of this situation will ultimately lead to the collapse of the local economy leading to more unemployment, despair and further conflict.
Ethnic chauvinists, religious bigots and sundry criminals would have a field day.
A frightening and forbidding prospect.
More indiscriminate military and police intervention will only lead to more innocent loss of life leading to more recruitment of young people into a militant and daring force, determined for revenge.
More indiscriminate military and police intervention will lead to an angry population which will sympathize with, aid and assist the young as they take up arms against authority.
The root causes are two.
Firstly, Injustice which must be corrected.
Secondly – an obvious lack of economic development in a zone (Northeast) which in the last 5 years has received less than 1% of Federal Government spending.
It is the most deprived part of Nigeria.The solution to the problem is JOBS AND JUSTICE.
The President of Nigeria is President of all the zones of this country. He should and must show that he is the Father of all the zones. His government will do best if it provides JUSTICE AND JOBS.
With the greatest respect, Mamman Kashim,Kalli Gazali,Dr. Usman Ladan,Abba Kyari