By Ahmed Danfulani*
Fear has been sold to the world with the outbreak of pandemic of Coronavirus (CONVID-19) in Wuhan, China. In just a few weeks, the entire world has been reduced to one huge symbol of deaths and of mass graves.
The phobia of Coronavirus is real and deafening. The victims are as scary as much as the non-victims. Like a verse in the legendary South African reggae star, Lucky Dube, everybody “is the next victim,” unless the haunting image of Coronavirus is pulled down globally. It has reached the shores of Nigeria with about 30 reported cases of infected people, with one death so far.
Regrettably though, Nigeria has seen enough mass deaths in her history in a decade to the extent the global alarm over Coronavirus induced deaths is mincemeat or child’s play in the psyche of Nigerians. Boko Haram insurgency, with its latest tincture, ISWAP terrorism have made mass deaths a regular menu in the country.
Can Nigerians excuse themselves from gory and nauseating memories of mass deaths and graves spurred by vicious armed bandits, armed separatists campaigners, herders/ farmers conflagrations, communal upheavals, militancy or religious extremists and even political thugs or violent election riggers?
These memories are evergreen and recurs from time to time.
However, it should not be misconstrued that recounting these orgies of recurrent circle of violence and deaths in Nigeria implies an endorsement or preference for it than the epidemic of Coronavirus. But it’s simply, a parodic attempt to establish how Nigerians are inured to mass deaths in other more demonic forms in the country than Coronavirus.
And to date, Nigeria has been grappling with silent, but very sophisticated layers of Coronavirus in other colorations. Nigeria has been battling things far more deadly and contagious than Coronavirus which neither the military nor the civil authorities have fully appreciated its intensity in recent times.
The determination of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to blight insecurities in Nigeria, especially insurgency is unflinchingly consistent. And the unquenchable zeal and courageously gallant outings of the Nigerian military to also eliminate Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorism in Nigeria is self-evident. But again, it is variously frustrated in more stealthy ways than the global invasion and spread of Coronavirus pandemic.
Many Nigerians may not be aware of the dark forces against the resurgence and festering of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism in the country. The problem with these latest security threats is not because insurgents or terrorists are so powerful to the level of repressing the Nigerian military. It is also beyond the contemplation that the FGN has not done commendably enough to terminate the reign of insecurities in Nigeria.
The major issues in the Northeast are not really the Boko Haram terrorists who, who like Coronavirus, sneak to hack people to death at will, abduct and destroy public infrastructures in the region. It is also not the evil men who masquerade under the cover of NGOs to subject the already traumatized, frail and suffering victims of insurgency to inhumane and degrading treatment after taking so much from the outside world to assist them survive.
More than a few will also be shocked that it is also not the usual political actors who appear on the stage only when Boko Haram is at the losing end with their crocodile tears. But they initiate nothing to get youths off the streets to divert their attention from conscription as foot soldiers of terrorism.
From these ponders, one will therefore hastily guess that it is Coronavirus pandemic that is Nigeria’s problem. But the real problem in the Northeast shockingly is not Coronavirus. After all it hasn’t been discovered in Nigeria beyond manageable stage, after the first case in Lagos.
On the contrary, the greatest existential threat to Nigeria now in respect to her battles with terrorism and insecurities is the role of Amnesty International (AI) and some foreign cables such as Reuters and AFP. They have constituted the worse stumbling blocks to Nigeria’s match towards exculpation from insurgencies and insurrections.
AI and these foreign online platforms have been the major disasters that our country has faced in its war against Boko Haram and it is hideously more potent and lethal than Coronavirus. And insurgency has attracted more deaths in Nigeria than Coronavirus has ever recorded anywhere in the world outside Wuhan in China.
There is every clue to suspect AI and these foreign newswires as agents and fake news purveyors for terrorists and their external sponsors. Not only that they fabricate and circulate fake news on the FGN and the Nigerian Military’s confrontations with Boko Haram, but their extreme focus of propaganda on Nigeria on the fake side of news is repulsive.
AI has morphed into a daily news medium in Nigeria; inventing and syndicating news about terrorism and the Nigerian military encounters with terrorism in the Northeast. The common denominator among them all is that their published reports are permanently crafted to indict the Nigerian troops and Military authorities.
It does not usually have named attributions, but speculative and propagandic. It drapes with everything which conveys the message that these actors are into active promotion of cyberspace terrorism. And the world frowns at it and there are laws which prohibits it.
Nonetheless, these vicious enemies of Nigeria make generous, but unprovable allegations against the Nigerian military such as human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, sexual abuse of women, use of child soldiers, starvation of Boko Harm suspects in military detention facilities, unlawful arrests and detentions and sundry such constructions of offences of war crimes.
But sadly, while they level such allegations on the military, these suspected agents of terrorists are less bothered to confirm their findings from military authorities before rushing to the press with the scanty findings from what they usually term “eyewitness” account. And the “eyewitness accounts” are usually their planted agents in the theatre of war in the Northeast or outrightly cooked sources.
Therefore, they reel out very alarming and unsubstantiated casualty figures. When terrorists triumph against troops or not, a news story is crafted to give credit to the “invincible” might of terrorists, to cause anxiety in Nigerians and dampen the spirit of troops. These agents are normally the first to break the news of Boko Haram attacks on any community, an indication that they might be privy to such attacks before its occurrence. It means they are likely working closely with terrorists.
In its 2015/2016 annual report on Nigeria, AI levelled such senseless allegations of war crimes against the Nigerian Army prosecuting the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast as well as other security agencies.
However, when several probe panels invited them to substantiate the allegations, AI hedged and adduced excuses on lack of trust in members of the Panel. From its reaction, it was clear that AI was functioning like an opposition party or alternative government in Nigeria. And it had no evidence to prove the allegations.
And the scheming of AI and its apostates is to perpetually and falsely accuse Nigerian Military of war crimes in prosecution of the counter-insurgency combats in the country. And therefore, frustrate plans by countries of goodwill to sell weapons to Nigeria to battle Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists, citing human rights violations and war crimes against Nigeria.
So, AI and these online newswires are Nigeria’s worse version of Coronavirus more than the pandemic itself. Any country will be glad to accept Coronavirus, but pray fervently never to have these agents of darkness gang-up or occupy their country in the guise of anything.
Nigerians should not forget that AI and these newswires as well as their external sponsors are very determined to set the people against themselves. Over the years, this has been the game plan, which is designed to finally plunge Nigeria into an interminable war like in Syria or Sudan. But the plans have so far not succeeded because Nigerians are aware and have refused to fall for their cheap propaganda. Nigerians are urged to remain steadfast and vigilant.
*Danfulani wrote from Yola, Adamawa State. The views are his