Nigeria's Military Knows Location Of Girls Kidnapped By Boko Haram: Defense Official
May 27, 2014 | 1 Comments
Gbenga Olamikan/AP – Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, the government’s chief of defense staff, center, speaks during a demonstration Monday calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls.[/caption] ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s military has located nearly 300 school girls abducted by Islamic extremists but fears using force to try to free them could get them killed, the country’s chief of defense said Monday. Air Marshal Alex Badeh told demonstrators supporting the much criticized military that Nigerian troops can save the girls. But he added, “we can’t go and kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.” He spoke to thousands of demonstrators who marched to Defense Ministry headquarters in Abuja, the capital. Many were brought in on buses, indicating it was an organized event. Asked by reporters where they had found the girls, Badeh refused to elaborate. “We want our girls back. I can tell you we can do it. Our military can do it. But where they are held, can we go with force?” he asked the crowd. People roared back, “No!” “If we go with force what will happen?” Badeh asked. “They will die,” the demonstrators responded. That appeared to leave negotiation the sole option, but a human rights activist close to negotiators said a deal to swap the girls for detained Boko Haram members was agreed last week and then scuttled at the last minute by President Goodluck Jonathan. The activist who is close to those mediating between Boko Haram extremists and government officials said the girls would have been freed last week Monday. Jonathan had already told British officials that he would not consider an exchange. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Nigeria’s military and government have faced national and international outrage over their failure to rescue the girls seized by Boko Haram militants from a remote northeastern school six weeks ago. President Jonathan was forced this month to accept international help. American planes have been searching for the girls and Britain, France, Israel and other countries have sent experts in surveillance and hostage negotiation. A U.S. Defense Department spokesman said the department cannot confirm the reports about the Nigerian girls at this point. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation, spoke on background. Jonathan’s reluctance to accept offered help for weeks is seen as unwillingness to have outsiders looking in on what is considered a very corrupt force. Soldiers have told The Associated Press that they are not properly paid, are dumped in dangerous bush with no supplies and that the Boko Haram extremists holding the girls are better equipped than they are. Some soldiers have said officers enriching themselves off the defense budget have no interest in halting the five-year-old uprising that has killed thousands. Soldiers near mutiny earlier this month fired on the car of a commanding officer come to pay his respects to the bodies of 12 soldiers who their colleagues said were unnecessarily killed by the insurgents in a night-time ambush. The military also is accused of killing thousands of detainees held illegally in their barracks, some by shooting, some by torture and many starved to death or asphyxiated in overcrowded cells. More than 300 teenagers were abducted from their school in the town Chibok on April 15. Police say 53 escaped on their own and 276 remain captive. A Boko Haram video has shown some of the girls reciting Quranic verses in Arabic and two of them explaining why they had converted from Christianity to Islam in captivity. Unverified reports have indicated two may have died of snake bites, that some have been forced to marry their abductors and that some may have been carried across borders into Chad and Cameroon. Boko Haram — the nickname means “Western education is sinful” — believes Western influences have corrupted Nigerian society and want to install an Islamic state under strict Shariah law, though the population 170 million people is divided almost equally between Christians and Muslims. *Source AP/Huffington Post]]>
Nigerian Government Delegates Address #BringBackOurGirls Campaigners In Abuja
May 25, 2014 | 1 Comments
Protocols: Good afternoons, my dear brothers and sisters. As the Minister of State of this great City, Abuja and as a mother like some of you, I, on behalf of Mr. President welcome you all home to the seat of the Federal Government. 2. The Federal Government is appreciative and supportive of the efforts of your group amongst so many other groups around the world, who have taken out time to demonstrate their disgust and solidarity against the wicked kidnapping of innocent school girls and the senseless mayhem of the Boko Haram terrorists. 3. Many other groups have sent messages of solidarity and support to the Federal Government in writing and we want to use this opportunity to thank them. 4. For a government that has placed so much premium on addressing major areas of reform and development in the nation, especially the development of women and the girl-child through increased investment in girl-child education and added opportunity for women, this wicked act has been indeed very painful. 5. Our present world is under the grip of terrorism. Yesterday, a market in China where ordinary people go to shop was bombed. Two days ago, terrorists visited our beautiful town of Jos and detonated bombs killing scores of people. 6. The communities of Kano, Maiduguri, Abuja, Nyanya, Madallah, amongst others, have at various times been bombed. Churches, mosques, parks and newspaper houses have not been spared. Terrorists and their sponsors have brought terrorism to our land. This is sad. This we must resist. 7. In the last three weeks, our country has been in the spotlight. Some evil individuals who call themselves Boko Haram abducted our daughters, the future mothers of our nation, and have refused to release them. This evil act has sparked protests all over the world. This is as it should be. There must be a united movement for the release of our daughters and that movement must now be turned into a united action against terrorism. 8. Government has mobilized available resources, Military and diplomatic in the search for our girls who have suffered so much trauma in captivity by agents of terror. 9. From the very first day this kidnapping occurred the Federal Government took action, directing our security services to go after the abductors. The search for our daughters has now assumed regional and global proportion and our nation has received strong support from our neighboring countries and the international community including the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, among others. 10. The security forces also reached out to the Borno state government and community members for support and collaboration to bring back our innocent daughters. So far, the campaign to bring our daughters back home is on, and is receiving global support. 11. Nigeria in collaboration with Chad, Niger, Cameroun and Benin Republic have all agreed to establish a single centre for sharing intelligence on the activities of terrorists across our boundaries. 12. Apart from those efforts in the public space, our President has personally initiated consultations with so many stakeholders, to explore alternative methods of resolving this crisis. It is wrong and most unfair to suggest that there was a slow reaction to this kidnapping. The Commander-in-Chief meets with the security chiefs almost daily, and he is also in constant consultations with regional and global partners on these terrorist threats. 13. This is why I want to appeal to your group and others through this medium, that it is important that your genuine patriotic zeal is matched with a realistic understanding of the situation in expressing concern and sentiment on this matter and other matters of terrorism. 14. As early as January 23rd 2013 President Jonathan at Davos, Switzerland asked the world for help in tackling terrorism. He later met with President Obama during the United Nations General Assembly in September of 2013 where he requested for U.S. support. 15. Government believes that we all must come together to fight terrorism and that protests should be directed at the terrorists who have abducted our innocent daughters and deprived them of a place at the fountain of freedom in our country. 16. Our security forces are among the best trained in Africa. They are making so much sacrifice in the fight against terror. As we sleep daily, they are in the field confronting the enemy. They need our support, not attacks and discouragement. 17. When terrorists see Nigerians turn on each other in blame it gives them a huge morale boost. We must never lose sight of the fact that terrorists are the real enemy. 18. We would like to encourage civil society groups to use their influence to encourage Nigerians to supply useful information to the security services using the emergency number 112. Citizens must protect citizens if our civilization is to prosper. 19. We must be careful not to politicize the campaign against terrorism. When a bomb goes off in Kabul, Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan do not blame the government, they blame the terrorists. When a bomb goes off in Baghdad, Iraq, the people of Iraq do not blame the government, they blame the terrorists. When a bomb goes off in Islamabad, Pakistan, the people of Pakistan do not blame the government, they blame the terrorists. When a bomb goes off in Nigeria, we must all unite to fight the terrorists. This is the task of this generation. Our daughters must be freed to come home to their parents and loved ones. 20. Our daughters must be freed so that they can return to school and receive their education. Our daughters must be freed so that they can return home to be with their friends and play as all children their age do. 21. I thank you for coming. I thank you for listening and may God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Address read by Minister of State, FCT On the Occasion of Visit by #Bring Back Our Girls Campaigners *Source Sahara Reporters]]>
Soyinka Says He Has Never Referred To Patience Jonathan As “Illiterate”
May 25, 2014 | 0 Comments
Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka says that while he has occasionally been compelled to publicly chastise Mrs. Patience Jonathan over unacceptable conduct, he has never referred to her as “illiterate.” He has also never linked President Goodluck Jonathan’s governance with his wife’s educational attributes or lack thereof, he said in a clarification sent to SaharaReporters and other online media on Wednesday concerning what he called the “disgusting career” of a fabrication on the subject. He also said he intended to take whatever legal steps are available once the source of the objectionable material has been traced. “It commenced over a year ago, I seem to recollect, as a telephone text, ‘tweet’ or whatever it is called, died away after strong rebuttals, and is now being provided renewed life by some faceless cowards with their own private agenda,” Professor Soyinka said in a statement. “Let me state quite clearly that literacy is no indicator of intelligence, even though we all believe (I hope) in universal literacy. From childhood I have interacted with so-called “illiterate” men and women, sipped from their innate intelligence, and learnt much from them outside formal schooling.” The literary icon said he was therefore repudiating the statement that could only have stemmed from “an ignorant clod” he dismissed as being additionally devoid of the moral courage of his or her own untenable convictions. “Your readers may wish to know that when I first encountered the statement, I was sufficiently appalled to send a personal message to Patience Jonathan dissociating myself from such a base sentiment. The associated commentary on the president’s decisions – I have no idea which decision, if any – is equally outrageous and disgusting. To attribute to me the slightest interest in the choice of a spouse by man or woman is a complete travesty of my near obsessive belief in the sanctity of private relationships.” According to Professor Soyinka, a similar shameless telephone posting was inaugurated some weeks ago, with his name attached to it, urging the public to rise and do something or the other. “Let me take this opportunity to announce yet again that I do not tweet, blog or whatever goes on in this increasingly promiscuous medium,” he stressed. “I do not run a Facebook, even though I am aware that one or two serious-minded individuals/groups have instituted some such forum on their own, for the purpose of disseminating factual information on my activities. I neither contribute to, nor comment on the contents of their “calendar”. Speaking generally, he expressed concern that Internet abuse is getting to be a universal plague, one that goes beyond personal embarrassment and umbrage, and called for collective, professional action to protect the integrity of the medium, and save it from becoming “a mere vomitorium” for unprincipled scallywags who may or may not have a particular axe to grind. “Such a trend is fraught with outright danger, and should not be underestimated,” he warned. *Courtesy of Sahara Reports]]>
Boko Haram and U.S. Counterterrorism Assistance to Nigeria
May 20, 2014 | 0 Comments
“The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime, and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian Government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice. I will tell you, my friends, I have seen this scourge of terror across the planet, and so have you. They don’t offer anything except violence. They don’t offer a health care plan, they don’t offer schools. They don’t tell you how to build a nation; they don’t talk about how they will provide jobs. They just tell people, “You have to behave the way we tell you to,” and they will punish you if you don’t.” — Secretary of State John F. Kerry Nigeria is a key strategic partner in Africa. Nigeria has the continent’s largest population and largest economy, and it plays a vital role in efforts to resolve crises and promote stability and prosperity in West Africa and beyond. In the midst of rapid economic growth, however, Nigeria faces security challenges, notably Boko Haram (BH), a violent Islamist movement that has staged regular attacks in northern Nigeria since 2010. Given Nigeria’s importance as a regional political and economic leader, the U.S. has a vital interest in helping to strengthen Nigeria’s democratic institutions, boost Nigeria’s prosperity and security, and ensure opportunity for all of its citizens. The U.S. and Nigeria also work closely together in multilateral fora, including the UN Security Council, where Nigeria is serving a term as a non-permanent member for 2014-2015. As the President noted in his National Defense University speech in May 2013, countering terrorism requires a holistic approach. We continue to work with Nigeria and other international partners to help promote and support such an approach to Boko Haram. The United States has been working to counter BH for many years, and we will continue to do so. The first part of this fact sheet provides information about BH and the many atrocities it committed in Nigeria prior to its attack on a girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, where it kidnapped approximately 300 girls. The latter part provides information about various U.S. Department of State initiatives and programs to assist Nigeria’s counterterrorism efforts, such as the Antiterrorism Assistance Program and the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership. The U.S. Government designated Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 on November 14, 2013. (A transcript of an interview with senior officials about this designation can be found here:http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2013/11/217532.htm.) BH commander Abubakar Shekau, Khalid al-Barnawi, and Abubakar Adam Kambar were designated on June 21, 2012, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under section 1(b) of E.O. 13224. (A fact sheet about FTO and E.O. designations can be found here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/01/219520.htm.) Since June 2013, the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program has advertised a reward offer of up to U.S. $7 million for information leading to the location of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. BH is a Nigeria-based group responsible for numerous attacks in northern and northeastern Nigeria that have killed thousands of people since its emergence in 2009, and conducted high-profile kidnappings of Westerners in the Far North Region of Cameroon. In 2013 alone, BH has carried out kidnappings, killings, bombings, and attacks on civilian and military targets in northern Nigeria, resulting in over 1,000 deaths and injuries. BH primarily operates in northeastern Nigeria, Cameroon’s Far North Region, and the Lake Chad Basin, and receives the bulk of its funding from bank robberies and related criminal activities, including extortion and kidnapping for ransom. The group espouses a violent extremist ideology and at times has received some limited assistance, including funds and training, from al Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Among its most lethal attacks, BH was responsible for indiscriminate attacks in Benisheikh, Nigeria in September 2013 that killed more than 160 civilians, many of them women and children. Other major attacks that have been claimed by or attributed to BH since 2011 have included: • An August 26, 2011, a bomb attack on the UN building in Abuja killed at least 21 people and injured over 120. • On November 4, 2011, multiple vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in Yobe and Borno States targeted security force offices and the Military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) offices, as well as several markets and 11 churches. More than 100 people were killed, including nearly 70 bystanders at a major traffic circle in the center of Damaturu, Yobe State. • On January 20, 2012, multiple near-simultaneous attacks in Kano State were carried out on at least 12 targets including police stations, an immigration office, and the residence of an Assistant Inspector General of Police. Over 150 persons were killed and hundreds were wounded. • In April 2012, assailants attacked the Theatre Hall at Bayero University, Kano, with IEDs and gunshots, killing nearly 20 persons. • On April 26, 2012, VBIEDs simultaneously exploded at the offices of This Day newspaper in Abuja and Kaduna, killing five persons and wounding many others. • On June 17, 2012, attacks on three churches in Kaduna State killed worshippers and instigated violence throughout the State. At least 10 people were killed and an additional 78 were injured in the riots that ensued. • On February 8, 2013 nine Nigerian women working in a polio vaccination campaign in Kano were killed by gunmen riding in three-wheeled motorcycles; several other polio workers were injured. • On March 18, 2013, a VBIED attack on two luxury buses at a motor park in the Sabon Gari neighborhood of Kano killed more than 20 persons and wounded scores. • On July 6, 2013, over 50 students were killed in their dormitories at Mamudo Government Secondary School in Yobe State. • On August 11, 2013, gunmen killed approximately 44 persons praying at a mosque outside Maiduguri and another 12 civilians in a near-simultaneous attack at a nearby location in Borno State. • On September 29, 2013, gunmen killed more than 40 students in the dormitory of an agricultural technical school in Yobe State. • In November 2013, BH members kidnapped a French priest in Cameroon. • On December 2, 2013, a coordinated and complex attack by violent extremists on the Maiduguri airport and air force base killed over 24 persons, wounded dozens, and destroyed a large amount of military equipment, including several military helicopters. • On December 20, 2013, violent extremists assaulted the Nigerian army barracks in Bama, southern Borno State, in a well-coordinated attack that killed approximately 20 military personnel and numerous civilians. • On January 14, 2014, at least at least 31 were killed and 50 injured by suicide bomber in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. • On February 16, 2014, BH raided Izghe village, Borno State, killing an estimated 115 people. • On February 25, 2014, over 59 teenage boys were killed in an attack on Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State, Nigeria. • On April 14, 2014, BH attacked a girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria, with 16 killed and approximately 300 girls kidnapped. • Also on April 14, 2014, a morning rush hour bomb killed at least 71 on at a bus depot on the outskirts of Abuja. • On May 5, 2014, an attack lasting 12 hours on towns of Gamboru and Ngala in Borno State, Nigeria, killed an estimated 300 people. Counterterrorism Assistance to Nigeria • Counterterrorism support to Nigeria focuses on building critical counterterrorism capabilities among Nigeria’s civilian and law enforcement agencies. This supports the larger U.S. objective of encouraging Nigeria to develop and implement a comprehensive approach to counter BH that upholds and enforces the rule of law, provides civilian protection, respects human rights and international norms, and addresses the underlying grievances that BH exploits (including through development gains and through responsive governance). • Based on our longstanding concerns about Boko Haram, we have a robust security dialogue and assistance relationship with Nigeria. As part of the Bi-National Commission Framework, we hold regular Regional Security working group meetings focused on the Boko Haram threat and ways our two governments can collaborate on a holistic approach to countering the group. • Our security assistance is in line with our efforts to ensure Nigeria takes a comprehensive approach to countering Boko Haram. We are working to build Nigerian law enforcement capacities to investigate terrorism cases, effectively deal with explosive devices, and secure Nigeria’s borders, while underscoring that the most effective counterterrorism policies and practices are those that respect human rights and are underpinned by the rule of law. We are also focused on enabling various Nigerian security services with fusing multiple information streams to develop a better understanding of Boko Haram. Our military assistance supports the professionalization of key military units and improves their ability to plan and implement appropriate steps to counter Boko Haram and ensure civilian security. • The State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program enhances Nigerian law enforcement’s capability to prevent, detect, and investigate terrorism threats; secure Nigeria’s borders; and manage responses to terrorist incidents. ATA’s primary partners are the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Customs Service, Immigration Service, and National Emergency Management Agency. ATA represents the only donor assistance to Nigerian law enforcement on identifying, diffusing, and the safe disposal of improvised explosives devices (IEDs). ATA curriculum has been integrated into NPF training curriculum, supporting its ability to respond to IED attacks in Abuja and to deploy to the northeast part of the country where Boko Haram attacks are the most frequent. • Countering violent extremism (CVE) programs aim to limit recruits to BH by reducing sympathy and support for its operations, through three primary objectives: (1) building resilience among communities most at risk of recruitment and radicalization to violence; (2) countering BH narratives and messaging; and (3) building the CVE capacity of government and civil society. Such efforts include promoting engagement between law enforcement and citizens, and elevating the role of women civil society leaders in CVE. • The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications has developed a strong partnership with the Government of Nigeria, and in conjunction with other international partners, provided assistance on developing a comprehensive communications strategy. • Nigeria is an active member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), and the United States has used the multilateral platform the Forum offers to introduce justice sector officials from Nigeria and neighboring countries to a series of judicial tools to investigate and prosecute terrorism cases in conformity with their domestic and international human rights obligations. As part of this effort, the United States and Nigeria have co-hosted a series of experts’ workshops in Abuja on these issues. In addition, Nigeria will join the United States as one of the founding members of the International Institute on Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), which will open its doors in June 2014 in Malta, and provide rule of law based training on how to counter terrorism and other transnational criminal activity within a rule of law framework. As a founding member, Nigeria will be expected to ensure its police, prosecutors, and prison officials are regular participants in IIJ trainings. • Nigeria is a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), a U.S. Government-funded and implemented effort designed to enhance regional security sector capacity to counter violent extremism, improve country and regional border and customs systems, strengthen financial controls, and build law enforcement and security sector capacity. TSCTP provides counter-IED and civil-military operations training to the Nigerian military, and crisis management and border security training to Nigerian law enforcement agencies. Nigeria also participates in larger regional training opportunities such as combat medical, military intelligence, communications and logistics training with other TSCTP partner nations (Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, and Tunisia). • Nigeria has also agreed to become a pilot country to the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), a GCTF-inspired initiative announced by Secretary Kerry at the September 2013 GCTF ministerial. This will enable community-based organizations in Nigeria to receive grants from the GCERF to carry out grassroots CVE projects. • The State Department’s Counterterrorism Finance (CTF) program provides training that aims to restrict Boko Haram’s ability to raise, move, and store money. CTF’s current focus provides Nigeria with cross border financial investigations training to work effectively with counterparts in neighboring countries on critical CTF cases. *SOURCE US Department of State]]>
African Leaders Agree Plan To Bring Down Boko Haram At Paris Summit
May 20, 2014 | 1 Comments
(LtoR) Niger’s president Mahamadou Issoufou, Chad’s president Idriss Deby Itno, Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan, France’s president Francois Hollande, Cameroon’s president Paul Biya, and Benin’s president Thomas Boni Yayi pose for a photo during an African security summit to discuss the threat of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram to the regional stability, at the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 17, 2014. (ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images) | ALAIN JOCARD via Getty Images[/caption] Boko Haram has ample funds, highly sophisticated weaponry and advanced training with some of the world’s most experienced terrorists, the French president said Saturday as he and African leaders grappled with how to combat the Islamic extremist group whose reach extends to five countries. At the summit in Paris intended to hammer out a plan to find and free 276 schoolgirls being held hostage by Boko Haram, intelligence officials from the U.S., Europe and Africa shared information while heads of state and top diplomats tackled policy. Hours after yet another attack in a Boko Haram stronghold — this time in Cameroon near the border with Nigeria — the leaders agreed to improve policing of frontiers, share intelligence, and trace the weapons and cash that are the group’s lifeblood. “This group is armed, with heavy weapons of an unimaginable sophistication and the ability to use them,” said French President Francois Hollande. He said the weapons came from chaotic Libya, and the training took place in Mali before the ouster of its al-Qaida linked Islamist leaders. As for the money, Hollande said its origins were murky. “Boko Haram is acting clearly as an al-Qaida operation,” said Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who had only reluctantly accepted outside help after years of insisting the group was a local problem. Cameroon, which French officials said until recently also treated Boko Haram as an issue involving only Nigeria, has become increasingly involved. The attack late Friday against a Chinese engineering firm’s camp left at least 10 people missing and one person dead. The camp was in the same nearly trackless parkland where the girls were first spirited away after an attack on their school in northern Nigeria, highlighting Boko Haram’s ability to cross borders unimpeded. Hollande said the effort to find them and ultimately combat Boko Haram will involve sharing intelligence, protecting borders, and quick action in a crisis. An intelligence cell involving French, British and American agents is already operating out of Nigeria. Hollande also emphasized that Boko Haram had clearly established ties with other terror groups in Africa, making it a concern throughout the continent and beyond. That could provide an opening for U.N. sanctions against the group to freeze its assets and impose travel bans against members. Wendy Sherman, a U.S. diplomat who was at Saturday’s talks, said the sanctions could come as soon as next week. “I can’t imagine any country who would not support this designation,” she said. Surveillance jets have joined the search and Hollande left open the possibility that French fighter jets could be deployed. Boko Haram has offered to exchange the captive girls for jailed insurgents, while threatening otherwise to sell them into slavery. “Boko Haram’s strategy, contrary to all civilization, is to destabilize Nigeria and to destroy the fundamental principles of human dignity,” Hollande said during the working lunch. “More than 200 young girls threatened with slavery is the proof.” Officials have said there will be no Western military operation. British officials say Jonathan has ruled out swapping prisoners for the girls. “There are many ways to bring this horrific situation to a close, but when and if we know where they are then the Nigerians will have to decide how to proceed,” Sherman said. On Friday, Jonathan canceled a trip to the town where the girls were seized, apparently due to security concerns. Signs are growing that some Nigerian troops are near mutiny, complaining they are overwhelmed and outgunned by Boko Haram. Soldiers have told The Associated Press that some in the ranks actually fight alongside the group. Last year, Jonathan said he suspected that Boko Haram members and sympathizers had infiltrated every level of his government and military, including the Cabinet. That complicates attempts to share intelligence. The U.S., France and Britain have all sent experts to help find the girls, but French and American officials have expressed concerns about how any information might be used. The northeastern region where the girls were kidnapped has suffered five years of increasingly deadly assaults by Boko Haram. Thousands have been killed, including more than 1,500 civilians this year. France has negotiated the release of citizens held by Boko Haram in Cameroon and officials intended Saturday’s summit to draw the outlines of a more international approach. The summit concluded with promises to coordinate border patrols, pool intelligence and track trafficked weapons. Chinese state media reported that 10 people were missing in the Friday night attack on the camp in a region where Boko Haram has previously abducted foreigners, including a French family of seven and a priest. Hollande’s administration successfully negotiated the release of the French citizens, and officials in Paris said France’s experience dealing with Boko Haram as well as its good relations with the governments concerned were the impetus for the summit. China is a major investor in Cameroon, helping build infrastructure, public health projects and sports facilities and importing crude oil, timber and cotton. *Source Huffington Post/AP]]>
Muslims Denounce Boko Haram's Nigeria Abductions
May 16, 2014 | 1 Comments
Mia Bush* [caption id="attachment_9361" align="alignleft" width="300"] Nigerians take part in a protest demanding for the release of secondary school girls abducted from the remote village of Chibok, in Asokoro district in Abuja, Nigeria, May 13, 2014.[/caption] Muslims worldwide have condemned the abduction a month ago of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram. Muslim leaders have criticized Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, for using Islamic teachings as his justification for threatening to sell the girls into slavery. Others have focused on what they view as a slow response by Nigeria’s government to the crisis. Muslim leader Faisal Suliman, chair of the South Africa Muslim Network (SAMNET), appeared on the South African radio show Voice of the Cape’s Breakfast Beaton Wednesday to distance Boko Haram’s actions from Islam. “This is a totally un-Islamic act. It is contrary to the Sharia and what is in the Koran. There is no place for this in Islam no matter who does it, regardless of whatever cause they try and perceive it to be,” Suliman said. He questioned some of the coverage by mainstream media, whom he claimed were trying to link the kidnappings to the beliefs of Islam. He also questioned the use of words such as “Islamist” and “fundamentalist” to describe the group’s actions. “It was an act worthy of condemnation across all communities, religions and ethnicities, and we are trying to make that clear. But certainly in the mainstream media, it is still being presented with that Islamic connotation,” he said. Earlier this week, Boko Haram released a video that allegedly shows some of the kidnapped girls dressed in Islamic attire and reciting verses from the Koran. Suliman said the video seemed contrived and designed to touch every sensitivity of a non-Muslim in order to stir up hatred toward Muslims. In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, the Jakarta Post published an editorial earlier this month condemning the Boko Haram leader for “wrongly” citing Islamic teaching as his excuse for selling the abducted girls into slavery. Recalling the Taliban’s shooting of 15-year-old Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai in 2012 because of her outspokenness in defense of girls’ right to an education, the editorial said: “Malala’s message needs to be conveyed to all people who use their power to block children’s access to education. It is saddening that religion is misused to terrorize people and to kill the future leaders of the world.” Nigerian president criticized The newspaper also criticized Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, noting that “only after international condemnation and street demonstrations poured in did President Jonathan tell his nation that he would take all necessary actions to return the young women to their parents and schools, while also acknowledging that the whereabouts of the abductees remained unknown.” In an editorial, The New York Times also faulted the Nigerian president: “It wasn’t until Sunday, more than two weeks after the kidnappings, that he called a meeting of government officials, including the leader of the girls’ school, to discuss the incident. On May 7, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, one of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institutions, urged Boko Haram to release the kidnapped schoolgirls. Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb of Al-Azhar said the abductions “completely contradict Islam and its tolerant principles.” Egyptian Religious Endowments Minister Mohammed Mohktar Gomaa also said, “The actions taken by Boko Haram are pure terrorism, with no relation to Islam, especially the kidnapping of the girls.” Dawn, an English language newspaper in Pakistan, published an opinion piece that takes Nigeria to task for not moving against Boko Haram. “The popular upsurge in Nigeria in the wake of the latest unspeakable atrocity provides some scope for hoping that the state will finally act decisively to obliterate the growing menace,” wrote columnist Mahir Ali. In Sweden, in an editorial posted on the left-wing news website politism.se, blogger Nikita Feiz criticized the international community for its slow response and asked why the situation hadn’t triggered as loud a reaction as when Malala was shot in Pakistan. “Looking at the situation in Nigeria, Malala appears like a false promise from the West that it would stand up for girls’ rights to attend school without fear of being subjected to sexual exploitation and abuse,” Feiz said. “It is difficult not to draw the conclusion that the West’s assurance to act for girls’ rights suddenly isn’t as natural when it comes to girls’ rights in a country in Africa,” Feiz said. *Source VOA]]>
A Survivor’s Account of Boko Haram’s Religious Cleansing in Nigeria May 13th Event Video
May 16, 2014 | 0 Comments
BOKO HARAM: BEYOND NIGERIA’S INTEREST!
May 16, 2014 | 1 Comments
By TANGWE Abraham
For a while now, the Boko Haram sect has given the Nigerian and world leader’s sleepless nights over the kidnapping of 234 girls in a boarding school in Chibok in Northern Nigeria on the 14 of April, 2014. This kidnap exposed the government of President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan as a limping duck so near the doldrums of abyss. His non-action or statement over the kidnap for three weeks was the apogee of irresponsibility and a very clear demonstration of incompetence and in the west, he would have simply resigned. As if that gaff was not enough, Dame Patience Goodluck ordered the arrest of protesting helpless mothers; a first lady who herself is a woman haven gone through the pains of labour. What effrontery!
Boko Haram by that kidnap inadvertently shot itself in the leg. It should be noted that this group started in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf, a cleric whose aim is an Islamic state in Nigeria. He was killed in 2009. The group’s current leader, Abubakar Shekau, surfaces sporadically in videotaped messages. Boko Haram opposes the education of girls and has kidnapped girls to use as cooks and sex slaves.To it, western education is evil to be discarded at all cost. This explains why after the girls were kidnapped, their leader argued that they were supposed to be married instead of wasting time schooling. They believe in violence and have a great dislike for Christians. It has killed hundreds of children. The group seeks to replace Nigeria’s government with a strict Islamic state. Its home base is the Sambisa Forest, a game reserve in Nigeria’s northeast region, and it has a few thousand fighters.
The most intriguing of the actions of Boko Haram is that the sect has extended its activities in the North of Cameroon with an incessant kidnapping of Catholic priests and French nationals and also attacking and killing hundreds of nationals. In fact, a few days back, a small bridge linking a border village between Cameroon and Nigeria in the far Northern region of Cameroon was blown off when the sect got wind or suspected that it could be used as a rescue route of the girls.
Such actions by the sect has made reprisal antics far from being Nigeria’s action alone. The notion of “sovereignty-at-bay” in international law counts for nothing in this case as the susceptibility of Nigeria’s immediate neighbours viz: Cameroon, Chad, Niger et al to the effects of the actions of this sect are telling on the denizens of these countries. The case of Cameroon is glaring as Akwaya in the South Western region of Cameroon like the Northern regions is inundated with people fleeing the barbaric acts of Boko Haram besides intermittent attacks from the sect itself on the afore mentioned areas.
It is inconceivable that President Goodluck has not taken very bold steps to get its neighbours involve in the struggle to hem in, annihilate and completely wipe out Boko Haram through diplomatic offensive. That he sluggishly turned to the USA, Britain, China and other world powers for succor without first attempting to get assistance from its neighbours is complete betrayal and spite to the whole idea of seeking African solutions to African problems. In all fairness to President Goodluck, even with the help of these powers, if the neighbours are ignored, whatever is done would just be as the saying goes “throwing water on a duck’s back.
Worst of all, it is a known fact that terrorism anywhere must be fought with vim and alacrity. How then do we explain the belated statement of our darling African Union that has ended at issuing just that statement? Is the issue, a Nigerian issue? One would have expected the A.U. to take the lead in efforts against the actions of Boko Haram because children everywhere are precious but most importantly because the actions of the sect are having an adverse effects not only in Nigeria but her neighbours as well. How then can the AU claim that it has the capacity to secure the continent when the actions of Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shaabab in Somalia and Kenya are simply condemned with no action taken by her?
Be that as it may, the activities of Boko Haram have gone far above the confines of the nation of Nigeria and the Nigerian government should not make the error of trying to go it alone without its neighbours for this would have a boomerang effect. The fight should be led by Nigeria and its neighbours with tactical support from the AU. All western support should have been channeled through the AU to all affected countries. Care must be taken to ensure a safe rescue of the girls as the sect might trap the rescuers by using the girls as human shield. Our hearts go out to the Nigerian nation especially the affected mothers in such difficult moments like this. Indeed, bring home our girls!
Boko Haram offers to swap kidnapped Nigerian girls for prisoners
May 13, 2014 | 0 Comments
In this photo taken from video by Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school the night of April 14 exactly four weeks ago. (AP Photo)[/caption]
The leader of the Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram has offered to release more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by his fighters last month in exchange for its prisoners, according to a video posted on YouTube on Monday.
About 100 girls wearing full veils and praying are shown in an undisclosed location in a part of the 17-minute video in which Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaks.
Boko Haram militants, who are fighting for an Islamist state, stormed a secondary school in the northeastern village of Chibok on April 14 and seized 276 girls who were taking exams. Some have since managed to escape, but about 200 remain missing.
A government official said “all options” were being considered to secure the girls’ release.Nigeria has deployed two army divisions to hunt for the girls while several countries, including the United States, Britain, Israel and France, have offered help or sent experts. Nigerian authorities met with some of the experts on Monday and plan further meetings with the West African country’s defense and security agencies, a government statement said. In a 1.25-minute segment of the YouTube video, scores of girls in black and grey veils sit on the ground, chant and sing. Then Shekau, wearing military fatigues and holding an AK-47, addresses the camera. He appears confident and at one point even laughs. “All I am saying is that if you want us to release the girls that we have kidnapped, those who have not accepted Islam will be treated as the Prophet (Mohammed) treated infidels and they will stay with us,” he said, according to a translation of his words originally spoken in a Nigerian language. “We will not release them while you detain our brothers,” he said, before naming a series of Nigerian cities. It was not clear if he was in the same location as the girls, though the release of the video appeared to signal a willingness on his part to negotiate. Mike Omeri, a senior Ministry of Information official, told a news conference that the government has seen the latest video.
“The government of Nigeria is considering all options towards freeing the girls and reuniting them with their parents,” he said.
The governor of Borno state, where the girls were abducted, said in a statement the video had been distributed to families and local schools in a bid to identify the girls shown.
Security officials said on Monday five militants suspected in two car bombs that killed at least 90 people on April 14 and May 1 in the same suburb of the capital, Abuja, have been arrested. Nigeria has arrested hundreds of suspected Boko Haram militants.
There have also been several jail break attempts. Suspected militants overpowered guards at a prison near the presidential villa in Abuja in March, triggering a gun battle that killed 21 people.
In another incident the same month, insurgents attempting to free captured comrades fought a two-hour battle at Giwa barracks in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.
Human rights groups have said previously that Giwa barracks has been used to illegally detain and torture suspects, something the military denies.
SUMMIT IN FRANCE
The Nigerian government has been criticized for its response to the abductions, but President Goodluck Jonathan said on Sunday international military and intelligence assistance made him optimistic about finding the girls.[caption id="attachment_9325" align="alignright" width="150"] People demonstrate to press for the release of missing Chibok school girls, in Lagos on May 12, 2014 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)[/caption]
A Nigerian military source told Reuters on Monday that two foreign counter-terrorism units were already on the ground.
“They have visited Chibok on Sunday for preliminary investigation with our troops and experts before fully kickstarting the rescue mission,” the source said.Jonathan will attend a summit in Paris on Saturday to discuss security in the region. On Monday, he visited the Republic of Congo for talks on the meeting with his opposite number.
“The objective is to deepen the cooperation and partnership between Nigeria and her neighbors,” said Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati.
Leaders from Chad, Benin, Cameroon and Niger are also due to attend along with representatives of the European Union, Britain and the United States.
The abductions have touched a chord worldwide and triggered a social media campaign using the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Boko Haram has killed thousands since 2009 and destabilized parts of northeast Nigeria, the country with Africa’s largest population and biggest economy.*Source Reuters]]>
Chimamanda Adichie: The president I want
May 5, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Chimamanda Adichie
Some of my relatives lived for decades in the North, in Kano and Bornu. They spoke fluent Hausa. (One relative taught me, at the age of eight, to count in Hausa.) They made planned visits to Anambra only a few times a year, at Christmas and to attend weddings and funerals. But sometimes, in the wake of violence, they made unplanned visits. I remember the word ‘Maitatsine’ – to my young ears, it had a striking lyricism – and I remember the influx of relatives who had packed a few bags and fled the killings. What struck me about those hasty returns to the East was that my relatives always went back to the North. Until two years ago when my uncle packed up his life of thirty years in Maiduguri and moved to Awka. He was not going back. This time, he felt, was different.
My uncle’s return illustrates a feeling shared by many Nigerians about Boko Haram: a lack of hope, a lack of confidence in our leadership. We are experiencing what is, apart from the Biafran war, the most violent period in our nation’s existence. Like many Nigerians, I am distressed about the students murdered in their school, about the people whose bodies were spattered in Nyanya, about the girls abducted in Chibok. I am furious that politicians are politicizing what should be a collective Nigerian mourning, a shared Nigerian sadness.
And I find our president’s actions and non-actions unbelievably surreal.
I do not want a president who, weeks after girls are abducted from a school and days after brave Nigerians have taken to the streets to protest the abductions, merely announces a fact-finding committee to find the girls.
I want President Jonathan to be consumed, utterly consumed, by the state of insecurity in Nigeria. I want him to make security a priority, and make it seem like a priority. I want a president consumed by the urgency of now, who rejects the false idea of keeping up appearances while the country is mired in terror and uncertainty. I want President Jonathan to know – and let Nigerians know that he knows – that we are not made safer by soldiers checking the boots of cars, that to shut down Abuja in order to hold a World Economic Forum is proof of just how deeply insecure the country is. We have a big problem, and I want the president to act as if we do. I want the president to slice through the muddle of bureaucracy, the morass of ‘how things are done,’ because Boko Haram is unusual and the response to it cannot be business as usual.
I want President Jonathan to communicate with the Nigerian people, to realize that leadership has a strong psychological component: in the face of silence or incoherence, people lose faith. I want him to humanize the lost and the missing, to insist that their individual stories be told, to show that every Nigerian life is precious in the eyes of the Nigerian state.
I want the president to seek new ideas, to act, make decisions, publish the security budget spending, offer incentives, sack people. I want the president to be angrily heartbroken about the murder of so many, to lie sleepless in bed thinking of yet what else can be done, to support and equip the armed forces and the police, but also to insist on humaneness in the midst of terror. I want the president to be equally enraged by soldiers who commit murder, by policemen who beat bomb survivors and mourners. I want the president to stop issuing limp, belated announcements through public officials, to insist on a televised apology from whoever is responsible for lying to Nigerians about the girls having been rescued.
I want President Jonathan to ignore his opponents, to remember that it is the nature of politics, to refuse to respond with defensiveness or guardedness, and to remember that Nigerians are understandably cynical about their government.
I want President Jonathan to seek glory and a place in history, instead of longevity in office. I want him to put aside the forthcoming 2015 elections, and focus today on being the kind of leader Nigeria has never had.
I do not care where the president of Nigeria comes from. Even those Nigerians who focus on ‘where the president is from’ will be won over if they are confronted with good leadership that makes all Nigerians feel included. I have always wanted, as my president, a man or a woman who is intelligent and honest and bold, who is surrounded by truth-telling, competent advisers, whose policies are people-centered, and who wants to lead, who wants to be president, but does not need to – or have to- be president at all costs.
President Jonathan may not fit that bill, but he can approximate it: by being the leader Nigerians desperately need now.
*- Chimamanda Adichie is the award winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, Purple Hibiscus, The Thing Around Your Neck and Americanah. Culled from The Scoop
Nigeria leader Goodluck Jonathan in missing girls plea
May 5, 2014 | 1 Comments
President Jonathan vowed to secure the girls’ release in his first public comments since they were taken[/caption]
President Goodluck Jonathan has admitted that Nigerian security forces still do not know where more than 200 abducted girls are being held.They were taken three weeks ago from their school in Borno state by suspected Islamist militants. President Jonathan was speaking for the first time since their disappearance amid growing criticism of the response. He has come under fire for not speaking earlier and his government has faced increasing anger from the public. “We promise that anywhere the girls are, we will surely get them out,” he said in a live TV broadcast. The president said that despite searches by the army and the air force, the girls had not been found. He asked for the co-operation of parents and the local communities in the rescue efforts, saying the “government needs assistance.” “It is a trying time for this country… it is painful,” he added. The BBC’s Will Ross in Abuja says it appears somewhat astonishing that the girls cannot be found when there are reports they have been moved around in convoys of vehicles. This seems to be a sign that there are parts of north-east Nigeria that are more or less off limits to the Nigerian armed forces, our correspondent says. Islamist militants known as Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin”, are believed to be behind the kidnapping of the girls from their school in Chibok. They have waged a violent campaign in the north-east that has killed hundreds of Christians and Muslims. President Jonathan dismissed the suggestion that negotiations were taking place to secure the release of the girls, saying it was impossible to talk to Boko Haram. “You don’t negotiate with somebody you don’t know. The issue of negotiation has not come up,” he said. He said his government has spoken to the United States and several other world powers, including France, Britain and China, for help with its security issues. “We are talking to countries we think can help us out. The United States is number one. I have talked to President Obama at least twice,” he said. *Source BBC]]>
What Boko Haram Fighters Told Me About Sect
May 5, 2014 | 0 Comments
-Governor Kashim Shettima [caption id="attachment_9257" align="alignleft" width="150"] Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shetiima[/caption] Governor Kashim Shettima is, probably, Nigeria’s most troubled state Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the moment. Before he was voted into power in the 2011 governorship election, the insurgency in Borno State had begun to fester. In spite of all peace moves and military action, the crisis has not been brought to an end. In this exclusive interview conducted last Wednesday, Governor spoke on the abduction of over 200 school girls of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok some two weeks ago, the state of emergency, the Boko Haram crisis generally, among many other contemporary issues What’s the latest good news that you have for the parents of the 270 school girls abducted by Boko Haran two weeks ago? What are you doing about their rescue? That incident is one nightmare that troubles me very much – as a father and leader. It remains the worst in my entire life. As a father I can imagine what a parent feels when a daughter is in the hands of abductors who are very capable of forceful marriage, rape, slavery and who are against education. As I said at a courtesy call earlier today, we are at a brokenhearted time in our dear Borno State because as we speak, over 200 precious daughters of Borno, 200 young enterprising school girls working towards a bright future, are being detained somewhere by our fellow men who claim to be devoted Muslims, whereas Allah who created all of us, has mandated us to protect women, to support them, to serve them with special attention and to even spare them during Islamic holy wars that the Boko Haram claim to be fighting. As I said on Wednesday during the swearing-in of our new Grand Khadi, which your paper published, in Islam, a woman that grows from a girl-child is supposed to be treated as gold. Islam requires that a man should be the one to prepare meals and serve a woman but when a woman chooses to cook she should be paid for cooking that meal unless she forfeits being paid and offers to serve the man free. Our noble Prophet had only one surviving child that was a girl who grew to become a woman. Allah destined it to be so. As a Prophetic tradition goes, heaven lies at the feet of mothers, this is the extent to which Allah has dignified the girl-child, but these misguided vandals, descendants of the Kharytes, have turned every cherished concept, belief, norms and values in Islam upside down. The day after that attack, I wasn’t myself when I read the reaction of one of the fathers of the girls. He said he would have preferred to see his daughter’s corpse than have her abducted by insurgents. I can’t explain to you how depressed I was that day. I pray no leader in this country ever goes through the trauma I am passing. When my daughter comes around me and I look into her eyes, I fight to hold back tears. I imagine what our 200 daughters and their biological parents are going through. Their parents are in unimaginable trauma. It is a terrible thing but we are very hopeful that insha Allah they will be rescued. We are being careful about the information we release regarding these our abducted daughters so as not to compromise their safety. How could that kind of abduction take place in a state where we have a state of emergency? The attackers used deception. Just to recall the unfortunate incident, on April 14, 2014, some gunmen numbering about 100 stormed the Government Secondary School, Chibok at about 11:45pm. Some residents had it that the attackers pretended to be offering help to the girls. I was told that they misled the girls into believing that the school was about to be attacked and they were there to move them to safe locations. But then how do you reconcile the fact that the attackers razed down the school? If they were there to save them, the students wouldn’t expect them to destroy the entire school. The school has a population of 1,610. Five hundred and thirty registered for this year’s WAEC and NECO exams. Initially, we all got information that only 129 science students were in the hostel at the time of the attack. But as we later came to unfortunately realise when I visited the school, over 200 girls were missing. But out of them, 53 girls are safely back, security agencies are working very hard along with volunteers. We are giving them all the support they need to complement the efforts of the Federal Government and we are very hopeful to have all of them. Was it true security operatives didn’t want you to visit Chibok after the attacks due to security threats? The visit to Chibok was one decision I had to make against fears over my safety raised by my security details. There was intense fear about the safety of the route to Chibok from some point within Borno. That is while approaching Chibok, it was thought that insurgents could hide around the route for ambush or they could bury explosives or possibly plan a suicide attack. My security details advocated that it was best for us to drive to Yola through routes outside Borno or charter a flight and fly to Yola in Adamawa and then join a convoy that should travel ahead of us to Chibok. Without being proud, I saw that suggestion as embarrassing. I asked myself, if as a governor, with all my normal security details and extra security support I can get, there is a ‘No-Go-Area’ for me in my state, then what about other citizens who, by compelling reasons would have to drive through the dreaded route? I was told that others may drive freely at that time, but I would be a big target. I respected all the opinions and appreciated concerns over my safety, but I couldn’t bear remaining in Maiduguri while parents were in Chibok crying and rightly demanding for leadership. So, along with Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, who is a very courageous man, we went to Chibok through the route in Borno, the security agencies took good proactive steps. But despite all the assurances, many of my appointees who usually join my convoy abandoned me. Some said they had some work and smartly gave excuses to be absent. Some switched off their phones so they couldn’t be reached. Some travelled ahead so they would have good reasons not to be around. Others who were with us the previous night didn’t even come near the Government House on the day of the trip. I don’t blame any of those that doged that trip; they are human, fear is a natural element. It was my constitutional and moral duty to provide leadership no matter how tough the times might be. I needed to support victims regardless of whatever we are doing to support security agencies and community policing through civilians. So much effort is being put in place by the security forces; we are doing everything to support them by way of complementing the efforts of the Federal Government. Look, tough times don’t last forever but tough people do. Borno will insha Allah get out of this. No one thought Maiduguri was going to become as peaceful as it is today. There was a time when insurgents were openly brandishing weapons on the streets of Maiduguri, serially murdering people. Many people thought it would take years before the city would be safe but, today, Maiduguri is safe and so are most of our urban centres of Biu, Monguno, Bama, Mobbar and others. Borno has gone through wars in its over 1000 years of history. We will come back stronger insha Allah. We are resilient people, you can see from our youths, the civilian JTF. Together as a people, more united by insurgent-inspired sorrows, we will rebuild Borno to a greater level by Allah’s power, Allah is above any evil war that man can wage no matter how tough. Why do you think these girls were abducted, from your own analysis? I have read many publications in trying to understand the workings of insurgents so that as a Government, we know better, how to manage our unfortunate situation in Borno. Insurgents kidnap for many reasons. Generally, kidnapping and extortion are two of their sources of funding terror activities. Men are kidnapped sometimes to be forcefully recruited, brainwashed or probably induced with something and made to become fighters. In some cases, they are led to battles in a guarded way such that they can hardly escape. Some luckily escape, though. Women are sometimes kidnapped for the purpose of using them as human shield or to use them for domestic activities and in some cases there are some of the insurgents who have a sort of belief in forcefully marrying abducted women so that they give birth to children that will inherit the sect’s struggle in order to sustain a chain of terror, even after the parents are killed. There is also the element of kidnapping to bargain for the release of detained sect members but this can hardly work. Insurgents can only succeed in doing this under a strongly controlled territory where they, for instance, control an entire state or some local government areas. Insurgents do things that will attract publicity, such as kidnapping. Generally, terrorists crave for and bask in the oxygen of publicity. Will Borno State pay if the sect demands for ransom? Payment of ransom to terrorists under the anti-terror laws of Nigeria, which are in force, is regarded as terrorism financing, which is a very serious offence. When you pay ransom you are giving money to insurgents to procure arms and unleash havoc on more people. You end up rearming them. However, any news about the freedom of these girls, any calls for negotiations will be a very cheering news that might even be of interest to the Presidential Dialogue Committee that is still working. I am sure the committee might view that as another avenue to accelerate negotiation for peaceful resolution. The security will also be needed to advise on whatever comes up in that regard. As you know, the issue of these girls is not just a national affairs, but a global one now. It is very unfortunate that Borno State has, in the last two weeks, dominated the airwaves and pages of newspapers for the very wrong reasons. Any time, I hear this issue mentioned on the CNN, BBC and VOA Hausa or English and other international media houses, I feel extremely bad, the same way I feel when I read it in the print and on broadcast media in Nigeria. There was a story in a newspaper quoting a security source who alleged that the Borno State Government might have arranged the kidnap just to embarrass the military to justify the failure of the emergency rule and work against any extension. The source also accused some governors of working against the military. What is your take? I have read the same story. “Absurdity supported by power,” according to Michael Priestley, “cannot stand its ground with the efforts of reason”. Sometimes, it is more honourable to ignore such diatribes but then when left unattended to, it can equally assume a life of its own. I didn’t want any reaction since the security source was concealed and I think publishing such a weighty allegation and hiding the identity of the so-called security source of the allegation is not a good journalism practice. If someone is ready to make such a weighty allegation, he or she should be courageous to own up to it. If he or she can’t, then the claim is not worth media reporting, unless if the same view is shared by the media house. But I don’t think any media house in Nigeria will share that view. They have been following up on what has been happening and they have all been supportive. Let me, however, say on behalf of the people of Borno State, that may God harshly judge between us and that so-called source or whoever fabricated that childish nonsense. If he or she is actually a good security operative, where was he or she when the government arranged to kidnap the schoolgirls as he or she falsely claimed? How come he or she didn’t stop it? If he or she was capable of knowing who did it, he should have been capable of having a prior knowledge and stopping it. This is so insensitive to the parents of these girls and to our feelings as a people. Such weighty allegations are callous and insults to common sense. Instead of resorting to malicious concoctions and casting aspersions on our integrity, the solution to any so-called security source diving into politics is simple: remove the khaki and join the political fray. As Governor of Borno State, I am next to the parents of these girls, the most troubled by that incident. I am under immense pressure from families; I am even under pressure from my conscience. I am morally disturbed; these girls are daughters of Borno. By being abducted while in school, the Borno State Government naturally comes under more pressure because they were abducted while being under our care as a Government. The school was not the only one in session when that attack took place. No one anticipated the attack on that school. As humans, we all can analyse threats and map out areas of threats and those presumed to be safe. There were other schools where girls were writing exams, just like the one in Chibok. I don’t want to mention the schools for security reasons. No one in Borno stands to gain anything from that incident. Those who sit somewhere and say all manner of things don’t know what is happening in Borno. No security chief that has served in Borno since we came on board can accuse us of less than an extraordinary support. One of the first things we did after our inauguration in 2011 was to present dozens of armoured personnel carriers to the police. We have provided not less than 300 brand new Hilux patrol vehicles to security agencies, we provide daily fuelling and maintain the vehicles. We provide other material logistics and the service chiefs have unfettered access to my office. They are on my topmost priority list. My security aides usher them into my office as soon as they come and at any given time. We work with them as a team; they know everything we are doing. We collaborate very effectively. We pay one million naira to the family of every soldier killed in combat as immediate palliative to bereaved families. We support the police, too. I can’t go to press with other things we do. It will amount to be saying too much on security. The Defence Headquarters, the then Chief of Army Staff that had visited Borno severally, the Nigeria Police Headquarters, the DSS and para-military organizations always score us excellent in supporting security agencies in Borno. I just wonder why some unpatriotic elements, without the confidence of owning up to their comments, would sit down and forment mischief at a time we need to be more united to confront our common challenges. Chief Edwin Clark has called for military administrators for Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States because of the festering crisis. What is your reaction? Since I became governor in 2011, three things have featured topmost in my daily prayers to Allah. The first is for Allah to restore peace and grant us accelerated progress in Borno State and all parts of Nigeria. My second prayer is that Allah should never allow me to lust after or get carried away by power. My third prayer is that Allah should shield me from exchanging words with people, especially my elders, like Chief Edwin Clark. As Oliver Wendell Holmes rightly opined, “the peaceful are the strong”. I have never exchanged words with any elderly person. I cannot remember going into fierce verbal wars with even my mates. Until I found a younger brother in His Excellency, Ramalan Yero, in Kaduna, I was the youngest of the 36 governors in Nigeria. I’m 47 years old. I initially thought I was older than His Excellency, Governor Rotimi Amaechi because I look older than him, and thanks to Boko Haram, I later realized Amaechi is a year or two older than me. Thank God, now I have a younger one in Kaduna State. For the fact that I fall within the youngest of the Governors and for more compelling reasons of character, culture and religion, I do not exchange words with people. But I think Chief Clark has overstepped his boundaries, which has made him lose the status of an elder statesman. With due respect to his age, I must say it that elder Edwin Clark is one big burden on Mr President, rather than an asset. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is a good man; he is humble and self-effacing with genuine concerns for the nation. Someone like Elder Edwin Clark attracts ill-feelings for the President rather than goodwill. Clark, with his age that should have been wisdom, is supposed to attract friends for the President, he is supposed to unite the President with people no matter how extreme their views may be. Clark is supposed to go out of the way, travelling to various parts of this country, to penetrate all sections of this country using his old political friends to persuade people to win hearts and minds for the President. But rather than doing all of these, our so-called elder statesman, Edwin Clark is not just expanding gaps and creating more political enemies for the President, he is even turning friends of the President into political enemies. There is one thing Chief Clark doesn’t seem to understand. Sometimes, as an individual, there are things you cannot say when you are close to the President, because whatever you say can be interpreted to mean the mindset of the President. In Nigeria today, Chief Edwin Clark is generally seen as a sort of father to the President due to his closeness to the President, his age and his ethnicity as an Ijaw leader. So anything Chief Clark says is seen rightly or wrongly perceived as the mindset of the President. When Clark attacks any region verbally, the region feels that the attack is coming from the President, rather than see it as coming from Clark as an individual elder. This is why the old man must be very cautious on what he says. By saying the military should take over in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, Clark has lowered his reputation. For me, for instance, I didn’t know that Chief Clark was ignorant of the Nigerian Constitution, given his years in politics, his experience in public service as a former member of the Federal Executive Council, a public commentator etcetera. I cannot imagine why someone of his calibre would advocate that the President should suspend the constitution and act with impunity in a democratic era. I have gone through relevant sections of the Constitution: Sections 1, 11, 33, 35, 45, 180, 188, 189, 305, all of which and more, deal with issues relating to governance, powers of the National Assembly to take over the works of state assemblies, modalities for vacation of powers, declaration of emergency etc. I have listened to interpretations of the sections by senior constitutional lawyers. I have read the latest piece in response to Edwin Clark by our respected Chief Femi Falana, an erudite, senior constitutional lawyer. There is nowhere the constitution empowers a President or anyone to directly remove any elected public office holder in Nigeria. The constitution provides that a President, Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor can only leave office without completing tenure of office by death, permanent incapacity, resignation, impeachment or removal by a competent court of law. Sadly, the likes of Clark and clowns like Asari Dokubo and the newest of them, Olisa Metuh, have become albatross around the President’s neck. With friends like Chief Edwin Clark, Asari Dokubo and Olisa Metuh, our President does not need more enemies. Take, for instance, the President is the bigger partner in a joint ticket with the Vice President during elections. It is the President that nominates his Vice, it is the President that is declared winner of elections, the Vice President is a subordinate but despite all of these, the President has no constitutional powers to remove the very Vice President that he nominated for election, how much more of Governors whose elections have no relationship with that of the President. Under the constitution, the President has no powers to remove an elected councillor whose elective office is down in the ladder. People often make reference to the removal of then Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti and Joshua Dariye in Pleateau. I also remember that a court ruling declared that Dariye’s removal was unconstitutional. It was possible to remove Dariye because of the hangover of military mentality we had in Nigeria then, which is not the case today. As at that time, our democracy was at infancy level. Today, every Nigerian is conscious of what is constitutional and what is not, except for people like elder Edwin Clark. The actions of a President today, by way of removing a democratically elected governor, would attract global resistance. Nigeria’s reputation will be brought down by that singular action. And let me assure you that the court will reverse that decision. Most importantly, let me tell you this. I am a Muslim and I tell you, Wallahil Azeem, I don’t mind leaving power today if I am sure a decision to bring military administrator will bring about peace in Borno State. I don’t mind sacrificing my life for peace to come to Borno. But I am absolutely sure that bringing in a military administrator will be the worst decision in this country. It will alienate the communities, it will be seen as an affront against civilians, and there will be clear disconnection. When the military was deployed to Borno some two years ago, the civilian population was clearly apprehensive of the military. They regarded the military as agents of destruction. It took us more than one year to build a strong connection between the military and the civilians across Borno, so much that our youths today regard the military as their brothers. When the Giwa military barracks in Maiduguri was attacked in March, youths, rather than hide away from gunshots, came out in large numbers and went to the barracks to support the military. We, the political elements, interface between the communities and the military. We inspire communities when we go to them after they suffer attacks. When we rebuild their homes, offer them succour and support, we make them see government as a partner. They would fight government and the security if we hadn’t been supporting them. We do a lot of work behind the scene to get information that is crucial to security agencies. Security operatives are human beings, not spirits. They rely on community men and women for information. We are custodians of these community men and women. Some are our appointees as traditional rulers. We work with all the civilian segments, traditional rulers, religious leaders, civil societies, opinion leaders, big and small families, individuals, past and present elected and appointed leaders in the Borno State Government. We have close to 30 lawmakers at the legislature. They have aides, they work with communities at the grassroots. These communities are custodians of information. We have commissioners, advisers, senior special assistants, special assistants and all of these appointees represent communities across the 27 local government areas that make up Borno State. Some or most of the appointees have aides either personal assistants or at least drivers or house helps and all of these groups of aides are custodians of information. A lot of information is gathered through a sort of chain in democratic structures which can never be obtained in the military system. The military is a combat structure; it is established to crush enemies. It is not civil and this is why they were designed for external defence, not internal security operation that they are now compelled to do. Insurgency cannot be fought succesfully without political elements needed to de-radicalise people, to get them involved. In Borno today, there is a mass movement against insurgents. Political elements, whether the state or local governments, in the executive or legislature, at party levels comprise of people who represent all the communities in the state. The people are not from the moon. They represent all our over 300 wards across 27 local government areas and they work with residents of their communities. They try to know everything around the communities they represent. They are the mobilizers of communities. How can any reasonable person advocate that all these community mobilizers that are so crucial in security control be suspended at a period their services are needed most? As a governor, if I hear of an attack in any community in Borno, before getting intelligence report, all I do is to call the chairman of the council where that ward is located. I call the commissioner and adviser representing the council. I call the assembly member and, in a few minutes, they will give me raw information after interfacing with their kinsmen at home who may even be the victims. If there are threats, I get information from the same chain and we know what to do. We need to understand this country and its people. We need to always do a proper diagnosis of our problems in order to apply the right prescriptions and with precision. It is true that over the years, the military regime contributed in many ways to the progress of this country, but conflict resolution is best done under a democratic system. The Niger Delta militancy was very active under the military and even under a respected retired general, Obasanjo who commanded troops during the Biafran war the Niger Delta militancy wasn’t solved. The militancy was eventually addressed by a non-combatant civilian, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, who was so harmless that he wasn’t capable of killing a fly using coercion. Problems are better solved with a combination of political wisdom and military resources. I am not saying all these in desperation to hang on to power. Of Allah’s entire gifts to humanity, power is the most transient and, believe me, none of its vagaries holds any tenacious attraction to me. Senator Ndume told us recently that most local governments here have been lost to the insurgents. Is that true? I will be dying in silence if I lie to you by hiding the true picture of the security situation in our local government areas. The truth is that we have some challenges in some parts of the state but I can tell you that no single of our 27 local government areas is controlled by Boko Haram. There are instances of attacks they carry out and flee, but when you say control, it means they are authorities, they administer the councils. But no local government is under them. We have political administrations in all the 27 local government areas and I can visit any of the councils. Some months back, prior to the declaration of emergency, we had some parts of Northern Borno comprising some 10 local government areas dominated by insurgents. In particular, Marte local government was controlled by them, I think with two or three more councils. But our very patriotic military, in combined efforts with the Police, the DSS and other paramilitary organizations, recovered the councils. I must say the emergency proclamation was very effective until the last five or so months that we witnessed an unfortunate resurgence of attacks. That is also being addressed. There is increased and I must say, so much commitment on the part of the Presidency, more than ever before. I am sure the efforts will, at the end, yield overwhelming result. But nothing will gladden my heart like seeing the insurgents embrace the path of dialogue and peaceful resolution. You were reported to have said you have been unhappy as governor. Why? How can I be happy when citizens I am under constitutional oath, and with moral and religious duty, to protect are being killed? How can I be happy when as we speak, over 200 daughters of Borno are being held somewhere? How can I be happy when hundreds of Borno sons and daughters are six feet under the ground out of cruelty? How can I be happy when, as a governor I am forced to close down schools? How can I be happy when hundreds have lost their homes and sources of livelihood? How can I be happy when we have spent over N10 billion that should have been used for developmental needs to resist man’s inhumanity, and yet we are still spending? How can I be happy when people were forced to close their shops, avoid markets, abandon schools, and stay away from the relations? How can I be happy when the economy of Borno is being grounded to a halt by our own people? I just don’t want to go on, please. Only Allah knows exactly how I feel. Not even I can explain the extent of what goes through my mind every day. There was one night, about one and half years ago, I was thinking that I should resign. I was so frustrated that the insurgents were waxing very strong, I was feeling helpless and I didn’t want Borno to collapse and surrender to insurgents under a regime that had me at the helm of affairs. But then, I thought that somebody has to be at the helm of affairs in Borno. If I am not there, someone has to be there. By the way, I asked myself, what was it that was to make me leave? Was it fear of death, a fear of challenge or just trauma? I am a fanatic of motivational quotes. There was one by Meg Cabot that inspires me, which states that “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.” That night, I then said to myself, wasn’t it better for a leader to die for a good cause than to abandon his own kinsmen and women to live for nothing at all and forever be remembered for abandoning his people? Since that day I made up my mind to confront whatever challenge is before Borno State and work towards the recovery and progress of the state. I have conquered the fear of challenge, but I live with the reality of the trauma our citizens face and that gives me immense headache. I have resolved without any doubt that insha Allah, we will together as a people rise again. Borno will be great again, I tell you. In my idea of Borno, there is no APC, no PDP, no Muslim, no Christian, no Kanuri, no Babur, no Margi or Shuwa. There is one united people of Borno, though faced with common threats, but driven by the indomitable spirit of resilience and the God-given determination to overcome tribulations. I am an eternal optimist. I so much believe that we shall rise again. I was sworn in at a time when there were serial killings of innocent citizens; when insurgents recruited young men to set schools ablaze; when the Borno we knew when we were growing up had become a shadow of itself, just because some few persons chose to violently impose their misguided views on us. Today, by the grace of God, Maiduguri is safe as you all know. Biu is safe, Monguno and even Bama are safe. Gwoza town, Marte, Damasak, Gubio and most of the councils are safe, but there are still challenges in isolated parts of the country side which are being addressed. Before your election in 2011, there was a political campaign that if your party was voted into power, Boko Haram insurgency would not end. The prophecy seems to have come to pass. Do you suspect the crisis is to frustrate your government? The motive would have been mild if it was to frustrate government. There might be other motives I might not know, but to my understanding the motive is to take over the souls of the people of Borno and turn them into slaves of violent ideology. The motive is nothing short of destruction of lives and property with the aim of taking over human thoughts and curtailing their rights and privileges. The motive is to send into extinction any human race that is opposed to a violent doctrine that has no basis in Islam. Bishop Matthew Kukah told me in an interview that Government does not understand the Boko Haram sect, that is why it has been difficult to tackle it. As governor, what are the mindsets, demands, motivation that have kept the sect alive? In life, the most inspiring force is a strong spiritual belief regardless of the rightness or wrongness of the action. As Blaise Pascal rightly captured it and I quote “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” When you have spiritual belief in something, one might go to any extent to attain that goal. Though, to me, there can never be a belief that should lead a man into slicing the throats of fellow innocent humans for the simple reason that those humans share different ideology or faiths. For me, there are two major factors that drive the Boko Haram sect, which are spiritual belief and economic desires. Those with spiritual beliefs are led into believing that when they kill, they obtain rewards from Allah and the rewards translate into houses in paradise. When they are killed, they automatically die as martyrs and go to paradise straight away. In other words, death is the beginning of their pleasure. Then, whoever they target to kill is an infidel and will go to hell. They mostly target security personnel, government officials and politicians. They also target residents who they assume support government and security agencies or do not share their ideology of being opposed to western education. One dangerous thing about their ideology is their belief that when they attack a gathering or a community, any righteous person in the sight of God, who dies as a result of their attack, will go to paradise, which means they would have assisted the person to go to paradise in good time by their actions, and any infidel killed by their attack will go to hell, which to them is what he or she deserves and no regret for his death. This is the spiritual aspect that drives the sect, to the best of my understanding. But then there is also the economic aspect that drives some of them, particularly recruits who unfortunately are field operators. Some of them are paid to carry out attacks. Last year, when the President ordered the release of some detained suspects, some teenagers were brought to us at the Government House and when we asked them why they were arrested, some of them said to everyone’s hearing that they were being paid as little as N5,000 to set our schools ablaze. Some of them were paid less to spy on soldiers and make calls to insurgents to report their vulnerability so insurgents could ambush them. The teenagers obviously were either feeding their parents or taking care of themselves. This means, if there was spread of wealth through job opportunities, the teenagers would have no business depending on themselves. Their parents would have taken care of them. Those children who become independent as teenagers in their search for economic fortunes are the same people exposed to all manner of religious preaching and manipulations. They develop independence over their parents to live with their views, while the parents can hardly influence them since they feed their parents. The element of lack is man’s worst nightmare. From Islamic point of view, our noble Prophet, Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, has enjoined Msulims to pray against poverty; it is a dangerous disease. If you look on the streets of any city in Nigeria, you will find only the children of the poor hawking on dangerous traffic while their colleagues from rich or middle class homes are in school or secured places. If you will take a sample of the backgrounds of majority of the sect members, you are likely to discover that most are children from backgrounds that have been deprived of economic opportunities. We must put in place a far reaching Master Plan to spread wealth and create massive economic opportunities for everyone. It is in our self-enlightened interest to do this. Otherwise, as it is today, when, as leaders we steal all the money and build mansions everywhere, we will never have peace if our neighbors are hungry. When we choose to relocate to reserved areas, the hungry will easily catch up with us because they are in far higher numbers and they will collaborate with the gardeners you employ, the drivers you have since they share the same conditions. As I have always said, beneath the mayhem of Boko Haram, underneath the nihilism of Boko Haram lies the underlying cause, which is social exclusivity and extreme poverty. Once we engage the youths, once we create jobs, this nihilism, this madness will evaporate. At our current rate of population growth, we are expected to double our population every 22 years. By 2035, we are expected to hit the 400 million mark. We are projected to become more populous than the United States of America. What are our plans for these millions we are bringing forth? Oil is our main source of revenue. With the technology of hydraulic tracking and horizontal drilling, 15 African nations are expected to become oil producing countries by 2016. The United States of America, which is one of the major importers of our oil, is projected to become the largest producer of oil soon because of the new technology of oil sourcing. The price of oil is hovering around $108 per barrel at the moment. By the time more countries export, some experts project that the price of oil will fall, whether we like it not, even though we hope not. By the time oil price falls to between $35 or $40 per barrel or the prices slashes by 50% from $108, how much will be available to take care of an increasing population? What do we care? Most of us leaders are mostly concerned about this election and the next one. We do not care about what happens in between the two elections. Funny enough, our economy, as a nation, has direct effect on our democracy on which basis we are carried away by elections. I was reading a book, titled “The Future of Freedom” authored by that wonderful presenter on CNN, Fareed Zakaria, in which he gave scientific insights that suggest that the stronger the economy of a nation, the greater its chances of having an uninterrupted democracy. The book gave insight of studies by some political scientists, I think one Adam Przeworski and one Fernando Limongi, if I am right, who examined countries in the world from 1950 and 1990 and at the end calculated that in a democratic country that has a per capita income of under $1,500, the democracy of the country has an average life expectancy of just eight years, while those with per capita that is around $3,600 have democracies with better prospects. The political scientists went down memory lane to dig into European countries in the 1820s and at later times with findings that the democracies of most European countries became stable only after they hit around $6000 per capita. Our per capita in Nigeria is ranging around $2,700, which is fluctuating. We need to work our economy to address crime by improving living conditions of citizens and to also have an uninterrupted democracy. You are one of the leaders. What are you doing about the situation as per the economy of Borno State? The solution is in agriculture. Land, rather than oil, is the most precious of all natural resources. Borno is the largest state in Nigeria. Borno is 14 times bigger than Abia. Borno is 20 times bigger than Lagos. Borno is three times the size of the South-East fused into one. Nigeria spends nearly $20 billion annually on imported food stuff. We are the greatest food importing nation. Borno has the greatest advantage of diverting so much of the funds Nigeria spends on food importation and this is why the cornerstone of our programmes is agriculture. I am trained as an Agricultural Economist, with focus on wealth creation through agriculture. For the first time in 20 years, we funded the cultivation of 7,000 hectares of wheat in conjunction with the Chad Basin Development Authority, which created 28,000 jobs through allocation of a hectare to a farm family of four. The jobs are just at the levels of cultivation, you can then imagine the number of jobs you can create at other levels of processing, packaging, marketing and accounting. We are investing massively in all kinds of irrigation. We have set up an agricultural revolutionary team with the best hands any state can have. At the moment, we have imported 50 units of sprinkler and centre pivot irrigation equipment at a pilot stage. We are already installing them at a new farm site. By the estimate of our agric team, we will need over 400 units of the equipment to be put in farms to increase our cropping. Nebraska, in the United States, is regarded as world Number One on irrigation equipment. I was there in March. We had meetings with a leading company that is actually doing installations of imported irrigation equipment for us as we speak. We had meetings with the Governor of the State of Nebraska so that we guarantee business integrity in our dealings. We are taking custody of 400 containers of agricultural equipment, worth billions of naira. We have sent 50 unemployed graduates of agriculture for three months train-the-trainers course on modern agriculture at a University in Thailand. More trainees will be leaving for India in a week. We have business ties with Jain Irrigation of India, which is also a global player. We have ties with some others in China. We are working on value chain agriculture. We have imported 500 mobile rice mills and also groundnut processing machines. We are forming cooperatives for these implements; we already have a microfinance bank established through which farmers can have access to loans. Just wait, insha-Allah, you will see wonders in Borno. Our best option is to create opportunities by investing in agriculture, developing our industries, building the capacity of our citizens, providing quality public and private school education, reorganize our thinking to focus on community policing and many other steps we must take as leaders and followers to end these killings and destructions. *Source Sahara Reporters (To be continued)]]>