Saturday, 24 October 2015

BOKO HARAM: GUNNING FOR A RELIGIOUS WAR

The insurgency in the North Eastern part of Nigeria has left thousands dead and millions displaced from their homes. If you are reading this, you know that the punch you felt at the onset of the insurgency is sadly lacking today. This is because the reports of attacks are almost daily now, with Borno, Yobe and parts of Adamawa taking the brunt of the attacks. Yes, the attacks have spread from the North East to other states like Kano, Kaduna, Niger and Jos (allegedly) and even the capital city, Abuja, but none of these states have had to deal with the sheer loss of lives and displacement of people as the North Eastern states of Nigeria have.

Now, I have been following the news about the insurgency; not only because it saddens me to see people murdered in cold blood and my role as a journalist, but also
because I live in the North East. You cannot imagine the thought process that goes through my head every single time I hear of an invasion, ambush, attack or bombing. I know my family, friends and loved ones aren’t really keen on my being in the North East so I know that they worry when they hear the stories coming from the this region.

After the bomb blast in Yola yesterday (October 23, 2015), I came home to several missed calls from my family wondering if I was okay. I had to call my mother, grandmother, sisters and friend to assure them of my safety. It was while I was doing this that something struck me.


'BOKO HARAM MILITANTS SEEM TO BE GUNNING FOR A RELIGIOUS WAR IN THE COUNTRY'

I pursued this thought for a bit and imagined that I was finally becoming a conspiracy theorist. The thought wouldn’t leave me, no matter how hard I tried to shake it off. It even followed me to my dreams.

I decided to do some research about it and my research is lending more and more credence to the theory. Let me explain my thought process.

When Goodluck Jonathan was president of Nigeria, the Boko haram sect became bigger, more ruthless, much more daring and inhumane in their insurgency. Many people expressed what they thought was the Boko Haram ideology. At first, it seemed like they wanted to prevent formal education as postulated by Western countries. Then it seemed like they wanted to prevent any thing that looked like the West; religion (in this case Christianity), government institutions, the security forces and the general capitalist ideology that the country was tilting towards. It was no surprise then that the United Nations building, prisons, police headquarters, schools, markets, parks, government buildings and churches were attacked.

While most people expressed shock at the attacks, it really didn’t touch people until places of worship (churches) started being attacked. People were mortified that the sect would dare to go to ‘houses of GOD’ to perpetuate their heinous blood-lust. The number of attacks on churches increased such that people waited every Sunday to hear which church had been attacked where. Here are a few examples of such reports as chronicled by Wikipedia.

           1.     December 25, 2011 – 41 people were killed by Boko Haram militant attacks and shootings at churches in Madalla, Jos, Gakada and Damaturu. This marked the beginning of attacks in churches;
   
          2.     January 5-6, 2012 – 37 Christians were targeted and killed by the Boko Haram militia;

          3.     April 8, 2012 – 38 people were killed following a bombing at a church in Kaduna;

         4.     June 17, 2012 – 19 people were murdered following bomb attacks against three churches in Kaduna. The bombings in Kaduna stretched already terse nerves between Muslims and Christians in the state;

         5.     August 7, 2012 – Deeper Life church shooting; 19 people were killed when Boko Haram gunmen raided a church in Kogi state. This lead to reprisal attacks the following day, resulting in the death of two soldiers and one Muslim;

         6.     December 25, 2012 – 27 Christians were killed in Maiduguri and Potiskum by suspected Boko Haram Militants;

         7.     December 28, 2012 – another 15 Christians were murdered in the villages of Musari by unknown gunmen thought to be Boko Haram;

         8.     January 31, 2014 – 11 Christians were killed in Chakawa by Boko Haram;

         9.     February 14, 2014 – while many people were celebrating Valentine’s Day, the Borno Massacre happened. In that massacre, 121 Christian villagers were killed by Boko Haram in Konduga, Borno state;
  
        10.  February 15, 2014 – a day after that horrible massacre, 90 more Christians were killed in Gwosa by Boko Haram. In that same attack, it was reported that 9 soldiers also lost their lives;

       11.  June 2, 2014 – the Gwosa Massacre, where 200 (mostly Christian villagers) were killed, happened in Borno state. The attack was attributed to the Boko Haram sect.

In comparison, the numbers of mosques attacked while Goodluck Jonathan was president were far fewer than the number of churches attacked. These attacks were;

          1.     August 12, 2013 – in an attack in a Maiduguri mosque, 56 people were killed;

          2.     November 3, 2014 – a double suicide bombing in Yobe state left 15 Shiites dead;

          3.     November 28, 2014 –  a bleak day indeed for many Muslim faithful, especially friend and families of the 120 Muslims killed during suicide bombings and gun attacks. The people killed were followers of the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II and they were killed at the Kano mosque where the Emir prays;

         4.     February 1, 2014 – a suicide bomber killed five people outside a mosque in Gombe.

So it seemed like the insurgents were targeting people who shared the same religious belief as the incumbent president. This, I believe, was to push the president to do something irrational, like choose sides and order the killing of those who didn't share his faith.

Many Christians cried out to the president to stop the wanton massacre of ‘our people’; tugging at his similarity in faith to the deceased. We will remember that when Goodluck sent troops to come heavily on those he believed to be elements of the insurgency, many prominent Northerners who were Muslims, came heavily against him, warning him to stop killing ‘Muslims’.

The fabric of unity between Muslims and Christians in the North East was gradually being torn apart, with each side secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) blaming the other for attacks on their respective places of worship. Christians felt that Boko Haram was a Muslim agenda to chase Christian out of the North and as long as Muslims didn’t condemn attacks on churches, this belief was further cemented. And every time a Mosque was attacked, Muslims felt that Christians were behind it. In fact, I can boldly say that Christians believed Boko Haram insurgents were Muslims as much as Muslims believed the insurgents were Christians.

I think that whoever is funding this insurgency is pushing for a religious war for profit making. At that point, it seemed to be working because the insurgency had successfully polarized the country. Many people were just waiting for an opportunity to lash out on those who did not share their belief or faith. This could very easily have been seen on social media and even on religious conferences hosted by Imams and Pastors alike.

This pushed the nation to a place of palpable tension just before the elections. As a Nigerian, you knew the elections were more a ‘Christian Vs Muslim’, ‘North Vs South’ thing than it was a Jonathan/Buhari issue. If Jonathan had won the elections, I am almost positive that we would have been at war now; a war that would have been much worse than the civil war because it would have been fuel by the biggest and deadliest motivation called ‘religion’. I also believe that if he had not conceded defeat, the same would have been true.

So when Jonathan conceded defeat, I believe that it was paramount to preventing the long road down that thorny path called war.

The sponsors of this insurgency are not happy with this. A war THAT massive would have meant really big bucks for them; money from ammunition, food, and migration of people fleeing the war. I believe that they have changed tactics to still get Nigeria to go to war and these tactics involves touching President Muhammadu Buhari where it matters the most; his faith. Below is a timeline of attacks on Muslims since President Buhari assumed office:

           1.     May 20, 2015 – 26 people were killed in a suicide attack on a Maiduguri mosque;

           2.     June 22, 2015 – in something called the Maiduguri Mosque Bombing, 30 people were killed at a crowded mosque by 2 female suicide bombers. Boko Haram marked the start of Ramadan by targeting a mosque that they see as falling short in following the Prophet;

          3.     July 1-2, 2015 – Boko Haram militants attacked multiple mosques and 48 men and boys were killed in Kukuwa. The same attack left 17 people wounded. In the second set of attacks which happened on July 2, 17 people were killed and 97 people were wounded in numerous mosques in Maiduguri;

          4.     October 15, 2015 – 2 bombs exploded near a mosque, killing at least 30 people at the evening prayer time in Maiduguri;

          5.     October 23, 2015 – twin bomb blast killed 18 in a mosque in the Jiddari Polo area of Maiduguri;

          6.     And most recently, October 23, 2015 – a suicide bomb explosion which occurred at a Jummat Mosque in Jambutu, Jimeta, Yola, the Adamawa state capital, has left at least 27 Muslim worshipers killed and about 96 people injured (as at time of post).

In comparison to the one attack on Christians since May 29, 2015, which happened on July 5 at a church in Postikum, it is obvious that the tactics of the insurgents have changed. Though the number of Christians killed was placed at 5, it is a far cry from the number of Muslims targeted and killed since President Buhari was sworn into office.

This brings me to my theory, which could possibly make me into something I am not fond of; a conspiracy theorist.

“The sponsors of Boko Haram want a religious war in Nigeria that could be the mother of all wars in the country. Putting our vast population, natural resources and emerging economy, a religious war in Nigeria will destabilize West Africa, and quite possibly, Africa as a whole. It will also allow uncouth businessmen to illegally mine and export natural resources from Nigeria which we haven’t found use for yet. Africa is the next region for investment and innovation and whoever conquers Africa holds all the aces. The problem is, Africans are more enlightened now than we were during colonialism. Conquering Africa wouldn’t be easy for any group of businessmen. How can they make it easy? Simple! Just incite Africans against each other until they go to war and then swoop in when the carnage has escalated.
Africans, and Nigerians particularly, are deeply religious people. We can kill if we feel our religion has been slighted in any way. Apart from our regional issues, we are most testy about religion. It is our curse! The sponsors of Boko Haram know this and they want to use our incumbent presidents as the trigger. When there was a Christian president, the tactic was to attack Christians. Now that we have a Muslim president, attack Muslims and create hate and suspicion. If the president gets mad enough to do something stupid, it triggers a war”
I hope I am wrong and the Boko haram sect is just a bunch of misfits under the influence of drugs. If I am right though, then this war will be better won if the President goes after the head (i.e. sponsors). Decapitating the head will naturally cause the death of the limbs, torso and other parts of the body known as Boko Haram. Going after the foot soldiers only without destroying the masterminds is akin to shooting the thigh and expecting the person to die. The wound will hurt, it will slow down his progress, the leg might even have to be cut off but the person will survive….and survive with a vengeance!

I am not a military person nor have I ever had any military training apart from my espionage novels, but I think that the military needs to really look into this possibility; though, I am pretty sure they already know this. 


What do you think of this theory? Am I clutching at straws? Could there even be a possibility of truth in this? Talk to me and share your views.

3 comments:

  1. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for circumstances they want, and if they cannot find them, make them.
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    ReplyDelete
  2. I think you are right.
    But I believe we won't go to war.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think you are right.
    But I believe we won't go to war.

    ReplyDelete