The North-East and the Boko Haram challenge


By Emmanuel Onwubiko

The Oath of office of President is enshrined in the seventh schedule of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (of 1999 as amended). This Oath of office is solemn and inviolable and ought to guide the holder of the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the most important commandment of political leadership.

On 29th May 2011 when the current President took this oath of office, he solemnly pledged to Nigerians to strive to preserve the fundamental objectives and Directive principles of state policy contained in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 1 (1) of the Constitution provides clearly that this Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

More than a year after he took his Oath of office to assume the high responsibility, the current presidency has all but failed woefully to fulfill the constitutional provisions that importantly obliges him to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians. Section 14(2) (b) provides specifically that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. But since assuming office, President Jonathan has presided over an administration that is largely seen as weak, clueless and ineffective in the area of ensuring security of lives and property of the citizenry.

Non-state actors who are well armed have waged terror-related violence in most parts of the North and have almost made governance in the North- Eastern states of Yobe and Borno virtually impossible. The activities of armed Islamic insurgency known as Boko Haram has almost led to the collapse of the economy of the North-East. In all of these murderous attacks, the Federal government and specifically, President Jonathan is yet to show effective leadership in ensuring that those responsible for these dastardly attacks on state institutions, churches and even innocent civilians including government officials are brought to Justice.

The best description for the inability of the Presidency to contain these mass killings is to say that the Federal government is in a state of “organized confusion” over the unprecedented rise in terrorism. In Borno state, the immediate past Governor Senator Ali Modu Sherriff was credited with adopting some measures which were meant to address the threats posed locally then by the members of the banned Islamic sect headed by their leader Sheik Mohammed Yusuf who was later killed through extra-legal means while in detention.

The immediate past governor was also said to have set up high powered investigative panel to uncover the remote and immediate causes of the sectarian violence which has now become full blown terrorism that is threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria. Ironically, this same man [Ali Modu Sherrif] is being accused by some politicians of sponsorship of a group he had worked so hard as governor to dismantle.

Worst still the Federal government is busy chasing shadows rather than get serious with the work of resolving the unprecedented terrorism that has consumed thousands of lives. From our extensive findings, it is logical to arrive at the conclusion that rather than being a sponsor, the immediate past Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sherrif is a victim of the ongoing sectarian and terror-related violence and in no way can be logically or rationally linked with it even remotely with the sponsorship of the ongoing violence in parts of North- East because we know too well that no sane political leader can unleash terrorism on his political terrain whereby his political party members control the political hierarchy.

No sane man can sponsor violence against his own interest. We hereby call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to declare members of the All Nigerian Peoples Party [ANPP] in the North-Eastern States of Yobe and Borno as ‘endangered species’ who ought to be accorded special protection under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria There are incontrovertible facts to show that as the then Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sherrif set up different high powered investigative panels on the Boko Haram insurgency. These courageous efforts of the immediate past administration in Borno State clearly exonerates the immediate past governor as remotely connected to the sponsorship of the violent insurgency in Borno State.

The then governor Ali Modu Sherrif on August 17th 2009 inaugurated the Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari-led administrative committee of inquiry into the Boko Haram insurgency to among other salient terms of reference; determine the immediate and remote causes of the disturbance; determine and identify persons or groups responsible for the violence; determine the number of lives lost in the course of the disturbance; determine the extent and cost of property destroyed in the violence and to determine if there is the need for Government to assist persons, groups or bodies affected by the disturbance.

Specifically, the 14 man panel included such prominent Nigerians as Alhaji Abdulahi Shettima, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police; Brigadier-General I.H. Ndaliman, the Brigade Commander, 21st Armoured Brigade, the Nigerian Air force Commander- Group Captain I. Maida; the State Police Commissioner, Director of State Security Service in Borno State, the State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps; representative of the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service and the Borno State Permanent Secretary and the Solicitor General Mr. Yakubu Bukar.

This high caliber panel of investigators clearly are not the type of persons that could be influenced to reach a predetermined conclusions given the fact that they were impartial representatives of several Federal Government agencies and the Nigerian Armed Forces. This probe panel clearly did not identify the then Governor as the sponsor of the Boko Haram. In the same August precisely on 5th of August 2009, a committee was constituted by the then National Security Adviser to probe the Boko Haram insurgency on the directive of the then President. The Presidential panel was headed by the then Chief of Defence Staff- Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike. Other members include Major-General B.M. Monguno, Deputy Inspector General of Police I.O. Ajao; Ambassador Haruna Wando; Brigadier General M. Bala Ali.

The committee was set up sequel to the directive of the then President to investigate the sectarian crises in some States in the Northern part of the country. The crisis as was compiled by the investigative panel was masterminded by the Boko Haram sect which resulted in the loss of lives of the members of the sect; other innocent Nigerians and some security personnel. The leaders of the Sect Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf was also killed in manners suspected to be extra-judicial. The circumstances surrounding his death, however. generated a lot of controversy as well as criticism of government largely from the members of the public.

The Presidential Investigative panel was constituted to probe the allegations of high handedness of security operatives which occasioned avoidable death of innocent members of the public and the extra-judicial killing of the sectarian leader by the Police. The then President gave the panel the terms of reference to among other thematic areas of focus to examine the incident in all ramifications before, during and after the crisis and examine the role of individuals and groups in causing the crisis and/or preventing it from being expeditiously resolved.

Again, the immediate past governor of Borno State was completely handed a clean bill of health. Rather than blame the immediate past governor of Borno State for being the sponsor of the Boko Haram sect, this high powered Presidential panel whose membership were drawn from the highest security quarters in Nigeria including the highest ranking Air Force Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, clearly stated that members of Boko Haram have…”Always been lawless and contemptuous of the state authorities”.

The Presidential panel exonerated the immediate past governor of Borno State in the well considered findings that was submitted to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. On page 23 of the report, the Presidential probe panel discovered thus; “The activities of the sect have attracted the attention of the governor of Borno state since he assumed office in 2003. When security report revealed the threat posed by the sect, there was evidence to show that he took steps to check the excesses of the group. The committee noted that at the initial stage of the group’s activities, the governor [Ali Modu Sherriff] convened a meeting of religious leaders and the security agencies to discuss the issue.

Similarly, the Borno State Security Council met on several occasions to address the simmering threats of the sect and measures were taken by the Borno State government to contain the sect. These included banning the sect from preaching in the state as well as the arrest and eventual deportation to Niger Republic of one of the sect leaders- Abubakar Kilikam. Besides, the Presidential probe panel also found out that the then Borno State Government indeed committed several hundreds of millions of public fund to fund activities of the security forces from the Nigerian Armed Forces to bring about peace in Borno State. Onwubiko write via [email protected]

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  2. My brother, I would not like you to be short sighted in the issue of the presidency. Boko Haram is just a phenomena that dord not call for a hasty and irrational decision. What dop you suggest to the presidency as the solution the the Boko Haram menace? Feclaration of war against them, which will still amount to killing yhousands of innocent souls in a successfull killing of one sect member? Now, dont you think that those guys are not living in oblivion, they livoe amidst people and people know them but fear to reveal them for their lives which they later loose. Where doed the presidency fail you? I challenge you to think ok.

  3. Mahmud Abdulsalam on

    What may be the reason why Boko Haram is still a problem is because of the money allocated to security (money that are not going to be accounted for). The people in power (due to their corrupt nature) will not like to put a stoppage to the flow of such money, which will automatically decrease or even as soon as the crisis is over. If the Government is going to be responsible enough the problem can be handle in less than three weeks.

  4. Former Governor of Borno state Ali Modu Sheriff was not the financier of Boko Haram but his lack of leadership which culminated to formation of Join Task Force (JTF) during his reigh has resulted to the immediate cause of the crisis in year 2009. It was well known that the sect members on their way to grave yard to bury one of their accident victim the JTF shot several of their members for not wearing helmets. This extra judicial shooting of their members forced the members to take law into their hand and declared war on all security forces in the country. If the former Governor has leadeship quality he could have invited their leaders and shoulder their hospital bills, belief the situation will not worse to this extend. The former Governor has erroneous belief that he can silent the sect and opposition party through the use of JTF and go back to senate. Is unfortunate look at the thousand innocent peoples that lost their life for lack of leadership of the former governor.

    • This writer may have been paid to clean Sheriffs image .I am sure he owns one of those phoney NGO’s littering kaduna ,kano Maiduguri Adamawa and Zaria.You hear them on BBC Hausa,Radio France,DW saying all kinds of things.So many igbos have lost their lives in Borno Why are Igbos always used for things like this ? Who is it that yet to be convinced of the wickedness of Sheriff and the Kanuris of Borno in general .God punish writers like this !

  5. Chukwunonso Nwafor on

    I suppport last comment, issues of security mainly must be from people in the area, no security agent will work successful without the support from people of that area, Northerns know were their problem comes from let them stop it although it affect all Nigerians but let them know that if you destroy your house you will sleep outside.criticizeing the president will never solve the problem, government is group of people responsible for controlling a country or a state not a person so me and you is government not GEJ only, do the right Nigeria will be ok!

  6. .This writer may have been paid to clean Sheriffs image .I am sure he owns one of those phoney NGO’s littering kaduna ,kano Maiduguri Adamawa and Zaria.You hear them on BBC Hausa,Radio France,DW saying all kinds of things.So many igbos have lost their lives in Borno Why are Igbos always used for things like this ? Who is it that yet to be convinced of the wickedness of Sheriff and the Kanuris of Borno in general .God punish writers like this !

  7. Engineer CDH NCP on

    Nigerians should not be deceived. Goodluck Jonathan is the BIGGEST Boko Haram. Why should his Government be talking of minor things when the major ones are still unsolved?

  8. @Chukwunonso Nwafor, government could be a collective responsibility of all else where but not in Nigeria. How do you feel that few appendages to power are holding the nation to ransom and milking the nation dry and at the same time preaching patriotism. If Jonathan is sincere about moving nigeria forward and needs everybody,s co-operation, he should first purge himself of corruption. For him to have the moral standing to preach patrio tism to us he must bath himself clean. For me, i recommend anarchy till nigeria is consumed.

  9. @Chukwunonso Nwafor, government could be a collective responsibility of all else where but not in Nigeria. How do you feel that few appendages to power are holding the nation to ransom and milking the nation dry and at the same time preaching patriotism. If Jonathan is sincere about moving nigeria forward and needs everybody,s co-operation, he should first purge himself of corruption. For him to have the moral standing to preach patrio tism to us he must bath himself clean.

  10. Barr. Al-Amin S, very unfortunate that you are talking like a lay man on the street. As a lawyer you advice any body who feel offended to take laws into his hand. I love your advice at least it will make you and court judges less busy.

  11. This writer must be a stupid man, for telling the world, Ali Modu Sheriff try to bring peace, one who create confusion and insecurity, in Borno State. Find out the relationship between Boko Haram, Ecomog and Sen Ali Modu sheriff, before talk good side of the Evil Sheriff. God punish you…!!!

  12. Ezeifekwuaba. Tochukwu. B on
  13. Ezeifekwuaba. Tochukwu. B on

    There will be peace and harmony when there is break up in this country, i speak and write with my whole mind.

  14. Writer was paid,period! I hate it whenever people say u have to soft peddle when dealing with demon possessed terrorists! There is NO gentleman way to tackle terror. It must be met head on with brute force. Collateral damage? Well,thats a price we must be willing to pay…

  15. Ndigbo ndonu,you will die ego will remain,why do ndigbo decide to remain slaves because money? Unu enwekwolu consience.

  16. He that wears a shoe knows were its paining him or her. Believe me that Senator Ali sheriff did what other governors suppossed to have done, even you. For a example, citizens from other partS of the country including you and i are now pushing president jonathan to emphasis his constitutional right quoting or citing verious area of the authority that backs him as the president; at same time blaming Senator Ali who have already emphasised his in order to secure his state. If you could remember what general Abacha did to the people of Niger dalta as the time declared” which every of us know that their own case was pure, today, you are blaming jonathan for being weak why? Do you want him to kill like northern generals or to send me or you to fight this northern boys if not police, sss and soldiers who are already there.

  17. Dear all. The issue of Ali Sheriff vs BH, very complex and confusing. In the other hand, GEJ vs JTF which been the worst of killing innocents & suspects, destroying & stealing people’s properties among others. Remember that this world is just a temporary assignment. Each an every one of us possessed a single soul. Be it civilian, leader, poor or who so ever you are. You must get rid of it one day. Above all, you will be account of all your did. We are still paying day in & day out, never give up from seeking & hopping of peace to be restored in our city, country & the world. Borno will be peaceful than ever before. INSHA ALLAH. Once again ALLAH ya bamu zaman lafiya. AMEEEEN.

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