The United Kingdom Parliament (UKP) has some difficult task on their hands in Nigeria, a formal colony. The initiative and wisdom of the “All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Beliefs, UK Parliament” (APPG-UKP) to request for written submissions on the recurrent crises in Nigeria, especially Boko Haram Terrorism (BHT) and herders/farmers crises is eloquent expression of the United Kingdom’s inclination to peaceful nations and peoples around the world.
I construe the motive of APPG-UKP as a genuine quest to impact on the global congregation of nations in finding solutions to the threatening and perennial human problems of violence, killings and destructions. But as now focused on Nigeria, there is every reason for me and other Nigerians to suspect it might be misled by several self-seeking groups led by inherently self-centered personalities.
And the Nigerian Christian Elders Forum, (NCEF), led by the trio of Nigeria’s former Defence Minister, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd); former Military Governor of Rivers state, Gen. Zamani Lekwot, (rtd), and Chief Solomon Asemota, SAN, smacks like one of such groups intent on misleading the UK Parliament. Its latest outing drapes with undisguised attempts to blur or twist facts on the ceaseless BHT and herders/farmers crises in the country.
So, NCEF presented a paper to the APPG-UKP on the multidimensional crises in Nigeria titled, “Competing Ideologies of Democracy and Sharia in Nigeria; The Nuance Understating of the Drivers of the Conflict in Nigeria by Farmers and Herders,” in which they reeled out half-truths, blatant lies and hypocritic mouthing of accusations on President Muhammadu Buhari’s pursuit of a jihad or Islamisation agenda in the country.
Danjuma who led the group claimed to my utmost amazement that President Buhari is unserious about tackling insecurity arising from Boko Haram insurgency and herdsmen-farmers crises in Nigeria. I conducted a profile check of the prominent members of NCEF and discovered they had rich credentials as former leaders in Nigeria.
It told me clearly that this assemblage comprises elders who have the history of every problem in Nigeria. Therefore, I least expected that they could forget yesterday’s history this easily and mingle today’s realities in a blemish manner, while consciously exonerating themselves of culpability simply because they angled to crucify and pin on Buhari a non-existent Islamism and Sharia agenda in Nigeria.
Nevertheless, some of these NCEF elders were either part of the establishments which created these problems or ignored it to flower into its monstrous, nightmarish and tormenting levels to Nigeria now, to which Buhari is having sleepless nights to re-fix.
Let me pretend to overlook the pungently sustained indictment of Britain and Lord Lugard who was singled out for condemnation by the Danjuma-led NCEF’s paper to APPG-UKP by their repeated harping on Britain’s colonial favouritism to Muslims than Christians even before independence.
These elders are really confused and haunted by past sins against Nigeria. The manner Danjuma and his apostates sounded, you would think part of Nigerian natives domiciled in the North were all illiterates. I find it difficult to discern this wisdom, but it thus appeared to me that NCEF convicted Britain of bias in favour of the Caliphate or predominantly Muslim North in their pre-independence handling of political cum religious affairs in this former colony. But it is the same people they are seeking intervention in the present crises whose roots they have already situated in colonial times.
Its sounds like a deliberate mockery from apparently and unjustifiably incensed elders of Nigeria. But the insight from NCEF, though unbelievable, assisted me immensely in elucidating the mindset of the NCEF elders and which largely has watered down the weight of their arguments before the UKP.
And to expatiate on their direction, but lucidly trumpeted preconceived mindset to cry wolf where there is none, a quote from the NCEF paper says inter alia;
“Democracy and Sharia are no fake news. Those who cry fake news are those promoting jihad and Taqiyya, so as to provide an excuse for stealth jihad and the protection of jihadists. An Imam in Plateau State was rewarded for saving hundreds of Christians from the jihadists which showed that not all Imams in Nigeria are Jihadists.”
So, I asked myself, if the focus of President Buhari or the Sokoto Caliphate is to relaunch another jihad in Nigeria, which Imam presiding over a mosque anywhere in the North would not consent to the idea? It amplifies the fact that what is happening to Nigeria is the struggle of intertwined economic forces far severed from religion.
Clearly, Boko Haram operations in the Northeast, or anywhere in Nigeria, do not discriminate between Muslims and Christians. I know terrorists’ atrocities have no apartheid policy. Before Buhari became a democratic president of Nigeria, he narrowly escaped death from Boko Haram in Kaduna when they targeted and detonated bombs on his convoy. Should I think, insurgents would be foolish enough to seek to kill their “sponsor and sympathiser?”
Can Danjuma recall why there was a split in the Boko Haram leadership between Abubakar Shekau, who succeeded the founder, Yusuf Mohammed, and Musab Al Barnawi? It was because of differences in ideology, while Shekau killed indiscriminately, Al Barnawi advocated the attacks or killing of infidels alone.
What it implied was that field dynamics defined the ideology of Boko Haram which the Republic of Iran has publicly confessed to its sponsorship. How is it is tenable to link Buhari to this devious sect, when I know, even as a serving Nigerian leader, Boko Haram threatened to kill him by attacking the Villa in Abuja because he has fortified the military to stop them in their tracks?
No normal elders under any banner would be vociferous on such assertions except haunted by the blood of the innocent. Therefore, exhuming and quoting Buhari’s utterances or speeches before he became a democratic president is stretching the insanity too far. I don’t think any law prohibits Mr. President from practicing his faith and holding tenaciously to its tenets.
And Danjuma who is mouthing sharia under Buhari has conveniently forgotten that sharia had existed as a criminal law for the Muslim core North and enshrined even in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. But the then-Zamfara state Governor, Sen. Ahmad Sani Yerima, began the push for its implementation at the state level from 1999. It was under the Presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian southerner who held democratic power for eight years.
Strikingly, Danjuma was defence minister under the Obasanjo presidency for four years when sharia enforcement gained roots. How did Danjuma disagree with his boss over this matter, if he truly believed it was a clandestine plot to Islamise Nigeria and what did he do to avert it? Is Danjuma only getting to realise it under a Buhari Presidency because there is an easy plank to cross by falsely labelling him an “Islamic fanatic?”
Danjuma mentioned the “Maitatsine inquiry”, and the violent El Zakzaky’s shiites in Nigeria movement outlawed in 2016. But he deliberately refused to acknowledge that in these two separate instances of state forces to quell religious fanaticism or Islamic expansionism in Nigeria, Buhari was instrumental in the disparate phases of history. As a serving Army General in the early 80s, Buhari obliterated the Maitatsine uprising by chasing its survivors to Chad and under a Muslim President Shehu Shagari.
Therefore, an elder f Danjuma and his comrades should be sensible enough to have been circumspect to make berserk claims on Buhari promoting jihadism.
The Group alleges that, “This can be attributed to various acts of “stealth jihad” by the federal government whereby arms in the hands of law-abiding citizens, mainly Christians, were confiscated while the Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram retain their AK47 rifles. When these terrorists are arrested, they are “re-habilitated” and sent back into the society. They are never prosecuted.”
It’s another flank of the brazen lies peddled by supposed elder statesmen. Buhari recently issued an Executive Order directing the withdrawal of all arms licenses issued to Nigerians, except authorised security agents. In truth, can Danjuma and coy claim the order has been applied selectively to only Christians and Muslims have been left to possess the illegal arms?
But I know, some Boko Haram suspects have been charged to court and convicted; while those who voluntarily surrendered and renounced terrorism were accepted, rehabilitated and absorbed into society. It is based on the policy of “stick and carrot,” as adopted by the Nigerian Army in combating terrorism.
Danjuma also claimed: “The case of an arms dealer, a Nigerian who lives in Egypt, was reported to the Department of State Security (DSS). The DSS did not carry out the directive of President Jonathan that the suspect be arrested and interrogated. Intelligence report in 2010, found (former governor of Borno) personal involvement in the recruitment, training and dispatch of Boko Haram fighters….”
It is utterly incongruent with a matured mind like Danjuma to confess that the DSS under the then serving President and Christian, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who appoints the Head of DSS, would have his order flouted over the arrest and interrogation of a Boko Haram arms supplier from Egypt and nothing happened?
Danjuma is also telling us today he did nothing as an elder statesman versed in national security? And that when former Borno state governor, Sen. Ali Modu Sherrif, introduced and funded Boko Haram, Danjuma was Nigeria’s minister of defence, but folded his arms and allowed the sect to nourish and fester only to undermine the current efforts to tame the sect and blame Buhari today over plots to Islamise Nigeria? This is infantile and the British parliamentarians should be circumspect about NCEF’s submissions.
*** Okanga Agila writes from Agila, Benue state.