The ceasefire deal between the Federal Government and the two proscribed Islamic dreaded groups: Boko Haram and Ansaru has placed the Minister of Special Duties, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki on the edge of integrity. Saturday Vanguard’s LEVINUS NWABUGHIOGU analyses the inconsistencies in the handling of groups as submitted by some Nigerians.
He seems determined to succeed. Apparently, he wants to carve a niche for himself by stamping his footprints on the sands of Nigerian history.
The history is that anytime the story of Boko Haram will be told in the future, his name must be mentioned as the man who did the magic of successfully helping the Nigerian State under the Presidency of Mr. Goodluck Jonathan to stop the dreadful insurgency and restore peace in the country.
But obviously, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, the Minister of Special Duties and Chairman, Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of security challenges in the North otherwise called Boko Haram Amnesty Committee is a man who deserves the collective sympathy of all Nigerians.
Reason: the man appears not to be so lucky. Each time, he sets out to carry out the assignment given to him by the presidency; he gets struck down by one unfortunate incident or another.
More unfortunate, as it were, is the fact that even his “people”, the Boko Haramists always disown him thereby trapping him in the middle of a hopeless and hapless situation.
Notably, Alhaji Turaki fully came into limelight when he was made the Head of the mediatory Committee between the Federal Government and the Boko Haram Islamic Sect on April 22, 2013.
His mandate included fathoming amnesty modalities for the members of the dreaded group. But no sooner had an elated Turaki set to do the work than he suffered a dirty blow.
The people he had gone to woo for amnesty denied him and told him that they were the ones to give amnesty to Federal Government. Handicapped! Turaki swallowed hard. But next, he forged ahead notwithstanding. Destination: Kuje Maximum Prisons in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
But he was yet to suffer another fate in the hands of Kabiru Sokoto, a kingpin and prime suspect in the 2011 Christmas Day Madallah bomb blast that serrated St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, killed about 44 persons and wounded 75 others in Niger State. During the Committee’s visit to the Prisons to unearth more fact about the Sect, Sokoto who is been held in that detention facility denied ever meeting with the Committee as was roundly reported. With this, Turaki was beaten twice.
The last straw however that broke the camel’s back was the kidnapping a nonagenarian former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno and the killing an Acting Chairman of Dikwa Local Government Area, Alhaji Machalla Umara on Friday, May 3, 2013,allegedly by Boko Haram on May 7, 2013 barely 3 days after it launched series of coordinated attacks on Police, Army and Prison formations in Bama town, Borno State, leaving no fewer than 55 persons dead.
Feeling overtly pushed, the Federal Government decided to lower thesledge hammer on the Sect and declared Emergency Rule in the Northern states of Yobe, Adamawa and Borno on May 21, 2013. By that declaration, the Army took over the states and started combing the streets to fish out the insurgents.
Hear President Goodluck Jonathan in a nationwide broadcast to announce the state f emergency: “It has become necessary for me to address you on the recent spate of terrorist activities and protracted security challenges in some parts of the country, particularly in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Plateau and most recently Bayelsa, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa states.
These unfortunate events have led to needless loss of lives and property of many innocent Nigerians including members of our security forces.”
At the dawn of the declaration of the Emergency Rule, many Nigerians pushed for a dissolve of the Boko Haram Amnesty Committee since it was obvious that the members of the dreaded group had out-rightly rejected the offer and continued their attacks which necessitated the full weight of the Nigerian military. But mum was the word for Federal Government and so, Turaki continued with his mandate.
About one month after the Emergency rule was put in place; the Federal Government decided more stringent measures to finally contain the Sect.
On June 4, 2013, it proscribed the Islamic Sect and formally declared it illegal. The same measure was also taken on Boko Haram’s sister group called Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan also known as Ansaru. In proscribing the sects, President Goodluck Jonathan authorized the gazetting of “an order declaring their activities illegal and acts of terrorism.”
President Jonathan who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Dr. Ruben Abati said:
“The proscription order warns the general public that any person participating in any form of activities involving or concerning the collective intentions of the said groups will be violating the provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act.
“Section 5 (1) of the act prescribes a term of imprisonment of not less than 20 years for any person who knowingly, in any manner, directly or indirectly, solicits or renders support for the commission of an act of terrorism or to a terrorist group.
“For the purposes of sub-section (1) of the section, “support” include: (a) Incitement to commit a terrorist act through the Internet, or any electronic means or through the use of printed materials or through the dissemination of terrorist information;
(b) Receipt or provision of material assistance, weapons including biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, explosives, training, transportation, false documentation or identification to terrorists or terrorist groups; (c) Receipt or provision of information or moral assistance, including invitation to adhere to a terrorist or terrorist group;(d) Entering or remaining in a country for the benefit of, or at the direction of or in association with a terrorist group; or (e) the provision of, or making available, such financial or other related services prohibited under this Act or as may be prescribed by regulations made pursuant to this Act.”
While announcing the decision, Dr. Abati said “members, supporters, and collaborators would now face prosecution under Section 2 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 (as amended).”
Meanwhile, the development presupposes a total ban of the two Islamic Sects but there is no gainsaying of the fact that some agents of the Federal Government which included the Minister of the Special Duties still deal with the proscribed groups.
Only on Saturday, Nigerians witnessed another round of tearful and heart-rending attack in an alleged renewed onslaught against the Nigerian State. This time, it was a bold attack on innocent school children in a boarding school in Yobe.
The gruesome mayhem left 30 persons dead. Out of the number, 29 were students while one person was a teacher. Though, a part of the Boko Haram had since denied having a hand in the barbaric, outlandish killing, many Nigerians still believe it was the handiwork of the Group judging from its previous signatures.
But in no small measure, the development has cast aspersion on the military operations in the three troubled states. Many a Nigerian had thought that emergency rule signposted the presence of soldiers at every nook and cranny of the affected states. In fact, many reasoned that if there was a place killing of any sort should not occur, it was Yobe.
Consequently, analysts have run agog, questioning the competence of the soldiers, their occupation of the zone and the gains of the emergency rule. They submitted that there is a fundamental problem laced with hire-wired politics which the federal government has not, as a matter of sincerity, told Nigerians.
According to them, the whole scenario ranging from the declaration of Emergency to the proscription of Boko Haram down to the recent killing is shrouded in secrecy.
But coming closely to the politics of Yobe killings and denials was what some keen observers of political events in the country have described as the “hugest joke of the time.” In a manner suggestive of defiance to the Proscription Order and hell-bent to hoodwink the people, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, the Minister of Special Duties during the week treated Nigerians to some theatrics, saying that Boko Haram has signed a ceasefire deal with the federal government after begging for forgiveness.
Meanwhile, according to feelers, what agitated the minds of many people may not be signing of agreement itself but the fact that the Federal Government could enter into a ceasefire deal with an outlawed body. Again is an impression that the whole affair seems shrouded in secrecy.
This, they predicated on the fact no one saw when and where the signing took place except that Turaki himself made the announcement on Radio France International Hausa services in Kano on Monday afternoon. Even when he was confronted by Journalists at the State House, he never gave details of the deal.
Hear him: “A series of painstaking discussions we have been having with the leadership of Boko Haram. And like most of you must have heard, the directive for cease fire that was given on tape. Basically they took into account, one: the sincerity of the committee, which by necessary implication also the sincerity of the President regarding resolving the issue of insecurity in the North.
Number two, also unlike their thinking that the committee was meant to serve as a trap for them, they also realized that not only is the committee very sincere, government and indeed Mr. President is also very sincere about the whole discusses.
They also took into account the fasting of the month of Ramadan, which is on, and felt that they should give peace a chance so that our Muslim sisters and brothers will be able to perform their religious obligation this month without any harassment, without any fear of any bomb exploding and any firing at them while they are in their place of worship.”
Asked to give details about the framework for agreement, he said details were still being worked out, adding that the formal signing will be made public through the media that will be allowed to cover it.
His words: “We are still working on the framework, where we will sign an agreement and we will make that public where ever and whenever we agree on the time and place and the international and local media, all Nigerians will be privy to it.
It is something that will be done openly and transparently for everybody to know that indeed that not only have we been speaking with the proper people but that there has been a lot of good faith on both sides of the divide.”
Responding to a question on whether a video recording of the signing will not surface on the social media any moment, the Minister said:
“When a minister of the Federal Government speaks on behalf of government, you wouldn’t say that you must see the President or the Vice President there.We have spoken with somebody who is second in command as far as Boko Haram is concerned and he has informed the media that he has been discussing with us with full knowledge and authority of Imam Abubakar Shekau and so we have no cause to doubt him.
We have done checks on him, just as they have done checks on us also and we have realized that yes we are dealing with the proper people and with the proper leadership of the organization.
He also said the committee was still working on the broader terms of the agreement, adding: “We are working on it, especially now that there has been ceasefire, directed by the Boko Haram and then we are discussing with the broader framework and as soon as we are done with that Nigerians will be communicated.”
On how long the ceasefire may last, Turaki said: “Of course it is not something that is done for a specific period of time. It is something that should be forever. As far as we are concerned, it is something that has been agreed and I don’t think there will be any basis for anybody rescinding on the agreement.”
The chairman also said that the development that will unfold henceforth will determine whether the emergency rule will be relaxed in the three states because of the cease fire.
He spoke further: “I think even with the declaration and announcement of ceasefire, I think the issue of the state of emergency will have to stay but in such a way and manner in which security agencies are fully satisfied that normalcy has been restored and that there is order and peace.
Let us not forget the fact that with or without ceasefire, it is the serious and great responsibility of government to ensure that the lives and properties of law abiding Nigerians are protected wherever they are and in whatever circumstances.
So I think it is the situation that will begin to unfold themselves henceforth that will determine whether the security agencies on ground will relax the period of the curfew and then ultimately they will advise the appropriate authorities whether the need has arisen for the state of emergency to be removed but I think that is not for the committee.”
Origin of BokoHaram
The story is no longer new. Jama’atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda’watiwal jihad also known as Boko Haram, a dangerous Islamic sect is termed the principal perpetrator of these ill acts. At first, their demands were not clear. All what was known was a group of religious fundamentalists who promulgated their beliefs even though there were considered too extreme by many a Nigerian.
But they were wont on their mission of Islamizing the country via the implementation of criminal Sharia law across the country. In essence, they chose to start from their immediate environments in Borno and Yobe states.
And to make real their pursuits, they consciously arrogated themselves a name that defines their philosophy: Jama’atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda’wati wal jihad, meaning “people committed to the propagation of the prophet’s teachings and jihad”.
That was in 2002. But not much was heard about the Islamist religious sect until in 2009 when a discrepancy erupted between them and the law enforcement agents which culminated in the death of the leader of the group, late Mohammad Yusuf.
Prior to the time, Mohammad Yusuf had faulted the participation of most leaders of northern states especially the governors who were full blooded Muslims in the affairs of the country. He saw it as illegitimate, non-Islamic venture and considered too secular for their “religious inclinations and preached a doctrine of withdrawal”.
But the lid was to be let open when the group declared that “that western education is evil”, a phrase that gave it its popular name “Boko Haram”.
Thereafter, Boko Haram began to launch an onslaught against the state, yet that did not define the reasons for their attacks whether it was to avenge the death of their former leader, Yusuf or that the government institutions were fundamentally “haram”.
In the aftermath, the attacks permeated as Boko Haram carried out a number of suicide bombings and assassinations from Maiduguri to Abuja, and staged an ambitious prison-break in Bauchi, freeing more than seven hundred inmates in 2010.
In November 2011, the group staged its most deadly attacks so far in Maiduguri as well as Yobe’s Damaturu and Potiskum, targeting churches, mosques, banks, and police stations.
At least 150 people were reported killed. November’s violence garnered more international attention for the group, with condemnations from the head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Pope, the UN Security Council, and the UN secretary general.
Bombings on Christmas Day in 2011 targeting churches and killing dozens raised fears about the possibility of another spate of religious violence between Muslims and Christians.And of course, it almost climaxed to that as most killings became the lot of Christians in the North.
At a time in 2012, the killings apparently took an ethnic dimension that fear of another civil war was felt across the federation. But somehow, the days rolled past by without wars.
We are still miles away from stopping killings—Chief Chris Uche, SAN
This Boko Haram and In security is not really a legal area as such. From a layman’s point of view, we must realize that security issues are very delicate issues and that their solution may not be as swift and as rapid as
people would ordinarily expect with relation to other national issues, and particularly this Boko Haram thing, because both its source and ramifications have not been properly identified and unraveled, the swift and one time solution may not be around the corner. But that is not to say that the Federal Government is not doing its best.
Remember that what the Federal Government imposed is a form of limited emergency rule in the sense that all civilian elected positions and offices are still in place. It does not imply that the Federal Government has taken over complete political control of the states.
Even in other countries where you have insurgents; because their type of warfare is not the regular type, it is not person-to-person combat, there is no formation in which you can say this is where the enemy is, we are fighting the enemy in this region or that region, the insurgents come in by means of hit and run and particularly in areas where they are certain limitations with example to communications as it was reported in the media that during the time in question, no GSM was operating and that hampered any alarm or alert that the victims could have sent out, so you see that it also means that rescue has been hampered as a result of very method put in place to check the terror in the first place which also buoys down to the fact that it is a complicated and sensitive issue that does not mend itself to any precise solution.
But the only thing one can do is to urge the Federal Government to reinforce; make sure that more soldiers are put on the ground and that there is more cooperation with the locals with a view to checking the insurgents and also passing on information.
If the media report on that issue is anything to go by, yes, it is actually seems to indicate a contradiction intent, but you know you can also look at the from the perspective of signing ceasefire deals with an enemy. The mere fact that you are fighting an enemy even if it is an enemy country does not preclude you from signing a ceasefire. And it is even with an enemy you can sign ceasefire. You can’t sign ceasefire with a friend.
It just shows that we are still miles away from resolving this problem and as far as the problem in Nigeria is concerned, it cannot be divorced from the political atmosphere and that is why a purely military solution independent of a political input cannot really solve the problem. Because of the political complexity, any military solution must also take into consideration the political coloration of the entire conflict so that it is only by such political approach that we may begin to see a resolution of this matter before the pending elections.
FG is confused —Festus Keyamo, Human Rights Lawyer
It is obvious they are not winning the war. I think the crisis has overwhelmed the Federal Government. And Federal Government has lost the capacity to control the situation. What is clear is that their tact has failed them and I think the Federal Government should better think of other means to control Sect.
I got the impression that the Federal Government is confused and there is also an understanding that
they are granting amnesty to some of them too while the killings too.
So, they are not telling us the truth because we hear that the sect is begging the Federal Government to forgive them. I think they are playing games with the security of the country.