Dr Lionel Von Frederick Rawlins, a forensic criminologist, is the Security Coordinator at the American University of Nigeria, Yola and the President and founder of California, US-based The VonFrederick Group, a counter-terrorism and criminological organisation. Rawlins has worked in Europe, Africa, Asia, Central and South America, the Middle East and the Far East, in the capacity of a counter-terrorist and criminologist.
How do you see the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria? Do you think the Nigerian government is handling it the way it should?
I think the government is doing its best to fight it. I don’t believe government will sit idly and watch these people kill Nigerians without feeling some kind of responsibility, feeling the pain that everybody else has been feeling. I know people will say government does not care but I don’t believe so. Anyone in power who sees that kind of carnage, that kind of macabre murders taking place has to feel something. What I will say is that they need help and they need support, not to bring in forces from outside to help them fight because the Nigerian military is capable of doing that.
I just think that people need to come and teach them how to take the fight to the aggressor. Look what they are doing in Kenya. Kenya brought in all these people to help them fight Al-Shabab. I mean, they realised that they need help and no man is an island. You cannot do it all alone. If you need help, ask for it and the rest of the world will come and help you, but Nigerians are very proud people and probably wouldn’t ask for help. But they only have to ask and they will send people. I can train and teach and do stuff to them.
But the fundamental thing is that government is responsible for the safety and welfare of citizens and any time the citizens are being killed or their welfare is being abused, government must take some kind of action; I believe that it has gone beyond the stage of just blaming government and politicians.
Some people believe that it is politically-motivated, may be it was and it started off that way; some believe it is religiously-motivated but I don’t know if that is true, I doubt it because Muslims are killing Muslims as well, not just Christians and non-Muslims; so if you want to look at it that way, it is a fallacy.
What I would say is that it has got to the point where Boko Haram is killing people because Boko Haram is now proving a point that it can kill and get away with it. It has gone beyond religion, politics and ideology. It is a belief: ‘I can kill people and I can get away with it and let me show you I can do it.’ That is what it is now. It is a showman thing. I know most people won’t think of that because they always believe it is religious or political.
May be it was at the beginning when they said they were formed by a governor; maybe it was religiously-motivated when they wanted to Islamise the North and bring in Sharia law; all these may be true but it has gone beyond that. It has reached the point of ‘Ï can kill you and there is nothing you can do,’ and they have proven it; so the more they do it, the more emboldened they become.