By Dan’asabe Musa
Since the February 2011 presidential elections, there has been both overt and covert campaign to tar General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) with the Boko haram brush. A lot of whispering campaign has been, and is being conducted in the print, electronic and online media to link the principled General with the more than three thousand (3,000) or more innocent Nigerians that had been killed, between April 2010 – October 29th, 2012, more than 10,000 displaced and property worth millions of Naira destroyed.
The latest of such attempts played out yesterday, 1st November 2012, when the Leadership of Jama’atul Ahlis Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, also called Boko Haram, purportedly named the former Head of State and presidential candidate of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, among six prominent northerners, to mediate between the group and the Federal Government.
A spokesman of the group, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulazeez, who claims to double as the Second-in-Command (Amir) to their leader, Imam Abubakar Shekau, was said to have made the group’s intention known in a tele-conference with journalists in Maiduguri, Thursday. The Federal Government in a statement by Dr. Reuben Abati, Presidential Spokesman, wasted no time to welcome the move. However, this announcement out of the blues raised eyebrows.
Firstly, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulazeez insisted that such dialogue must not take place in Nigeria, but Saudi Arabia. According to him, the choice of Saudi Arabia was informed by the insincerity of the Nigeria government for dialogue and its betrayal in the past. Secondly, Abdulaziz, who spoke on its behalf yesterday, is unknown to the media. Thirdly, while the call came through the channels that Boko Haram usually communicates with reporters, it was not from its spokesman who uses the nom de guerre Abul Qaqa in such calls.
Fourthly, Ibn Abdulaziz, who claimed to speak on Shekau’s behalf, did not call for the implementation of Shariah law across Nigeria, a long-term demand of the sect. Fifthly, there are concerns over the genuineness or otherwise of the offer, especially because Abdulaziz spoke in English instead of Hausa which has been the language of communication by the sect, and because Abdulaziz is not the usual spokesman of the sect. Number Six, several efforts at dialogue previously announced with fanfare by the government have failed and boohooed by Boko Haram’s self-proclaimed leader Abubakar Shekau who has said in videos posted online that the group is not interested in talks with the government.
Number Seven, the man calling himself Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulazeez made some impossible demands including that the sect would cease fire if the former governor of Borno was arrested, the group’s mosque was rebuilt, they were compensated for all their losses and all of the sect’s imprisoned members were released. Abdulazeez then proposed that Muhammadu Buhari, President Goodluck Jonathan’s main opponent in 2010 elections, be part of a negotiation team which would meet in Saudi Arabia for talks.
In my view, whoever masterminded and concocted this announcement no doubt achieved his aim because all over the internet and elsewhere, many Nigerians opined that this shows Buhari’s connection to the terrorists. “No doubt that Boko Haram named their patrons as negotiating team, Buhari is the King pin of terrorism and Godfather of Boko Haram”, said a comment on the public comment section of the elombah.com story. Even some of my respected friends and previous Buhari supporter like Danjuma Azemobo Musa has this to say on facebook: “I am still waiting for General Muhammadu Buhari’s personal response to his nomination to lead talks on behalf of terrorist gang Boko Haram. If it is indeed true that he was genuinely nominated by the terrorists it follows that the group must have met with him and others equally nominated to seek and get their consent.” The implication is that Buhari and all those named on the side of the Boko haram negotiating team must be having previous alliance with the terrorist group.
As usual, the taciturn General has so far said nothing, but in the light of the rejection of such association by Buhari’s closest associates, the question in the mind of Nigerians is: Is someone playing politics with the issue of Boko Haram? The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), yesterday vehemently rejected and decried reports that their National Leader has been appointed to take part in a Boko Haram and Federal Government parley. The party termed it ‘another desperate attempt by the PDP led government to link Buhari with the terrorist group’. A chieftain of the party and former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el Rufai also said General Muhammdu Buhari will not take part in any negotiation between Boko Haram and the Nigeria government. Mallam El rufai on twitter said Boko Haram is an offspring of President Goodluck Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party and therefore “Gen Buhari will have nothing to do with Jonathan and his siblings, Boko Haram”
To my question, ‘So who is this self-styled Boko haram new spokesman, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulaziz?’ A former Federal Minister told me last night: “I thought Abu Qaqa is the known Boko Haram spokesman. And Shekau’s videos in Hausa on YouTube usually announce major BH positions. This new spokesman was appointed by the Villa and they did not even have the brain to get him to issue the so-called statement in Hausa; fools clearly with brains deadened by too much stealing, drinking and womanizing; we will watch and see.”
It will be far-fetched to associate President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan with this type of despicable politics by propaganda, but if these are being done in his name, Mr President should call his aides to order ASAP! These callous politicians should stop playing politics with the lives of Nigerians.
A lot has been made of Sheikh Lemu’s panel report on the 2011 post-election violence, last year which held and I quote: “Buhari’s utterances contributed partly to the violence that erupted in the North in which scores died…” But people easily forget that the same report equally held the PDP responsible for the violence. Jonathan’s former National Security Adviser, Andrew Azazi has equally blamed internal wrangling within the PDP for Boko Haram increased terrorist activities.
Two PDP Senators and even the Vice President, Namadi Sambo have been linked with Boko Haram. All those that threatened to make Nigeria ungovernable if Jonathan wins last year’s election are members of the PDP. Let me repeat for emphasis: between April 2010 – October 29th, 2012 Three thousand (3,000) or more innocent Nigerians had been killed, more than 10,000 displaced; property worth millions of Naira destroyed. We should stop sacrificing innocent lives in the name of politics or anything. How many more people will die before this government wakes up from its slumber?
Those who sit by and want more Nigerians slaughtered, 3,000 down more shooting and bombing sprees threatened, should know that they themselves are not safe. They are equally placing their own lives under threat! Three lawmakers from Plateau State, including a Senator have died so far in terrorist related crisis. Even the Shehu of Borno has been targeted. A day after Abdulaziz said the group is ready to start talks, the military said four Boko Haram suspects shot a retired major general at his home in Maiduguri, killing him and one of his guests. The attackers entered the house today as Gen Muhammadu Shuwa was hosting guests before the Friday prayers and opened fire, Sagir Musa, spokesman for the Joint Military Task Force in Borno state, said in a statement handed to reporters. The guest died immediately and Shuwa died on his way to the hospital. As Boko Haram mayhem continues and there is no place for peace, all Nigerians stand in clear danger.
Just yesterday Nigerian troops shot dead about 48 young men during raids in the north-east city of Maiduguri, bastion of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram according to witnesses and hospital staff. Amnesty International in its report titled “Nigeria; Trapped in the Circle of Violence” released this week chronicles allegations of human rights abuses including extra-judicial murders by Nigeria’s security forces in dealing with the menace of Boko Haram. Two weeks ago I held discussions with 3 present and former students of the University of Maiduguri, and had an earful! Many of such deaths go unreported, both on the sides of the Nigeria soldiers, the militants, and innocent Borno residents. Their conclusion was that Both Boko Haram militants and the soldiers are puppets controlled by the same set of people.
Another Maiduguri youth lamented to me: “Nigerian security agent kills, loot, creating panic, doing much action for not want the chapter closed and rape innocent citizens more than the extremist Boko Haram. Yet Nigerian leaders, legislators and the so called human right activities, kept more than silence. Only GOD will protect us.” I must speak out and call on all sincere Nigerians to join me and say: enough is enough of this senseless bloodshed!