Keen observers in the socio-political arena across the world and, in Nigeria particularly, have expressed palpable and ominous fears of the unfathomable consequences over the reported gruesome murder of Christopher McManus, a Briton and Franco Lamotinara, an Italian, by their abductors in Mabera Area of Sokoto on Thursday, 8 March 2012.
The duo, who worked for an expatriate construction company, B. Stabling, which was building the Kebbi State Branch of Nigeria, were abducted by Gunmen in may 2011, after a ransom N150 million was demanded in the initial stage, but was not paid.
Their prolonged detention had led to the final resolution to organize a surreptitious security operation in concordance with the British government, which, however, ended in a disaster. The duo was killed during the ill-fated rescue operation. The ‘Boko Haram’ sect had since denied being responsible as their spokesman, one Abdul Qaqa, told the press in a Tele-Conference recently. According to him, members of the Ahl-al Sunnat lid dawati wal jihad do not hijack people for ransom and has never done so before.
The Governments of Britain had since expressed deep regret, sorrow and sadness over the incident. President Jonathan Goodluck has since blamed the radical Islamic Group as responsible.
The implications of the dastardly act legally, politically and socially are grave, if not out rightly implicating to the North in particular and Nigeria in general. Financial compensations had already been paid, probably by Nigerians. There has been allegation of carelessness and inaptitude in the way the rescue operation was carried out jointly between the SSS, Army and the British Force. What did the Security Forces and Government of Nigeria do, or not do, since May 2011, when the abductors ferried the duo away in an attempt to rescue them? The time lag was awesome, awful and questionable.
What about the unimaginable reprisals coming from the government of both Italy and Britain, whose citizens were horrendously killed by their alleged abductors? The despicable crime could, perhaps, lead to deployment of an Army of occupation in Sokoto to “protect interests of the west” or in search of alleged Al-Qaeda-in-Maghreb (AQIM) MEMBERS LURKING OUT THERE, OR THEIR COLLABORATORS, COMRADES OR MEMBERS in that axis. The United States and United Nations have since said that, “there are sympathizers and supporters of Al-Qaeda Terrorist Network” in Northern Nigeria.
General Carter of US command in the middle-East has said so also. It has been alleged that the Yusuffiya members have links to the Al-Shabaab of Somalia where they received training “and whether the Group has links also with the Al-Qaeda Network”. This much was revealed by the National Security Adviser, Gen Awoeye Azazi, who was also reported to have said that, “Nigeria has signed an agreement or memorandum of understanding to provide security support to Nigeria, as a result of recalcitrant and bellicose threats coming from the Islamic insurgents or “Terrorists”.
Should this happen, Northern Nigeria may as well be playing host to some foreign Army of occupation, at least in Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Niger and Plateau, where the innocent bombings and killings are imminent. No one would be happy or celebrate the intervention of foreign forces in our land for whatever reasons because, this would threaten our Sovereignty and independence. It is also an indictment on our own security forces that will be seen and regarded as inapt, ineffective and hopelessly useless.
We still lament the occupation in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan- where the largely Muslim population there are being decimated, destroyed and reduced considerably. Their Cultures and tradition also are being desecrated by imbecile forces as in Afghanistan where the NATO forces debased corpses, desecrated the Quran and killed civilians at the slightest perception of threat or dangers from them. Such interventions are always counterproductive, expensive to maintain and life threatening to the citizenry. Iraq was occupied for almost ten years, just as Afghanistan and they are still counting their losses daily, while still picking up the pieces.
We do not want this scenario to happen to Muslims- North especially Sokoto, Maiduguri, Kano, Niger, Kaduna which are today flash points for incessant bombings, Killings, maiming and crime.
Stakeholders must rise up to the occasion to surmount courage to restore peace, normalcy and order now, because procrastination and prevarications will only aggravate the situation to our detriments.
During the Royalties of late Sultan Muhammadu Maccido and Shehu of Borno, Mustapha Umar El-Kanemi, the duo had rejected plans by the then President Bush of USA to send US Marines to both Sokoto and Maiduguri to build camps to fight what they called “Terrorism in the North”. Prayers were said across the two former Emirates and Empires, which were sacked by British colonial soldiers in 1930 before they introduced their Colonial administration against the will of our fore-fathers. The attempt did not materialize. And now this. There have been rekindling of such hopes to send US or allied forces to the Muslim North to fight resurging insurgency and terrorism by the Boko Haram, now branded terrorists by the UN.
If allowed this will pave the way for the US and UN to have an inroad and incursions into the heart of the former Islamic empires, which have resisted westernization and perhaps Christianity. Sokoto, for example, was said to have only one church in the city, which Arch Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, had decried and lamented over; he wanted more as resident Arch Bishop in the North- West, with Headquarters in Sokoto. Both Sokoto and Borno have been missionary-focused areas since colonialism, which have remained “Stubborn” to accept Christianity and westernization. A kind of conflict of civilization one would say.
Everything possible needed to be done has actually been done by the Muslim Umma in the North to protect the lasting and enduring legacy bequeathed by the late Uthman Dan Fodio and Muhammad Al- Amin el-Kanemi in Sokoto and Borno respectively.
The conspiracy theory at the top cannot be ruled out. Some even added that it is at play to destroy that legacy and the recurring insurgency and killings are now providing the much-needed platform for the West, UN and the Christian- Dom to destroy the North to gain their own goals and interest. Care and caution are needed here. The Northern Elite must eschew political bickering and rise to the occasion to stop the eminent conspiracy theory coming into play. We must prove we are not terrorists, not insurgents, not Islamic irredentists, bigots or fanatics who do not want to allow others enjoy their Fundamental Freedoms and Rights as citizens to practice whatever Religion they may have chosen to profess for themselves.
Elders like Gen Buhari, IBB, Ciroma, Maitama Sule, Shettima Ali Monguno etc, need to rise up to speak against the propaganda making the rounds that the North is deliberately killing Christians to chase them away from their midst, simply because they do not want Christians in Sokoto, Kano, or Kaduna.
The Muslim-North has been given a very negative and anti-Christian impression from within and outside the country. Stakeholders must debunk this erroneous, chauvinistic and lopsided impression by rising to the occasion to disprove all doubting Thomases and Judases in our midst- and there are many of them, especially from among the middle belters and other small minority groups who have been misled into also believing that the Hausa-Fulani are their own traducers, tormentors and masters. This is devilish as it is an attempt to deliberately divide the North to cause enmity, grouse and crises, as now happening. There seems to be a grand conspiracy against the Hausa and Fulani in Nigeria which started since the OBJ Presidency between 1999 and 2007. He was said to have empowered the minority Ethnic Groups Politically and economically in order to fight the Hausa-Fulani North-West, which one of his former boys, Ali Modu Sheriff, once told the Northern union to their face when they visited him as governor that, “we are tired of only one section of the country producing President,” in reference to the North-West of Sokoto, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi etc. The leaders Galadima Olusola Saraki and others in the delegation were humiliated and left embarrassed. Such was the level of conspiracy which Ali Modu Sheriff promoted maliciously in Borno.
The conspirational malice Against the Hausa-Fulani is still on and something should be done to address the malady, contempt and odium which have divided even the so- called Muslim North. Borno, Kano, Sokoto and their allies in the far North must read in between the lines and decipher those things which seem to divide them and resolve them for the sake of Islam, peace, unity and progress of the region. All propaganda are being peddled and speculated, all in an attempt to deepen and aggravate the Anti Hausa- Fulani political conspiracy, even though they both have long history of Islam in their Emirate spanning over 1000 years.
Those who do not understand because they have been blindfolded by Ethno-tribal, cum political sentiments, thereby promoting envy, jealousy, violence and schisms must realize that the real conspiracy against the North comes from the West and US who believe we are conservative, non-conformists, fanatics or terrorists who must be dealt militarily to weaken us – regardless of whether we are Kanuri, Hausa, or indeed Fulani. To them it does not matter since we are core Muslims and conservatives. Moreover, the oil and hydro-carbon content in the Chad basin is another attraction for the conspirators to divide us to gain a mile. We must be careful.