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BusinessDay 08 Apr 2018

C002D5556 10 Feature

C002D5556 10 Feature Sunday 08 April 2018 Boko Haram: The benevolence of a vampire ZEBULON AGOMUO When recently a band of members of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, returned about 104 school girls who it kidnapped in a school in Dapchi, a sleepy community in Yobe State, many Nigerians screamed foul. They wondered when a blood-thirsty foe suddenly became a friend. That episode remains a riddle which observers believe only government can crack. Nowadays, all over the world, terror groups have emerged with the sole aim of dispensing anguish to the human race in order to satisfy some weird objectives. Boko Haram is one of them. Since 2009 it started its deadly campaign in Nigeria, the Islamist sect has not left anyone in doubt that it is an enemy of the country and its citizens. Although Islam Online, according to Wikipedia, suggests that politics, not religion, was the cause of the violence, activities of the sect, over the years, appear to put a lie to that claim. Numerous Christians have been gruesomely murdered specifically because they refused to convert to Islam. The continued detention of Leah Sharibu, one of the abducted Dapchi school girls, by her Boko Haram abductors weeks after her mates were freed over her alleged refusal to convert to Islam under duress, further proves that the Boko Haram Islamist sect is also pursuing a religious agenda. Boko Haram’s bloody attacks in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, Maiduguri, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi and other parts of the North in the days of Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian president, sent many people to their untimely death in the most horrendous way. The attacks were targeted at worship centres. The most mindnumbing of the attacks was the one on Churches by the terrorist sect, one of which took place on 2011 Christmas Day, when the St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State, was bombed. The blast instantly left 44 worshippers dead and 75 others injured. On 14 April 2014 at about 6:45am, two bombs exploded at a crowded bus station in Nyanya, Nasarawa Strate, killing at least 88 people and injuring over 200. The bus station is 8km southwest of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. These were among the worst attacks carried out by the violent sect until the night of April 14, 2014, when about 276 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State. Since 2009, the sect has left many families devastated and destroyed people’s means of livelihood. A good number of people have been violently uprooted from their ancestral homes and are now living in camps as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Several orphans, widows and widowers have been made by Boko Haram. In some parts of the North East, academic programmes have been disrupted and school system altered as many schools have been reduced to rubbles by a sect that claims to dislike everything that has a tinge of Western education. Today, billions of dollars are being spent in rehabilitating the areas devastated by the sect. In many released videos, leaders of the group have severally taunted the Nigerian government and had bragged that the government had not got the power to defeat it. When the Muhammadu Buhari administration claimed it had killed Shekau, the leader of the group, the sect had a good laugh. And Shekau has “resurrected” many times. The sect has remained a bloodsucking group in the estimation of many Nigerians. A vampire-like group that slashes the throat of victims and dismembers victims’ bodies as if they were mere animals are still holding hostage over 100 Chibok young women kidnapped in April 2014. Since the All Progressives Congress (APC) came to power in 2015, the battle has been on to reclaim Sambisa forest which is believed to be the dwelling place

Sunday 08 April 2018 C002D5556 11 Feature of the insurgents. At a point, government claimed it had totally sacked, decimated the insurgents and reclaimed the forest. At a point also, some of the captured girls were freed after an understanding which government claimed did not involve money but mere swap. Last year, the APC government had claimed that it merely released some insurgents in prison to secure the freedom of some of the Chibok girls, but it has since emerged that a lot of money exchanged hands. Despite the release of the batch of the Chibok girls, Boko Haram has continued the orgy of suicide bombing. At a point, it was rumoured that the girls used in the suicide mission were the Chibok girls. No one has been able to disprove it. And despite the claim of increased efforts on the side of government to reclaim territories and communities lost to Boko Haram, the sect is still wreaking deadly havocs in communities in some North East states, particularly Maiduguri. BDSUNDAY gathered that movements outside Maiduguri are still being guarded and that there are still no-go-areas in some of the affected states. Our correspondent, who visited Borno last year on a fact-finding mission, came back with a gory tale that suggested that the fight against the insurgents is far from being won. It was against this backdrop that many Nigerians suspected some foul deals in the recent abduction and return of the Dapchi girls in Yobe State. The abduction, which took the form of the Chibok episode, kept many Nigerians wondering if government was actually telling the truth about the fight against the insurgents. They picked holes with the ease of the abductors making away with 110 young women in Hilux vans without any resistance from the military that claimed to be combing and securing the hot spots in the North East. The fact that the girls were successfully stolen away by their abductors was an indictment on the government of the day. The fact that information was earlier received on the planned abduction and the authorities chose to sleep on guard or behaved like an ostrich was also indicting enough. The worst indictment was the quick return of the girls in a celebratory mood. The girls came back in travelling bags and fine cloths as if they were returning from a holiday from their uncles’ house. The greatest question critics have continued to ask and which an answer has not been provided is the point at which a vampire became benevolent. Some sympathisers of the gov- Boko Haram ernment claim that the sect of the Boko Haram that did the Yobe stealing was not the killing type but rather a group that is interested in making money; or a sect that needed money to purchase more arms and ammunition. So, they got a sitting government to achieve their sinister motive. It is said that a leopard can never change its spots. A killer must remain a killer and so, a vampire is never a friend. An observer, who spoke with Devil never gives any good gift. While you are celebrating, he comes for something more important to you and you can never say no because you have opened the door for him. Something tells me that we are going to pay dearly for this unholy exchange” BDSUNDAY on condition of anonymity said: “It was a well scripted drama and well delivered. So, all that the Buhari administration could think about was to carry huge sum of money and give Boko Haram in the belief that they have become friends or what? Well, they may have returned the girls but something tells me that very soon we are going to lose more lives in Yobe than the number they returned.” “They are going to arm themselves to the teeth and begin to carry out more terror attacks. You can never satisfy Satan. Have you asked those who made their money by paying allegiance to devil what they suffer? Have you asked parents who got children from the devil what their experience is? “Devil never gives any good gift. While you are celebrating, he comes for something more important to you and you can never say no because you have opened the door for him. Something tells me that we are going to pay dearly for this unholy exchange”, he said? What also struck many people was the religious coloration the insurgents gave their act which critics say was in tandem with the policy of Islamist terror groups across the globe. The “harmless” and “benevolent” abductors refused to release one of the girls, Leah Sharibu, over her alleged refusal to renounce her religion and adopt Islam. It was reported that of all the 110 pupils, only Leah refused to betray her religion and as a result remains a prisoner of conscience. Her captors insist that unless she wears hijab and chants some Quaranic verse, she would not be freed. What has also remained a mystery to many observers is the rationale behind the decision by the Islamist sect to deploy such a level of wickedness on Leah, when all they needed was money. Since they claimed they were not after the lives of the girls, why punishing her on account of her religion, even after they got the huge ransom they demanded from the Federal Government. It also struck many that all the returnee Dapchi girls adorned a particular pattern of dressing on the day they went to see the President and they posed for photograph with the President in their attire, which seems to fuel some insinuation that something is fishy. Despite the profuse promise by the highest echelon of the military that everything would be done to get Leah back to her parents, the girl is still in captivity and that is an ominous sign of worse days to endure. How friendly is Boko Haram? “I think government is beating its chest in haste. They are yet to contain Boko Haram. There is a lot of connivance. A lot is going on that is being shrouded in mystery. Boko Haram abducted over 200 girls in Chibok close to four years ago and many of the girls are still being held; now the same Boko Haram abducted another set of girls in Dapchi and in a matter of days the girls were brought back in fine dresses and travelling bags. I think government has not told the whole truth about who did the abduction and what really transpired,” Ambrose Jonah, a Psychologist and lecturer in one of the nation’s universities, said. “Those who inflicted enormous injuries on Nigeria and Nigerians are now being sold to the people as benevolent friends. But wait a minute; if they had become harmless, what is the rationale behind the $1billion okayed by the President last Wednesday, to fight insurgents? I smell a rat,” Jonah wondered.

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