June 20, 2012 – Boko Haram And Its Unending Religious Violence
The greatest fear about the Boko Haram bombings are reprisal attacks and last weekend’s attack on churches in Kaduna State during which many people were killed and maimed seems to have sparked something hitherto dormant in the hearts of the Christian population, as the angry youths started attacking anyone perceived to be an enemy.
Much as some Muslim leaders attempt to distance themselves from the rampaging Boko Haram, members of the sect have continued to harp on turning secular Nigeria into an Islamic state as one of their aims. And there are no two ways about it, that aim is a pipe dream.
Many times well meaning Nigerians have tried to talk Boko Haram out of bombing innocent people, especially in their places of worship and many times the talks have been deadlocked, with the sect making impossible demands.
Economic activities have been disrupted or even grounded in many places where the Boko Haram have been active while people now live in fear because terrorism is now pervasive all over northern Nigeria.
Maiduguri, the headquarters of the sect, is still burning while heavy exchange of fire is going on in Yobe State. Kaduna, a metropolis and a hitherto hotbed of religious strife has become the new flash point of reprisal attacks as Christian youths felt they have had enough. This is a dangerous trend as a religious war in any part of Nigeria points to the failure of government to provide security for its citizens.
The President, Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsajafor and other Christian leaders had always maintained that the incessant bombing of churches was religiously motivated but the government seems not to consider the notion, thinking instead that it is a problem that could be wished away, but now Nigerians have taken the law into their hands by launching reprisal attacks on mostly innocent people going about their businesses.
Following the Sunday morning attack on churches, angry youths stormed the streets killing and maiming others, especially in the Christian dominated area of the state. Okada riders, journalists and passers by were not spared as they suffered machete cuts all over their bodies. On Tuesday, Muslims also avenged the killings by attacking Christians. At last count, scores of people were killed while many other injured ones are still in hospital, which is the more reason why we have warned of the danger of these attacks spiralling out of control and plunging us into senseless massacre of innocent people.
We must not allow history to repeat itself especially now that hostilities are building up and accusations are being hurled. Many of us remember the activities that led to the civil war and still fresh on our minds are issues that led to the wars in Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan, with the latter still burning as the fight for who controls a mineral rich portion of their common borders overshadows real reconciliation, even after the country has been divided along ethnic lines.
We believe it is time to talk about these problems and how they can be resolved. These killings must stop or the consequences are best imagined. A religious war, which we believe the Boko Haram are trying to provoke is very dangerous as we are yet to fully recover from the scars of the civil war this country went through 42 years ago.
There are issues behind the unprovoked attacks of the Boko Haram that we are yet to uncover and it is time to put all other things aside and do something before it is too late.
We cannot solve this problem with a curfew in Kaduna State as it is not the only place where the Boko Haram have struck. The Kaduna reprisal attacks may be the beginning of such mayhem in other states that have suffered unprovoked attacks by the deadly sect.
The Presidency, National Assembly and opinion leaders must rise and do something to stem this tide of violence threatening to consume us. This is not a problem the security agencies can handle alone. While calming frayed nerves, we must begin to think of a permanent solution. The economy is already collapsing in those places where the Boko Haram bombings are rampant and things seem to be spinning out of control.
What happens if Boko Haram continues its unending violence? What happens to our democracy in a situation where our elected representatives are unable to contain this sad situation?