May 14, 2014 – “Chris Okotie On Boko Haram: “Nigeria Has Been Kidnapped, Let’s Reject Israel’s Help To Avoid War”
In modern times, apart from Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust which killed an estimated six million Jews; the more recent ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and the Rwandan versions, no other massacre of the innocent surpasses the Boko Haram killings in brutality. These guys have kidnapped a part of this nation. We need a new strategy to rescue it. Thank God, First World leaders with experience and proven competence in counter-insurgency have responded to President Goodluck Jonathan’s call for assistance.
What makes Boko Haram’s case puzzling is that the group targets its own people, and especially weak demographic groups like women and children that are normally spared, along with civilian populations, in conventional warfare. Although, terrorists hardly respect this convention, even groups like Al-Qaeda do not attack their own people, expect where they establish a case of betrayal by fifth columnists within their ranks.
The unbelievable cruelty of the Boko Haram insurgents as evidenced by the recent abduction of more than 200 girls in a school hostel in Chibok, Bornu State ordinarily would have shocked the sponsors of the Islamists, if they have human hearts in their chests. Nothing suggests that they do, otherwise, they’d have called the fighters they unleashed on this nation to order.
At the time of writing the United States, Britain, France and China had pledged support for Nigeria’s efforts to help track Boko Harm and rescue these defenseless girls. This has given hope to Nigerians that, at last, a greater, more realistic action is in the offing.
It may be too late for the falcons to hear the falconer. If you ride the back of the tiger to power, it would devour you if it has nothing more to eat. That is the case of Boko Haram. Those who use the hoodlums to rig themselves to power abandoned them when they finally left power.
Then, the thugs, abandoned to their own devices were hijacked by politicians of diverse tendencies, and pseudo-Islamic militants, who use the renal youths to pursue dubious objectives. As disparate criminal elements infiltrated the group, it became amorphous, leaderless and difficult to control.
The killing of the original leader of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf allegedly in police custody provoked the initial reprisal attacks against the police. Gradually, other targets were being hit. As the sect made headlines it attracted jihadist partners from neighbouring countries like Chad, Niger, Sudan and Mali. Arms from the failing state of Libya after the death of Col. Maummar Ghadaffi fell into the hands of these mercenaries, who have strengthened Boko Haram, to the extent that members of the terror group are now strong enough to frustrate our army.
That is why arms and ammunitions captured by Nigerian security forces from Boko Haram fighters appear to be more sophisticated than those our soldiers use against them. We must understand the forces we are dealing with before we could defeat them.
It is doubtful if the terrorists have a well structured command and control system like Al-Shabab of Somalia or Al-Qaeda – in the – Islamic Maghreb, which almost over-ran the Malian government, before they were stopped by an African intervention force led by French troops.
If we must destroy Boko Haram, we need foreign help in the shape of highly sophisticated intelligence which the aforementioned Western powers who have experience in combating global terrorism have started offering. Some of their personnel are already here; but the President must act with greater decisiveness on this terror war. We need help from anywhere we can get it except Israel. Israel is out of it to avoid Islamisizing the terror war because of the former’s long drawn conflict with the Arab nations, with whom our predominantly northern brothers share a common faith.
Therefore, we must carefully select our foreign partners in the war against Boko Haram to avoid introducing international rivalries into it. President Goodluck Jonathan should summon the political will. With foreign help we could fish out the sponsors of the terrorists, and pre-empt the attacks before they are launched. The kidnapping of those young girls at Chibok has set a world record; it is a monumental disgrace, it strikes at the soul of our nation.
As it were, Nigeria has been kidnapped. At no time in our checkered history did we live like this, in perpetual fear of being attacked by criminal elements who are now on the prowl across the nation. For the first time, armed groups are laying siege on our military installations; invading army barracks and police formations, leaving heavy casualties in their trail. They appear capable of engaging our last line of defense as hit and run urban gorillas.
Now, after the failure of every trick in our books, we obviously have no answer to Boko Haram. We thought the terrorists have been dislodged permanently from Abuja and restricted to just the three North Eastern States of Bornu, Yobe and Adamawa, until the two recent Nyanya bombings. Chibok, which capped this brazen assault is a terrifying reality. How a group could abduct more than 200 girls from their school in an operation that required huge logistics, without being detected in an area where a State of Emergency is in force, is amazing. Nobody knows where they’d strike next, except the terrorists themselves.
This recurrent circle of condemnation after a strike and visits by the President or top government functionaries to bombed sites has continued for too long. While this may be a painful imperative for our leaders, what is lacking is a strategy to seriously decapitate the terrorists to such a point that their strike capability is completely destroyed. Effective intelligence could stop the terrorists in their tracks, while a swift, well organized counter-insurgency operation could annihilate them completely.
So far, we have not succeeded in containing the terrorists because, either our security forces are ill-equipped, incapable for some reasons, or are over-stretched to police the vast area they are supposed to cover. The Chibok tragedy and the frequent attacks on soft targets like motor parks, worship centres, markets and academic institutions ought to be prevented by the military authorities, because we all know that is the stock-in-trade of Boko Haram. Nobody should claim ignorance of the history of these attacks on such targets.
Boko Haram is a special problem in our country, and we require a special arrangement to move ahead of their logistics to nip them in the bud. Aside international assistance as earlier mentioned, localized knowledge of the terrains is an important factor. We have enough Para-military forces, which could be deployed to compliment efforts by our armed services, to provide adequate security coverage for our nation. There’s nothing wrong if we incorporate our ethnic militias and vigilante groups in this security arrangement because the nation is at war. And anyone, except the terrorists, could be a victim. When a nation is kidnapped, no effort should be spared to rescue it. So that’s why I join the rest of the world in saying: Bring Back Our Girls Now!
Rev. Okotie, a Presidential Aspirant, wrote from Lagos.