Boko Haram: Shall we tell the president?

by Banjo Odutola

The Muslim sect, jama’atu ahlis sunna lidda’awati wal-jihad, also known as Boko Haram in our country preaches a strict adherence to the Islamic legal framework, Sharia, which it wishes to foster over the constitution of our country. As perverse as such demand is considered in a secular nation, a rejection of Western ideals, particularly education is at the heart of its teaching.

Shall we tell Mr. President that Boko Haram adherents’ pursuit of criminality may be a precipitate of denied justice? The killings of their members at Bauchi State remain extra-judicial? The group’s reactions terrify the nation; confuses our security apparatchiks who championed their woes. In order to find a lasting solution, Mr. President has proclaimed a partial state of emergency in some parts of the country.

In the current nemesis our country faces, evidentially, admissions of atrocities so far perpetrated do not include calls for immediate adoption of Boko Haram ideals as a reason for their actions. More than not, their bombing campaign is presently restricted to its immediate environment, Plateau State and Abuja, the executive seat of our Federal Government. As an aside, the troubles of Plateau, if charged to Boko Haram, may be of convenience rather than substance.

There is a need to examine the motive as to why the sect restricts its campaign amongst a people to whom they are intrinsically nexus in culture and religion.

Regardless of the above, a United States of America House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security investigated the sect; its subcommittee report on Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence of November 30, 2011: Boko Haram: Emerging Threat to the U.S. Homeland is hardly surprising as it seeks to protect its national interests and people.

The findings, though, advocates, material and financial assistance for our country, Nigeria; its ultimate aim is not proximate to ours. Accepting American funding, training and material, no doubt, relieves the country in the present climate of economic difficulties; it hardly lances the proverbial boil for which our Lancers are rolling their stocks to the fifteen local government authorities under emergency rule.

Shall we tell the president that his partial emergency rule creates a farcical duplication in chain of command? Are the governors still in charge of the States but not the Local Government Area where Mr. President is also in charge? This is a case of two masters in a boat. One, on the ground; the other, faceless in Abuja.

As a nation, reliance on an American panel report to resolve our local difficulties shall bring about a roughshod resolution to a local problem; at least not until it is ascertained that there are foreign financiers and backers of Boko Haram.

Apart from an ultimatum for Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, then, governor of Borno State to step down; his apology; the 9th May 2011 Amnesty of his successor, Kashim Shettima; a return of a mosque, are all issues not fundamental to religious beliefs of the sect. No urgent and existential demands for the nation to adopt core beliefs, accompany admissions of pogroms of Northern Nigeria.

Shall we tell the president what his advisers may not wish to advise him?

The above omission only goes to betray what exists in our country is not a Jihad. Label it, criminality or revenge against society, these nondescript fallacies shall amount to a pyrrhic victory as another third world country, Sri Lanka visited on its own people, the Tamil Tigers.

The proclamation and partial emergency rule is to suspend the rule of law; promote and compound additional extra judicial killings of both culprits and many thousands of innocent victims, amongst whom will be children and women.

As the Truth Commission in Sri Lanka was to find, two years after its government decisive action against the Tamils, civilians, chief amongst whom are children and women still bear the scars of the country’s military actions. We stand to make the same mistake as we seek to ignore the lessons of history.

Again, shall we tell Mr. President what may be not have been offered in advice to him?

Returning to the American Report, additional millions of U.S. dollars will flow into our national “coffers” to fight Boko Haram. The aid when it arrives shall be opportunistic and largely end in personal accounts. Harvard University trained Ms. Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid would agree with such a submission.

Let the course of finding a resolution not augur blighting innocent women and children as human damage for the president’s emergency rule. It is beyond doubt that the Federal Government shall be victorious over this sect. The question is, at what cost to Northern Nigeria.

Mark this: such damage shall in my life time be a focus for recrimination. As a nation, when we ignite the proverbial fire which is now to be left on the proverbial roof like a ticking bomb, we should also cost of future value of present day action.

There is more, we shall tell the president. Not much more, though.

Firstly, it is time for General Owoye Andrew Azazi CFR FSS MSS DSS GSS psc(+) fwc (retired), the National Security Adviser to the President to be nicely returned home wherefrom he came, as a retiree. Sack him. The truth is that, this role, like they say, is overwhelming for the gentleman. There would be a laudable applause if he can recognise that under his watch as Chief Security Adviser, this appointment ain’t working. General, it is time to go back home for a deserving rest.

Secondly, there is a brewing legal opposition to the emergency rule, as proclaimed. Is it not the case that the Doctrine of Necessity can again be used to correct the anomaly in the procedure for this executive act? This doctrine is not new in Nigeria; the present legislature can again evoke it, because of a break down of law and order in those parts of our country.

For ease of reference, this is a term used to describe the basis on which extra-legal actions by state actors, which are designed to restore order, are found to be constitutional.

The legal doctrine emanated from Henry Bretton (1210–68), an English Jurist who was famous for legal opinions, particularly De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae (“On the Laws and Customs of England”). Similar justifications for this kind of extra-legal action have been advanced by more recent legal authorities. The doctrine was first used in a controversial 1954 judgment in which Pakistani Chief Justice validated the extra-constitutional use of emergency powers by the Governor General.

In his judgment, the Chief Justice cited the doctrine: ‘that which is otherwise not lawful is made lawful by necessity’, thereby providing the label that would come to be attached to the judgment and the doctrine that it was establishing.

The Doctrine of Necessity is recognised by Nigerian Laws, as opined by a Retired Chief Justice. For the benefit of Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, as Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi opines in his book: Power, Politics and Death – A front row account of Nigeria under the late President Yar’Adua. The author revealed the role of the current Senate President, Mr. David Mark and a retired Chief Justice of the country, Mr. Alfa Belgore, at the insistence of Mr. T.Y. Danjuma, a retired Chief of Army Staff and latterly former Minister of Defence.

As for the salacious book written by Mr. Adeniyi, there is no difference in the levity displayed by those in the leadership of our nation to how Bauchi extra-judicial killings of Boko Haram members were dealt with.

In allowing the publication of this book, at this present time, when the term of the administration in which the author served subsists; many

of the actors described in the book still serving in government; this book may well be of historical value. For now, its accounts are opportune and purely, egoistic.

There is a need for a legislation to bar publication of this type of periodical within certain timeframe of national service at certain levels of governance.

In fairness to Mr. Adeniyi, the Nobel Lecture of Two Worlds by V.S Naipaul invites kindness, a sympathy of sorts. The Nobel Laureate described that the nineteenth-century French critic Sainte-Beuve believed that to understand a writer, it was necessary to know as much as possible about the exterior man; the details of his life: No less, a scrutiny is well deserving of Mr. Adeniyi.

It is a beguiling method, using the man to illuminate the work. It might seem unassailable, Mr. Naipaul stated. But Proust is able very convincingly to pick it apart. “This method of Sainte-Beuve,” Proust writes, “ignores what a very slight degree of self-acquaintance teaches us: that a book is the product of a different self from the self we manifest in our habits, in our social life, in our vices. If we would try to understand that particular self, it is by searching our own bosoms, and trying to reconstruct it there, that we may arrive at it.”

Those words of Proust should be with us whenever we are reading the biography of a writer – or the biography of anyone who depends on what can be called inspiration. All the details of the life and the quirks and the friendships can be laid out for us, but the mystery of the writing will remain. No amount of documentation, however fascinating, can take us there. The biography of a writer – or even the autobiography – will always have this incompleteness. To this end, perhaps Katie Byron “Four Questions” may assist in navigating Mr. Adeniyi’s egocentricity.

Let it not be misunderstood, his account is essential for records keeping – just that, alone.

The author has had to use his newspaper column to pre-empt government from censuring him. His report in a national newspaper that three former heads of state had congratulated him, privately, instructs of V.S. Naipaul – “But everything of value about me is in my books”. May be some lesson of value about Mr. Adeniyi’s abuse of privilege is demonstrated in this untimely publication.

It is expected that the author would retort as he did, again, with an earlier abuse of privilege, when he locked horns with Vanguard Frankly Speaking Columnist, Mr. Dele Sobowale. The position herein is clearly stated; no amount of further abuse of privilege is likely to intimidate.

Publication at this time, which the presidency does not even consider inappropriate, sums up the lackadaisical attitude of those who govern us. What a country!

Mark this: the next author who serves an existing administration shall further extend the floodgate. This is clearly a territory where just “anything goes” as charted by this book. A serious government should ensure the contrary.

Thirdly, there is a need for a public prosecution of those who gave the chain of command and officers who perpetrated the public unwarranted extra judicial killings of members of the sect in Bauchi State. A revisit to the extra judicial massacre of members by State Security agents and the Police should first be addressed, transparently, as part of the current problem.

Let the officers and everyone connected with the command face the full weight of law, as a deterrent. If we treated members of this sect like animals, why are we surprised and afraid that their behaviour is in consonant to how those in authority treated them.

Fourthly, and not pertinent to the objective of Boko Haram: Of what influence are the millions, if not billions of Naira so far spent to placate Niger Delta militants? Why is it the case that what is good for the Niger Delta Militant Goose is not good for Boko Haram Gander?

Again, it is about money; not guns, maiming and killing.

Those who govern our country have set the precedent just like Mr. Adeniyi’s book. Let us wait and watch how much is to be shared out for those who are to suffer under this emergency rule which failed in displacing the chief security officers of the States, affected.

In closing, shall we tell the president that denial of the rights under a rule of law for a section of society, which on Oath, he swore to uphold, shall in this case be resolved by use of force. But, be he advised that as he does so, a new tunnel to the same trouble is only being constructed, this time, not by Boko Haram but by his Infantry men.

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