Emerging terror threats for Nigeria

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

The word, Jasawa, may not mean much to most people in the country. However like those who have lived in Lagos and refer to themselves as Lagosians, the Jasawa are said to be Nigerians of Hausa stock who consider themselves part and parcel, even as the ‘owners’ of Jos probably because of the length of time they have lived there.

After the recent carnage that rocked the once-peaceful Jos City, the Jasawa allegedly summoned a secret meeting of Muslim teachers in Jos. They released a communiqué in Hausa language signed by a Sheik Mohammed Kano. When that communiqué was transcribed to English, it sent a very cold chill down the spines of those who read it. Simply, the message conveyed a call to arms to avenge the purported massive death of Muslims in the Jos crisis. Perhaps the most chilling piece of gist from that communiqué stated that, ‘we went to Sudan since 20/12/2008 to 27/1/2009 because of Jihad. We had weapons to come in and as soon as they do, we will start jihad. We have 2,500 men who have entered with weapons. They will enter in the second month’. That is not all. The group also urged Muslims not to sell their houses to Christians and flee Jos because Jasawa said it had received more than N2billion from the Saudi Arabian government with which to reconstruct the houses that there allegedly burnt down by Christians.

A police wireless message monitored in the wake of the crisis that engulfed Bauchi city, where more than 17 churches were burnt down indicates that the police was in the know of the presence of external force apparently from the Sudan. A ‘situation report’ from Compol ‘B’ Ops Bauchi to the Nigeria Police ‘B’ Ops in Abuja said that ‘an Islamic fundamentalist known as ‘Yusufiya’ who is an alleged terrorism suspect stated that the recent crises in Bauchi is a minor incident’, compared to the mayhem being planned for Yobe and Kano states’. Sources told the magazine that since some of the Christians refused to retaliate even when their churches were burnt, the religious fundamentalists resorted to burning mosques to incite Muslims to unleash terror on their neighbours, the Christians.

In the wake of these seeming weighty allegations, eyebrows are getting raised. Musa Tula, chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Bauchi state branch told the magazine that there is a ‘recurring cycle of brutal terrorist attacks that have bedeviled Bauchi state in the short tenure of the present government’, citing the Yelwa, Yana and Ningi ‘terror’ attacks of 2007 and 2008 respectively. ‘The activities of one Isa Fantami, a radical Muslim preacher provides cheap proof of the terrorists infiltration of Bauchi State. His inflammatory messages were particularly instrumental in the execution of the recent terror attack, and he has a track record for terror related activities traceable to Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University and the Yelwa crisis’, Tula said.

Ladi Thompson, international coordinator, Macedonian Initiative, a non-government organization, NGO said that religious riots in Nigeria will keep recurring until government recognizes that so-called religious riots, are indeed acts of terrorism perpetrated against Nigeria by foreigners. ‘What has happened in most parts of Northern Nigeria has always been misdiagnosed as religious riots and these would soon spread from the middle belt to the south very soon’, he said. According to Thompson, the forces of fundamentalism all over the world have a common goal to play ‘on tolerance and good nature’. He did not agree that other religious bodies should fight the coming trend of terror with terror, insisting that ‘wisdom is better than weapons of war’. Some Nigerians who spoke with the magazine under conditions of anonymity said that killings in the north usually took place with official support. Some who described terrorism as an emerging national problem said that many Nigerian leaders are actually ‘closet terrorists’, themselves. ‘Why did the Bauchi State governor find it convenient to travel just at the nick of the terror attack? Why are the National Assembly members turning a blind eye to these growing cases of terror unleashed against the country’? Questions, questions, questions: and they continually mount like the heaps of bodies of Nigerians who have been killed by what has been described as the ‘emerging terror machine’ in Nigeria.

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