Boko Haram And The Mass Exodus

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Contrary to the expectations of Nigerians that the prolonged labour/government saga would distract members of the Boko Haram sect from their activities, but alas that was not to be as members of the sect have continued their rampage in Borno State and other parts of the north.

Not even the entreaties by eminent Muslims and traditional rulers in the north have made the sect see reasons as to why Western education is good and desirable by everyone.

The unholy escapades of this group of murderous cowards especially in the northern part of the country and more specifically in Maiduguri, the capital of Bornu State, has reached a point of no return which has understandably led some states mostly from the South to evacuate their indigenes from Maiduguri.

Reports that some elders from the state have called on the federal government to withdraw troops there and replace them with “well trained policemen” have so far been rebuffed.

The Federal government was not persuaded by the request of the Bornu elders, this, according to reports, was sequel to intelligence reports which had revealed that Boko Haram men were planning to take over the government in Bornu State as prelude to announcing their secession.

Besides, the Governor of the state, Kashim Shettima, was reported to be opposed to the position of the elders.

The governor declared that it was not yet time to withdraw the troops, because according to the security source, the government was sure that the main intention of Boko Haram members in the state was to take over the government of the state and that they were unrelenting in the alleged plan.

“Once they take over the Government House in Maiduguri, they will announce a separate government, so there is complicity of backing from some rebels in certain war ravaged countries” added the source.

Still on the request for the withdrawal of troops, the same source was quoted to have said that government would not allow insurgents to overrun a part of Nigeria and that “most members of the deadly group who are aged between 19 and 21 are suspected to have infiltrated the police because they know much of the modus operandi of the police”.

Irked by what was going on in his state, the governor was reported to have described the killings last Sunday as “unjustifiable”.

“How can a true Muslim explain, let alone profoundly justify the current unfortunate cold-blooded murders and bombings in the name of Islam” he wondered.

“Islam means peace and submission to the will of God and thus it should remain so in both theory and practice” Shettima declared.

According to him, “the mayhem caused by the sect has given the state a bad name, leading to the mass exodus of people” he lamented.

In fact, some states mostly from the southern part of the country have effected the evacuation of their indigenes from Maiduguri.

Following a motion moved by Hon. Legborsi Nwidadah, representing Khana I Constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly seeking the intervention of the members to facilitate the evacuation of students and indigenes of the state in Maiduguri, the members passed a resolution to effect the evacuation which has already taken place.

Again, the governor of Ogun State recently announced the evacuation of about 150 indigenes of the State which included some students of the University of Maiduguri which has been shut down due to the activities of the Boko Haram in the campus.

The governor said that his administration would not fold its arms and watch while the safety of lives and property of indigenes of his state were being threatened.

One of the students Taiwo Sokanlu who spoke on behalf of the students was quoted to have said that they could have been victims because, according to him, one of the bombs exploded close to where some of them resided.

For the Edo State Government, it was reported that the state evacuated more than 100 of its indigenes studying at various institutions in the Northern state of the country.

The evacuees, according to reports, which included some parents, guardians and primary school pupils were received by Governor Adams Oshiomhole at Government House, Benin City.

Governor Oshiomhole, who decried the unabated bombings in Bornu State, described it as unnecessary destruction of lives and property and expressed the hope that the Federal government would find a lasting solution to what he called “the criminal act” soon.

Speaking with a parent of one of the returnee pupil on phone, the governor was reported to have promised that the state would take care of the children until the crisis was over.

Just as the onslaught by Boko Haram has continued unabated by the day and evacuation of non-indigenes gathered momentum, reactions have been trailing the ugly development.

For example, Lagos lawyer and human rights crusader, Mr Femi Falana, has called for the trial of the former governor of Bornu State, Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff over his alleged involvement in the extra judicial killing of Boko Haram leaders in that state.

According to reports, Falana in a statement in Lagos recently accused the former governor of “insulting the collective intelligence of Nigerians” by denying complicity in the sect’s activities.

Falana was worried that the former governor was not telling the truth on the reason behind his apology to the sect last week.

According to the statement, “the immediate past governor of Bornu State, Sheriff, insulted the collective intelligence of Nigerians last week when he denied involvement in the Boko Haram menace”. Contrary to the belated denial of Sheriff, it is public knowledge in Bornu State that he integrated the Boko Haram members in his re-election campaign in 2007.

“Upon winning the election”, the statement continues, “Sheriff compensated the group by appointing one of them, Alhaji Buju Foi as the Commissioner for Religious Affairs.

The statement further explained that Foi principal brief was the implementation of Sharia (Islamic legal code) which the governor had implemented illegally, and that Foi resigned from the government on the discovery that corruption was the order of the day.

“The Boko Haram sect has repeatedly accused the ex-governor of masterminding the extra-judicial killing of its leaders, Mohammed Yussuf and his father in-law as well as ex-commissioner Buju Foi”.

“In reaction to the allegation of instigating culpable homicide of the three unarmed citizens, Sheriff has apologized and begged for forgiveness,” the statement concluded.

Also, a former Minister of Finance and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, has said that the Boko Haram issue has gone beyond religious crisis, describing it as organized crime.

Falae who was reported to have spoken to journalists in Akure recently alleged that the violence was being sponsored by some politicians who are hell bent on destabilising  the nation.

His words; “Boko Haram of today is completely different from the Boko Haram of last year.

“I suspect that some people are using this to destablise the country”, as according to Falae, “the level of sophistication the sect carries out its dastardly act shows that the members are not ordinary hoodlums”.

In this matter, the concern of any progressive Nigerian is sympathy for the governor of Bornu State, Kashim Shettima.

A cross section of people spoken to on this issue believe that some well placed Northerners were backing and sponsoring members of the sect.

Although these people have no evidence, it could not be far-fetched because there was a seeming and suspicious silence from the majority of Northern elites on the issue.

Some have even suggested a state of emergency declared in Bornu State, wondering why it was taking the president so long so to do. In the final analysis, there is no doubt that the economic livewire of the state is at stake.