It is very difficult to
understand this liking for violence and bloodshed. Why have some Nigerians decided to make life miserable for others? For over four years now, those in the north east have known no peace, no thanks to Boko Haram Islamist terrorists group which has not spared any one, not even school children.
Thousands of lives have been lost, valuable properties reduced to nothing through the dastardly acts of Boko Haram.
Incidentally, the havoc, believed to be a problem of the north, is now rearing its ugly head in the South. The last Sunday’s uncovery of Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs) at the auditorium and car park of the Owerri headquarters of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) is a clear indication that the “devil” is here with us. Although it has not been ascertained if Boko Haram was responsible for planting the bombs, it sends a signal that all is no longer well with the South.
Incidentally, the dust raised by the failed bomb attack was yet to settle when stories of the arrest of 486 Boko Haram suspects in Abia State enroute Port Harcourt started making the rounds.
According to the Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, a terror kingpin, who had been on the wanted list of terrorists by security forces in the country, was among the suspects who were travelling in a motor cade of 35 Toyota Hummer buses.
What is actually not clear in the story is how a convoy of 35 buses was able to travel all the way from the north to the south without being detected or intercepted till they got to Abia, especially given the current security situation in the country. Again, what is the mission of this large number of people to Port Harcourt?
Just last week, the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima had ominously warned that it would only be a matter of time before Boko Haram terrorists extend their scope of attack to the Southern part of the country. He said: “if Boko Haram succeeds in over running the North East as they seek, they will surely want to extend greater havoc to other parts of the North and if they overrun the North, they would want to extend to the South. Crisis of any type has got a life of its own which depends on something for survival”.
Is it therefore, a mere coincidence that one week after the governor’s warning, the South is beginning to feel the heat of terrorism? Were the 486 northerners trooping to Port Harcourt in search of better life or has their movement anything to do with Shettima’s warning as many have insinuated?
Be that as it may, one really thinks the extension of terrorist activities to the South by Boko Haram is a very dangerous dimension to whatever course they are championing. This can only lead to more suspicion of Muslims and northerners in the South which might split the country further along religious and ethnic lines.
Already, some southern and northern leaders had begun warning each other against any act that would not be in the interest of their people. For instance, last Tuesday, the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, while condemning what it referred to as random arrest of the 486 suspects, warned the South-East governors that such action was capable of fuelling enmity between the northerners and southerners. Some analysts have observed that the current events are taking a pattern of pre-civil war indices. This should give any right thinking Nigeria be it Northerner, Southerner, Muslim or Christian a cause for worry. No man who witnessed or heard the tragedies of the last civil war, no man who can imagine the unimaginable effects of another war, can act or take decisions that could lead to a war for religious, ethnic or whatever reasons.
It is therefore in the interest of all and sundry to pursue peace instead of violence. While one agrees with the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum that indiscriminate arrest of poor, innocent northerners should be checked, it is also advisable that northerners, especially their leaders should help government in curtailing the activities and spread of Boko Haram. Boko Haram is a dreaded group and government and people of other parts of the country cannot be expected to fold their arms and watch Boko Haram over take their territories.
This is the time for northern elders to call these boys to order as the continuous pandering to the demands of these terrorists will do no one any good. A situation where a deputy Imam condemned the insurgents for the killing of innocent people in the name of Islam and the Chief Imam retrieved the microphone from him and exonerates himself from such condemnation, tells no good story of a people who are really willing and ready to fight terrorism. Keeping silent over monumental atrocities being committed by Boko Haram is a clear sign of complicity or endorsement of the evils being perpetrated by the insurgents.
As a former Russian born Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir said, “There’s no difference between one’s killing and making decisions that will send others to kill. It’s exactly the same thing or even worse”.