Posts Tagged 'abduction'

D is for Drown and more – an instantaneous duet

By

Toyosi Arigbabuwo and Noel Ihebuzor

NI

Crown, drown, clown…..”

TA

for which town?

Abeg, chill naa, no vex

NI

I no vex, I no frown!

Dem jus fall my hand down!

TA

Me dey here wan wear LASTMA gown

I no know say you dey only play with noun

My fine white skin, don nearly turn to brown!

NI

na so so frown frown

when town vex come meet crown

sake of say ogogoro wey him down

wey make dem talk of drown

TA

E come be like this town

When dem goon

Say no be madness make the crown

Wan drown pipu for inside Lagoon

NI

Chei, Baba God him dey frown

Him no go gree sey make clean pipu drown

na float wey eagle feather dey float for water,

leg wey waka come go waka go,

nothing do am, nothing fit do am.

TA/NI 

Iseeeee! Aseeee!

**** Toyosi and I wrote this instantaneous duet as an expression of our strong disapproval of royal meddling in inter-ethnic amity! Readers in Nigeria will be familiar with the context.TA is Toyosi’s voice, NI is mine.

El-Rufai, Boko Haram apologist, political opportunist or verbal contortionist? Your call!

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

I visited my archives and found a rejoinder I wrote to this article by Malam Nasir El-Rufai. It is still worth reading for two reasons. The first is the persisting BH scourge which has been marked lately by the increasing savagery, mindlessness and bestiality of their attacks. The kidnapping of innocent schools in Chibok and the earlier slaughter of school children outside their dormitory represent the high point of this campaign of sadistic and mindless savagery. The second reason to read the article again is related to recent attempts to firm up, embellish and market a four variants model of Boko Haram by Mr El-Rufai. How solid is the evidence for such a model? How good is a model building that picks, chooses and stretches evidence at the whims of convenience? What levels in frequency of occurrence justify inferences and conclusions on which such a bold four variant models is built?  Such questions are worth asking as the country struggles to separate fact from fiction and facts from faction-driven twists and distortions. Model building is a serious business and is different from an exercise embarked upon out of spite and bitterness and in a style characterized by malicious flippancy. In its present form, Mr El-Rufai’s four variants model is not very persuasive. Its intentions are not to clarify issues but to obfuscate and to divert attention and public wrath from the sponsors and apologists of BH. The reader will recall that Malam El-Rufai had in the recent past, with plenty of characteristic indecent haste, given great publicity to an interview granted by Dr. Davis which had suggested, by implication, that Gen Ihejirika was a BH sponsor. Gen Ihejirika has since replied and the reader is advised to read all three sources – the Davis interview, the El-Rufai uncritical publicity blitz of the same and the General’s Response and make up his/her mind as to where truth, sanity and decency lie.

Click here for the El-Rufai article – and read my rejoinder below. At the end, ask yourself this question, in consideration of the said article, my rejoinder and recent outbursts by Malam El-Rufai whether we are dealing with a BH apologist, a political opportunist, a verbal contortionist or simply with a man in acute need of help.

=========

This is a very revealing write-up. Though well researched, the findings of the research are selectively used and herein lies its major flaw. Malam El-Rufai may not want to be seen as apologist and spokesperson for the BH but this is the impression that stays with one as one goes through much of this article. Let me illustrate with one or two examples.

I will be drawing excerpts liberally from the write up by Mr Nasir El-Rufai (NER for short in the rest of this comment) as I make my long comment, with advance apologies to NER for any plagiarism.

NER describes BH as peaceful in origin. But read below –

“In April 2007, Sheikh Jaafar was murdered in cold blood while praying in his mosque in Kano by assailants that years later turned out to be suspected members of a sect to be known as Boko Haram, operating out of Bauchi State”.

Can such a group be correctly described as “largely peaceful”. Largely peaceful should be made of more peace conducing acts!

NER affirms “Many in the North see the patent inaction of the authorities as the advancement of a sinister agenda to destroy an already near prostate northern economy through occupation, militarization and disruption of socio-economic activities. The federal government has done nothing to deny these or indicate otherwise, and the state governments have acquiesced to the cavalier attitude of the Villa.”

This is mischievous, inaccurate, unhelpful and is deliberately crafted to further incite a section of the country against the rest. NER knows that action has been engaged and is on-going yet NER finds it convenient and expedient to the advancement of the agenda he defends to deny these.

NER also tries to distinguish between what he calls variants of BH – “Many of us believe that there are at least four variants of Boko Haram – the real BH and three other fakes – sponsored by the government, politicians and criminal groups – that use the brand to advance their own self-centered agendas”. Questions for NER – who is this “Many of us” and where is the evidence base for this belief? Unless substantiated, such sweeping statements are simply exercises in sensationalism and are very unhelpful.

NER says nothing in this write up of the consistent targeting of symbols or institutions of Christianity by the BH. This is a deliberate omission that weakens the credibility of his analysis of the causes of the BH terrorism. Rather, NER is at pains to point out greater northern and Muslim casualties as a result of BH terrorism. Here, he creates the unfortunate impression that his primary concern is with the lives of northerners and Muslims, a focus which I believe betrays a mind-set we should all condemn. One also notices with great concern the very subtle manner NER tries to elevate BH terrorism to the level of an insurgency challenge.

NER appears to know what does not motivate BH and can thus advise those thinking of an amnesty type program to go back to the drawing board! To what does NER owe this knowledge?  Yet NER recommends dialogue and “honest discussions” between government and BH, and with that the implicit that either that there have not been such dialogues or that discussions that have taken place so far have not been honest!

NER’s section where he mentions the Maitatsine is particularly worrying since it could be read to mean that persisting difficulties with unearthing BH in the north could reflect surrounding community acceptance and admiration of this group. If this is true, then there is indeed great cause for worry. If it is not then NER’s “the current situation in Kano and Borno States is one in which the military occupiers are killing more innocent people than Boko Haram, which injustice is creating resentment against the Army” should be read as unfortunate attempt at creating resentment against law enforcement agencies carrying out a difficult national assignment against a terrorist group that vanishes into and blends with the crowd.

NER’s last paragraph reads like a recommendation and endorsement of terror tactics and he achieves this through very crafty paragraph editing. The paragraph commences with an argument that military solutions alone against terrorists do not work, and then shifts to a case for government to act to stop the loss of lives and to deliver a country that works for all. He then ends by urging government to bend over backwards to make this happen. Implicit in all of this is that things are not working well for portions of the country who are now up in arms. This way, NER hopes to reposition and brand the BH terror campaign as a crusade for social justice and not as a manifestation of religious fanaticism, extremism and intolerance which has now been tapped into by a bigoted political elite. And by the way, is the implied threat in NER’s last sentence really necessary?

THE SULTAN, NIGERIAN MUSLIMS AND BOKO HARAM Letter 4 from Rome: 27 May 2014

THE SULTAN, NIGERIAN MUSLIMS AND BOKO HARAM

Letter 4 from Rome: 27 May 2014

By +John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja.

 Image

“Terrorism has no place in Islam….We must rise up as always, with one voice to condemn all acts of terrorism, condemn those terrorists wherever they are and try our best as Muslims to ensure peace reigns in our community”.

 

This is the core of the message of the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’adAbubakar III, and President of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) during a special prayer session last weekend organised by the same NSCIA at the Abuja National Mosque, an event that was widely covered by the Nigerian media. It was also given very wide and positive media coverage here in Rome, starting from the Vatican Radio. I congratulate the Sultan for his bold statement. This has given me the courage to voice out, with all good intention, a reflection that has been going through my own mind for some time now.

           

            For a long time, we used to pride ourselves as Nigerians for the generally good relations between our two major religious communities. We described ourselves as “the greatest Islamo-Christian nation in the world”. This is to highlight the fact that there is no nation in the world with so many Christians and so many Muslims living together in almost equal numbers and largely peacefully.

 

            We saw cases of “inter-religious” conflicts with loss of life and property. But we tended to dismiss them as anomalies occurring a few days in the year. We attributed this anomaly to the actions and utterances of a small group of extremists on both ends of the religious divide. At other times, we blame the manipulation, misuse and abuse of religion by people with other aims and objectives, political, ethnic and social. Often, all these factors merge.

 

But we soon began to wonder at the chronic repetition of such “anomalous” incidents. The role of religion became ever more evident, whether directly or indirectly. Most of the violent religious conflicts featured Muslim extremists targeting Christian objectives. It has also been largely a Northern affair. The records on this are clear.

 

            All this has become drastically exacerbated with the emergence of the Boko Haram. They have raised the level of destruction and ruthlessness to inhuman dimensions. They have also been carrying out their murderous activities calling the name of “Allah” and giving Islam a bad name. We do not know how many they are, but they are enough to constitute a major danger to the entire nation. Like poison, you need only a little portion to kill many people. They have also become a cause of concern for the international community, having now acquired the dubious merit of a mention at the United Nations’ Security Council.

 

            How do we get out of “this very serious situation” as the Sultan rightly describes our present predicament? The abduction of the over 250 school girls is no doubt very serious, and we pray that our daughters will return home soon. But it is only a tragic symptom of the wider issue of terrorism, which needs to be addressed from the roots. The complexity of the problem calls for many sided approaches, military, yes, but also political and economic. Beyond all this, the religious dimension is what I particularly want to draw attention to in this reflection. The government must key this dimension into its strategies for a lasting solution to the problem. Government should abandon its tendency to close its eyes to the religious issues. Too little effort is being made in this direction.

 

            The Muslim community has come out several times in the past to condemn the Boko Haram. That is commendable but not enough. It is also certainly not helpful to maintain that the terrorists are not Muslims because they are doing things that are clearly contrary to what the majority of Muslims hold. If there is ever to be any channels of dialogue and peace-making with the group, it will necessarily involve Muslim elements with access to them, people they respect and will listen to. We see here the wisdom and importance of the call of the Sultan.

            To go beyond mere condemnation, it seems to me that there is an urgent need for an in-house dialogue within the Nigerian Muslim community. Such a dialogue would make it possible to courageously and sincerely deal with currents and movements that create the kind of religious climate and atmosphere in which Boko Haram and similar groups emerge and thrive. It is not enough to condemn market bombing, killing in villages and places of worship and abduction of innocent schoolgirls. All this is expected of any right thinking person. But it is also necessary to condemn extreme and intolerant religious positions and attitudes which make peace with others impossible. It is not enough to merely tolerate people of other faiths, considered perhaps as undesirable. It is also necessary to respect the religious convictions of everyone and accept the reality of our multi-religious nation as being in the plan of the One God whom we all worship. Our freedom of religion has to do with freedom to speak the truth of our faiths. It cannot be license to insult and denigrate others, less still to foment violence and hatred. It is surely the duty of the state to enforce and ensure good order and deal firmly with all trouble makers. But it is the greater duty of religious authorities to promote peace and harmony among God’s children in our nation.

            Every effort in this direction deserves the encouragement of the entire nation, starting with government. The Christian community too should welcome and support such efforts, with a view to “close ranks as Nigerians”, as the Sultan has wisely suggested. In this regard, we must say that this is hardly the time for the Nigerian Inter-religious Council, (NIREC) to go into a slumber. We should all wake up to salvage our nation, before it becomes too late.  

BOKO HARAM: SCOPE AND LIMITS OF FOREIGN INTERVENTION Letter 2 from Rome, May 11th 2014

BOKO HARAM: SCOPE AND LIMITS OF FOREIGN INTERVENTION

 Letter 2 from Rome, May 11th 2014

By +John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja.

Image 

The tragic drama of the abducted secondary school girls of Chibok, Borno State at the hands of Boko Haram has shocked the whole world. This has focused very unsavory global media attention on our nation. It has in particular concentrated much publicity on BokoHHHHH Haram, a publicity which they have always reveled in but which in this case may have gone beyond what they bargained for and which may now boomerang against them. This “unconscionable crime”, to use Mrs Obama’s rather unfamiliar language, has to say the least, cast our government in very bad light. Whether this verdict is deserved or not, the government has to do something visible about the crisis on our hands.And quickly too. This perhaps explains why our government is accepting assistance from various foreign nations, from USA to China, from France to Israel. As a Nigerian, I am saddened and ashamed. But it seems clear that we have reached the stage where we have to swallow our pride and stop bragging and pretending to be what we are not.

In itself, there should be nothing wrong with seeking and accepting foreign intervention, especially since it is now clear that the Boko Haram has international connections.  It is therefore not only a question of “assisting Nigeria”. It is also in the interest of the international community to join hands with Nigeria to deal with a dangerous virus that is infecting and attacking the entire international community, starting from our nearest regional neighbours.

So far, we have been hearing much about military action. To the extent that the Boko Haram is killing, abducting and bombing, it has to be effectively and appropriately engaged. But there is a limit to how far we can go with military action alone. One only needs to imagine the awful military dilemma of rescuing 200 girls from the hands of heavily armed terrorists and bring them back to their families, safe and sound. The complexity of the Boko Haram phenomenon therefore calls for coordinated action at different levels and in various areas of attention. The political and socio-economic issues are well within our ability as a nation, if we can only summon the political will to act together across political and ethnic lines to save our nation.

But there is also the religious dimension which in my view has not been given adequate attention. This is where I believe we should welcome with deep gratitude the strong messages of solidarity with our nation and vigorous expressions of condemnation of the Boko Haram by the global Islamic community at the highest level. The Islamic Fiqh Academy, based in Saudi Arabia, has declared:

“This crime and other crimes committed by the likes of these extremist organizations contradict all humanitarian principles and moral values and violate the provisions of the Quran and Sunnah”.

The OIC, now called “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation”, a body well known to us here in Nigeria, has come out not less forcefully in its condemnation, through its “Independent Human Rights Commission” (IHRC). Their statement issued from its headquarters in Jedda merits a long quotation.

“The IHRC is extremely saddened by the misguided claim of the Boko Haram that the abduction of the girls and threat to sell them off as ‘slaves’ is in conformity with the injunctions of Islam. This is not only a violation of international law and human rights law, but also a gross misrepresentation of Islam, which enjoins its adherents to go to any extent in the pursuit of knowledge. The Commission joins the international community in unequivocally condemning the barbaric act … and urges the leadership of Boko Haram to immediately release the abducted girls to enable them join their families and continue with their education.”

With such statements at such high Islamic levels, there is no more room for any Muslim or anybody in Nigeria to suggest any kind of alibi, excuses or justification for the “unconscionable crimes” of Boko Haram.  I believe such powerful statements are also great encouragement to our many Muslims who have been speaking loudly against the terrorists, at times at great risk. We think of the imams who have been hunted down and murdered by Boko Haram for preaching against their demonic activities. It is a good sign that many Nigerian Muslims have been making similar statements. It is time for all of us to call BokoHaram by its proper name, “mindless bigots, misguided persons masquerading as adherents of Islam” – as General Buhari branded them recently.

One may suggest that these global Islamic organizations could go further than issuing statements of condemnation. They could do more to support the efforts of the Nigerian Muslims to discourage and knock out radicalization and all forms of extremism in the Nigerian Muslim community. Could they also reach out to the foreign supporters and inspirers of our terrorists to leave us in peace? What about facilitating dialogue with Boko Haram?

Finally, I believe that we Christians, despite all the hurts that we have suffered, should resist the temptation to turn a deaf ear to what the Muslim world is saying. The Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury are singing the same song of peace as the Muslim leaders. This is significant. Muslims and Christians in Nigeria must find it in their hearts to pick up the chorus. When the girls are back home, and the Boko Haram are disarmed, (I say “when” not “if”) there will still be the tedious task of dialogue, reconciliation, mutual forgiveness and peace, for which the force of religion will be most needed. This will demand that religious communities join hands and call on the One God who takes care of us all.  It is then that it may well be that this horrible episode, as President Jonathan believes, would “be the beginning of the end of terror in Nigeria”.

 

May God bless Nigeria, and bring back home our daughters.

 

Boko Haram, Chibok and our responses

By

Henry MGBEMENA

Regardless of their divergent views on several socio-political issues in the country and irrespective of their religious affiliations, most Nigerians now wish the Boko Haram saga is a bad dream which they long waking up from. It is a plague that has bedeviled them, the blame game era is obviously over and they now demand nothing but focused efforts that will lead to instantaneous demise of the group. Reechoing President Goodluck Jonathan’s Democracy Day speech, all the gains of the past 15 years of democratic governance in our country are threatened by the presence of international terrorism on our shores. It is time for all Nigerians to emulate the Americans after 9/11 and rally round the national flag, bring patriotism to the fore and ensure good prevails over evil.

 

The US National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) recorded Boko Haram as the third most lethal terrorist group in the world between 2009 and 2013 with over 801 attacks and 3666 fatalities. Taliban in Afghanistan and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were the only two groups ahead of Boko Haram out of over 480 terrorists groups studied. On Nov 13, 2013, the US Department of State announced the designation of Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and placed a $7m bounty on its leader Abubakar Shekau. On 22 May 2014, the UN added Boko Haram to the al Qaeda sanction list—in effect confirmed it as an al Qaeda affiliate.

 

Regardless of the beliefs of Shekau and his infamous cohorts, their callous acts of terror contravene national and international laws and they are solely liable and will be brought to justice for every single life lost in their attacks. Similarly, the Nigerian government has the responsibility for securing the lives and properties of the entire citizenry and if they fail in that role, no doubt about it, Mr. President and everyone else in government are answerable to the populace that elected them into office. But their failures and inactions in no way exonerate the perpetrators of the act.

 

Nigerian security agencies are receiving a lot of criticism from within and outside the country, especially since the kidnapping of over 200 innocent school girls in Chibok by Boko Haram. In as much as one would like to sympathize with them for facing the wrath of public opinion, I think their public relations strategy is way off the mark! Every young officer in the military is taught that one of the principles of Internal Security operation is winning the heart and mind of the populace: I think the Generals may have forgotten their basic tactics and allowed the terrorists to achieve their ultimate objective of instilling fear in the population. I am convinced Shekau and his troops do not in their wildest dream believe the Nigerian government will succumb to their demands of implementing sharia law in the country, especially when a notable Islamic cleric like the Sultan of Sokoto and the Organization of Islamic Countries have termed their actions unIslamic. They have however, through their carnage succeeded in causing anger, frustration and dissention which can create chaos in the country if not properly managed. In fact, I think Nigerians have been very civil in their approach to the whole issue because there haven’t really been violent anti-government demonstrations which would have been the case in several countries in the world.

 

My intention is not to query the capabilities of the Nigerian security forces because terrorism is a global phenomenon that has challenged even the best militaries in the world, including the United States and their allies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Having also personally experienced the complexities of the war on terror in Afghanistan and Somalia, it will be unreasonable to belittle their efforts. Nigerian military officers are battle-tested and highly regarded for their peacekeeping roles all over the world. Nobody is expecting them to perform miracles overnight when it comes to fighting terrorism which is a global bane that requires concerted international efforts. Thanks to the fact that the government finally agreed to accept international assistance which I must confess I initially felt was not immediately necessary, but with the recent developments, I now agree it’s was a good call by Mr. President.

 

What is obvious however, and must be said is that Nigerian security agencies are losing the battle of words. Propaganda is a key instrument of warfare and every military outfit in this present Information Age should strive to influence and swing public opinion in their favor, but need to do it the right way, no need to lie because you will surely be exposed!. Not all Nigerians are soldiers that obey the last command— Am not even sure that still applies!. They have the constitutional right to ask questions and query the performance of every public servant paid with their taxes. Come to think of it, who says the military cannot have a civilian spokesperson? Nigeria is a country awash with seasoned public relations practitioners who see things from the point of view of the streets and not the barracks— is there a law that prohibits civilians from heading military public relations outfits? Why can’t they just fight and let the experts do the talking?

 

Not recounting all the previous blunders, I think it is inexcusable for the military spokesman to give a wrong figure of the number of girls that are missing and even reporting them released when that wasn’t the case. Worst of all,  I think it is a very poor tactical appreciation for a Chief of Defense Staff to address the public and say they know where the girls are because of criticism that the security agencies are not doing enough. That announcement whether true or false is a grave mistake that can cost the girls their lives, or at best retard all progress so far made in freeing them. Ok, let’s even assume it was intended to push the terrorists into a hasty decision of moving the girls, thereby exposing their position, is it a risk worth taking knowing how irrational terrorists are?  The main objective of every hostage negotiation is to buy time and gather intelligence for tactical operations. And if the hostage takers succumb to the psychological strain they are subjected to by a seasoned negotiator and decide to release the hostages in the process, all well and good. I am sorry but I think it’s either the Chief of Defense Staff was ill-advised by his public relations officers or he became too emotional and took his eyes off the ball by his statements. Criticisms will definitely come and you must learn to accept it and make corrections where necessary. Actions speak louder than words; capture or kill Shekau today and you will become a hero, before then, your statements don’t count much so save them, except when necessary and well thought through.  Essential norm in hostage incident management discourages top managers from having direct involvement in tactical negotiation strategies or making public statements. Everything should be left in the hands of the experts, especially the press releases which are supposed to be carefully crafted to reflect what you want the hostage takers to hear.  I think the ball has definitely been fumbled severally, …..but still in play. What is required now is for the military big wigs to remain focused until results are achieved.

 

On a bigger picture, one question that should also be asked is why Nigeria’s borders cannot be fenced. Even if it’s just the Northeastern borders so as to deny Boko Haram the freedom of movement and access to supplies in that area, why can’t we just do it? Border control is one of the most effective security mitigating measures that has been tested in countries like Israel and America that we should copy. Recognizing possible opposition from selfish individuals, since a state of emergency has been declared in the Northeastern states, is fencing the borders not akin to a tactical security measure that the Commander-in- Chief can task Nigerian Army Engineers to directly implement without any further legislative reviews? That way, we will avoid squabbles and over-inflated billions of dollars contracts by corrupt government officials. In January 2013, Israel finished building the main portion of its borders with Egypt. The 16-foot high fence, which is made of razor wire and reinforced by military surveillance, including motion sensors and cameras, aimed at keeping out both illegal African migrants and terrorists operating in the Sinai. According to the most recent quarterly figures published by the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority, only 36 people have been caught trying to enter the southern border since January as against 10,440 that were caught in 2012(Reuters, Jan 2013). This shows that insurgents and illegal migrants completely avoided the borders knowing they would not be able to penetrate the new barriers.

 

Military might is not enough to defeat terrorism recognizing that most terrorists long for martyrdom. I want to believe the government is still in dialogue with the right parties that have access to Boko Haram high command and can exert influence.  Concessions are sometimes inevitable in negotiations but I think it is the prerogative of Mr. President as the Commander-in-Chief to deal or not to deal.

 

I see the willpower in our government and security forces to free the Chibok girls and end this Boko Haram menace. What is now critical is how the situation is handled until when that happens. It took the US about a decade to track down Osama bin Laden but focus was maintained and successes and failure along the way were well communicated to rally support of the citizens. And of course there were several disparate voices along the way.  That is what every Nigerian wants from the government in general and security forces in particular. Not someone whose judgment will be beclouded by the need to defend every criticism….Keep your eyes on the ball Generals, we shall overcome!

 

Henry MGBEMENA

hmgbemena@gmail.com

Frame and Focus – #ReturnOurGirls

By

Noel Ihebuzor

The   campaign has been a huge success in calling the attention of Nigerians and the international community to the abduction of Nigerian school children from their school in Chibok. Thanks to this campaign and to its organizers, the world is now aware of what, in reality, is a savage affront to human dignity, decency and freedoms, symbolized by this act of terrorism against innocent and defenseless school girls!  Global reaction to this dastardly act by Boko Haram, a group born from religious extremism and bigotry has been one of shock and outrage. President Obama expressed that sense of outrage and shock clearly in his TV interview on the abduction. Expressions of shock and outrage continue to be heard from all around the world, and understandably too. The abduction and continued captivity of the girls are in utter violation of all international human rights conventions. They also violate all the provisions regarding the protection of civilians in general, and women and children in particular, in situations of conflict. The abduction shocks. The continuing captivity  of these innocent girls is both agonizing and sickening. Their captors should hear this loud and clear – all well meaning Nigerians are united with the rest of the world in wanting these girls returned, safe and sound

Like I said at the start of this write up, the campaign and its hashtag  have been successful but I believe that time has come now for another hashtag  to be added to the existing hashtag. The reason is simple. Both in Framing and Focus, the  hashtag fixes attention and minds on government’s (federal and state, but largely federal) responsibility to do all in its power to bring back the girls. There is also the hint of frustration and anger at government’s slow and ineffective response in the immediate aftermath of the abduction, emotions which are also largely understandable and justifiable. However, the largely government focus of the hashtag takes minds and attention away from the perpetrators of this infamy. It takes attention away from this violation of rights, from this act of sheer terror by a bunch of extremists, the Boko Haram, who are willing to burn and butcher and who will stop at nothing to advance a religious agenda.

It is now time for attention to be turned to and focused on this Boko Haram group too. They invaded and took away the girls. We and the entire world shall hold them together with their sponsors, supporters and apologists responsible for any damage done to any of these girls. They should therefore return them, safe and intact. Returning the girls may even obviate the need for any military engagement and any fire fights that may arise in any efforts to secure the release of these girls.  Military engagement is a strong option in a # mode. Such a mode leans more towards a “search and rescue” mission approach. Such missions have inherent risks of casualties and collateral damage and history is replete with examples of such consequences and societal reactions to them. We want the girls back, safe and alive. Appealing to their captors to return our girls presents therefore a safer option. Incidentally, It is also a strategically more beneficial route for Boko Haram in the long term in terms of image redemption, pardon and possible reintegration into society.

So whilst we encourage our security forces to , we should also frame and focus our tweets on Boko Haram and their sympathisers, sponsors and supporters and ask them to . Let us then adopt this additional hashtag  today and use it not only to appeal to Boko Haram but also to apply pressure on it!

NAI

The Abducted Children of Chibok

By

Noel Ihebuzor

 

The abduction by Boko Haram of children from Chibok is the issue occupying centre stage in politics right now in Nigeria.  Government response to and management of this abduction have not been effective – a large number of the children , we are told, are still with their captors and locating them continues to be a challenge.

Very far away from the scene of this affront to decency and female dignity, especially in Abuja and Lagos, demonstrators and marchers have mobilised under very arresting logos to demand that immediate action be taken to ensure the safe and immediate release of these girls. Dialogues have been held by some of these marchers with government security agencies and a modus operandi for engagement and information sharing was tweeted to have been agreed upon by one of marchers’ spokesperson. But marchers and demonstrators are also using social media to give their cause (and a very legitimate cause for that matter) and themselves considerable visibility. And here they are several steps ahead of government, and whether deliberately or by inadvertence are making government look bad, insensitive and unresponsive.

And this should not and need not be so. Government must join up in these marches and demonstrations, and for two reasons. No wise government should allow itself to be “caught” and cast in adversarial posture to a movement to free children who have been kidnapped by cruel, heartless and scheming persons. So, Government officials, spouses of ministers,  legislators etc should join these marches and protests. Join, ride on the public outrage at this violation of the innocent and channel the outflowing energy to the benefit of your programmes and the peoples. Secondly,  If you are not in a march, your agenda and point of views will hardly ever be recognised nor projected. So Government officials must join up. Strategic considerations suggest joining up.

Joining up will also enable a second and equally important message to be given greater orchestration. “ABDUCTORS, FREE OUR CHIBOK CHILDREN”. This message is just as important as the first which can be summed up as “GOVERNMENT, RESCUE AND FREE OUR CHIBOK CHILDREN”. Whilst the current primary message focuses on the government and therefore presents a good handle for its indictment for its inability to assure the safety and security of persons living within its space, the second opens the way for reaching out to the captors, either directly or indirectly through their community and religious leaders, to free children they have taken captive and hold against their will in violation of all the laws of decent conduct.

Join me in praying for the safe of these children and for purposeful, effective and targeted intervention that would ensure this in the very near future.

Noel


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