In a talk “Fight against Religious Extremism: What Role for Diplomacy?” given in Turkey published in SaharaReporters and ThisDay under heading “Boko Haram And the Global Terror Network,” Nigeria’s former Economic and Financial Crimes, EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu who hails from Adamawa, one of the Boko Haram ravaged states, expressed his opinions on Boko Haram and the behaviour of the former Nigerian Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Prelude: Nuhu Ribadu belongs to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP; the recently ousted government. Under Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP regimes past, Boko Haram, MEND, Ombatse and other terrorist organizations evolved and became violently active, (sometimes with their members employed by the government to “protect” public installations and infrastructure) leading to tens of thousands of deaths, millions displaced and unmeasurable economic destruction to Nigeria.
Reading Nuhu Ribadu’s talk, the first thing that draws attention is his opening in which the former police chief and EFCC boss confessed to have kept mute about Boko Haram up until now. For the first time and abroad, not at home, and under the new Muhammadu Buhari regime, the elite indigene of the affected state decided to “open up” on Boko Haram. His words, “When Boko Haram’s murderous campaign got to a head in Nigeria, and the media is everyday awash with, largely, uninformed commentaries, I kept mum. I refrained from saying anything. It was the period of confusion and blame game.”
One could not escape wondering why such an erstwhile respected elite and elder who claims knowledge about this terror saga, by all accounts the worst or one of the worst in recent human history, would have “kept mum” all the while rather than offering his expertise and advise to Nigerians, potential recruits and the Federal government under his party.
What also raises brows is why as is becoming so common nowadays, Nuhu Ribadu, when at last he decided to talk, did so abroad and not to the people of Nigeria. This pattern – of only opening up to a foreign audience and never to the Nigerian people – was most recently observed this January when Nigeria’s head of the Office of National Security, Sambo Dasuki likewise for a first time ever, opened up exhaustively to a foreign audience at the Chatham house in the United Kingdom.
One important reason that has been blamed for the initial unprecedented success of Boko Haram was the eerie silence of media-privileged northern elite and elders, which was at a time criticized as being actual approval or tolerance of the group’s actions. It is disquieting that knowing all he now professes to know, the former EFCC boss refused to talk earlier and when he did so at last, only after Nigeria had declared a full war against the terrorists, did he see it fit to do so abroad.
*It is important to point out that less media-privileged northern lead figures, the likes of Sheikh Jingir, Pakistani, Albani Zaria (killed by Boko Haram for speaking out), Sheikh Gumi and Muslims Against Terror organisation were the few to talk and condemn the terrorists, turning the tide against them.
The second thing noticeable from the Nuhu Ribadu talk was his direct defense of his premier and political party, the PDP government of Goodluck Jonathan. Nuhu Ribadu was not shy to come all out to defend the past regime.
It is necessary to remind of how in the prelude to the recently concluded May 29th presidential elections, in a widely published piece, Nuhu Ribadu delivered what was considered a threat to Nigeria, that the country “must re-elect a corrupt Goodluck Jonathan or face disintegration.” Defending Jonathan he said “Nigeria is at war” and as a result, must re-elect Jonathan in spite of his noted corruption or the country will be split to pieces by terrorists.
It was not the first or last time people of his party had patronized terror or used it as a political tool. Several PDP candidates including the Akwa Ibom governor and a Lagos gubernatorial candidate at the time were using Boko Haram and restive terrorists of the South south as blackmail for soliciting Jonathan’s re-election.
Ribadu’s party’s past Chairman who was later transferred to head the Nigerian Railway corporation, Bamanga Tukur bluntly defended Boko Haram as “Fighting for justice and another name for justice” in a publication in 2012 at a point when the terrorists had killed thousands in a spate of bombings of mostly Churches usually every Sunday.
Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan had at the time rejected pleas to send the army to crush the formation in its early days with the words, “how shall we send the army to kill our family. Boko Haram are my siblings.” The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN immediately asked Jonathan to resign for his insensitivity and embrace of Boko Haram terror. See: Punch, August 13, 2012; “Jonathan should resign – Northern CAN.”
Undoubtedly, Nuhu Ribadu’s posture using a supposed later date weapons embargo to attempt to defend the former “kid gloves approach” PDP administration he belongs to, recognized for being reluctant to fight, invite to fight or give the right to fight the terrorists for the entire 5 years of its power till as he gave account, “the past two months” and a little over when as Jonathan faced re-election challenges, engagement was finally commenced is next to impossible. Nuhu Ribadu failed to mention why a member of his PDP’s G9, a prominent middle belt politician, Jerry Gana bailed Mohammmed Yusuf, the Boko Haram founder, not once but twice!
While the former EFCC boss gave a succinct account of the origin of the Nigerian Taliban/ Yusufiyyah movement, a group better known as Boko Haram I led by late Muhammad Yusuf, his account was misleading in not explaining to Nigerians that Boko Haram II, the one led by the loony and heroin junky Abubakar Shekau is a totally different terror network that established during Jonathan’s era and had no common ideologies with the Boko Haram that had roots in the Yemeni meeting. Muhammad Yusuf’s Boko Haram as bad as it was would never go about in active pogrom, eliminating the entire indigenous population. Muhammad Yusuf’s Boko Haram fought only one notable war = a war with the state due to a burial helmet incident and police brutality. Muhammad Yusuf was an extremist, but the ideology that Boko is Haram, “western civilization is sin” is not an ideology of genocide.
On the contrary, Boko Haram II, founded by the French speaking Nigerien Abubakar Shekau after defeating his Cameroonian co-aspirant in a power tussle, from onset operated with single mission – mass eradication and displacement of all human beings and life around the resource rich Chad basin and in extension, across the entire north.
Boko Haram II who never stated an ideology unlike Boko Haram I, ISIS, alQaeda or other organizations never bore semblance to these. Taking no prisoners except forcibly conscripted disposable youth soldiers and abducting women to rape for the next generation of terrorists as they hoped, Boko Haram II was on a mission to destroy the farming in the north, conquer the oil, uranium and other resource blessed basin and eliminate the northern populace. The differences between Boko Haram I and Goodluck jonathan’s Boko Haram II is no better illustrated than by their own submission when remnants of Boko Haram I aka the Yusufiyah movement condemned and promised to expose and battle Boko Haram II to their death. See Vanguard of July 2011: http://allafrica.com/stories/201107210066.html
—Boko Haram I Condemns Boko Haram II; Begin Quote—
“The Yusufiyya Islamic Movement, in a two-page statement contained in leaflets yesterday, condemned the attacks and bombing of residences and places of worship by the other sect that claimed to be fighting a Jihad in the North. The leaflets were distributed on Tuesday to the various wards, Post Office Area and media houses in Maiduguri, Borno state capital.
“The leaflets read in part: “The Yusufiyya Movement has come to mean different things to different people in the last few months. This confusion and misinterpretation have made it necessary for us to come out publicly with the clear truth regarding our concept, struggle, aim and ultimate objective, as our declaration would guide in distinguishing the Yusufiyya movement from the various labels ascribed to us, as the Boko Haram.
“This is necessary in the light of genuine concern by individuals and groups to the mass suffering of innocent citizens caught in the cross fire between our members and the Nigerian troops. This concern has again brought to the fore, the daunting issue of reconciliation, through dialogue, with the Nigerian authorities and individual leaders involved in the naked abuse of our birthright to the peaceful propagation and practice of our religion as we understand it.”
“The sect argued that it was in the process of exercising their right to propagate their religion as they understood it, that their leader, Mohammed Yusuf was killed as well as the destruction and confiscation of their landed and moveable property in Maiduguri. Following their leader’s murder, the members therefore “resolved to wage a struggle between justice
and injustice, between truth and falsehood, right against wrong, in which the sect was sure of victory.”
“The statement, however, noted that the public must know that the Yusufiyya Islamic sect is far from the image of the heartless terrorists, arsonists or sadistic robbers painted by other people with a distinct agenda, saying “it is therefore unbecoming to attribute attacks on the civilian population or places of worship to our group, the Yusufiyya Islamic Movement”.
With the actions of the Jonathan/Ihejirika in command of Nigeria’s military in a war that gave the opportunity for the coveting of billions of dollars budgeted for terror but not used to buy arms or support the military, for which the US has asked Nigeria to investigate ex-General Ihejirika, Boko Haram II won the war and eliminated Boko Haram I. See: AIT, September 2014: “We Want Ihejirika’s Sudden ‘Billions’ Probed – U.S.”
No commentary on Boko Haram without mention of the splitting of the sect is honest and useful. Whereas when alleged experts like Ribadu attempt to define Boko Haram without raising this piece of globally recognized intelligence information, that this novel group of heroin addicted and powerfully sponsored and privileged terrorists who enjoyed unprecedented immunity under Jonathan’s government and from Nigeria’s francophone neighbours, their opinions are not only careless and mischievous but frankly dangerous.
How does Nuhu Ribadu on ideological bases explain the Baga massacre of over 2500 defenceless Nigerians in a community where Boko Haram II freely visited and traded under an understanding? You do not exterminate a population you intend to rule, do you?
Based on the evidence, Boko Haram II whose leaders are notably Francophone starting from Abu Mahjin, a Chadian who according to US Cables was sent to Nigeria to organize the terror formation in the vacuum created when Muhammad Yusuf was killed, is a foreign French and Jonathan PDP government assisted terror formation targeting the north with focus on Ribadu’s north east. The former police boss surprisingly refused to expose these clear truths. Rather in defending his former party leader, he went as far as accusing Amnesty International as getting “entangled” in a wave of “conspiracies” and accused them and others of destabilising the Nigerian army. This was a scary low point of his speech.
We, ENDS have written extensively on the two boko Harams in this and other articles: “Boko Haram I & Boko Haram II: In Light Of New Revelations & Wikileaks Docs,” which I urge as necessary reads.
I believe Nuhu Ribadu has taken a very uncomfortable, risky and dangerous position attempting he defence of the Jonathan government against the reality on the ground and the reality of the people of his home state of Adamawa who most recently felt the treachery when the former PDP president, Goodluck Jonathan and his army chiefs in conspiracy with the president of Chad promoted that sham ceasefire and denied Boko Haram’s continuous assault on Adamawa during those deadly days – explaining them away as not being Boko Haram – that led to the loss of Mubi and the entire top half of Adamawa state until “Ibn Fadlallah” led by later arrested Sarkin Baka Adamawa civilian defence forces routed the terrorists.