Nigeria revels at copying. We copy a lot and add our own dimension to things. Sadly, one of our latest imported craze is the phenomenon known as Boko Haram. Some of our young men have allowed themselves to be turned into terrorists and stone cold killers. But how did we get to this sorry pass? Why did we start keeping company with Afghanistan and other such funny places? How did we get here, and, who are these people?
Back in 2011, when it was looking like Boko Haram was going to careen out of control, former president, Obasanjo stepped-in and attempted to unravel the Boko killers’ menace.
Off went OBJ to Borno State, the capital of Boko Haram. OBJ got there on 15 September 2011 ostensibly on a condolence visit to the family of a man who was killed back in July 2009. Obasanjo had a full and useful chat with one Baba Kura Fugu who christened himself representative of Boko Haram and spokesperson for the Fugu family. Two days later, Mr Fugu was dead, cut down in the same manner his father, Baba Fugu Mohammed, and his brother-in-law, the founder of the original Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, were cut down.
What was the common denominator in all three assassinations? The office of the Governor of Borno State.
When Mohammed Yusuf was arrested in 2009, he named the then governor of Borno, Ali Modu Sheriff as a major financier of Boko Haram. Very shortly after his revelation, Yusuf was taken from custody and was driven to a deserted area. With his hands still shackled, he was told to walk to another vehicle. The man knew what was coming and so he shuffled along inch by reluctant inch. Halfway through his trudge, bullets rained down on Yusuf. That was that.
His father-in-law, Baba Fugu Mohammed, not having learnt the lesson, went for a tête-à-tête with the Borno State government also in July 2009. Whilst there, he was reportedly asked to cede his land to the government. He refused. He was swiftly detained. A few days later, Mohammed too was assassinated. Then the government went after the Fugu family. Bulldozers were sent-in and the family house was levelled. Moves were made to take over the family land.
The Fugu family headed to court. They sued both the Federal and Borno State governments. Some High Court judge up there awarded the family N100 million. But this being Nigeria, the family never saw a kobo.
After OBJ’s talk with Baba Kura Fugu, the very next day, 16 September 2011, Fugu was invited for a chat with the Deputy Governor of Borno, Zannah Mustapha. Even with all their negative experience with that State government, Fugu went! I guess that is what happens when the premise of your rebellion is based on hatred for education – you don’t think properly.
Anyway, the first thing they did to Fugu and his small entourage when they got to Government House was to take their mobile phones off them. Twenty-four hours later, Fugu was gunned down in his home, sitting under a tree, amongst friends, on the phone with SaharaReporters, clearing his throat, getting ready to spill the beans.
A month before all of that, Boko Haram had struck in Abuja. The United Nations’ office was bombed. The Saudi Intelligence Chief, Prince Mughrin bin Abdul-Aziz flew to Abuja for a private meeting with Jonathan. He handed the President a list of names he claimed were sponsors of Boko Haram. Within 36 hours, our government announced the arrest of about 150 people. And it wasn’t long after this that Jonathan declared that his government and the Security services were teeming with Boko Haram sympathizers.