Don’t Give Us The Fake Shekau – MURIC

Nigerian troops have within one week succeeded in liberating several communities earlier overrun and occupied by Boko Haram insurgents. Residents of those communities have also started returning home. The insurgents seem to have met their Waterloo as many of them are fleeing. Some allegedly drowned in the Lake Chad as they tried to escape. The turn of events at the war front has prompted President Jonathan to declare that Shekau would be captured before the elections.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is elated at this positive development. We commend our gallant soldiers for beating the insurgents in their game. We are particularly pleased with the liberation of Baga and other communities. We urge the Nigerian military not to relent until all communities occupied by the hoodlums are liberated. Not even one inch of Nigerian territory should be left for them.

Nonetheless, we are irked by both the speed and the ease with which the military is overrunning the insurgents. We are tempted to ask, “Are these the same Nigerian soldiers who reportedly took to their heels at the approach of insurgents? How did this transformation come about?” Here lies the difference between might and will. Nigerian soldiers have always been bold and daring. They were merely waiting for the Federal Government (FG) to manifest the political will.

Now that FG has awoken from its deep slumber and it has given our soldiers the green light to rout the insurgents, we call for caution in the euphoria of victory. The urge to seize Shekau alive may lead to another controversy. This is a man whom the Nigerian military claimed to have killed several times. Nigerian security agencies had also sworn that the Shekau appearing in video clips these days is a fake one.

So which Shekau do we want to capture alive now? The real one or the fake? If indeed either is captured, it will only add to the controversy. If the original Shekau is captured, then the military who claimed to have killed him lied to Nigerians albeit inadvertently. If the fake is captured, he is capable of throwing the whole country into greater controversy.

The passion with which Aso Rock expresses the possible capture of Shekahu within one week is therefore curious, if not disturbing. We warn that the propaganda machinery of both Boko Haram and the Islamic State (ISIS) is highly sophisticated. A captured fake Shekau is capable of planting seeds of discord within the Nigerian polity via ‘confessional’ statements extracted from him. He can easily be used for political ends. This may be too dangerous.

Nigerians will be too glad to know Shekau has been killed or captured. But nobody should contemplate using the seizure of either a fake or original Shekau to implicate political opponents. Both the ruling party and the opposition have played too much politics with the issue of Boko Haram. Let Shekau die. But don’t give us a fake Shekau to score cheap political points.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)