by Rotimi Fashakin
How did the original Boko Haram mutate from a ragtag group it was in 2009 to an awesome fighting machine it is today?
I have seen a conflation of the Boko Haram issue with many Nigerians. We need to set the records straight: the first major bombing (on 1st October, 2010) was done by MEND. Henry Okah, leader of MEND, later swore to an affidavit in faraway South Africa that it was President Jonathan who tried to prod them to shift the blame of the blast on some Northern elements that were contesting the PDP candidacy with the President at that time.
As a matter of fact, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, the campaign Manager of one of the Northern aspirants, was quizzed for many hours by DSS. According to Dokpesi, the DSS operatives were only interested in knowing the consensus candidate. That, of course, showed the trivialization of a National tragedy. Meanwhile, some policemen and innocent citizens lost their lives. As soon as Dokpesi’s Boss withdrew from the race, Raymond Dokpesi was later grafted into the Goodluck Jonathan campaign in 2011!
Afterwards, further investigations on the bomb blast lost steam and finally died. That was the first bomb blast.
Let me refresh memory with some verifiable FACTS culled from my recent article:
“On October 1, 2010, while the 50th Independence Anniversary was going on at the Eagle Square, Abuja, two bomb blasts occurred outside the venue. Eight persons were confirmed dead. The explosions came an hour after the main militant group in the oil-rich Niger delta, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), threatened in an email, about an hour earlier, to attack the festivities and warned people to evacuate the area. “Several explosive devices have been successfully planted in and around the venue by our operatives working inside the government security services,” the email, signed by spokesman Jomo Gbomo, said. “In evacuating the area, keep a safe distance from vehicles and trash bins.” President Goodluck Jonathan, who was inspecting a guard of honour at the time, called it a “wicked act of desperation by criminals and murderers”.
However, President Goodluck Jonathan later absolved MEND of any complicity in the blast when he said: “It is not MEND.” This statement raised eyebrows across the land as the official statement from the security agencies on the cause of the bomb blasts had not come. The question was: Did the President know who did it since he knew who did not? In a new twist to the issue, Mr. Henry Okah, the MEND leader, deposed to an affidavit (in case no:A570/10) in faraway South Africa that MEND was not only responsible, but that President Jonathan knew about it and wanted them to pin it on some Northern elements who were contesting the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket with President Jonathan at the time. High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, the campaign manager of one of the contestants (former Military President Ibrahim Babangida) was arrested by security Agencies in connection with the bomb blast. But as soon as General Babangida withdrew from the race, Dr. Dokpesi was released and adopted into the campaign organization of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan! It should be remembered that about a month before the blast (September 8,2010), President Goodluck Jonathan removed the Muslim Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Abdurrahman Dambazzau and appointed, in his place, Major General Onyeabo Ihejirika, a Christian from the Southern Nigerian Igbo ethnic stock.
(b) On June 16, 2011, an unnamed man held a meeting with former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Hafiz Ringim, and later joined the convoy of the Police chief to the office. Within the precinct of the Police Force Headquarters, this fellow reportedly detonated a car bomb that killed sixty persons, including a Commissioner of Police.
(c) On August 11, 2011, a car bomb ripped apart the United Nations office building in Abuja leaving many people dead. At the scene of the carnage, President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly told Journalists, inter alia: “Other countries have experienced terrorism, may be this is the turn of Nigeria.”
(d) Nuhu Mohammed Marafa (Alias Babawo), a suspected financier of Boko Haram and close associate of Vice President Namadi Sambo, was arrested on January 17, 2012 for illegal possession of Arms and ammunitions. The case, charged to a Magistrate Court, was dismissed for lack of diligent prosecution.
(e) President Goodluck Jonathan, at the Ecumenical center in Abuja during the 2012 Armed Forces’ Remembrance Day, said that his government had been infiltrated by Boko Haram elements. But till date, no single high profile arrest has been made of anyone (in his government) connected with the Boko Haram group.
(f) On April 28, 2012, the late National Security Adviser (NSA), General Andrew Owoye Azazi, at an interactive security conference in Warri, asserted that the Boko Haram insurgency ravaging the country was from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). On account of this straight-from-the-gut assertion, General Azazi was unceremoniously removed, though he was from the same Ijaw ethnic stock with President Jonathan.
(g) Senator Ali Ndume, through his lawyer (Mr. Ricky Tarfa, SAN), deposed to an affidavit on May 26, 2012 that Vice President Namadi Sambo gave Boko Haram the telephone number to call for peace process and that, all his dealings with the group, were with the acquiescence of the President’s deputy.
(h) On November 2, 2012, President Jonathan’s Federal Government announced that Boko Haram had appointed General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) as its negotiator in the proposed peace talks. Quite expectedly, GMB refused to swallow this gambit saying, he could not negotiate on behalf of a group whose murderous escapades across the land were clearly anything but Islamic. He also seized the occasion to lampoon the Federal Government for deploying soldiers that mindlessly killed indiscriminately in the North on the pretense of fighting terrorism. This view, of course, tallied with views by the Northern Elders’ Forum, and for which a formal protest to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague was planned, that the Army under the former Chief, Lt. General Azubike Ihejirika, used the war on terrorism as a subterfuge for massive killings of innocent Northerners with outright genocidal intent.
(i) On May 26, 2013, Emergency rule was declared on Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states , three Northern States – considered to be on the frontline of the Insurgency campaign – as a result of loud uproar by the citizens about President Jonathan’s seeming reticence in frontally confronting the menace. But the spate of increased bombings in these states did not really justify the increased presence of the Military in the last one year. For instance, on February 25, 2014, gunmen violated the serenity of the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi. After the dust settled, twenty-nine male students were killed and the female counterparts abducted. These dead young Nigerians were not even considered worthy of respect with a minute silence at the centenary celebration that opened about twenty-four hours later. Till date, President Goodluck Jonathan has not thought it worthy to visit the school. Also, on the night of April 14, 2014, two hundred and seventy six female students were abducted in Chibok, Borno State. This particular infamy drew the outrage of the world because there was deafening silence by the government concerning this unfortunate incident for about a month. Later on, the insinuation from the Federal Government was to inelegantly impugn the veracity of this abduction. It was clearly a disingenuous way to play politics with a national calamity! Quite unfortunately, it took the visit of the Seventeen-year-old Pakistani girls’ rights activist, Malala Yousafzai, in convincing President Jonathan to agree to meet with the parents of the abducted girls. Over one hundred days after the abduction, the girls have not been safely brought back to their homes.”
The narrative of Dr. Stephen Davis was the answer to the puzzle for me. My gut-feeling is that the narrative explained the intractability of the Boko Haram monstrosity. It also helped to explained variants of Boko Haram: Original (Mohammed Yussuff’s group), criminal and the most of all, the political Boko Haram. It helped me to understand the ubiquity (yet with aura of anonymity) of the Bombings. It also helped me to understand why deaths from these bombings were reduced to the hollow ritual by the twosome employed in the Presidency:” The President is saddened by the Bomb blast that occurred today. This is a very cowardly act and the perpetrators shall be brought to book. Meanwhile, the Federal Government wishes to assure all law-abiding citizens that the situation is under control as the government has the capacity to protect lives and property.”
That narrative helped me to understand those bombings and the mutation of the original Boko Haram from a ragtag group in 2009 to an awesome fighting machine ( that struts about with APCs, Armoured Tanks etc) could only have occurred with the active connivance of the highest security authority.
That narrative summed it all up for me. And guess what? The Presidency is still dazed and unable to recover from the effect of the earth-shaking revelation. I have seen and read some of the languid attempts at impugning the veracity of the narrative. All these have been puerile and far from being successful.