Factcheck: The defeat of Boko Haram is not a defining metric of President Buhari’s commitment to combating insecurity

On the 8th of January, Pastor Tunde Bakare stood before his congregation ( Latter Rain Assembly) to give his annual State of the Nation address. It is a speech that ties together events of the past year in Nigeria and the world, and the projections (and sometimes prophetic declarations) for the new year.

In this year’s speech, Pastor Tunde said:

 

The summary with respect to insecurity being that because Boko Haram has largely been defeated, it is an indicator of President Buhari’s commitment to combating insecurity. We beg to differ with the good Pastor. It. Is. Not.

It is interesting that in awarding the president pass marks for achievement in combating insecurity, the only threat factor Pastor Bakare used for appraisal is Boko Haram. Boko Haram is not the only security threat Nigeria has had to face during President Buhari’s tenure.

Here is a condensed list of security crises Nigeria has been facing since President Buhari took the oath of office.

  1. Shia Muslim massacre in North West Nigeria
  2. Southern Kaduna (North West) genocide at the hands of Fulani herdsmen
  3. Murder of Farmers in North Central Nigeria and South East Nigeria, also at the instance of Fulani herdsmen
  4.  Attacks on oil installations in South-South Nigeria by Militants
  5. Killings of IPOB members by the army in the South East

 

Shi’a Muslim Massacre

This has been an all out fight between the Nigerian State and Shiites, which started in December 2015 when a procession of Shi’a muslims blocked the Chief of  Army Staff’s (Buratai) convoy from passing through on that fateful day in Zaria. That decision cost Shi’a muslims over 300 lives- men, women, children, including the Shiekh’s son.

Before that time, the military under the Jonathan administration shot through a Qud procession in Zaria, Kaduna state. This took place in July 2015, In that incident, 3 of Shiekh Zakzaky’s sons and 9 members of the sect were reported dead. Jonathan called the leader of the Shi’a sect to apologise, which the latter rejected. This appears to be the only recorded incident of Shiites versus the state during Jonathan’s tenure.

After the December 2015 shootout, a home of a Shi’a leader was razed in Kaduna and 3 persons were killed. In Katsina, the police opened fire on a procession, and at least 15 lives were lost. Jos, Kano and Sokoto have not been spared either. In fact,  since that time the violence against the Shi’a sect in Nigeria has been so overwhelming, “it is permissible”, as Chris Ngwodo put it, “to describe it as nothing short of the state-backed systematic persecution and extermination of the Shi’a” Even after an indictment was handed down by the judicial panel of enquiry put together by the Kaduna state government, no soldier of the Nigerian Army has been sanctioned. Shiek  El Zakzaky and his wife have been held in detention without charge for over a year till date.  45 days have lapsed and there’s still no word from the Presidency regarding Zakzaky’s release. This past Wednesday, the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria held protest marches in major cities around the world. Nigeria just might be sitting on a time bomb regarding this matter.

It bears stating that this is how the insurgent group, Boko Haram, whose strains of terror Nigeria still feels, was created.  Buhari has been mostly silent on the issues, except for when he came out to say, “you cannot create a state within a state”, actively endorsing, as it were, use of state force against the Shiites. Let the Shiites not become the next Boko Haram.

 

Fulani Herdsmen

The attacks by Fulani herdsmen have been around a good while. Between 1997 and 2010, there was a total of 18 attacks, mostly in the North East. Plateau state took the most hit. According to this SBM report, between 2011 and 2015, there were 371 incidents scattered around the Middle Belt, North-East, South-South and South-West (especially Oyo State).

2015 opened with attacks from January 3rd in Sanga Kaduna. Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba and Benue were the focus of these herdsmen attacks. By the time Buhari was sworn in, the attacks spread to the South.

Between the Jan 3, -Sept 15, 2015, 35 incidents were recorded. Additionally, there were “major attacks in Atakkad in Southern Kaduna, where villagers were displaced from 16 villages; Tse-Agbulu, Tse-Atakpa and Tse-Abichi, all in Benue State where many were wounded and dispossessed of their belongings; Ropp, Gwol, Barkin Ladi LGA of Plateau State and Jol in Riyom LGA of the same state which saw the destruction of crops by herdsmen; and Sho, in Barkin Ladi LGA of Plateau State, where villagers and the Mobile Police put up a fight, forcing the attackers to flee.”

The bulk of the attacks in 2016 centred around Adamawa,  Benue and Enugu and finally exploded in southern Kaduna. It is important to note that the attacks in Southern character bear the imprints of ethnic cleansing. The herdsmen are the new Boko Haram.

SBM intelligence recorded a total of 1,425 fatalities from Fulani herdsmen attacks in 2016 alone. 1,042 lives were lost in Benue alone. Imagine what that has done for our food resources and other infrastructure.

201701_Security-report (1)

 

Under Ex-President Jonathan, nothing concrete was done about the situation. The same goes for President Buhari’s administration. He was silent about the spate of killings by herdsmen for about a year since he was sworn in until April 2016 when he condemned the attacks and said investigations will be undertaken. This did not do much to quell speculations that he was a Fulani herdsmen apologist, being Fulani himself and the custodian of beloved cows. In August 29, 2016, Governor Fayose signed the Ekiti Open Grazing Prohibition Bill into law, banning herdsmen from carrying arms and indiscriminately moving cattle from one location to the other, since the Federal government did not appear to have a solution in hand, other than Audu Ogbeh’s special grass growth plan. In October, Obasanjo had to jump to Buhari’s defence, saying that the President’s responsibilities do not include farmer-herdsmen attacks.  The Senate’s proposal to end the farmers-herdsmen clashes was a grazing bill, which was eventually thrown out for lack of authority to legislate on matters that fall within the ambit of a state. The only solution the Kaduna state governor, El Rufai, came up with went was to pay the killers money to stop the attacks, while Femi Adesina, one of the President’s media aide said that the president was silent on the southern Kaduna killings because the state governor was in charge. Finally, on January 13th, the president authorised a military operation in Kaduna, captioned operation scorpion sting, to curtail the onslaught of attacks. Three days, ago, Samarun Kataf, Zangon Kataf Local Government Area in Southern Kaduna, was attacked.

The president’s apathy and sloth-like response “speaks to the value placed on the Nigerian life by the government where a group of people kills other Nigerians with impunity, openly justify the killings as retaliation for grievances of cattle theft and the government does little or nothing to punish the killers or put an end to the killings. The number one thing that legitimises a government is the ability to protect the life of its citizens.”

 

Militants

A short historical recap. Oil militancy in the Niger delta is several decades old. It began with Isaac Adaka Boro’s radical armed militia, the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), which he put together after he dropped out of UNN to fight the exploitation of the oil resources by the Nigerian government. They wanted to be able to control and manage their own resources, so they declared the Niger Delta Republic. The military government then did not stand for it, so for 12 days, the militants and the military engaged in warfare.  After which Boro was arrested for treason. Gowon pardoned him and later conscripted him to fight for the Nigerian Army during the Civil war, where he died under mysterious circumstances. The next individual with a cause in the region was Ken Saro-Wiwa. He was the leader of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People or MOSOP but he took the non-violent approach- peaceful protests, activism, writing books.  Saro-Wiwa died by hanging in 1995. Three years later, the Kaiama declaration was issued by Ijaw youths, among whom was Asari Dokubo and others.  Demonstrations were held in the  Niger Delta to mark the declaration and lives were lost in the process. Saro Wiwa’s death sparked a wave of rebel groups which unfortunately took up arms, fighting against the international oil companies and Government through gang violence, pipeline destruction and oil bunkering, kidnappings and piracy spurring a wave of criminality through the Delta. And let’s not forget the Odi massacre under Obasanjo’s direction. “From 2004 escalating armed and violent conflict between gangs in Port Harcourt increased the levels of militancy in the region. Fuelled by rage borne through the deep sense of injustice of inequality, government corruption, international criminality, political grievance and the dire need of many young unemployed men to feed their families, the militants attacked oil pipelines and kidnapped foreign oil workers sending the price of oil above $100 per barrel for the first time in world history.”

None of the previous administrations-  military or civilian- did anything to resolve the conflict in the Niger Delta until Yar’Adua’s government when the Amnesty programme was unfolded and cemented by Jonathan’s government. A cease-fire was maintained for much of Jonathan’s administration, but tensions renewed under Buhari’s and bunkering and pipelines destruction began afresh.

In 2016, 32 attacks on oil installations were recorded and 90 militants killed.

In his first budget, Buhari cut off funding for the Amnesty programme, citing corruption. This did not sit well with the people. The attacks continued, even into this year. “An unidentified militant group in the Niger Delta has blown up a crude oil trunk line in Ughelli, Delta State, a move that came barely 24 hours after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo led a Federal Government delegation to the region. Osinbajo had on Monday held a meeting with traditional rulers in Delta State with the aim of securing lasting peace to the restive, oil-producing region.”

One thing Buhari’s administration got right was the Ogoni Clean up project.

The Buhari administration has done an about-face with respect to funding the Amnesty programme. The budget for that is now triple what it was before. He said at the 2017 budget presentation that “The increased vote of ₦9.52 billion for the Federal Ministry of Environment (an increase of 92% over the 2016 allocation) underscores the greater attention to matters of the environment, including climate change and leveraging private sector funding for the clean-up of the Niger Delta. In this regard, the allocation for the Presidential Amnesty Programme has been increased to ₦65 billion in the 2017 Budget.”

 

 

IPOB

It started with a radio broadcast, by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, circa 2009. His agitation was a separation of the Igbo people from the entity called Nigeria. Jonathan’s administration did not take him seriously and ignored him. It helped also that he was outside the country at the time. In the meantime, he had grown a small following who had begun to take him seriously by the time the elections saw Buhari emerging as the victor.

In 2015, Nnamdi Kanu was arrested by the government for treasonable offences, but that did not stop the group from embarking on protests around the country. With each IPOB protest around the country, the military has responded with lethal force, killing members of IPOB and civilians in the process. These articles by Amnesty International and Premium Times unearth gory details of attacks by the military on unarmed citizens. On Biafra Remembrance day, 30th May 2016, an estimated 1,000 IPOB members were gunned down in a peaceful rally.

Last week, Soldiers fired into a Trump rally being organised in Port Harcourt. 11 persons were reported dead.

The crux of this piece is that altogether, the actions of the Buhari-led administration does not show evidence of a government committed to combating insecurity. It has more of an appearance of a government fuelling insecurity at every turn.

 

 

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