Terror-risk; Terrorist: Is there a difference?

 by Alexander O. Onukwue

Boko Haram was proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2013. The process involved legal procedures which relied, as evidence, on the universally condemned spate of bombings and killings perpetrated by the organisation.

The United Nations building in Abuja, Christmas day bombing at Madala Niger State and the Nyanya bombings are some examples. These were egregious acts, performed outside of their main base in the North East, the epicentre of their operations, where hundreds were killed and thousands displaced.

Boko Haram’s mode of operation has been to kill, pillage and destroy, as their way of supposedly getting rid of Western education. As a group, it may have started by taking advantage of the gaps in Governance in the North East, but when it grew into Boko Haram, it was became terrorist organisation – causing real terror and killing people.

The same cannot be said of IPOB. Virtually everyone knows them as fundamentally a secessionist group, seeking (rightly or wrongly) a referendum for the separation of the South-East from Nigeria. They have used caustic and wholly inappropriate language and threats to want to bring about this, but bear none of the marks of a genuine terrorist organisation. Neither the host communities of the members of the group in Aba, Umuahia, and Onitsha, have evacuated because of them, nor has the group taken its ‘violence’ and demonstrations to other parts of the country outside of its environment.

These do not make them any less a disturbance to be worried about. They are a ‘terror’ in the sense that they threaten the fabric of the unity of Nigeria and the sense of quiet in the communities where they exist. However, that they are to be designated as terrorists on the premise of altercations with the Nigerian Army appears rather hasty.


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