by Adebola Rayo
The Islamist sect, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, whose terrorist activities have in the past few years led to hundreds of deaths, injuries and loss of property in Nigeria, continue to grow bolder every day. Here are five reasons why Nigerians need to be worried about the sect.
1. Their complete disregard for human life
According to Reuters, the sect has killed 935 people from 2009 till date. The number of casualties might be higher than this figure because some of those who sustained injuries during attack would have died subsequently and would have been left out of the body count, also, the lack of proper record keeping in the country means that the figure is probably higher. With increasingly frequent bombings and gun attacks on northern cities, the sect continues to show its disregard for human life.
In two years, the sect has changed directions often, giving the impression that they are erratic, which is a very dangerous trait to be found in such insurgents. In the beginning, the sect was seeking the Islamisation of Nigeria and the eradication of all forms of western education and development in the country, hence its nickname, Boko Haram, which means “western education is a sin”. Later on, the sect would claim that it was fighting against corruption and the lack of development in the northern region. Now, the members of the sect claim that they are not fighting for the Islamisation of the country, just the release of their members who have been arrested by the security agencies.
2. Lack of proper government response
The government has not been able to achieve any significant breakthrough in stopping the activities of the sect. The sect has bombed several police stations and military outposts and every time the security agents claim they have the situation under control, Boko Haram members set out to prove them wrong. No significant arrests have been made in two years, and even the potentially significant one made – that of Kabiru Sokoto, the suspected mastermind of the Madalla Christmas Day bombing – was botched when the suspect escaped police custody. It is even more alarming that the president says that members and sponsors of the sect have infiltrated his government. Also, the sect has alleged that the governors of some northern states have been making payments to them.
3. The threat of breaking the country apart
In the past, the attacks in the north have targeted a lot of non-indigenes and non-Muslims. On Tuesday, Igbo residents of Kano State began to leave the city en masse, out of fear for their safety after the January 20 bombings that left over a hundred and seventy people dead. Also, there are fears that reprisal attacks might occur against northerners in other parts of the country. This does not bode well for the unity of the country which has always been somewhat fragile.
4. Destruction of existing infrastructure and property
Even when the members of the sect claimed that they were fighting for the infrastructural development of the northern region, they were bombing and destroying existing infrastructure in the northern states. Their activities have resulted in police stations, banks, public and private buildings, and churches being razed. This is devastating, especially for a region that is already underdeveloped.
5. Loss of foreign investment
Yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan cancelled his trip to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. Besides the fact that he was staying back in commiseration with the victims of the attacks on Kano State on Friday, and the attacks on Bauchi State on Sunday, there was really no point in the president making the trip. Jonathan has been trying to attract foreign investors into the country but it is hard to attract investors when the country is unstable and there is no guaranteed security for their lives. Embassies have continued to issue travel advice to their citizens in Nigeria, warning them to stay away from certain parts of the country. Certainly, the economy will be the worse for this situation.