28th June, 2011
ENGAGE BOKO HARAM IN DIALOGUE
More attacks have occurred since the Abuja bomb explosion at the Police Headquarters on 16th June 2011. Some of such attacks have been deadly with heavy human tolls. An attack on beer gardens two days ago reportedly killed twenty five people. Three others lost their lives in another attack on the Nigerian Customs' office in Maiduguri yesterday. Abu Zaid, spokesman for the Jamaatu Ahlis-Sunnah Lilda'wat Wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, has allegedly claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is disturbed by the avoidable loss of lives and wanton destruction of properties. We call attention to the excessive use of force against the group by the police during the unprovoked attack on their headquarters in 2009; the extra-judicial killing of their leader, Muhammad Yusuf, as well as a former commissioner in the state who was one of the group's sympathizers as major casus belli for the militarization of Boko Haram. The failure of the Nigerian judicial system to prosecute and punish the police officers responsible for this criminal highhandedness worsened the situation. Unfortunately other Islamic organizations failed in loco parentis. Instead of counseling Boko Haram, they chose to isolate members of the group.
We also have no iota of doubt that the escalation of the Boko Haram crisis can also be traced to the promotion of socio-economic imbalance by successive Nigerian governments. The gap between the rich and the poor gets wider everyday. Corrupt politicians who steal billions of naira go free after getting plea-bargaining while the hungry man who steals one tuber of yam is sentenced to five years in jail with hard labour. The leaders are dealers. The lawmakers are lawbreakers.
MURIC appeals to the Federal Government to take the bull by the horn by engaging in active dialogue with the Boko Haram before it is too late. The United States is already talking to the Taliban. Britain succeeded in stopping the spate of terrorist activities in its territory by talking to the Irish National Liberation Army. France and Spain are in active dialogue with the Basque Euskadi. Nigeria has talked to the militants of the Niger Delta and the result has been wonderful.
In this regard, we commend former governor Danjuma Goje of Borno State for tendering public apology to the Boko Haram in the Daily Trust of Friday 24th 2011. Nothing is too much in the interest of peace. Grandstanding is the most dangerous stance.
Above all, governments at all levels must provide jobs for the huge army of unemployed Nigerians for whom Shaytan has built ready factories. The police must come off its high horse. There is an urgent need for the Nigerian Police to reengineer the minds of its men. With the exception of an infinitesimally few officers, the Nigerian Police is unnecessarily bossy, bullish and tyrannical. Civillians are treated like animals. Our policemen lack decorum. They do not see themselves as protectors of the citizens. They behave more like an occupation army.
Finally, Islamic organizations must change their attitude towards members of Boko Haram. Isolationism cannot solve the problem. The group must be brought closer into mainstream Islamdom under the wide and global umbrella of Almighty Allah.
Is-haq Akintola (Ph.D),
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/muslimrights
Be just Justice is the soul of peace
No one can deny one and have the other
Neither can violence or naked force bring lasting peace