The growing militia threats, By Zainab Suleiman Okino
Everyday, hundreds of people are killed across the country. The killings are attributed to the rising threat of militia groups in Nigeria. Described by the United Nations as ‘increasingly monstrous’, the upsurge of militia aggression should be a growing concern to all except perhaps, those protected by state powers and feel sufficiently shielded.
In addition to deaths occurring from Boko Haram attacks, the growing number of militia groups is worrisome; nearly 500,000 people have fled their homes resulting in threats to food security.
The conflagration from internal conflicts can lead to regional crisis involving border communities from neighbouring countries. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, recently said that less than three months into 2014, “700 people have lost their lives in attacks on 40 villages” including clinics, schools, churches and mosques.
These days, Nigeria is in a permanent crisis mode; the killings are only comparable to that of Syria, where the state is at war with the rebels, although some might categorise the Boko Haram insurgency that way. For the fact that the government has not done much to contain these clashes and attacks, it would not be out of place to say that the Nigerian government is waging a war against its citizens. A state that fails to protect its citizens from all forms of attacks–whether it is Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram, Tiv or Berom, Tarok militiamen or individual banditry–is directly at war with them.
Unfortunately, instead of the citizens to direct their anger at government whose constitutional responsibility is to provide security, they label and turn against one another.
The Nigeria of today is such that if an individual wakes up from the wrong side of his bed or has a bad dream, he can blame it on his perceived enemy and go ahead to eliminate him. Nobody will reprimand him; he may never be caught and even if he’s arrested, he will not face the wrath of the law. On a national television the other day, a young man from Kogi Central revealed how he had to kill Citizen Farouk, because he did not feel safe if he (Farouk) remained alive.
This was after an investigation by the Kogi Police Command led by the commissioner leading to the arrest of the killer. The killer in turn led the police to two different sites, where he had severed the head and buried the body separately. The killer was compelled to exhume the parts and explain his motive to the world. Going by the precedents of the past especially from that part of the country, the killer will for now end up in Koto prison and in no time released to the society to commit more crimes.
In the case above, an individual constituted himself into a law court, adjudged a man guilty and killed him. That is what the militia groups do to targeted communities. I understand communities even hire militia groups to terrorise/or eliminate their targets.
Yet in the process of planning and execution of the heinous crimes, there are no Intelligence reports to help security personnel to either stop it before it occurs or apprehend culprits. So, life in Nigeria cannot be more Hobbesian than the huge jungle the country has become; a country where impunity reigns supreme.
The rising profile of ethnic militia predisposes a fractured society, undermining the nation state in the process. However, to be sure, it is not domiciled in Nigeria alone, nor did it start with this government. Sadly its level of degeneration and enormity and the fact that not much effort is applied to halt it is synonymous with this government. Recall the Tutsi/Hutu hate war that led to death of 800,000 people in Rwanda. It started this way and flourished because those empowered by law to protect all citizens, looked the other way, because they were not directly affected. The ongoing Balaka/Saleka war in Central African Republic is nurtured through hate and labeling, the same way we label some ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Apart from the Nigerian Civil War, where an aggrieved region/ethnic group took up arms against the state, militia war was largely suppressed until the late 90s when the Odua People’s Congress (OPC), Niger Delta militants, Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) militia sprang up. But by far the greatest threat to the state was posed by the Niger Delta militants and militia groups in the North which more often than not, is given a religious colouration. No matter the colour, candour or claims of the militia groups, they emerge, thrive and flourish when there is bad governance and in “societies which have fractured structurally and where the laid down mechanism for dealing with such pluralism has failed or is in the process of failing” according to Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi.
So you see, it’s all about the state’s capacity and leadership direction; and having the courage to address cases like these as an affront to it, and not because anyone hates the president owing to his minority status or because he is a Christian. How can the Jonathan-led government in clear conscience preside over a huge killing field called Nigeria and still have the boldness to seek for re-election?
From my readers
Re: Boko Haram: Is the Military in false propaganda war?
I appreciate your piece of the topic above. If people like you can come out to say the truth like you just did, things will change in this country. But there is one thing I did not understand in your write up captioned:”Boko Haram: Is the Military in false propaganda war? For me the content did not explain the caption very well. I thought the write up would discuss hypocritical disguise of the Military as Boko Haram, or in a simple term, the Military disguises to do the work of Boko Haram unofficially.
Keep up with your effort to create awareness to the public in telling them the truth.
B. A. Bappa, firstname.lastname@example.org
Just read your article on military propaganda vis-a-vis Boko haram insurgency. For some time, I have been having this belief. You would certainly be surprised if I tell you that I don’t believe in the capacity attributed to Abubakar Shekau. He seems to me as a silhouette…lots of points to prove my hypothesis, but busy now.
Mamman Dan-Haru Bahadeje, email@example.com
I always enjoys your write ups. May God guide and protect you. firstname.lastname@example.org .
Mama, your article was outstanding, keep it up email@example.com
I enjoyed your write-up on the issue of Boko Haram crisis and the Military’s approach to it. What you wrote is simply the truth. More grease to your elbow… 08036434836
Salaam, I always enjoy reading your posts. Journalism is still very much in you… Abubakar Mahdi, 08033060347
Successive civilian governments have learned from the military and have deviated too far from the path of social justice. Only a violent’ revolution will work…08033445779.