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Friday, August 7, 2009

Nigeria:Boko Haram: The full story


The sectarian violence that broke out simultaneously in five northern states last week was initially conceived to be an all-out Jihad (holy war), aimed at entrenching the values for which the Boko Haram Islamist sect stood.


A top security source told Daily Sun in Abuja on Tuesday that the group had already established operational bases in seven states, even as he questioned the decision of Governor Ali Modu Sheriff not to act on security reports sent to him two clear days before the mayhem was unleashed.

The source, who pleaded not to be named, said ‘well-meaning Nigerians’ had been sponsoring Mohammed Yusuf in his clandestine assignment, including a wealthy Kano businessman, whose arrest by security services for sponsoring the sect, was quashed by the law court in 2005. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had, on Monday, accused the Borno State Government of complicity in the crisis.

Another dangerous group with the same doctrine as Boko Haram is said to have been operating unfettered in Niger State.

According to the source, on July 14 and 17, more than 10 days before the group began its onslaught in Bauchi on July 26, 21 security reports had been sent to the Federal Government, detailing the activities of Yusuf and his men whose “threat had become potent, and we knew it was going to explode.”

While Bauchi State Governor, Isa Yuguda, was able to take proactive action based on the report, the source regretted that Sheriff did nothing until the group fully mobilized and went on a killing spree in his state. “If the Borno State governor had been proactive as the Bauchi governor was, this thing wouldn’t have happened,” he said.

Insisting that the group had been preparing for a Jihad, the source said it became the only feasible option when the plan of its members to go on mass exile to either Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia failed.

The option of exile was said to have been aborted because immigration arrangement did not favour them, hence they settled for the Jihad option.

Daily Sun further learnt that it was when the group settled for Jihad that they started making their own bombs. The operational bases were sited in Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Yobe states.

According to the security source, Yusuf was re-arrested in the premises of an Abuja court by SSS operatives last November 13. He was subsequently handed over to the police after a thorough interrogation had yielded substantial evidence against him.

He was subsequently charged to the court by police, only for the SSS to learn on January 20, 2009 that he had been released, a development that was said to have surprised the top echelon of the service. However, the SSS was said to have maintained a close tab on Yusuf and kept updating its dossier on his group.

At the state level, the source explained, each movement made by the group was reported to the governor “because we believe that governors are supposed to know the security problems in their states.” At the federal level, relevant persons were briefed.

Even before the group struck the other weekend, the source said the SSS had information that it was ready to strike from their base in Dutse-Tanshi in Bauchi State. When security operatives stormed the place, nine members of the group were arrested while items used in local production of bombs were recovered.

Noting that the gang leader, Yusuf always managed to be absent from the scene of confrontation between his people and security personnel, but two two hours after the Dutse-Tanshi depot had been over-run by security operatives, he was said to have arrived.

Blaming porous borders for the ease with which arms were smuggled into the country, the source noted that SSS had intercepted information about the deal between the Kano businessman and Yusuf and regretted that the man won his case when he sued the service for unlawful breach of his freedom. It was also learnt that some members of the group had already been sponsored for scholarship in Mauritania.

According to the source, the group which metamorphosed into Boko Haram was stared in 1995 with the name Shahaba, by one Abubakar Lawan, who later relinquished the leadership to clerics when he got admission to study at the University of Medina in Saudi Arabia.

When the clerics needed an articulate knowledgeable person to lead the group, the lot fell on Yusuf, who later turned to accuse the clerics of not properly interpreting the teachings of the Quran. From there the doctrine changed.

Besides the N540,000 the slain sect leader was said to have got on monthly basis from the N1 due paid by members, he was said to have acquired an 80 km expanse of land in Maiduguri for farming to supplement his earning.

Worried that such a dangerous person could be allocated such expanse of land, SSS was said to have asked the state governor to take the wind off his sail by confiscating the land, but the advice was not heeded.

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