Buhari, Boko Haram
Buhari, Boko Haram

Adebayo Obajemu

The reluctance of President Muhammadu Buhari to name the alleged sponsors of terror in the country may have followed a discernible pattern. However, more Nigerians are joining the chorus and challenge him to do the needful by publishing the names, claiming that the foot-dragging after the initial boast is sinister.

Earlier, when the rogue elements among the Fulani herdsmen began their killing spree and the spread of terror across the Middle Belt, the administration had blatantly refused to categorize the killer herdsmen as terrorists, even when they were Number six in the global terror list.
Not too long ago, there was much brouhaha over the sympathy Buhari’s communication and digital technology minister, Isa Pantami had for terror group.At that time, pressure was mounted from all quarters on the President to relieve Pantami of his ministerial job to no avail.

Although the president in his October 1, broadcast had pointed accusing fingers at a federal law maker and another person as sponsors of IPOB and Yoruba nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, alias Igboho, he has refused to say anything about the alleged 400 terror sponsors in the north.

Last week, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, challenged the president to come clean on his promised to publish the names in a sermon that went viral. He said that government credibility is undermined when it does not keep to its pledges, and especially so when its neutrality on the issues on bandits and terror herdsmen is doubtful.

Mr. Abubakar Malami, President Buhari’s right hand man and attorney General and minister of Justice, had in May announced that government was in possession of 400 names of people behind the insurgency war in the north east, and vowed that they would soon have their day in court; Nigerians were jubilant. Yet, months later, nothing of such has happened. When prodded to release the names first pending the court process, he demurred, insisting it could jeopardise the rights of the suspects, and so the excuses have continued.

As Nigeria suffered under increasing attacks from terrorists which the administration chose to refer as bandits, the United States government extended offer of help to identify and name the sponsors of the terror.So far, there has not been clear cut official response in the public domain to the U.S. offer.

But many Nigerians have expressed doubts about the willingness of the Federal Government to embrace the offer by the U. S. government to help and identify the sponsors of Boko Haram, which has waged an insurgency war on Nigeria in the last 12 years.

Some security experts, former diplomats, and leaders of some socio-cultural/civil society organisations in the country have said embracing the proposal was the best option for the country at this point, but were skeptical about President MuhammaduBuhari’s disposition to the offer.

Recall that the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, had during a round-table on U.S.-Nigeria military cooperation with journalists in Abuja, early in September declared that her country was very eager to partner with Nigeria on identifying Boko Haram sponsors.
A former Assistant Director of the Department of State Services, Dennis Amachree, asserted that the U.S. had been positively disposed to supporting Nigeria, especially in the fight against terrorism, noting that the question was whether the Federal Government would embrace the current gesture.

He said: “Are we ready to arrest and prosecute these sponsors when exposed? Are we simply going to lock them away as has been done in the past? These are the concerns and the Americans may lose interest if we don’t take it seriously.
The former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Prof. Bola Akinterinwa said;  “if the government of Nigeria is serious about the need to bring BokoHaramism to an end, the government should consider it as an opportunity to be taken advantage of.”

But Mr. Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and culture, insisted America lacks the moral authority to seek to help Nigeria to identify the sponsors of terrorists after block such efforts in the past.

“Now, a year after, the U.S. is offering to assist in knowing who is doing what, who is funding Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. It will be very illogical for the government of Nigeria to have accused the big powers in the year 2020 that they were blocking their efforts, now when they are de-blocking your alleged efforts, it will not make any sense for the government of Nigeria to refuse.

“What I am saying, in essence, is that the first point is that the government of Nigeria wanted assistance, but it was allegedly blocked. Now that the U.S. is giving the opportunity of de-blocking, it is only logical to accept.

Recall that TheophilusDanjuma, former chief of army staff, had accused the military of aiding and abetting Boko Haram.  The late Dr. Malaifa Obadiah was of the same view, which prompted his invitation by the DSS for debriefing on the alleged terror sponsors.

A couple of weeks ago, Navy Commodore KunleOmowunmi(rted), who was a defence intelligence officer, claimed on Channel TV that from 2007 to 2019, government has been fully abreast of those behind the insurgency and that nothing ever happened to the people arrested for Boko Haram activities.

According the sponsors are well known to government and that there is deliberate attempt to shield culprints
All hell literally let loose after the interview, which led to his invitation by National Defence Intelligence Agency for what they called further briefing.

Early in the second term of Buhari administration, the former President OlusegunObasanjo said there is a Fulanisationagenda.

In  recent interview with The Guardian, the spokesman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Emmanuel Yawe, noted that the time has come for the government to swallow its pride and cooperate with the American government to expose those behind the terrorism and banditry that have nearly torn the nation apart.

According to him, the offer by the U.S. government to assist Nigeria in finding solutions to the current insecurity by exposing those behind it would go a long way in bringing an end to the challenges.

Yawe said: “For many years now, we have been battling with these security challenges. Our students have been captured; the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) was invaded and many people are still with kidnappers. And our government has not done anything. If the U.S. is offering to render assistance, we should quickly accept it since our government appears to be incapable of identifying those behind insecurity and cannot combat it.

Thus, many Nigerians were shocked when the administration said it would not name the sponsors of terror.
It was the Attorney General of the Federation, AbubakarMalami that first made the administration’s position known.

As Nigerians mount pressure on Buhari to name the brain behind the terror, Femi Falana, a human rights activist said the
Buhari Government chose to designate  NnamdiKanu, journalists,  and others as terrorists, while he failed to declare killer-bandits as terrorists.

Falana noted that it is wrong for the Nigerian government to be referring to terrorists as bandits, noting that the action contravenes the provisions of the constitution.

He noted that it is wrong for the Nigerian government to be referring to terrorists as bandits, noting that the action contravenes the provisions of the constitution.

He added that the Nigerian government should desist from portraying terrorists as bandits since their activities have been described according to the law as acts of terrorism.

The renowned lawyer also pointed out that the unanimous resolutions made by the two federal legislatures requesting President MuhammaduBuhari to identify and declare all the known leaders and sponsors of the bandits as terrorists have been ignored.

Falana added that not too long ago,
” the so-called bandits downed a fighter jet belonging to the Nigerian Air Force. Curiously, it was reported by the Federal Government and the media that the dastardly act was perpetrated by a gang of bandits. But contrary to such misleading description of terrorists as bandits, the mayhem and violent attacks unleashed on unarmed people and willful destruction of properties by dangerous criminal elements are classified as “acts of terrorism” under the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 as amended by the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act, 2013. For the avoidance of doubt, section 2 of the Terrorism Prevention Act states as follows:

“‘Act of terrorism’ means an act which is deliberately done with malice, aforethought and which may seriously harm or damage a country or an international organisation; (b) is intended or can reasonably be regarded as having been intended to –

“(i) unduly compel a government or international organisation to perform or abstain from performing
any act, (ii) seriously intimidate a population, (iii)seriously destabilise or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organisation, or (iv) otherwise influence such government or international organisation by intimidation or coercion; and (i) an attack upon a person’s life which may cause serious bodily harm or death; (c) involves or causes, as the case may be:
“(i) an attack upon a person’s life which may cause serious bodily harm or death;

“(ii) kidnapping of a person; (iii) destruction to a Government or public facility, a transport system, an infrastructure facility, including an information system, a fixed platform located on the continental shelf, a public place or private property, likely to endanger human life or result in major economic loss;

“(iv) the seizure of an aircraft, ship or other means of public or goods transport and diversion or the use of such means of transportation for any of the purposes in paragraph (b) (iv) of this subsection;

“(v) the manufacture. possession. acquisition. transport, supply or use of weapons, explosives or of nuclear biological or chemical weapons, as well as research into, and development of biological and chemical weapons without lawful authority;

“(vi) the release of dangerous substance or causing of fire explosions or foods, the effect of which is to endanger human life; (vii) interference with or disruption of the supply of water, power or any other fundamental natural resource, the effect of which is to endanger human life.

“From the foregoing, it is undoubtedly clear that the criminal elements who abduct unarmed citizens, kill them, or release them after collecting ransom to the tune of several millions of Naira are terrorists. The criminal elements who attack and down military planes are terrorists. The criminal elements who attack police stations and seize weapons to attack innocent people are terrorists. The criminal elements who attack correctional centres and release inmates therein are terrorists. The criminal elements who destroy government properties or public facilities are terrorists. But the Federal Government has deliberately refused to declare the bandits as terrorists and prosecute them.

“In May this year, the Federal Ministry of Justice announced the arrest and detention of 800 terror suspects and 400 sponsors of terrorism. It was further announced that the suspects would be arraigned once the industrial action of the judicial staff was called off. The strike was called off over three months ago. But the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation has not deemed it fit to file charges against the suspects and arraign them at the Federal High Court. As part of its anti-corruption policy the Buhari administration regularly engages in naming and shaming alleged looters of public funds from time to time. Armed robbery suspects are paraded by the police from time to time. But the Federal Government has ruled out the publication of the names of the sponsors of terrorism on the ground that it is prejudicial to fair hearing!

“In total frustration, the North East Governors Forum recently applied for the fiat of the Attorney-General of the Federation to prosecute the hundreds of terror suspects languishing in military custody in Maiduguri, Borno State for years without trial. The request was turned down without any justification. A few days ago, the report of the panel of inquiry set up by the Zamfara State Government to probe the activities of terrorists in the State was published. Two former governors and some Emirs were indicted in the report. The State Government has since accepted the recommendation of the Panel that the suspects be prosecuted. Although terrorism is a federal offence, the authorities in Abuja have not ordered the arrest and prosecution of the highly placed sponsors of terrorism in Zamfara State.

“In 2017, the Federal Government announced the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for agitating for the establishment of the State of Biafra. The leader of the IPOB, Mr. NnamdiKanu is currently facing a charge of terrorism and treason at the Federal High Court. The Federal Government has since declared a full-scale war on IPOB members in
view of the killings and destruction of properties being perpetrated in the South East region by alleged gunmen. In 2019, the Federal Government proscribed the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) was proscribed for allowing its members to embarrass the Federal Government by demanding for the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky from the illegal custody of the State Security Service which had defied the order of the Federal High Court to release him and his wife.

“In a desperate bid to silence the radical wing of the mass media in the country the Federal Government has stigmatised some journalists and charged them with terrorism. For instance, Messrs Emperor Ogbonna and Abba Jalingo were arrested and charged with terrorism charges at the Federal High Court for daring to accuse the Governors of Abia and Cross River State Governors of corruption. In August 2019, the State Security Service (SSS) arrested and detained Mr. OmoyeleSowore for planning a peaceful rally against the Buhari administration. While he was in detention, the SSS secretly applied for an ex parte order to have Sowore detained for 90 days for the purpose of investigating his alleged terrorist activities. Even though there was no evidence to support the application, the Federal High Court ordered that Sowore be detained for 45 days. At the end of the investigation, the SSS confirmed that there was no scintilla of evidence linking Sowore to terrorism.

“Recently, the Kaduna State High Court dismissed the charge of culpable homicide against Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife. Completely dissatisfied with the verdict, the Kaduna State Government has charged them with terrorism. And sequel to the proscription of the IMN, the police and the army engage in routine extrajudicial execution of scores of Shiites for embarking on peaceful protests in Abuja and other states in the North. However, while the Federal Government is waging a full-scale war against the Shiites, IPOB members and journalists, it has continued to treat the so-called bandits with kid gloves. For instance, parents are allowed to negotiate and pay ransom to secure the release of their abducted children while the security agencies look away.

“Embarrassed by the reluctance of the Federal Government to deal decisively with the so-called bandits, the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, in separate sittings, unanimously passed resolutions last weekend requesting President Buhari to declare the dangerous criminal elements as terrorists and proscribe them in accordance with the provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act as amended without any further delay. The federal lawmakers also asked President Buhari to declare all the known leaders of the bandits wanted and track them wherever they are for arrest and prosecution. So far, the Federal Government has ignored the resolutions. However, as the Federal Government is not prepared to declare them as terrorists we call on the media and the Nigerian people to stop referring to terrorists as bandits.”

In spite of the clamours, the administration has blatantly refused to name the sponsors of terror.

The presidency has repeatedly said the administration is not interested in naming, shaming alleged terrorism sponsors.

Recall that six Nigerians are among 38 individuals whom the UAE recently suspected to be terrorist financiers.

Mr  FemiAdesina, one of Buhari’s image makers  during an interview on Channels Television recently said  the government is more interested in ensuring that those found guilty will be brought to book, rather than naming them.

The Nigerians are six of 38 individuals whom the UAE suspects to be financiers of terrorism.

But in his response, MrAdesina said the government will not name and shame such people.

“Naming and shaming will not be the motive. Naming and shaming won’t be the motive. Rather, bringing malefactors to justice would be it,” he said.

“Nigeria is not interested in naming and shaming anybody. Rather, it wants to bring them to justice.

“You see that the UAE had released some names and the AGF has responded saying that in due course, all these people will have their days in court. Rest assured that justice will have its way.”

He further disclosed that investigation on the issue is underway at different levels.

“Investigations are going on at different levels. It could be at the level of EFCC; it could be at the level of the National Intelligence Agency.

“Different security agencies would be working on it so that when those people eventually appear in court, there will be what the lawyers call a prima facie case against them.”