So much less is heard of the dreaded terrorist group Boko Haram of late, so-called bandits have taken over the news as the latter is now spread across most part of Nigeria wreaking havoc.
The recent insecurity incidents which have been rife in the Southwestern part of Nigeria is obviously opening cans of worms as many leaders in the North are suddenly coming out of their shells to reveal their age-long bigoted thinking.
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Prominent among these leaders is Sheik Gumi, a former captain of the Nigerian Army, who is now a revered Muslim cleric. Others such as the governor of Bauchi state did not surprise many as most of the northern governors do speak out on their preferential treatment for dreaded herdsmen/kidnappers who wreak havoc in the bushes and highways of the nation.
Sheik Gumi, while visiting one of the numerous leaders of terrorist groups, otherwise called bandits, mentioned to the thugs that it is the Christians among the Army personnel who are committing the ‘crimes’ against them. This implies that Gumi himself believes the non-Muslims within the army are a threat to the free operation of these ‘bandits’. In a well functioning system of government, such a statement would be nothing short of a treasonable offence.
For Bala Mohammed, the governor of Bauchi state, he came back on the media to clarify his earlier statement justifying why only Fulani herdsmen have a right to carry AK-47 rifles in their sojourn around the country. For context, the Federal government was also allegedly reported to have paid a huge ransom to secure the release of the schoolboys abducted in Kagara in December.
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What can be inferred from these two references alone is that banditry/kidnapping/terrorism is being incentivised anew. Back then, it used to just be Boko Haram getting their operations funded by foreign terrorist sponsors. Now, it is the government allegedly funding the same with undisclosed ransom payments.
Additionally, it was easy to see the bigotry of many northern Muslim clerics with the recent damaging utterances that Sheik Gumi has been making in the media. His comparison of the sheer killings going on in the north with the case of Niger Delta militancy is dishonest. He even went further to call for a blanket amnesty for these ‘bandits’ in the same manner in which Niger Delta militants were given amnesty in 2009.
Also, much of the origin and identity of Boko Haram leaders are known, but banditry is now so widespread that it is almost impossible to pinpoint who they really are and what they are fighting for.
While looking at both instances of terrorism in the North and the South on the surface, it looks very similar; but a major difference is that no one even knows what these herdsmen-bandits are fighting for. A major element of guerrilla fights is the ideology backing such a fight. Many of these bandits are also not even Nigerian; they are merely criminals who are able to cross through the porous Nigerian borders to make money off kidnappings and to conquer more land for their fellow ethnic jingoists.
Such practice of arming and prodding the dominance of an ethnic group is so 19th century and should have no place in a country striving for excellence and prosperity of its citizens.
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