By: Sule Muhammed Lawwal
Friday 20th January, 2012 was a day that cannot be easily forgotten as Boko Haram struck the State Security Service (S.S.S) Head Quarters in Kano and other police stations in the state. The attacked was carried out by suicide bombers in cars who drove into the building, collapsing it. It was reported that only one out of the two cars succeeded in entering the building as the other was fired at with several shots. The driver was shot to death when he tried to escape. The attackers also entered the nearby police barrack disguised in police uniform and started shooting policemen and their family members killing several persons. The death recorded in the attack was estimated to be about 200 with a majority of them civilian passerby and bystanders. The Street Journal Magazine in its online report published a letter written by Boko Haram to Kano leaders in 2011 August to warn them to cease persecuting its members and also to free those in detention or otherwise face an impending attack. Below is the content of the letter:
BISMILLAHIR RAHMANIR RAHIM
FROM: JAMA’ATU AHLISSUNAH LIDDAWATI WAL-JIHAD
1. DR. RABI’U MUSA KWANKWASO, GOVERNOR OF KANO STATE,
2. ALHAJI ADO BAYERO, EMIR OF KANO,
3. ALHAJI ABBAS SUNUSI, WAMBAN KANO AND
4. ALHAJI YUSUF MAITAMA SULE, DAN MASANIN KANO
ASSALAMU ALAIKUM WARAHATULAHI WABRAKATUH
Glory be to Allah and may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon the seal prophet (SAW).
The present security situation in Maiduguri, the continuously attack of security agents, ward heads, politician and the subsequent bomb blasts in some part of the country, including Force Headquarters suicide bomb attack, who is responsible and why?
Every one may say it’s unfortunate, uncalled for or what have you. But TRUTH IS SACRED AND WILL REMAIN THE TRUTH EVEN IF PEOPLE DON’T LIKE IT.
You all saw on AL-JAZEERA TV how unarmed men, youths, women, cripple and even under age were asked to lie on the ground and were shot on the head and chest by security agents. You all saw our leader MALLAM MUHAMMAD YUSUF with handcuff and shot severally. You all saw how both MASJID AND THE HOLY QUR’AN were being destroyed.
What is our crime? What damage have we caused or cost the Nigerian government? What led to our attacks in Bauchi, Wudil, Gombe, Yobe and Maiduguri two years back? Is sticking to the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and Hadith a crime? Is funeral rite a crime?
The reasons are clear:
1. The Nigerian Government is a KUFUR system serving BOTH UNITED NATION (UN) AND CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (CAN)
2. “We the Jama’atu Ahlisunnah Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad are MUSLIMS and are from the NORTHERN part of the country who spent eight years agitating for ISLAMIC STATE, STRIVING TO BRING BACK THE LOST GLORY OF UTHMAN DAN FODIO. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT? It is just to go back to the ways of our creator (ALLAH) where justice, discipline, good morals, love and care, peace and progress etc will prevail.
Having got the clear picture of what happened, it has come our notice that the present Police Commissioner, Director State Security Service (DSSS) and Ward Heads have jointly started arresting our members IN YOUR STATE (KANO) known to you or not, a situation which we will not take lightly by the grace of ALLAH. We want to make it clear that the country called Nigeria belongs to Allah; same thing Kano and we are SERVANTS OF ALLAH. Therefore our members should be allowed to stay where ever they wish. WE DID NOT TOUCH YOU; THEREFORE OUR MEMBERS (MUSLIMS) SHOULD NOT BE TOUCHED.
These same security agents’ attitude made MAIDUGURI, which is known as home of peace before to be what it is today because they know it is not their home town. Therefore this UGLY ATTITUDE MUST be checked and stopped with immediate effect and all those arrested should be released immediately, otherwise, I SWEAR WITH ALMIGHTY ALLAH who created Heaven and Earth! Who Sent Prophet upon Prophets right from ADAM (AS) to MUHAMMAD (SAW)!! Who Sent down ATTAURAH, AL-INGIL, AZZABUR and the HOLY QUR’AN!!! We may be forced to DEPLOY OUR MEN TO YOUR STATE KANO AND MAKE IT WORSE THAN MAIDUGURI BY THE GRACE OF ALLAH.
This is exactly same open letter we wrote to the then president, Late Umaru Musa Yar’adua, security chiefs and the people of Borno State two years back, which they thought was a joke. TO ALLAH WHO MADE ME WE ARE NOT JOKING.
We appeal that you read this LETTER without prejudice for you to really understand the message we are trying to pass across.
May ALLAH grant us the understanding of the religion as preached and practiced by the prophets and their rightly guided companions.
It was reported that pleas from the leaders in replies to the above letter convinced the sect to restrain until last Friday before they finally attacked the city. They argued their members were still under attack in Kano.
Another online report by Nigeria Exchange states that the Boko Haram was founded by Muhammed Yusuf (1970-2009) in 2002 in Maiduguri in Borno state. The sect leader argued that western education should be avoided and this led to his eventual expulsion from preaching in two mosques. In the first seven years of its existence, the sect was peaceful in its activities until 2009 when members who were going to bury their dead were stopped on the road by a security agent for not wearing helmets which were mandatory for motorcyclists in the state. The members were shot as they tried to resist the securities, no death was reported. Muhammed Yusuf made a statement that proclaimed that since they were no longer secured as members of the state, they would henceforth commence protecting themselves.
A few days after his statement, violence broke out in Bauchi state and it was reported that members of the sect were involved. The violence spread to Maiduguri and the government of the time under President Umar Musa yar’adua gave the order to deploy police and military. The sect members had no access to sophisticated weapons and were extra judicially killed by the police as reported by Aljazeera and several other news agencies. The sect leader was also arrested by the army and handed over to the police who later killed him. His in-law Baba Fuggu reported himself to a police station and was also killed. His family members were later compensated by the state with N100, 000,000.
The sect went underground for a while only to return more sophisticated, killing several persons in and outside Borno state. They attacked people who they believed to have betrayed them in the state and also Muslim clerics who preached against them. They attacked Christians as well.
People now blame the sect members without actually looking at what instigated these sinister attacks. In Nigeria, there are so many religious group that preach several ideologies and deviations from the conventional preaching of Christianity and Islam but were normally not taken seriously because their activities pose little or no threat to the country. It was reported that Boko Haram preached against the theory of Evolution by Charles Darwin which they believed is against the Islamic teachings of human creation by Allah and also preached against those who become atheist on attaining some level of western education. They propagated the establishment of schools where learning would be in line with Islamic teachings. Below are the activities of the sect reported by Nigerian Exchange:
Timeline of Boko Haram attacks and activities
- January 2012: Boko Haram launches bomb attacks and heavy gun battles in Kano targeting the police headquarters. Over 150 people reported killed.
- January 2012: President Goodluck Jonathan says Boko Haram has infiltrated government, including the executive, national assembly and the judiciary.
- January 2012: President Goodluck Jonathan declares a state of emergency in 15 local government areas in Borno, Yobe and Plateau states and also orders the closure of Nigeria’s land borders in the north.
- December 2011: Christmas Day bomb attack on Saint Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger state, near Abuja. One policeman is killed in a failed bomb attack on a church in Jos, Plateau state.
- November 2011: Boko Haram announces that it will not hold talks with the government until all members of the sect, who have been arrested, are released.
- November 2011: Series of bomb and gun attacks in Yobe and Borno states
- September 2011: Babakura Fugu, brother-in-law to late Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, is shot dead two days after attending a peace meeting with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. Boko Haram denies any involvement in the incident.
- August 2011: UN headquarters in Abuja is bombed. Boko Haram claims responsibility for the suicide bomb. 23 people killed.
- July 2011: Federal government states that it will create a panel to initiate negotiations with Boko Haram.
- August 2011: Federal government rejects negotiations with Boko Haram.
- June 2011: Muslim cleric critical of Boko Haram, Ibrahim Birkuti, is shot dead by two gunmen on a motorcycle.
- June 2011: Police headquarters in Abuja is bombed
- May 2011: Bomb attacks in several states after President Goodluck Jonathan’s inauguration
- December 2010: Attack on Army barracks in Abuja.
- December 2010: Bombings in Jos, Plateau state and Maiduguri,Borno state kill about 80 people.
- December 2010: Governorship candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in Borno state and seven others shot dead by gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members
- September 2010: Boko Haram members attack a prison in Bauchi and freed hundreds of prisoners, including about 100 members of the sect.
- July 2009: Boko Haram attacks Maiduguri police stations. Hundreds are killed
- July 2009: Mohammed Yusuf, leader of Boko Haram, is captured by the Nigerian army and handed over to police. He is found dead later and the police claims he was killed while trying to escape. Residents and human rights groups claim that he was assasinated.
- June 2009: Boko Haram members refuse to follow a motor-bike helmet law. Clashes with joint military and police occur, and 17 Boko Haram members are killed. Mohammed Yusuf releases a video recording to the president where he threatens revenge attacks.
- 2007: Buju Foi, an influential Boko Haram member,is appointed by Borno state governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, as commissioner of religious affairs.
- 2002: Boko Haram is founded
The style of attacks employed by the sect is guerrilla warfare and their enclaves are very hard to find. The government may attempt to quell the violence through dialogue or otherwise crack down on the sect which will ultimately take more lives. Whichever the approach, the government of Nigeria should be pro-active in engaging such groups in dialogue. It should initiate a policy of total re-orientation. There is a need for the provision of employment opportunities and there also needs to be a re-evaluation in regards to human rights to nip the escalation of violence in the bud.