|Stephen Davies(without mask) with supposed members of Boko Haram|
By Theophilus Ilevbare
The dust raised by the stunning exposé of Australian independent negotiator, Dr Stephen Davis, on the alleged sponsors of the Boko Haram Islamic sect, indicted former Chief of Army Staff, General Azubuike Ihejirika (retd), the usual suspect, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, former Borno State governor, and an anonymous senior official of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may not settle any time soon as fingers are now being pointed at the Presidency for hobnobbing with accused sponsors of immitigable and unmitigated terror unleashed on Nigerians.
Dr Davis alleged that prominent politicians are the chief sponsors of Boko Haram and that they channel their fund through the CBN so it appears to be legal. The official in charge of the transactions, Davis alleged, currently works in the currency operations division of the CBN. One would think the President would order security operatives to swoop on the CBN official and the two other accused persons. Hell no! Not here. The presidency would rather regard Davis’exposé as an attempt to bring down the Goodluck Jonathan government.
Whatever must have emboldened the Hostage negotiator to name names, he has broken the official taboo against exposing persons behind atrocities like the Boko Haram menace. And Davis can't be wrong. He has worked for three successive presidents. Even if the Jonathan presidency denies it, there is incontrovertible evidence that he was part of negotiators contracted to broker the release of the abducted Chibok girls. His revelation gives us an opportunity to nail the sect’s backers. However, there was nothing he said about the sponsors that was new.
Senator Ali Modu Sheriff has been in the news, not once or twice, for alleged links with the rampaging Jihadist fundamentalists. The sect blossomed to full terror under his ‘stewardship’ as governor of Borno state. Sometime in 2011, Senator Sheriff was named as an alleged sponsor of the sect in a confessional statement made by one Sanda Umar Konduga, an arrested spokesperson of the Boko Haram. As ex-governor, he was arrested on March 28, 2012 in Cameroon on the grounds that he was sponsoring terrorism in neighbouring Borno state. Like a tail that wags behind a dog, the tag of a Boko Haram sponsor would not sever from Modu Sheriff anywhere his name is mentioned.
Nevertheless, the hostage negotiator’s claims against Gen. Ihejirika, former Chief of Army Staff, the CBN official and Modu Sheriff are mere allegations and should be treated as such until proven otherwise.
Have we not read reports severally in the media by local mediators and military sources that Boko Haram sympathisers are in the military? Are these not indicative that the Nigerian military’s rank and file has been infiltrated by the terrorists? So, what did Stephen Davis reveal that we didn’t have the slightest hint? President Jonathan had also admitted in January 2012 that members of Boko Haram sect had infiltrated his government. The intelligence and security agencies have been infiltrated, as well.
If this war is to be won, it goes beyond naming those who fund the ceaseless bloodbaths, abduction of adolescent girls as sexual slaves, arson, maiming etc by an Australian, American, or Nigerian. The beginning of the end of this insurgency is bringing their sponsors, home or abroad to justice.
Nigerians are not stupid to think this government and security chiefs do not know the real sponsors of terrorism. Otherwise, we don’t have any intelligence service in our country. Boko Haram’s political backers are the sacred cows that cannot be brought to book. Not until we cut the source of their supplies and get those who are involved, we cannot stop them. This is the level of insincerity with which the counter terrorism war is being fought by the present day government. The battle is being prosecuted even by the military perfunctorily. Soldiers won’t literarily be fighting with bare hands if some army chiefs have not been diverting billions voted for regular upgrade of military equipment over the years.
We can make revelations on Boko Haram all we want but until suspected persons are made to face the full wrath of the law we will only be going in cycles, as usual. Considering that the same government has not prosecuted any highly placed individual indicted of corruption since President Jonathan mounted the saddle, it might be wishful thinking to assume these accused persons will be prosecuted.
No amount of pressure, it seem, will compel Mr President to order an honest investigation to a logical conclusion of indicted persons with 2015 elections just around the corner. The strategy of the President’s men is to capitalize on the festering crisis in the North East to gain sympathy votes across the country in next year’s polls. Exposing the sponsors of terror most of whom are northern political figures will be tagged witch-hunting and tantamount to political hara-kiri for President Jonathan.
“There is some level of political undertone to the problem,”Late General Andrew Owoye Azazi, former National Security Adviser, opened up on the Boko Haram onslaught. He situated the Boko Haram scourgewithin the PDP as an aftermath of the internal wrangling for the presidency during the 2011 election. He promised to release a list of politicians allegedly backing the Islamic sect. Soon after those declarations, he was unceremoniously sacked by President Jonathan and thereafter came his mysterious death, with Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna state in a copter crash. The official cause has since not been released.
The least expected of President Jonathan is for him to refer the suspects to the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in view of the gravity of the allegations of crimes against humanity perpetrated by the political backers of the extremist groupas any local investigation conducted by the federal government may be manipulated by vested political interests, radical lawyer, Femi Falana forthrightly advised.
There’s no better window than the heightened attacks to seize territories and declare caliphates of the past few weeksfor the Commander-in-Chief and President to go after the sponsors of the sect. This government may risk being branded complicit if these allegations go uninvestigated especially as the present administration have chosen instead, to hobnob with persons indicted with allegations of terrorism, than shove them to justice. The sight of President Goodluck Jonathan all smiles with Ali Modu Sheriff in Chad sent niggles and ruckus back home. Mr Jonathan gave Sheriff the privilege of partaking in a closed door deliberation on terrorism he had with the Chadian President. Modu Sheriff, the de facto poster-politician allegedly sponsoring Boko Haram, as one writer described him, has since taken refuge in the ruling partyby defecting from the APC, apparently to shield himself from prosecution.
Sadly, except these indicted persons are dragged before the International Criminal Court (ICC) by concerned Nigerians or civil and human rights organizations, we may not win this fight against insurgency in the remaining months of this administration.
(Follow the writer on twitter @tilevbare.)