Creeping Disposition? *Options:- Military Coup or Urgent Civil Steps
Long before the latest revelation by former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. T.Y. Danjuma (rtd), to the effect that serving in the cabinet of President Olusegun Obasanjo had been a harrowing experience which was reminiscent of a cult or a secretive mafia family, the whole of Nigeria had already known it for a fact that what we have on our hands is a despotism pretending to be a democratic government. The unpalatable truth about this Obasanjo junta, which is posing so unconvincingly as a government of the people of Nigeria, is that we are confronted by a leader and his select inner caucus cabal of manipulators whose primary objective would appear to be an imposition of their will on the national populace, willy nilly.
A president whose sole obsession seems to be a self-destructive determination to show the world that he has a stronger willpower than the people whom he purports to govern democratically, is now so hell-bent on standing at par with his American counterpart, Gorge W. Bush, in the brazen defiance of his followers' desires and aspirations that he is, more likely than not, now equally ripe for a tremendous fall from grace as is being experienced by the American leader for whom he loves so much to play the role of copy-cat. But whereas American arrogance all across the globe is based on enormous economic and technological power and productivity, our own leader's bid for continental and global significance is based on a shattered economy, a polity in deep anomie and a social order, which is rapidly crumbling under the weight of corruption and endemic inefficiency.
It is indeed a thing of great wonder that a supposedly significant player in Obasanjo's first term like T.Y. Danjuma should be confessing to us now, albeit belatedly, that his tenure as Defence Minister was befouled by the machinations of shady operators and shadowy manipulators (none of whom he called by name, to be sure, but most of whom we know by inference and deduction), quite apart from his ethnic puppet masters in Yorubaland. But this dangerous path which our president is treading so stubbornly and so unheedingly cannot lead him to any other destination except defeat at the hands of the people and ignominy on the pages of history. He may now be riding on the heady crest of a big wave of American and British admiration in far away places like Houston, Texas where he is currently singing the sweet music of economic capitulation to US oil barons, but in the final analysis, Obasanjo must return home to face the Nigerian Labour Congress, the criminal syndicates in the oil producing Niger Delta, and indeed the entire confused and dissatisfied Nigerian population.
His only choices now, in our own view, lie between two extremes: one is to stage an honest-to-goodness military coup d'etat against his own incumbency as a so-called democratic leader and thus give his despotic inclinations full roaming range. The other is to do the inconceivable: acknowledge that his government has made a total mess of both the Nigerian economy as well as the very social fabric of the Nigerian nation and take urgent steps to return to the good books of the people. Knowing him far better now than they ever did before, the expectation of the Nigerian people should be that their president will continue to be a prisoner of his cults and cabals, until something finally gives and the people (not the armed forces) finally rise up and democratically send all the rascals packing before they ruin us quite. -Culled from Daily Trust Issue of Wednesday, November 12, 2003
CNPP Condemns Disruption of UAD Rally
Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) has condemned the disruption of the protest who rally called Wednesday by the United Action for Democracy (UAD) in Lagos. In a statement by the Secretary General of CNPP, Maxi Okwu yesterday in Abuja, the group noted that the actions of the security agents have confirmed that Nigeria is far from practicing true democracy. An anti-government rally convened by the UAD Wednesday in Lagos was disrupted by some security operatives, in the process arrested six human rights activist and a cameraman. The rally was to protest against the Obasanjo administration ahead of the Commonwealth summit opening in Abuja today.
Also yesterday, a prominent participant in the national discourse, Mr. Michael Anyiam-Osigwe, described the call as a defeatist approach to a human problem which is "absolutely unnecessary." CNPP in the statement called for the immediate release of the activists and journalists arrested by the Police. The group noted that, "Whenever persons or groups with opposing views to President Olusegun Obasanjo seek to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights and freedom, the coercive powers of the state heavily descends on them. On the contrary, hired groups and quislings who massage the ego of the government are given red carpet treatment." It described the action of government as "gradual slide to fascism and return to a police state by the Obasanjo led government." While condemning government's intolerance, CNPP referred to the recent visit of the United States (US) President George Bush to Britain where there were series of protests and public demonstrations, without arrests or brutalization. -Culled from ThisDay Issue of Friday, December 5, 2003
'Nigerian Masses'll Revolt if...'
A pan Igbo socio-political group, Igbo Question Movement (IQM) has said the Nigerian masses are on the verge of revolting against the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo except the president changes his style of administration. Leader of the group, Ben Onyechere who told our reporter that the Nigerian people have watched for too long, the high-handedness of the president which has brought the country to the present state of economic hardship and can no longer condone any further ill-treatment. He said when Obasanjo was elected president in 1999, "it was with an opium of optimism that things will change, but unfortunately, Nigerians now have a choice between the government of late Abacha and Obasanjo. It is indeed tragic and disappointing". -Culled from ThisDay Issue of Saturday, December 6, 2003
Afenifere to FG: Arrest Advocates of Coup
A recent call for the termination of Nigeria's fledgling democracy through a military coup has been described as treasonable by the pan-Yoruba organisation, Afenifere. Rejecting the call, the group canvassed that its promoters be arrested and tried for treason. Afenifere leader and Second Republic Senator, Chief Abraham Adesanya said weekend that "it is absolute rubbish for any sane Nigerian to be calling for a coup, after all that Nigeria has gone through under the military." Referring to a recent editorial by Daily Trust an Abuja-based newspaper canvassing military intervention in governance, he said it was in the interest of national security for the Federal Government to raise an immediate machinery for tracking down "those behind such offensive publication who should be made to face the charge of treason." Chief Adesanya, speaking exclusively to THISDAY, said he was being patriotic in his call for the arrest and trial of advocates of violent change of the present democratic government. He maintained that "not only would any attempt to change government by means other than constitutional, fail," those behind such a move will be lynched on the streets by Nigerians "because we have had enough under the military." The elder statesman who recently returned from the United States of America where he had been on vacation, warned that "the Yoruba nation will not be party to any move or plot to change the government by violent means." He said: "Clearly, the Yoruba will not be part of those calling for such a thing. And let me warn and state categorically that if any section of the country uses the military to perpetuate itself in power or overthrow the civilian government, the Yoruba will not accept that arrangement. It is not as if we are commending the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government, but if the government is not performing as is clearly the case, it should be removed by constitutional means. Constitutional process is what is provided for in the constitution."
Abuja-based Daily Trust, a national newspaper in its front page editorial entitled "Nigeria's Crisis of Democracy" published last week Monday, had canvassed the need for a violent change of government, quoting the late United States President J.F. Kennedy that "those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable." The newspaper which went into history by tracing how the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo's owned Sunday Tribune had called on the military to topple the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari in 1983. It chronicled what it called "the near universal disaffection with his (President Olusegun Obasanjo's) leadership ...." and had also gone ahead to state that "... there seems to be a thinly disguised public wish for the military to once again intervene in our politics." The paper had wirtten amongst other things thus: "The near-universal disaffection with his leadership is so palpable. You can almost slice it with a knife. Consequently, the atmosphere is thick with expectations that something is about to give. Not to put too fine a point to it, there seems to be a thinly disguised public wish for the military to once again intervene in our politics."
Chief Adesanya, who acknowledged that the PDP-led Federal Government has performed less than salutory, accusing it of being incompetent and indifferent to so many wrong doings, however said it is "totally unacceptable and reprehensible for anyone living in Nigeria to talk of that kind of thing (coup)." He said: "If anybody stages or talks of staging a coup, such a person is wasting his or her time. Nigerians already have bitter experience of the military. But we warn that of the government should not continue to keep quiet about such a call (violent change of government), it is treason. For anybody to come out say that there should be a coup or violent change of government, is treason. This PDP government is keeping quiet. And we are worried. See what happened in Anambra where the governor, Chris Ngige, was abducted. Those behind it have not been tried for treason. Everyone knows that is treason. So for the PDP to come up and say they have forgiven those behind the abduction is stupid. Treason is treason. That not withstanding, the question of coup will not succeed. And all those behind that call should be arrested and tried for treason. It is my belief that no coup will succeed in Nigeria again. In fact, how can anybody talk of coup? It is absolute rubbish. If the PDP government is doing bad, which I believe they are, let them be removed through constitutional means. And let me warn and state categorically that if any part of Nigeria uses the military to come into power or perpetuate itself in power, the Yoruba will not accept. The Yoruba will not be part of that unconstitutional arrangement. Let those who have ears, to hear, let them hear."
Also yesterday, a prominent participant in the national discourse, Mr. Michael Anyiam-Osigwe, described the call as a defeatist approach to a human problem which is "absolutely unnecessary." Co-ordinator of the Anyiam Osigwe Foundation, Mr. Michael Anyiam Osigwe, said such calls could only come because "Nigerians have refused to subscribe to human standards". Speaking with THISDAY, Anyiam-Osigwe emphasized that "we must subscribe to absolute standards and place premium on morality. That is why the leadership has a responsibility, whether deservedly or not. The conduct of those in power is critical to the state of the nation". According to him, the call for return of the military could only emanate from the fact that " some people are losing faith in the fledgling democracy because the quality of the conduct of role players has not taken the holistic approach of leadership, followership and the electorate". He enjoined Nigerians to look up with hope: "We should not have a sense of despondency. We need a new way of thinking, we should evolve a solution approach to our national problems". He pointed out that "the path to democracy may be tortuous and difficult, but we must, as a people, strive to take these challenges in our stride because we have no alternative to democracy except we want to be alienated". Anyiam - Osigwe explained that the foundation has established an African Institute for Leadership and Research which main focus is to lay a platform for the future emergence of future leaders. "The institute will strive to train and impact leadership trends in our future leaders to save us the future trouble of what is happening across Africa today". He emphasized that "nation building transcends a one man affair. It is an all encompassing endeavour that calls for the entire commitment of every single Nigerian. The effort must be integrated and all involving for us to get meaningful results". -Culled from ThisDay Issue of Saturday, December 6, 2003
Afenifere has coup agenda
Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio-political association is said to be nursing a coup agenda going by its recent call on the federal government to arrest those it called advocates of coups in the country. A second republic politician and academic, Dr Ibrahim Tahir, the Talban Bauchi made the accusation at an exclusive audience with Daily Trust at the weekend in which he reacted to a publication in the front page of ThisDay newspaper of Saturday, December 6, 2003 in which the paper cited Afenifere as pre-empting an imminent coup and at the same time urging the government to arrest those advocating for coups. According to ThisDay, Afenifere leader and second republic Senator, Chief Abraham Adesanya had said on Friday that Afenifere was opposed to coups, and that "it is absolute rubbish for any sane Nigerian to be calling for a coup, after all that Nigeria has gone through under the military." Abraham Adesanya, ThisDay said, was referring to a recent editorial by Daily Trust which he interpreted to mean canvassing military intervention in governance. ThisDay also cited Chief Adesanya as saying it was in the interest of national security for the federal government to raise an immediate machinery for tracking down "those behind such offensive publications who should be made to face the charge of treason".
Dr Ibrahim Tahir said he had consistently followed all newspaper reports and listened to radio and television news reports but did not see any report that warrants the alarm raised by Chief Adesanya, adding that such false alarm was an indication that Afenifere may be nursing a coup agenda which it hopes to achieve by playing with the intelligence of Nigerians. "I am surprised because I have not seen any open advocacy for coup against Obasanjo’s government," Dr Tahir said adding, however, that he had seen some press speculations on the capacity of the government to survive its actions till 2007. Tahir said he had also read in ThisDay last week about a sort of warning from Afenifere to Obasanjo to expect an uprising or massive revolution because of the actions of his government. He accused Afenifere of deceptive double talk in telling government to expect a revolutionary uprising on one hand, and urging it to arrest imaginary advocates of coups.
According to Dr Tahir, Afenifere’s false alarms may have been prompted by a number of possibilities. "It is either that Afenifere has a coup agenda and is merely following the tactical and strategic advice of Suntsu and Von Clausewitz and hallowing in the East while striking in the West; or it may also be wanting to repent its frightening scare of mob uprising or revolution; or it is trying to keep the disowning and disinheriting of Obasanjo from the Yoruba family, all of which supports the view that Afenifere chaps have succeeded in fooling everybody most of the times." -Culled from Daily Trust Issue of Monday, December 8, 2003
CNPP calls for mass action
The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) has reiterated the call for popular mass action against the Obasanjo administration, accusing the government of high-handedness, corruption, non-performance and of coming to power for a second term through fraudulent elections. CNPP’s contact and mobilisation committee chairman, Alhaji Buba Galadima, said yesterday at a press conference in Abuja, that the popular action was necessary because the Obasanjo administration had dashed the high expectations which accompanied the onset of democratic government in 1999 and aggravated social and economic insecurity amongst the people, adding that apart from the nation’s dilapidated infrastructure, "death and destruction of property as a result of sectarian and ethnic violence, rigged elections and other political violence have never been seen in Nigeria, even during the civil war years."
Alhaji Buba said further that corruption was at its highest level in Nigeria, just as the nation’s media was awash with stories of billions of naira being stolen by top administration officials. "Disregard to the provisions of the constitution, separation of powers and abuse of human rights and judicial processes are glaringly prevalent. "We call on the masses of our people to express their will just like the Georgians and the Lithuanians are doing. We would support any process which aids the assertion of the will of the people against their oppressors," he said.
He however, explained that the call for mass action was not an invitation for a coup d’etat by the Nigerian military but "a call to the people through mass action. A call to the suffering people of Nigeria to revolt. That is what we preach. The April elections was a coup and a subversion of the will of the people and the person who should be tried for coup is Obasanjo," Alhaji Galadima said. On the other hand, he advised President Obasanjo to resign in obeisance to the wishes of the people if he did not want Nigerians to carry out the mass action and condemned the campaign being waged against Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust and Weekly Trust by those he described as government apologists from the South-West geo-political zone of the nation.
He said the call by Afenifere leader, Chief Abraham Adesanya for the newspapers’ publishers to be arrested because of the November 24, 2003, editorial of the newspaper titled: "Nigeria’s crisis of democracy" was unwarranted and unnecessary. "We believe that the systematic attack on Trust newspapers by Afenifere and their minions can only be explained by the following argument. It seems to be the desire of Afenifere and Obasanjo to intimidate the only credible voice of opposition—the Trust newspapers," the CNPP chieftain said. -Culled from ThisDay Issue of Wednesday December 10, 2003
Obasanjo: Neither coup nor impeachment
If anybody is in doubt that our country, Nigeria, is in a bind, recent pronouncements and counter-pronouncements by some members of the elite must have erased all that. Right now, it appears we a confused lot. Our country is enveloped by all sorts of problems – political, economic, social, religious, etc. But our leaders, not just those in government, are confused as to what to do. What they have resorted to is guess work and allusions to hackneyed expressions.
We witnessed, recently, the confessions of the immediate-past Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma (retd), to the effect that his four years’ stay in President Obasanjo’s administrations proved a disaster for him. To cut an overflogged story short, Danjuma was virtually begging Nigerians to absolve him from the iniquities of the Obasanjo regime. Nigerians were aghast. Up till now, they are still wondering. Almost at the same period, ex-Biafran warlord, Chief Emeka Ojukwu, exploded with his "surgical operation" theory. According to Ojukwu, President Obasanjo is "evil" and should be "extracted" from Nigeria if she must make progress. Then came the front–page editorial commentary by the Abuja-based Daily Trust, titled, "Nigeria’s Crisis of Democracy". In it, the newspaper was of the opinion that Nigerians are desirous of another military intervention to stem the national drift occasioned by Obasanjo’s bad leadership.
The same week, the Daily Trust editorial was published, irrepressible social crusader, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, said in an interview with a Lagos–based weekly magazine that President Obasajo has to be removed "by every means possible". The following week, flak came from a most unexpected quarter. President of the Yoruba Elders’ Forum, retired Justice Adewale Thompson, pointedly asked for Obasanjo’s impeachenment by the National Assembly. The next day, another Yoruba leader, Chief Abraham Adesanya, at a press conference in Lagos, sounded loud and clear that Obasanjo’s regime is headed for a disaster.
The same week, the formidable pro-democracy group, the United Action for Democracy (UAD), which fought the late Sani Abacha’s regime to a standstill, staged an Obasanjo–must–go rally in Lagos. Although the rally was prevented by the police, the message was sent. Of course, there have been other fiercely anti-Obasanjo calls, perhaps too numerous to be recounted here. -Culled from The Sun News Online
Click Here For Full Text of Article
‘Taliban’ of Nigeria wants a muslim nation
News Title: ‘Taliban’ of Nigeria: Who Are They? Source: Weekly Trust Date: Saturday, January 3, 2004 In addition to numerous national problems of fuel scarcity, poverty, banditry, unemployment and ecological dangers, the people of the north-eastern region and indeed the entire nation were last week stunned by the eruption of a new form of civil insurrection by a group of youths who style themselves the ‘Taliban.’ The violent clash between security agents and the youths who reportedly sought to establish an independent Muslim state close to Nigeria’s boarder with Niger Republic have sent chills of fear across the nation of a new era of religious and social insurgence. Contrary to early reports that it was a "Maitatsine" group, the Taliban, otherwise known as the Hijrah movement composed of young graduates and post-graduates most of whom were from highly placed and influential families with an understanding of the Islamic religion that completely denounces sin, corruption and immorality. The society, to them, is so mired in moral and political poverty that the best thing for a devout Muslim was to migrate out of the sins and the corruption to a place or society where Islamic justice, lawful means of livelihood obtain. Hence, their name the Hijrah group. These objectives, prima facie noble raised no alarm when they ‘migrated’ out of Maiduguri some months ago to the bush area around Kanamma in Yunusari local government area of Yobe State to "live in peace and engage in studies and farming," according to one source, and to release themselves from the ‘burden’ of interacting with a ‘sinful’ (Nigerian) society.
In the Kanamma bush area, the Hijrah group members, along with their wives and children according to sources, established a ‘base’ where they engaged in religious studies among themselves, unperturbed by the people who pass by them every now and then between Kanamma and Geidam towns. Although people did comment on their unusual presence in the area, nothing dramatic happened until one week ago when the group suddenly surfaced in Kanamma town and attacked the police station there. Weekly Trust gathered that in addition to attacking the police station and killing one policeman, the Hijrah members carted away a list of arms and ammunitions after reportedly setting the police station and other public places on fire. From Kanamma, the group marched to Geidam, headquarters of Geidam local government area where they also overran the police station, chased out the policemen and took away guns and other weapons. The assailants also snatched and carried away one police van and a vehicle belonging to Geidam local government council. It was at this stage that the Hijrab group members distributed leaflets stating the principal theses they sought to uphold.
Among the issues they raised were their plan to ‘curve out’ the areas around Kanamma, Yunusari and Toshiya out of Nigeria and to bring them under the control of an Islamic state, to place the areas under the leadership of Mullah Umar, presumably the fugitive former leader of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, to kill any ‘unbeliever in uniform’ (presumably policemen and soldiers) and to call on the Muslims in the country to rise up for Jihad (Holy War) to defend Islam and establish justice. Weekly Trust reliably learnt that prior to the sudden attack on Kanamma, the group had been approached in the bush by a committee said to be set up by the Yobe State government and made up of a number of religious scholars to persuade them to leave the area when public comments regarding their presence began to grow high. Sources said that the members had initially agreed to disperse but then made an about-turn and attacked Kanamma. This has become one of the mysteries that shroud the activities of the ‘Taliban’ group. A number of people who spoke to our correspondent said that they believed there must be factors that could have made the members of the group to turn suddenly violent considering the fact that for the months that they spent in the bush, they never engaged the police or, for that matter, the local people in any sort of confrontation. Alhaji Baba Tijjani is a parent to one of the Hijrah group members who had been in the Kanamma bush but renounced participation in the group‘s activities and returned home before the violence began. According to him, although the matter is unfortunate, people often "tend not to try to find out why these people could go violent… These people have been living in the Geidam bush for close to one year. The authorities must have been monitoring them. Therefore something must have happened" he told Weekly Trust.
While what actually happened remain to be unravelled, the attacks on police stations in Kanamma and Geidam made the authorities to respond by deploying a detachment of the Nigerian army from the Recce Battalion, Nguru and the 21 Armoured Brigade, Maiduguri to bring the situation under control and to restore law and order. The military operation began on Wednesday morning and details are still sketchy as to what actually transpired between the military and the members of the Hijrah group. One theory has it that the military did not surround and arrest them but instead flushed them out of the bush to run for cover and to disband and disperse. Other accounts said that the military engaged them in a fight and the group vowed to remain and die as martyrs. What is certain however is that the early hours of Thursday last week proved to be yet another poignant juncture in the confrontation between the security agencies and the Hijrah group, the full extent of which have become a matter of wide-ranging speculations and discussions in Borno and Yobe states. In what was apparently a surprising strike, the Hijrah group arrived in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital just past midnight on Wednesday presumably from the Kanamma push area to attack the A Division Police Station and to engage the policemen on duty in a fierce gunbattle. An eyewitness who was passing by at the time, said the members arrived in two or three vehicles and started shooting at the police station before moving in, to "slaughter" a police inspector.
The Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 12 Bauchi, Mr Fatai Fagbemi, who had temporarily re-located to the Yobe State capital in the wake of the incident, told Weekly Trust that the men "Who we believes to be Islamic fundamentalists" arrived some minutes after midnight to attack the police station. A few days back they have been attacking police stations with a view to reaching the arsenal of arms and ammunitions. However, early on Thursday when they came to the A Division Police Station in Damaturu, they met with stiff resistance by our men who were on red alert. But in the process something I cannot readily explain happened. A police inspector who was with the medical corps and might not be needed in the station at the time was killed by the attackers," Fagbemi told Weekly Trust. What followed the attack was the burning of a Hilux Toyota vehicle, in the midst of gunfire, said to have been stolen by the group from Geidam to carry out the attack. Before arriving in Damaturu, the group was also said to have carried similar attacks on the police stations in Dapchi and Babbangida on the way to Damaturu from Geidam where they reportedly set the house of the Bursari local government Divisional Police Officer (DPO) on fire and kidnapped him. He was however said to have escaped after the Damaturu attack when the group took a brief stop along Maiduguri road to say prayers. The Hijrah group according to AIG Fagbemi, had also shot and wounded two mobile policemen on stop-and-search assignment along Damaturu-Maiduguri road. "The policemen,’ he said, "did not know the people they stopped. They merely stopped them thinking they were ordinary travellers. But the response from the assailants was a barrage of fire on the police. They shot two of our men; one on the waist and the other on the hand."
As all these were going on, people in Borno and Yobe State have been trying to understand why at all the confrontation came about and where it will likely lead to. For one, there is hardly anybody in the two states who equate the Hijrah group with the Maitatsine religious group given that the family backgrounds of many of the Hijrah members as well as the principal essence of their ideology is known by many people in Borno and Yobe States. People are therefore left to contemplate the mission and the consequences of the actions of the group. Speaking to Weekly Trust in Maiduguri, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Maiduguri, Abdulmumin Sa’ad said that although the deconstruction of the issue may look simple to some people, "it is very complex and the bottom-line is either the existence of actual or perceived injustice in the society. "So, because of apparent injustice, a lot of the religious scholars not only in Islam but even in Christianity speak against… Since you have a pack of frustrated people, it is very easy to mobilise them. And we have a lot of ideologues either religious groups or politicians, who usually seize such opportunity to mobilise apparently frustrated young people against the authority or against other groups," Professor Sa’ad said.
The university don explained that a combination of frustrated hopes and aspirations and youthful exuberance often tend to make the young to take to certain ideologies or courses of action whose ramifications they could only understand later in life. "All they want is to see solutions to their problems whether real or imagined. But as you mature in age, you learn that you have to tolerate, you learn that you have to wait and work hard, you have to wait for things to take their courses because they cannot just happen instantly," he said. For these reasons, said the sociology professor, "people have to be very realistic in making any characterisation of the group. We have to look at our objective reality which is that people are suffering in this country, that a lot of things seem not to be working properly and that we need to provide for our youths." "It is just like people engaged in combating crime. Where a formal organisation engaged in crime control is not doing it for instance, you find people devising their own ways of controlling crime against themselves and their property. So when you have a leadership that does not enjoy the legitimacy or the confidence of the followers, you would find these kinds of rebellious groups or individuals," Professor Abdulmumin Sa’ad concluded.
Whether the activities of the Hijrah group are actually grounded in protest to the economic and political conditions in the country or are informed by pure spiritual desire to live their own understanding of Islam, it is clear that they have generated such a high amount of fear, anxiety and interest among the people of Borno and Yobe States that a correct deconstruction of their intent would only be speculated at. For now, the security agencies have been making arrests even as security was tightened around Maiduguri with armed soldiers conducting stop-and-search for people coming and going out of the city. Whether a few of the Hijrah group members arrested may give an insight into their world-view and the enigma surrounding the attacks they carried out in several Yobe State towns. But for now the public in the two stats is keenly interested to learn more about the group and also to be assured that the attacks by the group has come an end. -Culled from Weekly Trust Issue of Saturday, January 3, 2004
Detained Nigerian militant pledges Islamic struggle
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, Jan 13 (Reuters) - An Islamic militant detained by Nigerian police over an armed uprising says the self-styled "Taliban" group wants to overthrow the government because it has sold out to the West. Ismail Abdul-Fatai, a chemical engineering student of Lagos State Polytechnic, was arrested with other militants after a week-long series of attacks on police stations and government buildings in five northeastern towns two weeks ago. Nineteen members of group have been killed in a massive security sweep of the area near the Niger border, which is now under army control. "Our group has definitely suffered a setback, but our objective of fighting corruption by institutionalising Islamic government must be achieved very soon," Abdul-Fatai told Reuters at the police station in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, on Monday.
"Our aim is to cause serious confusion and overthrow the government of infidels headed by the crop of present politicians who have sold us out to the West to the detriment of Islam," he added, before being whisked away by police. The governor of neighbouring Yobe state, where most of the violence occurred, said he had found a partial list naming 54 core members of the group, which emblazoned "Taliban" on one of the cars used in the attacks. The rebellion has set alarm bells ringing in Western embassies in Nigeria, particularly because of the "Taliban" label, which they fear could indicate the involvement of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network in Nigeria for the first time. "Up to now it seems this group was responding to local concerns, although they were clearly inspired to some extent by a global movement," said a senior Western diplomat in Nigeria, adding that intelligence on the group was thin.
Nigeria, whose 130 million population is split equally between Christians and Muslims, was named in a speech purportedly by bin Laden last February as one of six candidates for "liberation". Mounting poverty and frustration among the growing ranks of young unemployed men make the oil exporting country an ideal breeding ground for extremists. -Culled from AlertNet Issue of Tuesday January 13, 2004
Ojukwu: Emergency rule could lead to war
The embattled governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige, and his estranged godfather, Chief Chris Uba, yesterday reached a fresh compromise agreeing to abide by the terms of the December 17, Owerri Peace Accord. This decision was reached at a peace and reconciliation meeting hosted at the Apo Quarters residence of Senate President Adolphus Wabara, on Monday night. A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the President of the Senate, Mr. Henry Ugbolue, said both Ngige and Uba expressed their regrets over "the return of hostilities in the state but agreed to do all within their powers to obey the Owerri Peace Accord, which they both agreed was a viable road map to lasting peace in their crisis-torn state." The statement disclosed that Ngige and Uba "agreed to withdraw all pending court cases associated with the impasse. They also agreed not to make inflammatory comments in the media.
Meanwhile former Biafran warlord and the Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, yesterday warned of the likelihood of another civil war, should President Olusegun Obasanjo declare emergency rule in Anambra State. Ngige as well as the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) have separately alleged that the Federal Government plans to declare emergency rule in the state. Presidency officials have denied this. Chief Ojukwu who spoke at a news conference in Enugu yesterday, lamented that at his age, he could not watch another bloodshed, again as a result of avoidable massive killings certain to accompany any foolishness on the part of the Federal Government.
According to him, "Don't allow a lunatic mind to drag you into war again, I am asking and requesting men and women of goodwill, to the Sultan, to the Shehu, to the Emirs, to the cardinals, the Archbishops, to labour, to women whose children are endangered to raise their voices, and to prevail on the powers that be in Nigeria, to halt this path of madness. "This matter is beyond Ojukwu or APGA, today, I am speaking as a Nigerian. I don't want to be misquoted, but enough is enough, we are not going to play around again. Ndi Igbo will not tolerate a state of emergency in Anambra State." He called on Igbo people at home and in diaspora to rise against the imposition of emergency rule. " I call upon you all wherever you are, as soon as you hear such a proclamation, to reject it in its entirety. In the absence of a government, power returns to the true sovereign, the people". He added: "We Igbos reject a country that puts us as second citizens, the time has come for us to take stock, everywhere you are, I advise you to take stock."
Ojukwu who was APGA's presidential candidate in the April 2003 polls noted that the declaration of a state of emergency in Anambra State "would be a severe provocation. This would be the last provocation". Going down memory lane Ojukwu said, "we should be aware that this is not the first time a usurper government has tried to silence opposition and to deprive the people their democratic rights. The last time this happened, it set up a chain reaction that led us into a war." "These forces that pursue the emasculation and devitalisation of Ndigbo and their friends, must also accept the burden and responsibility of the consequences of their actions," he added. He disclosed that the on-going political crisis in Anambra State is a false one, and could only be solved by Ngige: "The crisis is a false one, the solution is very straight forward. Let Ngige resign, handover to Peter Obi (APGA governorship candidate) and there will be no crisis again in Anambra, nothing more." He alleged that the problems apparent in the state were sponsored by "forces from outside the state; forces whose sole aim is to conquer Anambra State, forces whose sole aim is to defertilise the state and make it impossible for us to participate in the next dispensation; forces which believe that to hold Anambra hostage is to keep the whole of Igbo nation captive. But the citizens of the state will refuse to be kept any further in bondage." He lamented the emergence of Uba as a political factor in the state when he asked: "What is it that takes a mere boy who did not complete his primary school to become a lord and decide the fate of other people? Somebody chose him above others."
Ojukwu appealed to the "legislature, their leaders and the Nigerian judiciary to rise to this challenge of their time, and prevent Nigeria's explosion into many war camps to be ruled by war lords appointed or self appointed". "I appeal very much to our police and our military to reflect most seriously so as not to be used in any adventures which the whims and caprices of a lunatic's lust for power might desire. Let us jointly halt this madness now that it is nascent," he added. -Culled from ThisDay Issue of Wednesday January 21, 2004
Muslims vow to fight to a finish, call for SNC - 70 feared killed in Kano mayhem
Representatives of various Muslim organisations ended a one-day emergency meeting in Kaduna on Tuesday with a pledge that Northern Muslims will take up arms against Christians in a fight to finish. As if on cue, Muslim youths protesting last week’s killing in Yelwa, a mainly Muslim town in Plateau State, descended on non Muslims in Kano and unconfirmed reports indicate that about 70 persons may have been killed in the mayhem. Armed soldiers were subsequently deployed to the streets of the metropolis late Tuesday on the orders of the Federal Government to contain the riot. The rioters, numbering several hundreds, also set on fire several properties, including four churches on Zoo road where muslim faithful had their prayers early in the day. Several vehicles, including police patrol vans, were burnt. The Muslim organisations had met under the auspices of the Concerned Muslim Organisation Nigeria (CMON), chaired by the National President of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN), Ibrahim Datti Ahmed.
They vowed that the only thing that will avert the anarchy is for the Federal Government to convene a Sovereign National Conference immediately to enable the various nationalities decide on the fate of the nation. Ahmed told newsmen: “Call a sovereign national conference if you want to save the country, call a sovereign national conference, let’s sit round a table and let’s discuss whether we will continue living together or to separate, everybody goes his way. “If an overwhelming number of Nigerians want us to separate, we separate. But how do we want to separate? We can sit down around table or we fight a war. We will not submit to injustice, that’s why we are told to do Jihad. Jihad doesn’t mean attacking people without cause. It means don’t submit to an unjust person; fight him. If you die you go to paradise, if he dies he goes to hell. So what do you lose?”
At press time, an estimated 300 women and children had abandoned their homes in a police barrack near the Zone One headquarters in Kano to take refuge at the zonal police headquarters following an attack on the barrack by the rampaging youths. Bodies littered the streets of Kano as policemen battled in vein to beat back the rioters. Ahead of the riot, Muslims youths in the early hours of the day had converged on a mosque on Zoo Road for a special prayer, after which they headed for Governor Ibrahim Shekarau’s office to lodge a protest over the killings in Yelwa. As the meeting between them and the governor progressed, militant youths went on a rampage, killing people, looting and burning properties. Four bodies were seen on the street a few metres away from the zonal police headquarters. Eyewitnesses said the victims were discharged from their vehicles and killed by the rioters.
In one incident, the hoodlums burnt 10 vehicles, including a trailer conveying a container. The driver of the trailer escaped with machete cuts, but his brother was killed on the spot. Two students of Bayero University, Kano (BUK), heading towards the old campus from the new campus were removed from a commercial vehicle and killed. Some other BUK students ran to the police headquarters for protection. The rioters had a field day at Gadansaya junction and BUK Road, where they set ablaze several of their victims who were pulled out of their vehicles. Candidates writing the May/June Senior Secondary Certificate Examination of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) were not spared by the rioters who invaded their examination centres. They reportedly raped female candidates. Two luxury buses operated by C.N. Okoli Transport and Way Transport were destroyed. The protesters attacked the Sharada Police Barrack and the barrack by the Zone 1 Police headquarters, destroying patrol vans.
At the zonal headquarters, armed policemen pushed away the attackers, who wanted to gain access to the several children and women taking refuge there. Authorities of the Federal College of Education, Kano in the afternoon sent distress calls to the zone assistant inspector general of police, that the institution has been invaded by the rioters. Distress calls also reached the police headquarters by 4.30 p.m. from the old campus of BUK when the place was infiltrated by attackers. When it was thought that the wave of attack has subsided after the imposition of a dusk to dawn curfew on Kano City, the militant youths left the metropolis and moved into the suburbs, attacking Kuma Babanline and moving into the Federal College of Education. Thousands of factory workers in Sharada and Shallawa industrial areas were evacuated late in the evening from their factories where they were held hostage. The police organised a rescue party and moved them to police barracks in the city. Several thousands of persons by the evening of Tuesday had moved into the various military and police barracks in the city.
The Igbo community in Kano, taking stock of its losses in the riot, said it would react at the appropriate time. “We have received information on the attack on Igbos. So far, we don’t know how many of them are involved,” said Mr. Boniface Ibekwe, President of the Igbo community. He explained that the community’s leadership is still collating information on the number of Igbo killed and properties destroyed. “As soon as we get the details, we will respond appropriately. “he said. Although Shekarau was said to have opposed the deployment of soldiers to quell the riot, the Commander of the 3 Motorised Army Brigade, Kano who deployed soldiers on the streets late Tuesday claimed that he had instructions from above to do so. As the troops moved into the streets, the state government slammed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the metropolis and implored people to remain calm. The governor’s spokeman, Sule Yau, however said the incident though regrettable was not as widespread as claimed. He said the casualty figure may not be up to ten.
According to him, government decided to impose a curfew to avoid looting be misguided element, no so much because of the magnitude of the crisis. Police spokesman Baba Mohammed said in an interview that the number of dead would be known only after the riot has been quelled. Said he: “We are doing our best to bring the situation under control. We do not have detailed records of what has happened.” A source at the United States Department in Washington on Tuesday who spoke unofficially expressed concern over the latest outbreak of violence in Nigeria. He hoped that the Federal Government would contain the situation and not allow it to spread to other parts of the country. The American Government, he said, is monitoring the situation and would react appropriately in respect of the safety of its citizen living and or traveling to Nigeria, but he advised US citizens to be close to the embassy for reasons of security. -Culled from Daily Independent Online Issue of Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Presidency, CNPP Decry War Threat
The Presidency and the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) have in separate statements condemned the threat of war by a group of Muslim organisations led by Dr. Ibrahim Datti Ahmed. The group had on Tuesday after a meeting in Kaduna condemned the killing of Muslims in Yelwa, Plateau State and said if the Federal Government failed to convoke a Sovereign National Confe-rence, it will resort to war. Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido yesterday however sued for peace while on a visit to Kano. But in Anambra State, members of Hausa community yesterday began fleeing the state for fear of reprisal attack over the alleged killings of Igbo living in Kano following the spill over of the recent crisis which erupted between Hausa Fulani and indigenes of Yelwa-Shendam in Plateau State.
The Presidency, in a statement signed by Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Femi Fani-Kayode, stated that "God forbid that we should have another war in Nigeria." "It is most unhelpful for people to make inflammatory comments at a time like this," the Presidency said while adding that "we must all strive to forgive one another and to treat one another with understanding, patience and love." "We must all remember that whether you are a Christian or a Muslim or you are from the North or the South, that we are all first and foremost Nigerians and we must all join hands to bring peace back to our nation," Fani-Kayode stated. He said the President is trying his "very best and you can be rest assured that he will solve this problem once and for all." He called on Nigerians to join hands with the President "instead of issuing threats of war." However Fani-Kayode said the call for a Sovereign National Conference will not be a solution "to our problems." He said "government cannot be railroaded into doing something that the people of Nigeria has not given us the mandate to do." He urged those desiring a change in the constitution to do so via a constitutional amendment through the National Assembly.
Also, the CNPP, the umbrella body of all registered opposition political parties in the country, has, however, said the only way out of the present crisis is the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference. Secretary General of CNPP, Maxi Okwu, in a statement in Abuja dismissed the threat of war by Ahmed as "unpatriotic and emotional outburst to the conflagration in Yelwa, Plateau State. "We welcome the call by Dr. Ahmed and his group, but urge them to save us the sabre-rattling, since all their grievances can be addressed at a Sovereign National Conference for a united Federal Republic of Nigeria," the CNPP said in its statement. While pointing out that "We continue to delay the inevitability of the conference at our own peril," the CNPP urged "President Obasanjo to read the handwriting on the wall and come from his untenable position by facilitating the conference."
And in Anambra State the Kano riot has become a subject of group discussions, especially among youths who often query why a crisis between the Hausa-Fulani and the Shendam people in Plateau State should lead to the alleged killing of hundreds of their kinsmen resident in Kano. And obviously afraid of reprisal attacks by the people of the state, members of the Hausa community living in various parts of the state yesterday began spirited moves to leave. In Awka, the state capital, the St. Faith Pro-cathederal street behind the late Prof. Kenneth Dike park in the area, which is inhabited by a large population of Hausas was a shadow of its boisterous activities yesterday as members of the Hausa community there, had largely gone into hiding or left the state entirely. -Culled from ThisDay Issue of Saturday, May 15, 2004
Other Developments Continued =>
<= Back To 'Nigeria on verge of war?' Main Page