Domestication Of International Terrorism In Nigeria: Study Of Boko Haram And Niger Delta Insurgencies, 2000-2012
1.1 Background to the Study
Violence and the threat of it have been noted as constant associate of human existence. It dates back to the biblical account about the killing of Abel by Cain. This is because human existence and activities on earth are notably social events that are prone to agreement and disagreement. It is also an established fact that as peace is concomitant with agreement, disagreement engenders anarchy and conflict. That is why it is difficult to eliminate conflict and crisis in human affairs and interaction. This also accounts for why it was not possible to sustain international peace after the cold war. At the end of the cold war, hopes were high that the international polity would once again witness peace and security following the disintegration of Soviet Union and the emergence of a Uni-polar International System.
Unfortunately, this hope was dashed in what Viotti and Kauppi (2009:256) refers to as “preeminent post-cold war threat”, when on 11 September, 2001 U.S was attacked by al Qaeda in a very devastating form, hitting major targets, the World Trade Centre (WTC) Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
The above accounts for why the U.S President George Bush vowed to fight terrorism head on and quickly formed a coalition of other nations, especially North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members and some super powers, in order to ensure a successful and total routing of this new enemy. Nations that responded immediately to that call were Great Britain, France and Spain, as well as Germany, Russia and China (Konecky and Konecky, 2008:631). He called on all peace loving nations to join him and ensure that terrorists, their sponsors and custodians are successfully brought to book. He then declared that, “Americans should not expect one battle but a lengthy campaign unlike any other ever witnessed” (Woodward 2002:108). This is because, the planning, execution and, in fact, the sequence of the 9/11 events as well as the casualty rate was such that can make every reasonable mind to see terrorism as something worse than war. That attack remains the height and most devastating in the history of international terrorism, which shocked the entire world. It shook the foundation of the international community not just because of the weapon used but also the perfect planning and execution as well as the casualty rate. Konecky and Konecky (2008:630) noted that: “In New York, Washington DC, and Shanksville Pennsylvania over 3,000 people lost their life. The attacks involved the hijacking of four passenger jets that had made morning departures from Boston’s Logan Airport, Washington’s Dulles Airport and Newark Airport in New Jersey”.
At 8:45am, American Airline flight 11 with 88 passengers and crew members crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Centre in New York, while at 9:02am, United Airline flight 175 with 59 passengers and crew members crashed into the second tower of the WTC. Within less than two hours of these crashes, the twin towers imploded and in the process destroyed five other buildings of the WTC as well as four subway stations, resulting in over 2,650 deaths including about 350 firefighters who were deployed to assist the estimated 25,000 persons in the twin towers. At about 9:43am, the third jet, American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon killing all the 59 people on board and 125 persons on the ground. The fourth airplane, United Airlines flight 93 could not hit the target which was to be the white house in Camp David presidential Estate. The failure to hit this target was as a result of the heroic actions of the passengers who had already been informed through phone about the New York episode and who as a result, mounted strong resistance to the hijackers plan of steering the plane towards the white house but which eventually crash landed in a field near shanksville Pennsylvania killing all the 40 passengers and crew.
At the end of the horrendous and unfortunate episode, it was discovered that al-Qaeda, an Islamic fundamentalist group led by Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the heinous and atrocious act. It was seen by analyst as not just a repeat but a continuation of the previous attack on the same WTC on 26 February 1993 and which led to the death of six persons. It is believed that it was the low level of impact recorded in the first attack via bombing that led to the extensive planning of the 9/11. The 26 February 1993 attack was carried out by Ramzi Yousef, who, according to Martin (2006:19), “detonated a bomb in a parking garage beneath tower one of the World Trade Centre in New York City”. He had initially planned with his master Bin Ladin to make the bomb a chemical one in order to record high death toll. Some experts claimed that he had incorporated toxic sodium cyanide into the bomb, intending to create a toxic chemical cloud. This position is however unsubstantiated, though some analysts contend that he did attempt to procure chemical agents before the attack but was unable to do so (Parachini, 2000:186-187).
The 9/11 attack made not just U.S but the entire international comunity to realize that terrorism is more dangerous than war, and its potency and capability as a global human eliminator more devastating than world war, judging from the nature of weapons which the advancement in technology has placed in the hands of terrorists. And as encapsulated by Nye and Welch (2011:2): “The September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in 2001 (9/11) has illustrated how technology is putting into the hands of nonstate actors destructive powers that once were reserved solely for governments”. Many experts immediately came to the conclusion that with the mastery and precision of the attack, the use of weapon of mass destruction cannot be ruled out in the subsequent attacks, and as such were of the view that terrorism should be checkmated before it is too late. Falk (2003:52) while analyzing the mastery exhibited by the terrorists and damages done during the 9/11 attack, observed that, “never in the history of terrorism had an operation of such stunning proportion been pulled off”. It was seen by many analysts as a turning point in the history of political violence, and roundly referred to it as the emergence of a New International terrorist environment. It was argued in Martin (2006:3) that within this new environment, terrorists were now quite capable of using – and very willing to use – weapons of mass destruction to inflict unprecedented causalities and destruction on enemy targets. These attacks seemed to confirm warnings from experts during the 1990s that a New Terrorism, using ‘asymmetrical’ methods, would characterize the terrorist environment in the new millennium.
With this mind set, world leaders expressed great support and solidarity with America. There was an avalanche of solidarity messages from international community, world leaders and allies to U.S. Many countries cancelled their various national engagements to commiserate with the government and people of America. Russia for instance, had to suspend its strategic bombers maneuvers over the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Antarctic Oceans, which was initially scheduled for that week to avoid possible misinterpretation and or being mistaken for an enemy. It rather directed its foreign intelligence service in a very rare spirit of comradeship to collaborate with its counterparts in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East to forestall any further attacks. The European Union (E.U), also in response, though through its police arm (EUROPOL), immediately established a 24 hour crisis centre to cushion and counter the threat of terrorism (Combs and Slann, 2007).
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on its part, dispatched surveillance planes to patrol U.S skies, conducted naval show of force in the Mediterranean in addition to opening up its bases and airspace to American aircrafts and combat troops. A Counter Terrorism Unit was set up in the EUROPOL by member states of European Union and mandated to immediately liaise with the U.S government to ensure water tight security in the regional bloc. European Union ministers on their part immediately took measures to ensure that banks were prevented from the generation and transfer of terrorist funds. And to show the extent of impact the attack had on the psyche of the global community and the readiness of nations to fight the scourge, as was recorded by Carter (2003:20): eighty-one nations joined the international coalition effort against terrorism by freezing the assets and accounts of individuals and organizations that participate in terrorist activities or hobnob with terrorists.
Terrorism is a violent oriented activity targeted at unsuspecting members of a particular society, with the aim of traumatizing and psychologically defeating them, in order to score a political point or record socio-economic advantage. It is a violent situation in which only the aggressors know and see their victims while their victims neither know nor see them. Terrorists do not fight or engage in war, rather they engage in a guerrilla like surprise attacks which are mostly aimed at civilians and unarmed population or the military during dormancy. The above reasoning gives credence to why experts often refer to terrorism as an asymmetric warfare.
The present Nigerian security challenges are traceable to two broad sources namely politics and religion. These two fire points, though present in the geographical location known today as Nigeria before the arrival of the white colonialist, were ignorantly, or out of poor knowledge of the environment or otherwise, mishandled by the invading imperial lords. The British colonizers, on arrival, met several tribes made up of people with different languages, cultures, religions and socio-political orientations. The socio-political atmosphere then was such that would have qualified or earned each of these tribes a nation. But unfortunately, the colonialists following their apparent economic interest were impatient to study the socio-political cum religious life of the people before adopting a suitable political structure for them. Rather, it hurriedly imposed the European model of nation state on the people not minding their diverse social, economic, political and religious backgrounds, by jacking these various and distinct ethnic nationalities into one nation via her ‘Union Jack’. As noted by Omoweh and Okanya (2005:301), the British administration imposed the nation-state model on Nigeria to serve one major purpose, to bring various ethnic nationalities with different social, economic, political and security systems into one country, in order to facilitate its exploitation. It not only destroyed the traditional production systems thereby compounding the economic, social and political insecurity of the people and their society, it created an alien system that negates the traditional socio-political institutions. The result of the non-recognition of the above prevailing factors by the British while imposing the nation state model on Nigeria, is the country’s security crisis both in the colonial period and after. The various ethnic nationalities did not waste time in resenting this imposed merger and artificial nation state, which manifested in the early emergence (in 1948-51) of regional rivalries and of parties expressing them” (Post, 1999:331). This constituted a threat to the security of the colonial Nigerian state. And, of course, that situation never changed even in this post-colonial period.
Concomitantly, the religious concerns of the people were not left out in the bourgeoning European imperialistic sequestration and adventurism. As with the pre-colonial socio-political, economic and traditional institutions, attention was not also paid to the people’s divergent and plural religious inclinations, when the various ethnic nationalities were being jacked and tinkered into one super nation. Before the amalgamation which was the legal instrument that bound the Northern and Southern Nigeria together prior to independence, two major religions, Christianity and Islam were already being practiced by the people in addition to the Traditional African Religion which was aboriginal to Nigeria before the advent of Christianity and Islam. Interestingly, apart from the African Traditional Religion which could be said to be universal due to its age, the two major religions – Christianity and Islam -were practiced virtually based on geographic and ethnic lines.
It is worthy of note therefore, to observe that the practice of these two religions based on geographic and ethnic lines is precipitated by their route of entry into Nigeria. While Christianity entered Nigeria via the Southern coastal line through the European merchants and missionaries, Islam on the other hand entered through the Northern Nigeria via trade contact with the Arabs of North Africa as well as through Islamic Jihadists. Thus, while the Northern Nigeria is predominantly made up of Muslims, the Southern part is predominantly inhabited by Christians. This therefore accounts for why attaining statehood through the marriage of North and South was fraught with unhealthy mutual distrust, suspicion, and antagonism. According to Muhammad (2006:292), the different origins of the two religions coupled with their being rooted within separate geographical localities, as well as the differential pace of socio-political and economic developments between the localities typified by the North and South during the colonial era are what sowed the seeds for a discordant relationship between them after the country’s independence.
The diversities of ethnic and religious groups in Nigeria evidently gives the country a heterogeneous character, which have often constituted itself as the source of the perennial conflicts and violence bedeviling the entity called Nigeria. And which is associated with the distrust and mutual suspicion among the ethnic groups. This situation was strategically managed by the colonialist through the aid of the same superior power which enabled them to jack the nationalities into one, but soon after independence, the realities of this heterogeneity stared Nigerians in the face through an unbridled wave of violence.
It started as a political violence but later degenerated and manifested as an ethnic conflict, which eventually snow balled into a military over throw of the democratic regime. This gave birth to the first military regime led by General Aguiyi Ironsi. Though, the political violence affected only the Northern and Western regions, the military had to wade in, by taking over the political leadership of the country, due to the magnitude of carnage recorded in those two regions, as well as what the coupists termed ‘political corruption’. The coupists who claimed they toppled the democratic government due to the wave of violence which swept across the country in turn embarked on state terrorism via serial assassination of top Nigerian political leaders. It was during this period that the Niger Deltans saw the inherent marginalisation, injustice and lopsided structure of the Nigerian socio-political environment, and attempted to secede through the legendary effort of Isaac Adaka Boro. And shortly after, following the high level of violence, insecurity, high handedness and distrust on the part of the military leadership, civil war broke out.
The Easterners especially the Ibos not only saw glaringly the very nexus of what prompted Isaac Boro to take up arms to defend his people, but felt endangered following the magnitude and frequency of violence targeted at them in the Northern axis of the country. There was no other choice therefore than to react to what seemed to be state terrorism aimed at not only marginalising and dominating them but total extermination of the race. This reaction came by way of secession, which as argued, was meant to protect the Easterners from the escalated pogrom meted out to them. According to Adeniran (2002:102), it was the pogrom that sparked off the Biafra War. Soyinka (2006:101) while corroborating and in expatiation of the above states that: “It would be a distortion of history and an attempt to trivialize the trauma that the Igbo had undergone to suggest – as some commentators have tried to do – that it was the lure of the oil wealth that drove them to seek a separate existence. When people have been subjected to a degree of inhuman violation for which there is no other word but genocide, they have the right to seek an identity apart from their aggressors”.
Ezeani (2013:46), while concurring with the above too, quoted major General Philip Effiong’s 1970 end of war surrender broadcast thus: “Throughout history, injured people have had to resort to arms in their self defense where peaceful negotiations failed. We were no exception…we have fought in defense of that cause”. The resulting effect of this attempt to secede therefore, was thirty months Nigerian Civil War.
Emerging from the civil war experience, the Nigerian civil populace who were already beginning to be politically conscious as well as conscious of their environment, discovered that they were being led by politically greedy and economically avaricious military class, who have no regard for the rights and welfare of the people. This brought another level of agitation and violence into the Nigerian polity, which was aimed at getting rid of the military rulership. Attempts made by the political elites to ensure the country returns to democratic politics were rebuffed by the military oligarchy. As the civilian populace were fighting to return the country to democracy, the military leaders fought back to suppress them in a manner that could best be described as state terrorism. This reaction-counter-reaction situation eventually brought to Nigeria another wave of violent agitations which could be said to be the grand parent of today’s regionalised violent militia groups such as Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Odua Pepoles Congress (OPC), Arewa youths, Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) etc.
The militancy in the Niger Delta for instance is said to have been ignited by the mismanagement of the oil wealth generated from that region, and the total neglect of the welfare of the owners of the land by the military leadership. While analysing the causes of the Niger Delta violence, Ibeanu (1999:166) opines that the “Central causal variable in the growing problem of internal population displacement in Nigeria…is state violence, i.e. aggressions of the state toward certain groups that appear as inter group conflicts. The socio-economic and political basis of state violence is located in the military rule, crude oil production, and communalism”, which also have been identified as closely related to the issues generating conflicts in the Niger Delta.
The level of concern for the problems of the Niger delta exhibited historically by the Nigerian government through her actions and inactions have been a critical factor in the emergent surge of resentment, disenchantment and discontentment which eventually gave rise to the crises in the region. Many of the indigenous people were of the belief that though; the international Oil Companies (IOCs) contributed to the problem of their area socio-politically, but that the IOCs are only able to get away with that which the government allows them to get away with. This therefore means that the problem of welfare of the people of the region and or the neglect of it is the total responsibility of the government. The general understanding in Niger Delta is that the activities of the IOCs were reflections of the government’s sense of responsibility to the host communities of these companies. This mindset is captured in the “Niger-Delta Manifesto” (Darah, 2003).
In the opinion of this manifesto, the resources from the region have been subjected to deliberate and systematic abuse and misuse by the IOCs in active conspiracy with the Nigerian government, through the instrumentality of the repressive federal laws, which aimed at central control of the oil wealth. The result of this was that apart from environmental and other related issues, the struggle became that of resource control. This, in fact, served as the basis for what may be termed the Niger-Delta ideological struggle, and of course, the ideological fulcrum of the insurgency. According to Biakolo (2012:18-19) the Niger Deltans were of the belief that the resource of the Niger Delta belong to the region; that since independence the people of Niger Delta have not enjoyed the benefits of their God-given resources; that a political context existed where these resources have been literally seized from them. Besides, the resources are deployed to the benefit of other parts of the federation. Therefore, the entity called the Nigerian state was, if anything, a hostile neighbor which was in partnership with other industrial exploiters in expropriating from the Niger Delta the surplus value of what have been produced from their land. This consciousness was also accompanied by a natural desire to right the wrongs in the area. In a move reminiscent of the classical dialectics of oppression, awareness, transformed consciousness and revolutionary action by the deprived, through a series of indoctrinations by the vanguard, more recently epitomised by Ken Saro-wiwa and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), the ordinary people of the Niger Delta – including displaced farmers, fishermen, the bewildered market woman, and perhaps most dangerously, the unemployed youth, all bought into the agenda of resistance of and emancipation from the Nigerian state and its agents and associates.
The Niger Delta region which is the centre of Nigeria’s oil wealth has been in turmoil for some decades now due to oil exploration, extraction and expropriation. The situation sometimes becomes violent against the repressive tendencies of the Nigerian government on the one hand and the recklessness, exploitative and environmentally unfriendly activities of international oil companies (IOCs) on the other hand. As noted by Ogundiya (2009:31), such violent agitations have claimed thousands of lives; many other thousands displaced, and inestimable properties destroyed. In economic terms, millions of dollars have been lost to youth restiveness, disruption of production, pipeline vandalisation, hostage-taking, assault, bombing of oil installations and similar violent situations. Such use of terror strategies by disenchanted groups to fight against real and perceived injustices and deprivation have often attracted global condemnations; attention and a re-focus on resources distribution policies of the government.
However, it is noteworthy to observe that global oil wealth has always been a source of both international and local conflict. It is generally noted as a natural circumstance in socio-economic views, that every wealth generation, distribution and acquisition attracts some level of conflicts. But what is not normal, which calls for worry, is the volume and propensity of conflicts associated with oil wealth since the discovery of oil globally. This made Monica (cited in Spin Watch 2004) to note that ever since oil was discovered in the wake of the industrial revolution in the 18th century, as a veritable source of energy, man’s appreciation, value rating, and demand for this product has reached a worrisome level. This unbridled appetite for the black gold, competing with human blood for first position in man’s needs has led to so many wars, as many nations are outdoing one another for the control, protection and acquisition of oil generating territories. Similarly, Ikporupo (1996:159) while appraising the general positive and negative sides of oil discovery, observed that since the great gold rush, which informed and characterised the voyages of discovery and expedition in the new world (the Americas), no resource natural or otherwise has attracted so much attention, and generated so much boom, and yet so much conflict as petroleum. This assertion is authenticated by the various inter and intra state conflicts in and around the oil producing regions of the world including Nigeria.
In the Nigerian case, the conflict is neither interstate as in dispute over land or location of oil well nor intra state as per communal land dispute over oil wells. It is a reaction which is an expression of resentment, disenchantment and discontent over accumulated injustice, marginalisation, deprivation and undue domination of the host communities of these oil activity areas, through active and unwholesome conspiracy of the Nigerian State and the multinational oil companies, whose environmentally degrading activities and nonchalant attitude towards the plight of the subjugated natives, are the sources of the conflict in the region.
These natives consider as obnoxious and archaic those laws/decrees, which put the oil producing communities at a disadvantaged position, and prevent them from exercising total control over the resources in their land. Their lands were confiscated without rent or commensurate compensation. This situation is however worsened by the ecological problems and environmental impacts of oil exploration. The marine life was destroyed along side crops and trees: water, land, and vegetation as well as natural air polluted, in addition to the roofs of their houses that were destroyed by the gas flare. Yet such remedial actions as provision of portable drinking water and good health delivery system were not put in place to palliate the situation. This situation not only rendered the regions inhospitably uninhabitable, but also significantly hampers human capacity to develop.
Some measures were however, put in place by the Federal government to address the peculiar developmental needs of the region. Some of these includes the creation of some special agencies and commissions such as the moribund Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB) in 1966, Shagari’s administration’s 1.5 percent derivation formula Committee, Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). It was the inability of these agencies to effectively carry out the job for which they were created as well as the authoritarian, oppressive, suppressive and repressive stance of the government while dealing with the natives that gave rise to armed conflict in the region.
However, to curb the militancy in the Niger Delta region which was the burning furnace of Nigeria’s political environment as at that time, more effective palliative measurers were advanced in addition to the NDDC by the Federal Government. Amnesty was granted to the warring youths in addition to the various training and rehabilitation programmes. Ministry of Niger Delta was also created to support the existing NDDC in tackling the problems of the region, supported with special infrastructural fund through the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P).
Such issues as marginalisation, domination, injustice whether real or perceived, power imbalance, and poverty have been central to the emergence of armed militia in the Nigerian polity. Apart from the Niger Delta question, other segments of the country were equally affected by the same socio-political anomy. For instance, the emergence of Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), which is the military arm of the Pan Yoruba socio-cultural group-Afenifere, has been noted to be closely related to the misrule, and the perceived marginalisation of the West by the Hausa-Fulani military oligarchy. As was noted by Onah (2005:296), OPC was formed in 1994, after the annulment of the 1993 presidential election which Chief M.K.O Abiola, a Yoruba, was presumed to have won. The original aim was to fight the seeming marginalisation of the Yoruba in Nigeria at that time, but as the events of the annulment receded, the body assumed other roles, and also increasingly became militant.
Unfortunately, as the insurgency in the Niger Delta region was being addressed through the above programmes especially the amnesty programme, which was embraced by the militants who accordingly, not only laid down their arms, but surrendered same to the Federal Government, another round of violence erupted in the Northern part of the country, the Boko Haram insurgency. The timing of the emergence of Boko Haram insurgency, whose activities were discovered to be more deadly and devastating than the Niger Delta militancy left analysts with so many questions as to the real cause(s) or reasons for its emergence.
While some analysts saw the emergence of Boko Haram as an ingenious contrivance whose sole aim was to attract similar federal government attention to that of the Niger Delta militants, others saw it as a political script targeted at the regime of Goodluck Jonathan. Though these two schools of thought may look distant from the real issue, they would not be dismissed completely, as such may be related or intricately interwoven with the secondary impetus to the group’s activities.
A close study of the Northern region and its inhabitants however, has shown the existence of historical socio-economic disequilibrium, alienation and dislocation with the attendant perennial disquiet in the area. This disquiet is not unconnected with the various cases of real and/or perceived injustice, deprivation, undue socio-economic domination and imbalance, poverty, marginalisation, historical ethno-religious conflict and intolerance. The above though, may be at variance with the general surface view and the group’s pronounced reason, it is discovered to be the root and the undercurrent factor that gave propensity for the insurgency.
From the group’s claim and public view, one can easily decipher sectarian religiosity and global Islamism as the real reason for the emergence of Boko Haram. Yes it is, as overtly put forward by the group through its first leader late Muhammad Yusuf, western education, culture, life and anything Western is against Islam and therefore sinful. Thus, if any form of knowledge is not in the Qur’an or sanctioned by Ibn Taymiyyah, then it is “Haram” (forbidden) to Yusuf and his followers. According to Yusuf as quoted by Adamu (2012:50), the current Nigerian education system, “…is Haram based on its structure, because the content matter contradicts the oneness of Allah. It is haram because they combine males and females in the same place. It is haram because they honor Christian days. It is haram because they teach things that question the very nature of Allah”.
Yusuf was a strong follower of Ibn Taymiyyah school of thought, and all his teachings, preaching and writing draws inspiration from same philosophy. And, in most of his sermons, condemned the acquisition of western education, knowledge, participation in government employment, and elective or democratic electoral process. This is why in one of his writings in 2009 “Hazihi Akeedatum Wa Minhaju Da’awatuna” (this is our Manifesto and Our Advocacy), which was translated and quoted in Adamu (2012:53), he passed a message in which he stated thus:
I am warning you about the troubles of our modern times especially on democracy, infidel, modern idol to whom its followers worship. We will not accept, interact, or partake in this democracy because it is the path of infidels; following it, interacting with it and using it is following the path of infidels. It is prohibited for any Muslim to be in it, or to elect an infidel under the system of democracy.
With this mind set, Yusuf and his “radical” followers (Boko Haram) saw themselves as existing and operating outside the frame work of the Nigerian system and its policies. As a result, they became antagonistic to the government and law enforcement agencies. For instance, crash-helmet law was made in Borno State in 2009, and enforced by a police task force, Operation Flush Out II, Yusuf and his followers adamantly refused to obey the law. Unfortunately, the very further attempt to enforce this law and ensure its obedience by all and sundry was the catalyst and progenitor of this present Boko Haram insurgency.
It became the detonator of already bottled up social explosive, as the resultant confrontation and the after effect made him to declare war on the Federal Government of Nigeria. Adamu (2012:54) also noted that: on 11 June 2009, he released a video titled “Budaddiya Wasika ga Gwamnatin Tarayya” (Open Letter to the Federal Republic of Nigeria) and declares thus:
We have stopped listening to their saber-rattling. Our brothers do not hate you, it is not because you are in PDP or in ANPP (main political parties in Borno State, the home turf of the movement) that they hate you. We did not do anything to them to make them hate us. They only hate us because we have faith in Allah and because we do not accept government of democracy. They don’t hate us because we love Allah, no, no, no, only when he slights them. Why do they not attack other citizen-only us who believe in Allah and His Prophet. Whose property have we ever destroyed? Who is it we slaughtered like a ram? Who is it did we enter their houses and ransacked them? Just because we (sic) Allah said, and the Prophet (Muhammad) said, then they detest us because of our turbans-and yet this is not enough, they have to shoot us with their guns. This is my explanation. We will no longer listen to anyone (for mediation); their time is up. We will no longer accept invitations for mediation from anyone. We will not accept the shooting of 20 of our members, and we will not let it go, and we will not listen to anyone anymore. You gave the soldiers the order to shoot us…
The above was therefore an open call for war which the members responded to with gusto, superlative enthusiasm and zeal. Ironically, the call was not hinged on Jihadism or Islamism, but on what he perceived as injustice and deprivation of his freedom of assembly, association and worship.
Boko Haram does not only dislike and condemn Western culture, education, civilization and democracy but possesses aggressive disposition towards any of such that is western inclined. This is not just because they see them as being at variance with the Quaranic injunctions, but that they are the source of the corruption and poverty bedeviling Nigeria, especially in the North. They saw strict application of Islamism as a panacea to the problem.
The above is however seen as an overt aggression towards the frustration from the Nigerian society whose root causes lay in poverty, unemployment, religious intolerance and fundamentalism, socio-economic imbalance, injustice and marginalisation. It was a reaction towards a society that is unjust and unfair to its citizens. On comparative bases, the Northern Region is economically poorer than its Southern counterpart. One of the reasons for this is because the youths of the Northern Region were not exposed to Western education which was seen as a basis for employment and wealth creation, unlike their Southern counterparts. The reason is partly found in the historical socio-cultural practices of class stratification in the region, as well as the colonial legacy of denying the region of Western education. According to Fafowora (2013:8)
The sect is the product of a political and social process that failed to ensure an even development in the country, with the North lagging far behind the South in economic and social development. The insurgency in the North is a symptom of a deep seated malaise going back to the colonial era during which colonial policies adopted led to the North, …falling behind the rest of the country in virtually all respect. Boko Haram is the direct consequence of the failure of Northern leaders to invest in the education of their people. It is this failure, and not mere religious differences, that accounts for the deep seated grievances of the Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria. The process and pace of modernization in the North have been much slower than in the South. This situation creates frustration among the Northern youths who find themselves unable to compete with their Southern counterparts in all respects.
This may account for the group’s hatred for western education. A close study of the group would show that 99% of the adherents is illiterate while the remaining one percent is made up of those who were brain washed into abandoning their academic pursuits at various levels of education with the simple indoctrination that it is sinful (Haram) to acquire western education (Ajayi, 2012:105, Olojo, 2013:7, Akinfala, Akinbodo, Kemmer, 2014:118). The result is that the members of the group do not only see themselves as a different race but as creatures from a different universe who were sent and mandated by their creator to come to the universe, wipe away the inhabitants and occupy it. The reason for this is a combination of inferiority complex, ignorance and jealousy. This in turn is the result of what Giddens (2006:1034) termed “social exclusion”.
As earlier noted, the reason for this poor educational set up and the resultant socio-economic underdevelopment is a historical one, traceable to earlier socio political, religious and cultural institutions on the one hand, and colonial disinterest in educating the region on the other. Before the advent of colonialism, the region was already used to the aristocratic social order of the haves and the have nots. While the “haves” are wealthy, the “have nots” who constitutes 99% of the population, come with prostrate obeisance to beg for “sadaka” and to serve the “lord” in order to feed from the “lord’s” yard. As a result, education was denied to the children of the majority who are the “have-nots”, which made the prospect of youth development and empowerment to become bleak. Unfortunately, even the colonial administration did not attempt to change the situation. Rather, it was committed to the maintenance of the existing aristocratic Emirates and social order in the North. The British colonial authorities did very little to encourage education in the North. Fafowora (2013:11-12), noted that in the South Christian missionaries introduced schools and western education, but Churches were virtually barred by the British colonial government from starting schools in the North. The practical effect of this basic preference of the British colonial authorities for the Islamic way of life in the North was the yawning gap between the North and the South in western education. This gap in education between the North and the South is one of the major sources of conflict and instability in the country, even today. It is directly responsible for the emergence of religious sectarian groups in the North such as Boko Haram.
The negative effect of the above is socio-economic disequilibrium which has been noted to be responsible for some of the friction between the Moslem North and the Christian South, as well as religious conflicts as exemplified in the Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria. Despite the many years of Northern political domination of the country, the North still lags behind the Southern part in terms of economic and social development.
The North is far poorer than the South per capita income wise. Some of the educated Southerners have migrated to the North for jobs and commerce because there are vast economic opportunities in the North. But unfortunately, the Northerners are ill equipped to take advantage of these opportunities because of their obvious educational disadvantage. They are simply incapable of competing with the more educated Southerners who dominated economic activity in the region. The Northern Moslems therefore, resent the situation which they blame both their own selfish aristocratic leaders and the Christians who have lived with them for generations. Even without religious differences, this situation of economic inequality was bound to generate some hostility against Southerners living in the North. The grievances of the Boko Haram insurgents range from religious and cultural differences to the economic opportunities available in the North. Over the years, they have seen how their hopes for a better society and living conditions have failed to materialise due to the existing cultural and religious norms (Fafowora, 2013:13).
This situation therefore made the youths of the area to perceive the Nigerian polity and the Northern region as being unfair and unjust to them. They feel cheated, deprived, marginalised and abandoned. They feel frustrated with the Nigerian society, the society that has unequal treatment and opportunities for its members. The result of this is aggression, a violence that is not limited to the Christians and Southerners, but also extended to some of their leaders, the very aristocratic class who they see as cheats, corrupt and deceitful. They are, therefore, disenchanted with the ways their political leaders, for whom they had great respect, handles the affairs of the region. The youths reasoned that contrary to Islamic injunctions, their political leaders, have resorted to barbaric acquisition of wealth, indecent personal life styles which are not just detrimental to their interest but offensive to Islamic culture. And in the absence of any access to the perceived ‘Islamic dissidents’ to lay their complaints, domestic terrorism became their only means of venting their anger on the Government.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The end of the cold war between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union marked the disintegration of the latter and the emergence of a Uni-polar international system. As a result there was a general belief that this watershed would bring about international peace and security. Unfortunately, this hope was soon discovered to be a utopia because disagreements and conflicts can never be totally eliminated in international relations.
As echoes of disaffection resulting from perceived injustice by some states and groups within states soon enveloped the emergent international peace, grievances of deprivation which were seen as the remote causes of the emergent wave of the various violent acts occasioning terrorism became replete in the international environment. This situation is traceable to the perceived injustice in the international system as exemplified in the power imbalance among nations, undue domination of the poor nations by the advanced capitalist west, lack of equity and fairness in the distribution and sharing of the global wealth, exacerbation of the poverty level of the poor nations via inordinate exploitation by the advanced industrialised nations which also has its origin in the slave trade and colonialism, religious intolerance, ethno-racial issues and complications, as well as professionalisation and commercialisation of terrorism.
It was discovered that those who felt cheated and deprived soon resorted to acts of violence as an expression of their anger. The peak of this violent reaction towards the perceived injustice in the global system was the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in America, for which al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, and said it was its own reaction to the America’s role in the middle east i.e. Israeli-Palestinian crises, Iraq and Afghanistan etc. Al-Qaeda leadership condemns what it perceived as America’s support for Israel and feels that America is playing double standard in the region. With the Uni-polar structure of the global power, it believes that the U.S. constitutes the greatest impediment to an Islamic order and source of injustice in the world. Empirical studies have shown that the disaffection, disenchantment and discontentment which have been noted to be responsible for the present day international terrorism have their roots in injustice, power imbalance, poverty, exploitation, religious intolerance, lack of equity, unfairness of the global order and ethno-racial issues and complications.
Incidentally, the same socio-political malaise which is characteristic of global structure has also been reproduced and domiciled in some developing countries like Nigeria with devastating consequences. The current violent socio-political environment in Nigeria which is a product of historical disenchantment associated with marginalisation, poverty, injustice, inequality, power imbalance, inordinate domination and exploitation, lack of equity and unfair treatment of some among the diverse federating units of the country, ethno-religious intolerance etc dates back to the unfortunate imperialistic amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914 which was meant to enhance the exploitative tendencies of the colonial power. And which as a British colonial dependency did little or nothing to properly unify the country. Fafowora (2013:19), notes that like most African states, Nigeria owes its existence as a nation state to European imperial ambitions in Africa. The territorial boundaries, the political institutions, and the images of the African States, are the result of European ambitions and rivalries in Africa. Chief Obafemi Awolowo had earlier observed this existence of Nigeria as a new British dependency, with the argument that Nigeria is not a nation but a mere geographical expression. To buttress this point the argument went further to state that there are no ‘Nigerians’ in the same way as there are ‘English’, ‘Welsh’, or ‘French’. Rather, that the name Nigeria is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish between those who live within the geographical cartography called Nigeria from those who do not (Awolowo, 1947; quoted in Clark, 2009:456-457).
It is this complex of external influences that remolded and restructured the political systems of these new states. However, colonialism was both a factor of cohesion and a source of friction. It brought people with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds under one government, as is the case of Nigeria, the various ethnic nationalities with different social, economic, political and security systems were glued into one country. Thus a federation of ethnic nationalities who live in perpetual mistrust and antagonism was created.
This accounts for why ethno-political and religious conflicts and killing masterminded by ill informed and misdirected politicians started in the Northern part of the country in the 1950s even before independence, and got worse after independence which led to the military take over of the nascent democratic dispensation, and the eventual but unfortunate Nigerian Civil War.
Arising from the civil war experience and its attendant undesirable affect on the polity itself, as well as the socio-political and economic life of the individual Nigerian, one would have thought that no Nigerian would ever dream of engaging in any life threatening mass violence. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case, as aside from brigandage and other violent criminal activities which could be said to be inclusively related to the civil war, as an after effect, there arose extant violent security scenario in Nigeria. These security situation, especially in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s can, to a great extent, be attributed to the quest by the military to not only ensure its hegemonic presence on the nation’s political environment but also, catastrophic control of the necessary socio-economic and political structures of the nation.
Characteristic of this period (1970s-1990s) therefore, was upsurge in violent coup d’etat and human rights abuse which also attracted further antagonistic reactions from some individuals and civil society groups who were poised to rid the polity of this adverse socio-political environment, and possibly enthrone a democratic regime. In a vicious circle like manner, the situation further attracted counter violent reactions from the military class who vowed never to let go of political power. And as a result, employed all the necessary governmental machinery both orthodox and unorthodox which include state terrorism, to clamp down on the “raw” civilian agitators. The frosty political environment was at its peak during the late General Abacha’s regime, and was eventually inherited by General Abdulsalami Abubakar following the demise of General Sani Abacha. The tense and charged political atmosphere at this point was necessitated by the annulment of 12 June 1993 presidential election by General Ibrahim Babangida, and the subsequent incarceration of the supposed winner of the election Chief MKO Abiola by General Abacha. According to Fawole (2003:222), General Abubakar who took over after the demise of General Abacha, inherited a nation almost tottering on the brink of implosion, a political transition programme that is marked by suspicion and disbelief, a polarised military establishment, a population that was up in arms against continued military rule, and a country held at an arms length by most of its erstwhile friends and allies.
The situation was however, made worse when Abiola eventually died in prison under very suspicious circumstance. As reasonably expected, this antagonistic situation climaxed and gave rise to a very hot wave of terror situation which swept across the Nigerian State until 1999 when a new democratic dispensation came on board.
No sooner had the nation entered into the fourth republic in May 1999 than the upsurge, in ethno-communal and regional agitations and conflicts, which were recorded alongside extant religious cleavages and reverberations. As the MASSOB, though claiming to be non violent is pulling from one end over agitations of marginalisation and undue domination of the Ibos, and the need for Biafran state, MEND was at the other end fighting against the sane marginalisation, exploitation and injustice meted on the Niger Delta in whose house the “golden egg” is laid. As if these two (2) were not yet enough problems for the Nigerian State, religious fanatics and chauvinists were busy slaughtering human beings in the most gruesome manner at the Northern divide of the country forcing the OPC of the west to charge for revenge.
The surprising aspect of this upsurge and proliferation of violent conflicts and agitations is that they are occurring under democratic governance, which some analyst would argue presents the best conflict resolution mechanism. The reason for this, however, may not be far fetched, as a peep into the Nigerian history will expose how Nigeria’s colonial power Britain inadvertently but with full imperial intentions, and with the aid of her Union Jack grafted a heterogeneous tree that turned out to be Nigeria.
Before now, the greatest heat of these conflicts as far as the Nigerian Government is concerned, was located in the Niger Delta Region where the means initially employed by the agitators were the vandalisation and sabotage of oil installations, which later graduated to horrendous kidnapping and detonation of bombs, which were more or less complete acts of terrorism. Added to the above as the predominant threats and security challenges in the area are arm proliferation, sea piracy, youth restiveness, illegal oil bunkering and hostage taking. In the last three decades as observed by Ogundiya (2009:31), the Niger Delta Region which is the centre of Nigeria’s oil wealth has been a scene of protest, sometimes violent, against the repressive tendencies of the Nigerian state as well as the recklessness, exploitative and environmentally unfriendly activities of oil multi-nationals on the other hand. This use of terror strategies by the agitated group to end the real and perceived injustice in the region has attracted global attentions; and a rethink on the resource distribution policies of the Nigerian government.
The issue being raised here is that of historical injustice; marginalisation, domination, exploitation, socio-economic neglect and exacerbated deprivation of the needs of a people, a region whose citizens lives are being endangered in order to engender the wellbeing of the nation. Oil exploration in the region endangers the lives of the people, yet not much is done to cushion that adverse effects of the oil activities, notwithstanding the quantum of revenue that accrues from the oil business. As indicated by Ojakorotu and Olawale (2009:7), oil exploration and its poor management which manifested in oil spillage, dislocates the economic life of the people as farming and fishing, the major occupation of the people in the area are decimated, their environment polluted, and their water poisoned. This is the very situation that brought restiveness to the region, forcing the youths to take both the laws and the arms into their hands. The emergence of so many armed groups led by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), has been noted to be a response to the violence of the state against the people of the Niger Delta.
But if one is worried and perplexed over the activities of MEND and its allies, what then would be said over the stupefying and gruesome activities of the group that goes by the name Boko Haram? This group which is making efforts to institute itself into an actor and player in the Nigerian political setup, has made the country its greatest enemy, unleashing earth shaking mayhem on both Nigerians and foreigners without any known provocation, apart from the replication of ISIS activities in the Arab world and of al-Qaeda jihads crusade against the West represented by the America, as well as everything and everybody that has anything to do with the West, as a reaction to the perceived injustice against Islam and the Arab world.
The reinforcement of the above is the group’s condemnation of western education, civilisation, culture and everything that has to do with the West including democratic politics. It sees participation or indulgence in any of such activity as sinful, and thereby called for the creation of an Islamic state where orthodox Islam is practiced. Orthodox Islam, according to Yusuf Mohammed and leader of the sect, frowns at Western education and working in the civil service because it is sinful. Hence, for their aim to be achieved, all institutions represented by government including security agencies like police, military and other uniformed personnel should be crushed (Tell Magazine, 10 August 2009:34). To them, the moral decadence and evil in the society is as a result of the presence of Western Civilisation, and to curb such evil, an Islamic order must be put in place by destroying modern political institutions and infrastructures, which must go hand in hand with a government based on Sharia laws in the society.
The above however, is what the group has overtly advanced as the reason for their actions. But a close observation of their activities shows a group that is discontented, aggrieved and disenchanted. The anger in them shows something deeper than what they have professed overtly. This makes Abimbola and Adesote (2012:11) to attribute most of the circumstances that led to this criminality to frustration. This viewpoint is equally supported by Copeland (2013:5) who, while analysing the situation critically, pointed out two policy errors on the part of the Nigerian government. He identifies the government’s brutal suppression of the group, such as extra judicial executions which clearly abandons the rule of law and has led to a backlash in the North. Many Muslims complain of marginalisation by the federal government, which, according to them, is dominated by Christians. Additionally, at both local and federal levels, the Nigerian government has failed to respond satisfactorily to underlying social and economic conditions in the Northern states. Copeland (2013:5) states further that poverty and malnutrition rates are staggering – over 75 percent residents in the north are impoverished, living off less than US one dollar per day.
There is the need also to point out that northern Nigeria is noted for religious intolerance and violence. It is a region with the greatest incidence of religious violence which dates back to the Usman Danfodiyo Jihad of 1804. Ever since then, there has been periodic re-ocurence of violence in the region occasioned by aggressive, radical, and hateful preaching by Islamic religious leaders. It is also a region where over 70 percent of the youths are designated as almajiri and intentionally abandoned to roam the street begging for food, and always ready to be mobilised for violence.
The above exposition therefore indicates the likelihood of Nigeria’s current international terrorist disposition as being domestically cloned. It is an established fact so far, that states with high rate of ethno-political and religious intolerance and conflicts are most times prone to acts of violence occasioning terrorism, as aggrieved weak contenders would normally fall back to terror activities as a last resort. The present day terrorism in Nigeria is occurring at a period when the government of Nigeria has done a lot to assuage the citizens and reduce the rate of domestic discontent through Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta, as well as through the creation of nomadic and almajiri schools in addition to other democratic dividends. It has become worrisome therefore, that irrespective of all these things done by the Nigerian government to ensure peaceful domestic environment, terrorism still persists. This work therefore, aims at finding out whether the current terrorism in Nigeria is externally influenced, generated from the same internal domestic issues and discontent or product of both, and therefore, necessitates the following questions.
- Is domestic discontent in Nigeria responsible for the emergence of terrorism?
- How does domestic terrorism impact on the international security?
- To what extent does international terrorism impact on the peace of a domestic set up?
- To what extent would peaceful resolution of domestic issues and conflicts engender international peace?
1.3 Research Hypothesis
- The greater the level of deprivation resulting from injustice, marginalisation, unfairness, undue domination exploitation, power imbalance, poverty, ethno-religious intolerance, in Nigeria, the greater the level of discontentment, and aggression, that may occasion insurgencies and terrorism in the north east and Niger Delta regions.
- The higher the degree of domestic terrorism, the higher the degree of its impact on international security.
- To a large extent, the more international terrorism issues are reflected in the minds of the people through news media, the more chances there are for domestic replication.
- Peaceful resolution of domestic issues and conflicts, to a very high degree, would transmit to a peaceful international environment.
1.4 Objective(s) of the Study
To examine the extent to which internal discontent influences and promote terorism.
- To examine those issues that gave rise to terrorism in Nigeria.
- To find out whether the current terrorism in Nigeria is externally influenced, generated from the same internal domestic issues and discontent or product of both.
- To critically assess the socio-economic and political effects of terrorism in Nigeria.
- To examine measures put in place by the Nigerian authorities to checkmate terrorism.
- To fill the gap in existing literature, thereby adding to knowledge on the subject matter.
1.5 Significance of the study
This work will bring to the fore the root causes of most terrorist activities, and more importantly the linkage between domestic and international terrorism. It will expose the extent to which the inability to properly manage and check domestic discontent often leads to violence that most times degenerated into terrorism. The recommendations from this work would assist policy markers to formulate appropriate policies and measures to check terrorism both at domestic and international levels. This work will also expose new areas of research interest to scholars and researchers who would wish to carryout further researches on this subject.