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May
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HAS BOKO HARAM SHOT ITSELF IN THE FOOT?

 

May 12 at 11:00 AM
HAS BOKO HARAM SHOT ITSELF IN THE FOOT?
By CAMERON DUODU
When Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist terrorist sect, abducted as many as 300 female students at Chibok Government Girls’ Secondary School in Borno State on 14th April, 2014, its action might have looked to the organisation  like a good idea  at the time.
For terrorism does  benefit immensely from the “oxygen of publicity”, of course, and Boko Haram has, by abducting the girls, become a household name throughout the world. It has also exposed  the Government of President Goodluck Jonathan as weak, militarily, and inept, politically.
Boko Haram will no doubt be feeling triumphant about having achieved all that. But consider this: President Barack Obama has condemned Boko Haram’s action as “horrendous” and sent a contingent of American military and intelligence experts to help the Nigerian authorities track down the girls and rescue them, if possible.
President Obama’s wife, Michelle, also made an unusual broadcast in which she empathised with the mothers who had lost daughters similar to the two that she and her husband are bringing up.
Britain, France, China  Israel and Canada have also pledged assistance to the Nigerian Government. The Nigerian Government will be grateful for all this, for each day brings news of how incredibly feeble Nigeria has been in its response to the Boko Haram outrage. And each new evidence of the failure of the Nigerian state system to meet the challenge of Boko Haram shows that at the social level too, the consequences of the abduction will be long-lasting.
On 12 May 2014, the Lagos newspaper, THISDAY, reported on a series of interviews it had managed to obtain from eyewitnesses to the abduction, in a story headlined Chibok: How Teachers Locked Up Our Daughters and Ran Away.
QUOTE: “One of the parents of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls introduced a new twist to the saga surrounding the abduction … when he said that the students were locked up by their teachers who subsequently scampered for safety and left them at the mercy of the terrorist group, Boko Haram…. Watila Simon, the father of one of the girls, Godiya Simon, said though he was out of town when the insurgents laid siege to Chibok, he immediately made a phone call to his daughter, but was told that the school had not yet been attacked.
His daughter was one of the few girls who was fortunate to escape from the notorious Sambisa forest, the enclave of the terrorists. He said: “I called my daughter in the school, asking, ‘Godiya where are you?’ She told me she was in the hostel. Then I said but they are attacking the town and they have started burning houses and you are still in the school?’, and she said ”yes’.
I asked, ‘Are you together with soldiers?’ She said ‘no’, and I asked about the police, and she said they were not with them, but that they were safe in the school.” He revealed that when he spoke with Godiya, the insurgents were still attacking the town and had not gone to the school. “She equally told me that all the teachers had already left and there was no elderly person with them,” he said.
Simon said it was on the realisation that there was no one guarding the school that he told his daughter to take to her heels if the opportunity arose.
I told her once the insurgents finished with the people in the town, they would turn to the school and she should run. When the sound of gunshots started in the town, the teachers were still with them but they later took to their heels, locked them in and ran away,” he maintained, adding that “there are teachers’ quarters within the school premises where some teachers hid,  at the time of the attack”.
She even told me that the teachers instructed them to stay put and not to run; then one of the teachers locked the gate so there was no way for them to escape.
As I expected, when Boko Haram finished with the town, they came for the girls at the school. They told the girls to come with them, assuring them that they were soldiers and the girls believed them because they were in military uniforms. They were told that they would be protected from the insurgents who were attacking the town and would be safe. “The girls believed and complied. They were then asked to bring all their mobile phones and it was then that they asked them to show them where the government property was sited in the school and they picked out some of the girls to show them.
I knew that my daughter was in trouble immediately I called her and she was no longer picking her calls. This was further confirmed the next day when I called the people in town and they told me all our daughters had been carried away,” he said. On his reunion with his daughter, he said: “I am happy and I prayed to God before her arrival. Since she got back, I have been having night vigils with members of my family.”
Narrating how she escaped from her abductors, Godiya … said that she and three other girls asked for permission to have a bathroom break and seized the opportunity to flee. She revealed that after running for a distance, they were subsequently assisted by a Fulani herdsman. She said before her escape, the insurgents had threatened to kill them and [they] were not properly fed during her short time in captivity.
Also opening up on his experience, Rev. Enoch Mark, who had two daughters abducted, said: “We ran into the bush on the night of the 14th April and in the morning, we returned but the gunmen were still in town. I learnt that one of my daughters had jumped out of the truck and got injured and this motivated me to run after them to retrieve her. I saw some of them [terrorists] with their vehicles broken down but I could not summon enough courage to approach them….
They [had] parked their vehicles all over and were in Chibok until 10.30 am the next day, [but] because there was no help I was forced to come back”. He further disclosed that the soldiers [in Chibok] on the night of the attack were insufficient to match the number of the insurgents who attacked the town….They were overwhelmed and had to flee,” the reverend said, insisting that had the soldiers been more in number and [better]-equipped, the schoolgirls would not have been abducted. UNQUOTE (THISDAY Lagos 12 MAY 2014).
The inescapable impression one gets from this report – echoed by others in Nigeria and around the world – is that Boko Haram, while seeking “the oxygen of publicity”, has, with this particular incident, brought upon its own head, such emotional revulsion as will prove, in the long run, to have been a shot in the foot that it has inflicted upon itself.
For one thing, Boko Haram has brought the might and expertise of the world’s most experienced terrorist-hunters on its trail. If the US could find – and slaughter – Osama Bin Laden, who does Shekau Abubakar think he is? Shekau, the AK-47-waving leader of Boko Haram, has been engaging in mocking rants in videos (poorly patterned after those of Osama Bin Laden) that have horrified even Muslims who might have been expected to show Boko Haram a bit of sympathy. On the contrary, Shekau’s his sheer, maniacal barbarity, as he blithely boasts of “selling” the girls “at 12 or 9 years of age”, or forcing them to convert to Islam and be married off to people selected by Boko Haram, appears to have alienated him from some of his fellow jihadists around the world. How can a truly religious person sell young girls into sexual slavery? In effect, he is instigating the barbaric  rape of adolescent girls isn’t he?
One contributor to a web forum used by Islamic militants complained that “Such news [as the abduction of the girls] is spread to taint the image of the Mujahedeen..”
Another poster wrote in astonishment: “There is news that they attacked a girls’ school!… {They] may perhaps be killing too many “non-combatants instead of armed enemies” He prayed that God would hold Boko Haram adherents “steady to the path” of Islam.
Many in the world – both Muslims and non-Muslims – will say “Amen” that prayer.
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