26th July 2011
By Japheth Omojuwa, Lagos

Nigeria’s biggest canker may be corruption but one menace that would give even the legendary and globally renowned corruption a run for its life is the bombings in northern Nigeria. Simply put, the north-eastern part of Nigeria is boiling as we speak.

The Boko Haram terrorist sect that seeks to Islamize the whole of northern Nigeria starting from their base in Borno State North-East Nigeria is on rampage. They gave a resounding show of intent when a suicide bomber trained by the group killed himself and a top level Nigerian police man during the June 16 bombing of the Louis Edet Headquarter of the Nigerian police force. They have since been pushed back up north but they have not kept quiet ever since. Just last week three members of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) on Operation Restore Order (ORO) Tuesday sustained injuries from an explosion, near Pompomari, in Maiduguri, an official said.

The JTF spokesman, Col. Victor Ebhaleme, told the press in Maiduguri that the explosion occurred around 8.15 a.m. “The incident happened around 8.15a.m. when a JTF patrol team was attacked by unknown persons using an Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) around Coca Cola area, near Pompomari. “Three members of the JTF, including two policemen and a naval rating, were injured after the explosion,” Ebhaleme said. He added that some arrests had been made in connection with the attack but declined to give details.

It would be recalled that three policemen were injured in the same area the week earlier through a similar explosion. This is in furthering the group’s agitation and quest to have the sharia system of life reign in the Nigerian north.

While the Nigerian government looks out for opportunities to dialogue with the group a la the Niger Delta Amnesty deal, the United States and the United Kingdom apparently prefer a war-like way of dealing with Boko Haram. The Nigerian government had the early signals when just a few years ago Boko Haram members only broke down prisons and killed targeted politicians, now they have since become an international terrorist network with connections to a major terror group in Somalia. They are now even a tougher issue than any President Jonathan must have tabled before the visiting Prime Minister of Britain James Cameron. It remains to be seen how far the signed security cooperation between both nations will go.

A lot of strategies have been put forward by Nigerians to curtail the excesses of the group but whatever gets introduced into this war (that is what it is) must act fast to stay the tide of deaths resulting from Boko Haram’s activities, a figure that has been put around 1000. I wrote how much of a mess Nigeria’s President has to deal with upon his inauguration last month but as it seems the mess has since gone messier. It is sad to also see the State Security Service (SSS) go after men who have asked questions of the effectiveness of the country’s N2 billion spent daily on security. The Minister for the Federal Capital Territory and Chairman Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) under President Olusegun Obasanjo Mallam Nasir Elrufai has twice been arrested by the seemingly confused SSS in an apparent show of misplaced priorities. Jonathan’s government has not been accused of the same slowness that was thrown at his former boss late president Yar’ Adua; his has been that governance has stalled but there is hope in that changing soon as new ministers got sworn in two weeks ago.

With Boko Haram’s bombs hanging all over the place, there is a lot of concern down south about the possibility of the group reaching for newer challenges there. While this today still looks a remote possibility, it will most likely be the topic of discussion sooner rather than later if the quest to restore peace up north remains the farce it is at the moment. There are already pointers to the Federal Government’s readiness to dialogue with the group.

Disclosing this at the Federal Capital Territory Abuja last Tuesday, the immediate past Minister of State in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and current Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade (rtd.), hinted that if the dialogue option failed, government would be compelled to explore other measures to bring back peace.

Captain Olubolade, while speaking after handing over to the new Minister of State in the FCT, Ms Olajumoke Akinjide, lamented that the nation was faced with series of security challenges that required every Nigerian to “brace up.” While disclosing that the spate of insecurity across the nation must be hunted down at all costs, the minister said “we cannot allow insecurity to take over our land.”

State governments of other Nigerian states have since moved their citizens especially students and serving Corps members from Borno. There is yet no peace even as there are fears the government may be going the Odi route (President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered Nigerian soldiers to clean out Odi village in Bayelsa state). This explains why there is an exodus from Borno as we speak. This is another sordid chapter in Nigeria’s sorry history, hopefully it will end soon.

Japheth Omojuwa is a Research Assistant at IMANI Ghana and an affiliate of