Rising Boko Haram attacks

To say that there has been a heavy resurgence in the destructive activities of Boko Haram is to put it mildly. The sect has continued to carry out its mindless orgy of killings with a regularity and boldness that give cause for concern to well-meaning Nigerians.

The regularity and audaciousness have given the lie to the oft repeated government position that Boko Haram had been degraded and technically defeated. The increase in the deadly activities of the group in the last few weeks has not borne out government’s hitherto optimistic assessment of the situation on ground.

Boko Haram has taken its murderous acts to a new height in a direct affront to government’s position.

Just on Sunday night, Boko Haram members killed more than 30 people during an attack on travellers at Auno checkpoint on the outskirts of Maiduguri, Borno State.

In the Sunday night attack, the terrorists also snatched three vehicles loaded with passengers and took them into the bush. Eighteen vehicles were set on fire.

The vehicles were trapped at the Auno checkpoint when the military has officially closed the Maiduguri–Damaturu Road. The travellers were forced to spend the night at Auno where they were attacked.

President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the “murderous and cowardly attack on innocent passengers by the Boko Haram terrorists near Maiduguri. This administration is ever determined to frustrate their goal to hold Nigeria to ransom.”

Perhaps, the one that shocked and enraged Nigerians in recent time was the abduction and killing of the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Pastor Lawal Andimi.

The state chairman of CAN, Bishop Dami Mamza, while lamenting the constant attacks on Christians in the country, also mentioned the killing of Pastor Dennis Bagauri of the Lutheran Church in Mayo-Belwa area about the same time Andimi was beheaded.

Mamza said that Boko Haram had not been defeated or suppressed, asking government to tell Nigerians the truth.

Within days of the killing of Andimi, a student of the University of Maiduguri, Daciya Dalep, who was returning to school, was kidnapped by Boko Haram and eventually killed. A photo, purportedly of his execution, circulated widely on social media, with Nigerians expressing outrage.

Some days ago, a seminarian was similarly killed. The seminarian was one of the four abducted when their seminary, located at Kaukau in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, was invaded on January 9. While three of the seminarians were later released, one of them Nnadi Michael, was not so lucky. The young man was later found dead. Happening almost simultaneously, the wife of a medical doctor was killed after she was abducted with her children two weeks ago. The murderers are still holding on to the children.

The number of killings by Boko Haram in the last few weeks is mindboggling and there doesn’t appear to be any let in their horrific activities. But in the face of this carnage and mindless bloodletting, the Federal Government seems out of ideas to tackle the menace decisively. Immediately after the killing of Andimi, President Buhari condemned the act and vowed strong action.

Buhari said: “The killing of Lawan Andimi, Chairman of CAN in Michika, Adamawa State, is cruel, inhuman and deliberately provocative. This barbarism is condemnable. We will ensure that these terrorists pay a heavy price for their evil actions.”

But weeks after the dastardly acts, nothing has been done to underline government’s resolve to descend heavily on Boko Haram. This has become the pattern: Government makes a statement after any Boko Haram strike and condemns the act, then silence follows until another strike and the cycle continues.

A video circulated on social media recently where the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Div, Brig.-Gen. Abdulmalik Biu, said any ex-Boko Haram who had renounced his ‘negativity’ can aspire to be president of Nigeria. This is very worrisome coming from such a senior military officer.

The practice of reintegrating so-called repentant Boko Haram members into the society is a highly dangerous one, fraught with booby traps. How can government be so sure that these hitherto destructive elements have suddenly become epitome of civil obedience and weaned of their evil and reactionary philosophies?

The whole episode is curious. How many Boko Haram fighters have been arrested, prosecuted and sent to jail in the last few years? And for a General in the Nigerian Army to speak publicly about repentant Boko Haram fighters being able to aspire to the highest office in the land is shocking. Such sentiment coming from top echelon of the army sends wrong signals to Nigerians about the desire to truly deal with the Boko Haram scourge. We believe strongly that this is a dangerous practice that should be discontinued immediately.

We also want to caution that the activities of Boko Haram – who are purveyors of terror, kidnapping and wilful beheading of human beings, mindless bloodletting and adherents of strange beliefs – cannot be equated with those of Niger Delta militants who destroyed pipelines in the main. That will be a dangerous connection, to say the least.

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