As a result of events following the chain of coordinated bomb attacks on security installations within Kano City on Friday January 20, 2012, a coalition of Kano based Religious Organizations, Civil Societies, Professional Community Development Organisations found it necessary to reflect on the state of things and contribute in identifying the causes and proffering lasting solutions to the quagmire that has engulfed the city and the nation in general. Unfolding events since then have been stressing the need for a collective action to arrest the situation.
It cannot be belated to pass our special condolence message and commiserate with His Royal Highness Alhaji (Dr) Ado Bayero the Emir of Kano, His Excellency Engineer (Dr.) Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, the Executive Governor of Kano State and the entire people of Kano State on the deaths, injuries, sufferings and loss of property that resulted from these tragic events.
Furthermore, we commend the residents of this historic city for their patience, understanding and cooperation with the relevant authorities especially at the time when commercial activities in the State and by extension the entire region have been paralyzed, movement within the city and its environs has become difficult and a sense of fear, confusion and helplessness has overtaken a large number of the residents. We pray to Allah for His continued protection against recurrences, forgiveness to the dead and quick recovery for the injured.
In the same light, we wish to appreciate the concerns, supports and condolences expressed by numerous groups and individuals in this trying and difficult situation. May Allah the Merciful reward all of them abundantly and protect the entire Nation from any similar recurrence.
Since the 2009 Federal Government clamp down on followers of Muhammad Yusuf in Maiduguri and other North Eastern States which led to the arrest and extra-judicial killing of the sect leaders and death of hundreds of his followers, the level of attacks targeted against security installations and personnel has spiralled upwards, leading to the death of hundreds of victims, mostly civilians caught in the crossfire.
With the introduction of bombs on October 1, 2010 in Abuja which was claimed by a militant group from the Niger Delta a new dimension was added to violence in Nigeria. Since then, the pattern of attacks attributed to this militant group in the North took another perspective with the suicide bomb attack at the Force Headquarters as well as the UN building in Abuja, followed by attacks in several places. After each of these incidents a purported spokesman claims responsibility via ‘teleconference’ or sometimes a video clip placed on the YouTube.
In response, several measures were taken by the government culminating in the declaration of ‘partial’ state of emergency in 15 Local government areas in 4 states in Northern Nigeria.
Kano City, and the State in general, despite having the largest population of southerners and non-Muslims in particular, has been quite peaceful despite incitements by western electronic and print media. In fact, even during the 2009 clamp down on the Boko Haram sect members, no major incidences were recorded in Kano City. This is a scenario worth cherishing.
Furthermore, during the nationwide protests against fuel price hike, Muslims and Christians stood side-by-side and did not allow their peaceful coexistence to be eroded by any external influence. Equally worthy of note is that the January 2012 attacks did not target any places of worship or locations dominated by any particular tribe or religious groups. That is why the bulk of officially declared 186 victims were civilians caught in the crossfire, many of whom are Muslims of Kano State origin. Unfortunately, this comforting aspect was upset with the Bayero University Kano (BUK) incidence of April 29, 2012 in which Christian Worshipers were attacked and the May 16, 2012 bombing of an Islamic school at Ja’en quarters of Kano city.
Having thoroughly discussed and analyzed the situation of Kano State in particular and the nation in general, it has been concluded that the problems in Kano cannot be meaningfully addressed except in context of the overall social justice and security problems in the North and the Nation in general.
Similarly, a critical analysis of the direct and remote causes should be done to be able to properly diagnose the situation and take adequate steps to remedy the problems.
Thus, we wish to raise the following issues each of which plays an important role in determining the way forward, even if by way of emphasizing what have been observed by many before us.
1. Justice and Security: Nigeria has been described as a rich nation of poor people. Figures released by National Bureau of Statistics have shown that poverty level in Nigeria ranges from 51% in a few states to 80% and above in most other states, this calls for urgent measures to address the illiteracy, unemployment and poverty among the youths, in the Nation and the North in particular, because so long as these issues are not resolved adequately, there will be abundance of youths ready to join any group or persons, irrespective of their ideologies and agenda. No less significant in this regard is the insistence on running Nigeria as a secular (rather than multi-religious) state whereas the Nigerian society is clearly religious. This contradiction further exposes the restive youth to taking the unconventional ways of what they perceive to be a religious cause.
2. High-Handedness, Extra-Judicial Measures and Poor Approach to Security: It has been observed that the measures being taken by the security personnel in addressing the current situation are becoming counter-productive. Extra-Judicial killings, torture and other inhuman treatment, destructions of mosques, houses and properties cannot solve but will rather aggravate the problem. In particular the following issues need to be looked at:
a. Humiliating and inhuman treatment of road users at checkpoints to the extent that the Emir of Kano Alhaji (Dr) Ado Bayero had cause to complain to the new Military Commandant in Kano.
b. On several occasions in Kano, security agencies used to raid places long after an attack and end up killing and arresting mostly innocent passersby. See for example How Soldiers Killed Three at a Filling Station in Kano (Daily Trust, March 13, 2012); how SSS Kills man and injures his brother in Kano (Daily Trust, April 18, 2012); or how soldiers brutalized Kano people at Dorayi quarters (Daily Trust, May 15, 2012), among other examples.
3. Death of Key Suspects in Mysterious Circumstances: after the 2009 extra-judicial killing of Muhammad Yusuf in the hands of the police and ensuing violence that followed, it is worrying to note that the pattern is still repeating itself with all key links to the militant group dying in detention or in mysterious circumstances. These include:
a. The shooting to death of Babakura Alhaji Fugu by unknown gunmen after having discussions in Maiduguri with ex-President Obasanjo stating conditions that could lead to the end of violence.
b. The death of Abu Mohammed, a ‘factional leader’ of the sect, in detention after been arrested in Zaria.
c. The death of 11 youths arrested by security operatives from their houses, only to be found dead and the military claiming that they were killed in a shootout with suspected militants?
d. In fact “Amnesty International Says the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the city (Maiduguri) has been behind dozens of unlawful killings there, further stirring the unrest. A report by the human rights watchdog says houses have been raided and burned.” (Reuters – cited in Daily Trust Wed Feb 1, 2012).
4. Conflicting Positions on Dialogue: it is rather sad that while the authorities as high as the President and his Vice are expressing willingness for dialogue, other lesser authorities are saying government will not dialogue with supposed terrorists. These include the Presidential Adviser on Security, Andrew Azazi, Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang, and the Chief of Army Staff.
5. Christian Terrorists and would be Suicide Bombers: there have been several reported cases of Christians arrested with explosives or attempting to burn down churches or public buildings. Many of such cases have been documented by other associations and individuals. In the third week of May 2012 alone, no less than three such cases have bee reported by National Dailies.
The Question is: What has been done about the suspects? What would have been the reaction had the botched attempts above been successful?
Christian Leadership and Unguarded Utterances: Despite these glaring facts, the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), under the leadership Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, has been making inciting remarks capable of affecting national cohesion such as claiming that: “I am of a very strong opinion that there is a grand design to Islamise Nigeria. If there was any time that design was true it is now. Look at it, open your eyes and see for yourself. It is happening right in front of us.’” (25 Nigerians to watch in 2012. Then Nation, Jan 1, 2012). This made the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) to urge the Federal Government to “call the president of CAN to order before he causes religious crisis in the country, through his unguarded utterances which have started eroding the long built mutual respect between Muslims and Christians. ….” But rather than seeing reason and treading the path of caution, even after the arrest of John Akpava with weapons, at Ministerial press briefing session, Mr. Kenny Ashaka, Media Assistant to CAN President, accused the JNI of being desperate and hasty to cover up members of Boko Haram (This Day, May 23, 2012).)
Unfolding events are however proving the CAN leadership wrong:
a. On Sunday 29/2/2012 at COCIN Church, Jos, a ‘suicide’ bomber was ‘assisted’ in gaining access to the church premises and detonating the explosives by a Christian member of the church resulting in the death of 8 persons and injury to 38 others. The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) identified Mr. Adams Joseph Ashaba, as the Boko Haram suicide bomber, who allegedly masterminded the bombing of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) in Jos, the Plateau State capital on February 26, disclosing that he was actually a member of the Church (Jos Church attack: Suicide bomber, COCIN member –Defence HQ. The Sun, Tuesday March 6, 2012)
b. On the same day in Bauchi State eight (8) members of COCIN Church, all of whom are Christians were apprehended with explosives attempting to burn down the church. In fact, even after that, it took some effort before the Police could arrest them as some Christians tried to prevent their arrest! (Christians tried to bomb church in Bauchi, police say. Daily Trust, Monday, 27 February 2012)
c. The arrest of Augustine Effiong of Akwa Ibom origin who confessed to participating in the BUK bombings, among others, should be lessons for caution by the CAN leadership. Equally important is the Christian fellow who issued threat letters to the American Embassy, the University of Benin and the University of Lagos.
6. Illegal Arms Shipment and Buildup: It is of grave concern that at this period of trials, huge quantities of weapons, ammunition and military gear are been imported in to the country by unknown persons. Several such cases have been reported including the one detected in Ghana. But of particular concern are:
a. The case of Gary Hyde and Karl Kleber, a Brition and a German respectively, in the UK over the shipping of 40,000 AK47 assault rifles, 30,000 rifles and 10,000 9mm pistols in addition to 32 million rounds of ammunition to Nigeria.
b. On Friday (March 8, 2012) 11 cartons of explosives weighing 95Kg illegally imported from South Africa by Miero Marble Granite and Stones Limited in Kaduna State, with one Mr Michael Awara Ernest as the representative to collect the explosives were intercepted at the cargo terminal of M. M. I. Airport, Lagos.
c. Also, The 23 Armoured Brigade, Yola, Adamawa state on 17-03-2012 arrested a syndicate including a woman and a pastor who specialise in gun running and sale of military gear to men of the underworld.
d. Also, Reuben Joel who is attached to the anti-terrorism unit of the Nigeria Police Force in Aba, Abia State has also been nabbed for trafficking in military and police uniforms in terrorist cells.
e. Against all caution and wise advice, the Federal Government instead of passing the bill on Coastal Guards in to law, handed over the manning of our South Eastern Coasts to a private company established by a known ex-militant with close ties to the Special Adviser to the President on Maritime.
i) What are these 80,000 guns going to be used for? Who is behind this massive arms importation and for what purpose and why is it that the names behind these dealings are almost always Christians and the destinations towards the North?
ii) What is the National Assembly doing about these cases (in Ghana and UK)?
iii) Where are those weapons and who ordered for their import?
iv) Given all these revelations and the above unfortunate developments regarding our coastal areas, how secure is the country against illegal arms shipment and what prevents ex-militants from using this as an opportunity to arm themselves, especially at a time when Niger Delta militants have resumed attacks against the Police and Army in the Niger Delta and Pipeline vandalization and oil bunkering are going on unabated?
Nigerians are yearning for answers to these questions.
7. External Influence: it is disturbing to note that for a long period some foreign governments have been working covertly and overtly to see to the disintegration of this country based on concocted figures and skewed logic. In particular, it has been observed that the United States of America has been working tirelessly and preparing for the realization of their collective dream of a world without Nigeria. In this light, we strongly believe that actions by the National Security Adviser, Andrew Azazi, seeking for American support against internal challenges are not well placed. America will do anything to see to the disintegration of Nigeria. How then can we trust them in solving a problem they have been actively trying to create?
1. Ceasefire and Dialogue: We call on the Federal Government and members of the so called Boko Haram, in the interest of peace, to as a matter of urgency,
a. Stop arrest and extra judicial killings of suspected Boko Haram members and declare a general amnesty for them as it is inconceivable that they will ever come out of their hideout for any discussion if their members are been arrested and or killed all over.
b. Enter in to genuine dialogue with the members of the Boko Haram Sect which should be easy since the SSS has declared that it has arrested their “spokesman”.
c. Ceasefire: We call on the members of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah lid Da’awati wal Jihad to in the interest of peace and progress observe a ceasefire and enter in to a dialogue with the Federal Government so as to find a solution to the endless bloodshed.
2. Changes in Security Measures: we call on the Federal and State Governments to modify the current security measures, particularly in Kano State. In particular we call for the removal of the check points on the main roads within Kano City, as they have stifled commercial activities in their vicinities, are becoming bottlenecks to traffic movements and may hinder even the activities of the security personnel at times of emergency.
3. The relocation of all Police Stations in the middle of residential buildings to more safe and strategic locations that are located on main roads as their presence is only adding additional difficulty to the neighborhoods in addition to the chances of civilian casualties in case of any mishaps.
4. Compensation to victims: Since the Federal Government is supposed to be in charge of the lives and security of all citizens of the nation, and it is a direct fallout of the lack of social system that led to these unfortunate happenings, all victims of the attacks or their relatives, should be adequately compensated from the purse of the Federal Government, including servicemen and women who lost their lives or limbs in providing security to the society.
5. Commendation: We commend all the residents of Kano (Muslims and Christians alike) and the North in general, for their maturity, understanding and cooperation in these trying times.
6. We demand an unreserved apology from the President of CAN, Pastor Oritsejafor, on his utterances and deliberate generalization, which, if not for the tolerance and fatherly approach of Muslim leaders under His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, would have degenerated into a full pledged religious crisis with its attendant problems and dangers.
7. Condemnation of Western Interference: We condemn in strong terms the meddling of some Western powers, most especially the USA, in our internal affairs and the way they are fanning the ambers of disunity in our midst and call on the Federal Government to take decisive measures to establish its true sovereignty and wade off the shackles of neo-colonialism especially in security, economy and political issues concerning our country.
8. True Federalism: Nigerian Constitution should be reviewed to include provisions which will allow Nigeria’s multi-religious, multi-ethnic groups conduct their affairs in accordance with their cultural norms and values and observe their religious injunctions freely. In essence, since majority of Nigerians are religious, why should we continue operating a secular Constitution?
We pray to Allah the Almighty to give speedy recovery to those who sustained injuries, give the relatives of all the deceased the fortitude to bear the loss and replace the losses incurred by all victims of this tragedy. May He protect our dear city and the Nation in general.
Dr. Musa Muhammad Borodo f. Religious organizations
Alhaji Bala Abdullahi,
Kano Civil Society Forum f. Civil Society Organizations
DR. IBRAHIM MUAAZAM MAIBUSHIRA Safinatul Khairi Community Development Association f. Community Development Organizations
Barrister Usman Shuaib Zunnuraini, Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN) f. Professional Organizations