Opinions Fri, 11 Jul 2014

Abubakar Shekau is a cold, ruthless monster!

Folks the tragic abduction and modern day savagery of the high school girls from Chibok in northern Nigeria has completely shaped my perceptions and emotions to a degree like few other events have shaped my life.  Unfortunately, Public concern about terrorism and support for efforts to counter it always tends to spike upward immediately after terrorist attacks, and slowly subsides gradually downward as time passes without another attack.

Now, Abubakar Shekau and his ruthless “Boko Haram”- a modern day savagery, viciousness and hard-hearted beasts are in the news again! “Boko Haram” translates as "Western education is a sin" in the Hausa language. This venomous militant group says its aim is to impose a stricter enforcement of “Sharia” law across Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.

You will remember that more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in northern Nigeria in April by “Boko Haram”, an act that drew international condemnation. This callous terror group abducted an estimated 276 girls on April 14 from a boarding school in Chibok. At the time of this unprecedented heartless terror act, the Nigerian military suffered an embarrassing setback when it retracted a report that nearly all the kidnapped girls were released.

It was extensively reported in the media that dozens escaped, but more than 200 girls are still missing. Just last week (07/5/2014), according to Nigeria’s Premium Times, One official- Abbas Gava was quoted as saying “I have just received an alert from my colleagues in Damboa area that about 63 of the abducted women and girls had made it back home. They took the bold step when their abductors moved out to carry out an operation”. At the same time, CNN reported that those 60 or so girls who ran away from these beasts camp were not part of the 276 girls who are still missing. These are very sad conflicting reports.  I’m surprised that most Nigerians and others repeatedly accusing their government of not acting swiftly or efficiently enough to protect the girls seized in the dead of night.

Matters Arising

Last month (June, 2014) we had a very hectic debate on www.obimansoradio.com  about Abubakar Shekau and his heartless Boko Haram group. You could clearly see and feel the anger and frustrations which were clearly obvious in the faces of the contributors during this edgy one hour discussions, especially the shameful display of apathy demonstrated by the Nigerian authorities and the African Union (AU) member nations in general. Some of panel members expressed their anger on the ECOWAS member states for failing to pull resources together and at least, make an effort to rescue these poor girls on time. Well, I personally see ECOWAS as a ‘small fish’. The real 'big fish' here is the African Union (AU). Why do I say so?  Honestly, to wait for three good weeks before admitting their weaknesses and seeking for help is very contemptible and outrageous!

Let’s take a look at the Constitutive Act of the African Union- article 3 - (Objectives) sections “f” and “h” it categorically states that:

f. Promote peace, security, and stability on the continent;

h. Promote and protect human and peoples' rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and other relevant human rights instruments;

Additionally, Article 4 (Principles) sections “j, l and o” states that:

j. The right of Member States to request intervention from the Union in order to restore peace and security;

l. Promotion of gender equality

o. Respect for the sanctity of human life, condemnation and rejection of impunity and political assassination, acts of terrorism and subversive activities.

Unfortunately, all these jargons were just drafted to score some mere political points to impress their colonial masters - the West, for loans and other free handouts as usual. The AU’s failure to pass the test of ruthless and merciless leader of a terrorist group-Abubakar Shekau to me, has revealed that AU is just a 'Toothless Union', for real! What AU failed to realized is that keeping people safe is not sufficient: they must also feel safe themselves.

With every passing day, the wait for these kidnapped girls gets more agonizing. It's been more than three months now, and the ticking clock could mean the girls are getting farther away. The few who have escaped so far have already shared harrowing tales of fleeing a nearby forest. We hear all the time from the relatives roaming through the forest searching for the girls saying that there were no signs of soldiers in the area considered a militant hideout. You will all agree with me that "In a hostage situation, time is of the importance,” and unfortunately we've lost some time indeed!

Remember, the girls' abduction occurred in an area where the government doesn't even have a firm grip. The school is also about 600 miles from the capital, Abuja. And the large number of the hostages means airstrikes may not be an option because it’s highly probable to kill the captives. To make matters shoddier, a ground assault isn't a great option either - not when it’s done in unfamiliar terrain against entrenched, well-armed fighters. Unfortunately, negations as the option which many people had advocated for, haven’t been successful. The only option now is to rely on ‘TIME’ to take its course. 

Additionally, the Nigerian military isn't the most trustworthy. Why? Hours after the girls went missing, the Nigerian military faced criticism for its handling of the kidnapping. It said it had rescued all but eight of the girls, a claim it later recanted after their parents said most remained missing. To complicate the whole problem, ensuing attacks have shown that the security forces don't have the capability to protect civilians, which could potentially make many think twice before providing intelligence. It's also ill-equipped: because, the numerous attacks in recent years make it clear that Nigeria does not have what it takes to battle terrorism. It’s also lacking in intelligence gathering, a crucial element in the search for the missing girls. This has prompted the United States, Britain, China and a host of other nations to step in to fill the gap. The U.S Department says the help will include the creation of a "coordination cell" to provide intelligence, investigations and hostage negotiation expertise.

While negotiations may be an option in some hostage crises, this case may not be so clear cut. As I write, many 'Rights Groups' have accused Nigeria of using heavy-handed tactics such as illegal searches, torture and extrajudicial killings to crack down on the militants. As a result, it has eroded trust between the two sides, prompting "Boko Haram’s" leader Abubakar Shekau to say he "will not enter a truce with infidels," That’s why even with the assistance of the international community some of whom are on the group, we still don’t know the way forward.

To make matters even worse, the Nigerian president, Jonathan Goodluck is just clueless and so ignorant about the plans, vision, mission, operations, tactics and strategies of ‘Boko Haram’. Does he even care?

Once he’s able to concentrate on the management his personal millions of Naira stacked somewhere in some foreign bank account, and using  fake names or close associates names;  that he can spend for the rest of his life after he leaves office and his generations to come,  I believe he’s GOOD TO GO! Like many corrupt African leaders, I can guarantee you that; Abubakar Shekau and his ruthless “Boko Haram” is NOT part of his worries or sleepless nights like some of us are terrified! 

Who exactly is Abubakar Shekau?

‘Insane’ Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is someone who uses brutality to build infamy. The fanatic behind the abduction of the Chibok (Nigeria’s) schoolgirls is a violent villain with a lust for infamy as well as a complicated relationship with his mother.

Sneering and cackling like a lunatic in his videos, Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau is determined to gain worldwide fame through acts of extreme brutality. He has been declared dead and “risen again” multiple times. He’s very insane and doesn’t hesitate to use terror. Shekau, is thought to be in his late 30s or early 40s, and currently is America’s most wanted man in Africa, with a $US7 million bounty on his head. It’s the largest-ever reward offered for someone in Africa. According to www.news.com.au  by comparison, the FBI placed a $25 million bounty on Osama bin Laden.

The report says he seems to want to distinguish himself by the depth of his brutality,” former US State Department counter terrorism chief, Daniel Benjamin told The Wall Street Journal of Shekau. “He’s the craziest of all the commanders,” One intermediary told Britain’s The Daily Telegraph- “He really believes it is OK to kill anyone who disagrees with him.”

Remember, Shekau was second in command of Boko Haram for years, before he finally grabbed control after police killed leader Mohammad Yusuf in 2009. According to the reports of the Council on Foreign Relations, so far, Boko Haram has killed more than 7000 people in the past two years, many of them innocent villagers

My Final Thought

Folks, at this point, it’s evidently clear that African leadership is a complete mess! I don’t see any possibility and their ability to manage or protect our most treasured resources- the citizens anytime soon. They simply lack ideas and are not ready to learn anything new or change! They naively believe in themselves and think the current policies and empty speeches could take us somewhere. This is unfortunate!

One of Africa’s saddest realities is the belief that the continent cannot live without foreign aid. There is no need to repeat the fact that Africa is a resource-rich continent but with the world’s poorest citizens. It’s sad that many African leaders believe they cannot walk the journey to economic prosperity without the “aid” from the West. It’s this reason and many others that; we MUST step up the game and continue to educate ourselves and come up with the new and fresh ideas as to how to move Africa forward.

To be honest with you, the trade-off here is this:  We need a complete ‘change of mind, attitude, thinking and new ways of doing what we do on daily basis. That’s the challenge for all of us as we continue to “think, search and innovate".

Peter Osei-Adjei


Columnist: Peter Osei-Adjei