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Published On: Tue, Nov 18th, 2014

How Boko Haram sets new tone in control areas

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That money bags can overrun the political system. I want to recall that in 1983 the late Chief MKO Abiola probably the richest Nigerian then wanted to aspire for presidency but did not make it. If an ex minister of finance can be the solution how about the state government that has within the last four years received over N400 billion and has not been able to deliver on physical project of N200 billion. People like us only go to sell our reputation and allow the people to make their choice.

What do you think will determine the voting pattern this time around?

In any political contest, it is the job of the aspirant to sell himself. So when I go to face the electorate, I go there with my records and that of the subsisting leadership. They will now have to make a choice.

You were elected SUG president of Ahmadu Bello University in 1974 and you subsequently influenced the election of a first non Yoruba SUG president of University of Ibadan, how did it happen?

I was president of SUG ABU in 1974, my election was earlier. My friend John Nwodo came with some friends to meet us that he wants to be SUG president of University of Ibadan. The president has always been Yoruba people from inception. We mobilised for him and he won based on our devotion for unity.

Two of your party members have gone to court asking for the removal of the national chairman, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, how do you react to this move?

When you have a problem, you dissect it to understand. This problem is arising now at a time the party is conducting primaries to produce their candidates. So at this point in time, the party is vulnerable to anti social forces substantially being sponsored by weak opposition elements. We all know that the new political platform of APC is nowhere. The hope that it will be a credible alternative platform has been lost. The party is being torn apart by internal forces and false fundamentals. Because there is desperation, the only thing is to sponsor faceless people to see whether they can destabilize PDP and recover lost grounds. That is why they have come out trying to destabilize our game changer, somebody who has restored leadership and hope. I feel our national chairman who has had eight years stint as state chief executive and was adjudged as one of the best that time is the best thing that has happened to our party.

Extremists are believed to have taken more than two dozen towns and villages in the northeast.

Boko Haram has massacred scores of children, gloated about the kidnap and enslavement of more than 200 teenage girls and killed thousands more in a brutal five-year uprising to create a strict Daesh in northeast Nigeria.

But the Islamist rebels’ latest video aimed at showing an unidentified community happy to be under their control is a departure for a group whose trademark has been brutal hit-and-run attacks against defenceless civilians.

The extremists are believed to have taken more than two dozen towns and villages in the northeast, including Chibok, in Borno state, from where 276 schoolgirls were abducted in April, provoking global outrage.

Residents in the affected areas have told AFP people are desperately seeking the chance to flee, sometimes under the cover of darkness, after watching their neighbours suffer brutal corporal punishments administered by the new rebel leadership.

There are, however, indications that Boko Haram is trying to persuade people they will be safe under its so-called caliphate, provided everyone adheres to the group’s medieval interpretation of Islamic law.

Boko Haram “appears to be moving in the direction of providing services, especially security for the residents in the territories it controls,” John Campbell, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote on the think tank’s blog.

“They have stepped in as an alternative government following the withdrawal of government institutions from the areas now under their control,” added security analyst Abdullahi Bawa Wase.

Parts of the latest video obtained last weekend were almost certainly orchestrated for propaganda purposes.

Locals were shown cheering gunmen riding down a road on a tank, in some cases with onlooking children celebrating, arms raised in the air.

Several people were interviewed, including an unidentified older man, who said: “As a Muslim man, I am literally happy with Islamic caliphate. We have not faced any humiliation.”

There was no way to tell whether the words were spoken under duress.

The video clearly had a different objective from previous messages, with Boko Haram trying to present itself as a benevolent ruling authority and its leader Abubakar Shekau as a spiritual leader, said Ryan Cummings, of security analysts Red24.

“Much of Shekau’s previous videos have been filled with anti-Nigerian, anti-Western vitriol, which was seemingly delivered by a madman,” he said.

The latest message, however, portrayed him as “a composed theologian, providing spiritual guidance to a captured congregation”, he added, referring to scenes apparently showing a large crowd listening to Shekau’s preachings through a speaker.

“Staged or not, it may go a long way in nullifying government claims that Boko Haram is merely a bunch of criminal bandits with no agenda other than senseless violence,” he added.

Tijjani Kalifa, who fled the town of Mubi in Adamawa state after it was seized by Islamists earlier this month, said the militants had tried to restore commercial activity.

Soldiers backed by vigilantes and hunters reportedly retook Mubi this week but the situation remains fluid and officials say it is not yet safe to return.

Boko Haram has attacked dozens of churches throughout the insurgency and Christianity is, not surprisingly, forbidden in areas captured by the group.

Kalifa and another resident who ran from Mubi, Ahmad Maishanu, said all the churches in the town have been razed.

The hands of 10 people accused of theft were also amputated in public, they said, following similar reports in other Boko Haram areas, including the execution of accused drug dealers and floggings for alleged adulterers.

No females were shown anywhere in the 44-minute video.

Analysts have previously suggested that Boko Haram’s change in tactics was inspired by the Daesh militant group in Iraq and Syria.

The IS group advance and its declaration of a caliphate captured headlines worldwide, something experts say Boko Haram wanted to mimic.

But analysts also note Boko Haram, which is thought to be modestly funded and mostly made up of uneducated youths with almost no professional skills, is not well-suited to governing.

The group may in fact be committed to establishing and defending a hardline Islamist state but it is equally possible that it could resume recklessly attacking civilians, especially if pressured by the military, which has vowed to retake lost territory.

“We still don’t really know this amorphous group wants and what the endgame is,” said Elizabeth Donnelly, of the London-based think tank Chatham House.

Source: AFP

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