Is France backing Boko Haram ? (I)

By Muhammad Hassan-Tom,

One story that could only be brushed off at Nigeria’s peril was captioned “Don Raises Alarm over France’s Plan to invade Nigeria” published in the Vanguard of 15th February 2014. The report quoted Professor Olaghere, President of the United African Diaspora States (UADS) saying, “I want to use this platform to let Nigerians know that France is ready to come and invade Africa and Nigeria is the target. They are right now training Cameroon. France is fighting you and it is going to throw you out of your home and it is your duty to defend Nigeria at all costs.”

Professor Olaghere who gave the warning at a public lecture held at the National Women Centre, Abuja, further accused France of providing finance, equipment and training to the Boko Haram sect in a bid to continue with its destabilization plot against Nigeria and Africa in general. According to him, “France has already deployed 60,000 troops to Africa, preparatory to invade the whole continent of Africa.” This figure would include soldiers stationed in all the Francophone countries for decades and the thousands added during the recent surge achieved by engineering brand new crises in Mali, Libya and the now balkanized Central African Republic. In 2006, the French completed their takeover of Chad when their troops saved the neck of President Idris Deby after ferociously armed militia completely surrounded him inside the country’s capital in over 400 Hilux trucks mounted to the teeth. The mindless insurgency in Nigeria is of course being directly fuelled through the Algerian-Libyan-Malian-Nigerien terror trail, as the following news story will reveal.

The report entitled “Boko Haram’s anti-aircraft training camp uncovered in Niger” in the Punch of 19th February disclosed that 20 insurgents were arrested at a camp located in Diffa, just across the Nigerian border which specialized in training for the use of long-range anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. According to the report, “Security personnel believe new arms were being acquired with ransom money.” It recalled that France paid a huge amount of money to secure the release of a French missionary, Father Georges Vandenbeusch abducted by Boko Haram near Nigeria’s border with Cameroun on 13th November 2013. However, spokesman of the French Embassy in Niger Georges Vanin would not comment on the report that France had been paying ransom to secure release of its citizens. Last year, a French family of tourists was similarly captured at a game reserve inside Cameroun and released after undisclosed ransom was promptly paid. This seems such a foolproof way to funnel funding to terrorists but no art can ever launder blood-money. It is simply unbelievable that one of the longest running and most intense intelligence service in the world is being outwitted by the ragtag followers of a murdered Muhammad Yusuf who formed the Yusufiyya around 2002 to the point of terrorising their citizens! Why couldn’t Boko Haram kidnap any of the more friendly and rambunctious Americans? But even that could be arranged though.

A most fundamental question is: Since France failed to break-up Nigeria by supporting the Biafra rebels during the 1967-1970 civil war, how could it hope to succeed so many years after independence and generations of intermingling? The answer is that it comes well prepared and has been operating with silence and cynical diplomacy as strategy.

It cannot be coincidence that the systematic massacre of estimated 10,000 lives so far lost to thousands of bomb and gun attacks attributed to the Al-Qaeda-clone started soon after Nigeria and France updated their relationship when President Jacques Chirac became the first foreign leader to visit Nigeria following the return of civil rule in 1999. President Umaru Yar’Adua visited France in 2008 and signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a ‘strategic partnership’ between the two countries. Purportedly on the power of this partnership, Prime Minister Francois Fillon visited Nigeria in 2009 the same year Boko Haram declared its bombing war. One of the entries on this visit on the official website of the Embassy of France in Nigeria was that “At a time when the militants of MEND threatened to attack helicopters, the Prime Minister used this means of conveyance to visit some petroleum infrastructure in the vicinity of Port-Harcourt.” He clearly did not use the same means to commiserate with hundreds of communities whose ancestral lands for farming and fishing are daily drenched in petrochemical poisons. If he had visited with the millions of impoverished, diseased and ill-educated youth literally railroaded into creeks by conscienceless leaders to resort to assassination, arson, cultism, kidnapping, fraud and militancy, it would have made sensible strategic partnership.

In a curiously similar scenario, on November 11 and 12 of the same year, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Alain Juppe, visited Nigeria. The main entry on Juppe’s junket was that “In a bid to show France’s support against violence of terrorism, the minister went to Kano, where he met local authorities and dialogued with students.” The Minister also announced during that visit that “We are ready to share our information. We are ready to coordinate our intelligence services. We are ready to give our help in training operation. I will like again to express our complete determination to fight with the countries of the region especially Nigeria and also in the ECOWAS borders to decrease these threats against the populations and the countries.”

Three months later almost to the day, Kano City recorded its single highest terrorism casualty of nearly 200 souls slain in a single day. What magic shield against MEND and Boko Haram terrorists were Fillon and Juppe displaying with these visits? Why is Nigeria not buying into the deal even if it is a fabricated one or does it all dovetail into some sectarian interest of President Goodluck Jonathan as seriously alleged in a letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo? As the Hausa proverb puts it, the monkey looks like man; terrorism in the Niger Delta is enabling the President’s people to pilfer their own oil while the one in the North is conveniently dealing with his perceived political opponents.

The red alert from all these, however, is that France’s Boko Haram bogeyman is as America’s Al-Qaeda operating in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and lately Syria or the non-existent weapons of mass destruction that resulted in the occupation and ongoing dismemberment of Iraq. Both A-Qaeda and Boko Haram are intelligence operations run by American and French secret agencies respectively to destabilize target countries and recreate colonialism all over again – if it had ever gone away.

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