editorialBy Chukwudi Nweje
The Boko Haram sect seems to have imbibed the regenerative capacities of creatures like lizards and spiders which have the ability to replace lost limbs. Since the Federal Government launched a military assault on the Boko Haram terrorist group, several of the group's strategists like Kabiru Umar aka Kabiru Sokoto, the mastermind of the 2011 Christmas day bombing of St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State have been arrested and jailed.
Many other insurgents have also been killed or captured. A state of emergency is currently in force in three North East states Adamawa, Yobe and Borno believed to be the epicentre of the sect's activities. The Federal Government has deployed the Nigerian military across these states and in the process incurring costs in both financial resources and manpower.
Despite the emergency rule, it appears the sect has not deterred. Rather, it continues to recruit more fighters whenever one operational base is destroyed and their members captured. It is on this premise that Ibahim Commassie's challenge to President Goodluck Jonathan to disclose the identity of suspected masterminds of Boko Haram insurgents details of which are alleged to currently be with government could prove to be the panacea to solving the security threats posed by the Boko Haram sect.
During an inter-denominational service to mark the 2012 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, President Jonathan had said that some members of Boko Haram, had infiltrated his government and that they were in the executive, legislative and judiciary arms of government as well as the police and armed forces.
Undoubtedly, Commassie challenge that these Boko Haram sponsors be named is an option the government needs to explore to end the Boko Haram insurgency. Like the regenerating creatures that will only die when the head is cut off or you strike at its heart, analysts believe that Boko Haram will only be stemmed when the sponsors are removed from the equation.
Commassie who is currently co-chairman of the National Conference Committee on Devolution of Power also called on the President to implement the reports of the various committees on national security if he was really serious about tackling the terrorism problem in Nigeria. This is even as he argued that military might alone may not be enough to resolve the security challenges currently facing the country unless the security agencies operate with intelligence gathering mechanism in their efforts at countering terrorism in the land.
"Government must employ adequate measures to protect its citizens. The primary purpose of government is there in the Constitution. When they say Boko Haram members will be a thing of the past, has it really been the thing of the past?
"For how many years have the insurgency activities been on? The President also said that there are Boko Haram in his government. But the question is: has he exposed them?
"Committees have been set up, about two or three of them have submitted their reports. One of the committees was headed by a Minister of Special Duties, Kabiru Tanimu. The Deputy Chairman of this confab was a member. We don't know what happened to the report. I think there is also another committee set up on the same issue. They have submitted their reports. So what is happening to those reports?" Commassie queried. There are arguments that a full emergency rule in the three North East states could contain the Boko Haram insurgency. However, Commassie said it was not a guarantee. "It depends on the parameter and facts available to the Governor. In the case of a state of emergency declared in Plateau State during the era of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Governor there (Senator Joshua Dariye) clearly could not control the situation.
"In this particular case in the North-East of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, their Governors have been doing their best. The Governor of Borno State (Kashim Shettima) came out to say that the insurgents have far more sophisticated weapons than our troops who are fighting them. That is evidence that the Governors have been spending money to maintain the troops and policemen."
To contain the insurgency, Commassie advised that the government sit down with security experts and find out what the problems are; who the insurgents are, their sponsors.
"What do these people want? If the government has the answers to some of these questions, they will be able to solve this problem of insurgency and terrorism in the country," Commassie said.