6 August 2014

Nigeria: Echoes of Chibok, the Female Suicide Bombers

Photo: Twitter
Women wearing hijabs.


IT'S a very difficult thing to admit but it all looks now like murderous insurgency has become a routine part of existence in many parts of Northern Nigeria.

And the new face of terror is female. But more of this later. What we should not forget is that there is a clear message the insurgents want Nigerians to understand by this precipitous steep in terror attacks.

The m essage here is that the best Nigerians can do is to run but they cannot hide from terror. Wherever we may be and whatever we may be doing, the terrorists are saying, they will visit their wrath on us and smoke us out.

They are telling Nigerians not to be deceived by Abuja's martial rhetoric. Their fight with Nigeria, they are gloating to anyone attentive enough, is theirs to win.

A screengrab taken on May 12, 2014, from a video of Nigerian Islamist

They want the message accepted that we are not protected. They have upped their game and raised the bar of criminality at a time Nigeria is yet lost as to what it should do to contain the fire of terror that threatens to engulf us all.

Many parts of Nigeria that have come directly under the evil climate of terror are now clearly besieged spaces. To live in places like Kano, Kaduna, Abuja and other parts of the North East is more or less a suicidal act today.

People, it would seem, live in these places at their own peril. One wonders if there should not now be a 'residency advisory' warning Nigerians about the danger of living in certain parts of the country, the same way we are told smoking or ingesting alcohol is dangerous.

This may be very reasonable even if difficult proposition a government, like Abuja's which deliberately downplays the seriousness of our insurgency problem, would be very loath to imagine much less embrace.

The reality of death in parts of the country being taking over by terror is too obvious to be ignored. It has an in-your-face quality that tells inhabitants of the affected places they live in these places simply at their own risk. But then what can people do? Will they cease to live because of fear they could be killed anytime and without warning? Hasn't that been part of our reality long before the rise of insurgency?

Is it something new that a Nigerian could leave their home and become the mortal victim of police stray bullet? Or they could be caught in an exchange of fire between police and armed robbers? Or be beaten within an inch of their lives by soldiers who would rather go on rampage than pay a mere N20 bus fare?

What is the difference living in the insurgency-ravaged parts of Nigeria and other parts of the country free of this menace? Is ours a mere case of existence or are Nigerians really living in many parts of the North today? And what are we to make of the gender dimension of our besieged existence?

I refer to the phenomenon of female suicide bombers. There is a steady and increasing involvement of women in the series of deadly terror attacks that have taken place in recent times. Within a space of five consecutive days these last week there were reported four separates cases of suicide missions in Kano, all involving women. There was even the reported case of a 10-year-old girl on one such aborted mission.

Where are we going with this? What should we make of it? With the stinking saga of the abducted Chibok girls getting more putrid with the money-induced controversy that trailed their visit with President Jonathan, shouldn't it be a matter of concern that women are being recruited into the campaign of terror? Hitherto seen as victims of terror, women on suicide missions can still be seen and read as victims of male manipulation. They are clearly being suborned into these deadly missions.

This takes us back to the matter of the Chibok girls. There was a clear danger in the abduction of these girls which our so-called leaders in Abuja failed to appreciate but which was evident to many of us from the moment of the abduction. This was the probability, even possibility, of they being sent on suicide missions as we are now witnessing.

When people pointed out the foolishness and irresponsibility of giving up on bringing these girls back, when many Nigerians called for speedy action on how to rescue the girls, blinded stalwarts of the Jonathan administration who saw every such call as an attack on President Jonathan saw only crude partisanship in such calls. Such calls, for them, could only come from bribed commentators or card-carrying partisans of opposition parties. What they couldn't see then is, hopefully, getting clear as daylight to them now.

Of course, we never hinged calls for the rescue of these girls on fear they might buy into the vision of their abductors and become terrorists. No, the call for the return of the girls and indeed ensuring their actual return is the least that could be expected of any civilised people and their governing authority. This was the primary reason many Nigerians have insisted on the return of the girls.

Yet we also didn't discount the lessons of history with regards to kidnap victims which teaches that such victims, over time, tend to become sympathetic to the cause of their abductors, especially where they have been brainwashed. It explains why kidnap victims many times fail to make good their escape even where there are opportunities.

Following terrorist attacks caused by suicidal women, Nigerians, including relations of the Chibok girls, have reportedly expressed fear the abducted girls could have been recruited into the infernal army of Abubakar Shekau. This would make them double pawns of terror- first as victims and thereafter as perpetrators.

Should this be the case, let nobody blame the girls who have been more sinned against than they have sinned. They are not responsible for this, more or less abandoned and taken for either dead or lost, as they are.

Should the Chibok girls or other girls abducted before them be among those now sending many to their deaths on suicide missions, the chickens would not only be coming home to roost, this also would be the 'left hand of God's judgement' on the irresponsible people exercising power over us as leaders, people now looking for billions of dollars to borrow to combat insurgency but who cannot rise to the demands of their position.

Let them not think anybody is safe even in their gilded cages and dungeons called mansions. With the suicide attempt on Mohammadu Buhari and other biggies, it should be clear that both the monkey and the baboon would indeed soon be covered in blood.

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