NewsReel 30/1/2014 - Boko Haram: The Nigerian Civil War As Religious War

[ Masterweb Reports ]“We are...calling on Muslims in this part of the world to be well prepared because, very soon, we would launch a full scale war between the Muslims and the Christians.” -Abubakar Shekau declared in February, 2011.
 
 
In the interest of those who might believe differently, the above declaration is far from being an empty boast. The war has been on ever since Shekau made the above declaration and there is no sign of the war abating. Nigeria is engaged in its first civil war. We have explained somewhere else why this is actually Nigeria’s first civil war. Many people have sometimes mislabeled Biafra-Nigeria war as a civil war which it was not.
 
 
Internationally and locally it has long been known that Nigeria has been engaged in a brutal and protracted civil war which has been raging mostly in the northern part of the country in the last three years. The key players in the war which has claimed many thousands of civilian lives are members of the Armed Forces of the Nigerian Government on one side and Northern Nigeria Islamic fundamentalists spearheaded by the Boko Haram group on the other side. There are also other organized Islamic groups like Ansaru, the sect that first made news in February, 2013 when they kidnapped a vacationing French family with 4 children and 3 adults from across the border in neighboring Cameroun. The family was held for two months till a ransom was paid.
 
 
The goal of the Islamic radicals is to establish a separate country in the northern part of the country where sharia legal system is the rule of law. And that actually is the plan B of the Muslims of Northern Nigeria. The plan A has always been to Islamize the whole country through a gradual process where the control of the instruments of state authority, leadership of government and other key positions would remain the exclusive preserve of Northerners through which they would be able to achieve the goal number A.
 
 
The ongoing fighting began substantively in 2011 when the Islamic fundamentalist hardliner Muhammadu Buhari from the North lost the presidential election to the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan from the South. Buhari and other northern Islamic hardliners who are often referred to as born-to-rule cabals (those that believe that the Muslim North should always produce the rulers of Nigeria) were quoted to have said that they would make Nigeria ungovernable for Jonathan should he go ahead and win the election. Lawal Kaita is an important northern politician and a born-to-rule diehard and this is what he said about Jonathan just before the 2011 presidential election, “If we fail to stop him at the general election, even if he wins he will not be able to rule we will make the country ungovernable for him.”
 
 
When the former president of Nigeria Musa Yar’adua a Muslim from the North died in office in 2010, Goodluck Jonathan as the vice president served out their term in office but the Northern Muslims were not happy. Some security reports have it that initially when Boko Haram sect resurfaced in 2010 after going underground in 2009, some past and serving army generals, politicians and business moguls from the North financed heavily, provided logistics and supplies for the operations of Boko Haram and other Islamic terrorist outfits in order to destabilize Jonathan’s government. From the same intelligence sources it is also known that this arrangement and control by the local cabals worked up to a certain point. Up to the time, the local cabals effectively controlled the strikers or the foot soldiers; they struck targets as chosen by the paymasters. However as the group’s jihadist activities made headlines and gained international notoriety the international al Qaeda network and other branches of Islamic terrorism networks around the world noticed the strategic position of the struggle and have since cashed in on the Nigeria scene. Ever since it is believed that the control of Boko Haram and others have essentially spiraled out of the hands of the erstwhile local sponsors.
 
 
Though the local financiers and supporters have not completely stopped but the groups are now being adequately funded and supplied with equipment and logistics from outside Nigeria. Hardware stolen from Nigerian military armory and ordnance had been their first source of supply. But it should also be recalled that the terrorists’ strikes peaked around the time there was a lot of outflow of arms and weapons from the then fast depleting Gadhafi’s Libya stockpile. When the source of funds and logistics changed, of course, so did the source of much of the orders for those carrying out the target strikes. It does not really make much difference, from all indications the Nigerian scene has effectively become an important part of the global Islamic agenda. 
 
 
The United States of America has a bounty of $7 million dollars on Abubakar Shekau while the Nigerian Government will pay 50 million naira, the equivalent of about $300,000 to anyone who can help them find and deliver Shekau to Nigerian authorities. It had been reported on several occasions that Nigerian troops fatally wounded or killed Shekau in gun battles with the authorities only for him to resurface and inflict more deadly attacks on Nigeria and its installations. Abubakar Shekau is the head of the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria. He is many things to many people. Some people hate or dread him for some obvious reasons. One of the reasons that some people would like to hate him for is related to some of the things he said in his recently released video. In the video which was translated from his native Hausa language, he recounted and attributed the many victories his group has had over the Nigerian Armed Forces to Allah’s help. He described how the bodies of Nigerian soldiers and civilians were strewn everywhere on the ground after his group’s Bama military barrack’s attack. He said; "Had Allah allowed us to eat them we would have eaten them . . . As for killing, we will kill (for) Allah, if he says we should decapitate, we should amputate the limbs, we should mutilate."
 
 
For the above statement and many others like that some people may accuse Shekau of many unspeakable things but there is one thing that no one can accuse him of; no one will accuse him of not being explicit enough on the goals of his sect and by extension those of the Islamic North of Nigeria. He is not known to muddle up his messages. His statement in the video under discussion is not an exception. In it he reminded everyone of and reemphasized what the issue is about in Nigeria. He made it clear that Nigeria’s problem is religious, ideological or cultural divides and not poverty, bad governance, incompetent leadership, political corruption or any of those other things that have been used by some mischievous individuals as veneer over the real issue in Nigeria.
 
 
In the video Shekau restated the fact that it is one Nigeria (a united Nigeria) that is the problem of Nigeria. To some Nigerian Christians they would like to wish away this reality and pretend that a religious war is not happening in the country. Some Nigerian analysts consider David Oyedepo, the leader of one of Nigeria’s evangelical prosperity-churches, Living Faith Church as one of those wishful thinking Church leaders in Nigeria.
 
 
In early November, 2013 when Oyedepo visited Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and called on the Governor of the state Godswill Akpabio, he was quoted to have repeatedly said that Nigeria will not break up. Some of his critics have taken him up on the statement which they consider as insensitive and reckless. Even some members of his congregation have taken offense with what they call a careless statement coming from their leader. Oyedepo’s critics say that he was merely exhibiting the usual hypocrisy and insincerity typical and expected of most leaders in Nigeria, irrespective of whether they are of church or secular leadership. Oyedepo’s critics cite as evidence of his hypocrisy the fact that he started his Living Faith Church in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria about twenty years ago but had to move his headquarters to Lagos in Southern Nigeria after personally witnessing several deadly jihadist attacks on churches and Christians in Kaduna. It is said that he moved not because his church business was doing badly in Kaduna but because of fear for his life and those of his family members.
 
 
However, since realities, facts and actual events should be the things that guide the decisions of policy makers and the opinion of a correctly-informed general public; we will go by the
 
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