This week we remember the genocide in Rwanda, where Hutu extremists murdered 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates 20 years ago. It was not a spontaneous eruption, but a premeditated killing spree inspired by hate, funded by shallow-minded politicians and an acrimonious government and pitilessly overseen by a perfidious world. Next year we will be marking 20 years of a similarly cruelly contrived mass murder in the former Yugoslavia, where the world stood unconcerned as extremist Serbs, with the vigorous help of overambitious politicians like Slobodan Milosevic, murdered over 7,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica and Zepa, which had been designated UN safe areas.
We don’t want Nigeria to descend to such an appalling point before we act. But if we continue to pretend all is well, we might one day be accused of either energetically abetting genocide or pretending not to see it coming even though the writing was unmistakably glaring.
A few years ago, each Sunday, Churches were targets of Bombers whose intents defied logic. In Kaduna, Kano, Jos, Bauchi and Suleja etc. bombs were set off on Christian worshippers. Innocent people were killed, irrespective of age and gender. On some occasions Churches within citadels of learning like the Bayero University Kano were targeted and victims cut across religious divides.
Boko Haram owned up to many of the despicable crimes, insisting they were at war with non-Muslims. But in the 22 years Prophet Muhammad (SAW) spread Islam he did not persecute anyone. It was the other way round for him, his companions and every Muslim in that time. In the three battles waged in his lifetime Muslims merely acted in self-defence. So, the Boko Haram insurgents lied and continue to lie by claiming they draw inspiration from the teachings and practices of the Prophet (SAW).
Curiously, in spite of their insatiable appetite to rid the land of ‘unbelievers’, the Church bombings have since stopped. We don’t hear of them anymore. And, our gullible minds don’t even remember they ever happened. So why did they stop bombing Churches?
It is totally bizarre to believe that Churches are now better fortified against bombers or the insurgents have, already, assuaged their thirst for the blood of non-Muslims or, as one top official of the Nigerian government once hoped for, they have run out of suicide bombers. But, again, since their aims still defy logic it might make some sense to recall that some of the attacks went horribly wrong and the bombers or arsonists were apprehended. And on five occasions the apprehended culprits were either linked to their targets directly as rivals or disgruntled former members. And all of such cases have since evaporated into thin air, so we don’t even remember they ever happened.
Again, I ask who are these Boko Haram murderers that have spared neither Muslim nor Christian lives? It is unlikely we find any answer to this question. But let’s go back to some of the recent evidences that, to our leaders’ delight, are overlooked, regardless of their impeccability.
On the eve of the 2011 presidential election there were rumours of a helicopter landing in a farmland in a northern state to, ostensibly, deliver phony electoral stuffs to ease misconducts. I called a friend who could reach INEC Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega and alert him. But Professor Jega could not be reached so a text message was sent to his number. The rumour later became widespread but was never properly investigated.
Is it then an accident of history that today several witnesses claim spotting helicopters ferrying what they suspect were weapons and food to areas Boko Haram insurgents annexed? If, in deed, our air spaces are essential features of our sovereignty and security was not compromised where did those helicopters come from?
The most damning of all the allegations was the claim a soldier made just last week of instances when insiders sabotaged the fight against the insurgents. The soldier claims knowing some of these saboteurs, including a commander. I am aware of attempts to discredit this claim. But we need to study these bits objectively, assemble them carefully and see whether we can make any more sense of them or not.
Three months before the genocide in Rwanda one of the planners secretly met the commander of the United Nations Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR), General Romeo Dallaire and told him what the Hutu extremists were planning with the full support of the Rwandan government. He even offered to show the UN peacekeepers points where weapons, imported from ‘friendly’ countries, were buried.
General Dellaire promptly sent a coded cable to New York, where one of three men who had the power, even in theory, to authorize a search of the spots mentioned was Kofi Anan. General Dallaire was optimistic he would be authorized to act and, by implication, to stop the genocide. But the response from the UN was a huge disappointment. And that was how a rare opportunity to save 800,000 lives was missed. And we are today shedding crocodile tears.No tags for this post.