Zone of death

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

The ti­tle of this ar­ti­cle was in­spired by a weekly tele­vi­sion pro­gramme, “Sina’atul-maut”, which lit­er­ally means “death mak­ing” aired on the pop­u­lar Dubai-based and Saudi-owned news and cur­rent af­fairs Ara­bic satel­lite TV chan­nel, Al-Ara­biyya. The pro­gramme hosts in­tel­li­gence an­a­lysts and ex­perts on ter­ror­ism who ad­dress and an­a­lyze the brain­wash­ing pro­pa­ganda and com­bat strate­gies of var­i­ous non-state com­bat­ants, mili­tias and other ter­ror gangs op­er­at­ing in dif­fer­ent coun­tries par­tic­u­larly in the Mid­dles East.

The pro­gramme also high­lights the “ex­ploits” of such ter­ror gangs in their re­bel­lious ac­tiv­i­ties against their re­spec­tive gov­ern­ments, which un­der­scores the for­mi­da­ble se­cu­rity chal­lenges they pose to their coun­tries, as it also, to some ex­tent, ex­poses the fail­ures of the no­to­ri­ously ruth­less (though not nec­es­sar­ily com­pe­tent enough) mil­i­tary and in­tel­li­gence ser­vices of those gov­ern­ments.

Any­way, though there is ob­vi­ously no sim­i­lar TV show fo­cus­ing on the ac­tual events tak­ing place on the ground in the on­go­ing and in­deed wors­en­ing armed con­flicts be­tween govern­ment and var­i­ous armed groups, and also be­tween var­i­ous armed groups among them­selves in Nigeria, the way and the rate at which such armed groups in­creas­ingly out­ma­noeu­vre and ef­fec­tively over­power the largely de­mor­al­ized and ap­par­ently in­fil­trated Nige­rian govern­ment’s troops and other se­cu­rity agents re­main a mys­tery that per­haps only a few can ex­plain.

Be­sides, un­like what is ob­tained else­where, the sit­u­a­tion in Nigeria and the amount of mys­tery sur­round­ing the cri­sis is ad­mit­tedly in­ex­pli­ca­ble enough to war­rant and jus­tify the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of be­lief in con­spir­acy the­o­ries among people par­tic­u­larly in the north who rightly or wrongly sus­pect that the whole cri­sis is a re­sult of an in­ter­nal or ex­ter­nal con­spir­acy plot­ted against the re­gion and per­haps the coun­try at large.

This sus­pi­cion, which has al­ready grown into a con­vic­tion across the re­gion, is fur­ther sup­ported by the wave of in­dis­crim­i­nate killings par­tic­u­larly in the north­east where or­di­nary people are be­ing cru­elly killed, mer­ci­lessly maimed and dis­placed, while the lucky but hor­ror-stricken, de­prived and ex­hausted sur­vivors are con­demned to mis­ery and end­less agony, hav­ing lost their loved ones, rel­a­tives, prop­er­ties and mea­gre liveli­hoods. This grue­some and painful re­al­ity shows how the re­gion is be­ing de­lib­er­ately turned into a mis­ery pro­cess­ing and in­deed death mak­ing zone.

Yet, what makes Nigeria’s death mak­ing zone par­tic­u­larly worse is that, in other coun­tries there is clar­ity about the in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive iden­ti­ties of all the par­ties in­volved, their mo­tives and mo­ti­va­tions, as well as their ob­jec­tives, re­gard­less of their le­git­i­macy and jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. Whereas in Nigeria, apart from Boko Haram ter­ror­ists who, on the In­ter­net some weeks ago, show­ing how sev­eral heav­ily armed Boko Haram ter­ror­ists driv­ing in a con­voy of ve­hi­cles, in­vad­ing Giwa Bar­racks in Borno and free­ing hun­dreds of de­tainees with­out any re­sis­tance from the army who had ap­par­ently taken to their heels, was a clear in­di­ca­tion of the ex­tent of chal­lenge they pose to the Nige­rian state and its largely un­mo­ti­vated hence down­hearted troops and se­cu­rity agents.

Fur­ther­more, it also ex­plains the ease with which they mas­sacre in­no­cent and de­fence­less civil­ians e.g. the mas­sacre of schools boys in Buni Yadi, Yobe State less than two months ago, and the mass ab­duc­tion, in Chi­bok, Borno State, of more than two hun­dred fe­male stu­dents from their school who, ex­cept the less than fifty who have so far es­caped from cap­tiv­ity, still re­main mys­te­ri­ously miss­ing.

Any­way, while sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions in other coun­tries are han­dled with the amount of se­ri­ous­ness nec­es­sar­ily re­quired to tackle it, in Nigeria, the process (if any) is over­shad­owed by sheer lack of po­lit­i­cal will to con­front it, and also clue­less­ness about what ex­actly needed to be done, on the govern­ment’s side,

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