by Justine John Dyikuk
‘‘Objections have no place in the polity of this Salafist lot,’’ says Robert Fisk. Fisk’s uncanny rendering was in reference to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS sect, but the description aptly fits their ilk in Nigeria who again in his words, have defied ‘‘debate or discussion.’’
Like ISIS, their Iraqi counterparts, Boko Haram have killed and are maiming many Nigerians with reckless abandon. In the orgy of their passions, they slaughter women and children and send breadwinners to their early graves. The sect has unrepentantly sacked ethnic communities in Bama, Baga, Gambaru- Gala, Danboa, Pulka, Chibok, Gulak, Madagali and Gwoza. Those with broken limbs are lucky survivors who escaped to tell the story.
Others have fled to Taraba, Gombe and Plateau States or neighbouring Cameroon where benevolent host communities and the United Nations is offering humanitarian aid in food and drugs supplies.
Gwoza, their new-fanged Islamic Caliphate has become their pilgrimage centre where full artillery operations provides added effrontery. The full implementation of Sharia Law therein remains an irresistible chalice, a violation that not only denigrates the secular nature of Nigeria but also its sovereignty. Yet, the Islamists are drunk on their bloody ways that is unlikely to abate soon.
For the militants, bombs, bullets and the butcher’s knife have remained a timeless instrument of coercion.
Poised to fire on, the Islamists have kept to their guns despite fierce operations by the Nigerian armed forces to contain them. From suicide attacks, to various bombings across the country, the sect abducted over 200 Chibok schoolgirls. Not only that, their determined shelling has continued to wreck lives and property of monumental proportions.
The sacking of various ethnic communities in the northeast has further put escapee survivors in line for their fury. The fear of ripple attacks has made the refugees unwelcome guests in various communities. The situation is getting desperate as the faces of citizens who are constantly vilified with no help, tell. This humanitarian catastrophe is one too many.
Christians in Maiduguri (diocese) have been living in the valley of tears. Aside from those who have been killed by the Boko Haram Islamists, the terror and tears of the remnant brings back the memories of the holocaust. The insurgents recently took over the Rectory of St. Denis, Madagali. The marauder’s occupation is an ‘‘unholy possession’’ that will not be forgotten in a hurry.
The cries of Maiduguri diocese in an electronic press release through its Directorate of Social Communications that a rectory is been occupied by the terrorists and that many structures and items have been vandalized, only ended as a mere report in some dailies. The helplessness of the locals continues as the bombardment and forceful recruitment of young boys holds sway. Apparently, the matter is dismissed the way serious matters end up in Nigeria – in the coolers.
Most importantly, the diocese testified that “their cars are used by the terrorists. Some Muslims around identify Christian homes to be occupied and the Christians hiding were also identified and were killed.’’ Strict Sharia Law is in place as testified by a woman who narrowly escaped the death zone. It added that ‘‘the situation as it is now has really and truly gone out of control. People are finding it really hard, citizens are been killed in their numbers – Christians in the town are really in a terrible situation; a moment of great persecution. People were caught and beheaded if they refused to be conscripted. The houses of Christians that have fled are now occupied by the Haramists” and dozens are killed. Nothing has come out of these life-threatening pleas.
Even when the report alerted the nation that “Christian men are caught and beheaded, the women are forced to become Muslim and are taken as wives to the terrorists. The houses of Christians that have fled are now occupied by the insurgents’’ nothing was done and is being done. This gory scenario further gives a lethal perspective to the activities of Boko Haram militants in the north.
The impudence with which the sect is operating in the North-eastern part of the country speaks of a war situation. Both the new Gwoza caliphate and the seizure of the Mobile Police training school in Liman Kara, Gwoza are sad episodes capable of breaking the heart of the nation.
Although it is difficult to ascertain the authenticity of the footages in the news of Abubakar Shekau, leader of the militants and their onslaught on the army which led to the latter’s retreat into the Cameroons, in what the army described as a ‘‘tactical manoeuvre,’’ the sad development has put a new vocabulary in the lexicon of Nigeria. This also lends credence to the constant deadly faceoff between the military and the militants.
That human beings are now being substituted for animals is hysterical; or does it REVEAL THE ANIMAL IN US? May be pets are more valuable than those precious souls. The people of the book – Jews, Christians and Muslims hold that God gave man dominion over the earth. However, the full implication of ‘‘DOMINION OVER THE EARTH’’ is given various interpretations in these creeds. Is killing a fellow human being one of such? Does the Hausa saying, ‘‘Sabuwa da kaza ba ta hana yanka’’ – familiarity with a chicken doesn’t stop it from being slaughtered’’ provide a comfortable cover for this grandstanding?
Undoubtedly, terrorism has no face but it is evident that Christians are the worst hit in these attacks. As one priest observed, ‘‘what we are witnessing now in Pulka, Gwoza and Madagali is a clear case of genocide and a calculated plan to wipe out the ethnic minorities in these areas. In as much as Christians and Muslims alike are being affected, Christians in these areas are worst hit.’’
In these trying times, this writer prays that the government, stakeholders, northern stalwarts, traditional and religious leaders as well as all well-meaning Nigerians will act fast to nip the situation in the bud. May God bless and protect all security agents who daily risk their lives for the security of this country. While we keep praying that the CRUCIFIED LORD deliver our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Maiduguri, shall we forever remain silent in the face of evil? Even the MASTER ‘‘passed through the midst of them and went away’’ (Lk 4:30) – God bless Nigeria!
Rev Fr. Justine John Dyikuk is a Catholic Priest and a Freelancer who writes in from Lagos -He can be reached through [email protected].
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.