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Monday, January 16, 2012

Discourse 338. The New Challenges of Boko Haram

Discourse 338
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

The New Challenges of Boko Haram

Within 48 hrs of publishing Jonathan and the Security of Nigerian Christians on the internet and a number of Nigerian newspapers and websites, Imam Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Lidda’wati wal Jihad – commonly called Boko Haram – released a video on Youtube describing the objectives of its mission.

I feel that both the international and local press have not done justice to the speech of the Imam. Though he has clearly given reasons behind their mission, everything was just reduced to “Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for attacking Christians in Nigeria”, without even stating the reasons.

Given the relevance of the group to our national security today, I think it is essential for the media to maintain a balance in its reporting of the group. This is not to say ‘five minutes for the Israelis and five minutes for the Palestinians”, but a coverage that ensures the message of each side is passed to readers in the most comprehensive form possible is desirable.

In following 'few' paragraphs, I set out to discuss the most essential points of Imam Shekau’s message – the category of Nigerians that the group is targeting and its reasons for doing so. Of course, he has raised some controversial matters in the province of contemporary Islamic jurisprudence just as there are also many things he did not say which we would love to hear from him directly. However, these are matters that can best be discussed separately at a later date, hopefully, by more capable minds than mine. As conclusion, the challenges the group posed by the group to government, Muslims and Christians are discussed.


The video, according to Imam Shekau, was essentially directed at three targets: President Jonathan, for whom the Boko Haram leader promised “more troubling times ahead”; the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for its “vituperations” in the aftermath of the recent bombings; and, individuals opposed to the group including those that see it as a “cancer or disease among the people."

Imam Shekau was also clear on who the group regards as its enemies. First on the list was security personnels who the Imam charged with persecuting members of the group, including the cold blood murder of its leader in police custody, killing many of its members and eradication of its centres; two, Christians, for killing Muslims in various parts of the North in various religious and ethnic crisis that took place during the past two and a half decades; and, three, Muslim informants and moles, "yan chune", who assist the government to identify and kill its members. “Apart from these”, said the Boko Haram leader, “we have not targeted anyone.”

Let us discuss each of these targets separately.

Security Personnels

It is difficult for anyone to suggest an alternative to going underground for the group after the treatment meted it by the Yar’adua administration in 2009. Instead of abiding by rule of law, like arresting its leader and charging him - maximum - with treason, the authorities deliberately chose to provoke the group. The police killed a number of its members during a funeral procession on the flimsy ground of not using a helmet. To date, nothing was done to the culprits.

The group promised to retaliate after Ramadan in 2009. What happened after that Ramadan when the group protested at a police station in Bauchi did not actually necessitate an all-out war against it. Many groups have attacked the police before but they were handled by normal means without resorting to extreme measures like massacres. Let us not forget the “finish them” order that President Yar’adua gave to the security forces that morning when he was leaving for Brazil. In fact, he even timed it that by 4.00pm that day, the job must have been completed.

In Bauchi, it was estimated that over seventy members of the group were massacred at their centre behind the airport. Apparently, they were even unaware of the conflict at Dutsen Tanshi police station that started that morning. By evening, the state commissioner for special duties led a team of government agents that leveled the centre with bulldozers. Passengers at the Yankari Park in Bauchi also witnessed how eight unarmed members were arrested and killed instantly by soldiers as the were boarding a bus to Maiduguri. The governor, Isa Yuguda, would later claim credit for the “decisive way” in which his government dealt with the group in his state.

In Maiduguri, what happened was pretty clear. Government went for total extermination of the group without recourse to any due process. The world was witness to how their centre was leveled by soldiers; how Muhammad Yusuf, their leader, was executed; how Muhammad Foi, a former member of Sheriff’s cabinet, was executed on the street after his arrest; and how the police and the military went about killing anyone that resembled their members to the extent that people started shaving their beards en masse; etc. A senior police officer was reported in the press saying that he cannot guarantee the life of anyone wearing such features. So many were arrested along with their wives. They remain in prison to date without trial. Extermination is still the strategy of government in dealing with the group.

While some ulama that were in the good books of government justified the killings saying that the sect is Kharijite, the world condemned the actions. We wrote essays then condemning both the ulama and the authorities on the highhandedness they showed. The government apologized to the United Nations after it was condemned for the human right abuses, promising that it will bring the perpetrators to book. Actually, it did nothing. No disciplinary action was taken against anyone until when Boko Haram bombed the Police Headquarters in Abuja in 2010. Two police officers were then reportedly dismissed from service for the murder of the Boko Haram leader.

Boko Haram therefore was left with no option but to go underground. The group did exactly that. It took time to heal its wounds, regroup and re-strategize before returning to revenge what Imam Shekau described as the “the injustice meted against it.” To my understanding this is why he chose the following verses to open his Youtube video speech:

“Truly, God defends those who believe. Verily, God likes not any treacherous ingrate. Permission to fight is given to those who are fought against because they have been wronged, and, surely, God is able to give them victory. Those who have been expelled from their homes unjustly only because they said, Our Lord is God.”

The overwhelming opinion among Muslims then was that the group was indeed treated unjustly. Public commentators from the North openly accused Yar’adua of playing ‘Animal Farm’ with his brothers. The killing of Boko Haram members came just some few months after the President negotiated and granted a lucrative amnesty to more destructive militants in the oil rich Niger Delta.

Beneficiaries of the amnesty were placed under a welfare package and chunks of the federal government expenditure was sunk into the development of that region in addition to the ‘lion share’ that its state governments collect from statutory allocations, which is greater than the allocations of all the 19 northern states. In addition, they receive 13% of Nigerian revenue earnings. Finally, as it was clear in 2011, 86% of federal projects are now allocated to that region.

The result is peace.

However, for Boko Haram, the government chose to negotiate with bullets and bombs. It is not surprising, therefore, that the group replied it in its own language. In this context, one can easily understand its resort to violence as a means of survival.

If Yar’adua was wrong in treating Boko Haram in the 21st Century with the same strategy that Shagari and Buhari used to overcome Maitatsine in the 1980s, Jonathan did little to correct that mistake. He has not shown any interest in dialoguing with the group, so far. The group has many times cited this as another reason for continuing its struggle. Appeal to its members to put down its weapons and negotiate with government and they will rebut in this standard format: “How can we trust any negotiation with people who are amassing arsenal to attack us?”

All that Jonathan did was to constitute a committee to study the group and matters related to it. When it was insinuated that the mandate of the committee included negotiating with the group, the Secretary to the Federal Government quickly dismissed any such mandate. Months after the committee submitted its report, its recommendation for peaceful negotiation between government and the group continues to remain frozen.

The result is insecurity.

This is in sharp contrast to what happened to the October 1,2010 bombers. President Jonathan laboured hard in public to exonerate the perpetrators who claimed to belong to the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta. They said they did it; he said they didn't. Security officials told the nation that they have evidence linking Raymond Dokpesi, the presidential campaign manager of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and owner of AIT, to the attacks. Security agents quizzed Dokpesi and some arrests were made.

The media guru transferred his support to Jonathan and allowed his channel become the mouthpiece of the President. And behold, the bombing charges were forgotten! The last thing reported between Jonathan and Dokpesi ten days ago was that the latter was paid N1.3 billion for ‘services’ he rendered to the government!

Informants, Moles and Critics

When it reappeared in 2010, Boko Haram started to selectively kill people that assisted the authorities in identifying them. The initial victims were grassroots traditional rulers, the lawanis as they are called in Borno. After killing the first few, Boko Haram issued a warning that it will go after all those that aided the authorities in persecuting them. These included a number of ulama, traditional rulers, and the three governors of Borno, Gombe and Bauchi states. It demanded pubic apologies from the governors and got it from the last two. Though the group rejected the apology, it is yet to carry out its threat against the big three. Among the high profile killings made in this category were those of the junior brother to the Shehu of Borno, the state chairman of the ruling party in the state and its gubernatorial candidate during the last elections.

Immediately the group started its selective killings, the ulama realized their vulnerability and none of them dared again to condemn the group publicly or repeat to assign it the Kharijite nomenclature. At a point, Boko Haram also issued a warning that they will also go against anyone who publicly condemns its activities, including journalists who do not live by the ethics of their profession in reporting it's activities.

The government has been unable to protect its informants and other citizens from these attacks. This partially explains the silence of the Muslim community over Boko Haram. Generally, though, it could be argued that it has not been the tradition of communities in Nigeria to criticize their own militants. The Niger Delta and the killing of Muslims in Plateau and Kaduna States are the bad examples that readily come to mind.

While whoever decides to serve as an informant or a mole knows the risk he is taking, it is my opinion that the group has gone too far when it considered criticisms as attack. By so doing, though the group would gain the advantage of instilling fear in the population, it stands the chance of losing public sympathy and gaining the benefits of correction, or nasiha as it is called in Islam.

Islam, which the group is linking its cause to, is very wide and it could harbour a variety of opinions on the same issue. Throughout its history, given the diversity of their environment, Muslims have benefitted more than losing from such differences. Divergence of opinion is counted among the blessings of the ummah. And even great Caliphs like Umar welcome corrections by ordinary members of the society when they adopted policies that are contrary to the scripture.

Likewise, there could be many other interpretations to the Nigerian situation than Boko Haram’s and if the cause is truly for the common good of the people as Imam Shekau has said, the door of constructive criticism must remain open. In his video alone, there are a number of controversial issues on which many Muslims would beg to differ from Boko Haram: the status of Christianity, democracy, jihad, western education, etc. It is the right of the Muslim community to debate them publicly in light of its understanding of Islam and it is the right of Boko Haram to rebut such points with superior arguments or accept them at its pleasure.

Having made this observation, I must hasten to mention that debates on issues regarding Islam in Nigeria are very difficult even among Muslims in particular. What I have realized in the past thirty-five years is that some people are impatient, and many times unwilling, to listen to the other side. Immediately I differ with you in opinion, the first thing I do is brand you as heretic, infidel, blasphemous, or other similar dangerously derogatory names. End of discussion! (I have been awarded a number of those insignia whenever I express an opinion that is distasteful to some pious readers.) That is why in Muslims and Rule of Law in Nigeria (2009) I wrote strongly against the people who rushed to label Boko Haram as Kharijite. Others before them have been labeled with equally disastrous names, making it difficult for mutual understanding to be reached at on any single matter that arises.

The very day their massacre started in 2009, the Bauchi State government sought and obtained from the ulama in the town a fatwa which served as a license for authorities to kill Boko Haram members without recourse to justice. Only the most elderly sheikh in town opined differently, insisting that in Islam no soul should be killed without a ruling from a judge. That is why some of the ulama fled the country when Boko Haram staged a return the following year. The governor too has abandoned the Government House and practically relocated to Abuja since he received the death threat.

The reluctance of Boko Haram to intellectually engage this kind of ulama is therefore understandable. Yet, if it will look around well, it will see that not the entire ummah is a mouthpiece of government. There are hundreds of other ulama with whom it can engage constructively.


Up to last Christmas, Boko Haram has not clearly claimed attacking any church. As we tried to do above, it is possible to see the angle from which the group justifies its attack on security personnel, informants and the like. However, making targets of innocent Christians is extremely hard, if not impossible to reason with from the Islamic viewpoint. Justifiably, nothing has negatively affected public sympathy for the group like those attacks. The uproar that greeted the Christmas bombing among Muslims and Christians alike is a testimony to the prevailing repugnance.

But let us be fair and examine the reasons of Boko Haram first before we hang it. Imam Shekau based his justification on the brutal killings of Muslims in various incidents Kaduna and Plateau State since the Kafanchan crisis. He mentioned how Muslims were killed in the various crises, their women subjected to dehumanizing treatments, and so on. The acts, and worse ones, like the reported trafficking of children of victims and the sex-slavery of Muslim women, did not receive any condemnation from Christians or their leaders. Government also declined to prosecute perpetrators clearly identified by their victims, despite the availability of hardcore evidence like pictures, videos, etc. It was against this background that the Boko Haram leader rebuffed the protest of the CAN President, as he put it, “simply because of the few successes we recorded recently”, apparently referring to the Christmas bombings and those that followed in Gombe, Mubi and Yola.

There could be few Muslims who would concur with Shekau, privately arguing that reprisal attacks are the norm in Nigeria. Christians, they would argue, would know that if they continue to kill Muslims in their areas, there are now in place a set of Muslims that will revenge it. The overwhelming majority of Muslims, however, were disappointed with the claim. I, for example, was planning to visit Gombe, Yola and Mubi to investigate the recent attacks on Christians because of the widespread belief that those attacks could not have been the work of Muslims. As I reclined on bed to plan the trip that Wednesday, the BBC Hausa Service broke the news that Boko Haram has released a video claiming to target Christians in Nigeria. I became completely devastated.

Like most people, I have my reservations about the recent attacks on Christians in the Northeast. This is not like Jonathan's case of “they said we did it, he said they didn't.” There is evidence that implicates Christians in activities linked to Boko Haram. The SSS has shared some with the public. Some were reported caught attempting to burn churches. The latest is in police custody right now in Kaduna. The last person I spoke to in Yola regarding the bombings that took place there recently. He said, “we don’t have Boko Haram here; all we have are politicians who are using the bombings to canvass votes.” An article published today by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, our respected brother Hasan Kukah, has listed such cases. Good progress.

Despite the above revelations, the speech of Imam Shekau must be given its due weight. We must be honest to say that Boko Haram has unequivocally declared Christians as targets of its attacks. Pure and simple. Whether the group carried all attacks on Christians or not is a matter that is open to debate, which like many, I thought the Imam would clarify himself. Unfortunately, he did not.

If I were a consultant to Boko Haram, I would have advised it against taking this measure on both religious and political grounds despite my appreciation of their concern over the atrocities repeatedly committed against Muslims in many communities in Plateau and Kaduna States.

From angle of religion, it would be quite easy to prove, using unquantifiable number of sources, that collective punishment to Christians in Nigeria is not in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Qur’an. It is haram. Period. If the group had taken the pain to investigate the people or the communities that perpetrated those atrocities against Muslims and directed its anger against them, that would have put its mission of revenge in a more proper context. But to hold a Christian in Niger, Borno, Yobe or Adamawa for the wrong done by some Christians in communities of Kaduna and Plateau state is a cause that is difficult to justify. Revenge in Islam, even where it is chosen by the victim over the preferred option of forgiveness, must be surgically precise to meet the requirement of Shariah.

Politically, I would continue with my advice, attacking Christians sends different messages, all negative to the image of the group. One, some may think that the group is losing in its battle against the Nigerian authorities. Two, that attacking armless and innocent Christian worshippers could be interpreted as going for easy targets, instead of the difficult ones, like the governors that the group threatened but, so far, let untargeted. Thirdly, it may also be seen as a cheap way of conscripting the entire Nigerian Muslim community into the conflict after the group failed to earn its support. In a nutshell, it is a political blunder that it should not have ventured into.

In any case, attacking Christians does not solve any problem since it exposes Muslims to retaliatory attacks in the communities where they are a minority, thus feeding the vicious mill of violence with the blood of innocent souls. It is doubtful if God would be pleased with such a bath.

Meanwhile, the attacks have introduced some favourable developments in Muslim-Christian relationship in the country. Muslim groups, in both Northern and Southwestern parts of the country, have started visiting Christians in Churches, expressing their support for living in their communities. Some have even taken the extra-measure to give protection to churches on Sunday. The awareness has visited many that some clerics on both sides of the divide who would not care to ignite a conflagration have stepped the boundary.


In his comment on my blog after reading Jonathan and the Security of Nigerian Christians, Dr. John H. Boer, a respectable Canadian missionary that lived in Nigeria for decades until recently, wrote the following few sentences, alerting us to the challenges ahead:

“Assuming your facts to be correct, this is a very interesting analysis. If your analysis is correct, Christians, along with government and Muslims, have a huge job to do, but everyone should start at home. I have circulated your article to a lot of Christians for their consideration. Da godiya da yawa.”

That was an apt observation from an elder. It is my firm belief that government must take the lead, while both Muslims and Christians address problems of relating with each other in their communities. Government must tackle Boko Haram, not by bullets and arrests, but by negotiation as advised by its committee on the conflict. Fortunately, unlike Niger Delta militants, the group is not after material benefit. There is no reason why the government cannot dialogue with it, given the resources at its disposal. There are sufficient ulama that understand its logic and may succeed in realigning its understanding with mainstream Islam. There are also sufficient members of the group at hand that the government can use to reach out to its leaders.

Government must be even-handed in the manner it treats different communities in Nigeria. Money for one, bullets for the other will not breed peace. Prosecution to this and support to that is the differential treatment that encourages violent reprisals.

Other matters are political and a common ground to handle them can easily be discovered. There is nothing, once said the UN Secretary-General after the bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja last year, which cannot be amicably resolved through dialogue. Despite the reputation of the source of that advice, the Nigerian government has shown little interest to take it.

Among the duties of the Christian community in Nigeria, from my Muslim point of view anyway, is appreciating the frustration of Muslims with the escalation of violence against them in minority communities in Plateau and Kaduna States in particular. Horrific crimes have been committed. Silence over such atrocities by Christians, their support for the perpetrators or their manipulation of public opinion in the Christian-dominated media to shift blame to the victims only generates anger and retaliations. These conflicts are basically ethnic and political, but a religious identity is recruited to augment support for them. No true Christian will commit them. But when CAN or Christians generally justify them or manipulate them against Muslim victims, that will cultivate a fertile ground for suspicion among Muslims.

The Muslim community has an equally daunting task before it. It requires a unified voice that can express its spiritual and political aspirations. JNI and SCIA cannot play this role since its members – mostly traditional rulers – are government employees, unlike what obtains in the South or among the Christian community in the country. The Sultan, by virtue of his office, for example, cannot employ the militant posture of the CAN President, neither could any Emir. The demand for such a voice in the past did not exist for the simple fact that governance was better and the Muslim community did not face the multifarious challenges confronting it today. Frustrations about ill-treatment of some Muslim communities, like those articulated by Imam Shekau, must not be left to sediment so hard until people resort to violence.

Jointly, Muslims and Christians, especially in the North, need to find a common ground for social interaction. The gap between them in is becoming too much wide for stability. To reduce mutual suspicion and build trust among members of the two communities, avenues must be created for such interaction at all levels and spheres of human activity. Interactions in schools, offices, parks, cafes, games, resorts, churches, mosques, festivals, parks, cinemas, town meetings, and, of course, homes can all be revived to achieve this goal as it used to be before the late 1970s.

Both Muslims and Christians need to check the activities of extremists among them, people – mainly youths – with a surplus zeal to serve God but with little appreciation of the complexity of life and of contemporary Nigeria and lacking the wisdom to see things in different shades. They need to be guided accordingly by leaders of their sects and relevant authorities. Otherwise, they will continue drifting away from the centre until they reach a point where they dream of a whole world drowned in an ocean of human blood. Certainly, this will not please God who has described Himself as the Most Merciful.

Finally, we must all keep our guard against corrupt politicians, people who for their irresistible penchant to loot our treasury are always ready to exploit our differences and foment communal misunderstandings that often translate into religious crises. Northerners are more susceptible to these homo-viruses than others because religion in the region is the cheapest and most inflammable vector at their disposal. From Borno to Kwara, the realization that we are destined to live together forever is sufficient to bring us together against the wish of many that would love to divide us for their own gain.

The government may today succeed in subduing Boko Haram by arms or negotiation. But unless we meet the above challenges, another group will prop up tomorrow, among Muslims or Christians, to face us, once more, with similar or greater challenges.

16 January 2012

Do Not Be Afraid, by Bishop Hasan Kukah

I have published on this blog an article written by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, the renowned Bishop Hasan Kukah, which appeared on the same day as mine above. It makes an interesting reading, especially as it proves that reason, truth and courage have started to overide our sentiments as the country faces real threats of disintegration. The link:



Anonymous said...

Well done Mr Tilde the jihadist theoretician. Why not form a seperate country of your own where you can have sharia law, islamist banking, stste subsidised hajj etc?
You have to be really sick to regard the massacre of women and children in a mass on Christmas Day as some kind of success, What a god-forsaken coward nyou are.

Anonymous said...

u have indeed spoken well, what remains now is for us to follow this advise and work collectively so that we can restore our lost "TONE AND TEXTURE" as a unified Nigeria.

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde said...

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde said...
Readers should please near with me as I publish offensive comments from people with little understanding of English or appreciation of composition, like the first commentator above. He is accusing me of counting the killings in Christmas bombings as a success. Wao! The guy could not understand that the brackets refer the speech to Imam Shekau, the BH leader. Please let us realize that patience is required in cultivating mutual understanding because come in various sizes and shapes.

However, publishing such comments has its own value: they serve as specimens of the uncivilized manners of most of our elites, in spite of our education.

Anonymous said...

iam short of words to hear that the killing of christains is simply a way of vengence for what happen even before some of the victims of this attacks were born. is there noting like forgiveness in their dictionary? remember God is the father of vengence.
Dr. you have said it all it's up to everyone cxorcern to listen to the positive advices so that together we can find a lasting solution to the problems of our nation.

Hashim Abdullahi Tanko MalaM-Madori said...

Thank you Dr. Aliyu Tilde, Nigeria is of course in keen need of people like you at this critical and uncertain situation -those who think critically and proffer objective solutions. Although, your above naive reader misperceives you, perhaps due to his poverty of language, maybe due to his selfish and/or little understanding of living together, I think he's a fanatic, I am saying more power to your elbow.

Anonymous said...

nice article...i m beginning to think that Journalists are in a better position to end the BH menace than any government committee or ulama or emirs.

Anonymous said...

But you still have not ststed why you are scared of forming and runniing your own Islamist country where you would be unencumbered by the Christians you so much hate. You wrote an article cannonising Boko Haram, typical. You attended elite school where you learnt to write and understand english. You send your children abroad to learn boko, but you send unfortunate, diseased children of peasants to study Qutb and become more stupid so you can continue to deceive them. Hypocrite.

Temilade said...

Thanks for this write-up. You were rigth in your claim that the media has not given adequate attention to this Boko Haram issue. Infact up until i read this article all i knew was that Boko Haram is an islamic terrorist group that is against westernization and that its major targets are christians. I never knew about atrocities committed against muslims. This is very enlightening. I just wish that our leaders would be sincere with themselves and dialogue with this people before its too late. It is almost getting to that point of no return.

Abubakar Illohc said...

Well done Dr Tilde. This is a decisive write up at the right time for those who wish to allow reason reign in their lives. For 'the' others, hope they see reason in their clouded judgement to accept what is right and also discard falsehood. Nigerian government should take heed.

Nura M. Daura said...

Dr. Tilde,
As always, may Allah reward you abundantly ameen. But frankly speaking, I feel irritated reading the comment of the first person that responded to this article. Actually if not for record purposes I don't think that comment should be here because I'am very sure that the person that posted it did not know anything called "English Language".
Thanks and may Allah help us out of these problems ameen.

Anonymous said...

This article smacks off inneandos, is highly mischievousness, deceptive and very subliminal. I guess you have successfully passed your message. What's next????

Anonymous said...

You have decidedly been economical with the truth. Militants and Boko Haram are at parrallel lines. One fights for resource control, the other against Western Education. It is understandable then that amnesty plus cash was given to the former. What do you propose for a Sect that is against Western Education in this decade. You are a Dr, am sure not of Arabic Studies

Anonymous said...

Tilde, you recall the Odi massacare by Obasanjo a Yoruba Christain? Neither Christains nor the Yoruba's were massacred in retaliation. History is replete with the senseless killing of Christains particularly Ibo's in the North,can you find a PR explanation for this? Besides Dr, the medium to propagate your defence is culled from Western Education

Anonymous said...

Northerners sell all the cattles in the east, they change all currences, food sturfs but they are allowed to do there business in Anambra ,Imo,Enugu, Rivers,Bayelsa, Ebonyi etc but Ibos in the North are constantly harrasesed and killed, if people like u do not speak out and something is not done ,the truth is that one day Ibos will react and the main problem will start. If Boko Harram is fighting because there members were killed, if all the relations of the poeple killed at the church on xtmass start fighting when will it end.

Anonymous said...

Hey. Someone is missing the point here. In which book of law is it stated that if you fight against western education you should be rewarded with bullets, unlike he that is rewarded with money for fighting for resource control? Some people's deficiency of grey matter is truly amazing.

Musa Ahmad Azare said...

The enlightenment in this piece is painstaking! I have been keenly following public opinion on the BH saga since 2009 and, I, at a point concluded that the whole issue has been deliverately misconstrued. Sentiments abound more than objectivity. The Nigerian press are equally not helping the issue, they, (the press), Muslims and Christians have been too sentimental all alone. We need to completely overhaul our minds and call a spade by its real name whether it belong to us or not!! Weldone and keep up Doc. The Mighty God is always on the side of truth and, as He promises, He will always shame the conspirators and liars!

Unknown said...

Dr Tilde u gave us a reason to understand reality but some fools capitalize on religion,infact this is the main reason why nigeria will continue to be divide,u are very objective on the subject matter but to some ppl bcos u are a muslim so ur truth most be lie u can do good to ur cntry,to the bliv of uneducated nigerian xtian a muslim will never be objective whn it comes to his religion the way the some xtian do,am sry for this cntry the president is answrbl to only CAN but we need unity to progress.

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde said...

Please note that "near" in my comment above should read "bear". I thank the reader who picked me on that. B and n are neighbours on the key board. Unfortunately his comment was characteristically abusive, so, as usual, I didn't allow google to publish it and others like it.

It is unfortunate that when some people are faced with hard facts that they can't refute, they resort to abuse. Na dem sabi. Me I no dey for dat wahala. Ah!

Someone has objected to my using the title Imam for the Boko Haram leader. I used it because that was the title used for him on the video. I should address him so here in consonance with the ethics of journalism.

Anonymous said...

Dr,your piece is full of sentiment even to a primary pupil. Are you a chief consultant to boko haram or are you trying to cause more harm than good? Is a pity you are so bias that you lost every sense of objective judgment. Remember the victory of evil is just temporary & very soon the truth shall prevail, just watch & see. Hope you will be able to allow this piece to be read.

Unknown said...

Thank Dr for this article. it is clear that some people understand the message. For those who failed to understand failed to give a reasonable comment instead the results to abuse. A similar comment on bombing and killing of christian/Muslim was addressed by Pastor Hassan Kukah. Please if your are christian and you think Dr Tilde has not done justice to your side please refer to the article written by the Pastor. I read the two articles and I agree with content of both. please zero your mind before reading both articles i think you will understand the content of both. Dahiru Sani Shu'aibu

Anonymous said...

Assalam Alaykum Dr Tilde,
I would like to congratulate you for your excellent write up on Boko Haram, certainly this is the most comprehensive and balanced write up I have seen on this issue.
In contextualising the BH threat while I agree that you have captured the part of the major corpus of their grievances and raison d' etre of this group, I am of the opinion that we have not captured the overall intentions of the group BH. So my question is, was the BH group(i.e. before the death of Muhamned Yusuf) a simple muslim non violent group who was drawn into violence by the Nigerian security forces use of extreme force to quell a simple attack on a poluce station(which is quite common among different groups in nigeria) or the BH group was a muslim group whose final aim was to supplant the present goverment maybe just in northern Nigeria with a new one whose principle would be on the true sharia with the use of force. I believe that the latter describes the BH group better. If this is my hypothesis I will now proceed with my points of discussion in defence of my hypothesis because it is my opinion that this will
bring into proper perspective the reaction of the then C-in-C and muslim clerics who described them as khawarij. Note I would like to say boldly here, even being khawarij certainly doesnt justify blantant murder commited by the Nigerian Security Forces.
These are my points
1. Migration of BH members from all over Northern Nigeria to Bauch at about that time. This we got to know after, when their wives and family were found housed somewhere in bauchi.
2.The attacks on government institutions e.g. Police Station& Prison was not just in a fit of anger but was calculated to gather as much weapons as possible from armoury of those government institutions
3. There were couple of home explosions in bauchi then which were mostly attempts at making bombs at BH members home
4. During their attacks on the government institution there were reported instances of them killing muslim who even begged for their lifes and proved to them that they were muslims. this is would explain why some clerics described them as khawarij.
These are some of the points I have now since I am actually in a bus typing on my mobile phone going to work in Lagos.
I feel that if we do not describe the problem properly we would never be able to solve this common threat I believe that it is simplistic to treat the BH group as a group which was forced into violence by state maltreatment, rather I am of the opinion that they would still have turned violent regardless of the action of the Nigerian states.

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde said...

In response to the last commentator, I would like to make the following observations:

1. Boko haram, as some Muslim organizations across the globe, have never hidden their objective to form an Islamic state, at least in some Northern parts of Nigeria at least. This trend is also found among the jews in Israel and some right wing Christians groups in America today. In Nigeria, BH is not the first.

2. I consider that citizens have the freedom to aspire to anything in their lives, so long as they do not impair with public peace and fundamental laws of their countries in realization of those aspirations.

3. It is common knowledge that BH members, as you said, were arming themselves. I consider this a crime, a serious one for that matter, because if for any reason all the 165 million Nigerians will resort to possessing firearms, then there will be endless bloodshed that will not appease God in anyway. Government here owe other citizens the responsibility to check the group. This is a function that Obasanjo refused to carry out, for whatever reasons.

4. In checking any such excesses, however, government must follow the law and respect the fundamental rights of citizens. It can arrest and charge BH leaders and members with treason, possession of firearms, etc. But Yar'adua regime did none of these; instead, it chose to exterminate the group by deliberately provoking its members. This is my quarrel with government. Had government adopted due process and patiently abided by it throughout its conflict with the group, things wouldn't have reached this level. But it chose to err first, and its error compelled the group to adopt the dangerous strategy of operating underground.

5. I have a number of misgivings about the methodology of BH. If it had taken the pain to study many contemporary Islamic movements, it would have realized that keeping arms is a pretext that tyrannical governments always use to starts their orgies of persecution. In the long term interest of any struggle, including that of the Prophet (PBUH), weapons come as the very last resort. However, I am aware that the blame does not lie with Boko Haram completely. It is shared also by some Muslim clerics that misguided the group using their misconceptions about Islam in the contemporary world. But that is a topic for another day.

Nas said...

I really appreciate the way you always try to educate the sensible people among us.

Only those that are upright in their mode of thinking have the capacity to understand not only you (Dr.)but any writer except those that speak their minds.

It is quite amazing how sentiment beclouds alot of Nigerians to the extent that they find it difficult to understand any write-up no matter how simple the language used is.

The earlier Nigerians begin to reason not on any sentiment the better for us.

Please continue the good job of educating those willing to understand.

SSS said...

Very well articulated and objective analysis, unfortunately some of your readers are either not literate enough or are blinded by sentiments to appreciate it. More ink to your pen Doctor!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for this piece sir,I've been following your blog for quite some time now but I've never commented,bt I feel the need to comment on this issue because I too believe that d general public has rushed to judge boko haram without fully understanding and comprehending their situation,don't get this wrong I'm not trying to defend or justify their actions rather trying to say people need to pay more attention as to where they are coming from in order to know how to tackle the situation.
and to be honest late Pres. Yardua (Allah ya jikan shi) made a grave error by giving that order. The Government cnt afford the luxury of double standard not in a country like Nigeria considering our infamous religious and tribal history.
Last but not least we all must continue to saerch for our similarities and respect our differences in order to achive peace and unity.
P.s 1st commentator, word of advice you should try and comprehend before rushing to curse and criticize, it will help you a great deal in life

Anonymous said...

Salam, good topic, what's missing is the major fact you didnt came out to mention.some one was saying today , what happened to Boko Haram during the strike period ,did they went to sleep.some one opined that it was because the true Boko haram master minds were fully engage with containing the fuel subsidy crises,manyNigerians like my self are suspecting the Government as the brain behind the Boko haram that the fact missing in your article. if the govt is not the master mind why havent they brought them to book up to now. what I think is this the govt knows they can not deliver any thing hence the reason behind creating Boko Haram with the veiw of diverting the attention of the populace, may God forgive me if I am wrong.

N GWADABE said...

I seriously concour with this piece,Dr keep it up,secondly, i hope government will heed to your advise so as to restore the battered relationships that currently exist between the two faithfuls as well as for the unity, peace and corporate existance of our dear nation(nigeria).

N GWADABE said...

Dr, i seriously concur with your views, what remains now is left for the government to heed to your advise for the unity, peaceful co-existance of the country.Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

If the premise of an argument is wrong the deduction derived from the argument is bound to be wrong. First of all younequated Boko Haram with the Niger Delta militants but obviously they are not the same. Niger Delta militants agitated for control of their resources which everyone agreed they are entitled to, please tell me what led to the formation of Boko Haram? Before their founder was killed, have they not committed series of atrocities in their bid to impose their own version of Islam on the nation. Again, the crises in Jos and Kaduna, was it between Christians and Muslims or between one ethnic groups and the other who jus happens to be Muslims and Christians? The simple truth is that this Shekau guy and his ilks are misguided due to lack of education and I blame the Muslim leaders for it. Any almajiri who can recite a verse of the Quoran wants to be seen as a Sheik and instead of people like you condemning them you see them as defender of the faith. What a shame!

Raymond said...

Special thanks to you Dr. Tilde for your wonderful insight. This issues with Boko Haram have been source of serious concerns to all peace-loving Nigerians both at home and abroad. While the rest of the world is making strides in integration, development and economic progress, it is sad that the news about our beloved nation has not been heart-warming in any way.
Here is my take on this issue:
1. I strongly suggest that the Federal Government go ahead and explore the idea of dialogue as earlier suggested by the committee it set up on the B-H issue.
2. Just as well-meaning Nigerians have shed light on what is happening and many of us can read inbetween the lines, Boko Haram members should also reason that continued massacre of innocent, armless christians is despicable and barbaric; THEY SHOULD STOP IT IMMEDIATELY if they want to enjoy the benefits of current tide of understanding and sympathy.
3. Christians should please, not engage in any form of retaliatory measures. This will only worsen an already bad situation. My condolences to the families of those who have lost loved ones in the course of this mayhem. May God grant them all, eternal peace and rest. Amen.
4. Let's keep this dialogue going, especially to non-biased minds both within and outside Nigeria.

May God bless and keep our dearly beloved country, Amen...RAYMOND, Houston, TX-USA.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, Dr. Tilde has done plenty of justice to the subject of BH. The quetuon remains will those that are expected to listen heed and do the needful? with a budget of N1trillion for security I assume the government is going all out to fight fire with fire. What is so painful in the whole affair is the way the media and unfortunately religious clerics and statemen are manipulating the whole issue for their gains which in turn is fueling bigotry and incititng even greater animositty among the masses.

Anonymous said...



There are two ways to every argument. While some of your commentators concur with you, alot more of them take divergent views. Well, that's natural. However, what is not, is the fact that a self professed civilized advocate of knowledge can simply not understand the concept of "purification" because he does not possess the real knowledge of water utility. Such individuals are not good material for solving complex problems, as they themselves constitute part of the problem. To this kind of people, I will say they should go back to school and learn the art of nature and natural coexistance, as their way of thinking is one-dimensional. "Their Left eye shines like a torch while the Right one is as opague as a grape without light". They are as mad as the man who could not differentiate between the Heavens and the Earth. In fact they are akin to Summum-bukumun, they don't possess the light to either listen or see the truth whenever you call on them, and therefore cannot reason. Would you then waste your time on those kind of people. I advice you to please leave them to their rancour until the inevitable terminator of all happiness and joy catches up with them. And every living soul must taste it, whether it be Christian, Moslem or other wise, and it is not very far fetched. So remain steadfast in patience and prayer, NOT AT ALL minding what they say. Put your thrust in Him Who DOES NOT DIE, as usual.

Thank you and Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr for this detailed analysis. It is unfortunate that some people are beclouded with so much sentiment that they can not see any good in whatever anyone from "the other side" does. What they fail to realise is that whenever the embers of hatred are rekindled and blood shedding is let loose, only God will know its bounds. So it will not auguer well for anybody, indeed anybody, to allow it. I hope more peo will come with more ideas to also walk the talk to help our Nation. We need to do this collectively and individualy in our little ways, no matter how small. I once saw a phrase that says, " if you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito". May God guide a right those amongst us who want forment trouble, otherwise may He dealt with them appropriately in His own way.Amen.

Anonymous said...

I thank Dr. Tilde for his effort to look at the issue with some objectivity. However, no matter how objective we aspire to be, nothing can justify the killing of culpable people by bandits talk less of the innocent. Islam is a religion of order.
Boko haram has threatened and, killed Islamic scholars and probably more Muslims than Christians. They are truly the khawarij of the end of times. They were described in the hadith as being apparently very religious and that their hallmark is murder and killing (in contrast to jihad which is a war between armies not killing of civilians) of both the Muslims and people of covenant. The prophet – PBUH said he would have annihilated them if he were to be around. This is the message, thanks to Allah, Yar aduwa unconsciously or consciously executed. The verdict of Allah on these treacherous irresponsible hooligans in the cloak of religion. Objectivity does not mean being sympathetic with their fake cause. Yes, there are many Muslims/Christians clashes along the fault line states, but they are all underlined by ethnicity, by and large Muslims and Christians in most part of the country live at peace and are peace loving people. Boko Haram will not prosper and they will die by the sword as they live by it.
By a Muslim preacher who is also not pro-government.

James Pamni said...

Thanks Dr Tilde for your insightful paper. The only area that i am worried about is the allegation that Christians in Plateau and Kaduna were killing Muslims. Honestly this is new to me and I will like a detailed report on such. The history of religious violence in this country always seem to me to come from muslim groups on the flemziest of excuses. In Plateau and Kaduna states from the 1980s to date i will like you to catague all incidences of religious violence and indicate the ones started by christians. Facts they say are sacred, and I believe Christian leaders will be ever ready to aplogise if the ever attack muslim, except in selfdefence.
Let me commend you for the grate job you are doing even though from a muslim perspective, i believe you are generally fair, except this area of Kaduna and Plateau.
Thanks and keep on, God bless you.

Abdallah M Liman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eng.Abdul said...

salam Dr.Tilde,Having said all you have said,one would be inclined to perceive your good will of bringing peace through the well articulated advices,what if the government decide to pay no attention to any such advice? which is very likely.How can you reverse the practical antecedents which took place in the last two decades,do you expect any right thinking Muslim to resort to expectations when they very well know what obtains in the world political scenario ie how the christian world tactfully attack the Muslim nations in the guise of spreading democracy,How about the warnings given by Allah in the Quran,and Ahadith to all those Muslims who refuse to do Jihad,can you not see yourself how the Muslim world is facing constant and uncessant bomb and drone attacks in the name of War against terrorism,are you saying that Nigerian case has nothing to do with what goes on in the world today?since you just describe the Media as Cristian oriented.I am therefore advising the Doctor to stay clear instead of presuming a pseudo position of justice which your humble self know is unachievable.Eng.abdul.

Conflux said...

Our nation, Nigeria, is disintegrating into a nation of "tit for tat" with very little regard to the rule of law - this is rather unfortunate. This is the bed we, either individually, or collectively, are making for ourselves, and so, as the old adage says, we shall lie on it whether or not we like the bed we have made (or are making) for ourselves.

Our nation's, not so distant past, is a testament; there are also many examples around the world from which we, as civilized people could learn - be it examples from former nation of Yugoslavia to the present state of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We could either be wise and learn what is around us or we could go headlong into the abyss - the choice is ours.

Killings of any form, especially revenge killings, be it sectarian, tribal, or religious, has no place in society, and must be condemned as such. Any analysis that attempts to provide justification or assign fairness to such actions is misguided at best.

It is very unfortunate that in every society, there are elements that take pride or see honor in extremism - again be it sectarian, tribal, religious or political. Yet, it is up to each and every one of us to stand up to these rogues and quacks, call them out for what they are and diligently strive to set a foundation for a nation where our children and generations to come could be proud of and a place where they can live in peace.