The trial of the suspected mastermind of the Nyanya bombing of April last year, Aminu Ogwuche and six others has been stalled following the absence of a court interpreter.
Trial Judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, told the court that the interpreter was on a compassionate leave and given that some of the accused persons do not speak English, it would be a breach of the law and their fundamental human rights to go on with the case, without the interpreter.
All the lawyers in the case agreed with the trial judge who subsequently adjourned the case to March 6 for arraignment and commencement of trial.
He also made an order for accelerated hearing in the case.
The case was rescheduled for February 20 after the the absence of some counsels representing some of the accused stalled the case on February 6.
The seven accused persons, who are to be arraigned before Justice Mohammed on a seven count charge of terrorism are Aminu Ogwuche, Ahmad Abubakar, Mohammed Ishaq, Ya’u Saidu, Anas Isah, Adamu Yusuf and Nasiru Abubakar.
Counsels for five out of the seven accused persons were absent on the February 6 trial day, forcing Justice Mohammed to reschedule the trial for February 20.
They are accused of masterminding the twin bombing in Nyanya in the outskirts of Abuja which claimed 75 lives on April 14, 2014.
Ogwuche was extradited from Sudan with the help of Interpol on July 15, 2014 to answer charges of terrorism leveled against him.
A journalist from the Northern Nigeria based Verbatim Newspapers, Ibrahim Modibo, has described the Nigerian states ravaged by insurgency as a theatre of the absurd.
Describing the region as a zone that has fallen, Modibo who is also from the region decried the hardship being faced by people in the region since the insurgency started, adding that there had been no clear vision or mission while trying to subdue the insurgency.
He said that the emergence of the Boko Haram was an offshoot of people who believe that “education instead of being a blessing has been a curse, in the sense that most of the Boko Haramists up till the moment were educated people” as it would be impossible for an illiterate to mix chemical together to make a bomb to destroy lives and property.
“I can tell you they are educated people and they have seen how the democratic governance has been able to turn the zone and Nigeria as a whole in a topsy-turvy, where the people have not been able to benefit directly from the government.
“There has been failure of governance in the sense that the democratic atmosphere has not been able to give the people the democratic dividends they need.”
“It is in view of this that this people assembled to fight the system. They have been driven by puritanical vindictiveness as the inspiration to wage a war against the people or the government has not been drawn from any scriptural perspective, whether it is Islam or Christianity.
He stated that they carry out their terror acts “feeling that the country should move towards more of puritanical nuances rather than the democratic atmosphere in which it lives”, a situation he referred to as “one of the saddest and most unfortunate things that have happened to the country.”
He stated that there could be no justification for the killings by the sect based on religious or moral views or the alleged failure of the government, as the sect could have stood to form a political party or a group to pressurize the government.
He added that the Boko haram has not been fair to the people in the Northeast because they were the ones suffering the attacks as well as the lack of liberty, economic challenges and the neglect by the government and its failure in taking care of the masses.
The Northeast indigene noted that the Boko haram started as a religious movement but was hijacked by religious extremists who believed that making Government responsible could only be done through violence.
He insisted that this was about the political system and not a religious war as the insurgents have been going to both mosques and churches to kill people, adding that with their spate of attacks, they may have killed more Muslims than people from any other religion.
We Don’t Need State of Emergency
“With the State of Emergency, our economy has been in comatose, the people have been devastated, they’ve been hopeless and helpless, the region has been completely destroyed.
“Some villages and towns have been razed to the ground and in terms of people, because of all these checkpoints the social and economic activities have been crippled.
“I can tell you, in the Northeast we are suffering, we don’t even have a sense of belonging because honestly and sincerely Government has not been able to do a lot.
“How we wish it would take up its responsibility and come to our aid and also look at the issues dispassionately. This is not time for politicking but one for serious reflection on the problems in which the region has found itself”, he said.
“We are suffering; whenever I go home within Yola where I live it is very difficult if not impossible for free flow of movement. You can’t associate beyond 9pm.
“We don’t even need State of Emergency to fight Boko Haram”, if the military was serious”, he said.
We Have The Military Might
Mr Modibo also said that the Nigerian military and the Government would need to stand up to the Boko Haram sect with some seriousness.
He noted that the civilian JTF had tried its best to help the military but they could only do little with information gathering because they have not been trained nor equipped to face a Boko Haram that has sophisticated weapons.
He wondered why Boko Haram has been on since 2009 and they have not been subdued.
“Are we now saying that the Boko Haram which is a ragtag hungry looking religious extremist would be able to override this country with all the military might that we have as the largest and also the most sophisticated country in sub-Saharan Africa?”
“We must stand up to this people but in the event of us not being able to conquer them in terms of warfare, what is the next option? I strongly believe an olive branch can be sent to them just like what happened in Niger-Delta.
He, however, further expressed confidence in the Nigerian Army to conquer the sect, provided the government was willing to empower its Army. “I am sure we have a Nigerian Army that has the force; the might and psychological balance to go and meet these people and conquer them or at best make them to surrender.
“Let the President challenge the heads of the security units, give them the next 4 or 5 months, if there’s a will and a determination to fight these people we can finish it in 2 to 3 months because we have the capacity.”
Safeguarding the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the nation is the central pillar of Nigeria’s security policy.
However, a bomb blast has again rocked the nation’s capital, leaving 75 people dead and many more injured. The growing insurgency in the country raises concerns and that is what Dateline Abuja on this edition focuses on.
Our guest, Mr Mike Ejiofor, is a former State Director with the Department of State Service, DSS. He discusses the questions being raised by Nigerian citizens on how the Government is handling the growing insecurity in the country.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe has admitted that the growth of terrorism in Nigeria may indeed be connected to the poor socioeconomic conditions in the country.
Dr. Okupe was the guest of Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise, where he was joined by Journalist, Sola Ojewusi, and a Legal Practitioner, John Oloyede to examine ‘What Boko Haram Wants’.
The group – whose official Arabic name translates as “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad” – says it is fighting to overthrow Nigeria’s Government and establish an Islamic state.
Dubbed Boko Haram or “western education is sinful” by locals for its rejection of European values, the sect was founded in the early 2000s by cleric, Mohammed Yusuf, and gained a steady following in the northern city of Maiduguri, preaching against secular values in a nation which is split between large Muslim and Christian populations.
Okupe, tracing the strength of the group back to the founding strategies of its leader, noted that the late cleric gained the loyalty of many youths because he was assisting them to solve issues bordering on their economic challenges, while teaching them his beliefs.
“In his method of recruitment, he stood in the gap, giving social services and helping young people.
“A young man whose parents are not wealthy and has gotten to the age of getting married and he hasn’t got the means to pay dowry and somebody helps him; that man becomes his mentor. So, poor economic conditions may have some measure of role to play in the festering of this phenomenon”, he said.
The provision of economic and social support by Boko Haram – which included providing meals and economic schemes, a youth empowerment programme, support for trading, as well as helping to arrange cheap marriages between sect members – has led some to ascribe the group’s growth to a failure of governance in Nigeria.
Mr. Ojewusi, however, noted that it would be too simplistic to attribute the growth of the sect to bad governance, as the issue of Boko Haram started way before the present administration, and looking at the history of terrorism, it was not new in Nigeria.
“What we are having is an offshoot of what has been from the beginning”, he noted.
While also admitting that Government indeed has a role to play, he explained that examining Boko Haram as an entity should not be done in isolation as it was not peculiar to Nigeria, being an international body. “You have to look at it from countries like Niger, Northern Cameroon, and Chad.
He stated that the escalation of the group in Nigeria showed that there was more than meet the eye and those underlying factors should be what Nigerians need to focus on, if they would find a solution to the menace.
The Legal Practitioner, John Oloyede, admitted generously.
“You cannot tell me that because America has had to contend with terrorism in Iraq is simply because the American Government does not know how to handle terrorism. Even the terrorists took the war to America and they had their way”, he said.
On the view that America differed from Nigeria in the sense that it was not dealing with home-grown terrorists owing to its higher economic standards, Oloyede disagreed, claiming that the situation in Nigeria was also not totally home-grown.
He argued further, “America has gone through the same situation we have now. You can take from history the case of Cuban refugees – those who were sympathetic towards the Cuban cause then. America was on fire, the Cubans were bombing all the places, the Government didn’t know what to do, it took like 10-15 years before they could nip that problem in the bud.”
Referring to an earlier statement by Dr Okupe that poor and unemployed people had become easy prey for the sect’s recruitment strategies, using the maxim “Devil finds work for an idle hand”, Mr Oloyede said: “Poor people cannot afford AK47; they can’t buy these arms and ammunition – anti aircraft guns – that we see, so they are not poor people, we need to clear that from our conscience, because Nigerians we are turning against one another – APC accusing PDP, PDP accusing APC.
“When Al-Qaeda struck America, the American people came together. These elements are using psychology, and we are doing exactly what they want us to do out of fear. We are blaming each other instead of us to see them as a common enemy and face them as such.
“We are blaming our military men that they are not doing the job, they are ill equipped, No. I don’t think President Jonathan or General Buhari is happy with what is happening; they just can’t do anything about it.”
The response and sensitivity of the Federal Government then came to the fore as Dr Okupe defended the President, stating that the case of America’s 9-11 attack should not be compared to Nigeria’s.
“For every attack that becomes visible and devastating, eight or nine have been stopped; but you know when an attack is foiled Government does not come to the air to talk about it.
Okupe, speaking on the demands of the sect, noted that their demands were clear on wanting full implementation of Sharia laws; he added that they also demanded that the Holy Quran becomes the guiding principles of the country amongst other requests which he said could be negotiated if the insurgents were truly representing Islam.
“Today we’ve got infiltration by actual crass criminals who are not really totally Nigerians complicated by political activists who also demand some other things. So it has become an appearance of incongruous gathering of people you cannot easily discern.”
He, however, stated that even as the country is at war with the Boko Haram sect, the Federal Government was working relentlessly to win the war but Nigerians need to understand that the war has been made difficult by the nations peculiar population and topography.