Archive for May, 2014

Femi Fani-Kayode: Dancing on the brink of the Seventh Circle of Dante’s hell (Part 1)

May 25, 2014

Dante Alighieri’s epic 14th century poem titled ‘’Inferno” (which means ‘’hell’’ in Italian) paints a frightful picture that portrays hell as having nine burning circles, each of which is reserved for various categories of offenders. It is a deeply disturbing and troubling depiction of a place that was clearly not designed for human souls and that no sane person would ever wish to go.

It describes each of the circles vividly and tells us that the seventh circle, which apparently is guarded by a Minatour and which is divided into three rings, is reserved for the violent and those that like to shed blood. If this is to be believed then I have no doubt that given the amount of blood that has been spilt in recent times in Nigeria and the amount of violence that has been unleashed on our people, our entire nation and people may well be on the brink of being sentenced to the seventh circle of Dante’s hell in the afterlife.

We are not only hell-bound but in the last three years we have also been subjected to the most heinous form of terror and trauma and to the most debilitating form of ridicule, shame and humiliation. One wonders whether if it can get any worse. As an example of this consider the following words from the President of a fellow African nation and take a moment to reflect on them deeply.

“I have never called the United Nations to guard your security. Me, Yoweri Museveni, to say that I have failed to protect my people and I call in the UN: I would rather hang myself. We priorotised national security by developing a strong Army, otherwise our Uganda would be like DRC, South Sudan, Somalia or Nigeria where militias have disappeared with school children. It would be a vote of no confidence in our country and citizens if we can’t guarantee our security? What kind of persons would we be?”- President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Kampala, May 19th 2014.

As a Nigerian I am embarrased and saddened to hear these words. Yet whether we like to admit it or not Museveni is absolutely right. As a matter of fact that is how a real President is meant to think, speak and behave. I share his views and that is precisely how I would have spoken and behaved if I were in his shoes.

Like him, I would rather take my own life than to shamelessly go cap in hand to ask others to protect my people and to do my fighting for me. I would rather hang myself from a tree than do that. It is for this very reason that despite a raging war with the Taliban for the last twenty years no NATO or American troops have ever been allowed to operate or deploy lawfully on Pakistani soil. That says a lot for the Pakistanis and for their Armed Forces.

How sad it is that things have degenerated to this level in our nation. Our President was forced to go running to Paris, having been summoned by the powers that be, to meet with the French President and the leaders of four neighbouring Francophone countries and to solicit for help in the fight against Boko Haram and in the quest to find our girls. There was a time when we did not need help from anyone to do such things. There was a time when we did our fighting all on our own and when others came running to us for military support and for help. Yet all that seems so long ago.

There was a time when we boldly and openly challenged France and the Cameroons on our eastern flank and dared them to cross the line. There was a time when we stormed the southern boarders of Chad, overwhelmed their army, drove them into the desert, took their territory by force and brought them to their knees. There was a time when we closed our boarder with Benin and brought their economy to a halt. There was a time when we intimidated Niger by our very presence and that when we sneezed they developed a cold. How times have changed.

Worse still, and as an additional example of our glaring misfortune, a Commander of the American military also passed a vote of no confidence in us. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington a few days ago, General Mark Welsh III, U.S, Air Force Chief of Staff, said the following about the Nigerian military:

“We are now looking at a military force that is, quite frankly, becoming afraid to even engage. The United States doesn’t have the capacity or the capability to go rescue every kidnapped person around the world.”

Our soldiers have now been described as being ”afraid to engage”. They have been depicted and branded before the entire world by their own professional colleagues from foreign lands as essentially nothing but gutless cowards that are unwilling to fight the enemy and that cannot even rescue their own little girls. I have never been as ashamed to be a Nigerian as I was when I heard those words from the lips of this American. It was painful and pitiful..

How on earth did it get so bad? Our nation is at an all-time low before the international community and we are now on a slippery slope. We are clearly on the brink of the seventh circle of Dante’s hell. The only good news on the horizon is the fact that our President has finally admitted the fact that Al Qaeda are in Nigeria and that they are helping Boko Haram. He said this during his press conference in Paris about one week ago. Well they say that your problem is half solved once you recognise and acknowledge it’s source but I really do wonder what is new here?

How come our President has only just realised that Al Qaeda is alive and well in Nigeria? I, together with a number of others, have been telling his Government and the Nigerian public that Al Qaeda is here in full force and that they have had their own local sympathisers and agents in our country for the last few years. I have done so in numerous statements, letters and essays and yet they refused to listen.

Worst still, in the typical Nigerian manner, they treated those of us that blew the whistle and that asked them to treat Boko Haram with a hard hand and brutal decisiveness right from the outset with nothing but contempt and disdain. They subjected us to all manner of insults and instead of listening to us they buried their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich.

Instead of taking our admonitions seriously and doing something concrete and decisive about it they played the whole thing down and urged the Americans and the international community NOT to label Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation. Worst still some of them publicly exclaimed that the terrorists were ”our siblings and compatriots” who they ‘’could not move against’’ and that they were simply ”fighting for justice”. They also kept appealing to the terrorists to ”come and negotiate” and they kept begging them and offering them amnesty even though the Haramites themselves rejected their offers, kept treating them with contempt and kept killing our people. Finally they labelled those of us that expressed our deep concerns publicly and privately as disgruntled ”yesterday’s men” and ”alarmists”. Now they know better.

After no less than at least 12,000 innocent Nigerians have been butchered by the terrorists in the last 3 years alone and after hundreds of our children have been abducted from their schools and homes, caged in demon-infested, dark and dingy forests, turned into sex slaves in foreign lands and sold like cattle in filthy markets our President has only just realised that Al Qaeda is involved.

He has only just realised that we are fighting a full scale civil and global war against a relentless, merciless and callous enemy that seeks not just to topple his Government and put him to shame but also to consume us all and decimate our country forever. Well I guess that it is better late than never.

Yet if the truth must be told it is not only President Jonathan that lacked foresight in this matter and that failed to treat it with the urgency, commitment and decisiveness that was required. Some of the key members of the opposition did as well. If this were not the case how do you explain the fact that only last year a leading Presidential candidate in the APC said that Boko Haram members should not be killed or brought to justice and that they ought to be treated in the same way as the Niger Delta militants were.

In other words he believed, at least up until last year, that they ought to be treated with a light hand, granted amnesty, rehabilitated, paid off, given jobs and pampered. The fact that this same Presidential candidate told the world in 2001 that political sharia was here to stay, that he asked ”why should any non-muslim be concerned if muslims want to cut off the hands of other muslims” and that he publicly asserted that ”muslims should only vote for those who will support and protect their interest” speaks volumes and says a lot about his mindset.

Permit me to go further. How do you explain the fact that only last year one of the leading members of the opposition castigated the Federal Government for proscribing Boko Haram as an organisation and went as far to say that this was ”unconstitutional”. This is after that same organisation had killed thousands of our people. Thankfully the more moderate, rational and reasonable elements within the ranks of the opposition like Kayode Fayemi, Adams Oshiomole, Sam Nda-Isaiah, Rabiu Kwakwanso and Rauf Aregbesola ensured that sanity prevailed and that the misguided ones did not go any further in their reckless and provocative pronouncements.

It is clear from the foregoing that leading figures within the political ruling class, from both sides of the divide, fell short of the glory of God in this matter. Many of them were culpable when it comes to the matter of not standing up against Boko Haram right from the outset and not recognising them for the evil that they are right from the beginning.

Yet the tales of woe continue and they are almost too much to bear. As the international outrage about the twin bombings in Nyanya and the abduction of our girls reached a frenzy last week even more horror was unleashed on our beleagured land.First a bomb went off in the city of Kano killing dozens of people and two days later two massive bombs went off in Jos killing at least 200 of our compatriots.

It didn’t stop there. The following day more innocent people were slaughtered by Boko Haram gunmen in numerous villages in Borno state for two days running and the number of casualties recorded has gone into hundreds. 30 more people were killed by Boko Haram in Borno state yesterday and as I was putting finishing touches to this piece this evening there are reports that another massive bomb has just gone off in Jos with an undisclosed number of casualties.

To make matters worse we are seeing signs of cracks in the military along regional and religious lines. A glaring illustration of this is the open mutiny that took place in an army barracks in Maiduguri about two weeks ago. The catalyst for the rebellion was the fact that a northern muslim GOC, despite numerous protests and concerns that had been expressed, sent three southern officers, together with the men that gallantly served under their command, to certain death by ordering them to leave a town near Chibok in the middle of the night and find their way back to Maiduguri. This behaviour on the part of the GOC speaks volumes. Sadly and predictably the unit was attacked by Boko Haram whilst on route to Maiduguri and the three officers together with many of their soldiers lost their lives.

This raises many questions and amongst them are the following: why did the GOC insist that the unit should leave for Maiduguri that night despite the protests and concerns expressed by the officers that were later killed? Why couldn’t they have been allowed to stay till the morning and leave then? Was the whole thing a set-up? Does the GOC have links with Boko Haram? Were those men purposely sent to their death? These are questions that ought to be asked and that must be answered because the life and safety of every Nigerian, including our soldiers, ought to matter to us all. (TO BE CONTINUED)



May 25, 2014

uicide bomber dies in failed Jos bombing Yesterday Night

An attempt by a suicide bomber to kill football fans in Jos on Saturday night was unsuccessful but he was killed in the blast.

The bomber, who approached Jos viewing centre while people were watching the match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, could not get there before his car exploded. It was a few minutes into the second half of the match.

A source close to the scene told one of our correspondents that, “The suicide bomber wanted to attack a viewing centre where Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid fans were watching the UEFA Champion League final.”

The blast followed the twin blasts, which occurred in the same city on Tuesday. The Tuesday explosion killed no fewer than a hundred people and left many others wounded and hospitalised.

Although information about the Saturday night blast was sketchy, the bomb was said to have been planted in a car, near a car stand where some youths were watching the match.

It was gathered that the bomb exploded near a residence injuring the owner of the house and his son.

The bomber and two others died in the blast.

The sound of the blast, according to eyewitnesses, reverberated round the city and was heard around Angwan Rogo area of Jos North, behind the temporary site of the University of Jos. The sound was, reportedly, so loud it shook most buildings around the area. It was heard as far as Bukuru in Jos South, about 12 km from Jos.

A resident, Sani Mudi, who lives around Bauchi road told our correspondent that all the residents of the area rushed out of their houses, trying to fathom where the bomb exploded.

The spokesperson of the Plateau State Police Command, Mrs. Felicia Anselm, confirmed the blasts.

Another police source confirmed the bomb exploded at a television viewing centre, where some youths were watching the match.

“It is really a bad situation, the source said, adding, “but the details will be known by day break.”

In a statement on Saturday night, Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, urged the people of the state to remain courageous. He said it was sad that the attack was coming barely four days after a similar one. He vowed to ensure that the masterminds are tracked down.

Independent but unconfirmed sources had had put the casualty figure from the Tuesday explosions at above 100 persons. This figure by eyewitness, however, contrasted with that given by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Olakpe, who said 46 people were killed while 45 other were wounded.

The first bomb on Tuesday, which was said to have been detonated by a suicide bomber in a Fiat car, happened at about 3pm when the market was at its peak.

The second blast went off in a Sienna space bus, parked about 20 metres away from the site of the first explosion.

Eyewitness said the bomber in the Fiat car stopped it abruptly along the busy Muritala Mohammed Highway, very close to the burnt Jos Main market, left it for minutes to obstruct traffic and cause enough build-up of cars behind. He was said to have returned shortly after and detonated the bomb.

Credit: Punch


May 24, 2014

By Bankole Jamgbadi

According to a statement by the Joint Task Force spokesman, Lt. Col Sagir Musa, an officer of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Ahmed Grema Mohammed has confessed to being a high profile member of the dreaded terrorist group Boko Haram.

Mohammed was apprehended by JTF in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital in August 2012 while on his way to kill a former special adviser to the immediate past governor of the state.

In the statement by Musa:

“Mohammed confessed to be actively involved in the killings of some senior civil servants, security agents, and politicians in Damaturu who spoke against the activities of Boko Haram, particularly the former chairman of Damboa Council, Alhaji Lawal Kawu.

“He also took part in the attack on the old Police Headquarters in Damaturu, where some policemen were killed and large quantity of arms and ammunition carted away.

“In addition, he was among the terrorists that attacked Damaturu Prison, burnt some primary schools, the State CID office and the Police Safety Vehicle, among others.

“The suspect revealed to JTF that he and 15 other members of the organization were intensively trained for three months on G3 and AK 47 rifles, as well as in assassinations and special operations in Niger Republic.

“He also revealed names of some security personnel that participated in terrorists’ attacks in Borno and Yobe states.”

The security personnel whom Mohammed exposed to be members of the sect have been arrested, while others are on trial by security agencies.


May 24, 2014

Three persons, including a retired Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and a corporal, Abu Haruna Solomon, respectively have been arrested for illegal trafficking of arms and ammunition.

The third suspect, Onuwa Attaka, is the driver of the arms laden vehicle.

It was gathered that their confession showed alleged involvement in supplying of arms to insurgents in the Northern Nigeria.

The three suspects, who were heading to the North from Imo State, were intercepted in Nsukka by officers and men of the Nigerian Army while traveling in a bus.

Items recovered from them include- 40 AK47 magazines, 4 boxes of AK47 live ammunition, 100 pieces of live cartridges, one piece of Denin Mopol khaki and charms concealed in a cap.

One of the army officers who spoke to newsmen under anonymity disclosed that a police corporal serving in Imo State Police Command was also involved in the arms running trade.

He said, “When we asked the occupants of the vehicle to come down, we discovered a police corporal in uniform among them.

The corporal on getting down pretended to be pressed; he later ran away”, he said.

It was gathered that the suspects were later taken to Nsukka Police Division

The retired DSP, Abu Haruna, confessed that he had been in the business of arms dealing since he retired from the police.

He said their mission was to supply the ammunition to their buyer in Taraba State.

Our source said Haruna further confessed that they decided to go on the supply after the buyer complained that the first batch was incomplete.

The Police corporal’s identity has been traced to Imo State Police command; his name was simply given as Solomon, even as efforts are still being made to effect his arrest.

Meanwhile, the Nsukka Police Area Commander, ASP. Ros-Amson Haladu has praised the gallantry of the soldiers in combating crimes in the area.

“I want to commend the Army Officers for their vigilance in tracking down these illegal arms dealers.

“At the same time, I warn criminals to leave this vicinity or risk being apprehended by security operatives”, he said.


May 20, 2014

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, yesterday said President Goodluck Jonathan cannot resign as a result of the abduction of 276 girls by Boko Haram.

He said no President could have done better within constitutional limit than Jonathan had done in handling the insurgency in the Northeast.

He said there was no way the President could have picked up rifle and go to Sambisa Forest.

Anenih, who made his position known in a statement in Abuja, faulted some opposition leaders for demanding Jonathan’s resignation.

He urged Nigerians to rally round the President to bring back the girls.

The statement said: “ I also understand the anger that has been expressed through the global #BringBackOurGirls movement and wish to state that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are fully committed to ensuring the safe return of our daughters.

“I must, however, deplore the situation where some opposition politicians have tried to make political issues out of it by calling for the resignation of President Jonathan over a group that is waging war against the Nigerian state.

“Such behaviour is unbecoming of patriotic citizens of a democratic nation like Nigeria.  When militants gunmen attacked a shopping mall in Kenya, killing many people and holding many others hostage, the opposition leader, Rahila Odinga, stood right beside the President, Uhuru Kenyatta, while the latter was addressing Kenyans on the dastardly attack.

“We are all witnesses to the fact that when al-Qaeda attacked the United States of America and the United Kingdom, citizens of those countries, irrespective of political affiliations, closed ranks and supported their respective Governments in their fight against the perpetrators of terror.  In these specific cases, political opponents did not ask their President/ Prime minister to resign.”

Anenih said no Nigerian President could have done better in addressing Boko Haram within constitutional limits than Jonathan had done.

The statement added: “Boko Haram is a threat to Nigeria and to our democracy.  Nobody is more aware of this fact than President Jonathan. That is why the President is doing all that is within his constitutional powers to fight the terrorist group.  It is his respect for constitutionalism that has kept him from employing jack-boot methods.

“I make bold to say that no president of Nigeria could have done better within the ambits of constitutional powers!

“Unfortunately, certain comments I have heard or read in recent times from some Nigerians who ought to know better make me wonder if they expect the President to put on a helmet, pick up a rifle and personally march into Sambisa Forest.  I ask: where in the world does a President do that?

“I am also amazed that some Nigerians have forgotten so soon that President Jonathan has replaced service chiefs twice since he assumed office in a bid to bolster the operational efficiency of the military.”

Jos bombing: Death toll a catastrophe, says NEMA

May 20, 2014

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Tuesday declared that the casualty rate after the twin bomb blasts at the Terminus market in Jos could be best described as catastrophic.

“I can’t tell you the figure of those killed by the blasts now, because we are still evacuating bodies from the scene.

“The only thing I can say is that the casualty figure is very massive. It is a catastrophe,’’ Alhaji Abdulsalam Abubakar, the NEMA Co-ordinator (North-Central), told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos.

His reaction was in the aftermath of the incidence of two explosive devices which exploded on Tuesday at the Terminus market.

The first explosion had gone off in the centre of the market around 3.28 p.m., while the second followed about 14 minutes later.

Abubakar said both explosives were loaded in parked cars.

“The bombers parked the cars and left the explosives to detonate. It was in the market and at a peak period. So, you can only imagine what could have happened,’’ he said.

He said dead bodies and mutilated human parts were being deposited at the old and new Jos University Teaching Hospitals, as well as the Plateau Special Hospital.

“There are also a massive number of people injured. We have conveyed some to various hospitals,’’ the NEMA official said.

He said that an idea of the number of casualties was only possible after the rescue operation.

“We will have to first finish the operation and then visit the various hospitals. For now, we are only picking dead bodies all over the place,’’ Abubakar said.

Mr Chris Olapke, Plateau’s Commissioner of Police, who also spoke to NAN, confirmed that it was difficult to confirm the figure immediately.

“We are still busy at the scene. We shall speak later,’’ he said


May 20, 2014

About 200 casualties are being reported in a market explosion that took place earlier today in Jos. Insurgents are suspected to have triggered the explosion using two vans parked where there was heavy human traffic.

First vehicle to explode was a Peugeot J5 van, with the registration number XG 148 BLD, then the second blast was carried out with a Toyota van, with a Gombe state license plate number. Eyewitnesses are saying the second car, a Toyota Sienna van, had been abandoned since 6 AM Tuesday morning. The car exploded after a beeping sound was heard by curious local residents.

The second blast killed more people than the first one as many residents and traders, who had fled the scene over the first explosion, tried to join rescue agencies to save the injured and retrieve the bodies of the dead. Men of the fire service, who responded to distress calls to fight the resultant inferno, were said to have stayed far away from the market over fears that more bombs could have been planted in the market.