Prelude to Baga Genocide, the Subsequent Silence and the Cover-up Muhammed Jimoh
“I will not tolerate the killing of a single soldier again”~ President Goodluck Jonathan.
The above is a summary of threat issued by President Jonathan during his score-settling visit to Borno in early March this year.The poorly and hurriedly packed visit was a face-saving one to counter theopposition governorswhowere in Bornoa week earlier to empathize with the people of the region over insecurity. Jonathan as a president for almost three years did not see it fit to pay a visit until the governors visited. His visitation to Borno because the opposition governorsdid further exposes the shallowness of the minds at the helm of our fair. As unimportant as the visit was, the aftermath of it is the contents of this piece.
One of theaftermaths is the Baga genocide perpetrated by the joint task force (JTF) ostensibly put in that region to provide security. Anyone who describes what happened in Baga less than being genocide is a criminal. The JTF provides everything such as fear, killings, arson, infanticide, intimidation but security. One may want to ask how the Jonathan’s visit was a precursor to the genocide in Baga town of Borno. The prelude to the Baga genocide is this:
“I cannot preside over this country as a president and security officers are killed. These people leave their families, stay on the road and the bush so that we will sleep and I will not want to hear that one of them is killed” Jonathan said while visiting Maiduguri.(Emphasis mine). The fact is that one does not see what their staying on the road has offered us except long traffic jam, harassment, accident and even death. With all the numerous check-points set up by the JTF, ammunition still escape their eyes into town to cause havoc. Without JTF, people sleep with more caution and are relatively more secured.
The C-in-C further said, “So nobody should make an analogy that one soldieris killed. We have admonished the soldiers not to kill innocent civilians but we will not allowand I will not celebrate the death of one security officer anywhere in this country whether it is in Bayelsa State whether it is in Niger Delta,whether it is in Anambra State, whether it is in the South East, whether it is the South West, whether it is in North West, whether it is in North Central, anywhere. We will not, and I repeat, we will not accommodate it.”(All emphasis mine).
Those are parts of the threats issued by President Jonathan to the Borno people. From the first line, the president made it clear that we should not expect his soldiers to kill only a soul in retaliation for a soldier or police killed. The life of a soldier or policeman would cost us more, as we have seen in the Baga annihilation. The caveat that he had admonished soldier not to kill innocent civilians was a window-dressing. The resolution of the president in dealing with the crisis in Borno was bared out from the first line of his words. Instructively, just after the president’s visit, the spate of extrajudicial killing of innocent souls by JTF in the Borno-Yobe axis rose that made the secretary of the Borno Elders Forum, Dr. BulamaGubio to cry out that Jonathan’s visit only worsened insecurity.
Jonathan is the accidental Commander-in-Chief of the armed force of a geographical expression which calls itself the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As a commander of an army,his threat is a sort of command to his field soldiers.Anyone who reads between lines and can properly connects dots should see a correlation between ‘I will not tolerate the death of a single soldier again’ by President Jonathan, the death of a single soldier in the hand of Boko Haram and the subsequent Baga mass killing. The analysis to the threat issued by the president to Borno elders is that you will see what visits you if you dare kill a soldier again. It came to pass that a soldier was killed and Baga was no more. It is the analogy of a witch who promised to kill a pregnant woman the previous night and the next morning a pregnant woman was dead. Make your conclusion.
However, the president wasonce again selective in carrying out his threat. Thirteen policemen were killed in Bayelsa state before the death of a soldier in Baga, but as you read this piece soldiers have not moved in toBayelsa state toannihilateit.
The silence from the presidency for forty-eight hours after the Baga genocide added weight to thought that the JTF were doing the command of the president. And when the president decided to speak, he said the figures were ‘exaggerated’.It is rather ironic that a president who rushed to condemn the killings of three people in Boston did not see any reason to censure masskilling in his own territory. Even going by only-six-civilians-were-killed nonsense from the military should attract more criticism from the president than the Boston three. Six is still greater than three regardless of quality.
The lies being spread by the military propaganda machine led by Col. Sagir Musa is anything but truth. Lately, the Nigeria Military suddenly realized the effect of the media in manipulating information. Therefore, it put up a media front to misinform public on JTF atrocities against the Nigerian people. Alas, itarrived the scene of propaganda too late.With an access to internet and a stroke of the keyboard nowadays, one can reacha whole lot of information. There are now many unconventional media through which people get to fact of matters.While the military propaganda machines continue to change figures on the number of people that died in the Baga massacreand its sustenance by the silence of the conventional media, the unconventional media is awashed with facts and figures. The large-scale arson, infanticide, femicide and all the extrajudicial killings committed by the JTF in Baga are already documented on google imagery.
As forour electronics and print media, it is sad and appalling that they have maintained a silence in the conspiracy to bury the Baga genocide. All they are reporting is superficial and it is more of a story from JTF. None has done a systematic investigation into the matter to tell us what we already know. Whatever the restriction imposed by the JTF, foreign-based Al-jazeera network has penetrated the besieged townto report what the local media has refused to do.Our media are rather obsessed with the Jonathan-Amaechi inordinate ambitious war, Tukur-Governorsdrama or the Jonathan-Obasanjo pretense. These andcommuniqué issued by politicians are more important to our media than the lives of people in Yobe, Maiduguri or elsewhere where people are killed daily. It is the season of 2015, thus any other matter is unimportant. Killing, kidnapping and raping do not worth investigation by our journalists any longer.
That Al-Jazeera report further exposes the bare-faced lies of the JTF as it was directing the former where to focus its camera lens. Even the Propagandist-in-Chief, Col. Sagir Musa was not bold enough to show his blood-stained face. The report tells that the people of Baga are still under the occupation of a brutal army under the command of a corrupt commander-in-crime.
Whatever conspiracy between the triumvirate of a provincial presidency, the horrendous JTF and the lazy media to bury the atrocity in Baga, the unconventional media has shown all we ought to know. The divergent misinformation being spun out by JTF, the presidency and the defense headquarter is only tenable if our security has no history of arson and deliberate mass killing.
In February 2008, a group of youth in Ogaminana town in Kogi central was peacefully protesting the neglect of Itakpe Iron Ore and demanded to know why the iron concentrates in their domain arebeing ferried away to other part of the country withoutemployment for them or royalty paid to the community. The protesting youths deflated the tyres of six trucks loaded with iron concentrates on their way out to Port Harcourt. Policemen were deployed by the powerful individuals involved in the plundering of the people’s resources. In the confrontation thatensued between the youths and the police, one policeman and a youth were killed. The mobile police unit reinforced with the policemen for a reprisal attack and when they were done with their cruelty, more than fifty innocent elderly men, women and youths were dead. Sixty-five houses and over one-hundred and fifty shops were razed down by the police. Just like what Col. Sagir Musa is doing presently, the then police commissioner, IbeAghanya justified the savagery of the police by spinning a story to demonize all the people of Ogaminana community.
Recently in 2012 in same Kogi state, a gun-fire exchange occurred between armed robbers and the JTF along Obehira-Lagos road. The JTF returned with more men and heavy armoury including a military helicopter to lay siege on the town of Obehira. People sleeping in their homes were dragged from their beds, shot dead and labeled Boko Haram.
Fact is that our security kills innocent people to justify the heavy spending on them. They never confront the real terrorist. When the bellies of the top military commanders of an army suddenly begin to protrude, such an armycannot do better than a vigilante group in challenging terrorism. When you can no longer say who is carrying a pregnancy between an army officer and his pregnant wife, pray that no serious insurgency rise against such an army. Such an army will only be at best brutalizing its own people; such an army prays that there is always internal crisis that will increase security vote.
While serving in the north western state of Zamfara as youth corps member, I noticed a particular house in which various brands of cars were packed and covered withtarpaulin. When I inquired on the ownership of the compound, it was owned by a member of the task force then in the restive Niger Delta. Another Brigadier who was struggling to pay his children school fees then was posted to the restive region as a commander, by the time he finished his tenure, he had become a billionaire. Yes, a billionaire. In nutshell, the inability of our security to quell major security challenge is deliberate. Insecurity is now a mean for themfor quick but bloody enrichment.
But for how long will our security continue to brutalize the same people they are paid to protect? How long will our military continue to enrich themselves with blood money?When would Nigeria have a government that considers all part of the country as its territory? When will this presidency started to treat Borno and Yobe as not an alien land? When will this presidency threw away the ill advice thatthe north east crisis was to spite his presidency? When will our media begin to give equal publication to issue of human lives regardless of who killed who? Who will heal the wound inflicted by the JTF on the people of Baga?The atrocity in Baga should not be allowed to go unpunished. History should be documenting all these atrocities so that one day we would bring to account all those that have perpetrated crime against defenseless citizens whether in Baga or elsewhere.
On twitter @anehi2008
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