By Bob-Manuel Molokwu
This is not one of the topics I like writing on. However, I am constrained to lend my voice because of the wanton destruction that has taken place in North-eastern Nigeria since 2009. As it stands, the Boko Haram insurgency has claimed over 100,000 lives and succeeded in displacing over two million people from their various homes. On a daily basis, the picture of gloom pervades the North-eastern states of Nigeria.
In the midst of the confusion, one might want to ask how the Boko Haram group started, who were the leaders, sponsors, and followers. Jama’atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda’watiwal jihad is the name, which translates to “people committed to the propagation of the prophet’s teachings and jihad.” This was way back in 2002 where they operated from Borno and Yobe states.
But not much was heard about the sect until in 2009 when a discrepancy erupted between them and the law enforcement agents which culminated in the death of its leader, Mohammad Yusuf. Mohammad Yusuf in his teachings had faulted the participation of most leaders of northern states in the affairs of the country. He saw it as an illegitimate, non-Islami and too secular for their “religious inclinations and preached a doctrine of withdrawal, and declared that western education is evil. (Boko Haram).
And since then, there has been no let back on. The Boko Haram sect grew from strength to strength. And it changed tactics. At some point, it became so sophisticated that it engaged the Nigerian military weapon for weapon. It was even rumored that the Boko Haram sect boost of more advanced weaponry than the Nigerian Military with an unlimited amount of heavy weaponry, vehicles, bombs, and ammunition.
But how does Boko Haram fund its activities? Where do they acquire such sophisticated military hardware? Who taught them how to operate this military equipment? Who services the equipment? How do they get supplies? These and much more are questions that point to the fact that there are indeed foreign sponsors of the sect against Nigeria for some reasons I will enumerate below.
As a start, it is evident that there are some foreign conspirators with the Boko Haram sect. And I will start with Nigeria’s French-speaking neighbors Cameroun Niger Republic, Chad Republic, Benin Republic. There are no way supplies would reach Boko Haram fighters without some collaborators from these countries. For example, there are videos posted online that shows Boko Haram fighters maneuvering Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC), freely operating anti-aircraft machine guns, etc. After watching the videos, you might want to ask some pertinent questions.
The second issue is paying for ransom by the French government in securing the release of its citizens kidnapped. It is estimated that since 2013, Boko Haram was paid N500 million ($3.15 million) to free seven French hostages kidnapped in February 2013. $12 million was also paid to Boko Haram before releasing a French Roman Catholic priest Georges Vandenbeusch captured in November 2013. The Cameroonian authorities also paid Boko Haram insurgents at least $400,000 in ransom to secure the release of Francoise Agnes Mouskouri, wife of Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali.
Put together; we are talking about $16 million dollars the Boko Haram sect has received from French authorities in the form of payment for ransom. Is this curious? That is not all; there were also instances where weapons are also delivered to the sect in exchange for hostages. And this has been going on in active collaboration with some elements from neighboring countries.
In my opinion, the United Nations has to come in by carrying a full-scale investigation into the activities of Boko Haram sect in Nigeria, and especially the involvement of the former French colonies in the whole episode. For some reasons, I suspect foul play in every move of Idriss Deby, the president of Chad in the entire episode. A red flag was raised for me when President Idriss Deby came out to say that the Boko Haram sect now had a new leader sometime in 2015. He specifically said Abubakar Shekau, had been replaced by Mahamat Daoud, and that Mahmat Daoud is open to dialogue.
From the preceding, it is evident that there are indeed foreign sponsors of the activities of the Boko Haram sect. If I should use the oil deposit in the Lake Chad basis as an example, it might explain the interest of France in ensuring that the Boko Haram crisis continues unabated. For a start, Between 2011 and 2013 the Nigerian government provided $240 million to facilitate oil and gas exploration activities in the Lake Chad Basin and other northern hydrocarbon basins, including the Benue Trough, Bida Basin and the Sokoto-Rima Basin in the north of Nigeria, but terrorism continues to push forward the mission of Nigeria to start drilling for commercial quantities.
On the other hand, the Boko Haram insurgency has conveniently provided Chad, access to oil under Nigeria’s soils through 3D oil drilling from within its territorial borders. Chad exports to a permanent FPSO –Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading vessel, which can store over 2 million barrels of oil and processed oil shipped through tankers to the international refineries at the Port of Le Havre in France. Does it now make sense why the Boko Haram crisis won’t end anytime soon?
However, this must stop. The international community, especially the United Nations and the International Criminal Court has to come in because the level of destruction in the Northeast Nigeria is unimaginable. Indeed, our oil has become a curse to us, rather than a blessing. And our neighbors should be good friends if peace must continue to reign in Africa.
Molokwu is a security expert and wrote this piece from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.