Boko Haram, Media and Government: Three Sides of the same Coin

Boko Haram military campaign against the Nigeria Government took a new dimension on Thursday 26th of April, 2012 when it attacked ThisDay Newspaper’s offices in Abuja and Kaduna. The group then immediately granted an exclusive interview to Premium Times stating reasons for the attack. The group’s spoke Person, Abul Qaqa, accused most Nigeria mainstream Newspapers for deliberately paddling lies against the organisation despite repeated warnings.

As a follow up to the interview with Premium Times (Why We Attacked ThisDay…), the group subsequently released an 18-minute video on the 2nd day of May, 2012. The video was posted on Youtube and in it, the group threatened or promised further attacks on several other media establishment in the country. Those they listed for imminent attack are Punch, Daily Sun, Vanguard, Guardian, Nation, Tribune, and National Accord. Those that got off with just a warning were Leadership, Daily Trust, Peoples Daily and RFI(Radio France international).

The video message also contains a recorded coverage of the bombing of the Abuja office of ThisDay newspaper.

THE MESSAGE

Below is the translation of the Video message:

    “This is a message from the Public Awareness Department of the Jamatu Ahlis sunnah lil daawati wal jihad, a group engaged in jihad in Nigeria.

    “We wish to explain about the attack we carried out on Thisday Newspapers. Some of the reasons why we decided to attack some Media Houses, especially Thisday, is because the paper was used in dishonouring our Prophet, Muhammad (SAW) during a beauty pageant in Kaduna in November 2002.

    “At that time, some people who called themselves leaders of Muslims came out to say they have forgiven those who committed the offence.

    “But based on our knowledge, we know that no one has the power to forgive anyone for an offence that God himself has given judgement, especially on an offence that has to do with dishonouring Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

    “No one has the power to forgive this type of offence, and the judgement is for such persons to be killed.

    “This lady that committed this crime, the judgement on her is to be killed at any opportunity; and the media house is also supposed to be driven out of existence whenever there is a chance to do so.

    “We are just getting the opportunity to attack the media house, and we are hoping to continue these attacks until we drive them out of existence.

    “It is our hope that Allah (SWT) will help His religion. “We know that any genuine Muslim must have been deeply touched by the Thisday incident.

    “Thisday newspaper is also leading in helping the government in fighting us, alongside other media houses that we will mention soon.

    “Some of the offences of Thisday and other media outlets include: firstly, during the botched attempt to rescue some kidnapped foreign nationals in Sokoto; these media houses asked us if we have anything to do with the kidnap and we said we have nothing to do with it, yet these media houses reported that we were responsible for the incident, that was a lie against us.

    “Secondly, when we sent a video of our leader, Abubakar Shekau, the media houses reported things that our leader did not say, such as that in response to the president’s threat to finish us in three months, we have also threatened to finish the government in three months. But the truth is, nowhere in the video did our leader said what they attributed to him.

    “Thirdly, on the purported arrest of Abu Qaqa by the SSS, we have come out to tell them that the person arrested was not Abu Qaqa, yet the media continue to portray us as liars, and even said that our leader had ordered for Abu Qaqa II to be executed, and we are now searching for Abu Qaqa III.

    “Recently too, they came out with another lie that one Mohammed Awwal Kontagora was the Abu Qaqa II that was executed, and that even his parents confirmed it, that was just a big lie to convince the world.

    “The media also said that we have killed the father of Abu Darda, so as to pass a message to him, because he had leaked our secrets after his arrest by security agencies, and they wanted him to know that he is one of our targets.

    “These are all lies, and they are many. “These media houses have committed a lot of offences that is detrimental to Islam, and we don’t have the power to forgive them. We will take revenge on them by God’s grace, some of these media houses have been categorised into three groups.

    “The first group is the likes of Thisday whose offences are big.

    “The second group we will also attack soon are Punch, Daily Sun, Vanguard, Guardian, Nation, Tribune, and National Accord, which are all newspaper houses.

    “There is also VOA Hausa radio. All these media houses we will attack them including their staff and offices, by God’s grace.

    “VOA Hausa for instance have recently started campaigning for people to support the government against us by exposing us, “The next group that are on the verge of joining this list who if they are not careful we will attack very soon include, Leadership, Daily Trust, Peoples Daily and RFI(Radio France international)

    “There is an online medium known as Saharareporters who have their office in New York, and who have made their site as a platform for attack against Islam. So we are warning them to stop making their site an avenue for attacking Islam, otherwise we will find a way of attacking them too.

    “We resorted to using this medium to send our message instead of the normal tele-conference because of the fear by journalists; which made them refuse to conduct the conference.

    “We are grateful to God for the success recorded on the attack on Thisday, and we hope to continue such attacks.

    “Finally, the government has now resorted to arresting our wives and children and also demolishing our houses, like they did in Biu recently, that is why we have also resolved to start attacking government schools, especially, tertiary ones.

    “We promise to demolish 500 buildings for any one of our houses that the government destroys.

    “We have already started with Gombe and Kano.”

THE ORIGIN

Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lida’awati wal Jihad, popularly referred to as Boko Haram, came into existence in 2002 as a peaceful Islamic propagation group with a rather “controversial” ideology against certain aspects of Western Education which they considered partly responsible for moral decay occasioned by the raising cases of corruption and indecency in the Muslim dominated Northern Nigeria. They peacefully called for the enthronement of Shari’ah Law in that part of the country.

This inescapably placed them at loggerheads with those in authorities and they became objects of harassment and intimidation of security agents. The situation was exacerbated early 2009 when Police killed about 14 of their members during a funeral procession when a dispute arose over the non-use of motorcycle helmet. Several attempts were initiated by the then group leader, Muhammad Yusuf, calling on the Inspector General of Police, the State and Federal Government to compensate the families of those that was extra-judiciously killed and bring to justice the murderers. The government did nothing to address their grievances.

The group perceived the attack on them as an attack on Islam and thus they began arming themselves against a government they considered “oppressive”, “murderous” and “anti Islam” against whom they have to protect themselves. Arming themselves constituted a crime under Nigeria Laws and the authorities were not ready to tolerate such acts of treason and they came down hard on the group.

A protest to a Police station took a violent turn when police shot at the protesters, the station and several others were thereafter attacked by the group and some Police Officers were killed in the process by some of the group members. The group, lead by Muhammad Yusuf, subsequently declared war on the Police.

This resulted to a violent and bloody crackdown by the Police, Army and several other security outfits. People were summarily executed in the street of Maiduguri because of their jumping trousers and long bears by security agents on suspicion of being Boko Haram. Houses were raided and possible members and even ex-members were brought out and shot while lying face down. Community leader like Baba Fugu who visited the state Police Head Quarter to broker peace was dragged outside the Station and executed by Police Officers in clear view.

The group leader was arrested by military men, interviewed by Security officers (Read the interview here) and handed over to the Police who took him outside and riddled him with bullets right outside the Police station.

Videos shot on cell phones of the executions eventually found their way to Aljazeera and the world watched in shock as the Police executed unarmed civilians and handicaps in the street of Maiduguri June/July 2009.

The thoughtless and ill-considered action of security operatives was celebrated by many across the country, they praised the action of the Police for haven curtailed the group so quickly. No officer was arrested let alone arraigned for the killings until the group resurfaced months later, well armed, more sophisticated and apparently on a mission of vengeance and violence.

    “Everyone knows the manner in which our late leader was murdered, and the wickedness that was met to our community/organization afterwards. And everyone is aware of the kind of wickedness met to the people of this nation times without number…..We were killed our mosques were demolished and as if that was not enough, we were chased, hunted and harassed. So we decided to stand up for ourselves. And God acted on our side, because He gives strength and victory to those who follow him. And that was what happened and has been happening.” Boko Haram in a massage to President Jonathan January 2012

For more on the origin of the crisis read Critical Appraisal of the Boko Haram Insurgence

THE MEDIA

Mainstream Media in Nigeria is dominated by people who have little or no regard for Islam and Muslims and it has become increasingly difficult for Muslims to get their views and opinions out without being misinterpreted and vilify by media practitioners.

In 2002, Muslims along with others peacefully protested against the Miss World Beauty Pageant that was scheduled to hold in Nigeria, an occasion they considered to be degrading to womanhood. As expected, the Nigeria media singled out the Muslim community and came down hard on Muslims for daring to oppose the insanity. Writers and Columnist had a field day feeding on the sensitivity of Muslims.

The badgering got to a peak when ThisDay published an article by the 21 years old Isioma Nkemdilim Nkiruka Daniel on the 16th of November 2012. While addressing opposition to the contest from the Nigerian Muslim community, she wrote:

    “The Muslims thought it was immoral to bring 92 women to Nigeria and ask them to revel in vanity. What would Mohammed think? In all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from one of them.”

The comment sparked protest in several northern cities including Abuja. Unfortunately, the protest turned violent in Kaduna and about 200 persons were said to have died from both the Muslim and Christian communities. It is still unclear which community suffered the most. Thousands were rendered homeless as homes and business were raised down by rioters.

If the writer was a 21 years old spoilt brat who claimed she meant it as a joke, how about the editors? Were they drunk when they edited her article? Western writers and Christian Evangelicals, in the past century, had attempted to portray the excellent character of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in bad light, ignorantly and stupidly claiming he was a womaniser. Saying the Prophet of Islam (SAW) would have married one of those morally deprived victims of male dominated, women exploiting western culture was a repeat of Western Writers and Evangelicals unfounded claim and this could not have been expected to be taken lightly. Making offensive comments toward Muslims and Islam was something that come easy for Nigeria Journalists. Isioma Daniel’s article just had bad timing.

Today the media have successfully changed the narrative and imprinted in the minds of naïve Nigerians that Boko Haram is a Northern Hausa-Fulani blood thirsty Muslim initiative to Islamise Nigeria. This is in spite of the fact that 90% of those killed so far are Muslims and that many of the alleged bombings may have indeed be carried out by non Muslims. See When Boko Haram Became Christians and When Boko Haram Became Christians Part 2

Their regional, sectarian and religious bias is ever so present in almost every news item. Take for example the Jos Crisis, somehow the media have portray the minority, almost defenceless and unprotected Hausa- Fulani Muslim community as the aggressors. Meanwhile this is not the case. Read a classic example in the article The Sun’s Newspaper Phenomenal Bias in Reporting the Jos Crisis .

See also Vanguard Nigeria Newspaper: A Dangerous Tool of Disunity and Religious Bigotry

When Boko Haram release a statement in Hausa and Arabic every media house translates it to conform with what they want to hear. Take for example, a massage to President Jonathan, January 2012, a statement of the group was translated thus:

    “You did all you wanted to us. We are trying to coerce you to embrace islam, because that is what God instructed us to do.”

Meanwhile the proper translation was:

    “inspite of that we tried to preach to you to draw you to the path, to become Muslims, as God instructed us…”

The former is interpreted to mean that God have instructed them to force Jonathan to become a Muslim because of what the Government did to them. While the other means that even with the wrong done to them, God has instructed them to preach to Jonathan to become a Muslim.

DEATH WISH

While we acknowledge how irresponsible and morally handicap the Nigeria mainstream media and Government is, we are not taking side with Boko Haram either. The group is the third part of the same coin. No pun intended.

The institution of government in Nigeria is so design to repress Islam and Muslims in all ways possible. You cannot be a conscious Muslim and vied for a political relevance without being accused of trying to Islamise Nigeria. We saw how all forces worked against Muhammad Buhari during the last general election that was shamelessly and massively rigged by the ruling party. We all witnessed the pressure mounted on the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, over accusations of trying to Islamise Osun State because he says Muslim Students should be allowed to wear hijab to schools.

Afraid of being accused of trying to Islamise Nigeria, Muslims in authority cannot speak for Muslims. That is why a Muslim like Babatunde Fashola, Governor of Lagos State, would prohibit Muslims Female Students from wearing Hijab on their uniforms even outside school compound.

The Legal profession is no different. In a Country with a constitution that guarantees personal rights, like the right to religion, Muslim female law students and Lawyers rights are trampled upon daily. It is a constant battle in law faculties across the country between Muslim sisters who wants to wear hijab and their lecturers who says they must not. In Law school it is not different, during the mandatory law dinners and worst during call to bar, Muslim women are force to expose their hair. They are not even allowed to wear caps let alone use the hijab. The court rooms are no different, Muslims female Lawyers in most states are required to remove their hijab to be given audience in court.

In UK where we borrowed our legal system from, and with a Muslim population of just over 4%, Muslim Law Student and Barristers are not subjected to such degrading treatment and humiliation as it is in Nigeria where 50% or more are Muslims.

Who will speak for the Muslims? Certainly not Boko Haram who have chosen to settle every misunderstanding with bombs. While some will argue that this is the only way to get attention of the media and government, this is however not the way of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Bombing Media offices, killing innocent people is not a Shari’ah way of correcting people. They are guilty of lies, blackmailing and slandering but death is not punishment for blackmailing and Slandering in Shari’ah. You cannot kill everybody that insults or slander you. Those killed at ThisDay had nothing to do with Isioma Daniel’s article.

The idea of killing anybody that publicly opposes them is as ridiculous as it is un-Islamic. Several Muslim scholars in the north have ALLEGEDLY been assassinated by Boko Haram:

    1. Sheikh Ibrahim Birkuti
    2. Sheikh Ibrahim Ahmed
    3. Sheikh Bashir Mustapha
    4. Sheikh Goni Tijjani
    5. Mallam Alhaji Abur
    6. Ibrahim Abdullahi Bolori
    7. Mallam Adamu
    8. Bashir Kashara
    9. Sheik Mustapha Kyari (survived) etc

If Boko Haram were indeed responsible, you can add the above names to the hundreds of ordinary Muslims that died in the attacks of Kano and several over places. If the victims were only Christians, it would still be as bad as it is unacceptable because it equally goes contrary to the Shari’ah which they claim to stand for.

The Shari’ah is clear on how to threat non combatants in wars. Islam does not allow the indiscriminate killing of innocent peoples whether Muslims or non-muslim.

    ‘If any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people” Qur’an 5:32

Allah told the beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW):

    ”You are neither hard-hearted nor of fierce character, nor one who shouts in the markets. You do not return evil for evil, but excuse and forgive”. – Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 362.

True believers follow the footsteps of the Prophet (SAW) and he never resorted to mean tactics to make his point. Islam has first drawn a clear line of distinction between the combatants and the non-combatants. ThisDay is clearly a civilian establishment that was bombed without warning. This is not the manhaj (methodology) of the Rosul (SAW).

The instructions of the Prophet are as follows:

    “DO NOT KILL any old person, any child or any woman” (Abu Dawud).
    “DO NOT KILL the monks in monasteries”or “DO NOT KILL the people who are sitting in places of worship” (Musnad of Ibn Hanbal).

During a war, the Prophet saw the corpse of a woman lying on the ground and observed: “She was not fighting. How then she came to be killed?”

Boko Haram has no Shari’ah basis to continue in the path of death and destruction they have chosen or allowed others to choose for them. In the face of oppression and war, a believer must not lost his or her humanity. This is what makes us the ” Kuntum Khayra ‘ummatin ‘ukhrijat linnaas…” Qur’an 3:110

Conclusively, as it is today, our Media, Government and Boko Haram all form different parts of the same coin, they are all reflections of a morally weak and socially sick society that we live in today in Nigeria. The fate of this country lies in the hand of these three thoughtless groups and the attitude of the rest of Nigerians. May God Almighty rectify our affairs.

IGHO HAKEEM OHWOJEHERI

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31 thoughts on “Boko Haram, Media and Government: Three Sides of the same Coin

  1. Hmm May Allaah (SWT)Increase you in both wisdom and knwoledge@ @info-Man.. Now the problem has gone beyound jama’atu Ahlis sunah and the security to innocent soul causing more havoc and tension between Muslim, the greedy and unreasonable christain,the selfish media,i don’t realy know were the unthinkable and unfocused govt are heading to…??May Allaah continue to guide our thinking..

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  3. This fct about Nigerian crisis/unrest. An observation about background of boko haram u forget many crisis occurs in Yobe (2003) b/w boko haram & villages police station as well as Kanamma battle though then boko haram were called Nigerian Taliban. Massive killed of their member @ Potiskum midium prison etc

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