By Sanusi Muhammad
Before violence began
Most people that had cause to interact with Muhammed Yusuf will agree that he was crafty and very calculating. He added diplomacy to his anti-establishment posture to score a point.
First he built strong connections with Senator Ali Modu Sheriff’s government in Borno state through the influence of his father-in-law, Baba Fugu Muhammed who was wealthy and influential.
Muhammed Yusuf’s wife, Ba’a Hajja was educated with a Higher National Diploma in Business Management, an equivalent to a university degree. Buji Foi who served as Borno state Commissioner for Religious Affairs was another pillar to Boko Haram. Some Islamic countries were alleged to have extended financial support to Muhammed Yusuf, excluding Saudi Arabia that was not comfortable with his brand of radicalism. It was also alleged that former Borno state governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, used Boko Haram to further his political objective with ease, although he had a different Islamic objective with Muhammed Yusuf; but as typical Nigerian politician, he supported Muhammed Yusuf until the relation went sour. Muhammed Yusuf wanted to use the governor’s support to get power for himself and his followers, while the governor wanted Yusuf to place his followers at his disposal. Both disagreed and the relationship broke down, and Ali Modu became an enemy of Boko Haram.
Despite the enmity that existed, Muhammed Yusuf spent four years (from 2004 to 2008) expanding the scope of his operations. After recruiting a large number of followers, he built support bases in Maiduguri, Bauchi, Adamawa, Kaduna, Yobe, Gombe, Kogi, Niger, Kano and Katsina states. Some of those governors rated Yusuf as a power broker to be courted and supported. Some were alleged to have placed Boko Haram on monthly subvention of N5 to 10million.
In the light of the foregoing, one can say that with the approval of certain governors, Muhammed Yusuf and his group enlarged their scope of operations. It was alleged that the group had several supporters in government and the private sector. There were allegations that the group received a lot of financial support from some wealthy Nigerians, Libya and Algeria for Islamic propagation. Muhammed Yusuf used the resources to enlarge his power base. He paid widows allowances and enrolled orphans into Islamic schools to have ‘better’ understanding of Islam. Young men and women were given stipends as capital to start small businesses. Those who graduated from Islamic schools lacking jobs or trade were given allowances by Boko Haram high command. According to a member of their Shura Council, Boko Haram had one million followers and each of the followers was donating just one naira daily to the organization. If calculated, it amounted to one million naira per day to the group. By the time he was brutally murdered, Muhammed Yusuf had 20 assorted Jeeps and a number of smaller cars, farms and a buoyant bank account.
From Islamic Propagation to Terrorism:
The steady four-year period enjoyed by Boko Haram without any challenge paid the required dividends to prepare it for the inevitable (war). The sect had ample opportunity to train its members in military tactics in faraway Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, Yemen and Syria. Investigation showed that a good number of Boko Haram members bribed their way to join Nigerian Army and the Police for a while just to acquire the necessary training they needed to confront the coming challenges. Most significant is the fact that the sect was stockpiling weapons in preparation for war. In our days of active interaction with the sect and the office of the NSA, we brought all these facts to the attention of the relevant authorities for possible counteraction. Our revelation included the routes used to ferry weapons into Nigeria. Little or no action was taken because government had divided interest. To be fair to former president Jonathan, he was caged by sycophants and clowns who fed him with all sorts of lies, while blocking genuine informants from reaching him.
We attempted to interact with almost all the security agencies, but for obvious reason, we were ignored until the problem snowballed into the full scale war we are experiencing today. Nigeria is counting losses every hour of the day while Boko Haram has nothing to lose.
To describe the sequence of events before the murder of Muhammed Yusuf is to use dates, facts and figures.
Thursday, June 11, 2009 – Members of Boko Haram were on their way to the cemetery to bury some dead members when they were accosted by a police crack team, Operation Flush, for riding motorcycles without crash helmets which was a traffic offence. A drama ensued and Boko Haram lost 17 of its members while few sustained various degrees of injury. Boko Haram demanded public apology from the police which never came.
Sunday, June 14, 2009 – In a terse public statement, Boko Haram’s leader, Muhammed Yusuf promised a reprisal, “We cannot accept humiliation and misuse of power from the police. We must revenge”.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009 – Nine Boko Haram members were arrested in Biu of Borno state while planning to attack Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) office. Same day, one of their explosive scientists, Hassan Sani Badami, lost his life in a bomb explosion while making the device. Muhammed Yusuf admitted instructing his followers to arm and to defend themselves against ‘overzealous’ security agents.
Friday, July 24, 2009 – Borno state Commissioner of Police paraded nine (9) arrested Boko Haram suspects in Biu Local Government for being in possession of 74 locally made bombs, acid, swords, bags of gun powder and other chemicals for making bombs.
Sunday July, 26, 2009 – About 60 Boko Haram members armed with locally made bombs, hand grenades and guns attacked Dutsen Tanshi police station in Bauchi metropolis. The police declared 52 dead from the encounter.
Monday, July 27, 2009 – Boko Haram attacked Kano, Yobe and Borno states. In Borno, Maiduguri federal prison was the target of the attack. Warders on duty were gruesomely murdered and prisoners set free. Borno state police headquarters was also attacked and a police station in Wudil, Kano state. Potiskum police station in Yobe state was also attacked same day with over 100 police and Boko Haram members dead.
Friday, July 30, 2009 – Boko Haram leader, Muhammed Yusuf was arrested by soldiers and handed over to the police for further interrogation. He was arrested and handed over in the morning, but by afternoon of the same day, he was announced dead with an unbelievable excuse of trying to escape from custody. That corrupt action of the police watered the ground for the escalation of the violence Nigeria is sadly experiencing. Whosoever ordered the murder of Muhammed Yusuf should be considered as dangerous as Boko Haram. He denied security agencies the opportunity to investigate the remote cause of the insurgency for possible solution. That should be a subject of thorough investigation to unearth the hidden truth.
After the death of Muhammed Yusuf, for one year, Boko Haram tactfully avoided any public attention while making contacts and re-strategizing and regrouping to bounce back in style. Its Shura Council held several meetings within and outside Nigeria to appoint a more ruthless leader that could lead the sect to realize its ambition of an Islamic state. Muhammed Abubakar Shekau was unanimously appointed as the most suitable to lead. Shekau was Muhammed Yusuf’s deputy and a renowned ruthless war monger. He hails from Yobe state and speaks Kanuri, Arabic and Hausa fluently. Under his leadership since 2010, Boko Haram has carried out regular bombings and attack missions in different parts of Nigeria.