“O ye who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Aware of what ye do.” Qur’an 5:8
(Lagos, 26/04/2013) The Nigerian Joint Task Force (JTF) exposed its own savageness this week when it attacked the rural village of Baga, in a vain hope of crushing the Boko Haram insurgency causing wide destruction of life and properties.
In an orgy of violence that lasted a few hours, soldiers from the JTF, relying on state power, stormed the village of Baga and drowned more than 200 innocent and defenseless villagers in their own blood (razing over 2000 houses to the ground in the process), including nursing mothers and their babies.
The villagers only alleged crimes were that they “tolerated” Boko Haram’s acts of terrorism, used themselves as human shield or were simply in their own homes at the wrong time.
The Nigerian Government can no longer lay false claims to being an ordinary spectator to the JFT impunity and recklessness nor can we, as a nation, attain our collective aspirations to be a respectable nation if we continue to conduct assault on civil liberty, tolerate jackpot justice, disrespect human rights and due process, and trash rule of engagement in a fit of unbridled rage.
With these repeated attacks and collective punishments meted out to innocent civilians in the name of combating terrorism, it is clear that the Boko Haram cult is not the only savages bent on perpetual terror. Surely, the catastrophic adventures of the JTF have proven to be the greatest recruiter for the Boko Haram, capable of winning them more sympathizers.
Application of sheer brute force alone cannot defeat the violent ideology of Boko Haram cult or its spread, rather, as we have seen in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Northern Ireland, in Vietnam and other places before them, it will only send our military power spinning in circles, eventually toward ruin and defeat.
The bitter experience of the Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq, who despite possessing bigger guns and better intelligence had to cut a deal in retreat in a war of attrition with the Taliban should have served as a clear warning for the JTF.
Let the truth be said, much of the violence and extremism that currently plagues the nation and increasingly threatens national security has been incubated, and nurtured, in the societal dysfunction that ensues as a result of deep-rooted corruption and endemic impunity of those (that have been) in power.
The enduring insurgency in the Niger Delta provide convincing case studies to bear this out. Tragically, it is the same common man that suffered many decades of miserable existence as a result of institutionalized corruption that are paying the price now with their lives.
No words can describe the horror and grief generated by the deaths of so many innocent people at the hands of those who dishonour the cause they swore an oath to uphold- that of defending the nation and the lives of its citizens.
These innocent victims were not caught in the crossfire between the JTF and the Boko Haram cult, nor should the babies, who are not even old enough to know that they are Nigerians, be considered collateral damage in the war on terrorism.
MPAC condemns JTF’s indiscriminate, disproportionate and reckless killings as an act of state terrorism, we offer sincere condolences to the families of the innocent victims and call for a swift resolution to the Boko Haram conflict that will let all people live in peace and freedom.
Finally, MPAC calls upon the Nigerian government to intervene to end the JTF atrocities and ensure that adequate medicine and humanitarian aid are delivered immediately to the affected areas of Baga community.
Muslim Public Affairs Centre, MPAC