Boko Haram: Is Amnesty Working?
Bekeme Masade-Olowola (Host): Hello everyone, good evening. This is Bekeme and you are listening to the Good Citizen Radio Show. It is brought to you by CSR-in-Action. And I am sorry, this is not quite Chioma’s show. This is not ’Sharing Life Issues’, you know, it is passionate discussions that we must have because we live in Nigeria. Sadly, we cannot avoid some of the challenges that we have been facing of recent as a country. I must say that what we have been hearing up north has been very, very troubling. But before I go there, let’s just wish us happy birthday because CSR-in-Action is 10 years old, a whopping 10! It’s amazing! Thank you! It has been an amazing 10 years of everything new. As someone said to me, you are the queen of trying new things. And I am glad that this was a new thing that we tried. And you know, we have made so much impact in business and government and individual lives. And I am thanking God for the opportunity to be that vessel to make this happen. And that’s why we keep on having these conversations on the Good Citizen Radio Show because we know that Nigeria must be good. And we know that the power lies in our hands. It is not just some leader sitting somewhere far away from you. But it is us. We are the leaders. And the more we speak about some of the challenges that we face, the likely that we will find solutions to them, the likely that we would have leaders who will sit up and act.
So, I was talking about the insecurity and some of the more troubling news that we have heard recently. I have been to the north. The first time I went to the north was when I was a child, maybe five years old and I went to Kaduna and because my uncle lived there and my mother was actually born in Sokoto. Sokoto is right at the extreme in the northwest of Nigeria. And I only heard good things. And I am sure that those who listen to the show must have heard this from the beginning, because I always talk about it. If it was just my mum alone that I heard about Sokoto from, I would say look, I need to move there, we had such a great time. And of course, Biafra happened, and many evils.. And it seems like it’s just getting from bad to worse in Nigeria (I’m sorry I’m not a Doomsayer). I’m always positive in the face of challenges. But I do think that something needs to happen very, very quickly. And very, very decisively. Currently in Nigeria, Zamfara state is popularly known for its gold mining. We also know that in Nigeria, we want mining to be one of our biggest contributors to the GDP.
Look at that, look at what is happening in the north. Add that to agriculture and everything that we ought to be getting from there. And yet the insecurity is not allowing for us to reach our full potential as a country. And then one minute I went to the market and onions was between #1500 to #1800 for a paint bucket. And the next time I asked it was #4500. Why do you think that has happened? insecurity. So, for those of us down here in Lagos who say ‘It is not my problem, wetin concern me?’, you will continue suffering it for as long as they are issues.
Now, Boko Haram the dreaded phrase, you know all of this. And this surfaced in 2002, and up till date there has been no real solution. I do not know whether it is a lack of empathy or you know, a continued apathy of recent and past governments. But we have not nipped this in the bud. And the group has continued to grow wings, and they continue to take credit for some of the things that have happened, they have continued to raid unprotected villages, oftentimes for supplies, and it does appear that there are specific villages and ethnic communities that are being deliberately targeted because I had a guest on the show from Kastina who said, you know what, oh, there are some villages, including Daura that they do not go near, and no one knows why. And so, you wonder, if some people are protecting them or is it that they just choose to come on bikes to these other villages and kill people.
A powerful signal that is going out is that they cannot be protected by the military. That is what they are getting. They feel like not just the military or police, no security forces are coming to their aid, and they say now that even journalists are not bothering to report these issues again. An interesting thing is that I met Jonah Solomon today, who says he is the head of the Association of Chibok Community here in Lagos. And he says, we have been trying to get our stories out. He says that the letter that he wrote many years ago, is probably what led to the whole ‘Bring Back our Girls Campaign’. But nothing much has happened in the most recent news. Most of us have heard of the first attack by this same group by the name Garin Kwashebe.
No, I am not murdering that name. I practised it before coming on air. So, at the Garin Kwashebe ricefield in Zambarmari community in Borno state, killing at least 43 farmers. The group came out and said they killed 78 government, some people say 110, and government said, you know what, we had not cleared the space for them to come out there. So, they should not have been there.
Nonetheless, they went, and they were killed. These were innocent people. And apparently the group came,, sat, broke bread with them and then murdered them. These things are happening daily in Nigeria. Daily, farmers are being killed and people cannot go to farm. What then happens to food security in this country? It is not like we had plenty of food before. Now, what do we do? So, on the Show tonight we will be discussing these issues. And I want you to call to give us moral support to tell us all the things that you have been doing or that you can do, because this battle is ours, every single one of us needs to be concerned. So, I am going to try to get so many people to on the Show so that everybody is concerned about security. Our past guest said the same thing. He said ‘Look, if I write to the local guys, my Chairman, or I do xyz, how do I know what will happen to me? Who will protect my family?’ So, we had lots of people concerned. Now the guy on the on the flyers is also not available. So now we have Musa who is a resident of Maiduguri, who will join us on the Show today to give us a graphic picture of what is happening right now..
Musa: Good evening. Thank you for having me on your show.
Bekeme: Good evening and thank you for coming on the Show. Thank you for the bravery to come on our show. How are you today?
Musa: I am fine. Thank you.
Bekeme; Okay. So, tell us, you have been in Maiduguri for how many years now?
Musa: For about 26 years.
Bekeme: For about 26 years. How has it been? Can you tell me the progression? So initially when you were younger and up till now, how has it been? Is that How it always been like this in those 26 years? Yes, please speak up.
Musa: No, it has not been like this before the insurgency. We are known for peace, in terms of foodstuffs, even livestocks.
Bekeme: But then all of a sudden everything changed. Would you say that his residents that are doing this or people are coming from outside?
Musa: It is actually people from outside.
Bekeme: How do you know that?
Musa: Well, at a point to me, we the residents of Maiduguri at the first five years of this insurgency had to create a group like the civilian joint task force, so we the youths had to come out and say enough is enough and had to start fighting for ourselves. Even though we were not getting much support, but at least the state government was showing us support.
Bekeme: Let us go back to how you were fighting. What were you using to fight? these people have guns, big guns they are not, I mean, those days we used to be Borne Identity. And you see a KGB Kalashnikovs and we hear that they powerful guns and machinery that they are using. What are you fighting with?
Musa: Yeah, during the fight we used local guns, knives, swords and our local spiritual powers (we call it jazz).
Bekeme: And how has that been, any successes? Do you think that is working?
Musa: Yeah, it was working then, because it was a bit calm, then everything changed.
Bekeme; When did these things change? And why did it change?
Musa: Due to support, we were expecting support from the federal government, the state government alone isn’t enough for the support we needed. We were looking to the federal government and we were not getting support.
Bekeme: What did you do to try to get support? And what was the response that you got?
Musa: Well, if even though it was channelled through the local chairman direct to the governor, each time our complain is being laid out, they will tell us that they will get back to us.
Bekeme: And nobody gets back to you?
Musa: Yeah, nobody gets back. If at all they did it was actually from what the State government have been doing.
Bekeme: So, the state government has been doing something?.
Musa: Yes, the state government has been providing cars, vehicles and locally made guns. Not really machine guns, just locally made guns.
Bekeme: To civilians?
Musa: Yes. The civilian joint task force. And it’s not just any civilian, you actually get trained before you get through to be one.
Bekeme: Right. Who trains you?
Musa: Most of us who have been into the Man O’ War system, we give training to those who do not have the experience.
Bekeme: Interesting. Okay, so what is not working now? Because it doesn’t seem to be ending?. And you don’t live too far away from this location where these farmers were murdered. What’s happened? What is causing all of this?
Musa: Well, the truth is especially about the Zabamari and the sokoshebe rational area is actually at almost the outskirt of the state and the people there are actually living in fear To the extent that they do pay taxes to those bandits.
Musa: Yes. They just come and meet you and say won’t you do this or do that? You are farming, you are doing this or that. Yeah, it is what they tell you and they warn you to not speak because they will tell you that ‘If you speak, it will come back to us and we will come and kill you.’.
Bekeme: That is if you report that they came to you. This is the speaking you’re talking about?
Musa: Yes. To continue, they will tell you if you report they will come back and kill you and that exact scenario is what happened. Because before that incident, I think a week before the incident, they came to collect their usual tax. About #500,000, which might not necessarily be on the list.
Bekeme: How big is this village?
Musa: It is a big rice mill. I think every two to three months they come and collect tax. So, after collecting the last tax, the people in the village were like enough is enough, we should report and if government actually gets to support us, I am sure the military will do something. So, I think a week after the protest that was when the incident happened. The people came, they were like we heard what you did and our leader sent us to you. They actually sent us to speak to you spiritually that’s the people of Zambarmari, he actually sent us to preach to you. So, they will tell you to come into the room. That was how they gathered as much people as they wanted. They had to fight people and sent two of them out at a point.
Bekeme: Please backtrack. They paid this money about a week ago, right? The #500,000 and then they come back and said we want to preach to you.
Musa; Yes. We heard what you did and we want to preach to you.
Bekeme; Was it the same set of people?
Musa: Yeah, no. You won’t actually see them. They are masked up. Some of them are in our military uniform, whilesome of are in black.
Bekeme: So you do not know if it is the same people who came back and they saisd we want to preach to you and then they take it all out? So, people inside at some point knew that this was happening.
Musa: Yeah, everyone knows but you can’t speak up.
Bekeme: So, where exactly did they go because it could not have been the entire community? I mean did they go to the rice fields and getall these people? I heard that a young boy escaped. How did he do it?
Musa: They were packing them all in a room. They packed about two hundred and something, some people were able to escape as much.
Bekeme;: How did he escape?
Musa: That I do not know. So, after taking them and deleting them two by two and batch by batch, at a point they had people streaming on media. After about 130 people died that was when they started panicking.
Bekeme;. In your opinion a hundred and thirty people died?
Musa: Yeah one hundred and fifty-three and some are still missing, although those that are missing are the people who ran away.
Bekeme: Interesting. And then in any of this, do this people do not have telephones to call somebody for help, nothing? How long did this go on for?
Musa: There isn’t network towards the outskirt of the state.. So maybe it’s because there is no network that they took then to the outskirt. The people who were able to escape said it lasted for about an hour.
Bekeme: Fantastic. Okay, so we are going on a break on the Good Citizen Radio Show. The number to call is 0700939393. When we come back, you will start calling to ask us questions. We will be right back on the Good Citizen Radio Show.
Bekeme: Welcome back to the Good Citizen Radio Show. It’s been very saddening here listening to Musa, a student in Maiduguri, talk to us about the recent slaughtering. And that happened in the rice fields. Musa are you still there?
Bekeme; Okay, so what has happened since then/ Any word from government?
Musa: That I do not know, but the state government are putting in much effort. If only we can get the much-needed support from the federal government, then I am sure that Maiduguri crisis would have since ended.
Bekeme: So, how do you know? what sort of support ? what is he doing? And what do you think the federal government needs to do? And what do you think Nigerians need to do?
Musa: The state governor is actually trying.
Bekeme: Like I said, I am concerned when I hear that someone is trying, and this is personal speech. Trying in terms of what, please?
Musa: In terms of supporting. Just like the civilian joint task force and in creating more groups and at a point they had to start dispatching the civilian task force into the bush to help calm the situation. So, at a point we had to bring different local governing groups, you go your local government, you go to your local government like that. But I do not think he is actually getting much support from the federal government.
Bekeme: Okay, so he’s been going and you think he’s been doing something. My concern is that when I don’t hear people in public office, speak out, as you will see in the western world. You will see people say ‘no, look, I have been trying to reach federal government. They are not responding to me’. I do not see that happening a lot. And I I have a problem with that. So, you say you have been trained, okay. And local government chairman what about him?
Musa: Well, the system is corrupt to be honest, you can’t replace those there. Even if you go and seek for support and you do not get, you just have to stay where you are.
Bekeme: So what can we do for you, do you think that we need to create awareness? What kind of awareness? What can we really do? Because you know when you are not in the heart of it, many people don’t actually get a feel of what is happening, just feels like oh, every now and then you hear something like this. But from what I’ve heard, this is something that happens daily. What can Nigerians do? If we say that we are a Nigerian entity? What can people do? What do you think, what kinds of support is needed, what is the best way for Nigerians can create this awareness?
Musa: The Best thing Nigerians can do for us is to really create this awareness. The thing is, we are all being shut up we cannot speak up and we cannot speak out. The whole country can create awareness and speak for us and am sure our voices will be heard.
Bekeme: Thank you so much Musa. On that note, we will let you go. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for your bravery. And I wish you well and we will keep in contact with you as we try to work out what we can get out into the world so that more people can learn more about what is happening and support. Thank you, Musa. Have a great evening.
Musa: Thank you very much.
So good citizens, You’ve been listening to Musa all the way from Maiduguri. You can still make a call to 0700939393. We have a caller.
Caller: Hello, good evening.
Bekeme: Hello good evening. Can you speak up, please? What’s your name?
Caller: My name is Abraham.
Bekeme: Hello, Abraham, thank you for calling on the Show. Good evening. Have you have been listening to our conversation?
Abraham: Yeah, I have been listening to it, it’s so serious, I would say they should let the military go and take over there. What they really do is lay their hand on citizens. Let them go there and face that war and end those people. Instead of being in Lagos here or other places threatening citizens and oppressing lives and properties, all military personnel should head to Maiduguri and stay there to end all those wars they are fighting. I wish I had a gun; I would have gone to join.
Bekeme: Thank you, it’s crazy but you see you know as you speak, I remember that the military is underfunded themselves. They keep on complaining about the situation with the military as lack of motivation.
Bekeme: Hello. We have another caller. Good evening. Thank you for calling the Good Citizen Show. What is your name, please?
Caller: Good evening, my name is Audu Salisu.
Bekeme: You are welcome to the Show.
Audu: Thank you very much. At Maiduguri something like this is happening Ibrahim Babajide was in Maiduguri the other time and for a journey of twenty-five minutes, they spent two hours fifty minutes. They called a motorbike because you cannot operate in that area with a car. So it is very, very difficult at times for the army to even get to the location these guys operate. They do not come into the town, it is the outskirt area which is very difficult for you to get to and there is no communication, so it is difficult to call, it is very very sad.
How can you blame the soldiers, Maiduguri and Sambisa Forest is bigger than a state. So to defeat this Boko Haram, you need to outnumber them like five times. Because to enter a village you have to put many soldiers there and we have few soldiers in Nigeria, that is why the government is talking about mercenary., They should hire them and they should fight for them. It is very, very sad.
Bekeme: Thank you for your call, it is very sad. So, we have had people sending us messages. One says ‘it is PJ from Ojo, I am really scared for this guy speaking that was Musa about Maiduguri. I hope his home cannot be traced. Inspiration FM, I hope his line cannot be traced. Someone has asked the question. ‘Good evening. How did Americans rescue their citizens in Maiduguri? Is it cast in stone?’ I do not know. I just lost the call.
Bekeme: Hello. I have another call. Good evening, thank you for calling the Good Citizen Show. what is your name, please?
Caller: My name is Ajimene. I am reaching you from Ireland. People from North and we outsiders in that region, most of the Northerners likewise the particular guy you just finished talking with will tell you how talented most of the youth of this country are. Our problem is the people that are managing our pocket, our so-called leaders. It is Nigerian politicians that made this country look as if we are more or less counterfeit. This group called Boko Haram. They shouldn’t talk about Boko Haram. We know how Nigerian leaders are. They politicise everything. This Boko Haram is a monster. When a particular politician was arrested let me bring your mind back.
Bekeme: If you’re not sure, please don’t mention a name because we can’t actually take those. .Now we have another caller, hello, can you please turn down your radio set?
Caller: Okay, sorry I just want to talk to you today.
Bekeme; Oh, fantastic. What is your name, please?
Caller: I am calling you from Ajegunle. My name is Daniel Lekan.
Bekeme: Okay, so quickly I have got one minute.
Daniel: How did we defeat the Atlanta army during the time of the Nigerian civil war? In that Maiduguri they have told all of them not to speak the truth.
Bekeme: So, what is the truth they’re not speaking?
Daniel: These things are Islamic based, they cannot tell you the truth, the best thing they should do is let this government leave.
Bekeme; Okay, so I was interested in hearing this truth that people were not telling. So, I think obviously we cannot take any more calls but I want to thank Abraham, Audu Salisu and Daniel for calling the Show. What keeps ringing out loud in my head is Musa’s last words about speaking up and speaking as he says speak up and speak out. Use any hashtag that you can think of. E.g. #EndInsurgency, #EndBokoHaram, #BringBackOurGirls, #UniteNigeria. But we really need to start speaking up and speaking out because it concerns us all. Many of us have friends and relatives up north many of us school there, many of us still have to go for NYSC up north and this is Nigeria – north and south.
Thank you so much for your interest and for listening and we will have all of this content on our website and our social media handle @goodcitizenNG. we are one Nigeria. God bless you. See you same time- 8pm next week on IFM 92.3. My name is Bekeme and have a great, great weekend. Bye Bye.