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Will Emergency Rule Curb Boko Haram Violence? – Dr. Oyeniyi Bukola Adeyemi

May 23, 2013


Will Emergency Rule Curb Boko Haram Violence?

by Oyeniyi Bukola Adeyemi (Ph. D)[1] 

RIMA Policy Papers, Volume 1 (2013), Number 2 (May 2013)


  1. I.              Introduction

On Tuesday May 7, 2013, 1900 hours Nigerian time, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan announced a State of Emergency (SoE) in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States. For many Nigerians, especially Christians and other citizens below the River Niger, the President is late in coming to grips with the reality of Boko Haram’s violence and ought to have made the declaration a long time ago. These people have also asked why states such as Gombe and Bauchi, Kano and Plateau, Taraba and Benue, as well as Nasarawa State were spared. The Nigerian Governors Forum, however, considered the declaration as an unwelcome development, which would solve no problem.[2]

While opinions differ from North to South on the declaration, Boko Haram’s immediate reaction was to trail the Borno State Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Faye Pama Musa, to his Maiduguri home where he was shot dead.[3] In this essay, I examine the political, social, and security implications of this announcement on Nigeria’s quest for peace and security through counter-terrorism measures. Put differently, can emergency rule and extreme force win the war against Boko Haram in Nigeria?

 II.           Boko Haram: A Janus-faced phenomenon

As recent studies have shown, Boko Haram can be located within two important paradigms.[4] On the first hand, it is an expression of a deep-seating socio-economic and political discontent, which can be traced back to the pre-independence periods.[5] Colonial administrators deliberately prevented Christianity, which was the handmaiden of Western education, to have a root in northern Nigeria during the colonial period. This explains the educational disparity between northern and southern Nigeria. It also explains religious pluralism and cooperative inter-faith relations in the south as against monolithic religious universe and religious intolerance of the north. 

In as much as colonial rule used only Western educated personnel, it is only sensible that southern Nigeria would develop faster than northern Nigeria. Lagos, rather than Kano or Sokoto emerged as the seat of government and socio-economic and infrastructural developments inadvertently favoured southern Nigeria over the north. It is its attempts to adjust these imbalances that made northern Nigeria obstinately cling to state power. From 1960 to date (2013), the North remains in control of the central government, with the 64% of the Heads of State and President of the Federation being Northerners. Under the current dispensation, except for the President, other key positions such as the Vice president, Senate President, Speaker House of Representatives, Peoples Democratic Party National Chairman, Head of Service, Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Central Bank of Nigeria’s Governor, Inspector General of Nigeria Police, President Court of Appeal, Chief Judge Federal High Court, National Security Adviser, Economic and other Financial Crime Commission Chairman, Chief of Defense Staff, Chief of Air Staff, General Managing Director or the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporations, Comptroller of Prison Service, Comptroller of Custom Service, Comptroller of Immigration Service, Clerk of the National Assembly, Clerk of the House of Representatives are all Northerners.

In addition to the above, the richest man in Africa is ironically a Northerner. Eighty-five per cent of petroleum marketers in Nigeria, eighty per cent of the oil block owners in Nigeria are northerners. Notwithstanding its dominance in controlling Nigeria, northern Nigeria remains the most backward segment of the nation. It has the highest number of beggars. The majority of unemployed youths in Nigeria are found in northern Nigeria. The most educationally backward area, the poorest states in Nigeria, and the most volatile area in Nigeria – Boko Haram as a current example – are all in northern Nigeria.

How did the nation, especially northern Nigeria, get to this sorry state? There are different explanations. Without let or hindrance, it can be said that while colonial rule may have planted the seed of backwardness in northern Nigeria, its leaders have fostered it to their own detriment. Nigeria, today, is reaping the fruits of its leaders’ cluelessness.

While military rule lasted, corruption of the darkest hue, which benefited these Nigerian leaders, reigned supreme. Opposition, mostly from the south, were stifled with the highest force possible, including state terrorism. The advent of democratic rule therefore means that grievances, which have been bottled up under military rule, were suddenly finding expression with the newfound freedom. The Maitatsine uprising of the 1980s is a case in point. Prior to Boko Haram, Nigeria had experienced a systematic and sustained burst of violence. Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) unleashed terror on the police in what the Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria said was an attempt to liberate the Yoruba “race” from Nigeria. Interethnic clashes between OPC and Hausa communities hit the Southwest, with immediate reprisals in northern Nigeria, especially the city of Kano. The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) also began operations to liberate the Igbo “race” from Nigeria. They were soon to be followed by Bakassi Boys and the Egbesu Boys, which later morphed into the Niger Delta militants. In the north, Arewa Youth Forum soon joined in the fight to liberate the Hausa/Fulani “race”. Agitation for the Sharia and its attendant riots soon broke out, as state governments in Northern Nigeria introduced Islamic rule in defiance of the constitution which makes Nigeria a secular state. As I have argued elsewhere, from ethnic irredentists to religious bigots, these groups were propped-up by the politicians, who deployed them as militias to, among other things, cow their opponents and secure their holds on power.

Underlying these developments are two things: extreme poverty and politics. While poverty, imposed on the people by a clueless political class, reduces the masses to beggars and hanger-on, politics helps in sustaining the state of the nation in a way that the political class can recycle itself at the expense of the nation. This unsavoury situation gave birth to Boko Haram and other fundamentalist groups in Nigeria today.

On the other hand, Boko Haram is an expression of a global Islamic fundamentalism, notable for two things: internal reform in Islam and the imposition of Islamic rule. The growth and development of radical Islam in contemporary Nigeria can best be traced to the proselytizing works of Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzakky (Muslim Brotherhood), Ahmad Gulan (Ahmadiya Movement), Nasir Kabara (Khadiriyya), Abubakar Gumi (Izala), Isiaku Rabiu (Tijjaniyya) and Dahiru Bauchi (Tariqqa).[6] These men, at different times, founded and led different groups with Shitte Islamic inclinations across northern Nigeria. Although different, the groups claimed to be following the paths prescribed by Allah in the Quran and Hadith of Prophet Mohammed. The two components of these paths are leading a pious, religious life and the enthronement of an Islamic government.

Of these men, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzakky, who read Economics in the 1970s at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, was the most influential. El-Zakzakky, inspired by the Islamic activism in the Middle East, especially Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan where there were age-long agitation to establish an Islamic state, founded the Muslim Brotherhood. Even as a student, he had a large following. The core of the Brotherhood’s teaching was that Muslims should live according to the dictates of the Quran, and to shun immoralities. While El-Zakzakky was moderate in his belief and teachings, others were not and his group soon fractured, with some denouncing El-Zakzakky’s Shitte ideology. These breakaway groups were displeased with the leader’s pacifist approach and were ready to bear arms in their quest to implement the Sharia in Nigeria. One of the most popular of these breakaway groups was the Kano-based Jama’atul Tajdidi Islam (JTI).[7] The JTI was not limited to northern Nigeria, as it recruits young and idealistic members from across schools, mosques and cities in Nigeria. Besides living a pious religious life, the fulcrum of its advocacy was the implementation of the Sharia in Nigeria.

Besides its leader, other renowned members of the JTI include Aminu Gusau, Hussein Bauchi, and Ahmed Shuaibu. Until his breaking away from the JTI to join Boko Haram, which was founded by Abubakar Lawan, Muhammed Yusuf was JTI’s ‘amir’ (leader of the faithful) for Borno State.[8]

Other breakaway groups include the Talibans, a group of young radical university students who caused a stir in 2003 when they struck in Yobe State, killing policemen, burning down police stations and attacking Christians. Also in this garb is the Kala Kato, a strictly scripturalist group led by Isiyaka Salisu, who stated that only the Qur’an provides a reliable guide for Islamic worship, and that his group ‘don’t use Hadiths as a guide to the way we worship Allah. We restrict ourselves to what the Qur’an’ says.[9] Similarly, the Darul Islam, a puritanical group led by Bashir Abdullahi Sulaiman, who also espoused that isolation, practiced by his group, is geared towards practicing the Islamic faith ‘in the most discreet form as possible’ and to ensure that he and his followers did not mix with the many sinful people of this world. Members of Darul Islam refrain from educating their children except in Islamic and Quranic education.[10] As its leader noted: ‘… We believe (that) what obtains in Western Education schools is haram… For instance, children in common schools are taught that man originated from an ape; this differs from the knowledge we believe in, i.e., that man was created by God, through Prophet Adam’.[11]

Since its debut, Boko Haram has wreaked havoc through bombings, kidnappings, arsons, robberies, etc. in Borno and Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe, Bauchi and Kano, Plateau and Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa states. The group has demonstrated the capacity not only to overrun state security mechanisms, but also to link up with global terror network to further their causes in Nigeria and West Africa. Not only its attack on the United Nations Building in Abuja, but also its operations across borders and linkages with al-Qaeda in the Maghreb marked it as a danger to global peace.

Prior to May 7, 2013, Nigeria had adopted a number of counter-terrorism measures, including the carrot and stick approach, dialogue and amnesty, etc. in combating Boko Haram. Not only has the group rebuffed these measures, its activities have since been scaled up and the group has also fractured into, at least, three other groups. Since January 2013, the group had taken over control of Marte, Mobbar, Gubio, Guzamala, Abadam, Kukawa, Kala-Balge and Gamboru Ngala local government areas in northern Borno, chasing out local government officials and taking over control of government building and imposing the Sharia law.

Several attempts at dialoguing with the group failed. The most recent of these being on 17th April 2013, when the President set up a 26-member Amnesty Committee (headed by Nigerian Special Duties Minister Kabiru Taminu) with a three-month mandate to try and convince the group to lay down their arms in exchange for a state pardon and social reintegration. Dialogue broke down, as the group cited government insincerity, and scaled up its activities. On 9th May 2013, 200 Boko Haram gunmen, armed with rocket launchers and rifles, launched coordinated attacks on security forces in Bama, northern Borno, including a military barracks, a prison and police buildings, killing 42 people including soldiers, policemen, prison guards and civilians and freeing 105 inmates. Some 13 members of Boko Haram were killed during this attack. In a 13th May 2013 video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau rejected the government amnesty programme and vowed not to stop his group’s activities, more importantly, the establishment of an Islamic state in Nigeria.

These developments prompted President Jonathan to declare that he would “take all necessary actions… to put an end to the impunity of the insurgents and terrorists”, including the arrest and detention of suspects, taking over of the group’s hideouts, the lockdown of the group’s enclaves, raids, and arresting anyone possessing dangerous weapons. 

  1. III.        The State of Emergency (SoE) in Nigeria

Section 305 (3 (c) (d) (f) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, empowers the President to issue a state of emergency when, “there is actual breakdown of public order and public safety, there is a clear and present danger of an actual breakdown of public order and safety in the federation or any part to require extraordinary measure to restore peace and security or to avert such danger”.[12] Boko Haram is, no doubt, a threat to public order and safety in Nigeria. The situation in the nation has reached a state whereby government must take all measures, including SoE, to restore peace and security as well as to avert further danger to other citizens. The declaration of a state of emergency in three of the affected states on May 7, 2013 by the President is therefore constitutional and appropriate. However, given the two underlying factors driving religious fundamentalism in northern Nigeria raised in the previous section, can a declaration of a state of emergency in Boko Haram-affected states make Nigeria terrorism-free? What are the socio-political and security implications of the SoE on Nigeria? In this section, the essay finds answers to these and other questions.

No sooner than the SoE was announced that Boko Haram acted. In addition, political leaderships across the country have been singing discordant tunes. In the north, the SoE is considered inappropriate. Mohammed Kyari, a political science professor at Modibo Adama University of Science and Technology in Adamawa State, noted that “It will now be difficult to win the confidence of Boko Haram, which is crucial in bringing them to the negotiating table because you can’t talk of peace on one hand and be deploying troops on the other”.[13] Whatever is the merit of this view, Yahaya Mahmud, a renowned Nigerian constitutional lawyer, noted that:

No government anywhere will allow a group to usurp part of (its) territorial sovereignty. The declaration of a state of emergency was necessitated by the constitutional obligation to restore a portion of Nigeria’s territory taken over by an armed group, which involves the suspension of constitutional provisions relating to civic rights.[14] 

Views from southern Nigeria resonate with Mahmud. For many, it was, in fact, late in coming. Despite the controversies, official reports claim that in the first few days of the SoE, about 50 members of the group had been killed while as much as about 100 had been taken into custody.[15] In addition, it was stated that many of the bases of the group were already destroyed. Media reports also asserted that members of the group may have escaped into other states in the north and cases of attacks in some other states have in deed been reported.[16] In addition to these, it was reported that owing to airstrikes by Nigerian fighter jets on Boko Haram’s camps and bases, tens of thousands of residents of northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State have fled their homes – thousands of them into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon. Musa Karimbe told Integrated Regional Network that he and his people, numbering about 200, fled Bulabute, a village near Marte and 100km to Cameroon, for fear of a “repeat of Baga attacks on our homes”.[17] It must be remembered that following Boko Haram’s attack at Baga, troops from the Chad-Niger-Nigeria Joint Multi-National Task Force engaged in a fight with Boko Haram at the end of which 187 residents were killed and 2, 128 houses were razed to the ground.[18] Although official figures are few at the moment, recent reports however confirmed that thousands of people have fled from villages around Abadam District, including Malamfatori, to Bosso in Niger’s Diffa Region, while others sought refuge in Fotokol, Amchide, Darak and Kusiri in Cameroon.[19]

Notwithstanding the so-called successes or failures of the initial efforts, SoE may be revoked sooner than expected, as Section 305(2) & 6(b) of Nigeria’s Constitution goes further to state that, “The President shall transmit such copies of the gazette with details to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, each of whom shall forthwith convene a sitting to consider the situation and decide whether or not to pass a resolution approving the proclamation”.[20] In both houses of the National Assembly, not only were majority from the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, but they were also from northern Nigeria. If the President is right, some members of the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council are members and/or sympathizers of Boko Haram. If these members and/or sympathizers of Boko Haram are in the majority, the possibility of the National Assembly rejecting the SoE is higher and a constitutional crisis may arise.[21]

A curious observation in the SoE declared in Nigeria is that the political structures of the three respective states are allowed to coexist and work side by side with the new military commands. Although SoE has a long history in Nigeria, this dual-power structure is unprecedented. This, undoubtedly, is not an accident. It is a political move that could allow Abuja to secure political supports for the SoE both in these three states and within the hierarchy of the ruling party. However, could this also sway the loyalty of members and/or sympathizers of Boko Haram in the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council? Could this also become an asset for the sitting president in the 2015 General elections? Whatever the logic of the dual power structure, the question remains: who holds the ace in state matters between the very state structure that failed initially to control Boko Haram or the new military command? It is too early to say how workable this would be and much remains in the womb of time.

Even if answers to these questions are not within the immediate reach, Nigerians expect from the government of President Jonathan an immediate end to the Boko Haram dissension and the SoE imposed on innocent citizens of the country. 

  1. IV.        SoE versus A Comprehensive Counter-Terrorism Measures

Successful conflict resolution usually involves fostering communication between parties, adopting different problem-solving approaches to resolve underlying issues in conflicts, and drafting agreements that meet these underlying issues. Undoubtedly, dialogue and amnesty have been tried with no positive results. The posturing of Boko Haram, in itself, shows that the group favours only a winner-takes-all result as against a win-win solution or mutually satisfying scenario. In this section, the essay looks at whether or not SoE can rein-in Boko Haram and argues for a comprehensive approach to counter-terrorism.

As noted earlier, Nigeria is not new to SoEs. It was imposed in Southwestern Nigeria immediately after independence and, later, in Southeastern Nigeria during the Civil War. In the 1980s and 2000s, it was imposed in different parts of Northern Nigeria and the Niger-Delta region in the south.[22] In all these cases, evidence abounds to support the argument that while peace-enforcement is achieved on the short-run, SoEs, on the long-term, generate new conflicts of their own. Unlike the on-going SoEs, regional, states, and local government political structures were made to come under the emergency military powers in the previous SoEs: could the decision to keep the erstwhile political structures arise from lessons learnt from the previous SoEs?

From the previous SoEs, we can argue that unless this newly imposed SoE is backed up by a comprehensive counter-terrorism measure, it will achieve, on the one hand, the immediate aim of peace-enforcement and, on the other hand, postpone peace-building. Over the long term, it will deepen the very factors underlying terrorism and conflicts in Nigeria. This is not peculiar to Nigeria. It also applies to other parts of Africa where terrorism is playing itself out.

Both peace-enforcement and peace building are important measures in conflict resolution. In the specific case of Boko Haram, President Jonathan waited for too long in asserting and deploying his presidential powers, especially as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. For too long, the president allowed blackmail and political considerations, especially his supposed vested interests in contesting the 2015 Presidential Election, to cage him over Boko Haram. This attitude encouraged Boko Haram and its sympathizers to gain supports, not only locally within Nigeria, but also globally with other terror networks. As things stand, the 2015 General Election may not hold should Nigeria implode into civil war. It is therefore foolhardy for government, politicians, ethnic and religious jingoists, or sympathizers of Boko Haram to, at any time, allow anyone or group to usurp governmental powers and undermine the nation’s national security.

Boko Haram has undoubtedly declared an open war against the government of Nigeria. Its alliances with al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda in the Maghreb indicate that it is allying with alien forces to impose a rule or a system of government that is alien to the nation’s constitution on the country. On these grounds, it will be foolishness on the part of government not to return fire for fire. It is with this mindset that SoE is acceptable in reining in Boko Haram. However, military engagement with Boko Haram and its supporters whether within Nigeria or outside must be limited to enforcing the peace.

Dialogue with Boko Haram is non-negotiable, as it remains the only way to get to the roots of the problem. While military engagement with Boko Haram is on-going, government should also find a middle ground to encourage and accommodate members of the group who may like to surrender. Amnesty should also be used as a carrot to break the ranks of Boko Haram. These two measures will give the Nigerian government the much-needed opportunities to break the ranks of Boko Haram and deny the group’s leadership foot soldiers to prosecute further war against the state.

Given Boko Haram’s stated objectives of Islamizing Nigeria and imposing the Sharia law on the country, government cannot and should not negotiate with Boko Haram. Dialogue does not necessarily imply or lead to negotiation. Negotiation, as generally understood in conflict resolution and security studies, deals with trade-off. Nigeria cannot trade-off its secular nature to please either a militant group or its sympathizers.

It is sad that every problem, including poverty, in Nigeria is easily politicized and interpreted along ethno-religious lines. Boko Haram constitutes a threat to all Nigerians, irrespective of religious leanings, ethnic identities and political persuasions. Mr. Badamosi Ayuba Damabatta, a member of the House of Representatives from Kano State and a member of the ANPP, recently denounced the SoE, and asserted, among other things, that “I advocate dialogue between Boko Haram and the government.”[23] While dialogue is undoubtedly necessary to resolving the Boko Haram problem, it baffles logic that Mr. Damabatta does not consider himself a part of the government. One would expect that if any member of government can dialogue with Boko Haram and get them to lay down their arms, he or she should do just that. Until Nigerians realize that bloodshed and destruction in any part of Nigeria affects other parts of the country, Nigeria will remain underdeveloped and insecure.

Far and most important to reining in Boko Haram is the need to understand and address the underlying socio-economic problems underwriting conflicts and terrorism in Africa. As far as Nigeria is concerned, terrorism festered because of poverty. As Hussein Solomon has shown, from Somalia to Nigeria, Mali to Egypt, terrorism festers in areas with higher poverty rate.  In Nigeria, poverty rate in southern Nigeria stands at 27% while it is 72% in northern Nigeria. In both Nigeria and Mali, Boko Haram and Ansar Dine, as it is also the case with Al-Shabaab in Somalia, took up arms against governments where poverty is most high.[24]

Where access and control of resources remains a problem, agitation against the state is usually high. The case of the Niger-Delta is an immediate example. Government in Nigeria cannot continue to pauperize its people and expects obedience. Perhaps, there is no panacea to reining in Boko Haram and other fundamentalist groups in Nigeria other than good governance. Although statistics may not exist, Nigerians, however, believe that the federal government has never been sincere and transparent in its management of the economy. Political power is seen as a license to loot the nation’s resources. As studies have shown concerning Boko Haram, many of the fundamentalist groups in northern Nigeria have been, at one point or the other used by politicians to win elections. Unmet promises, in the face of a rapacious political class, therefore plays fundamental role in the emergence of Boko Haram. No amount of state-terrorism in the guise of SoE can win public support to any government, only good governance can. 

  1. V.           By Way of Conclusion

From the above analysis, the study asserts the following points. Boko Haram, through its activities, has declared an open war against the corporate existence of Nigeria, and it is only logical for government in Nigeria to deploy superior military power to rein the group in and dislodge it. The group’s objective is a zero-sum game, which can only be achieved by liquidating the national goal of being a secular nation. A group cannot be bigger than the entire nation. The current fixation with dialoguing with Boko Haram must recognize the fact that dialogue does not necessarily lead to negotiation and trade-offs; rather, it plays important roles in (determining) ownership (of the group) and (accepting) responsibility (for its actions).

As demonstrated above, Boko Haram is not a single-story, but a Janus-faced phenomenon, which, on the one hand, underscores governance deficits in Nigeria and, on the other hand, shows how global issues can define local issues, irrespective of space and time. There is no doubt that counter-terrorism measures, so far, have discountenanced these important factors in their efforts to combat and control terrorism in Nigeria vis-à-vis Africa. Undoubtedly, the on-going SoE also strays away from these issues and, like other efforts before it; it is also bound to fail.

SoE can only enforce peace, not build it. It should therefore be a passageway to allow for other, if not more, comprehensive counter-terrorism measures to be injected into the efforts to ensure Nigeria’s national security. For the on-going SoE to achieve its peace-building objective on the long run, government must revamp the socio-economic system in Nigeria. A poor man, as the adage goes, is a willing tool in the hands of the devil. 

Notes and References

[1] Dr. Oyeniyi Bukola Adeyemi is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Political Studies and Governance Department of the University of Free State, South Africa.

[2] Nigerian Tribune, “More Nigerians react to emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa… Jonathan was playing to the gallery – FJHD coordinator”, available at

[3] African Spotlight, “Minutes after emergency rule, gunmen kill Borno state secretary of CAN”, available at

[4] Oyeniyi, Bukola Adeyemi, “Boko Haram Terrorists’ Menace and Nigeria’s National Security” in Toyin Falola and Jane Nana (eds.), Social and Religious Movements in Africa, New York: Africa World Press, forthcoming 2013.

[5] Oyeniyi, Ibid.

[6] Suleiman T., “The Plot to Islamise Nigeria”, Tell Magazine, (November 30, 2009): 20.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Oyeniyi, Bukola Adeyemi, “Boko Haram: One Voice, Multiple Tongues”, in Adeyinka Bankole and Shola J. Omotola (eds.), Whither The Nigerian Project? South Africa: JUTA, forthcoming 2013.

[9] Isa, S., “Kala-Kato: Meet Group with yet another Perception of Islam”, Weekly Trust, (August 15 2009): 2.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Aliyu P., Ruqayya Y. and Lawa M., “We Will Not Vote—Darul Islam Leader”, Daily Trust, (August 16 2010): 1.

[12] Federal Government of Nigeria, The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, See in particular section 305 (3) (c) (d) and (f), available at

[13] Mohammed Kyari, cited in Integrated Regional Network, Analysis: Nigerians on the run as military combat Boko Haram, available at

[14] Yahaya Mahmud, cited in Integrated Regional Network, Analysis: Nigerians on the run as military combat Boko Haram, available at

[15] Brig-Gen Chris Olukolade, cited in Integrated Regional Network, Analysis: Nigerians on the run as military combat Boko Haram, available at

[16] Kingsley Omonobi, “Jonathan orders release of detained suspected terrorists”,

[17] Integrated Regional Network, Analysis: Nigerians on the run as military combat Boko Haram, available at

[19] Integrated Regional Network, Analysis: Nigerians on the run as military combat Boko Haram, available at

[20] See in particular, section 305(2) and 6(b) of the Nigerian constitution.

[21] Subsection 6 of the Constitution further states that a proclamation issued by the President shall cease to have effect within two days when the National Assembly is in session or within ten days when it is not in session, after its publication, if there is no resolution supported by two-thirds majority of all the members of the each House of the National Assembly approving this proclamation.

[22] Following crises in Western Region in the First Republic, a state of emergency was declared and Chief Obafemi Awolowo and others were detained. Following Ojukwu’s secessionist bid between 1967 and 1970, a state of emergency was declared across Eastern Nigeria. During the Maitaisene Riots in the 1980s, a state of emergency was declared in Kano, Zaria and Kaduna while under President Olusegun Obasanjo, Jos, Odi and Jesse experienced state of emergency declarations.

[23] Premium Times, “Nigerian lawmakers’ reactions to State of Emergency”, available at

[24] Hussein Solomon, “Governance Reforms May Be More Effective Than Military in Countering Boko Haram”, accessed on 16th April 2013, available at

  1. Abubakar Balteh permalink

    Re: Will Emergency Rule Curb Boko Haram Violence?

    Dr, when I first saw your post I was anxious to read it knowing fully your pedigree. I was overwhelmed with excitement expecting to grasp probably a priceless piece of educating information. But to be honest Doc, your first few paragraphs almost ruined your “study” as you called it, albeit, analytically its beginning is more akin to a columnist expression. An otherwise supposedly educative work started more of a “social media” critiquing write-up devoid of further inquisitive research.
    I couldn’t concur less with your “duplicitous” syllogism of Boko Haram syndrome; neither will anyone score your conclusion below par. But where I indeed I found my understanding at crossroad with yours to an extend, using the Naija parlance “you fall my hand”, is the beginning of your piece. Your using the term Boko haram is not out of order, particularly that the group is commonly known as such, but an insight to their real name will give credence to your study.
     Transliterated, Jamā’a Ahl al-sunnah lid-da’wa wal-jihād (Congregation and People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad) is what they call themselves. To them Boko haram  remain a misnomer to their generalised course. Boko haram as a dual lingua (Hausa and Arabic) term simply mean; “Boko” as a Hausa word implies western education while the Arabic word “Haram” refers to proscription. It is a movement which strongly opposes man-made laws and Westernization. They got the Boko haram name when they started engaging other Muslim clerics in debates over government and its foundation which is western education.
    You tried to justify your assertion that the north in attempt to cling unto power still occupies offices and apparatus of relevance by adopting what I refer to as Facebook(ers) antics of propagating discontentment.
    I expect a better deal from you by inquiring beyond antipathy and ask, why were these northerners in those offices and since when were they there? However, to set the record straight let’s take a look at some of these offices and their northern occupiers.
    Vice president: zoning took the north there since 1999 with the exception of 2007-2010 when late ‘Yar adua was president.
    Senate president: zoning from 2007, after the south had enjoyed 8 years of uninterrupted reign.
    Speaker house of Reps: by zoning formula should have gone to the south if not for PDP’s undemocratic insistence to impose a speaker on the members of the rep. Notwithstanding, Tambuwal took over from a southerner in 2011.
    CBN Governor: a northerner from 2009 to date, but until after 16 years of southern occupation (since Ahmed Abdulkadir left in 1993).
    INEC: since the inception of the fourth republic, the electoral body had a southern face until 2010. Names like Humphery Nwosu, Dagogo Jack, Abel Gogbadia, Maurice Iwu must sound familiar to you.
    Chief Judge of Nigeria: a northerner who happened to be there by virtue of the systematic structure of the judiciary where the most seniour supreme court judge succeeds the outgoing CJN. So it could be any regions take. This is also applicable to the court of Appeal and the federal High court judge.
    IGP: the office eluded the north since 1999 until 2010 (Ringim and now Abubakar). Record will tell you of Smith, Balogun, Ehindero, Okiro, and Onovo as southern beneficiaries during the period under review.
    Chief of Defence Staff: one Ola Sa’ad who took over 7 months ago from a southerner Oluseyi Petinri who himself took over from Paul Dike equally a southerner.
    Chief of Air Staff: a northerner just as the Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Naval Staff (Ihejirika and Ezeoba respectively) are from the south.
    PDP National Chairman: a northerner by zoning just as the chairman board of trustees is zoned to the south, and in the past term it was the south occupying the office.
    Nigeria Immigration Service: a northerner Rilwan Musa took over 4 months ago from a southerner Rosemary Uzoma who was enmeshed in a controversial recruitment exercise.
    Nigeria Prison Service: a northerner appointed in January, 2012 after a southerner retired.
    GMD NNPC: a northerner from Kaduna who took over from a southerner Last year.
    NOTE: some of these appointments are based on seniority within ranks among officers in the organisation, thus explain the rationale in a northerner taking over from a southerner and vice versa.
    The next paragraph  in your write up is more interesting, “the richest man in Africa is ironically a Northerner” I believe you were referring to Aliko Dangote. 
    But then I ask, of what significance is it if the richest Nigerian is a northerner among several others that are southerners. Putting it the other way, where lies the marginal distribution of wealth in the country if the first is a northerner and the second up to the twentieth persons are southerners?
    OIL BLOCKS: It baffled me to see that a person of your academic prowess is been and still remain influenced by Senator Ita Enang fallacy of a report accusing Northerners during the hearing of the petroleum industry bill (PIB) of reaping more from crude oil exploration in Southern Nigeria as they own 83 percent of the entire oil blocks in the Niger Delta. Later development and investigation did not only discredit Enang’s report but portray him as a confused lawmaker who still lives in a pre-millennium era and out of tune with present realities. Unless being amnesic one should recall Femi Falana’s counter submission to Enang’s outburst when he said that what Enang reported was the record with regard to allocation made by military regimes before 1999. Contrary to  Senator Ita Enang, that 83 per cent of oil blocks in the country are owned by northerners, investigations by THISDAY (14th March) have revealed that 88 per cent of the oil blocks are owned by multinational oil companies.
    On the other hand, indigenous oil operators or Nigerian companies control only about 11 per cent, confirming the assertion by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, that oil majors control and manage the lion’s share of the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
    THISDAY had also pointedly observed that Enang’s allegation referred to only indigenous oil operations, not total oil output in the country.
    Investigations also revealed that even among indigenous oil operators, northern shareholders/directors do not account/own 83 per cent of local oil output, as Enang’s list left out several oil blocks that had been awarded over the years to Nigerian companies and failed to include oil concessions awarded from 1999 to date.
    With these and other several revelations, not even the Niger Delta emancipators and warlords like Asari  Dokubo who at the initial release of the mischievous Enang’s report, went ranting and threatening to take over the oil blocks owned by the northerners could talk any more, because you can not take what is not even there for take. In fact not even the outdated Senator was heard again concerning the oil blocks.
    Poverty in Nigeria today and in fact the north is a pervasive issue. The north is poor and even poorer compared to the southern region of Nigeria for reasons you attributed only to colonialism and leaders cluelessness. In as much as I agree with you, I will add that these form part of the  subjective factors (man made). The wealth disparity between the south and north is equally rooted in objective factors. In other words dealings in the index of natural occurrence. For the fact that oil resources are reserved in the south, requires not mine, neither yours nor anyone’s volition. It was only nature’s doing. This discovery of oil and the subsequent boom contributed its own share of the south and north wealth disparity.
    Prior to the oil boom Nigeria survived on agriculture of which the north played a pivotal role. The boom relegated the index of agriculture to oblivion as against a dual advantage of the indices of development. The country went to slumber abandoning in the process Agriculture that has sustained the country for a long time, for oil dependency that sees regions struggling for the central government. The vast arable land of the north was sacrificed and indeed just as it has as well severely affected the economic foundation of the north. The man made variable of this southern-northern disparity was intensified using the objective factor of oil discovery.
    Derivations, resource control, and a host other fragmented agitations favoured the south over their northern counterpart to an extend that a single state in the south collects in allocation of different guise what two or more states in the north are given. Arguments has it that oil-producing states have received N11 trillion since the advent of democracy in 1999, through various new programmes and projects such as the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the Amnesty Programme, the 13 per cent derivation allocated to them in the 1999 Constitution and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). When their normal appropriation is added to this amount, the sum said to have accrued to the oil-producing Niger Delta states since 1999 was put at about N18 trillion.
    OIL THEFT:  this is another subjective factor that contributed to the wealth disparity of the south and north. It is estimated that between six and twelve billion US dollars per annum, had reverted to the pre-amnesty period, when oil theft peaked at about 350, 000 barrels of crude oil per day – higher than the quantity of oil produced daily by Gabon or Equatorial Guinea. Today, the situation is worse than thought, exacerbated by pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft, which have reached an unsustainable level. Add this to the resurgence of attacks by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), and we are compelled to cry out again.
    Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), was the clearest indication yet of the seriousness of the situation. “In March 2013, SPDC announced that it will shut down the 150, 000bpd Nembe Creek oil pipeline this April due to the need to clear away illegal connections meant to facilitate the theft of crude oil from the pipeline.
    Also in March, NAOC declared ‘a force majeure’ regarding crude oil liftings at the Brass terminal and suspended its activities in Bayelsa State, following the intensification of illegal bunkering activities and the vandalisation of the 10 Kwale-Akri-Nembe-Brass oil delivery line. “The shutdown of these two key oil delivery trunk lines by SPDC and NAOC have cut nearly 300, 000 barrels per day from already dwindling Nigeria’s oil output, now put at 2.2 million barrels per day down from 2.75 million barrels per day a year ago, resulting from increased, organised and sophisticated illegal bunkering of oil by criminals operating in the creeks of the Niger Delta.
    I believe you will agree with me that these oil theft activities are not orchestrated by the north but premeditated wealth struggle by the southerners using criminal means.
    LANDLOCKED NORTH: another objective factor to the south- north wealth disparity can be traced to the landlocked geographical position of the northern region unlike the south that is open to the Atlantic ocean. This gives the south a head start over the north as the inevitable point of business take off, particularly with regard to import-export trade. It as well necessitated for the south to have first contact with the colonial masters. Perhaps in an effort to ameliorate this disadvantageous stand of the north, late ‘Yar adua embarked on dredging river niger.
    “radical Islam in contemporary Nigeria can best be traced to the proselytizing works of Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzakky (Muslim Brotherhood)… .  These men, at different times, founded and led different groups with Shitte Islamic inclinations across northern Nigeria. …Of these men, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzakky… founded the Muslim Brotherhood.”
    Oba, the above statements of yours lack research prudence. El-Zakzakky was never the founder nor was he even a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The source referred (Suleiman T., “The Plot to Islamise Nigeria”, Tell Magazine, (November 30, 2009): 20) perhaps explains the lack of veracity in the study. For the records, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzakky activities in the Muslim student society (MSS) while he was in Ahmadu Bello University back in the late 70s saw the conception of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) which came as an independent body since early 1980s. The movement has established many schools known as Fudiyyah or Fodia schools named after Shiekh Usman dan Fodio a famous 18th century scholar and a teacher to El-Zakzakky’s great grandfather (Imam Hussein). The movement also publish newspapers (Almizan) and magazines in both English and Hausa languages. El-Zakzaky is seen by many as “the de facto leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria”.
    In fact, there’s nothing like “Muslim Brotherhood” in Nigeria in the sense of those in Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Lydia, Tunisia, Somali, UK, USA etc.The Society of the Muslim Brothers  ( جماعة الإخوان المسلمين‎, often simply: الإخوان المسلمون, the Muslim Brotherhood, transliterated: al-ʾIkḫwān al-Muslimūn) is the Arab world’s most influential and one of the largest Islamic movements, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. Founded in Egypt in 1928 as a Pan-Islamic, religious, political, and social movement by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna.
    Equally, there’s not even an iota of inclination between Izala and Shiite, nor between Tariqqa and Shiite etc as you claimed. The word Shia (شيعة ) means follower and is the short form of the historic phrase shīʻatu ʻAlī (شيعة علي ), meaning “followers of Ali”, “faction of Ali”, or “party of Ali”. Shi’a and Shiism are forms used in English, while Shi’ite or Shiite, as well as Shia, refer to its adherents.
    Shia Muslims believe that just as a prophet is appointed by God alone, only God has the prerogative to appoint the successor to his prophet. They believe God chose Ali to be Muhammad’s SAW successor, infallible, the first caliph (khalifa, head of state) of Islam. Muhammad SAW, before his death, designated Ali as his successor.
    Ali was Muhammad SAW first cousin and closest living male relative as well as his son-in-law, having married Muhammad SAW daughter Fatimah. Ali would eventually become the fourth Muslim caliph. Sheikh Ibrahim Yakub El-Zakzakky is the spiritual and even political leader (they have their own recognised governors in some northern states) of Shiite in Nigeria and not Muslim Brotherhood.
    Personally, I see nothing wrong with it just as I equally believe that the eternal solution do not lie with military incursion only. It is a war against “ideology”, whether the doctrine is wrong or right is immaterial because numerous battles make up this war and they are often not won on battlefields nor solely by force. It is said that violence only beget violence and some one just said to me today that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”. As such you said it all in your conclusion just the way it should be. Right now my reservation is that for how long will the military action sustain the peace particularly that the dreaded commanders of the sect keeps eluding our security agencies.
    Reports backed by pictures released from Defence headquarters instilled fears and reminded me of my two years peacekeeping mission starting with African Union then United Nations in the troubled region of Darfur. I was undauntedly privileged to stay and sleep in the same camps with rebels (SLM/A: Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army; JEM: Justice and Equality Movement), ate together, discussed, ambushed by renegade Janjaweeds (meaning: devilish knight) etc. Back home in Nigeria, I did come across a “failed” suicide bomber, had both serene and fierce encounter with armed insurgents. I now tried to compare and contrast the two experiences.
    While the two (Darfur rebels and Nigeria’s insurgents) have different ideologies, the mode of operations are the same (with the exception of suicide bombing), levels of destruction are equal, casualties are similar, weaponry identical and now secession of a part of the country. When I heard of how the insurgents (Boko boys as I call them) have taken over the control of about ten local councils in Borno state I couldn’t imagine but reminisce my first six months in Darfur in an area called Khor Abeche totally usurped by the rebels. That area lacks a single symbol of government or organised authority; a life best to be described as “survival of the well armed”. For this in particular and many other reasons the SOE at this stage is perfect a square peg in congruent square hole.
    Notwithstanding, point of departure is that the Darfur rebels just like the Niger Delta militants have a political and economic course while the Boko boys are group of confused individuals pursuing a misconceived and misplaced supposed belief ideology. My encounter with these Boko elements (especially the foot soldiers) makes me see in them morally unkempt persons, uninformed, ironically uneducated theologically, absolutely disconnected with realities and imprisoned and programmed by the mischievous chicanery of selfish few. In short they are people lost in this world and only living in a false hope of a glory hereafter.
    In conclusion, just as the SOE has a place of significance in countering this insurgency, as you rightly said other comprehensive measures need to be also added. For one I see youth empowerment as a decisive tool. Unemployed Nigerian youths are in double digits of millions, and leaving them in such status provide a hive for them to be recruited by hoodlums and miscreants. Lawfully engage them gainfully before some does criminally…


  2. Oyeniyi B. A. permalink

    Dear Abubakar Balteh,

    Thank you for your comments. I am glad that you confirmed some of my positions – civil, political and military positions being held by northerners; poverty in the north and the various ways that i suggested on confronting the Boko Haram phenomenon. I thank you more profoundly for providing further insights into some other details about El-Zakzakky. Your silence on others people and groups that i mentioned in my piece is suggestive of your acceptance that they play fundamental roles in spreading fundamentalist Islamic ideologies in Nigeria.

    It is not what Boko Haram calls itself that matters and same goes for its stated ideologies/objectives; the most fundamental thing is that no group, no matter its ideology and supporters, is bigger than the nation. As a police officer, Mr. Balteh, you swore to protect Nigeria not a group within Nigeria. And it is in furtherance of that oath that you gallantly served in those places you mentioned. When a group holds the entire nation to ransom, it is your duty, as well as mine, to stand up and defend the nation.

    Much as you tried to argue your way out of why the north is fundamentally different from the south by dwelling on other ills that have rendered Nigeria prostrate over the year, your arguments indicted the leadership – including northern political leaders – the more. This is exactly my point in the essay.

    Finally, Mr Balteh, Nigeria Police is a critical part of the nation’s security architecture and its failure to rein-in Boko Haram is also your failure. Permit me to advise that you put your knowledge on Boko Haram at the disposal of the state rather than using it to justifyand defend Boko Haram. It is only by doing this that Nigeria will be made safe for our children and our children’s children.

    Thank you.

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