Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad (Jamā’a Ahl al-sunnah li-da’wa wa al-jihād), better known by its Hausa name Boko Haram (“Western education is sinful“), is a jihadistmilitant organisation based in the northeast of Nigeria. It is an Islamist movement which strongly opposes man-made laws and westernisation.
The movement is divided into three factions. In 2011, Boko Haram was responsible for at least 450 killings in Nigeria. It was also reported that they had been responsible for over 620 deaths over the first six months of 2012. Since its founding in 2001, the jihadists have been responsible for between 3,000 to 10,000 deaths.
The group became known internationally following sectarian violence in Nigeria in July 2009, which left over 1,000 people dead. It appears as if they do not have a clear structure or evident chain of command. Moreover, it is still a matter of debate whether Boko Haram has links to terror outfits outside Nigeria and its fighters have frequently clashed with the Federal Government. A US commander stated that Boko Haram is likely linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), although professor Paul Lubeck points out that no evidence is presented for any claims of material international support.
Expectedly, the group has been severally criticized, even though government has decided to grant amnesty to its members. President Goodluck Jonathan has inaugurated a panel to that effect.
Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, the Niger State governor, has criticised the group, saying, “Islam is known to be a religion of peace and does not accept violence and crime in any form” and Boko Haram doesn’t represent Islam.
The Sultan of Sokoto Sa’adu Abubakar, the spiritual leader of Nigerian Muslims, has called the sect “anti-Islamic”.
The Coalition of Muslim Clerics in Nigeria (CMCN) has called on the Boko Haram to disarm and embrace peace.
The Islamic Circle of North America, the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, the Muslim Council of Britain, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Council on American Islamic Relations have all condemned the group.
But the National Security Adviser, Col .Sambo Dasuki (rtd), introduced an entirely new dimension to the discussion. Last Tuesday, he attributed the increase in kidnappings, activities of Boko Haram and other criminal acts across the country to climate change.
Speaking on the recurring Fulani herdsmen’s attack on villages in several parts of Nigeria, he recommended the establishment of National Grazing Routes by the country as a sure means of ending the crisis between herdsmen and farmers, which often result to heavy casualties.
Dasuki stated this when he appeared before the House Committee on Climate Change. The NSA was represented by five senior officials from his office, led by the Special Adviser on Economic Intelligence, Prof. Soji Adelaja.
Responding to a question from a member of the committee, Kingsley Chinda, on whether Boko Haram, restiveness in the Niger Delta, kidnappings in the South East and myriads of cases of violence and killings across the country had anything to do with the climate change, Nyam stated that there was a connection between the current state of insecurity and climate change, which he said is affecting the economy base of almost everyone.
He explained that the rising sea level in the Niger Delta and the problem with Lake Chad have forced young people out of job in the Niger Delta and Borno axis resulting in their involvement in crimes.
He said: “In the state of joblessness, the youth can easily be forced into crime”.
On the recurring clashes between herdsmen and farmers in several states, Adelaja described the situation as disturbing.
He disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan, in an attempt to find a lasting solution to the problem, recently held a meeting with governors, where he (Jonathan) canvassed for a grazing route to be approved by governors, to ease the problem.
The governors, he said, did not buy the idea and therefore, turned down the President’s proposal.
He solicited the cooperation of the National Assembly in helping to formulate legislation for the establishment of National Grazing Route, describing the measure as the most effective way of addressing the problem.
Chairman of the Committee, Eziuche Ubani, accused the Federal Government of not attaching the desired seriousness to the challenge posed by climate change.
He re-echoed Nyam’s stand, saying that there is indeed a link between the changing weather situation to the current insecurity in the country, urging Jonathan to give more ear to issues concerning climate change.
He also tasked the Federal Government to quickly come up with workable ways of addressing the recurring loss of lives as a result of clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
He assured that the House of Representatives would be ready to work with the executive and other stakeholders to come up with legislations, if need be, to address the problem.