By AYODELE AKINKUOTU
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, at times may sound strident when he accuses Boko Haram of plotting to wipe out Christians from the nation’s northern landscape. Those who doubt him should start giving him some credit that his interpretation of the militant sect’s plan hits nothing but the bull’s-eye. The latest confirmation of the pastor’s reading is the unprovoked killing of Christians at two venues inside Bayero University, Kano, on Sunday, April 29. Even the modus operandi of the terrorists speaks volume of the madness of the members. They threw explosives into the two congregations. And as the worshippers fled for dear lives, the terrorists who had laid ambush for them outside the church venues gunned them down like chickens. The style is akin to smoking out rabbits from their dens into the waiting hands of their human predators. And a few days later in Jalingo, capital of Taraba State, the fiendish sect showed the world how ingenious it could be. A suicide bomber riding on a motorbike lunged himself at the convoy of Mamman Sule, the state’s police commissioner. Sule was lucky but not some of his aides and many passersby. Hafeez Ringim, erstwhile inspector general of police, was equally lucky. Last June in Abuja, another suicide bomber riding a car loaded with explosives, nearly succeeded in ramming into his convoy as he approached the Force Headquarters. Just like in Sule’s case, only providence saved him. The ensuing blast shook the police headquarters to its foundation.
Since its terror campaign began, Boko Haram’s targets had been security formations and churches in several parts of the North. Now, they have also turned their radar on another institution, the media. On Thursday April 26, a suicide bomber reduced the ThisDay office in Abuja to rubble. And about the same hour in Kaduna, another terrorist tried to bomb a building in which ThisDay, The Sun and Moment newspaper offices were located. The surprising thing about this operation is that the bomber is said to have alerted those who tried to stop him that his car was explosive-laden. They did not believe him though. He tried to show proof of his evil intention during which the device exploded killing many and leaving several others injured. With the latest serial attacks, there is no doubt that Nigeria is seriously under the siege of terrorists. And Boko Haram is telling the nation every day that it is not just a run-of-the-mill terrorist group. Even as one of its foot soldiers was executing the suicide-bombing assignment at the ThisDay premises in Abuja, another foot soldier was standing by to capture the success of the mission on video. The clip of that video has been put on YouTube. And the sect has asked other media houses in Nigeria to get prepared to receive their satanic messengers.
What is their offence? The media houses have been accused of siding with the federal government. They make this accusation because of ignorance. The history of the media in Nigeria shows a profession that has always pitched its tent with the people. Even before independence, the media as a group had been the agenda setter for the society. That largely self-appointed mission has not lost its steam in the over 50 years of the nation’s independence, which included the dark days of military rule. And it is not likely to lose focus now that the Constitution has assigned a role for the media. . It is too late in the day for the media to shy away from the battle to make Nigeria realise its great potential because of the threat of Boko Haram.. While the nation is still far from the Promised Land, Nigerians have triumphed over many evils that tried to short-circuit their country. And even though terrorists operate like evil spirits, they are human beings who live among us. Thus everything must be done, including dialogue, to end the siege. The alarm raised by respected General Theophilus Danjuma on the “fire” burning in several parts of Nigeria should not be discountenanced. To ignore such warnings amounts to laying the foundation for the eventual “Somalianisation” of Nigeria.