Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bring our daughters home--Boko Haram is a religion?

In Cameroon Boko Haram Is Preached As A Religion

By Odimegwu Onwumere

The authorities and well-meaning peoples of Nigeria are yet worried about stopping the trashy activities of the Islamic sect popularly known and called Boko Haram in the country, but the sect is concerned about recruiting as many youths as possible in Cameroon into accepting the sect activities as a religion.

As the sect holds influence in the North-East of Nigeria since 1999 killing over 4,000 people and damaging property worth millions of naira, government officials in Cameroon are worried that the apparent activities of the sect inCameroon’s Far North Region is becoming bothersome.

This is coming barely a fortnight the Ghanaian former President Jerry John Rawlings reportedly disclosed at the 70th birthday of Nigeria’s former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi in Igueben, Edo State that, Nigeria should not be somnolent in the fight against Boko Haram, but suggested that tactful measures in the fight would benefit.

From Rawlings’ comment, it has become incommodious that Boko Haram might take over the continent of Africa if urgent measures are not taken and earnestly put in place to curb the activities of the group. After Nigeria, the fight against the dreaded sect without doubt has also become a thorn in the flesh of Cameroon as over 200 suspected Boko Haram members have been arrested in that country and were later set free for what authorities said was because of lack of adequate evidence to prosecute the arrested.

When this reporter made a journey of Lake Chad through Maiduguri recently, a young man who introduced himself to this reporter as Adamu and warned that pictures of him should not be taken, said that his worry in the country (Cameroon) is that members of the Islamic sect are preaching about their activities as a religion and not as terrorism.

“I can conveniently tell you that youths in our country Cameroon are being indoctrinated into belieiving that Boko Haram is a religion and not a terrorism organization. Many youths who refused to accept the volatile teachings of the group are missing today. Few of them who narrowly escaped from their captors narrated their ordeals, saying that they were being given military training in undisclosed areas so that they would be deployed to fight in Nigeria,” the source said.

It was also noted that in Mayo-Sava area and Mora District in Far North Region of Cameroon the residents are apprehensive of the surge of the sect in their areas. When this reporter questioned his informant if he was aware of the news making the rounds that Boko Haram preachers are going around the areas luring youths with monetary promises that they would be rich and better Muslims if they become Boko Haram members, he did not waste time to affirm the suspicion:

“I’ve heard of a thing like that. I also know that Boko Haram members are now dreaded in Cameroon like a scourge because their offer to the unsuspecting youths is tempting. I’ve noted that some parents give out their children to join the sect so that ‘they could become rich and better Muslims than they were.” 

Investigations revealed that Boko Haram members do not waste time to send back any injured youth that was training in their camps back home, although blind-folded, perhaps to avert a trace of their training camp. According to sources, Boko Haram preachers kidnap young Cameroonians and take them to Nigeria for training.

Some of the affected youths were noted to be those from Banki, Kolofata and Ngeshawa in Cameroon. Apart from the so-called military training that the preachers give to their victims, they also preach the ‘favourable’ side of the Koran that invariably promote violence and tell them that they are fighting a ‘just’ fight to defend the Muslim faith.

A government official interviewed who spoke under anonymity for the fear that he might be attacked should he give his name, said: “I’m not too sure that Cameroonian youths are being preached into accepting Boko Haram as a religion, but I cannot rule out the fact that it might be truth since Nigeria and Cameroon share common ethnic and cultural affinities. This is exemplified in the Cameroon’s Far North and Nigeria’s North-East. It is a common knowledge that these areas share not only semblance of culture, but, also, speak the same language.”

According to sources, many of the youths who joined the Boko Haram-initiated Islamic school have not been seen by their family members since 2012 they were declared ‘missing’. Whether they are alive or dead, no one could give an account of their whereabouts. All the hope of the affected families is that the ‘missing’ persons are with Boko Haram and are expected to come back in the event that they are alive, better Muslims and rich.

Asked why the group is in the Cameroon’s Far North; it was gathered that the neo-presence of Boko Haram members in the villages neighbouring North-Eastern Nigeria was not unconnected with the May 2013 offensive that was launched by the Nigerian military that invariably compelled the surviving members of the group to look for safety in the neighbouring Far North of Cameroon.

Notwithstanding, it was gathered that security officials in Cameroon are doing everything within their reach to send the constituents of the group packing from the country. According to an account credited to Emmanuel Bob-Iga, head of the police division at the Far North governor’s office said: “We strongly believe that Boko Haram has elements in Cameroon and the authorities are doing everything possible to track them down.”

Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.

Tel: +2348032552855

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