By Richard Murphy
There must be a limit to deluding ourselves. Metamorphosis is real. The process moves from egg to larva to pupa and finally the adult insect emerges to do good or unleash evil. The Islamic Movement in Nigeria is at the verge of evolving to the adult stage of destruction – having gone through the pupa stage of relative inaction until it began a campaign of violence in the last few days.
Boko Haram went through similar stages with different acceleration in time past. It began as a collection of youths that are intolerant of the liberties of others. They will embarrass and later harass women they deemed as wearing revealing clothes. They later became bold to the point of pressuring authorities to adopt Sharia law. The political class played into their trap by failing to crush their nonsense at that stage. They grew into a group that confronted law enforcement with stones and sticks. They later adopted cudgels, bows and arrow with the occasional Dane guns; today they use anti-aircraft guns and improvised explosives that became complex before the Nigerian military slowed down their advancement.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and a straggling of separatist groups in the south-east sought similar paths. The state was initially complacent. The outrage expressed by concerned citizens in the south-east galvanized action and the court declared IPOB a terrorist group. The metamorphosis of IPOB into a full blown killer terror group. Its leader, Nnamdi Kanu has been reduced to holding weekly comedy sessions on social media from hiding in Israel.
But there is a collective indifference and shared complicity that is making sure IMN completes its evolution into Nigeria’s new terror group. We have all indulged the Shia sect to the point of irresponsibility. We have a government that has failed to give the IPOB treatment to IMN. All that is needed is to activate the necessary processes – white paper or court ruling – to either outlaw IMN nationwide or declare it the dangerous terrorist group that it is. Its members are never the peaceful protesters anywhere within the confines of morality or law. They have crept up from obstructing traffic and hurling stones to deploying petrol bombs and shooting metallic catapult. They will soon move from Molotov Cocktail to something more devastating.
The IMN has now graduated to being ready to take the life of other citizens and the state must be consciously aware that they owe other citizens in guaranteeing the right to life and upholding this obligations could come at cost of three lives or even more so long as those that adhere to the law are not allowed to become victims. Those who openly confront security operatives have to a great extent waived their rights to not be shot at. If they must protest and not be considered threats then roads must remain open to traffic for others to have free access and those congregating should consider copying the America they use as benchmark to the fullest – hands raised high for the duration of the protest to show that they intend no aggression. This is not IMN’s way as it would entail its members will be deprived of the violence they have embraced as their way of life.
Those backing IMN in the hope that they speak for human rights must endeavor to get the larger picture. The kind of protests IMN holds in Nigeria are not permissible in any other country. Not even in the United States or United Kingdom that some people see as the replication of heaven on earth. The courts in the UK sentenced 1,292 persons to 1,808 years in jail for their roles in the 2011 London Riots and their citizens did not petition Nigeria to help them brand their country as dysfunctional; the timely clamp down on dissent mixed with crimes (arson, theft, looting and attacks on law enforcement) ensured dangerous groups did not grow into maturity. That country continues to jail members of National Action, UK’s equivalent of IMN.
In the United States, citizens have learnt the wisdom of not being aggressive towards law enforcers. People get shot for less in God’s own country. And they have a president who teeters between practicality and errant bent to have declared that hurling projectiles at troops would be considered as weapons. His opponents think this is bunkers but they are yet to give one example in the world were such acts of terror do not attract retributions.
Of course there is no point mentioning here that Israel does not see reason in using live bullets against stone hurling Palestinian protesters. Missiles do a better job. Maybe crazy things happen when the safety of the larger population of the country is the driving motivation.
Further research is however needed to establish how Iran, IMN’s driving force, responds to protesters that attack its security forces. The deadly clampdown by Revolutionary Guards must be something reserved only for foreigners and not Iranian citizens so we may have to encourage IMN members to take their protests to that country, hurl stones at the Revolutionary Guards and brief the world afterwards on the kind of reception accorded such irresponsible behavior.
Client NGOs are equally complicit whether they are local or international. They have their own objectives. There is record to show that they had one time or the other defended al-Qaeda, Islamic State, al-Nusra or just any other terror group as activist movement that must be protected. This criminal interference is a process for delaying action against criminals so that they have time to build their terror infrastructure. Amnesty International is leading this charge. It ignores the attacks by IMN fighters to see only the outcome of security operatives doing their job. The goal is to cow the government into allowing IMN to complete its metamorphosis into Nigeria’s new nightmare.
Those that have been entrusted with keeping Nigerians safe must ignore the many antics being carried out to enable IMN fester. If the state must successfully protect the citizenry then the monopoly of violence which resides only in the state must be activated. The rights to life is a limited right which no one can absolutely possess, commission of certain crimes invalidates it.
Murphy a security analyst wrote from Calabar.