By Simeon Nwakaudu
The Australian negotiator, Stephen Davies has become quite notorious in Nigeria, following his series of interviews on the Boko Haram sponsorship question. These interviews at face value appear informative. However, a closer look reveals otherwise.
While several other commentators have dealt with several aspects of the interviews, my attention will be centred on the two names mentioned as sponsors of Boko Haram, Ali Modu Sheriff and General Azubuike Ihejirika..
This piece is not meant to defend both public figures as they have the capacity to defend themselves. However, the aim is to draw the public’s attention to the simple, but very fundamental inconsistencies in Davies interviews.
I will begin with Ali Modu Sheriff. His name has featured repeatedly as the alleged sponsor of Boko Haram. He was accused of sponsoring a gang of thugs called the Ecomog. The claim has been that Ecomog gave birth to Boko Haram. Between 2007 and 2010, Boko Haram grew extremely violent under late President Yar’Adua. The Army rose to the challenge and the initial Boko Haram leader was captured and unfortunately killed extra-judicially.
Preceding the 2011 election, Boko Haram assassinated the cousin of Ali Modu Sheriff who was the ANPP governorship candidate for Borno State. They also assassinated his brother, a local council chairman.
My take; if ever Sheriff had a link with Boko Haram, that link was severed long before the 2011 election. Therefore, who are the persons funding the terrorist group since 2010? This same man lost the 2011 Senatorial election for his district. If indeed, he had any form of control over the mechanics of terror, that wouldn’t have been the case.
On this count, I find Dr Davies allegation lacking in substance and an allegation arrived at after “dem say, dem say” interaction.
As for his allegation on Ihejirika, let me borrow the word of Marylyn Ogar. It is uncharitable. But, I must quickly add that it is akin to the action of Late Patrick Sawyer against Nigeria. This is a classical case of verbal terrorism, aimed at intimidating officers and men currently serving the Nigerian Army.
If Davies had taken his time to study Nigeria indepth, he would have appreciated the situation clearly. The same Ihejirika has allegations of supposedly using excessive military force to clamp down on Boko Haram hanging over his head. At a point, the same opposition leaders and their civil society associates who claim Davies “dem say” interview is gospel truth, threatened international legal action against Ihejirika.
My take: There is no fact on ground to convince me that Davies has no ulterior motive. Why should an international negotiator who should understand the importance of discreet handling of information, now be involved in reckless propaganda?
Most importantly, how on earth can anyone attach any importance or credibility to the words of Boko Haram commanders who are the alleged source of Davies “dem say” allegations. Davies is quick to mention Ihejirika and Sheriff, but made no mention of the identities of the Boko Haram commanders. If indeed, Davies met these terrorists, kidnappers, mass murderers and compulsive rapists, he should do the world a deserved service by naming them. We can no longer allow some foreign mercenaries with undefined interests distract us.
The current sponsored media onslaught against the military and retired military personnel is extremely regrettable. Davies interviews form a solid part of this game-plan. This plan cuts across local and international media and the aim is to completely decimate the morale of the military and give Boko Haram and their real sponsors advantage.
The Nigerian security forces must as a matter of urgency take a critical look at the new propaganda warfare being prosecuted by Boko Haram and her associates. National security consideration must be placed above any other consideration.
Davies has taken Nigeria for a ride and this must be said with every sense of responsibility. Where on earth will terrorists still in the wild freely tell the world their real sponsors? That is what the so called international negotiator wants us to believe. I don’t believe him. And that is my personal opinion.
Nwakaudu writes from Abuja.