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Boko Haram and Amnesia International

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Odumakin

?by Yinka Odumakin

In March 2014, some Boko Haram activists locked up in a facility of the Department of State Security Service (DSS) near the Aso Rock Villa seized guns from men of the service and wanted to break their jail house. But they were overpowered by valiant officers. Only God knows where they would have headed within the vicinity if they had succeeded?
A few days after this dastardly move, it was the turn of the leader of Arewa delegation to the 2014 National Conference, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, to give his response to the inauguration address of the President like every other delegate.
He had only three minutes but he was able to find space to make a case for the rights of Boko Haram fighters when he said: “Look at the case of Boko Haram boys who broke the SSS jail to protest their detention without trial”.
Not a few delegates wondered aloud how the former Inspector General of Police got to know what led to the attempted jail break. And he didn’t condemn the act.
I held my chin as I looked at the man who was hauling those of us in the pro-democracy vanguard to jail without trial under Sani Abacha now celebrating jail breaks as a protest by a murderous gang.
I recalled the time I was seized alongside Chief Gani Fawehinmi at a rally in Lagos in 1994. We were kept at the police facility in Panti. We took our bath in the open space at night. I would hold Chief’s clothes and watch the surrounding as he bathed and I would take my turn while he waited around for me too.
We only thought of enforcing our rights in court and not self-help!
Another of Coomasie victims told me sometime ago how he was locked up at Ikoyi prison indefinitely for no crime beyond asking the military to quit. He happened to share a cell with Chief Adisa Akinloye who was also remanded on the order of the dictator.
The gentleman had told Chief Akinloye that Senator Abraham Adesanya would be heading for court to file Habeas Corpus to seek his release from detention without trial and the Ibadan chief asked: “Habeas kini? O je je ki won gbagbe re sibi. Ti won ba ranti pe o wa nibi, odo Omenka lo nlo” (Habeas what? You had better let them forget that you are here. If you remind them, they will take you to the military detention facility under Omenka).
The Coomasie agitation for Boko Haram was to reach its crystallisation to an agenda when the Niger Delta demand for an increase in?the derivation formula became a thorny issue at the conference.?
The consensus committee was able to come up with a formula that would resolve the impasse in favour of all. It recommended that derivation should go up by 5% while another 5% of the Federation Account should be set aside for exploration of mineral resources in all states of the Federation over a period and 5% of the Federal Government allocation be used to take care of? disasters across the? country.
The committee came to plenary to give its report and Chairman Ike Nwachukwu asked Prof Ibrahim Gambari to present the report.?
The Professor represented the committee well on two items but doctored the third to read that the disaster fund should be for the reconstruction of the North East and North West ravaged by Boko Haram.
This flared tempers as many delegates frowned at the surreptitious attempt to create a “Boko Haram Fund”. That would have been the end of the conference but for the wisdom of referring that one item to the president for a technical committee.
Aftermath of the recent change of guards? in Nigeria, that agenda has been peeping with? certain Arewa voices calling for “amnesty programne” for Boko Haram.
I pray my instinct gets it wrong that the new wave of attacks by the group is not a design to walk us into starting this project.
In the midst of this all came the silly report from Amnesty International (AI) in this season of a collective amnesia the international community is forcing on us as a people.
How I wish all the children of frustration netting away the sovereignty of Nigeria and mortgaging their own future buying into all kinds of imperial agenda to castrate Nigeria eternally would look for the speech Murtala Mohammed read at the OAU conference? in 1976 titled “Africa Has Come of Age”? ….Continues!

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