Sokoto Caliphate And The Question: “Would Boko Haram Have Existed In Nigeria Without President Olusegun Obasanjo?”

Sokoto Caliphate And The Question: “Would Boko Haram Have Existed In Nigeria Without President Olusegun Obasanjo?”

By Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD, DD

On September 21, 2004, a group of Islamic fundamentalists which styled itself the Taliban launched on attack on two Police Stations in Nigeria’s Northern State of Borno, killing four Policemen and a civilian, in addition to destroying motor vehicles, buildings and seizing large quantities of arms and ammunition.

The September 21 attack was however not the first time the group had struck. The Source magazine had in its earlier report revealed how this group, which went by the name– Ahlul-Sunnah Jama’a first began its operation at the remote town of kanamma in Yobe State on December 22, 2003.

According to the magazine’s investigations, the objectives of the group were clearly set out thus by one of the captured Sect’s members, Sheikh Ibrahim Lawal Maisandari, who claimed to hold a master’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology from the University of Maiduguri:

“Every day of our lives as Moslems, we have been confronted with the issues of Sharia. Most States in the north are warming up for Sharia practice, but while there is urge to introduce Sharia, corruption deprivation and prostitution, by both men and women is on the rise daily.

What we discovered is that we are being fooled with Sharia issue. Our mission is to raise an army of jihadists who can enforce an Islamic State in the north where the people’s conduct and behaviour would be truly guided by the teachings of Islam regardless of your age, wealth, power, tribe, or sex.”

There is no doubt that from Sheikh Maisandari’s evocation, the “Talibans” were primarily enraged by the falling expectations of the Sharia implementation as promised by the Governments of Northern Muslim States. 

The introduction of the criminal law aspect of the Sharia by twelve Northern States of the Federation, beginning with Zamfara State in year 2000, which was sequel to their electoral campaign promises, was supposed in one way, to usher in a political deen of Islam, which to most fundamentalist Islamists did not however materialize. 

The inclusion of the Sharia in the body of the States’ criminal law had attracted a lot of uproar from a cross-section of Nigerian citizens manly among the Christian South and Middle Belt. It consequently resulted in many anti- and pro-Sharia riots in the northern parts of the country, particularly in the multi-religious   Kaduna State.

The editorial of TheNews magazine of March 6, 2000 reporting on the Kaduna Sharia riot of February the same your raised a number of teething questions on the consequences of the Sharia project to Nigeria’s corporate existence. It states inter alia:

“What the riot in Kaduna over the Sharia has demonstrated is that the Sharia affair cannot and should not be wished away. It should be tackled head on. At the heart of that incident is a couple of questions: What is the limit and limitation of Nigeria’s secularism? Does the freedom of thought, conscience and religion enshrined in our constitution mean anything to both the Christians and Muslims who waged war against each other in Kaduna last week?

If the advocates of Sharia get what they want, how would the country respond to the demands of other religious groups in the country? Is it really possible to have Sharia running side by side with other legal systems as its advocates have been saying?”

But it was Professor Wole Soyinka who actually, in reaction to the Kaduna Sharia riot of February 21, 2000, predicted what might likely fall-out from the Sharia conflict. In an answer to a question by Kunle Ajibade of TheNews magazine, Soyinka predictably stated:

“You know I am not an alarmist, but I see where this is heading. It is the duty of people like us to warn-please remember the adage of a stitch in time saves nine. Anybody who fails to predict what happened in Kaduna is not really an intelligent member of this society. It is predictable. It should not surprise anybody and it is going to get worse.”

The fact that the Kaduna anti-Sharia riot broke out just about two weeks after the eighteen Emirs of Northern Nigeria had met in Kaduna under the leadership of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammadu Maccido, during which they wholly supported the introduction of Sharia in Kaduna State, makes it even plausible for one to suggest a case of the “voice of Esau but the hand of Jacob.”

The previous 1979 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had provided for the establishment of either a Sharia or Customary Court of Appeal for those States that so wished. The proposed amendment sought by the Islamist Generals however was to make the establishment of Sharia Court of Appeal mandatory for all the States of the Federation regardless of their religious leanings. But predictably, as Nigeria’s weekly magazine Tell evidently reported:

“One top official of the junta says the shadow-chasers may only have beaten a temporary retreat. ‘I will not be surprised if they try to regroup and find way to achieve their objective’.”

Presently, not only did that prediction come true, with the coming of the Sharia imbroglio in the Northern States, but it has further metamorphosed into an extremist Islamist insurgency.

To those who were well acquainted with the history of the Fulani neo-jihad project therefore, the Sunday July 26, 2009 military insurgency by the fundamentalist Islamic group, Ja’matus Ahlus Sunnah Lid Daawatis Wal Jihad, widely known as Boko Haram- ‘Western education is sin”, did not elicit much surprise.  It was only a scene in a long-drawn political drama which script has always been there waiting to be acted when the occasion calls for it.

The short-lived regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, even though it was dearth of time and space, could not however be totally isolated from the jihad policy of his predecessors. A cursory look at his appointments, particularly the members of his Executive Council vividly explain this. But one thing is certain General Abubakar had the singular credit of handing over political power to a southerner and Christian, in fulfillment of his transition program.

In rooting for the selection of General Olusegun Obasanjo as their choice for the Presidency, the Fulani had thought of the former not only as their potential friend, but a readily malleable figure who would always dance to their musical tune of perpetual political dominance. General Obasanjo never supported Moshood Abiola’s claim to the presidency. His words that General Abacha’s coming to power was “unfortunate but necessary”, was indicative of his opposition to the June 12   protagonists.

This was coming at the behest of the popular but erroneous view that the Yoruba are habitually cowards. The words of Sani Kontagora are obvious in this stance. On General Obasanjo’s remarkable achievement in handing over power to a Fulani, President Shehu Aliyu Shagari, Alhaji Kontagora was to retort disparagingly in respect of General Obasanjo’s relationship with his Deputy Major General Shehu Yar’ Adua thus:

“Who enunciated what programme? What did he know? What did he know to enunciate anything? What did he know? Somebody that was in the army, who couldn’t build road. He came and met the programme of Murtala, and he was having Shehu (Yar’ Adua) behind him. And the moment he moved forward, he looked backward, and say what do you think Shehu, and Shehu would say okay, move forward.”

Alhaji Kontagora forgot that it was the same General Obasanjo, against general consensus of the army high command, who lifted Major General Shehu Yar’Adua from the lowly rank of Lt. Colonel to Major General above legion of his seniors; the same way Major General J. T. U. Aguiyi-Ironsi lifted Major Hasan Usman Katsina to Lt. Colonel above his seniors in rank to become the Governor of Northern Region.

The same Kontagora went further in   much a deriding manner to mock the South’s impotency in the Nigerian Armed Forces. Referring to the South, he stated:

“It has been proved. Where have you ever gone to do something that is courageous? Tell me. Tell me. How many? A soldier should be a soldier. Believe me sincerely.  If we are going to handle a gun, you and me, or any Southerner, walahi, I would shoot first. I would shoot first. Even when you go to the army, where do you go?  Educational sector, medical sector! Go and find out, my friend. Not every Soldier you see on the street is a soldier. They are either in education or engineering. Tell me which one you are? We are in infantry, armour. That is army man. Infantry man, armoured man and then artillery. That is the army.”

Unfortunately, Alhaji Kontagora forgot that it was indeed General Olusegun Obasanjo who on assumption of the Command of the 3rd Marine Commando Division on May 16, 1969 that finally defined the course of the Nigerian civil war that subsequently led to its end. He did not know that it was General Obasanjo’s “Operation Finishing Touch”, and “Operation Tailwind” later launched on January 7, 1970 that brought the war to an end.

General Murtala Mohammed, whose 2nd Division entered Onitsha on March 23, 1968 after a disastrous defeat at Abagana, could not move further than Onitsha nearly throughout the war. He was ignominiously replaced by another incompetent Fulani Commander General I. B. M. Haruna, who was shortly replaced by General Gibson Jalo, who even transferred his Headquarters to Ibusa, in the present Delta State.

The only successful Muslim commander was the Shuwa Arab-born Col Mohammed Shuwa of the 1st Division, who managed after nearly two years of being stuck at Enugu, to liberate Umuahia on April 22, 1969. Thus, one does not see where Fulani prowess in Nigerian armed forces comes from, or had been exhibited, outside the heinous and cowardly massacre of defenseless civilians.

Thus, if the likes of Kontagora had mistaken General Obasanjo’s sense of equity and moral dexterity in propping up Shehu Yar’Adua from the lowly rank of Lt. Colonel to the exalted rank of Major General and subsequently his second-in-command as a sign of weakness, they were nothing more and nothing less moronic braggarts.  If they had similarly considered General Obasanjo’s hand-over of the reins of power to the Fulani Alhaji Shehu Shagari as an act of foolishness, then they were indeed politically blind-folded.

Against these backdrops, the Fulani oligarchy had expected a democratically elected President Olusegun Obasanjo of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to become their political stooge and willing tool in the serve of their jihad objectives. Unfortunately, it was a different Olusegun Obasanjo that assumed the position of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

As a counter-measure against President Obasanjo’s possible renegade on their expectations, the Fulani oligarchy had advantageously positioned their coup-plotting surrogate military officers, most of whom had enjoyed juicy political appointments under successive Northern Muslim-led Military Governments, in sensitive command positions. Unfortunately for them, President Obasanjo being a master in the game knew how best to handle the position.

His first policy in this regard was to order the retirement all military officers who had held one political appointment or the other. These were classified as political military officers whose political orientations could present dangers to the nascent democracy. Coincidentally, most of the officers affected by the “political appointee officers” label was of Fulani and Muslim extractions; most of who still occupied sensitive military command positions.

The action indeed did not go down well with the Caliphate ruling class whose mood towards President Olusegun Obasanjo immediately changed from that of a trusted friend to that of a foe, thus setting the stage for eventual confrontation between him and the Fulani oligarchy.

The first evidence of this change of mood against this act of assumed betrayal of trust to a supposedly friendly and weak General Olusegun Obasanjo was expressly manifested in the introduction of Shari’a law by Zamfara State on October 27, 1999, which came into force on January 27, 2000. President Obasanjo’s tactical diplomatic response to the Shari’a imbroglio effectively doused the evil schemes of his Fulani adversaries.

It was the failure of the Shari’a strategy that prompted the insurgency option which consequently led to the emergence of the “Taliban” insurgency group on December 22, 2003. Remarkably, this was coming just a little over six months of President Obasanjo’s second term in office. Indeed, the events following the September 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York by al Qaeda seemed to have aided the Fulani strategy for wrestling power from President Obasanjo. It was reported that at the heat of the heinous crime by al Qaeda, posters of Bin Laden were freely displayed and sold in such Northern Muslim States as Kano, Jigawa, and Zamfara.

About a year and six months later, this reckless demonstration of support for al Qaeda-led international terrorism received international boost by Bin Laden’s broadcast of Tuesday February 11, 2003, in which Nigeria was included among such Muslim countries as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, and Yemen, where Muslims were urged to launch jihad against their infidel regimes.

 By 2005, the Fulani oligarchy had laid bare their pangs of assault against President Obasanjo. The first volley was fired by the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, which came by way of criticizing what it described as the lop-sided nature of the composition of the Federal Cabinet. In an advertorial the organization alleged ipso facto:

“When Obasanjo constituted the cabinet for his second term in office, he appointed 42 ministers out of whom only 16 were Muslims and 26 were Christians. In the whole of Kwara, Kogi, South-West, South-East and South-South, there was not a single Muslim.”

This was followed by a plethora of criticisms and outright threat to the Government of President Obasanjo. On March 28, 2005 the Northern Muslim leaders met in Kaduna under the auspices of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affair (NSCIA), under the chairmanship of the Sultan of Sokoto. According to Major Abubakar Umar (rtd):

“The meeting that was held in Kaduna was at the instance of the outcry by the generality of Muslims in the Northern part of the country, observing what has been happening with the Obasanjo’s administration to the marginalization of Muslims.”

It was in that meeting that the then Emir of Gwandu, traditionally the second-in-command to the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mustapha Jokolo, let the cat out of the bag. As George Mbah succinctly put it:

“The Emir complained bitterly that northern Muslims today have no banks, and construction companies: that their soldiers were compulsorily retired from the army shortly after Obasanjo came to power: and that their children are being denied recruitment in the army.”

Alhaji Mustapha Jokolo went further out of control to threaten a jihad against those responsible for their woes. In his words he stated:

“We (Muslims) have been pushed to the wall and it is time to fight…. Obasanjo is trampling on our rights and Muslims must rise and defend their rights. The more we continue to wait, the more we will continue to be marginalized.”

 Unfortunately for Mustapha Jokolo, that was the last meeting he attended as the Emir of Gwandu. He never returned to Birnin Kebbi as Emir. He was summarily deposed on the orders of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces for obvious treasonable felony. Although he was removed from power, but his command was never deleted from the minds of the people it was directed to. It was just a matter of time before the order was put into action.

However, with the exit of President Olusegun Obasanjo and the subsequent assumption of power by the Fulani-born Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the Fulani scheme for power appeared to have been fulfilled. Every threat of jihad seemed to evaporate into the political thin air of Allahu Akbar. A quiet and unassuming character Umaru Yar’ Adua might appear, his neo-jihadist background soon began to manifest in his discreet pro-Islamic policies.

While commendable for his Niger Delta amnesty program, his policy of northernization and Islamization of strategic Federal Government positions far outmaneuvered the so-called Christianization policy of President Obasanjo. In fairness to President Obasanjo, there was always the balancing role of the minorities against the contending traditional rivalries of the three major ethnic groups of the Hausa/Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba.

 In other words, there is no evidence that President Obasanjo recklessly favored his Yoruba ethnic group against the others. The short span of President Umaru Yar’ Adua’s reign as Nigeria’s President undoubtedly presented a contrast.

The first pro-Fulani act of President Yar’ Adua was to descend on the Nigeria armed forces in a frenzy bid to undo what the Fulani accused President Obasanjo of doing.  It was not therefore surprising to see him appointing a Fulani Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Abdulrahman Bello Danbazzau, believed to possess the intellectual and professional capacities to carry out the desired Fulani-driven policy. General Danbazzau subsequently initiated the immediate northernization and Islamization of the Nigerian Armed Forces. As the Insider Weekly put it:

“Out of his 32 key appointments, he gave 27 to the North; three to the Southeast; two to the Southwest, and none to the South-South. Of these 32 appointments, sources told this magazine that he gave 24 to Moslems, pointing out that all the Army chief’s actions have been based on ethnic and religious considerations.”

The news magazine went further to reel out concrete evidence of the President’s Islamization policy. It was a pitiable situation when both the Ministers of National Planning, Finance, Petroleum Resources, and Internal Affairs, including the Central Bank Governor, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) as well as Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) were under the headship of members of Fulani ethnic group.

The same situation applied, in addition to the Army, to the State Security Service (SSS), and the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA).  It thus meant that, under President Umaru Yar’ Adua, the rest of the country had no right or principal control over the economy of the country, as well as the Security apparatus, except members of Fulani ethnic group.

As further evidence of his neo-jihad policy, the President on March 2008 attended the Summit of the controversial Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). His attendance of the Summit in being the first to be attended by any Nigerian Head of State since the country’s controversial membership of the organization in 1996 under President Ibrahim Babangida, was tacit expression of the Fulani mission of Islamization in the nation.

Unfortunately, as in the cases of the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Generals Murtala Mohammed and Muhammadu Buhari’s military era, President Yar’ Adua’s neo-jihad project met a brick-wall when he died unexpectedly. The emergence of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in the political scene as Yar’ Adua’s successor, again dissolved that thick cloud of momentary Fulani victory.

Jonathan’s eventual victory over the fundamentalist General Muhammadu Buhari in the 2011 Presidential election seemed to have thwarted the Fulani stealth jihad policy. Thus frustrated, the alternative became the heinous propping up of the once sleeping Islamic insurgency, this time code-named “Boko Haram.”

It thus follows that when, as earlier noted, the deposed Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Mustapha Jokolo called for jihad against President Olusegun Obasanjo; it was not Major Mustapha Jokolo (rtd) as a person that was speaking. As the second-in-command to the Amir al-Muminum, the Sultan of Sokoto, his voice could not therefore have been ignored. Beyond the fact of being the traditional deputy to the Sultan of Sokoto, as the Emir of Gwandu and scion of Usman Dan Fodio’s younger brother, he presides over a number of emirates as his fiefdom.

Reacting to the Mustapha Jokolo’s call for jihad, Iyoba Uwugiaren and Bashir Kalija, stated in quite agitating manner:

“If trouble breaks out in Nigeria today, at least, the citizens now know that it is Jokolo and his masters who are behind it. And they should be stopped before the carnage in other African countries spread to Nigeria. A stitch in time saves nine.”

The question which follows in situ is, to what extent could Alhaji Jokolo’s call for jihad be unconnected with the present Boko Haram insurgency, especially arising from the initial insistence by the group that the Sultan of Sokoto should be a party to any peace negotiation with the Federal Government?

In laying credence to the impossibility of dissociating the Sokoto Caliphate from the origin of Boko Haram, the former Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, in an interview with the Tell magazine, logically expressed his support for Boko Haram when he stated in answer to a question by a journalist:

“What are they fighting for? When they increased fuel price, what did we do? We went out to protest because that was injustice to us all.  Let us call a spade a spade; the government is not doing justice to the people. These people we don’t even know who they are or where they are. The country is rotten.”

It should be recalled that as Sultan it was Alhaji Dasuki’s support for the call for jihad in Southern Kaduna that ignited the ethno-religious inferno in Zango-Kataf which saw the eventual conviction of Major General Zamani Lekwot.

Alhaji Dasuki was reported to have issued an advertorial on a daily newspaper supporting the death sentence handed down on General Lekwot.  The fact that there was a letter written to him revealing that there was going to be a jihad against the Kataf which was dated May 9, 1992, and signed by one Aliyu I. Jbrin on behalf of the Nigerian Aid Group of Jama’ atu Izaltul Bidi’n wa Ikametus Sunna, Zango Kataf Divisional Headquarters, without evidence of his opposition clearly proved his credential as the god-father of Islamic insurgency in Nigeria.

The words of Bello Junaid, the Coordinator of Sokoto Historical Project, are instructive. Bello believes that the Boko Haram crisis was the creation of “selfish Northern politicians” who felt alienated from government.  But it was Ahmadu Abubakar that got the most fascinating joker, when he stated 1999 that:

“There are certain opinion leaders in the North I have said this before, whose sustenance is dependent on government office or the benefit of government patronage. Therefore, unless people like these ones are at the helm of affairs or in office from which they can continue to derive such patronage, nobody from the North is in government. But clearly, there are many northerners in this government.”

There is no gainsaying the fact that the present spate of Islamic uprising code-named Boko Haram, ISWAP, Bandits and armed Fulani herdsmen is the climax of the jihad visions and missions of Sokoto Caliphate, which began with the 1805 Jihad of Usman dan Fodio. It found expression first on the introduction of the Shari’a into the criminal code by the States of Muslim North.

 Then, when that strategy could not bring the desired impact, they resorted to outright military insurgency, seeking ideological refuge in Islam.

It could therefore be said without equivocation that the original scripts of Boko Haram, ISWAP, Bandits and armed Fulani herdsmen were written by the Caliphate, rehearsed by Fulani politicians and thereafter handed down for acting to the ideologically bankrupt and morally corrupt Muslim faithful.

The recent statement by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Saad Abubakar III, during the North-West Peace and Security Summit in Katsina, that it will take Nigeria decades to end banditry in the north, clearly proves that Sokoto Caliphate is a major accomplice in the current state of insecurity in Nigeria; otherwise, how did he come to the conclusion that it will take decades to end banditry in Nigeria?

By Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD, DD

Odogwu of Ibusa

President, International Coalition against Christian Genocide in Nigeria (ICAC-GEN)

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N/B: This Opinion is solely that of the Author, it does not reflect the thoughts, actions of Portfolio Media Activities Ltd.

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