Thursday 6 August 2009

Nigeria: Conflicted interests in the Boko Haram probe

President appears to act

After returning from his rescheduled trip to Brazil President Yar’Adua met with senior security personnel to assess the situation with the outbreak of violence first perpetrated by the Boko Haram religious fundamentalists on the police and then the subsequent quelling of the uprising by the Army that captured the main proponents to the seeming extra-judicial killing of the leader and financier of the group.

I read that the President had instituted a probe [1] into the circumstances behind the uprising leading to the death of the principals of Boko Haram.

Unfortunately, I did not read in that first announcement who would be heading the probe or what the clear terms of reference would be.

This became clear in another news item where the President directed the National Security Adviser to carry out a full scale investigation [2] and report within a week whilst parroting the well worn mantra of rule of law to effect.

A missed opportunity

I am quite doubtful that any report produced by security agencies in Nigeria will pass the muster of credible, trustworthy, fair, just or truthful.

This is not to excoriate the attempt but evidently the whole security apparatus knew about Boko Haram, they had some intelligence on the group, they allowed the group to thrive till it became this malignant suicidal force that lead to the loss of 700 or so lives.

Why the President could not find a reputable retired judge who commands respect, known to be both incorruptible and impartial to address this matter in order to give Nigerians the confidence that the truth can be brought to light escapes me.

They allowed Boko Haram to thrive

It is difficult to have an open mind about this probe where everything about Boko Haram points to the tolerance of their activities, the influence they had that prevented governments from acting decisively, the incompetence of the whole security apparatus and the ill discipline of the police in allegedly committing two extra-judicial killings.

It beggars belief that the same security framework that allowed this to happen is to investigate itself and determine what might have happened as part of what they could have done right or wrong.

However, the President has suggested that after this probe, there might be the possibility of further investigations; it would provide him the opportunity to gain some kudos to hand the investigation to parties who really would go after the truth rather than using conflicted interests to investigate themselves.


[1] BBC NEWS | Africa | Nigeria to probe Islamist attacks

[2] Nigeria: Yar'Adua Orders Probe of Boko Haram Leaders' Killing

Additional Information

The interview conducted with the captured leader of Boko Haram before he was killed.

The interrogation of Muhammad Yusuf |

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