Bomb Attack in Nigeria: Islamists Continue to Waste Human Lives

Yesterday, Islamic terrorists struck again. They reportedly exploded a bomb at the UN House in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. The blast which shattered some parts of the building killed at least 18 people and injured many others. A local Islamist group, Boko Haram, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Boko Haram is said to have links with al Qaeda and Al Shabab in Somalia. It reportedly recruits militants from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and other African countries.

Boko Haram is waging a violent campaign for the strict implementation of sharia. Sharia is already in force in 12 states in Northern Nigeria. In 2000, politicians in Muslim-majority states foisted the Islamic law on citizens in these states in violation of the Nigerian constitution. Many people sentenced under sharia law to death by stoning, including those for amputation or flogging, are languishing in prisons across the region. The initial attempts by Islamic theocrats to enforce this law by amputating the hands of ‘thieves’ and stoning women like Amina Lawal ‘convicted’ of adultery attracted international outrage.

But this militant group (whose name in the local Hausa language means ‘western education is a sin’) claims that the current implementation of the Islamic law is not strict enough. Boko Haram has carried out attacks in many states across Northern Nigeria. In June, Boko Haram used a suicide bombing to kill several people at the Nigerian police headquarters in Abuja. So many Nigerians have lost their lives to gun and bomb attacks by this jihadist group. Most of the gun attacks are carried out in Bornu state in Northern Nigeria. They have been targeting police stations, or any people or institutions critical of their violent campaign. Militants from Boko Haram often use moto bikes to carry out their ‘executions’. With the bikes they track and shoot their targets at a close range and then flee. Often they shoot people on the head and on the chest. There has not been any case of someone whom they shot or attacked who survived. The attacks were so rampant that the government of Bornu state had to ban the use of moto bikes in the state capital, Maiduguri.

The world must come to the aid of Nigeria and help it root out these criminals before it is too late. We need to strive to nip this monster in the bud. The world should not wait and allow Nigeria to go the way of Afghanistan or Pakistan or Algeria before it can intervene. Nigerian authorities lack the political and judicial will to combat Islamic fanaticism in Northern Nigeria. The security agencies lack the intelligence to address the problem.

The violent campaign being waged by Boko Haram has grave implications for peace, stability and development in Nigeria, in West Africa and in Africa as whole. The government and people of Australia and other peace-loving nations should explore ways of helping Nigeria checkmate these merchants of blood, death and destruction.

From the nature of their operations, Boko Haram receives some support, training, intelligence and weapons from abroad. Their operations are international and therefore require an international response now.

Leo Igwe, Melbourne Australia

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