BY SHEHU ABDULLAHI
The prolonged captivity and piecemeal release of the victims of the Kaduna-Abuja train attack has proven the hypocrisy of certain interests, including individuals and groups in the country. Since the March 2022 incident, concerted efforts have been made to free the victims. A security source involved in the rescue efforts said the government had taken all measures possible, but not including paying a ransom to secure the release of the hostages. The exchange of agreement, as I have learned, is the method which has been adopted for the accomplishment of this objective. Although it may not be popular among Nigerians, prisoner swapping in violent conflict environments is a common practice around the world. Even in countries as sophisticated as the United States, United Kingdom, Israel, etc., the competent authorities take the same option to solve the problem of hostage taking and prisoners of war. Indeed, Nigeria, as a member of the global community, is not exempt from adopting the same approach.
In this case, 30 detained terrorists mainly including their children and pregnant wives were released in exchange. The woman, who gave birth to twins, well cared for at government expense and handed over to her parents in Maiduguri, as revealed by credible security sources, remains grateful. But the first sign of deception in the exchange market came when only eleven of the 63 kidnapped victims were freed by the terrorists. While the government was loyal to its bargain, the terrorists played fast by denying theirs. Instead, they continued to release victims in batches. The timelines showed that the MD Bank of Agriculture was released on April 6, a pregnant woman on May 15, 2022, seven others on July 10, and 5 on August 2, 2022.
Despite the government’s efforts, it is worrying that some desperate people are taking advantage of the situation. A few unpatriotic individuals are now exploiting development for subversive and/or financial ends. They want to make money out of it. They’re playing politics with it. What hypocrisy!
Shortly after the ill-fated attack and the abduction of the innocent victims, a so-called Tukur Mamu took on the role of spokesman and chief negotiator for their release. This aroused curiosity as to who chose Tukur Mamu as the main negotiator between the passengers’ family and the terrorists and how he made contact with the terrorists less than a week after the kidnapping. This is despite the withdrawal of its boss, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, who had previously said he would no longer represent the bandits in negotiations following their designation as a terrorist group by the federal government. So, who does Mamu work for now? For a reporter with associates/sources, it’s safe to assume his allies also include terrorists who damage critical infrastructure and killed a 26-year-old. Doctor? He certainly lacks the legitimacy to embark on his inglorious act. Mamu failed as a citizen. He should be labeled a dangerous person of interest.
Trying to blackmail the government by peddling the story of its inaction or refusal to pay a ransom is another act of insincerity on the part of Mamu and its sponsors. Curiously, Mamu’s supposed effort has only led to the release of victims who are either her friends or relatives. It is also surprising that the majority of those released to date are victims with direct or indirect links to members of the opposition. One of them is the son of Abdullahi Ango. No wonder freed victims continued to enter Mamu’s home to pay their respects in recognition of her role. Mamu is two-sided.
Another display of dismissive hypocrisy is the silence of CSOs and NGOs on the viral video where terrorists were seen flogging kidnapped victims. One thing that cannot be taken away from civil societies in Nigeria is their willful quest and thirst to attack the Nigerian government, even on frivolous issues. They are quick to castigate, slander and cry foul over supposed delusions, all to paint those in authority in a bad light. The best known excuse for these so-called CSOs often relies on respecting fundamental human rights in a democratic environment, and in most cases logic is thrown out the window even when it is widely recognized that these rights are limited.
It is therefore not surprising that the same CSOs that waste no time and effort in throwing the Nigerian government to the hounds, deliberately choose silence in the face of images/clips of terrorists whipping innocent victims. No condemnation or denigration has been directed against the despicable actions of these terrorists by CSOs. No call for respect for human rights. Only deafening silence! In fact, the rage was hypocritically directed at the Nigerian government for not paying for the release. Their body language indicated that the government should have paid the ransom to the terrorists, otherwise they would not have whipped the victims. This is despite the fact that paying a ransom is a real source of terrorist financing. Meanwhile, Mamu and his supporters, including CSOs and NGOs, are busy criticizing the government and failing to urge their “associates” to uphold their end of the bargain; what a show of hypocrisy.
For the so-called terrorists and their sympathizers who identify themselves as faithful Muslims, they must know that their acts are not only contrary to Islamic jurisprudence but to the teachings of the Prophet (SAW). In fact, Islam forbids targeting non-combatants by killing, kidnapping or taking them hostage or inflicting any form of injury on them. These should be the sacred laws that no Islamic adherent should cross. There are rules on how to deal even with those who make war on Islam. Even in the conduct of jihad, the Prophet (SAW) strongly insisted against the killing of women, children, old men, shopkeepers (businessmen)/farmers or a monk in his monastery as well as the felling of trees. No doubt those who hide behind politics to express their sinister interest are also having a thrill day. Rather than joining their ransom-collecting venture, Mamu should focus her efforts on preaching the gospel of true Islamic jurisprudence to her new “friends.”
A lesson learned from the Kaduna-Abuja train saga is that the actions of Mamu and those of civil society are undoubtedly linked. Seeking the release of his friends and subsequent removal afterwards as a mouthpiece for the bandits by Mamu is suspicious. The silence of CSOs in the face of violations of fundamental human rights by terrorists reveals their double face. Terrorists and their sponsors who condemn the government for its failures but deviate from true Islamic doctrine are the most hypocritical. It is obvious that Islam is not their ideal. Crime and easy money are. Their day with righteousness must come and soon! Overall, the trends show the hypocrisy of advocacy in Nigeria and the pursuit of self-interest under the guise of service to humanity. These also underpin the politics and lies that have characterized the entire release saga.
Shehu Abdallahi wrote from Gusau, Zamfara State
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