THE BOKO HARAM QUESTION AND AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY
As a Nigerian-American Christian in the United States, I write to intimate you further on our concern about the fast deteriorating Boko Haram killings in Nigeria.
The matter is fast assuming the proportions of a genocide, as Christians in the main are being targeted regularly by this terrorist organization for death, maiming and all kinds of attacks and intimidation.
The killings have taken a rather terrible dimension that the World Council of Churches now said the killings in Nigeria is comparable to those in the Bosnian War!
Recently, we formed an association here in the United States to address this and other broader issues of interests to all Nigerian-Americans, numbering well over one million in this country. Our head office has been situated in Long Island, New York September 11, 2012. We also have local chapters across the country.
We are aware that there is an ongoing and intense discussion in the US government circles about how America should deal with the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria.
Clearly, just as a Congressional report found out not too long ago, American feathers are already being ruffled.
A recent media report both in Nigeria and in London reported that an Islamic charitable organization may be funding the Boko Haram group in Nigeria.
According to the report by The Guardian of London, a member of the UK House of Lords, Lord Alton of Liverpool has already asked the British Parliament to sanction Boko Haram as a terror group-a call equivalent to those already made by quite a number of US members of Congress who have called for the designation of the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, FTO.
Another report by the Voice of America, VOA, indicated quite clearly that Boko Haram leaders have identified VOA and other western correspondents as targets , threatening that Boko Haram “will not leave any correspondent or staff of VOA alone.”
Boko Haram has killed well over 3000 in a couple years, including its attack on the United Nations building in Abuja.
The reaction of the US government has however been at best timid. The State Department took a long while to barely label three of the leaders of the group as terrorists and unfortunately restrained itself from the more appropriate action of designating the entire organization a terrorist organization.
The President of the 80-million strong Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor addressed the Congress in July 2012 and described this State Department action as “hypocrisy,” wondering how it is possible to call Osama bin Laden, for instance a terrorist and refuse to label Al-Qaida a foreign terrorists organization!
We support the call by a number of members of the Congress to designate Boko Haram an FTO, and we are campaigning in the US to join the members of Congress in pressurizing the State Department to do the right thing-label the Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization-FTO.
I would like to hold a meeting with you with leaders of our association to explore your support for this noble cause that can save lives of innocent believers and Nigerians who are being regularly slaughtered in Nigeria by this evil group called Boko Haram.
I note that some US scholars have written openly to the Secretary of State last year, advising against designating the group as FTO. The problem clearly is there are some in this group of scholars who are deemed and known to be backers of a particular political hegemony in the country. Their call therefore lacks the true intellectual credibility that it was meant to convey.
There is the view that if the US designates Boko Haram an FTO, such would amount to internationalizing the problem. Our response is that such a view is already overtaken by events as the group has already threatened international peace, and the problems are no longer entirely domestic. Only last week, three foreign doctors from South Korea where killed by the terrorists in northern Nigeria.
Besides, we Nigerian-American Christians believe sincerely that the Nigerian government is no longer capable of checking this group without some drastic international help including the designation of the group as an FTO by the US.
The designation will scare and send a serious signal to the political backers of the group, who are being protected by some of the said US scholars and some within the government of Nigeria.
Thank you for your attention.