‘Boko Haram’ simply means: ‘western education is sinful’. The Boko Haram sect is being referred to in some quarters as the Nigerian Taliban. Their leader is a preacher based in Maiduguri, Mohammed Yusuf, who says Western education is against Islamic teaching. It first emerged in 2004 when it set up a base in Kanamma village in Yobe State, on the border with Niger, from where it attacked police
outposts and killed police officers. Its membership is mainly drawn from university dropouts.
Mr Yusuf’s followers are known as Boko Haram, which could also mean “Education is prohibited”. Members of the sect, which is opposed to the western education propagates a wholesale adoption of Islamic law across the country, and are very active in Northern Nigeria especially in Borno, Kano and Yobe States.
These Islamist militants staged attacks on police and government offices. There have been reports of youths armed with machetes and guns killing police officers and civilians at random.
Their mission was to attack and disarm the police and to have enough fire power so that they could be able to launch attack on the people perceived to be “infidels.” Chanting “Allahu Akbar” in a thunderous voice, they attack and took away all the guns and ammunitions at the police station.
Followers of this radical Boko Haram Islamic sect have expanded their attacks against the security agencies to three more states in the North, leaving more than 150 persons including soldiers and policemen dead in clashes that first erupted in Bauchi on Sunday.
In the various battles, police officers, soldiers and prison officers were killed, prisons were broken into and prisoners freed, while homes of policemen and police stations were also set ablaze, in an apparent fulfilment of the promises of retaliatory attacks for their members killed by the police made by the sect’s leader Ustaz Muhammad Yusuf.
The Nigerian authorities have stepped up security across the north of the country. Soldiers have set up road blocks and imposed dusk-to-dawn curfews in affected areas in Yobe, Kano, Borno and Plateau states. Nigeria’s military and police have been ordered by President Yar’adua to use all means necessary to contain the violence.
Youths began attacking police stations on Sunday after some of the group’s leaders were arrested. Boko Haram has aroused suspicion for its recruitment of young men, and its belief that Western education, culture and science are sinful.
One of the group’s leaders, arrested in Kano state, said his followers were standing up for their faith. “Even if I’m arrested, there are more to do the job,” Abdulmuni Ibrahim Mohammed is quoted as saying.
Tensions are never far from the surface in northern Nigeria. Poverty and competition for scarce resources, along with ethnic, cultural and religious differences have all fuelled sudden violence.
But the latest violence is not between communities, it involves young men from religious groups, arming themselves and attacking local police.
Fringe religious groups in Nigeria have claimed links to the Taliban before – individuals have also been accused of links to al-Qaeda. But Nigeria is very different to countries like Mali or Algeria, where groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb operate. The idea of radical Islamist militants gaining a serious foothold in Nigeria is usually dismissed, because of the strength of local culture.
While Sharia law is in place across northern Nigeria, there is no history of al-Qaeda-linked violence in the country. The group is seen locally as a fringe group and has aroused suspicion for its recruitment of young men, and its belief that Western education, Western culture and science are sinful.
The Security agencies have also been swift to mercilessly crush any uprising.
Cleric wants Muslims to embrace western education – Ahmed Mohammed, Daily Trust
The Director of Al Bayan Private School Jos Sheikh Nazifi Yusuf has stressed the need for Muslims to enrol their children in western schools.
Sheikh Nazifi made the call yesterday in Jos while speaking at the second graduation ceremony of 130 students of the Hayatul Islam Private Secondary School in Jos. He said there was no need for the Muslim ummah to listen to the people saying western education was unlawful, saying what they are saying is not according to Islamic injunctions.
The scholar stressed the need for Muslims to intensify effort in seeking both Islamic and western education up to doctorate degree for the development of society and the country in general.
The chairman of the occasion Alhaji Sani Bala Tanko stressed the need for philanthropists and wealthy Muslims to complement government’s effort by building schools that would help to provide quality education for the development of the country. Sani Tanko advised parents to sit up to their responsibilities and form a credible Parent Teachers Association (PTA) that would take the schools to greater heights so that the schools would prepare tomorrow’s leaders of impeccable character. The principal of Hayatul Islam Private Secondary School Alhaji Umar Adamu said the school provides both western and Islamic education and over 80 percent of the students that completed their secondary school gained admission in tertiary institutions because the students excelled in the WAEC and NECO examinations.