How the Boko Haram sect came into existence has been a subject of debate for some time. The group’s official name is “Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad’, which in Arabic means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”. Its existence dates back to 2002 when it was formed by the late Islamic cleric, Mohammed Yusuf. The name ‘’’Boko Haram” which means “Western or non-Islamic education is a sin” was given to the group by indigenes of Maiduguri where the group was formed. The name came as a result of the group’s dogma which opposes Western education. The sect believes that Western culture corrupts Muslims.
The term “Boko Haram” comes from the Hausa word “boko” meaning “Animist, western or otherwise non-Islamic education” and the Arabic word “haram” figuratively meaning “sin”. Investigations revealed that members of the sect are influenced by the Koranic phrase which says: “Anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among the transgressors”.
Street Journal found out that as at the time Yusuf founded Boko Haram, he set up a religious complex which housed a Quranic school. The sect began gaining followership from there as poor Muslims and those who favoured Islamic education over the western form of education brought their children and wards for enrollment.
Over time, the group’s influence spread across most of the northern states. Street Journal gathered that soldiers and several civilians alike had warned that the sect was stockpiling arms, a warning that was ignored by the authorities.
The arrest of some leaders of the group sparked off a major crisis in Bauchi in 2009. The group also engaged itself in a war with the police in Yobe Street. Mallam Yusuf, the sect’s leader was eventually killed in suspicious circumstances after he was taken into police custody.
The group has carried out many deadly attacks including multiple raids on police stations and police check points. A number of detained people in police cells too have the Boko Haram members to thank for their freedom because after their raids on most police stations, detainees are let loose from the detention cells. The assassination of the Borno State Commissioner for Finance who just won the governorship ticket of his party at the time he was felled by Bioko Haram bullets. The few drinking joints that have not been blown up by the sect in Maiduguri have been forced out of business.
Apart from banks and police stations that have been attacked, the group’s list of victims includes government officials, traditional leaders, churches and a prison.
To also jack up its public image, the group has embarked on bank robberies lately but instead of making away with the loot, the stolen money is shared to the poor. They exude so much confidence that they tell the people to line up and collect their share in an orderly manner.
Bomb explosions that were hitherto unheard in most parts of the country have almost become a daily occurrence. The most daring act of the group is the claim that it was responsible for the bomb attack on the police headquarters in Abuja. And presently, staff and students of the University of Maiduguri are on forced holidays because of the security situation in the Borno State capital and a threat letter that allegedly emanated from the sect.
Though the former Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Ali Modu Sherif has denied any links with the group, Street Journal found out that he might have empowered the group during his time as Governor.
Investigations revealed that the Governor actually found some members of the group useful during the general elections in 2007 and funded them back then. That much was also confirmed by the Arewa Consultative Forum Chairman a few days ago in Abuja. Speaking after a meeting with the President, General Jerry Useni said “I remember when I was the deputy national chairman of the ANPP, I went to Borno State to commission some projects and when we were driving along one of the major streets, I saw young boys selling petrol in jerry cans and I asked the governor why he allowed them to be selling on a major road like that, and he said, ‘no, no, leave them; they are very useful during general elections. We can use them to turn everywhere. So, it means they were used during the elections. So, that was how it all started”.
The general opinion is that the anger of the group against the government is a result of the “use and dump” approach of the former Governor. Street Journal’s investigations also revealed that the group’s membership cuts across all spheres as more individuals are becoming sympathetic to the groups cause. More people are also reportedly being recruited.
Street Journal’s findings revealed that before the group finally declared war on the former Governor, he had been given a premonition. At times his phone line would be called by Boko Haram members telling him his exact location within the Government House. He was reportedly called on an occasion and told that they were capable of killing him if they wanted to and his security aides would not be able to prevent them. The callers went as far as telling him that they were just taking their time and that they could strike him anytime, they told him that in a certain Juma’at service he attended, he was surrounded by their members who were well armed and could have done anything if they wanted to.
While the Boko Haram sect was irked by fact that he used and dumped them, they have not forgiven the former Governor for the death of their leader.
The former Governor of Borno State is not the only person under the sect’s watch list. The Governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa too has been threatened that if he fails to compensate the Muslims who were displaced as a result of the post-election crisis in the state, his family will be attacked. A picture of the Governor’s family was posted on the sect’s blog to tell him that they mean business.
Though it is believed that the group’s main agenda is the introduction of Sharia law in all states in the north, analysts believe the group might be getting aid from terrorist groups outside the country.