For about 14 years, Reverend Ladi Thompson has literally been shouting to no end over a new kind of war Nigeria is facing as a nation. But those in positions of authority don’t seem to understand his message. Now, he believes that the abduction of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, may open the eyes of concerned authorities to do the needful.
The security consultant who doubles as the Special Adviser to the National President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Anti-terrorism opines that except urgent steps are taken, Nigeria may soon be history. In this interview, the founder/Senior Pastor of Lagos-based Living Waters Unlimited Church, and the international
Co-ordinator of Macedonian Initiative, a non-government, non-denominational organization established to provide succour to Christians persecuted because of their belief in Jesus Christ bares his mind on the scary security situation in the country. Excerpts:
What is your impression about the security situation in the country with particular reference to the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State?
Let us start with the most important issue. Nigerian citizens, young schoolgirls ranging from 15 to 18 have been kidnapped and the response from the Federal Government is not only totally unconvincing but has left room for much doubt. So, the most important thing right now is the lives of those girls. Whether we like it or not, all of us must stand to take responsibility. One is that any country that permits our girls to enter its territory without making sure that our girls are returned to the nation becomes a nation that is at war with Nigeria. These girls are not children; they already have enough memory. It does not matter whether they are Christians or Muslims; these girls are not children as not to know where they came from. Let it be clear to the international community and to every nation of the world that if it takes us 42 days to 200 years, Nigeria is not turning back from this issue. Those girls must be returned to this nation and any trauma that any of them goes through, whoever exerts that trauma on those girls must be brought to book. This is what I believe should be the position of Nigeria right now and any government that is not ready to carry out this desire of our nation should be replaced. The abduction of these girls is an act of war. This has been very common and it is not the first, second or third time. There has been a string of abductions since the last 30 years. It is just that this case is the one that is making waves all over the world. So, no matter how much denial we have gone through in the years past, we must now quickly acknowledge that Nigeria is at war. We did not start the war but we need to acknowledge that we are at war. Two years ago, I gave you an interview that Nigeria was at war and I recalled then that a lot of people reacted negatively and refused to acknowledge that Nigeria was at war. It is a new kind of war. George Bush said so in 2001. It is a form of war. The President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan needs to officially accept that the country is at war. There are sweeping powers that come to the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces who should naturally be the President of the country when a country is at war. Once the powers are put into place, Nigeria has a hope of survival and being restored as the leading nation of Africa. Based on what I know as a security consultant and as a man who has been in the field for 14 years, the failure of the President to do what is needful right now by declaring a state of war would destroy Nigeria completely. America declared a state of war and it did not stop life from going on but at least it put everybody on the same page to acknowledge that a threat had come to destabilize the entire nation. This one would destroy Nigeria completely if it is allowed to escalate. We know the face right now and that is why the President should declare a state of war and the people who carry out these evil acts must be brought to book. Anything short of that, we need a change of President immediately. Number two, after declaring a state of war and making that proclamation concerning our citizens, our girls, the President of the country needs to learn how to concatenate. The word concatenate is to unite in a series or chain; again it is when you can take things that are separately located or have happened differently to connect them in a series or chain. Put it on record that I said that unless the President of Nigeria learns to concatenate, you can say goodbye to Nigeria. But if he learns how to concatenate and put a proper team together, hope would be restored. You can see that what we are seeing did not start today. We talk about Boko Haram and we make noise about it now but the late Sheik Gumi made it a point of duty not to attend Western education institutes. He also discouraged everybody around him. He used to be the Grand Khadi of Kaduna. If you go back and get his books, works, and you translate it into English (which is why most people in Southern Nigeria are in darkness about some of these things), you would find out that there is nothing new about what is going on right now. In 1956, when there was trouble in the Hajj camp in Minna, he was there. Why did they burn the Nigerian flag? That degree of intolerance belongs to only one camp of people who Nigerians refer to as Boko Haram right now, religious extremists. The late Sheik Gumi not only did that, he was the one who made sure that the Emirs stopped receiving British awards. Not only that, all the Imams that were around him in those days, he was able to defeat them because of his skill in Islamic knowledge and the Holy Book of the Muslims. Go and investigate the incident at Maru when there were some theological arguments on ablution. Some were doing ablution with sand; some said it has to be with water and all that. He was able to floor many with his radical views and his ability to manipulate the scriptures. So, somebody who never went to school became the Grand Khadi of Kaduna. Go and find out from the records that there was a time some Muslims tried to assassinate him. He kept this string of thought alive and I can mention so many of such extremists in public office who were affected by his teachings. We are talking about infiltration and mindset. I wish that people like the late Emeka Omerua were still alive today; there are people that if Nigeria were to survive, they must speak up. They should talk to people like T.Y Danjuma. These are people who understand the issues and they do not get surprised at these things. It was this same Boko Haram that led to the removal from office of Ebitu Ukiwe who was then second in-command to Babangida. If you concatenate, you would find out step by step a chain of events that led to what happened in Zamfara in 1999. It started in 1958; there was already a document that said there would not be full Sharia Law-cutting of hands, beheading of people and all that. It was what they brought to the centre to form Nigeria when the Northern Nigeria convened a meeting of eminent scholars and jurists. They were able to build consensus because they knew that nobody would allow them to join Nigeria if they came up with the idea of total Sharia that was prevalent in Northern Nigeria at that time. If that idea was touted, there was no way Southern Nigeria would have joined them. Professor J. N. D. Anderson from the College of Developmental Studies was the social engineer and consensus builder that came to work on that project. He came down from the U.K and by the time he sat down with some Islamic scholars, they came out with the penal code. To get that penal code, I remember that Anderson said they had demanded 34 compromises from Northern Nigeria and 31 compromises were adopted for Nigeria to start. One of the compromises was the fact that there would be no issue of cutting off of hands and beheading of people because of stealing a tin of milk. But the radicals have been working from then. In 1962, the same Gumi was instrumental in forming the Jamaatu Nasiru-l Islam whose idea then was to eradicate the plurality of religions, eradicate women’s rights from what you call Nigeria. But what happened was that it was not possible to do that because the views were so extreme. That is why you find out that in 1978, the same Gumi was the face behind two young men who started a new radical group called Isalat feared by the Muslims. The meaning of their name is the eradication of all unorthodox practices of Islam which is a clever way of saying that only views of fundamentalists are permitted by them. Do you know where they put their headquarters then in 1978? It was in Jos.
Still on Chibok, there is a school of thought that argues that the whole thing is a hoax; the thinking is that it is impossible for over 200 schoolgirls to be abducted and kept in a place without the knowledge of the security agencies. What is your take on that?
Let me say that Chibok is not a hoax; I have been in contact with the leaders of Chibok and I want to say categorically that it is not a hoax. Why some people choose to think it is a hoax is that Nigerians have refused again to acknowledge that it is not just a military war. The war that is going on in Nigeria is based on a model that was perfected by Osama Bin Ladin in Sudan between 1992 and 1996. This new kind of war is not just fighting with guns and ammunition. It has an army that has no uniform and code of honour. It will kill men, women, children and can slash the throats of infants. It has only one tool –fear. Anything that would bring fear, it is prepared to use. It has no value for human worth. It is devilish. It also works on a central intelligence which controls the administration and the logistics. It works on one leg that controls the finances. Rocket launchers and ammunitions you see being used, the financiers behind it are extremely intelligent. Having said all these, you must also understand that it also has one foot in the media. It infiltrates the media, tries to control and buy the media and uses the unsuspecting media as a tool towards its ends. Right now, trying to discredit a factual happenstance of kidnap is what the media that belongs to them is trying to paint; they are the ones that originate it. You may not read the people who said it but it may be the friends who phoned them to plant the seeds of doubt. You are dealing with very intelligent machinery. The final legs that must be carefully taken care of are the clerics. There are always clerics of hatred; these are the people who recruit suicide bombers. Like in the case of one of the young boys captured who refused to detonate the bomb, it is the jobs of the clerics to brainwash gullible people to carry out suicide missions. Whoever says Chibok is a hoax is preparing for the day his or her own children will be taken. This is very similar to the Nazi propaganda in Germany. What is happening in Nigeria today is like when Hitler was building towards the World War! It is exactly the same tactics. Terror is the instrument. Go and research the name Daladier, the French President, and Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister who were eating with Adolph Hitler. They went to meeting in Munich with Hitler who assured them that he had no plans for war and they came back to cheering crowds who were hailing them in Britain that they had won the peace for their generation. But not many months later, bombs were raining down on Britain. Throughout, Churchill was warning everybody that war was coming. In the same way, in the past 14 years, we have been warning Nigerians that war was not coming but that it has started. Now, it is very clear to everybody. Till now, they are still using what we call disinformation and that is where the media has to be very wise because even within the media, there is infiltration. Let me tell you something about Chibok. One is that we should begin to get bolder if Nigeria is going to survive. The first thing the President could have done would have been to neutralize fear. His failure to do so is making fear to be spreading over this country daily. People are already traumatized. The people who are perpetrating these acts have studied about fear as an instrument. They understand the psychological makeup of Nigerians right now. Do you know that when fear comes as an instrument, rather than address the thing that is real and true, the mind blocks it? If you bring in experts to talk to you on how fear is used as a weapon in mind control, they will tell you that that is what is happening in Nigeria right now. So, Chibok is not only real but true. There are certain people who have to come and answer to serious questions. The former governor of Borno State has no business entering Aso Rock anyhow he likes. The present governor of Borno State has a lot of questions to answer. Also, the Principal of that school has a lot of questions to answer. When those girls were picked up, there was no matron there, no security, Principal and nothing. Can you ever imagine that that should happen in a case where WAEC had warned them that bringing the children to one location would not be secure! WAEC had asked them to bring the exam to Maiduguri and the governor refused. Let me tell you, the elders of Chibok are ready to unveil the mystery behind the whole thing right now. Immediately this thing happened, the governor has been going round to do damage control. He has been saying that when they wanted to move the exam, it is you people that said this place is secure. Do we look like children? Right now, he is trying to muscle the people in Chibok. Why is the governor so confident that he would get away with these things? Why are the former governor and many other people in government getting away with all these things? When a Christian, Oluwatse, was killed in Gombe, we paid lawyers but the case would never be heard because the governor had to sign. They claimed that the security situation in the state then would not allow that. If there is no justice, who then would stop these people who are doing these things. Obstructing justice as a role of governors in this thing is not new. Once the governors are infiltrated and influenced, they actually work for the Boko Haram. When you piece things together, you would find out that there are security forces in Nigeria that are headed by people who are sympathetic to Boko Haram. These are card carriers of Boko Haram. It is just that there is so much cowardice in Nigeria. There are people in high places; they should go and check the security ring in Nigeria; those who have been given the duty of protecting the citizens of this country. Let us go and run international security checks on the people who have been appointed to head some of these security agencies.
This brings the issue of the United States, Britain and other countries offering to help. Does that mean a complete failure of our security agencies and do you think it will stop the menace of the Islamist sect?
It does not connote the failure of our own security system. But I would say it is a complete failure of the Chief Executive officer of the country to admit that the country is at war. When this happened in America and not even up to this scale, the country announced that they were in a state of war. It is globally accepted that this is not a localized war. It is a war form that is global. Therefore, normally, we must, whether we like it or not be able to network globally. The only challenge is that even if you are networking globally, and ready to accept assistance from other countries like America, we cannot do so with our eyes closed. There is a letter signed by 22 professors in the year 2001 where they were aiding and abetting Boko Haram. They wrote a letter to the secretary of State advising her publicly that she should not let the US government label Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) and the reasons they gave was that if the Boko Haram is labeled as an FTO, they would not be able to be in direct touch with the sect to share, persuade, influence the Boko Haram. They took their time to persuade the Secretary of State that the Boko Haram was not actually a religious extremist militant group but an organization fighting against corruption in Nigeria. The truth is that if America is offering Nigeria a help, one of the things we need to do is to make sure that it does not involve a team with any of the 22 professors I talked about. These are people who wanted to destroy Nigeria. America has a case to answer before we can allow help to come from them. I would tell you why. If there is any common sense at all in the Nigerian presidency, when Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) went to America to ask for the FTO, why did the Presidency oppose it? Go and consult your newspapers for this fact. The Federal Government was so gullible that the Boko Haram had infiltrated it and deceived it into believing that what Ayo had gone to do in America was against Jonathan. At that time, the President could not meet eye to eye with the CAN president until a few months later when he realised that Ayo had done the right thing. Ask yourself, don’t they have Ambassador? Why were they able to falsify reports coming out of Nigeria? In the course of the meeting when we got to America, the FBI voted for the FTO declaration immediately. The CIA based on their findings, voted for the FTO. Homeland security and Justice Department voted for it immediately but the State Department overruled all of them. What does that tell you about the state department? The State Department had been compromised. America works on a lobby system. Somehow, the Boko Haram was able to compromise the State Department of America. So that is the situation.
Yes, we can accept help from America over the Chibok abduction but not with our eyes closed. I also want to add that the help from America and other countries ready to offer assistance can only work if our own security system is not compromised. It is important to note this point.