Driving through the dusty road that led to Sambisa forest where the infamous Boko Haram terrorist group pitched some of their camps was one hell of a bumpy ride into a thickset of arid forests that characterize the savannah region.
Bumpy, jarring and dangerous as the bush paths were, the tour of the sacked camps provided anyone with the trained eye of a reporter, a great deal of insight on the true colour and character of the so-called Islamic Jihadists.
The Sambisa forest, which they turned into a recruiting ground and operational base is a vast expanse of nature, which was designated ‘Games Reserve’ by government. The intention was to keep, protect and preserve our priced species of wild animals and other elements of nature in their natural habitat. As it has turned out, the Games Reserve now seemed to have been reserved for a band of misguided blood-thirsty fiends who slip in and out of the belly of the forest to wreak havoc in the northern part of Nigeria.
Without doubt, Boko Haram’s violent campaign in Nigeria since its emergence has carved out a bloody trajectory, etching its gory sense of agitation in our wounded hearts and leaving the rest of humanity outraged. What manner of shocking violence has the Boko Haram group not visited on Nigerians since their violent campaigns? From bombing innocent worshippers in the sanctuary of their churches and mosques to beheading of defenceless citizens, kidnapping women and children and detonating Improvised Explosive Devices(IEDs) in workplaces; name it, they have carried it out in Nigeria. Their campaign of violence has so far claimed over 3000 innocent lives yet they are baying for more blood of fellow Nigerians!
Known for their defiant posture and grim determination to hold on to actualize their nihilist agenda, the terrorist group stepped up its intransigence by actually sacking institutions of government in a number of communities in Borno state. The so-called Jihadists, who claim to be fighting on behalf of Islam, took over communities and forcibly conscripted young men into their fighting force and made women - their sex slaves! They violated Nigeria’s sovereignty, burnt her flag and hoisted theirs, strutting around those hapless communities like an all-conquering force. That was before their nemesis arrived.
On proclamation of state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States by the President and Commander-in-Chief, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the Special Forces of the Nigerian military moved in and dislodged the devils from their camps; the troops are currently ‘sweeping the forest clean’.
As our escort vehicles meandered through the forest path to reach the sacked camps, the gory sight and eerie feeling that now characterize the desecrated grove was inescapable. The first thing that assaulted our sensibilities was the sight of charred vehicles, refrigerators, sewing machines, coolers and such other items, which were apparently stolen by the terrorists. We were told that as the terrorists retreated, they destroyed any item they could not run with.
Then we saw fresh shallow graves of gang members who were summarily executed by their kingpins. We stumbled severally on strange stuff, which bespoke the true colour and character of our so-called Jihadists. In almost all the camps we visited, we saw countless number of syringes, hand gloves and test tubes obviously for administering narcotic drugs; also scattered in their camps were used and unused condoms! In fact one of my colleagues couldn’t help asking no one in particular, “…so these devils are even afraid of venereal disease?”
From the accounts of their victims that were rescued by troops, the insurgents repeatedly raped women they abducted from various communities. According to one of the rescued children, “the terrorists are always injecting themselves with something after which they will be behaving abnormally as if they are in a trance”. It is certainly not surprising to learn that the insurgents engage in substance abuse to put them in the right state to perpetrate the atrocious crimes they carry out against innocent Nigerians. Indeed, what could be deadlier than the combination of drug intoxication and evil indoctrination?
It was also gathered that whilst the kingpins of the evil association live a life of luxury in the camps, their foot soldiers endure subservient condition with instant death awaiting any dissenting voice or suspected mole among the zombie-like subordinates.
Tucked away, therefore, from the prying eyes of frightened locals and outraged country, the Sambisa forest and other camps hitherto provided this deranged group a sanctuary where they met their various kinds of weird fantasies, all in the name of fighting for the Islamisation of Nigeria. The question is, are these moral degenerates and blood thirsty fiends actually fighting on behalf of Islam? The answer is certainly no because Islam abhors all that the terrorist group indulges in or stands for. Will they win this war they are waging against Nigeria? Against, the answer is resounding no.
By Chidi Omeje