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A CLO Press Statement
The Civil Liberties Organisation is deeply concerned about the offer of military
assistance made by Al Qaeda to Nigerian Muslims in the wake of the unfortunate
inter-communal conflict in Jos in recent weeks. This alarming offer comes in the
context of a national crisis of leadership and constitutionalism and an increasing
slide towards socio-political disintegration, one of which most deadly
manifestation are the dangerously explosive relations between ethno-religious
groupings in Nigeria. What is at stake in this crisis is the very continuation of
Nigeria as a corporate entity, as a united country with a functioning system of
governance that provides an environment for the protection of the interests and
rights of its citizens. The inability of the Nigerian state to maintain its corporate
integrity and provide this environment for its citizens grows worse daily. The
offer by Al Qaeda aims to exacerbate this already terrible situation and to
unleash uncontrollable violence and civil war in the country. It aims at
destroying what is left of Nigeria and of its hope of resolving its crisis on a
democratic and peaceful basis. It is a declaration of war on Nigeria.

This move by Al Qaeda fits perfectly in its global strategy for Islamist hegemony.
Unable to confront the global powers in a head-on conflict, a key element in Al
Qaeda’s strategy is to create expanding zones of social disintegration and violent
conflict in various parts of the world. This serves the dual purpose of stretching
thin – and thus weakening – the forces of the US and its allies and providing both
havens and recruitment grounds for Al Qaeda itself. This strategy is under
implementation in Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia. Nigeria is a strategic
target in this strategy: it is the largest concentration of Muslims in Africa, has
one of the largest oil reserves on the continent, is an important supplier of oil to
the West, and is therefore of strategic importance to the US and Europe.
Creating chaos and violence in Nigeria would certainly attract Western
intervention and help Al Qaeda achieve its aim of stretching further the
resources and forces of its enemies and providing havens and fresh troops for its
war against the West.

The long-standing conflict between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria has

provided a conducive environment for the pursuit of Al Qaeda’s strategy in this
country. That conflict is not of Al Qaeda’s making, however. It is a product and
damning evidence of the failure of the Nigerian ruling class in the socio-historical
task of building a true nation out of the diverse peoples of this country and of
developing their potential to achieve the socio-economic prosperity and global
leadership that the enormous resources of the country make possible. With the
utmost irresponsibility, this class – composed of elements from every ethnic and
religious group in the country – is squandering the resources, promise, and
potential of the country and has created a system of ethnic and class
exploitation and oppression to sustain itself in wealth, while ordinary citizens
wallow in abject poverty and despondence. They have turned ethnicity and
religion into political instruments in their factional conflict over the riches of the
country, engendering the sort of slaughter and mayhem witnessed in the various
inter-communal conflicts over the years. This inept and irresponsible class – the
whole of them – is the trouble with Nigeria.

The CLO considers Al Qaeda’s declaration of war a challenge to all Nigerian

citizens of every class, faith, and ethnicity to awake to the grave danger
confronting us all. In the immediate, we call on the Nigeria government to take
effective measures to bring to book the masterminds and chief leaders of the
recent violence in Jos. This will help curb the all-too-quick resort with impunity to
violence and destruction in resolving inter-communal disagreements.

The government must also take seriously the formulation and implementation of
an effective national security strategy to protect the citizens against such
terroristic threats as those presented by the Al Qaeda network. In light of the
2004 revolt by the Nigerian Taliban in Borno and Yobe States, the 2009 Boko
Haram uprising, and the attempted Christmas Day bombing by Umar Farouk
Abdulmutallab, it is clear that this network has made significant inroads into
Nigeria. The present dissonance and absence of coordination among Nigeria’s
security agencies is unacceptable and the government must address it urgently.

More broadly, the government must take seriously the task of organising a forum
for a national re-negotiation of the terms of the Nigerian union. That is the only
means by which we can establish the social framework for the peaceful
resolution and management of the multifarious conflicts in the country, including
those between faiths and between ethnicities. This will help defuse tensions
between Christians and Muslims, curb the growing Islamist influence in Nigeria,
and thus remove one of the key elements favouring the success of Al Qaeda’s
strategy in Nigeria. The scholastic and legalistic procrastination presented by
opponents of a national conference represents an alarming myopia and
irresponsibility in the face of a gathering descent into chaos, barbarism, and war
in the country. The government must address this matter with urgency.

Osaze Lanre Nosaze

Executive Director, Civil Liberties Organisation