6th May 2019
Originally, the Janjaweed or mounted men with guns or bandits is Arab militia active in Sudan, particularly in the Darfur region; peopled by Sudanese Arab camel/cattle herders. Primitively formed for offensives against rival farmers/owners of farmlands, the Janjaweed decades later in the 1980s (during border war between Libya and Chad and incursions into Sudan) got hijacked, militarized and shifted to political warfare. It gained more grounds and sophistication in Sudan from 1987 especially after the bloodless coup of 30th June 1989 staged by Gen Omar Hassan Al-Bashir (now dethroned).
The Arab militias—now referred to collectively as the Janjaweed—were organized as a counterinsurgency force against the Sudan’s Darfur rebel groups in 2003 and supplied with arms and communications equipment by Sudanese military intelligence and armed forces under the country’s maximum military ruler, Gen Omar Al-Bashir. The Janjaweed later between 2003 and 2008 masterminded large scale ethnic cleansing leading to massacre of hundreds of thousands of civilians (Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups) and displacement of millions of others.
The Janjaweed’s campaign, which was characterized as genocide by then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2004, drew international condemnation, but the government of Sudanese Pres. Omar Hassan al-Bashir denied any connection between itself and the Janjaweed; leading to his indictments for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Int’l Criminal Court on 4th March 2009 and 12th July 2010.
Al-Bashir was indicted alongside Ahmad Muhammad Harun, his then powerful Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs (2006-2009) & head of Durfur Security Desk (April 2003-September 2005), Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein (his former interior and defense minister) and Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman or “Ali Kushayb” (a senior commander of the Janjaweed & member of the Popular Defense Force-a paramilitary force attached to the Sudanese armed forces).
The maximum leadership of Omar Al-Bashir was later, till his recent dethronement, described by leading international scholars in security, peace and conflict studies as “the Janjaweed Government of Sudan or Janjaweed Government at Khartoum”; representing a combination of state actor (Sudanese Govt.) and non state actor (Janjaweed) atrocity crimes perpetrators.
In Nigeria, there now exists the country’s version of the Sudanese Janjaweeds, now at crossroads of collision. It is likely that those the Nigeria’s state actor Janjaweeds, armed cannibalistically have turned around to hunt their master-hunters.Going by present composition, signs and body language, utterances, policies and conducts, those manning the country’s present top security positions or top security policy decision makers particularly in the police, army, air force, SSS, NIA, Ministry of Interior and Office of the National Security Adviser (all Muslims), etc may most likely be described as the state actor Janjaweed who are officially troubling Nigeria’s territorial or internal security.
On the other hand, the non state actor Janjaweeds in Nigeria are the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen of the Miyyati Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, and other nomadic Fulani criminal entities operating as “jihadists/abductors”, “highway robbers/abductors” and “economic bandits”. Also as part of the “Nigerian Janjaweeds” are Fulani jihadist elements within the Boko Haram/ISWAP and the entire Boko Haram/ISWAP Jihadist terror group(s) operating in the Northeast Nigeria.
The two common agendas of the Nigerian Janjaweeds are jihad and insecurity. Governance and civil spaces particularly in Northern Nigeria are also not helping matters. In Kano State, despite the cosmopolitan composition of Kano State including not less than 3m Southeast/Igbo Christian citizens with millions of other non Muslims resident in the State and existence of constitution-governed Penal Code (mixture of Common criminal law for Christians and other non Muslims and moderate Sharia criminal law for Muslims), the State Shariah Police recently went riotously Islamic by decreeing that “any person (irrespective of religious affiliation) found eating in public during (2019) Ramadan will be arrested (and prosecuted in Shariah court)”.
Truth be told, the troublers of Nigeria’s territorial or internal security today are likely the same elements recruited and armed for the purpose of deepening Koran in the sea; particularly in the Middle Belt and Southern regions of the country. It is also likely that while the primary mission of jihad warfare is not lost, yet the armed may also have seen the need to use the SALWs in their possession as means of “economic and pleasure survival”; hence the rampancy of highway abductions/robberies, militant mining, livestock rustling, banditry and abduction-for-rape, etc which presently ravage different parts of Northwest and some parts of North-central, Southeast and South-south.
Today, the “recruited and armed” may have turned their SALWs against their recruiters and paymasters; to the extent that even the recruiters/paymasters’ doorsteps are no longer safe. A seasoned international journalist had few days ago drawn our attention to desertion of major roads linking the North and the Federal Capital Territory by the country’s top politicians and security chiefs. Other than the use of flights, the seasoned journalist further invited us to carry out a check at the Abuja rail stations- which are presently as jam-packed as domestic air ports; to the extent that in some, if not in many cases, the train movements are supported by security helicopters; showing that not even the generals including the legends of Nigerian killing fields are safe.
It is therefore likely safe to say that the best name for those state actors and non state actors troubling Nigeria’s territorial or internal security particularly facilitation of unsafe conditions to the lives and safety of sedentary and pastoral (travelers) Nigerians today is the Janjaweeds. It must be restated that the two main agendas of the Janjaweeds in Nigeria are jihad and creation of insecurity.
Through creation of insecurity, more illicit public funds are sourced and pocketed and through jihad, thousands of Christians are massacred or maimed or abducted and married off or converted to Islam on yearly basis; with hundreds of churches torched or destroyed and acres of Christian farmlands seized and confiscated. The present unhidden national jihad policy is also clearly manifested by grossly lopsided composition of the country’s top security positions or security policy decision makers-whereby the positions named above have been dominated and occupied by Muslims since July 2015; in a country with multiplicity of religion and ethnicity-where Christian and Muslim populations are roughly 50-50.
The justification of the Janjaweeds as a central name for troublers of Nigeria’s territorial or internal security is further strengthened by recent adoption (at Birnin Kebi retreat attended by top heads of Nigeria’s security formations, all Muslims) of “national bribery and government-terror entities’ round table negotiations” as a new Federal Government national security policy; to the extent that the Nigeria’s Acting IGP had without shame announced publicly that “the Federal Government and Nigeria Police Force had secured the nod of the MABCAN (mother body of terror Fulani Herdsmen) to join forces in flushing out bandits in Nigeria”. This, the acting IGP did without telling Nigerians who the “bandits” are and who are arming them.
As if that was not enough, the whopping national bribe of N100b was reportedly offered to the same mother body of the world’s fourth most deadly terror group for a period of two years, so as to stop its violent slaves from “kidnapping”. While independent investigators have found the “bandits”, “the highway abductors/robbers”, the “highway rapists” and a variant of “cattle/livestock rustlers” to belong to the same or dominated by violent elements within the “Fulani Daji” or Fulanis of the Forest; the present Government of Nigeria has refused and failed to disclose the identities of the criminal entities, their sponsors and sources of sophisticated rifles in their possession; their intelligence modus operandi and why they are beyond arrest, investigation and prosecution.
The Government of Nigeria is also paying lip service to the worsening conditions and welfare of the affected victims and their devastated communities. The same Government that now sits and negotiates with terrorists and mass murderers through their body corporate; with reported “bribery of N100b” has no concrete plans geared towards rehabilitating the affected victims and reconstruct their homes; recover and give them back their confiscated lands and properties; and fish out and prosecute perpetrators of the atrocity crimes against them. Nigeria presently hosts over 2m internally displaced persons displaced mostly by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and Boko Haram/ISWAP; with many, if not most of them being Christians particularly women, children and the elderly.
Intersociety had as far back as 2016 warned the present central Government of Nigeria that it was heading to the crossroads of securitization perdition by introduction of the three hydra-headed monsters of militarism, militarization and structural violence (i.e. Islamization of the country’s top security positions). Militarism and militarization here connote “using violence-for-violence approach”; especially vindictive invocation of state violence or undue use of official instruments of coercion against members of a particular ethnic nationality or religion on the grounds of their ethnicity or religion or both.
The policy of militarism and militarization in Nigeria also involves militarization of polity or civil space, civil policing and security intelligence and investigation as well as absence of human security in the democratic governance of the country or any part thereof. The present Government of Nigeria was also guilty and is still guilty of acute selective application of the law and enforcement of same; whereby some are treated or seen as “above the law” or “outlaws” while others especially the innocent citizens are criminally stigmatized and vindictively punished even when they are not practically in conflict with the criminal law. Totality of these has given rise to barbarous resort to self help including citizens’ radicalization such as group or individual violence, reprisal radicalism and general resort to social vices and crimes.
If Buhari/Osinbajo Administration has really come back to its senses, ready for governance of the country, then the following must be done in Nigeria immediately after 29th May 2019:
For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law