Season of Conspiracy Theories

It does no good to believe what does not exist to the extent that one cannot focus on what is real. That would be the greatest tragedy of any ‘conspiracy’

–          John Ridley


Ordinarily no one wants to listen to conspiracy theories. They are disruptive, particularly when the government and entire populace should be united against a common enemy or threat.

At times, in a bid to keep people confident and relaxed, the government would resort to lies and distortion of facts and wouldn’t deem itself to be bereft of morals. Sadly, in most cases, when a problem is allowed to linger for too long or many questions are left unanswered, conspiracy theories become inevitable – from the most ridiculous to the more believable ones.

As conspiracy theories go, we have heard them all: from the CIA using Nigerians to take out Gen. Sani Abacha to OBJ inflicting the late President Yar’Adua on us because he was privy to the fact that he had a short time to live. But never in our history have we had to contend with so many conspiracy theories than in the “Boko Haram” era.

A colleague of mine once told me he was told the Boko Haram sect was used as a tool by northern politicians who rallied round to make the polity ungovernable for President Jonathan after they felt cheated when he got the ticket in 2011. Prior to that, the sect was only being sponsored by its rich members and a few politicians supporting them in their mission to avenge the death of their late founder. So when the “big boys” came on board, they gave them all they could. Some well acquainted with the intelligence underworld terrain and global terrorism network even introduced them to other terrorists across the globe and facilitated training trips where they acquired bomb-making skills and so on. These “big boys” not only included politicians but retired military top shots. The sect all along never digressed from its primary objective – Islamization of northern Nigeria. The “big boys” backed out when they felt the whole mission was turning into something else.

At some point, the CIA came in. They have been known to run covert operations to achieve a long- or short-term goal for their government. They have been known to sponsor wars while the government sings a different tune. I laughed at this theory and dismissed it as a classic Hollywood script that isn’t likely to be shot anytime soon. But I have had cause to have a re-think because of recent happenstances. There was a report of a helicopter dropping food supplies and other things in Adamawa by eyewitnesses some time ago. With the Niger Delta militants back then, they were said to have gotten their arms from foreigners who paid for illegal oil in cash and arms. How do Boko Haram members get arms? It definitely can’t be from all their raids on military establishments. They now flaunt anti-aircraft weapons and grenade launchers.

Let us cast our minds back to the Chad ceasefire which was facilitated by the Chadian president, Idris Deby. The Chadian president was reported to have assured us he was dealing with genuine Boko Haram members. It turned out to be a ruse. He reportedly dodged Nigerian government officials immediately after and was even reported ill at some point. Sufficient evidence has also been adduced to prove Gov. Modu Sheriff, an alleged Boko Haram sponsor, wasn’t on the flight to Chad with President Jonathan; they met at the airport and the president had no chance to distance himself from him in public, and even while meeting with the Chadian president. Moreover, he was focused on the price – ridding us of this insurgency. There have also been reports of millions of dollars paid to the Chadian president by our government.

When planes traceable to our government were intercepted in South Africa, an anonymous source at the Villa said the US was blocking arms sales to us on grounds of human rights abuses by our soldiers and other security agents. This was way before the US officially said so on November 12, 2014. A lot of minds were polluted and valid questions which would have elicited the right answers then weren’t asked, no thanks to the “bring-him-down” syndrome. The opposition party, through its spokesperson, even said Asari Dokubo was on the first plane, which turned out to be a lie. Our plans to buy Cobra helicopters and arms from the US have been botched and I ask if we have infringed on the human rights of Boko Haram prisoners as alleged. Guantanamo Bay is not a holiday resort. We have heard what happens there. Why is our case different? I smell something fishy.

In the space of a short time, a confidante and regular visitor of the Chadian president has been arrested with 19 SAM2 missiles after failing to pass through the Chad-Sudan border despite waving a pass from the Chadian presidency and now a cargo plane en route Chad which was granted permission to land in Kano Airport due to technical issues had to be arrested after it was discovered to be loaded with arms and even a helicopter. The Russians have denied owning the plane and are pointing fingers at the French. One thing is certain though: if it were for a legitimate purpose (French peacekeeping troops) as is being bandied in some quarters, there would be no need for the arms to be flown covertly. Theories about the Chadian government being a conduit or a pawn in a grand conspiracy are sure worth attention. Ordinarily, a president from Chad would think twice before taking us for a ride to negotiate with fake terrorists. We should command respect in this region at least.

Can the US which knows the situation on ground and has even offered their assistance now refuse to sell arms to us because they think we are barbarians? Can anyone truly absolve the Chadians of any complicity in our woes?

It’s conspiracy-theory season. Let them all pour in. We will listen. No one can blame us for doing that.


–          Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.

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