In Defence of Abdul Mutallab of Nigeria – A Response to MEND – By Yushau A, Shuaib
I extremely envy and admire the American and British governments and people for uniquely defending their citizens around the world, even when accused of criminality. They maintain the innocence of their citizens to ensure justice is done until decided otherwise by the court of law.
Recently there was a case of Meredith Kercher, a British girl schooling in Rome who was killed by Amanda Knox, her American roommate over drug-induced sex game. The case was decided in Italy where the crime was committed. The American and British press actively engaged one another in campaigns to support their respective citizens in the case. At the end the American lady Amanda Knox who is 22, was sentenced to 26 years in an Italian prison for killing Meredith. The debate still goes on.
The latest incident that gives us food for thought is that of Akmal Shaikh, a 53 years old British citizen, though of Asian origin who was executed by Chinese government for drug trafficking. Not only did the ordinary Britons and their press campaign for leniency in favour of the suspect, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown personally mounted a campaign that persuaded the European Union to strongly condemn the execution of British citizen who was put to death by lethal injection for trafficking four kilograms of heroin. Gordon Brown, as the leader spoke, wrote and pleaded with his counterpart in China before the execution, claiming that the convict suffered from bipolar disorder and was lured into carrying the drugs by the promise of a pop music career in China. The latest was a statement by EU deeply regretting that China did not heed repeated calls by Britain and the EU for clemency.
The essence for the above scenarios is to point out that there is pride in defending the integrity of a country and its citizens, even as suspects pending the determination of cases against them in competent Courts of jurisdiction.
The embarrassing attempted suicide bombing of a Detroit-bound flight from Amsterdam on Christmas Day by a young Nigerian; Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, caught the global community in unbelievable frenzy, because, Nigerians’ notoriety has never reached a level of suicide bombing. It is worthy to note that the father of the suspect is a respected banker and retired top public functionary in Nigeria who had alerted the relevant security agencies of his son’s untoward behaviour before the incident. This is an exemplary conducts which demonstrate that Nigerians and other Abdulmutallabs are not fanatical and insane to encourage or undertake unnecessary suicidal expedition.
It is very unfortunate that immediately the news was broken that the bomb suspect was a Muslim from Northern Nigeria, many self-pride bloggers and commentators with hidden agenda use the incidence to attack a section of the country and adherents of Islamic faith. So painful was their insinuation that they poured out balderdash to call for secession of the country and rained insults on the family of young Abdulmutallab. In law, a suspect is presumed innocent until proven otherwise by a competent court, yet some Nigerians continued to sensationalise the incident with sectional and religious sentiments which exemplified our backwardness in public discourse. To one’s bewilderment, foreign media and analysts exhibit more constraint in associating the conduct of the child to the character of Nigeria just as President Barak Obama of USA, pointed out that the boy was trained and armed in a foreign land, Yemen.
One of the organisations that shamelessly coloured the incident with sectional and religious undertone was the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), whose official statement on the suspect was to urge governments around the world to pay more attention to northern Nigeria, claiming that the region is a threat to world peace and “fertile ground” for international terrorism. They also provoke ember of hatred by insinuating that “for decades, Christians have been murdered and raped in northern Nigeria with impunity.” In essence, they are appealing to foreign forces to invade the North as if there are no Christians in Northern Nigeria.
Won’t it sound unbecoming to associate social vices peculiar to some sections of the country to its people, because of the action of few who engage in international prostitution, drug trafficking, Sea Piracy, 419 fraudsters, armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom and the recruitment of young girls as baby-manufacturers in addition to ritual killings?
The cowardly Niger Delta militants who have similar attributes of Somalian Sea pirates who are notorious in kidnapping the rich for ransom, oil bunkering, piracy, gun running, killing and destruction of the environment, their victims are foreigners and local people alike.
The international community should realise that the MEND and their collaborators are the only criminally-inspired armed group in West Africa today that have attacked the interests of American, British and other nations exploring oil in Nigeria by kidnapping and killing their workers and destroying their investment such as infrastructures of Shell and Chevron among other oil companies operating in Nigeria.
Since 2006 when they started their armed struggle claiming to be fighting for a greater share of oil wealth for local communities, but unfortunately their members pocket ransom money and live ostentatious lives to the amazement of their kinsmen. They are so cowardly that they go with pseudo names while destroying their environment and damaging the reputation of peace-loving people of Niger Delta, a region that is now most scary and risky district for investment and tourism. Yet their states receive the highest allocations in the country, only for them to blackmail their leadership to share such resources with them or risk kidnapping and killing of innocent citizens.
The antic of MEND and their likes to create confusion in Nigeria make it compelling to explore likely conspiracy theories on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s unfortunate attempt. Covert operations with hidden agenda may not be discountenance as local and external undesirable elements might have manipulated the incidence to put Nigeria in spotlight for clandestine assault. We may recall the 1954 ‘Lavon Affairs’ known as operation Susannah in which Israeli military intelligence planted bombs in Egyptian, American and British-owned targets in Egypt in the summer of 1954 in the hopes that Egyptians and Muslim Brotherhood would be blamed for the attack before the plot was exposed. We should also recall the lies of former President Bush and Tony Blair on Smoking Gun that Iraq possessed Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) to sway the international community to endorse an invasion of the Arab country so that the two countries can control vast oil resources and facilitate increased heavy military spending in the Middle East after creating confusion.
While we must all condemn the insane and unfathomable attempted suicidal mission that would have resulted in the death of 250 passengers from the action of the young bomber whose visage looks innocent and with humble mien, we need to critically examine and study tendencies and likely influence that could have manipulated the Nigerian child for the action. The unfolding revelations about the suspected suicide bomber from foreign media, his schoolmates, teachers and friends indicate a sorry state of his loneliness, introvert and detachment from his family. They all disclose his worthy lifestyle in schools as teetotaller, pious, religious, humble and a fan of Arsenal and Liverpool football clubs. He would rather donate his pocket money to the orphanage than buy souvenirs for himself. Likewise, he does not brag about his family’s wealth as he rejects flamboyant lifestyle. Some children from similar background could have gone into drug addiction, trafficking, armed robbery among other social vices.
We also need to explore the possibility of excessive depression and some element of insanity as a result of loneliness which the un-die bomber claimed in some of his postings in social media. Such investigations become necessary, based on reports that his aggressive and violent tendency emerged abruptly after his graduation from Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University College London. He had all his adulthood outside the shores of Nigeria.
What I have attempted to do as a Nigerian with this piece is to point out that as Nigerians condemn in unequivocal terms the action of the young bomber, an isolated case indeed, the international community should unearth those who manipulated this innocent and lonely youngman to become vulnerable for exploitation. We are aware that innocent souls are easily misled and drugged to take actions unconsciously.
It is gratifying to note that the Father of the suspects, Abdulmutallab, a true and patriotic Nigerian had forewarned security agencies of his child emerging radicalisation which unfortunately was not heeded. The exemplary conducts of the father is a further demonstration that not all Nigerians are crook who will overlook or endorse negative tendencies of their ward like Niger delta militants who have been led astray.
The lesson to be learnt from the predicaments of Abdul Mutallab family is that parents should closely monitor and relate affectionately with their children to check control likely tendencies that may lead them to devilish paths.
This article was first published in the Economic Confidential January, Leadership Jan 4, African Hearld Express Jan 5, New Nigerian Jan 6, Peoples Daily Jan 7, Nigerian Tribune Jan 10, Thisday Jan 12, vanguard Jan 18, Daily Sun Jan 26, Daily Trust Jan 27-28 and Daily Independent Jan 28, 2010