1.1 Background to the Study
Violence and the threat of it have been noted as constant associate of human existence. It dates back to the biblical account about the killing of Abel by Cain. This is because human existence and activities on earth are notably social events that are prone to agreement and disagreement. It is also an established fact that as peace is concomitant with agreement, disagreement engenders anarchy and conflict. That is why it is difficult to eliminate conflict and crisis in human affairs and interaction. This also accounts for why it was not possible to sustain international peace after the cold war. At the end of the cold war, hopes were high that the international polity would once again witness peace and security following the disintegration of Soviet Union and the emergence of a Uni-polar International System.
Unfortunately, this hope was dashed in what Viotti and Kauppi (2009:256) refers to as “preeminent post-cold war threat”, when on 11 September, 2001 U.S was attacked by al Qaeda in a very devastating form, hitting major targets, the World Trade Centre (WTC) Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
The above accounts for why the U.S President George Bush vowed to fight terrorism head on and quickly formed a coalition of other nations, especially North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members and some super powers, in order to ensure a successful and total routing of this new enemy. Nations that responded immediately to that call were Great Britain, France and Spain, as well as Germany, Russia and China (Konecky and Konecky, 2008:631).He called on all peace loving nations to join him and ensure that terrorists, their sponsors and custodians are successfully brought to book. He then declared that, “Americans should not expect one battle but a lengthy campaign unlike any other ever witnessed” (Woodward 2002:108). This is because, the planning, execution and, in fact, the sequence of the 9/11 events as well as the casualty rate was such that can make every reasonable mind to see terrorism as something worse than war. That attack remains the height and most devastating in the history of international terrorism, which shocked the entire world. It shook the foundation of the international community not just because of the weapon used but also the perfect planning and execution as well as the casualty rate. Konecky and Konecky (2008:630) noted that: “In New York, Washington DC, and Shanksville Pennsylvania over 3,000 people lost their life. The attacks involved the hijacking of four passenger jets that had made morning departures from Boston’s Logan Airport, Washington’s Dulles Airport and Newark Airport in New Jersey”.
At 8:45am, American Airline flight 11 with 88 passengers and crew members crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Centre in New York, while at 9:02am, United Airline flight 175 with 59 passengers and crew members crashed into the second tower of the WTC. Within less than two hours of these crashes, the twin towers imploded and in the process destroyed five other buildings of the WTC as well as four subway stations, resulting in over 2,650 deaths including about 350 firefighters who were deployed to assist the estimated 25,000 persons in the twin towers. At about 9:43am, the third jet, American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon killing all the 59 people on board and 125 persons on the ground. The fourth airplane, United Airlines flight 93 could not hit the target which was to be the white house in Camp David presidential Estate. The failure to hit this target was as a result of the heroic actions of the passengers who had already been informed through phone about the New York episode and who as a result, mounted strong resistance to the hijackers plan of steering the plane towards the white house but which eventually crash landed in a field near shanksville Pennsylvania killing all the 40 passengers and crew.
At the end of the horrendous and unfortunate episode, it was discovered that al-Qaeda, an Islamic fundamentalist group led by Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the heinous and atrocious act. It was seen by analyst as not just a repeat but a continuation of the previous attack on the same WTC on 26 February 1993 and which led to the death of six persons. It is believed that it was the low level of impact recorded in the first attack via bombing that led to the extensive planning of the 9/11. The 26 February 1993 attack was carried out by Ramzi Yousef, who, according to Martin (2006:19), “detonated a bomb in a parking garage beneath tower one of the World Trade Centre in New York City”. He had initially planned with his master Bin Ladin to make the bomb a chemical one in order to record high death toll. Some experts claimed that he had incorporated toxic sodium cyanide into the bomb, intending to create a toxic chemical cloud. This position is however unsubstantiated, though some analysts contend that he did attempt to procure chemical agents before the attack but was unable to do so (Parachini, 2000:186-187).
The 9/11 attack made not just U.S but the entire international comunity to realize that terrorism is more dangerous than war, and its potency and capability as a global human eliminator more devastating than world war, judging from the nature of weapons which the advancement in technology has placed in the hands of terrorists. And as encapsulated by Nye and Welch (2011:2): “The September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in 2001 (9/11) has illustrated how technology is putting into the hands of nonstate actors destructive powers that once were reserved solely for governments”. Many experts immediately came to the conclusion that with the mastery and precision of the attack, the use of weapon of mass destruction cannot be ruled out in the subsequent attacks, and as such were of the view that terrorism should be checkmated before it is too late. Falk (2003:52) while analyzing the mastery exhibited by the terrorists and damages done during the 9/11 attack, observed that, “never in the history of terrorism had an operation of such stunning proportion been pulled off”. It was seen by many analysts as a turning point in the history of political violence, and roundly referred to it as the emergence of a New International terrorist environment. It was argued in Martin (2006:3) that within this new environment, terrorists were now quite capable of using - and very willing to use - weapons of mass destruction to inflict unprecedented causalities and destruction on enemy targets. These attacks seemed to confirm warnings from experts during the 1990s that a New Terrorism, using ‘asymmetrical’ methods, would characterize the terrorist environment in the new millennium.
With this mind set, world leaders expressed great support and solidarity with America. There was an avalanche of solidarity messages from international community, world leaders and allies to U.S. Many countries cancelled their various national engagements to commiserate with the government and people of America. Russia for instance, had to suspend its strategic bombers maneuvers over the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Antarctic Oceans, which was initially scheduled for that week to avoid possible misinterpretation and or being mistaken for an enemy. It rather directed its foreign intelligence service in a very rare spirit of comradeship to collaborate with its counterparts in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East to forestall any further attacks. The European Union (E.U), also in response, though through its police arm (EUROPOL), immediately established a 24 hour crisis centre to cushion and counter the threat of terrorism(Combs and Slann, 2007).
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on its part, dispatched surveillance planes to patrol U.S skies, conducted naval show of force in the Mediterranean in addition to opening up its bases and airspace to American aircrafts and combat troops. A Counter Terrorism Unit was set up in the EUROPOL by member states of European Union and mandated to immediately liaise with the U.S government to ensure water tight security in the regional bloc. European Union ministers on their part immediately took measures to ensure that banks were prevented from the generation and transfer of terrorist funds. And to show the extent of impact the attack had on the psyche of the global community and the readiness of nations to fight the scourge, as was recorded by Carter (2003:20): eighty-one nations joined the international coalition effort against terrorism by freezing the assets and accounts of individuals and organizations that participate in terrorist activities or hobnob with terrorists.
Terrorism is a violent oriented activity targeted at unsuspecting members of a particular society, with the aim of traumatizing and psychologically defeating them, in order to score a political point or record socio-economic advantage. It is a violent situation in which only the aggressors know and see their victims while their victims neither know nor see them. Terrorists donot fight or engage in war, rather they engage in a guerrilla like surprise attacks which are mostly aimed at civilians and unarmed population or the military during dormancy. The above reasoning gives credence to why experts often refer to terrorism as an asymmetric warfare.
The present Nigerian security challenges are traceable to two broad sources namely politics and religion. These two fire points, though present in the geographical location known today as Nigeria before the arrival of the white colonialist, were ignorantly, or out of poor knowledge of the environment or otherwise, mishandled by the invading imperial lords. The British colonizers, on arrival, met several tribes made up of people with different languages, cultures, religions and socio-political orientations. The socio-political atmosphere then was such that would have qualified or earned each of these tribes a nation. But unfortunately, the colonialists following their apparent economic interest were impatient to study the socio-political cum religious life of the people before adopting a suitable political structure for them. Rather, it hurriedly imposed the European model of nation state on the people not minding their diverse social, economic, political and religious backgrounds, by jacking these various and distinct ethnic nationalities into one nation via her ‘Union Jack’. As noted by Omoweh and Okanya (2005:301),the British administration imposed the nation-state model on Nigeria to serve one major purpose, to bring various ethnic nationalities with different social, economic, political and security systems into one country, in order to facilitate its exploitation. It not only destroyed the traditional production systems thereby compounding the economic, social and political insecurity of the people and their society, it created an alien system that negates the traditional socio-political institutions. The result of the non-recognition of the above prevailing factors by the British while imposing the nation state model on Nigeria, is the country’s security crisis both in the colonial period and after. The various ethnic nationalities did not waste time in resenting this imposed merger and artificial nation state, which manifested in the early emergence (in 1948-51) of regional rivalries and of parties expressing them” (Post, 1999:331). Thisconstituted a threat to the security of the colonial Nigerian state. And, of course, that situation never changed even in this post-colonial period.
Concomitantly, the religious concerns of the people were not left out in the bourgeoning European imperialistic sequestration and adventurism. As with the pre-colonial socio-political, economic and traditional institutions, attention was not also paid to the people’s divergent and plural religious inclinations, when the various ethnic nationalities were being jacked and tinkered into one super nation. Before the amalgamation which was the legal instrument that bound the Northern and Southern Nigeria together prior to independence, two major religions, Christianity and Islam were already being practiced by the people in addition to the Traditional African Religion which was aboriginal to Nigeria before the advent of Christianity and Islam. Interestingly, apart from the African Traditional Religion which could be said to be universal due to its age, the two major religions - Christianity and Islam -were practiced virtually based on geographic and ethnic lines.
It is worthy of note therefore, to observe that the practice of these two religions based on geographic and ethnic lines is precipitated by their route of entry into Nigeria. While Christianity entered Nigeria via the Southern coastal line through the European merchants and missionaries, Islam on the other hand entered through the Northern Nigeria via trade contact with the Arabs of North Africa as well as through Islamic Jihadists. Thus, while the Northern Nigeria is predominantly made up of Muslims, the Southern part is predominantly inhabited by Christians. This therefore accounts for why attaining statehood through the marriage of North and South was fraught with unhealthy mutual distrust, suspicion, and antagonism. According to Muhammad (2006:292), the different origins of the two religions coupled with their being rooted within separate geographical localities, as well as the differential pace of socio-political and economic developments between the localities typified by the North and South during the colonial era are what sowed the seeds for a discordant relationship between them after the country’s independence.
The diversities of ethnic and religious groups in Nigeria evidently gives the country a heterogeneous character, which have often constituted itself as the source of the perennial conflicts and violence bedeviling the entity called Nigeria. And which is associated with the distrust and mutual suspicion among the ethnic groups. This situation was strategically managed by the colonialist through the aid of the same superior power which enabled them to jack the nationalities into one, but soon after independence, the realities of this heterogeneity stared Nigerians in the face through an unbridled wave of violence.
It started as a political violence but later degenerated and manifested as an ethnic conflict, which eventually snow balled into a military over throw of the democratic regime. This gave birth to the first military regime led by General Aguiyi Ironsi. Though, the political violence affected only the Northern and Western regions, the military had to wade in, by taking over the political leadership of the country, due to the magnitude of carnage recorded in those two regions, as well as what the coupists termed ‘political corruption’. The coupists who claimed they toppled the democratic government due to the wave of violence which swept across the country in turn embarked on state terrorism via serial assassination of top Nigerian political leaders. It was during this period that the Niger Deltans saw the inherent marginalisation, injustice and lopsided structure of the Nigerian socio-political environment, and attempted to secede through the legendary effort of Isaac Adaka Boro. And shortly after, following the high level of violence, insecurity, high handedness and distrust on the part of the military leadership, civil war broke out.
The Easterners especially the Ibos not only saw glaringly the very nexus of what prompted Isaac Boro to take up arms to defend his people, but felt endangered following the magnitude and frequency of violence targeted at them in the Northern axis of the country. There was no other choice therefore than to react to what seemed to be state terrorism aimed at not only marginalising and dominating them but total extermination of the race. This reaction came by way of secession, which as argued, was meant to protect the Easterners from the escalated pogrom meted out to them. According to Adeniran (2002:102), it was the pogrom that sparked off the Biafra War. Soyinka (2006:101) while corroborating and in expatiation of the above states that: “It would be a distortion of history and an attempt to trivialize the trauma that the Igbo had undergone to suggest - as some commentators have tried to do - that it was the lure of the oil wealth that drove them to seek a separate existence. When people have been subjected to a degree of inhuman violation for which there is no other word but genocide, they have the right to seek an identity apart from their aggressors”.
Ezeani (2013:46), while concurring with the above too, quoted major General Philip Effiong’s 1970 end of war surrender broadcast thus: “Throughout history, injured people have had to resort to arms in their self defense where peaceful negotiations failed. We were no exception...we have fought in defense of that cause”. The resulting effect of this attempt to secede therefore, was thirty months Nigerian Civil War.
Emerging from the civil war experience, the Nigerian civil populace who were already beginning to be politically conscious as well as conscious of their environment, discovered that they were being led by politically greedy and economically avaricious military class, who have no regard for the rights and welfare of the people. This brought another level of agitation and violence into the Nigerian polity, which was aimed at getting rid of the military rulership. Attempts made by the political elites to ensure the country returns to democratic politics were rebuffed by the military oligarchy. As the civilian populace were fighting to return the country to democracy, the military leaders fought back to suppress them in a manner that could best be described as state terrorism. This reaction-counter-reaction situation eventually brought to Nigeria another wave of violent agitations which could be said to be the grand parent of today’s regionalised violent militia groups such as Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Odua Pepoles Congress (OPC), Arewa youths, Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) etc..