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BREAKING: Mamu, FG And Collaborators Of Terrorism

The arrest and ongoing investigation of self-acclaimed terrorists’ negotiator, Tukur Mamu, presents another opportunity to measure the current administration’s commitment to the war against sponsors of terrorism.

Indeed, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been laidback in bringing collaborators to book amid a generally woeful record in securing the country. But the case of Mamu and the self-confessions of his allies should neither join the awful backlog of missed opportunities nor peter into insignificance through media trial.

Since the dastardly attack on a Kaduna-bound train and abduction of 62 victims in March this year, Mamu, has been prominent in negotiating ransom on behalf of abductors, issuing disclosures and updates on behalf of the terrorists and rallying more hefty ransoms for those still in captivity.

With panache, he carried out the assignment including issuing warnings to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that one of the abductees was on the verge of being married off in a repeat of Leah Sharibu’s episode. An apologist of terrorism could not have done better. It, therefore, came as no surprise that he landed on the watch list and got arrested in Cairo, Egypt recently.

Globally, the assignment of negotiating ransom on behalf of kidnappers is often a tricky one. The volunteer negotiator that starts as a neutral often ends up on a side of the divide, subsequently losing the right to innocence in the bid to bring hostages back home.

The clandestine mission is more complicated by the moral dilemma of paying ransom for hostages; inadvertently paving the highway to financing terrorism and incentivizing the kidnapping industry. It is for that reason that governments globally have outlawed ransom payments, including the job of a negotiator.

Curiously, Mamu was not fazed by the enormity of the risk or provisions of the law. He carried on with flair to suggest there was more to negotiating releases than meets the eye. Since his arrest, reported preliminary investigation by the Department of State Services (DSS) and attendant allegations have not been in favour of Mamu.

According to the affidavit filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, “the self-acclaimed Kaduna train negotiator exploits the opportunity to perpetrate, aid and abets as well as render support to both local and international terrorist organizations.”

The DSS added that Mamu was intercepted by the Nigerian foreign partners at Cairo, Egypt, “on his way to Saudi Arabia for a clandestine meeting with commanders and top leaders of terrorist organisations across the globe.”

A raid of his residence and office also unearthed incriminating items that include: two packs of pump action cartridges; 16 ATM cards from both local and foreign banks; three international passports belonging to Mamu; eight pieces of Nigerian Army uniforms and 16 pieces of Nigerian Naval uniforms, among others.

Suffice it to note that Mamu is also a well-exposed person, which should warrant a more diligent investigation of his person and allies vis-à-vis association with terrorism. First, he is a partner and Media Consultant to the controversial Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, an Islamic cleric, who has been an apologist of bandits and banditry.

Manu is also not unconnected with the presidential candidates in the forthcoming elections – as pictorial evidence has shown. Such connection between terrorism suspects and politically-exposed persons should not go unravelled; rather, examined to its logical conclusion if the current administration is serious about tackling terrorism and insecurity.

Unfortunately, the Buhari administration has shown only a passing interest in ending insurgency and bringing culprits to book. It is not the first time suspected collaborators have been uncovered or even apprehended, though often dismissed in a cavalier fashion.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year linked some persons to terrorism financing in Nigeria and placed them on terror lists. Curiously, the Federal Government declined to name and shame the culprits, as much as it refused to prosecute them. It is bad enough that they could only be fished out in the UAE, just as Mamu was only arrested outside the shores of Nigeria.

The worst is that the government could not match their arrests with judicial intensity at least to repose confidence in its sincerity of purpose. Until early this year, the government has also been reluctant to declare bandits as terrorists long after the global intelligence community has identified them as some of the most deadly terrorist gangs in the world.

It is the same government that has deployed Operation Safe Corridor (OSC) to give so-called repentant Boko Haram terrorists a safe landing from prosecution after committing heinous crimes of killings, abduction and ransacking communities. Those snippets of complicity could only reinforce arguments that the current administration is less than willing to tackle terrorism and end insecurity.

But to change the narrative, the DSS should be up and doing to prosecute Mamu’s case to its logical conclusion.

This matter should not end as another media trial and exercise in futility. There should be no sacred cow of seemingly disinterested parties profiting from the lucrative business of kidnapping and terrorism. Clearly, Nigeria is in the middle of one of the worst kidnapping crises worldwide.

Kidnapping for ransom has become a brutally profitable business in the hands of more sophisticated armed gangs exploiting the weak and sometimes complicit security agencies. Since scores of travellers were abducted in the deadly train attack in March, no less than N2 billion ransom has been collected by terrorists and their collaborators.

The N100-million bounty on each abductee is the height of kidnapping-for-ransom in the last five years. So, the economy of kidnapping has become obnoxiously lucrative to feed the fancies of more collaborators.

A responsible government should stop the menace and have a major foothold on such acts of treason and inhumanity to fellow Nigerians. It begins with prosecuting all those fingered, with the DSS working more strategically and in sync with the justice ministry.

The general public and the media especially should hold the government accountable for emboldening terrorism – by its actions or inactions. The laid-back disposition to matters of terrorism has lent credence to claims of subtle plots to collapse the country as the current administration winds down.

The Buhari administration has the moral burden to dispel such rumours through concrete actions, not propaganda, to fastidiously undo insecurity from its roots and not pass it on to the next administration. It is the business of the government to tackle both foreseen and unforeseen problems; not to give excuses and be sleepy on the job.

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