Shettima Appoints Preaching Regulators to Thwart Boko Haram Ideology

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•Sanctions spying on suspicious sermon
•Borno begins renovation of boarding schools
The Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, on Thursday inaugurated a body of scholars with a mandate to regulate Islamic preaching across the 27 local government areas of the state and to also deploy community-based system to spy on preachers who might want to spread violent doctrines in towns and villages.

Shettima also revealed plans to set up a board that would monitor the proliferation of traditional Islamiyya, Tsangaya or Almajiri and Arabic schools for the purpose of “protecting noble schools from the infiltration by others which may have hidden motives aimed at teaching violent doctrines.”

The state Islamic Preaching Board which is the vehicle, has different scholars from major Islamic denominations comprising the Darika and Izala groups under the Chief Imam of the state, Zannah Laisu Ibrahim Ahmed, as Chairman. All members of the board were present.

At the inauguration ceremony held at the council chambers of the Government House in Maiduguri, the governor said the state must learn from the history of the Boko Haram which has been defeated at various times by the military only for the insurgents to regroup and resurface in different forms. He tookd time to give a quick background.

 “There is a famous saying made by Winston Churchill more than 50 years ago: ‘Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’ Majority of us in Borno State have expectedly been enthralled by the successes of the Nigerian armed forces and multinational forces in the evident debasing of the devilish Boko Haram terror group. While we celebrate, we however seem to be paying less attention to history. If we cast our minds back as short as ten 13 years ago, we would realise that the Boko Haram group has got the history of being defeated, going underground for some years, regrouping themselves and coming back through different forms.

When the Boko Haram, then known as Taliban, migrated from Borno and launched attacks in Kananma, a border village in Yobe State around December, 2003, they were defeated by the military. They disappeared completely only to regroup and attack Bama and Gwoza police divisions in 2004.

Again, they were defeated by the military. They disappeared in 2004 only to resurface in 2007 somewhere in Panshekara, an industrial area in Kano State. For the third time, they were defeated by the military but they regrouped as Yusufiyya movement in 2009 with mass followership and high presence in Maiduguri, Bauchi and Potiskum. They were defeated after the July 2009 crisis only for them to regroup in December 2010. When they were chased out of Maiduguri between 2013 and 2014, they shifted their horror to local government areas.

“The chronicle of Boko Haram’s death and resurrection is one piece of history that should prompt us to remaining totally focused towards ensuring that we do not make the mistake of others in allowing the group to ever return to our midst.

“At all instances of their regrouping, the Boko Haram sect recruited new members, mostly through open preaching to spread their misguided ideology, targeting teenagers. They had leaders who openly preached in mosques and at special gatherings, without showing violence at initial levels.

“We must take firm, consistent and knowledge-based steps to continuously separate between those clerics who preach in the name of Allah and those who kill innocent souls in the name of Allah. Often times, preachers with violent attention start on normal note, they tend to start by being nice, they exhibit friendship to gain acceptance before they systematically begin to share misguided ideologies in their true colours.

The job of the Borno State Islamic Preaching Board is not only to set preaching standard but importantly, to be alert in spotting unusual and suspicious preaching among Islamic clerics. The board must take special attention on new comers into the existing group of preachers in all parts of Borno State.

The board has to make deliberate efforts to work with community sources across the 27 local government areas of the state in getting information about any form of suspicious preaching not only in urban centres but in villages. We shouldn’t expect Boko Haram to come back using a familiar identity. If they will try to return, they may apply different forms. The Board has to be alert and has to encourage preachers who will use knowledge to change the Boko Haram narrative,” the governor said.

The Chairman of the board and Chief Imam of the state pledged the commitment of his members with a promise to live to Shettima’s expectations and those of the people of Borno State.

The state Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Mustapha Fannarambe, said in his introductory remark that Shettima’s action in constitution and inauguration of the board was in exercise of powers conferred on the governor under Section 4, subsection 1 of the Borno State Islamic Preaching Board Law 2010.

Meanwhile, the state government has commenced the renovation of boarding schools, which have housed internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the last two years in the state.

 The government, which has approved N86 million for the renovation of eight schools that has been home to IDPs in Maiduguri, revealed that the renovation work on the schools is expected to be completed in two weeks.

The state commissioner for education, Hon. Inuwa Kubo who visited some of the schools in Maiduguri, said the schools should be ready for classes by the second week of September.
Kubo said the state governor,  Shettima, was concerned about the reopening of boarding schools across the state “so that normal academic activities can resume in our boarding schools.”

He said: “I have visited most of the schools and found out that the facilities are in deplorable condition after the over two years occupation by IDPs  but we are making arrangements to fix all the boarding schools and reopen by second week of September.

“We have since relocated all the IDPs who had occupied and vandalise our facilities to a proper camp so that we can access and effect immediate repairs in  boarding schools across the state.
“But due to security situation in four newly liberated  local government areas of Abadam, Mobar, Marte and Ngala;  we are not going to reopen our boarding schools yet in those areas but alternative arrangements  have been made to ensure that affected students continue their education here in Maiduguri,” Kubo said.