Very interesting interview with civil rights campaigner Shehu Sani. Sann brokered a meeting between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the brother-in-law of dead former Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf – Babakura Fugu. Fugu was shot dead three days after Obasanjo met with him.
Boko Haram draws its ideological inspiration from the 12th century Turkish Islamic scholar named Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, who died in 1328, while imprisoned in Damascus in Syria.
Contrary to their public impression of being uneducated and backward, their members who met with Obasanjo speak English and some had university degrees (including their female members).
This is a very poignant and revealing interview with Sani where he discusses his own role in trying to bring Boko Haram and the government to the negotiating table, and also during the pro-democracy activism during the military rule era:
“They don’t know my background. As a student union leader, I mobilized against the Buhari govt and I ended up in Kaduna prison. As a human rights activist I have been to many detention centers under Babangida and was even jailed for mobilizing against the annulment of the June 12 election… I mobilized protest against Abacha’s regime…
I was arrested and thrown into prison. I was in Kaduna prison, Kirikiri prison, Port Harcourt prison, Enugu prison, Owerri prison, Umuahia prison – all in the struggle to bring about democracy in Nigeria. People now speaking out..it is because we have a democracy. This democracy was not a gift. It was struggle which we have done. Many of them during the military couldn’t speak out, they couldn’t write because of fear.
I have been to police cells, I have worn handcuffs on my legs and hands, I have been to military cells, I have been to Black Maria, I have seen torture – all in the struggle to bring about democracy in Nigeria…I was in Port Harcourt prison as a political prisoner, with handcuffs when Ken Saro-Wiwa was brought in with the Ogoni 9. I watched through my own window of my cell how Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged together with 8 other Ogoni kinsmen…they all thought they were going to be taken to see a medical doctor. They were all taken one by one to be hanged…
The situation which we are in now does not call for fear and silence. We need to do something to save our country. The easiest thing I could have done was simply to issue statement and go to my house. I cannot sit down and watch violence being meted out against people..” (Shehu Sani)