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‘Religion Is A Form Of Indoctrination’

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The Director of Research, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Professor Agaba Oche spoke to DEBO OLADIMEJI on reasons why there are more female suicide bombers in the northern part of the country and the way forward. 

WHAT is responsible for the spate of young female suicide bombers in the North?

That is a difficult question, but you see, whatever is responsible for the men being involved in terrorism is also responsible for women being involved. They are more or less being used as weapons by the male suicides bombers. Women are still very small fraction compared to the male suicide bombers, may be less than 10 percent. At a closer look, you find that it involves young girls whose level of enlightenment may not be so well developed as to understand what they are doing. So the men find it very easy to use them for suicide bombings. The women are being used in carrying out suicide bombing than taking part in the warfare of the terrorists.

Why and what could be responsible?

As I said, they are being used. The men themselves engaged in terrorism, but they are now using these young girls because people won’t suspect that they can engage in suicide bombings. So they can use them effectively. I don’t see these young girls or women as being warriors so to speak; I see them more as being used by the men to engage in suicide bombings.

What are the factors responsible for these young girls being indoctrinated?

Already they have a religion and they see influential men in the religion fighting presumably for their religion. Believe me, religion is a very powerful force, because you believe in a particular religion that already indoctrinates you. So if they call you to fight for your religion you will do it. Religion itself is a form of indoctrination. 

Could this be why it is difficult to fight terrorism across the world?

That is one reason why it is difficult to fight them, because you find that people will fight for their religion, and they are ready to die for that religion. If you go to a typical church or a mosque where they are receiving sermon and the rest, you find out that people express so much passion, so much love, and they are ready to do anything for God. So, if you tell them to do this and that…if you identify an enemy and tell them to fight the enemy, they will do it.

Why is this rampant in northern part of the country?

In the South there is no such terrorist group, though there are Islamic groups, they are not terrorists. However, government has identified the fact that there are pockets of terrorists here in Lagos, but they can’t take roots and developed into the size of a movement. Because by and large, you find that other factors such as poverty, extreme poverty doesn’t exists in the South. You can find it in the North. So, up there, people can use religion to interpret their own reality and say: ‘oh I am extremely poor because of this and that.’ But here in the South, you have economic opportunities, which reduces that tendency towards radicalism.



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