A Voice of America (VOA) new documentary, “Boko Harm: Journey from Evil,” which revealed the terrorists’ world of torture and executions, debuted on Wednesday night in New York.
This screengrab taken on August 8, 2016 from a Boko Haram video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram and obtained by AFP shows Boko Haram’s shadowy leader Abubakar Shekau as he appeares in a new video vowing to fight on, shrugging off an apparent split in the hardline jihadist group blamed for thousands of deaths since 2009.
“I… Abubakar Ash-Shakawy (Shekau), the leader of Jama’atu Ahlissunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, made it a duty for myself (to fight) Nigeria and the whole world,”
Shekau said in the video released on August 7, 2016, using the group’s name since it declared allegiance to the so-called Islamic State. Vanguard
People from all walks of life gathered for the screening of the documentary, which held at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York.
The feature-length documentary from VOA delivered an unprecedented examination of Boko Haram, the Islamic fundamentalist group that has ravaged Northeast Nigeria.
The screening of the hour-long documentary, sponsored by the Council and VOA, recounted how Boko Haram established itself in Nigeria and became a violent extremist group.
The film told the stories of individuals caught up in the crisis and examined the road to possible recovery, as well as the reintegration of former fighters into the Nigerian society.
Beyond the record of violence, the documentary also examined Boko Haram’s underpinnings, the Nigerian Government’s response and inspiring stories of extraordinary Nigerians risking their lives to return to normal.
These included Aisha, the ‘Queen Hunter’ who led patrols to track and apprehend Boko Haram fighters in the vast Sambisa Forest, rescuing scores of abducted women and girls.
Also included was the Bring Back Our Girls group that had raised money and awareness in support of the hundreds of abducted Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in 2014.
The film showed that not all was lost in Nigeria, in spite of the country being mired in the Boko Haram conflict and nearly a decade of suffering by the victims.
It also espoused that indeed, the spirit and determination of ordinary Nigerians, who were committed to education, family, community and peace, remained very much alive.
A discussion of the film followed, anchored by John Campbell, former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, Council on Foreign Relations and author.
The film was based on an 18-hour of secret Boko Haram videos obtained by VOA, according to Mr Ibrahim Ahmed, Managing Editor, Hausa Service Mobile Stream, VOA and Cohost, Taskar VOA.
In an interview with NAN, Ahmed said he travelled through Borno, Yobe and Adamawa during the height of Boko Haram attacks, never sleeping in the same place twice after extremists condemned his reporting.
“The goal of this film is to show the resilience of the Nigerian people after we saw what kind of violence that Boko Haram was visiting on the people of Northeastern Nigeria.
“We also want to see how are people fighting back against this kind of violence. That’s why we made the effort to make this film.
“This is to show that people are fighting Boko Haram in their own way, whether fighting them physically or fighting them in some other ways like we saw in the movie,” he said.
Beth Mendelson, Executive Producer, VOA, told NAN the film would be used for educational purposes.
Mendelson told NAN that:
“VOA had the 18 hours of video and we felt that to tell this story of Boko Haram in a complete and in an unfiltered way was something that hadn’t been done before.
“And then we had an opportunity to share an amazing story with the world and VOA was very supportive about doing it.
“The end goal is to educate people and to inform people and for people to understand who Boko Haram is, to understand the spirit of the Nigerian people.
“It is to see the resilience and to understand where the country s going and what can be done to help the country”.
Campbell, while also speaking with NAN, said the film was the best thing that he had seen on the subject of Boko Haram and Northeastern Nigeria intended for educated non-specialists.
“In order words, people who are aware and educated but do not necessarily know much about Nigeria or and about Boko Harm. I thought the film did an excellent job of introducing that subject.
“I think it does do that and I’m also enormously encouraged the common state is using the film for educational purposes in the schools,” said Campbell, also the author, ‘Nigeria: What Everyone Needs to Know’.
Notable timelines of Boko Haram in the film included when it was founded in 2002 in Yobe and occasional clashes before its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed in 2009.
The others were 2010 to 2015 during which it launched violent advocacy for government overthrow making former President Goodluck Jonathan to declare a state of emergency in the states.
The 2015-2017 when the Nigerian military onslaught degraded the sect, President Muhammadu Buhari’s outreach to neighbouring countries.
It, however, did not do much about the ongoing de-radicalisation programme and the state of the released Chibok schoolgirls, which Ahmed blamed on difficulty in accessing information said with suicide bombings, would probably form the next project.