Boko Haram: Gov, Northern Politicians Panic Over Possible Arrest

Written by Taiwo Adisa, Abuja

Boko Haram Suspects

A serving governor and some top Northern politicians are now living under the fear of arrest as security operatives close in on suspected sponsors of Boko Haram. Saturday Tribune gathered that the reports of security agencies consistently linked some prominent figures to the activities of the dreaded group, which had claimed responsibility for a number of bombings in the country lately.

Sources said President Goodluck Jonathan had given a nod for the said leaders to be interrogated, while a security council had been set up to quiz the governor.

It was learnt that upon hints that the agencies had received the green light to prosecute the suspected sponsors of Boko Haram, many of the top politicians are making plans to flee the country, even in the heat of the fuel subsidy removal-induced strike.

The government was also said to be probing some suspicious movements across the Nigerian borders in the North with information indicating that some specific targets of the operation burst Boko Haram had fled the country.

A source said the governor, believed to have links with the group, had got wind of his impending interrogation by operatives, but that the government was being careful not to tamper with his immunity as provided in the 1999 Constitution.

“As a result of the immunity he enjoys, he cannot be directly arrested. But all the details are being assembled and a security committee has been constituted to confront him with such details. Once the evidence is confirmed as incontrovertible, further steps can then be taken to ensure prosecution in line with treason and such charges,” the source said.

It was learnt that the governor had fled to Niger Republic and that some other suspected top politicians are either on their way to Niger or Chad republic.

“The government has decided to bring sanity to this whole issue of insecurity. Some security agencies, who have been on the trail of those concerned in recent times, have reports indicting a number of persons, including government officials.

Other prominent figures, who are linked with the group, are believed to be heading towards Northern borders,” another source said.

It was also gathered that the acclaimed leader of the sect, Abubakar Skekau, had fled the country to Niger, following intense moves to burst him in recent weeks.

It was understood that his outbursts during the week on a cable television, were made from a hideout from that country.

The source stated, “There is an operation aimed at clamping down on the Boko Haram leadership. Security operatives almost burst the leader, Abubakar Shekau and he immediately fled Nigeria. He is believed to be in Niger Republic now where he is coordinating activities of the group. The operatives will not relent in their bid to track him down.”

Source: Tribune, 14th January 2012.

 

 

Boko Haram: security agencies raise panel to probe governor, northern politicians

A serving governor in one of the northern states is under investigation over  alleged sponsorship of the Islamic sect,Boko Haram. Security agencies have already raised a panel to quiz him on the allegation.

 But he is not the only one under such scrutiny.Security operatives are on the trail of several other politicians from the North to come and say what they have in common with the sect.

Several of the suspects have reportedly fled to Niger Republic and Chad,according to sources in Abuja yesterday.

 Following fears of jailbreak and invasion, security was beefed up yesterday around the 17 Boko Haram members  in detention in Abuja.They were arrested in Damaturu,Yobe State, and flown to the Federal Capital.

 Investigation by our correspondent revealed that security reports have indicted the  governor for  having a 'deep' relationship with Boko Haram.

Although the governor has immunity, it was gathered that security agencies want to  "interact" with him and lay the facts bare before him.

The governor, according to sources,has been  evasive by hiding under one official engagement or the other.

A reliable source said: "A serving northern governor has been indicted by security reports as having intimate connection with Boko Haram. Security agencies  have been directed to  interact with him with the facts  at their disposal.

"The essence of the coming interaction is to  unmask those sponsoring the sect. The said governor is already aware and he has been moving here and there, including some trips to Niger Republic and Chad .

"As a result of the immunity he enjoys, he cannot be directly arrested. But all the details are being assembled and a security committee has been constituted to confront him with such details.

"Once the evidence is confirmed as incontrovertible, further steps can then be taken to ensure prosecution in line with treason and such charges."

Responding to a question, the source added: "The government has decided to bring sanity to this whole issue of insecurity. Some security agencies which have been on the trail of those  concerned in recent times have reports indicting a number of persons, including government officials."

As at press time however, it was also learnt that the inter-agency security committee might also interrogate some northern politicians, leaders and government officials over alleged romance with Boko Haram.

The source said: "A list of government officials and those to be quizzed from the North has been compiled by security agencies. There are intelligence reports that some of them are planning to flee abroad.

"But there is no hiding place for them. Security agencies have been placed on the alert in all airports and seaports,” a sources said.

The source added: "At the appropriate time, the government may also ask the security agencies to release the list to the public.

"Some of the suspects are said to be on the run to Niger Republic and Chad too."

But following fears of jailbreak and invasion, security was beefed up yesterday around the 17 Boko Haram members flown from Damaturu to Abuja .

Apart from the beef up, some of the detained members have also been relocated to other detention facilities to "avoid security breach."

Another source said: "By strengthening security where Boko Haram members are detained, we are only being cautious." 

Source: The Nation, 14th January 2012.

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Killings may consume Nigeria —Kukah, Atiku
MALACHY UZENDU, Abuja Bureau Chief, and FRIDAY OBOH, Sokoto

Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Reverend Mathew Hassan Kukah has expressed worry and sadness over the latest bomb attack by the Boko Haram sect, warning that the killings may consume Nigeria if nothing urgent was done.

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This was as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said the actions of Boko Haram may lead to reprisal attacks.

Bishop Kukah who spoke during an interactive session with journalists at the Catholic Bishop Court in Sokoto Monday night called on Moslems and Christian leaders to break their long silence and condemn the latest attack on the innocent Nigerians.

On the latest killings at St Theresa Catholic Church Mandela Niger State Bishop Kukah said: "I have never talked to my Moslems friends the way I talked today. I told them I am tired, I am sick, tired about their silence that is likely to be misconstrued, that we have these crises termed religious. And yet it may not be just religion. Ninety-nine per cent of ordinary Moslems have no idea what is happening. They did not approve of it but unfortunately our silence makes us more vulnerable and complete. And I said to many of my Moslems friends that we need to stand together and condemn what is happening in Nigeria. People have found it convenient just to keep quiet thinking it would go away. Gradually it is going to consume everybody because of its sporadic nature. It now means anywhere people gather, you do not know what is going to happen.

"Everything that is wrong in Nigeria has been traced to corruption and in my view, it like drinking from a poison well. There is no way that you drink something from a well the result is that all of us are unable to hold our hands. As a Priest, corruption has eaten deep into the Church, corruption has crept into the media, as in the military, bureaucracy; there is not a single area in our national life that is not being widely consumed by corruption including family life. There are families that have been broken up as to whether or not one should remain clean and hold on to certain values. There are tensions as a result of wives or some of the children preferring that they should be living in a better house, schooling in a better school and the head of the family learnt to keep quiet instead of speaking", Bishop Kukah stated.

He said governance in Nigeria has been taken over by evil people, soothsayers, Palmists, powerful Mallams; powerful pastors, bandits etc. He however prayed for peace, continuous existence of Nigeria as a nation as well as for God to repose the soul of those who died in this latest Boko Haram attack.

"To me, it is not easy as praying for our country, that is the easy beat, it is more difficult that actually the crooks have been praying far more than those of us who are praying just for daily bread because there is hardly any criminal in Nigeria who has not made a spiritual arrangement whether in by building a good Church or by building a good Mosque at home or elsewhere. To me, it is a very worrying thing. I get so emotional when I am talking about Nigeria".

Bishop Kukah said he would continue to fight for fairness whether it is about women who have no voice or Muslims without a voice or Christians without a voice in order to build a very strong, united country called Nigeria describing the bombing incident as one of the challenges the country was facing.

Meanwhile Atiku yesterday in Abuja said he was deeply saddened by the bombings and other acts of violence on Christmas Day leading to the loss of many lives.

He expressed his profound and heartfelt sympathies to the families of those who lost dear ones and wished those that were injured a quick recovery.

The former Vice-President while condemning in the strongest terms, the callous and wanton destruction of lives in the spate of violence at Madalla, Gudaka, Damaturu, Maiduguri and Jos, declared that "there is no cause that could justify the snuffing out of innocent lives".

Atiku in a statement by his media office warned that "acts of violence as we are witnessing in the country can lead to retaliatory actions in which more and more innocents will suffer.

"It can also lead to the erosion of confidence in organized society and government setting the stage for anarchy," he stressed.

But this, according to the former Vice President, "is precisely the time when our support for the authorities needs to be at its strongest peak".

He called on all citizens without bias for religion or ethnicity, to be good, kind and supportive of one another in this difficult period.

The Turakin Adamawa equally urged for a greater respect for the sanctity of life and differences in culture and religion.

He reiterated that enlightenment through education; economic empowerment and constructive dialogue are some of the greatest panacea "to stemming this cycle of blood letting".

Source: Daily Champion, 29th December 2011.

 

Bombings: Jonathan, Sultan hold talks
TONY AILEMEN, Abuja

As Christians in 19 Northern states gear up to defend themselves over the Boko Haram bombings, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday had a crucial meeting with the Sultan of Sokoto, HRH, Mohamed Sa’ad Abubakar 111, and the National Security Adviser, Gen. Andrew Azazi at Presidential Villa, Abuja.

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This was as the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Andrew Owoye Azazi rtd, yesterday said the size of the country is making it difficult for effective policing of the country.

Both the Sultan and the NSA addressed State House Correspondents shortly after the meeting.

The Sultan who described the meeting as very fruitful said he was also at the Presidential Villa to commiserate with President Jonathan.

"We came in here to felicitate and commiserate with Mr. President over the unfortunate incident that happened this period. We’ve had very positive meetings with Mr. President on so many things and how to move this country forward, how to make our country stable and to approach those challenges that is facing Nigeria on a common ground".

Sultan Abubakar debunked the feelings of religious crises saying that what is happening should not be viewed from the perspective of religious conflict between Christians and Muslims.

"I want to assure all Nigerians that there is no conflict between Christians and Moslems, between Islam and Christianity. It is a conflict between evil people and good people and the good people are more than the evil doers. The good people must come together to defeat the evil ones and that is the message".

He assured Christians of their safety in any part of the country, saying that as assure all our Christian brothers, leaders, they will continue to work for the unity of the country.

"We stand on the part of truth according to our religion that we will continue to work insha allahu for the greatness of this country.

"As I said there is no conflict between Islam and Christianity and I want to assure that we will do all we can in the best of our ability to solve the numerous problems confronting our country."

Speaking on the way out of the Boko Haram insurgency across the country, the Sultan of Sokoto advised government to implement reports of similar crises and continue with dialogue.

"Government will look at all the past reports including the one set up by the President on the North East crisis and also the Solomon Lar report on the Plateau and at the resumption of work Mr. President and his team will look through all those reports and then call for a meeting of a larger body for consultation with all of us, both religious and traditional leaders. So we believe that is a very good way because we have to close ranks because nowhere in our two religions both Christianity and Islam that says we should be violent in dealing with one another".

He also assured that religious leaders will continue to engage with people to ensure that the situation does not escalate further.

"Who said we have we not been speaking out? Did you read the press statement I issued out the day before yesterday? What else do you want us to say? We are totally against what has been happening; we totally condemn all these. Nobody can take anybody’s life, its un-Islamic, its ungodly, nobody can take anybody’s life, all lives are sacred, must be respected and protected by all. So we have been speaking out. We all know what the situations are and we can only advise the government and we have been advising the government on several occasions".

He also advised Nigerians to volunteer information on any suspicious activities within their environment while also advising Islamic leaders to do same without fear.

"There is no fear, I only speak as Muslim leader and leader of Muslims and you know that we don’t say what we don’t mean and what we don’t do. It is against Islam, a special verse in the Holy Koran that said so don’t speak what you don’t do. It is de-tasteful in the eyes of Almighty Allah, but we are quite aware of Almighty Allah’s instruction to always speak the truth because we will go back to him to give account for what we have done on earth. So whatever we say to anybody or any group at any time, we wholly mean so".

Gen Azazi while also speaking on the security situation, said the security agencies are doing the best they can but said it is difficult to police everywhere at the same time.

"I can assure that we are working on it to make sure that we work ahead of the situation".

On the recurring incidents along the Suleja-Zugba axis,

Azazi said. "It is absolutely difficult to man every point of the country when there are security problems. Like I have said before, there is need for security awareness. There is need for public participation so that there must be cooperation between security and the society for us to make progress".

On the threats of possible reprisal attack by Christians, Gen. Azazi called for caution against such move.

"We can’t have a situation where we think that one bad turn deserves another. We are Nigerians and like we always say, I don’t see any major conflict between the Christian community and the Moslem community. You will find a situation where, certain individuals for whatever reasons are causing these problems. Have we thought of what their ultimate intentions, why will somebody go on to bomb Christians on a Christmas Day? Look at the ultimate intentions. Do they want to really raise temper elsewhere? I think the Christian leaders, CAN, are meeting tomorrow to emphasize to the Christians that we must live together as a nation.

"Retaliation is not the answer because if you retaliate, at what point will it end? Nigeria must survive as a nation that is the key thing".

On possible overhauling of the country’s security system, he stated that government has no such intention for now.

"When you say overhaul, what do you mean. We need to improve security certainly. What changes are you talking about? Why changes in leadership? Everybody thinks that if you change leaders in security, everything will work fine. If you ask very simple question; what kind of security system have we been managing? Are the structures all been so good that we can overall produce result? It is a gradual process, anywhere there has been this level of terrorism it takes a long time for the security to be overhauled. Even whatever you do, at some points, you expect limited successes but to ensure that over a period of time, you can actually put things in place that will work for the betterment for the society.

"What is preventing government from holding dialogue with members of Boko Haram?

"Do you know them?"

Also speaking on the report that one of the leaders of the sect has been shuttling between Nigeria and Niger Republic, he disclosed that such information was not available to him, saying that security Agencies will act on it.

"I think I will like you to tell me more, I am talking of working together. So if you understand that one of the key leaders has been going between Nigeria and elsewhere, come and tell us so that we know how to follow the key leader"
Source: Daily Champion, 29th December 2011.

 

Christmas day bombings are satanic, unIslamic, ungodly — JNI
THE Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), on Monday described Christmas day bomb attacks in Madalla and other parts of the country as satanic, unIslamic and ungodly.

JNI is the umbrella body of Muslims in the country.

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The Secretary General of the group, Dr Aliyu Khalid , made the condemnation in an interview with journalists in Kaduna, on the incidents, which had claimed many lives.

``This act of explosions stand condemnable as it is not only un-Islamic but un-Godly'', adding that no true Muslim would like to be associated with such act that was ``clearly satanic''.

``Islam means peace and our Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) died preaching peaceful co-existence among various tribes and religions.

``No any meaningful development would take place in our country without peace and security,’’ Khalid emphasised.

He cited several verses of the Holy Qur’an and the Hadith, which categorically prohibit and condemned any action that would lead to loss of lives.

The secretary urged Nigerians to be more security conscious and report suspicious movements to relevant authorities, in order to forestall such attacks and other security threats in the future.

He said that the JNI was very concerned at the increasing number of such attacks and appealed to the federal government to step up security measures to restore peoples' confidence in the polity.

Source: Daily Champion, 29th December 2011.

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No force can bring Boko Haram to its knees –Shehu Sani 
(The man who led OBJ to sect’s den in Maiduguri)

From: ISMAIL OMIPIDAN AND ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE, Kaduna

Comrade Shehu Sani

Comrade Shehu Sani has said that no amount of force could bring Boko Haram to its knees, insisting that dialogue remains the best option.

He spoke exclusively with the Sunday Sun team in Kaduna recently, where he also revealed how the visit to Maiduguri with former President Obasanjo was planned, and why he chose Obasanjo as the lead arbiter, ahead of former Nigeria leaders of northern extraction among other issues, adding that “well, I virtually don’t know any person from the side of the government that I could actually talk to. 

So I thought of so many things and I thought the best person I should go to is someone who has the ears of the government and someone who has integrity and repute and it was then I thought of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.”
Excerpts: 

Let’s start by finding out from you how you first came in contact with Boko Haram?
Well, as you know, I am a human right activist and a researcher and I live here in Kaduna. I have a human right organization that I lead, called the Civil Right Congress, CRC. My organization is basically involved in the protection and the defence of fundamental rights of citizens. Its area of interest is Northern Nigeria, not for sectional interest but for the very fact that this part of the country does not have much presence of human right organizations. And in the course of my activism, we have on many occasions stood up in defence of the rights of people that have been violated by either the government or the security agencies. We have series of religious organizations in the North, like the Sunni, the Shia, the Dariqa sects. When their members get into trouble, we send lawyers to rescue them.

As for the Boko Haram group, when their leader was killed in 2009, I was one of the first that stood up to condemn the killing and I have consistently maintained that the use of force cannot bring an end to the Boko Haram violence and I have always maintained my position on the need to sit down with and listen to them in order to know their grievances. Most of those that are in sect today were some years ago normal human beings who roamed the streets or those who were engaged in preaching and other Islamic activities. 

These Boko Haram members are human beings, they are not monsters, they are not demons; they are people like you and I. And in the course of my work, many of them have appreciated that I have always stood on the side of the common ma. They also know that I have been in this struggle for many years, even before many of them thought of starting any struggle of any kind. As you know, I was in and out of prison during the military era and in the process, we met with so many of them who were also fighting the military then from a religious point of view. So, over the years I have earned a reputation in the eyes of many of these persons that think differently about the operations of government.

So, I got in touch with them (Boko Haram) via their family members who are in Maiduguri. They have family members who are in the open; the families of Buji Foi (former Commissioner for Religious Affairs killed in 2009, extra-judicially) the families of Mohammed Yusuf (late leader of the Sect) the families of Alhaji Mohammed Baba Fugu (Yusuf’s in-law, also killed extra-judicially in 2009) are all there in Maiduguri and they are not in hidding. 

And it is from that point that I proposed the idea. I presented myself to them, that ‘my name is Shehu Sani, a Human right activist. I asked if they had ever heard of the name and they said yes and that they have been following my activities. Then I forwarded an idea to them, and asked what they thought about it instead of the continuation of these violence and counter violence? I also asked if I could go ahead to start a process of talks between them and the government that they are fighting. 

So at what point did you bring in Obasanjo and why him?
Well, I virtually don’t know any person from the side of the government that I could actually talk to. So, I thought of so many things and I thought the best person I should go to is someone who has the ears of the government and someone who has integrity and repute and it was then I thought of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. 

You mean none of the country’s past leaders in the north measured up to Obasanjo in that regard?
Well, I don’t know what you mean by that but the truth is I thought of Babangida, General Abdulsalami, I thought of General Muhammadu Buhari. For Buhari, I know he has the credibility, reputation and acceptability, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria, but viewing his current stand with the government, I don’t think he has the listening ears of the government. 

As for Babangida, I put it on the scale, he also may not be listened to by the government, and I don’t think that Boko Haram will also listen to him. But again, I also saved him from the situation of getting him into a difficult position of having to explain himself if he is suspected of complexity in the Boko Haram menace. So, I zeroed in on Obasanjo for a number of reasons; one is that as the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, he has the ears of the government and secondly, I had to forward his name to them (Boko Haram) to see whether they have any grudges against him and they threw it back to me that when he was in power for eight years, he never moved against them, even though a lot of security persons had risen against them. 

He has never sent anybody to fight them, so, they have no problem with him. So, I then reached out to President Obasanjo and hinted him of the idea of him interceding, to at least come, sit down with the Boko Haram people, listen to their own side of the story, and then, see what he could do to talk to the government, so that this issue can at least be resolved.   I made the move because force has been used since 2009 and unfortunately innocent lives have continued to be lost either from the side of the Boko Haram or from the side of security agencies. It is from this view point that I forwarded the idea to him (Obasanjo) and he too took his time to think about it and he replied me that he was open to offer his services as an individual, not necessarily representing the government.

So, how many days or weeks did it take you to organize this visit before you eventually embarked on it?
It wasn’t that very easy, because first of all, they had to do their own thinking about my own background, which didn’t take them time to know because they have been reading, seeing and listening to me on radio. And I believe if they had taken a definite position against me, perhaps, they wouldn’t have agreed to the talk.
But that fact was that even though they didn’t find me on their own side, they didn’t also find me against them. What they have seen is that I have always been doing my work, in the sense that issues that have to do with the law, the fundamental rights of citizens are always protected. So, it took them time, but not much time. 

But for the choice of Obasanjo, it took them almost two weeks to resolve that they would talk to him. It took almost another two months to reach out, because the families of Boko Haram members said that they also had to get clearance or rather a unanimous agreement that they should accept to agree to this and it was when they agreed that Baba Kura Fugu (the one that was killed shortly after the Obasanjo’s visit) got back to me that they had agreed to my proposal. 

However, they had conditions; the first was that the meeting would take place in Maiduguri, and the second was that; it should take place in the ruined building of their late leader; Mohammed Yusuf, and the third was that; they didn’t want the presence of security men at the meeting. There should be no photographs or recording with handsets, no journalist. They simply wanted to sit down with me and former President Obasanjo. It was then that I forwarded the issue to President Obasanjo and he too thought about it and a date was set and then we moved to Maiduguri. 

We went straight to the venue of the meeting. We thought we were going to meet only the men, but we were surprised to find even their women, all of them were sitting down and waiting for us. In compliance with their conditions, Obasanjo asked security men to stay away from the venue of the meeting. The question and answers session started between the Boko Haram families, some of their members on one side and us on the other side.
Before the death of  Baba Fugu (the father of Babakura) who was Yusuf’s father in-law, he had consistently maintained that he did not approve of the activities of Yusuf, even though, Yusuf is his son in-law . He provided documentary evidence to show that not only did he not approve of whatever they were doing, but also alerted the security operatives of the impending 2009 insurgence. So, now, does meeting with the family necessarily mean meeting with the real combatants in Boko Haram?

Well, to be very candid with you, when we sat down with the family, they
said that was their first contact with any person since these crises started. That was their first contact with any person who is not there to arrest, persecute or fight them.
It is not our problem whether there was a disagreement between Yusuf and the Babakura family but all we were there for was to see the possibility of exploring peace opportunities with the families of Boko Haram that we could see, so that those ones that cannot be reached, could be reached through the ones that we met so that a process of dialogue would start. 

The first question that Obasanjo threw to them after the prayer was ‘why is Boko Haram fighting?’ And after telling them that he was there based on his personal conviction that a channel like that could be used and that the initiative was done by me, he now asked them what their views were? He wanted everyone to talk, and both the women and the men spoke.

Many of them who spoke, spoke with one voice, very clearly that a lot of injustice had been done to them, by the killings of their own leaders Mohammed Yusuf, their fathers and bread winners. And that they have continued with the arbitrary arrest of their members. They said the first step towards peace and reconciliation was the unconditional release of all their members that had been arrested. And that once that was done, the rest would follow. After that, they handed over their demands to Obasanjo, in the presence of their lawyer. Although Obasanjo asked if their demands were met, there would be peace. Babakura said government should its part first, and leave the rest to them.

You had hardly left Maiduguri, when your chief host, Baba Kura was killed, how did you feel and what did you make of the entire scenario?
First, I was shocked and confused about the whole situation, especially when it was reported that he was allegedly killed by Boko Haram men. But respite came when the Boko Haram men came out to deny their involvement in the killing. It further reinforced my belief that we have three kinds of Boko Haram- political Boko Haram; criminal Boko Haram and the real Boko Haram. In fact, they disclosed that most of the political killings in Borno was not done by them, specifically, they mentioned that of the late ANPP gubernatorial candidate.

So what next, after the visit?
Well, we are waiting for the government. I am sure former President Obasanjo would have made presentations to the government, especially on the issue of the case they won against government, where rather than pay compensation, government went on to appeal, a thing, we all agreed was insensitive on the part of the then Borno State government. So we are waiting for President Jonathan.

At a point, after the death of Babakura, we learnt you were also on the run due to threat allegedly by the Boko Haram to eliminate you, are you still running and hiding?
Well, you are conducting this interview in my own house, in fact in my sitting room, you can see plates of food on my table and you can also see people who have come to visit me outside. So, the idea of running I think came from the media; a journalist called me after the killing of Babakura and asked to interview me. I granted him an interview and the following day, he wrote that I was in hiding, but I don’t have any problem with that, because it has at least made people read, and some people’s salaries would be paid. 

But having said that, it was true I received a threat message and the first thing that came to my mind was, how could we have agreed to meet with some people and then one of them is killed by insiders, then the threat message. It is now clear to all of us now that most of the violence that have been going in this country in the name of Boko Haram could not have been carried out by Boko Haram. There are clearly some forces underground that who are hiding behind the Boko Haram, to perpetuate the violence, which I believe is adding to the critical situation that our country is in now.

Considering the fact that a life has been lost in an attempt to make peace, if at the end of the day, this effort comes to nothing, without government taking any step towards addressing the demands of Boko Haram, how will you feel?
Well, first of all, I am concerned that, my own part of the country is becoming a breeding ground for violent activities and the image of my people and the image of all Nigerians are at stake. As the violence continues, our unity as a country and our democracy are under serious threat. It doesn’t have to do with whether you like President Goodluck Jonathan or not, but what is most important is that, no life of any Nigerian ought to have been lost because of an issue that he is not responsible for.

I made this effort as a contribution to peace since millions and billions of naira and dollars must have gone into the struggle to bring an end to the problem of Boko Haram. But again, from my own experience and from what I have learnt, there are some things that I can say and there some things that I cannot say. However, what I will say is that this issue could be brought to an end if we are actually going to explore the initiative that we have started and if the government and Nigerians would see meanings in this initiative, I think it is worth being explored. It would be unfortunate if this part is not explored. 

The Boko Haram group are determined and committed to their cause and I do not think there is any form of violence or force that can bring this to an end; no force can bring them to their knees. What will happen is that even if you arrest their leadership, they have a structure of having a new leadership within 24 hours. Also these people are well spread across the states of Nigeria and they can reach their targets at any time. And they have made it very clear that they have their people in neighbouring countries like Niger, Chad and Cameroon and that you cannot suppress or kill all of them. 

They have the capacity to regenerate. So, when you have such a movement with such a potent force, when you have such a group of people that are determined like this, I believe there is no reason to believe we can only use one approach (force) to bring them to an end. 
Now, you have seen what has happened in the Niger-Delta, where Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged and violence was used. Did it bring the problem to an end? But when you have a strategy of amnesty, of empowerment, of sitting down to dialogue with them, that issue was brought to an end. 

So, when you hear of names of some members of Boko Haram like; Abu Sa’id, Abu Sumaiya, Abu Kahka, Shekau, Mamman Nur and other people, they are not different from other names you hear like Tompolo, Boyloaf and all the generals in the Niger-Delta militancy, but they are people who I believe if there is a conducive atmosphere for them to sit down and dialogue, the problems can be brought to an end. We have started something, but I believe we cannot do it alone. There must be cooperation from the other side which is the government and they have to understand that this violence, is telling on our image, our economy, our finances and on the future our country. We must look at ways or bringing this problem to an end. And I think this is my interest in the matter.

But again, because there are people who profit from this kind of violence on the side of government. They will also do everything to frustrate our modest effort. Mind you, it is not peculiar to Nigeria. All over the world, defence contractors and those who make money from security situations, encourage government to go to war so they can make supply and make money. Security operatives will also make demand for vote to combat the situation. But let me warn again that no amount of force can bring down Boko Haram.

On a final note, ACF is planning a peace confab, which according to it is with a view to addressing the security challenges caused by Boko Haram. Do you believe such a project can yield fruits?
I don’t think the Boko Haram group will listen to the ACF, and I don’t think they will listen to any Emir or Sultan.

Why do you think so?
Yeah, because they have consistently made it very clear that they see these groups and these individuals as part and parcel of the problem. What they have always made reference to is that when the security agents moved against them, killing them, none of these people stood up to speak for them. One thing I know about them very well is that they knew I have spoken and I have consistently stood on the side of human rights and of the need to preserve human lives. And these are the things that I think will bridge the gap between them and the ACF and other people.
Source: Sun, 16th October 2011.

 

 

Boko Haram 5

Boko Haram ‘s demands
By Sun News Publishing

In the last few weeks, the fundamentalist Islamic group, Boko Haram, has made two daring statements regarding its continued assault on national security and the way it must relate with the Federal Government. 

It all concerns the possibility or otherwise of entering into any form of negotiation government that could bring to an end the unlawful activities of the sect. Each of the two ronouncements of the sect in recent weeks has pushed its actions the more to national spotlight. 

About two weeks ago, the Presidential Committee report on national security advised the federal government to enter into dialogue with the sect, provided it agrees to renounce unconditionally all forms of violence and surrender all its arms. But the sect swiftly dismissed any such idea. It vowed to continue with its mission to Islamize the country, or at least, most of the states in the North.

However, most recently, the group shifted ground on its demands. This time, it said it would consider talks with government on the condition that its members currently being held in detention by security agents “are released unconditionally.” The statement by its spokesman, one Abu Qaqa premised its demands thus: “our position remains the establishment of Sharia Law in all Muslim states in Nigeria, but as a temporary measure for peace, we will accept to talk with the federal government only when all our members in captivity in all of states are released”.

Though government has neither made any pronouncement on the recommendations of the Presidential Committee report headed by former ambassador, Usman Gati Galtimari, nor on the statements by the sect, we find it utterly absurd for a terrorist organization to be giving a legitimate government conditions for laying down its arms. It is also revolting for a terrorist group to have the audacity to dictate to government. This smacks of crass impunity.

We believe that government has not capitulated to the antics of Boko Haram. But if it does, it then means that all manner of insurgent groups can strut about on the national stage and threaten the sovereignty of the country with the hope that government will pander to its whims. What is really unfortunate about all this is that our security agencies have not found the right strategy to contain the subversive activities of the sect and other militant groups like the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND).

It is regrettable that the sect is not mincing words about its objective to undermine the security and sovereignty of the country. Its activities have created a state of siege in many parts of the country. It should not be dignified further with any attempt to meet its demands. Regrettably, our security agencies have not responded adequately to the threats posed by Boko Haram and other insurgent groups. While we expect them to rise to the occasion, we urge government to discountenance the report of the Presidential committee that recommended negotiation with a terrorist organization.

Government should bear in mind that protection of lives and property of the citizens is its primary responsibility and should not succumb to any group that challenges its constitutional power to govern. Giving in to the demands of an insurgent group would be a grave error. Government needs to gird its loins properly in this matter.
Source: Sun, 9th October 2011.

 

Boko Haram, Islamized Nigeria…Really? Thank God!

Nigeria 10

By Ikechukwu Enyiagu

Thank God! At last, it’s coming closer to home. I thank God because no one could now comfortably continue to feign incognizance of the goings-on since most Nigerians, though educated, active and wise, oftentimes prefer nonchalance and unserious approach to realities until their dangers come knocking on the bedroom doors. Islamic extremists have spotted Nigeria as another fertile ground for blood spillage-the likes which are common in the some Arab countries; but they shall spill their own blood only. However, the height to which this madness may climb will be entirely dependent on the choices the government of the day and the people decide to make from now. Their methods often seem unserious until grounds begin to fall to their favors through acts of terror. And, hey! Never mistake those who champion this course for the uneducated and uninformed; don’t even dream of thinking that these Jihadists lack roots and supports within their people; most leaders in those lands are signatories to what they do. It’s a beautiful thing that the Northern branches of Nigeria are now speeding up on their catch; this way, Nigerian would be forced to sit up. It all started with one callous and hell-borrowed strategy introduced by the British as a means of checking the Igbos to avoid being questioned or opposed while they milk Nigeria dry.

A people were called out of their self-satisfying nomadic and cattle-rearing lifestyle and had leadership thrust upon them. Then, they were aided to flush out Igbos in a genocide which claimed more that three million (3,000,000) lives, leaving us with remnants. Yet they were not satisfied. Oil were sucked from the South but transferred through underground pipelines to the North. Next, all national arsenals were shifted to the North-leaving other parts, especially the South East, with nothing but a division with only a name. Next, it was registering Hausa as the national language of Nigeria on BBC, claiming that Hausa is the only language worth hearing from Nigeria by the outside world. Further, these people who arrogantly called one of their states a “born to rule” went on to register Nigeria in the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) as an Islamic country. Next, their battle axe, Al-Qaeda, came in to register its bank but was advised that such premature move would blow up their cover. So, instead, they decided to implement one of their agenda which involves the Naira currency; they started writing Arabic/Islamic inscriptions in the Naira notes which only a closer and keener look could observe. When they were spotted and complaints threatened their resolved plan to Islamize all of Nigeria, they removed those inscriptions and replaced them with those from the three major tribes. As the anger died off, they secretly reintroduced these same Islamic Arabic signs to the national currency. In their timing, they installed a chronic Sharia enforcer as the CBN governor in the person of Mallam Sanusi. At the same time, they supplied and kept on supplying Boko Haram with all they needed to kill at will and terrorize the entire nation in an attempt to create diversions from their true agenda and sympathy which would lure Nigerians to unsuspectingly tolerate these schemes. And while they go on terrorizing the country and excitedly making President Goodluck Jonathan sweat in his sleep, the CBN Mallam used the federal money to start championing the Al-Qaeda banking in Nigeria in the guise of Islamic Banking. One of their spiritual leaders even went as far as openly boasting and vowing that all Muslims in Nigeria would go to war should the plan for an Islamic banking system be stopped. While their agents, Boko Haram, kills Igbos and peoples of other different tribes at will, their Northern leaders openly and unashamedly revealed that they have personally authorized the killings by blaming it all on the government. And in commenting, one of their governor even claimed that those who died were bound to die as they did.

Recently, their scheme shifted to the killing of Igbos and anyone in Nigeria who cannot recite, offhand, the Islamic Quran. While they embark on this, the Nigerian government keeps seeking means to bribe them off their lifelong dream of Islamizing Nigeria but at the same time rounds up, beats, kills, arrests and detains without reasons the non-violent MASSOB members. As it is today and true to the maser plan given them by their leaders, Boko Haram has rebuffed every attempt by the federal government of Nigeria for any peace deal. Their condition for truce in Nigeria, however, has now been made evidently clear: Nigeria must be totally Islamized-from the East of the country through every other angle to the entire north; every Nigerian must become a Muslim by choice or by compulsion-in life or after being killed. Thank God again, the time for the inevitable decision has come; the moment to determine whether or not to let these unfeeling and hell-sent zealots Islamize all of Nigeria and compel every Nigerian to become a Muslim has come in its time. Every Nigerian, in line with the culture of selfishness, had kept silent and unconcerned while all these above-mentioned steps were taken against us and without our consent; but as it has come to a matter strictly of the heart, Nigerians have lost the privileges of keeping mute and unconcerned. Either way, Nigeria must shake. By the way, Nigeria was never built to stand and it was finally nailed to the coffin on the Biafran soil filled with the blood of all those killed in the genocide. According to America’s prediction, Nigeria is due for a breakup by 2015, but it looks like these Islamic extremists have no respect for predictions or patience; Al-Qaeda has waited longer than necessary, in their calculation, to pounce of Nigeria.

Whichever way the federal government chooses to take against these developments, a Sovereign National Conference remains the choicest and only peaceful alternative. It does not really matter if the name ‘Nigeria’ is replaced with ‘Islam’ and it means nothing if Nigerian currency’s name is changed into Boko Haram or Sharia; any country may choose any language for whatever they desire and they could write the name of who they worship in every material, every home, each meal, and every skin. It, however, matters deeply if these plans are being moved forward in Nigeria as long as Nigeria remains politically one. AS LONG AS NIGERIA REMAINS HINGED TO AND DEPENDENT ON BIAFRA’S PRESENCE, MEMBERSHIP AND SUPPORT TO SURVIVE, SHARIA LAW WILL NEVER HAVE RELEVANCE BEYOND THE NORTH. Nigeria will never be Islamized and Igbos will never have to read any portion of the Quran involuntarily. Unfortunately, Ojukwu will eventually be remembered by all Nigerians who may ever find their path to accepting and loving truths. It would be an unfortunate thing because, by the time everyone who is human enough in Nigeria sees the truth, the loss would be unbearable. I thank God, once again, for giving Nigerians another time to choose whom to serve: A God of love, tolerance, and freedom, or that of compulsion and destruction; the God who created life and treasures it, or the one who was created but lost his place in God’s blessings, who, as a result, goes about seeking unsuspecting, undiscerning, and weak souls to enslave and to devour. The crossroad is here and the moment of decision has come; everyone has lost the privilege of remaining silent and unconcerned, including you.

Ikechukwu Enyiagu can be reached at ike.enyiagu@gmail.com
Source: Nigeria Master Web, 6
th October 2011.

 

Chasing Shadows

 

Boko Haram is foreign-driven, says Army

FROM MADU ONUORAH (ABUJA), AYOYINKA OLAGOKE (UYO) AND OBIRE ONAKEMU (LAGOS)

THE pervasive suspicion in official quarters of the external dimension in the activities of the destructive Boko Haram sect is now over.

A critical security agency of the Federal Government, the Nigerian Army, which brainstormed on the country’s security challenges yesterday in Abuja, said based on the group’s modus operandi, access to cheap funds and bomb-making materials, and expertise in the illicit trade, it had come to the inevitable conclusion that Boko Haram enjoys tremendous external backing.

According to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Onyeabo Azubike Ihejirika, who spoke on the sect’s activities, declared that from Service assault on Boko Haram, it was convinced that it gets training and funding from abroad.

Ihejirika said from the type of weapons and communications equipment captured from the insurgents, it is “definite” that there is foreign involvement in the terrorism in Nigeria.

He was however not categorical on the foreign countries or groups that bankroll Boko Haram’s activities.

The Army’s position came a day after the Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North-East submitted its report to the government, where it recommended dialogue with the armed group.

Ihejirika’s position may fuel the government’s resolve to take the fight against terrorism to the doorsteps of its neighbouring countries. There have also been claims that the sect has strong link with al-Qaeda and insurgent groups in Somalia and Eritrea, which train its members on terrorism.

The Army chief said from the expertise Boko Haram had displayed in the preparation of Improvised Explosive Devises (IEDs), “the group is getting its training and funding from abroad.”

He spoke at the opening of a two-day Chief of Army Staff 3rd quarterly conference at the Army Headquarters Command Mess, Abuja, stating that the Army had taken a strong stand against indiscipline in its ranks through the use of all legal means at its disposal.

The meeting of the Army top leadership focuses on security and current operations involving the Service and how they can be improved upon.

The conference is attended by all the Service Principal Staff Officers at the Defence and Army Headquarters, General Officers Commanding (GOCs), Corps and Formation Commanders and heads of Army establishments.

The conference is a major activity in the yearly training of the Army and affords the leadership an opportunity for self-assessment and adjustment of strategies in line with emerging national challenges.

Ihejirika told journalists that “it is definite that the group that call itself Boko Haram receives training and possible funding from some foreign elements. This is evident from the type of weapons we have captured from them, the type of communications equipment we have captured from them and the expertise that they have displayed in the preparation of IEDs. The fact is that there is foreign involvement in the terrorism going on in Nigeria.”

The Army chief charged the participants to “appraise the performance of the Army in the local and external operations it is involved. Be frank and give serious criticisms of the performance so that we come up with ideas to improve the Army.”

Earlier, Chief of Army Policy and Plans, Maj.-Gen. Olakunle Akinyemi, said though the Army had received encomiums for its role in the 2011 general elections, it had equally received knocks for the performance of its troops in Internal Security Operations (ISOs).

He regretted that “some of our troops are getting into serious disciplinary issues that bring the Nigerian Army in bad light.”

Such disciplinary issues include extortion and the nonchalant attitude of junior commanders on the welfare of troops.

He therefore charged all commanding officers to ensure that their officers and soldiers are better prepared to perform the duties expected of them.

“The conduct of discipline professionalism must be maintained at all times as they enhance performance of the Army in Internal Security Operations,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Samuel Friday Akpan, has described the existence of Boko Haram as a manifestation of the disintegration of the unity pattern in the North.

He told The Guardian in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, that the sect is not a strong opposition to President Goodluck Jonathan administration but a fallout of the inability of northern leaders to collaborate and move the dynamics of state as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution to promote unity in the region.

Akpan said Boko Haram is the appearance of the frustration of those who want to dominate Nigeria but have lost out in the political terrain.

He described Jonathan as a leader with the ideas of peaceful co-existence in Nigeria and determination to carry the mandate of the constitution by ensuring the unity and economic development of the country.

Akpan said: ”Boko Haram is a manifestation of the disintegration of the unity pattern we used to think we have in the North. For me, I don’t see it as a strong opposition to President Jonathan but as a fall-out of the inability of northern leaders to be able to collaborate and move the dynamics of state collectivity into the embedded unity as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. Therefore, the conflict or the challenge of attempting to frustrate the President that he is from the South or for religious sentiment is not sufficient. It is a manifestation of the leaders in the North being incapable of managing their internal variables and having allowed to over-vent to show that there is no more unity even in the North since they cannot speak with one voice.”

Also, the President of the Niger Delta People’s Forum (NDPF), Mr. George Utomhim, has claimed that the current acts of terrorism were deliberate efforts to destabilise Nigeria because a southern minority is the nation’s President.

He said Boko Haram is the product of a northern power bloc that had vowed to make the country ungovernable should power shift from the area after the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

Utomhim said: “The act of terrorism is not against all Nigerians per se; it is against the Niger Delta people because one of them has become the country’s president. We see it as sabotage, an attempt to derail the government of President Jonathan.

“Right from the onset, we saw a northern oligarchy that says it would not accept a Federal Government led by President Jonathan, vowing to resist it at all cost. This is an attempt to cause trouble and break up the country.”

He told The Guardian that Niger Delta groups “have resolved that if that is the case, we are ready to fight for our right even if it means bringing the country to a standstill. We are ready to fight the cause; we are ready to face it with all our might. Even though we are a minority, we are ready to fight this cause to the end.”
Source: The Guardian, 28
th
September 2011.

 

Boko Haram gets foreign backing

By Yusuf Alli and Gbade Ogunwale, Abuja 

Chief of Army Staff Gen. Azubike Ihejirika yesterday said members of the Boko Haram terrorist group were receiving training, funding and equipment from foreign interests.

Gen. Ihejirika hinged his position on the sophistication of the weapons being used by the sect’s members, the communication equipment deployed in recent bombings and their expertise in the preparation of improvised explosive devices.

“Involvement of foreigners in Boko Haram’s terrorist activities in Nigeria is certain. It is definite that the group receives training and possibly funding from some foreign elements,” he said, at the opening of the 2011 Chief of Army Staff conference in Abuja:

He added: “This is evident from the type of weapons we have captured from them, from the type of communication equipment we have captured from them and from the expertise they have displayed in the preparation of improvised explosive devices. These are pointers to the fact that there is foreign involvement in the terrorism going on in Nigeria.”

Highlighting the main focus of the two-day conference, Gen. Ihejirika admitted the security challenges confronting the nation, assuring all that the Army is appraising its operational training to meet emerging security challenges.

“This quarter has been particularly challenging, in view of the numerous security challenges across the country, the most recent being the UN House bombing by the terrorists here in Abuja.

“This is essentially a training conference and hence a large number of officers taking part. We have been told to appraise our performance training, administration and in tackling the operational challenges the Nigerian Army has been involved in both internally and externally”

“I want to emphasise that we have to be very frank and do a serious critique of our performances so that we can come out with a solution that will aid our performances in future undertakings,” he said.

The Army chief acknowledged the high expectation of the public from the security agencies, saying that the consensus among them is that a situation where bombs continue to shatter public peace is unacceptable.

“So, we need to really dissect our mode of operation, and the way we work and cooperate with other agencies so as to come up with better strategies to enhance security tremendously,” the General said.

He deplored indiscipline among members of the Armed Forces and promised to tackle it with every seriousness required. He however added that indiscipline is a societal problem and not peculiar to members of the Armed Forces.

Said Gen. Ihejirika: “The issue of indiscipline affecting soldiers is societal, but what I want to assure every Nigerian is that all acts of indiscipline on the part of soldiers and officers would be dealt with immediately, whether by court-martial or at the unit level’.

“I have brought commanders to the field so that we will drum it right into their ears so that they too can interact with us and we will know how to nip the problem in the bud once and for all.

“What I want to say is that the Army will meet the expectations of Nigerians and that we are ever prepared to carry out any task assigned to us. The issue of the country’s security is a collective thing running from government at various levels, well-meaning citizens and all the security agencies. What I want to assure you is that the Army will cooperate and collaborate with others to improve on our present performance.”

Source: The Nation, 28th September 2011.

 

Boko Haram: Education and not Amnesty

By SAKARIYAU O. BOLARINWA

THE Holy Prophet Muhammed (s.a.w) in the Holy Quran stated, inter-alia: “Man, seek knowledge, even if you have to trek to China”. The Holy Prophet was a believer in education, whether Western or Eastern knowledge. Also, in the same Holy Book of the Muslims, the Prophet cautioned man that “there is no compulsion in religion, meaning that you can not forcefully convert another person to your own faith.

Religion is a personal thing in which man should have a personal relationship with God, no matter your perception of that Great Deity”.

Nigerians are extremely religious people who refuse to adhere to the spiritual laws set in motion by Almighty God, who in His infinite mercy and love has been sending various prophets to different nations in order to guide man, “the prodigal son”, back to the kingdom of  God, where there is bliss.

God is neither feminine nor masculine. God is just and fair. Those who are stealing billions of naira and go to church for thanksgiving will eventually account for their deeds. God has absolute patience.

Futhermore, the Almighty God, the uncreated, creator of the universes loves and cares for all His children equally. The various religions in the world today are the various routes or paths to Godhead and have their respective holy books – the Holy Bible for the Christians, Holy Quran for the Muslims, Bargavad – Gita, for Hindiusts or Hare-Krisna movement, Grail Message, volumes one and two, which was revealed to Abdrushin, Shariyat-ki-Suginad.

Books one and two for the Eckists, followers of Eckankar(Religion of the Light and Sound of God) that teaches universal Spiritual Law of Love. There are also other religious paths like Taoism, Judaism, Buddhism and even Ifa corpus. God is love and we too should exhibit this love in our dealings with one another.

The Darwin Theory of Evolution only brought to fore the three stages of man’s evolution but did not mention the last stage which is “Homo-immortalis” whereby man is able to realise himself as a spirit immortal. At this stage, man can say: “I and father are one”.

This stage of God-realisation was attested to by one of the ancient philosophers, Socrates who said: “Man know thyself”. All mankind were created by one God, our father, who is neither a Christian nor a Muslim. To buttress this statement also, readers should go to the internet and read a new book titled, “God is Not A Christian” by the venerable Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

Through my search for the knowledge of the heart and man’s purpose in the cosmic scheme of things, I have come to realise that no religion or prophet has ever propagated the killings of fellow human beings or commission of suicide (suicide bombing) as a way of salvation.

In fact, all the various scriptures stated clearly that man has no right to take his/her life. It is one of the greatest “sins” to take one’s life. The Holy war or Jihad that was fought by Prophet Mohammed and his followers was in self-defence

In Nigeria today, religion has taken on political colouration, producing political assasins and looters of treasuries. They are the ones who are more religious than their  respective prophets. They utilize religion as a mask to unleash mayhem on the innocent citizens.

The Sharia laws as enshrined in the Holy Quran cannot be implemented in their entirety in this age of ICT. A society devoid of justice and adequate education cannot implement Sharia. Sharia laws are based on justice and that was the reason for the prophet to have warned that: “A leader should first of all establish a JUST society before he can implement the LAW”.

Our former President succinctly put a  tag on the Sharia law in Nigeria by calling it “Political Sharia”. There was a governor in the Northern part of country, who introduced the Sharia laws in order to curry the followership of the impoverished and illiterate masses.

We also knew a governor who married an under-aged girl but sent his own children of the same age to a prestigious institution. We also knew a governor who had no “front” but kept the government money in the state house to be spent on women of easy virtues and wine.

The same governor organised and cut an innocent hungry man’s hand in the name of religion. The man later confessed how he was given money for the charade (poor man!).

Suffice to say that Boko Haram is a social problem, an unintended consequence of our inconsistent social policies, sustained by the visionless and greedy leaders. Therefore to stem the tide, our enlightened Islamic scholars like Professor Ishaq Akintola, Dr. Adegbite and his security committee in partnership with the Northern Emirs and relevant ministry should not sit on the fence or be docile.

They should enact a concrete and relevant education policy for the masses in  the North who are being used to foment trouble (can a true Muslim say that he would  make a country ungovernable for a leader because that leader won an election). Islam means peace and total surrender to the will of Allah. If you lose an election today, you can win, next time.

Enough of this tomfoolery and mind colonisation by the elite and the Oligarchy in the North, whose mineral resources (political power) had been taken from them, through the ‘divine’ zoning arrangement. The masses should be educated on the teachings and sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W). Their mother tongues or the three major languages could be utilized in reaching the masses.

Mass media are a veritable tool for the dissemination of information for re-orientation. People should be taught to be conscious of their thoughts, words and actions as all negative and positive deeds will be automatically recorded and to be paid for, either here or hereafter, man must reap what he or she sows.

*Mr Bolarinwa is Security Psychologist and wrote vide guardmasters2001@yahoo.com

The Law of Karma is an immutable law which is an  aspect of the Law of Love. God does not punish anybody. Also, nobody has ever taken one kobo to the world beyond and nobody can fight on behalf of Almighty. He does things in His own way and in His own time. Ignorance of the poor masses in the North is being exploited by the political elite and the only antidote is adequate and relevant education. Time to act is now.
Source: Vanguard, 27th September 2011.

 

Panel on Boko Haram indicts FG
TONY AILEMEN, 
Abuja

Committee on Boko Haram yesterday indicted the Federal Government over the continued threats to national security by the Islamic sect, saying the failure of governments to deliver justice and bring immediate relief to victims of the crisis have engendered the crisis.

"The inability of the Federal Government to complete useful/crucial projects that have high development impacts has also not been helpful," the committee said.

The committee headed by Ambassador Usman Galtimari, while presenting its final report at the Presidential Villa, identified high level of poverty and illiteracy existing in the North-East zone as well as massive unemployment of youths, both skilled and unskilled as some of the factors that led to the emergence of the Boko Haram crises.

This was as it recommended that federal Government should consider the option of dialogue and negotiation which should be contingent upon the renunciation of all forms of violence and surrender of arms to be followed by a rehabilitation programme on the side of government.

Others include "the existence of private militias that were established, funded and used by politicians and individuals and then dumped after having been trained to handle arms, and the presence of large number of almajiris who together with those mentioned above could easily be used as canon-fodders to ignite and sustain crisis.

But federal government in a response yesterday said it is committed to the protection of lives and properties of Nigerians, even as government has set aside the sum of N4Billion to address almajiri problem in the 2011 budget.

Vice President Namadi Sambo stated this while receiving the final report of the Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North East Zone Chaired by Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari.

He said: "I want to assure you that we will do everything to ensure that the lives and properties of all Nigerians are properly secured.

"Government will look at the report and act as a matter of urgency in implementing this report".

He assured that it will not be business as usual, saying "this administration will act on all similar reports and ensure that justice is done".

The committee had also identified the "influx of illegal aliens resulting from porous and unmanned borders coupled with provocative and inciting preaching by some religious leaders as some of the factor that have helped to inflame the crises.

Others include "extra-judicial killing of the sect leader Mohammed Yusuf and some members of the sect by security agents, and weak governance and failure to deliver services in the wake of huge resources accruing to state and local governments".

The committee disclosed that in arriving at its report, it visited all the States in the North East geo-political zone and held interactive sessions with governors, traditional rulers, community, religious and opinion leaders on the immediate and remote causes of the Boko Haram siege.

Other areas visited by the committee include Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Niger and the Federal Capital Territory.

While presenting the report to Vice President Namadi Sambo, the committee said it was able to present an interim report containing recommendations adjudged requiring urgent implementation by government pending the submission of this final report.

"In our interaction with the state governors, chief security agencies, traditional rulers and other stakeholders all advised for urgent steps to be taken to provide measures for economic empowerment of the teeming unemployed youths in the north-east zone.

"It therefore recommends that government at all levels should, as a matter of priority initiate and design appropriate programmes to address the issue of unemployment in the zone.

"The committee is of the view that the ongoing trail of police officers linked to the murder of Mohammed Yusuf, the sect leader and some of his followers should be expedited and publicized to convince the public of government’s sincerity on the matter".

He disclosed that they discovered that there was a general failure of effective and coordinated intelligence gathering and its deployment to forestall events with undesirable consequences.

"In this direction, there is no high-level security network/forum (outside the statutory national security institutions) that will enable an informal meeting between Mr. President and the governors as well as other top-level security stakeholders. The lack of an institutional structure/arrangement to primarily cater for inter-religious affairs to promote harmonious coexistence confounded the problems.

"Most importantly, the committee was inundated with series of complaints that the increasing level of in security in the country was amongst other reasons due to the failure of governments to implement reports of various committee that were constituted and had submitted useful recommendations in the past"

"Our final report which is being presented to Mr. President this afternoon embodies an urgent strategy for combating the identified security challenges and offers a road map for the restoration of public confidence in the ability of government to protect lives and property as well as reassure investors of their security. It is our conviction that the Federal Government and all the affected states should take steps to consider and implement the recommendations in the final report in order to effectively address the issues at stake. Mr. President Sir, it is the strong belief of the committee that once these steps are taken, it would enable the government and the entire nation to fight insurgency, terrorism, and the new disturbing phenomenon of suicide bombing in order to give a renewed drive to the transformation agenda for the overall political and socio-economic development of the country"

"The federal government should create an informal forum at the highest level, where Mr. President will discuss national security issues with governors and other stakeholders from time to time. Again, there is an urgent need for arranging an informal forum where Mr. President will grant audience to each state governor on one-to-one basis where issues on security, could be addressed".

It also recommended that Federal Government should diversify and strengthen its means of creating avenues for international intelligence sharing and inter-agency cooperation through diplomatic channels/pacts.

The federal government and Borno state government, it said should ensure that human and organization victims most especially, churches and mosques including schools, which were destroyed during the religious crisis in the past and even in the recent past, should be compensated monetarily and by way of resuscitating and reconstructing their properties. Survivors of the deceased victims should be compensated appropriately.
Source: Daily Champion, 27th September 2011.

 

We have “strong leads” about the backers of Boko Haram - Goodluck Jonathan
Written by Elombah.com

President Goodluck Jonathan (ThisDay)

President Goodluck Jonathan have said said the government has “strong leads” about the backers of terrorist attacks after being hit by several bomb blasts. “I have directed security operatives to go after them no matter where they may be hiding,” Jonathan said in an Address at the official launch of

new national driver’s license and number plates. Nobody will be spared in state’s efforts “to expose, contain and defeat this network of terror and

 its sponsors.”

A suicide car-bomb attack on a United Nations office complex in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Aug. 26 killed at least 23 people and wounded 71 others. The blast occurred after a suicide bomber driving a Honda CRV crashed into the reception area of the building housing 26 UN organizations.

Nigeria’s State Security Service said on Aug. 31 it had arrested two suspects that it identified as leaders of the militant Islamist Boko Haram group, which is responsible for attacks in northern Nigeria, in connection with the bombing.

Boko Haram, which draws inspiration from Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, claimed responsibility for the attack, the BBC and the Abuja-based Daily Trust newspaper reported, citing phone calls by a spokesman.

Below is the full statement by the President: 

ADDRESS PRESENTED BY THE PRESIDENT, DR. GOODLUCK JONATHAN, GCFR, AT THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE NEW NATIONAL DRIVER’S LICENSE AND NUMBER PLATES AT FRSC NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS ABUJA ON FRIDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 2011. 

PROTOCOL 

1. Today marks another step in our transformation journey. The launch of the new driver’s licence and number plates today is the culmination of three years of hard work which started with a discussion I had with the Corps Marshal in my office then as Vice President on the need to improve our driver’s license for it to meet international standards. 

2. Today’s launch has acquired greater significance following last Friday’s unprovoked attack which led to the loss of lives and has left in its trail gory images of the threat terrorism now poses to the peace and security of our nation and the safety of our citizens.

3. Since the last bombing episode on October 1, I had directed the hastening of efforts to build a credible database of drivers and vehicles in order to improve public safety. The importance of this project is reaffirmed by the consistent use of vehicles in the conduct of the recent bombing episodes. 

4. Let me use this occasion to reassure Nigerians and members of the international community that we now have strong leads as to those involved in this terror war on Nigeria and Nigerians. I have directed security operatives to go after them no matter where they may be hiding. 

5. Also I am using this opportunity to warn that those who choose to hide under our new freedoms to perpetuate evil against our people shall have no hiding place. This administration is fully determined and able to deal with all threats and agents of instability who continue to test the resolve of our nation and its democratic institutions and leadership. 

6. As President and Chief Security Officer of the nation, I will employ every means and instrument at my disposal to secure this nation against forces of evil, which seek to divide and sabotage our country. There shall be no sacred cows in our efforts to expose, contain and defeat this network of terror and its sponsors. 

7. I have directed a review of our national security architecture to lay greater emphasis on intelligence and citizens’ participation in security surveillance. 

8. It is in this regard that government is pleased that FRSC has delivered on the promise to introduce a credible driver’s license that meets international standards. This is a positive development, which demonstrates FRSC’s commitment to the government’s transformation agenda and a testimony that we can get it right in this country. 

9. Restoring the integrity of the driver’s license aligns fully with the transformation agenda of this government, it is at the heart of the efforts to alter a culture of recklessness, impunity and lack of consideration for other road users and to transform these negative traits to a positive affirmation of a rule - driven society. 

10. Today, a new era has begun with the introduction of the new driver’s license and number plates. The government has invested in technology, people and processes that will not only restore the integrity of the driver’s license but also provide the nation with a credible database of drivers and vehicles.

11. This administration, in line with the reform agenda, acceded last December to the Vienna and Geneva Conventions on road signs and markings. The accession to these conventions, which have been in existence since 1949, imposes new responsibility on Nigeria to ensure that the driver’s license is a competency-based certificate. 

12. Therefore I am happy to announce that part of what we are launching today is the immediate implementation of the Driving Schools Standardization Programme (DSSP) that stipulates that only accredited driving schools must sponsor all fresh applicants for driver’s licence. Also a new regulatory regime of mandatory test and continuous drivers training has been introduced for commercial drivers. 

13. Let me assure the FRSC of my total support in ensuring that enforcement of road traffic rules does not exempt or accord any undue respect to positions, ranks and status of any select group of road users. I will therefore like to see greater enforcement on indiscriminate use of siren by unauthorised persons on our roads and removal of tankers and trailers that are indiscriminately parked to obstruct the roads. 

14. I charge the Corps Marshal to come up with an immediate action plan in conjunction with other stakeholders for ensuring that adequate parks are provided for trailers and tankers on our highways nationwide. 

15. In the last five years, government has increased FRSC’s budget and has observed appreciable decline in road traffic crashes and fatalities. 

Government will continue to support the FRSC in its quest to sustain the decline in road crashes and attendant injuries in order to achieve the objectives of the Accra Declaration of reducing road crash fatalities by 50% by 2015 and the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety (2011 – 2020) which hopefully will make Nigerian roads to rank among the world’s 20 safest roads by year 2020. 

16. The international dimension of driver’s licence and number plates imposes on us as a country the need to ensure that they are not used as instruments of terrorism. I want to reassure Nigerians and members of the international community that terror groups will be defeated in our land. This administration will spare no effort or resource in containing this latest threat to the unity and stability of our nation. Terrorism has no conscience and spares no one. We must all stand together against terror in its destructive manifestations. 

17. We are in touch with all international agencies, involved in the global war against terror. We will work in tandem with all organizations and partners towards the timely and eventual containment and defeat of terror and their sponsors in our land.

18. I therefore appeal to all State governments, law enforcement agencies, transport unions and institutions, non-governmental organisations, the organised private sector and of course, the general public to be resolute in their support for the FRSC in their quest to reform motor vehicle administration in Nigeria for our collective good.

19. I hereby launch the new National Driver’s Licence and Vehicle Number Plates to the glory of God and for the safety of all road users and promotion of national security. 
20. Thank you. 

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How Nur, Shekau run Boko Haram

By Uduma Kalu
THE State Security Service (SSS) Wednesday identified Mamman Nur, an Al-Qaeda linked member of the Boko Haram Sect, as the mastermind of  last Friday suicide bomb attack on the United Nations (UN) building in Abuja, which left 23 people dead and many injured.

It added that Mamman Nur has been declared wanted. Nur,it said, returned recently from Somalia and worked two suspects now arrested.

The violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, also true to its words, revealed identity of the suicide bomber, last Wednesday named the bomber as a 27-year-old Nigerian, Mohammed Abul Barra.

Doubts on SSS arrests

Even though the SSS announced the capture of two suspects and displayed their pictures, that of Nur had no picture attached to his name. It had no details of his occupation, identity, antecedents. Yet, citizens are required to help in hunting him

Llittle is known about Nur. Even the name given by the Boko Haram spokesperson as the suicde bomber seems fake as a little research can reveal. The name is also alias of Osama bin Laden’s bomb making man.

Even western analysts were cautious about the SSS authorities’ claims. Peter Sharwood-Smith, Nigeria country manager at risk consultants Drum Cussac, said Nigerian security services were closely tracking Boko Haram.

”The SSS (State Security Service) are reported to have infiltrated Boko Haram to a fairly significant degree, so they may have managed to use intelligence gained from that to find people behind the bombing,” he said.

”On the other hand, there’s no way of gauging the accuracy of the intelligence they are using, so we don’t yet know if they’ve picked up the right suspects.”

Even the UN did not jump into the SSS declaration. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who addressed the 193-member General Assembly for the first time after he had dispatched two senior UN officials to Abuja, said, “What we know is that this attack was the work of a suicide bomber who rammed a sport utility vehicle at high speed through the exit gates of the UN compound.”

There has been growing concern over whether Boko Haram has formed links with extremist groups outside Nigeria, including Al-Qaeda’s north African branch and Somalia’s Shebab fighters.  Alleged sect members have claimed that they have received training in foreign countries, and analysts point out that their attacks have grown increasingly sophisticated.  The UN bombing marks an increase in the sophistication of Boko Haram’s attacks, possibly with more powerful explosives, and an escalation from local to international targets, analysts say. Some suggest Boko Haram was developing global ambitions and may have connected with al-Qaeda’s North African wing.

”What’s pretty much known is that there have been links made between Boko Haram and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. They’re not thought to be particularly strong links. The attack on the UN building is the first indication that there might possibly be some influence in terms of targeting coming from al-Qaeda,” Sharwood-Smith said. If Nigerian authorities are correct, the group may also have linked up with jihadists in Somalia.

”This latest attack … aimed at the UN indicates an internationalisation of the struggle and bears hallmarks of an al-Qaeda connection,” the Eurasia Group wrote on Tuesday.

”While this is a worrying development for investors, including western oil companies, the oil-rich Niger Delta will be much harder terrain for Boko Haram to operate in.”

Boko Haram structure

Boko Haram has no specific name for itself, just many names attributed to it by local people. If their name is uncertain, however, their mission appears clear enough: to overthrow the Nigerian state, impose an extreme interpretation of Islamic law and abolish what they term “Western-style education”.

Boko Haram appears to have a loose structure. Its activities seem to indicate that leaders are regionalised. For example, seven key chieftains of the dreaded Boko Haram sect have been arrested in Minna, Niger state by some operatives of the State Security Service, SSS. Late Yusuf said his headquarters or branch offices were in Gwange ward, Bulumkutu of Maiduguri.

For Minna, sources said the lead suspect is a Lagos-based businessman, whose name was given as Yusuff. Minna has been his operational base in recent times and was present in the state on two occasions when bombs went off in Suleja. Sources in the administration said six other loyalists of the said kingpin were arrested in a swoop by the security forces. The issue that concerns Boko Haram today is its leadership and structure.

The death of Mohammed Yusuf, their leader till 2009, wounded but did not cripple the group. It also decentralised its leadership and operation as the pattern of its operations killings indicates. Nur and Shekau are involved in a power tussle. No one come out to say he gives any order. It appears that those that bomb in North East are different from those in Suleja and Abuja. In Maiduguri, it is said that 26 fundamentalist groups exist alone with different names and structures.

Boko Haram leadership

Mohammed Yusuf (29 January 1970 – 30 July 2009) was a Muslim sect leader. He was born in Girgir village, in Yobe State, Nigeria. He founded the militant Islamist Boko Haram the group’s official name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad” in 2002 and was its spiritual leader until he was killed in the 2009 Nigerian sectarian violence. He was more commonly called Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf.

Imam Abubakar Shekau

Imam Abubakar Shekau was the second-in-command to Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed by the police in July last year after days of fighting between security forces and the sect’s followers. The police said in 2009 that Shekau was shot dead in the clashes. But a 25-minute video clip, shot on April 19 and obtained by the media showed Shekau answering questions from a journalist at his hideout believed to be in Maiduguri. In the clip, Shekau is seen wearing a head dress, with an AK-47 gun and a stack of religious books behind him. People who know Shekau very well identified him in a still image captured from the video clip. Proclaiming himself as leader of the sect, Shekau said during the interview that with the death of the former leader, he “being the deputy (to Yusuf), stepped in and assumed leadership to continue in the pursuit of religious knowledge.” Shekau was, besides being a second-in-command of the sect, the most influential and feared member of the Boko Haram group.

Mamman Nur

Nur’s name has previously circulated as a top figure within Boko Haram and he was considered by some to be the sect’s third-in-command during its 2009 uprising in northern Nigeria, put down by a brutal military assault. He was believed to have fled to Chad to escape arrest by Nigerian security agents before moving on to Somalia, according to sources claiming to have been sect members as well as others familiar with Boko Haram. Nur is thought to have returned to Nigeria several weeks ago at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Nur is reported to have long been seen as a high-ranking member of Boko Haram.

Believed to be around 35 years old, Nur was considered third-in-command of  Boko Haram when it launched an uprising in northern Nigeria in 2009 put down by  a brutal military assault which left hundreds dead. Its second-in-command was Abubakar Shekau, believed to be its current  leader. Its head at the time of the uprising, Mohammed Yusuf, was captured  during the assault but later killed when police said he was trying to escape.

According to sources claiming to have been sect members as well as those  familiar with the group, Nur took over temporarily as leader while Shekau  recovered from gunshot wounds suffered during the uprising. Nur is thought to have left Nigeria for Chad along with several other sect  members to escape arrest by security agents. From Chad, he is believed to have moved to Somalia along with some close  allies, according to the sources, before returning to Nigeria several weeks ago  at the beginning of Ramadan.

Rumours have spread that there has been a power struggle between Nur and  Shekau, with Nur and his faction of loyalists contending he was more competent  to lead the sect given his exposure to Somali training and contacts. Nigerian authorities have not confirmed details of the claims surrounding  Nur, saying only that he was “a notorious Boko Haram element with Al Qaeda  links who returned recently from Somalia.”

They said investigations had shown that Nur working in concert with two  other suspects masterminded the attack on the UN building that left at least 23  dead.

Nur is said to have been born from Chadian parents in the northeastern  Nigerian city of Maiduguri, where the sect’s mosque and headquarters were  located before the 2009 assault left them in ruins.

According to the sources, he studied at a state-run theology school in  Borno state, where Maiduguri is the capital, but dropped out before finishing  and joined Boko Haram. The SSS’ claim that Nur just returned from Somalia tallies with a recent statement by the Boko Haram that some of its members had gone for training in the East African country.

Boko Haram’s transition

It appears Boko Haram has grown in sophistication and range. From Maiduguri and the North East, the sect moved to Kaduna, Suleja and is now in Abuja. It can attack simultaneously and hit police stations and its national headquarters and at the UN, Abuja. It says it targets Aso Rock. In fact, it has just announced that Kano is its next target. It is in the nation’s capital, fully armed, with sophisticated weapons. It plans well its attacks carefully.

It seems also to have infiltrated the security agencies in the country so much that it easily has access to very difficult places. And with this, it is beating the security agencies.
Source: Vanguard, 3rd September 2011.

 

Boko Haram, plot to destabilise Jonathan – S/South leaders

By Jimitota Onoyume

Sout-South Delegate 2 (The Guardian)

PORT HARCOURT – ELDERS and leaders of the South-South region have condemned the activities of Boko Haram, describing it as an orchestrated plot by a tiny minority to make the country ungovernable under President Goodluck Jonathan.

South South Peoples Assembly, an umbrella body of people of the region, in a statement by Ambassador Mathew Mbu, Justice AdolphusKaribi-Whyte (rtd) and Dr. Kalada Iruenabere called on President Jonathan to fish out sponsors of the terrorist religious sect for prosecution.

They called Boko Haram a political tool in the hands of a small group it described as “power merchants and economic parasites,” seeking to achieve their earlier threat made during the struggle for Jonathan’s presidency to destabilise the nation.

The group said: “SSPA does not believe that the Boko Haram of today is the offshoot of the one crushed by the Yar’Adua administration. Rather, we are convinced that the name has become a metaphor for a more sophisticated struggle for political power. We daresay that it is a tool in the hands of those who threatened to make this country ungovernable and who lectured us on the inevitability of violent change in the heat of the struggle for the Jonathan presidency.

“Boko Haram cannot be pursuing a religious agenda. It should be obvious that exploding bombs in Abuja will do very little to advance the cause of its fanatical Islamic ideology.

“On the contrary, we are convinced that the group’s agenda, clearly that of its urbane sponsors, is to make the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan unworkable.”
Source: Vanguard, 29th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram: Fact-finding Panel Submits Interim Report

Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, SGF
Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, SGF

The  Presidential Fact-finding Committee set up to discuss the best way out of the security challenges posed by the Boko Haram Islamic sect in the north-eastern part of the country has submitted an interim report, three days behind the deadline.

 While submitting the report to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Thursday, the committee asked for a two-week extension to allow them time to put finishing touches to their findings.

Responding, Anyim granted the team an extended period of two weeks and noted that the details of the “interim report” would not be disclosed until the final report.

He commended the efforts of the committee and urged them to stick to the terms of reference, which include review of all issues of security challenges in the zone and proffer solutions/recommendations which would bring about a speedy resolution of the crisis; to serve as a liaison between the Federal Government and the State Government, where necessary.

 They are also to liaise with the National Security Adviser (NSA) to ensure that the security services discharge their respective assignments with optimal professionalism; consult with stakeholders from time to time for suggestions and to ascertain the true state of affairs; and consider any other initiatives that will serve to engender enduring peace and security in the area (Borno State/North-east).

 It would be recalled that the seven-man panel headed by Mr. Usman Galtimari was inaugurated on August 02, this year to create a forum for a pool of suggestions that would guide the federal government on whether to negotiate with Boko Haram or not.

The panel was given two weeks to submit its report. Galtimari, however requested that  they be allowed more time beyond the August 16, this year deadline and as well co-opt a few hands to ensure a comprehensive work in a final Report to Government.

He gave the assurance that if given enough time, the committee would get to the root of the problem, saying that the security challenge posed by Boko Haram was not insurmountable.

He also called on the members of the Islamic sect to embrace the peace efforts of the federal government and promised that their ‘genuine grievances’ wiould be given due considerations in their recommendations.

 “I assure them that all their genuine grievances will be addressed by the committee and appropriate recommendations made. The members of the sect are our children and grand children. They should appreciate the fact that the government is not against them and the society is not at war with them,” he said.
Source:  This Day, 19th August 2011.

 

Clerics Flay FG on Boko Haram

By Yinka Kolawole  and John Shiklam 

Catholic Bishops of Ibadan, Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo, Osogbo and Ilorin have decried the diplomatic approach the federal government was adopting in handling the issue of Boko Haram in the country, saying it was unacceptable to majority of Nigerians.
The clerics position came on a day the Chairman of Chanchangi Airlines, Alhaji Ahmadu Chanchangi, denied allegations that he was one of those sponsoring the activities of the group.

Rising from a one-day meeting held at Saint Augustine Regional Pastoral Institute, Ede, Osun State weekend, the clerics condemned the ‘diplomatic’ approach adopted on the issue, saying it was at the expense of Nigerians’ lives, peace and tranquility.
The clerics said: “Nigerians will benefit more from strengthening of rule of law, whereby security agencies will promptly bring criminals to book than negotiate with murderers and criminals. We have seen the government seeming to speak from both sides of the mouth on whether or not to negotiate with the Boko Haram.

“The unfortunate ascendancy of this group has once again exposed the dirty backside of the security set up and agencies in our country. The federal government’s approach to this issue has been decisive in some ways but inadequate in others. This issue of amnesty has also been raised by some eminent Nigerians. This so-called ‘diplomatic’ approach at the expense of Nigerians lives, peace and tranquility is unacceptable.”

Represented by  the Managing Director of Chachangi Airlines, Mr. Trevor Worthington, and the Executive Director (Operations), Alhaji Musa Chanchangi, the businessman said he: “Is not one of the sponsors of the activities of the sect and he has nothing to do with them.”

Wellington stated that: “Alhaji Ahmadu Chanchangi is preoccupied with his aviation business and philanthropic works in an effort to contribute towards the development of the country.”

The clerics, who also called for extensive debate on the proposed Islamic banking, faulted the pronouncement by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, on the issue, describing it as ‘governance by ambush’.
Source: This Day, 22nd August 2011.

 

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Obama Bars Boko Haram Backers, Others from U.S.

FROM LAOLU AKANDE, NEW YORK

UNITED States (U.S.) President Barack Obama is getting tough on human rights violations, atrocities and widespread

Barack Obama 1

violence around the world.

Nigerians and other nationalities identified by the American government as perpetrating these acts and   supporting atrocities including Boko Haram and religious violence would be denied entry into the U.S.

According to a recent White House  statement, Obama has signed an executive order suspending entry privileges to the U.S. by any alien “who planned, ordered, assisted, aided and abetted, committed or otherwise participated in, including through command responsibility, widespread or systematic violence against any civilian population.”

Specifically, a White House official yesterday clarified that the order would affect  Nigerians against the backdrop of recent Boko Haram violence and other atrocities that have already been and may be recorded in the country.

Answering questions from The Guardian whether this order has anything to do with Nigeria and the country’s encounter with Boko Haram and religious violence, Caitlin Hayden, Deputy Spokesperson of the National Security Council at the White House answered in the affirmative and said late Monday that “in answer to your questions, the President’s Executive Order applies globally.”

Hayden added that the presidential order also empowered the Secretary of State with the “responsibility for implementing the order, including identifying those persons to which it applies.”

According to the presidential order released early this month  - August 4 -President Obama determined that “that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict the international travel and to suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of certain persons who have engaged in the acts outlined in section 1 of this proclamation.”

The section lists violence against civilians, war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of human rights. Indeed the section says persons who even attempted or conspired to perpetrate any of these acts would also fall under the no-entry to the U.S. hammer of President Obama.

U.S. officials explained that while the presidential order should not be seen as targeting any specific individual or nation, recent acts of terrorism and widespread violence in the Arab world and rising terrorism and violence in Africa may have influenced the presidential declaration.

Late last month while meeting with four African heads of state from West Africa at the White House, Obama personally expressed concern at the troubling rise of terrorism  in Africa.

At the July 29 meeting with President Boni Yayi of Benin; President Alpha Conde of Guinea; President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger; and President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire, Obama noted that “we are partners in resolving conflicts peacefully and have worked effectively with ECOWAS and the African Union to resolve crises in the region.”

But he also pointed out an important concern, adding that the U.S. appreciated “very much the assistance that we’ve received on battling terrorism that currently is trying to gain a foothold inside of Africa.”

According to the order, the U.S. President proclaimed that “ the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of persons described in section 1 of this proclamation would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

U.S. sources say the order has already entered into force and both the U.S. Secretary of State and the Homeland Security Secretary will play important roles in its implementation globally.
Source: The Guardian, 24th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram has links with al-Qaeda, says US General

By Our Reporter

Commander of the United States military operations in Africa, Gen Carter Ham, yesterday said the Boko Haram group has links with al Quaeda and al Shabab –two established terror groups. 

Gen Carter Ham

Gen. Ham told The Associated Press that “multiple sources” indicate that Boko Haram made contacts with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates in northwest Africa, and with al-Shabab in Somalia

“I think it would be the most dangerous thing to happen not only to the Africans, but to us as well,” Carter said.

Ham said there is no specific intelligence suggesting the groups plan attacks against U.S. or Western interests in Nigeria, but the nation is a major supplier of crude oil to the U.S. and is an economic hub drawing foreigners from across the world.

Ham said it appears Boko Haram may be splitting with one section focused on domestic issues and another on violent international extremism.

Boko Haram has links with al-Qaeda, says US General

“What is most worrying at present is, at least in my view, a clearly stated intent by Boko Haram and by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb to coordinate and synchronize their efforts,” the general said. “I’m not so sure they’re able to do that just yet, but it’s clear to me they have the desire and intent to do that.”

Ham said “loose” partnership also would include al-Shabab. A suspected al-Shabab bombmaker now facing terrorism charges in New York was at one point detained by secret police in Nigeria. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, also known as AQIM, has issued statements in support of Boko Haram, and both use similar logos in communiques.

A recent video indicates that two men, a Briton and an Italian who were kidnapped in northwestern Nigeria, are being held by AQIM.

Ham met this week with Nigerian military and security officials during his first visit to the country as the head of the U.S. Africa Command, known as Africom and which is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Ham said the U.S. would be willing to share intelligence and offer training to Nigerian security forces.

“We have a lot of folks who are pretty good about taking multiple pieces of apparently disparate information and putting that in a way that can be useful to operational commanders in a very short period of time,” the general said.

That assistance also could be used if the country requests it, Ham said. 
Source: The Nation, 18th August 2011.

 

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U.S. army chief links Boko Haram to al-Qaeda, others

FROM MUYIWA ADEYEMI (ADO-EKITI) AND LILLIAN CHUKWU (ABUJA) (WITH AGENCY REPORT)

Catholic bishops oppose dialogue with group

THE fundamentalist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, whose continued violence has defied the nation’s security apparatus, may be operating with the support of al-Qaeda’s African branch and the al-Shabab terror group of Somalia.

The top United States (U.S.) Military Commander for Africa, Gen. Carter Ham, told the Associated Press (AP) yesterday after a visit to Nigeria that there were “multiple sources” that showed that Boko Haram wanted to co-ordinate its efforts with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Ham said there were also signs that the two terror groups wanted to form a “loose partnership” with al-Shabab.

Ham of the U.S. Africa Command said such a co-ordination “would be the most dangerous thing to happen not only to the Africans, but to us as well.”

A suspected al-Shabab bombmaker now facing terrorism charges in New York was at one point detained by security agents in Nigeria. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, also known as AQIM, has issued statements in support of Boko Haram, and both use similar logos in communiques.

A recent video indicates that two men, a Briton and an Italian, who were kidnapped in northwestern Nigeria, are being held by AQIM.

Ham met this week with Nigerian military and security officials during his first visit to the country as the head of the U.S. Africa Command, known as Africom and which has its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Ham said the U.S. would be willing to share intelligence and offer training to Nigerian security forces.

Also, Catholic Bishops under Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province have called on the Federal Government to be decisive in dealing with the Boko Haram sect just as they advised against granting amnesty to the religious sect members.

The clergymen also called for more dialogue on Islamic banking and criticised Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for not allowing a thorough dialogue before approving the bank.

The bishops, who rose from their meeting yesterday in Ede, Osun State, challenged the government to arrest and bring to book the perpetrators of the violence that have claimed hundreds of lives and property of Nigerians across the country.

While sympathising with families that have lost their loved ones to the killings and bombings of innocent lives in parts of the country by the Boko Haram sect members, the bishops called on the government to strengthen the rule of law and security apparatus in the country and bring the members of Boko Haram to book rather than negotiating with them as being canvassed by some individuals.

The statement added: “The Federal Government’s approach to this issue has been decisive in some ways but inadequate in others. We have seen the government seeming to speak from both sides of the mouth on whether or not to negotiate with the Boko Haram.

“The issue of amnesty has also been raised by some eminent Nigerians, the so-called ‘diplomatic’ approach at the expense of Nigerians’ lives, peace and tranquility is unacceptable.”      .

The bishops in the statement signed by Most Rev. Felix Alaba Job and Most Rev. Felix Ajakaiye, blamed Sanusi for the controversy the issue of Islamic banking is generating.       .

The statement added: “In a democracy, Nigerians should have been allowed to discuss such an important and sensitive issue before Malam Sanusi would make a pronouncement on it which sounded much like law.

“Reactions to the proposed introduction of Islamic banking have shown how divisive such an issue, important and useful though it may be, can be when it is not carefully presented.”

The Catholic clerics also asked the government to tackle the growing unemployment rate in the country, saying security of lives and property could not be assured where unemployment was not firmly dealt with.

While commending the last general elections and urging the government to build on them, the bishops appealed to the various election petition tribunals to treat all petitions before them speedily.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government has pledged to train citizens on emergency response to terror attacks.

Deputy Head, Israeli High Commission, George Deek, made the pledge yesterday in Abuja at a one-day partnership forum and media briefing organised by Global Medical Horizon and Plusfactor International on enhancing emergency response and ambulance services in Nigeria, using the Israeli model.

He listed terrorists’ activities as kidnapping, fire, politically- motivated violence, ethnic clashes and bomb blasts. “Terrorism is one of Nigeria’s biggest and most immediate challenges. It is not a secret that Israeli expertise can significantly assist Nigeria in countering terrorism. On behalf of my country, I present our readiness to expand our partnership in Nigeria,” he said.

In a paper titled: “The Israeli model of emergency response as a tool of counter-terrorism”, Deek listed Israeli expertise in emergency preparedness, given frequent encounter with terrorism-related emergencies, as public education, training, drills, awareness and willingness to take part in activities.

Others, according to him, are the authority (the issue of who is in charge), police, emergency medical services, healthcare workforce and co-operation between all arms of government.

He said part of the Israeli success in achieving a high level of public readiness was due to its long-term approach that invests heavily in creating a resilient public, especially in the effective engagement and mobilisation of the public in support of counter-terrorism policies.
Source: The Guardian, 18th August 2011.

 

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Nigeria: Boko Haram - Suicide Bomber Killed in Maiduguri
Dauda Mbaya And Achor Abimaje

A 25-year-old suicide bomber was yesterday shot dead by the police when he rammed the vehicle he was driving into the gate of the state police headquarters in Maiduguri, Borno State and headed straight for the main building in an attempt to bomb it.

Suicide bomber shot in Maiduguri (Daily Trust)

The suicide bomber was suspected to be a member of the Boko Haram sect in the state.

Confirming the incident to journalists during a press briefing at the state police headquarters, Maiduguri, the commissioner of police, Borno State Command, Mr. Simeon Midenda, said that sometime last week, his command received a threat text message, that the police cadet officers screening exercise slated for yesterday would be disrupted by a faceless group.

He said the development prompted him to beef up security around the police headquarters and other formations.

Narrating the incident, Midenda explained that at about 12:15pm, the suicide bomber crashed through the gate of the police headquarters in a Honda Accord saloon car with registration number AP 851 ABJ, and headed for the main building with the intention of detonating bombs close to his office.

However, before the bomber could carry out his plan, armed policemen on guard within the premises opened fire on him. He further said, "On reaching the vehicle, our men discovered that the boot was loaded with gas cylinders containing explosives connected with wires ready for detonation."

The commissioner said that the bomb disposal unit was promptly drafted to the scene, where, he claimed, they successfully incapacitated the improvised explosive devices (IED).

Our correspondent also gathered that items recovered from the car included six 13.6kg gas cylinders, each connected with wires; one air conditioner gas cylinder; two 25 litre jerry cans of fuel; one tin of Abro, five-litre volume and one Acid Orange drum of 28kg weight.

The CP said no written documents were recovered, saying that investigations had begun in earnest to unravel those behind the dastardly act.

He also called on the general public to continue to pray for the police so that God would touch the perpetrators of the continued bomb attacks to have a change of heart, so that peace, which had eluded the state, would be restored.

Recall that a suicide bomber, the first in the history of the country, had similarly crashed his way into the force headquarters in Abuja recently, where life and properties were lost, a development that led to criticism of the police by the general public.

Meanwhile, Bauchi State governor, Isa Yuguda, has said that the Boko Haram religious sect in the North is an offshoot of the Taliban, adding that only the present generation of Nigerians could tackle the problem.

Yuguda, who spoke during an interaction with journalists at the presidential wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, yesterday, said that the head of the Taliban was arrested some years back, while urging President Goodluck Jonathan to help in addressing the Boko Haram issue.

Meanwhile, riots erupted in parts of Plateau State yesterday, forcing the newly constituted state executive to call off a one-week retreat which was due to hold at Obudu Cattle Ranch, Cross River State. The development came just as no fewer than 15 persons lost their lives in the northern senatorial district of the state in a midnight attack.

Thousands of travellers remain stranded at the Maraba Jama'a area with the members of the Special Task Force (STF), who have been accused by the youths in Korot village, Foron district of Barkin Ladi local government area of providing cover for their assailants.

Chairman of Barkin Ladi, Hon. Emmanuel Loman, who confirmed the attack could not say who the attackers were, just as he said some people were pointing accusing fingers at the STF.

The situation in Jos remained tense as people abandoned their duty posts to rush back home because of the heavy presence of STF men, who took over strategic points to guard against any further breakdown of law and order.

It would seem that all the five local governments of Plateau State's northern senatorial zone are under siege, as there has been a series of random attacks.

The Heipang attack on the home of Mr. Nnaji, an Igbo man, while watching the Nigeria-France tournament allegedly left seven members of his family dead.

An unsigned document, released by the STF spokesman, Capt. Charles Ekeocha, said the youths in Heipang, who demonstrated over the killings, demanded for the immediate withdrawal of troops, as they reportedly stoned STF vehicles and soldiers' residences, which they ransacked in the area.

The statement confirmed that in retaliation of the youths' attack on the soldiers, "one of the vigilantes with AK-47 rifle and 30 rounds of 7.62 (special) was shot. He died on the way to the hospital".

It added that, "To avoid more casualties, troops have been withdrawn to Maraban-Jama'a, Jos. However, the general area has been beefed up with troops of STF".

Mrs. Margaret Deme Dung, whose husband was allegedly shot in her presence, said those who killed her husband came in black attire and were escorted by soldiers.

She also claimed that when they knocked on their door, her husband, who was an official of First Bank and was in the village for the weekend, opened the door and was subsequently shot and killed, leaving her with five children to cater for.

The attackers were said to have gone to their next-door neighbours, where they reportedly shot dead two brothers, Samuel and Adamu Gwom. Their mother, Ngo Chang Gwom also told newsmen that some of them wore army uniforms, while others were in black attire.

Reacting to the development, the special adviser to the governor on media and publicity, Mr. Pam Ayuba said government was making frantic efforts to unravel those behind the killings, which he said were disheartening.

He said that Governor Jang was "really pained" over the sad incident, adding that a security meeting was underway and the outcome would be made known with time. He advised that people should give peace a chance, because government attaches importance to human life.

Meanwhile, the STF has arrested one Mr. Isaac Namua, Daddy Moses and Lawrence Dina in Angwan Rukuba in Jos, Plateau State, in connection with the killing and dumping of the corpse of Kamilu Yahaya, a commercial motorcyclist, into a river.

According to the STF, the suspects on arrest, confessed to the killing and were handed over to the police for investigation and prosecution.

Also, another bomb attack occurred yesterday in Tambuwal community, a 100km from Sokoto city, the hometown of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal. The police in the state said the command was on the top of the situation adding investigation was ongoing on the matter.
Source: Leadership, 16
th August 2011.

 

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Boko Haram, threat to African peace – US
By Fidelis Soriwei

US Flag 2

The United States on Tuesday confirmed fears of a possible threat to the peace in Africa by the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, and volunteered to collaborate with the government in curbing the sect’s threat. 

 The US told the Minister of Defence in Abuja that Boko Haram had links with other extremists’ organisations outside the country.

The Commander of the US Africa Command, Gen. Carter Ham, said the Boko Haram menace in the North-Eastern part of the country was not just of serious concern to Nigeria but to the US and indeed the international community. 

Ham said, “We are very concerned about the linkages between Boko Haram and all other extremely organisations in Africa and other places and so we will find way to collaborate to address this.”

He did not mention the said fundamentalist bodies. 

Ham said the sect, founded in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, in 2002, posed many security challenges to the African continent.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the July 16, 2011 Nigeria Police Force Headquarters bombing in Abuja. The police in Borno also said they suspected that a suicide bomber shot dead in Maiduguri on Monday was a member of the sect.

The suspected bomber had driven a Honda car laden with explosives and attempted to force his way to on the premises of the police headquarters in the town at a time about 1,500 potential recruits were being tested.

The AFRICOM Commander who spoke during a courtesy call on the Minister of Defence, Alhaji Bello Mohammed, said that the US was interested in addressing the menace. 

He also said that the US, which was determined to strengthen the existing relationship between both countries, would aid the country’s efforts in Maritime security. 

He said that the US would also work with the country to curb the incidence of violence and to support the nation’s role in regional security. 

“The security challenges that Nigeria faces are exactly the same security challenges that the United State faces, so the purpose of my visit is to share our common view and to find ways that the armed forces of the United States and the Armed Forces of Nigeria can increase our cooperation and synchronisation to address our shared issues. 

“And it has been a very interesting opportunity to meet with the Minister of State for Defence as well as senior military and civilians leaders in Nigeria to exploit the possibilities of strengthening what is already a very good partnership,” he added 

The Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Olusola Obada, who represented Mohammed, commended the US for the donation of a ship ‘Thunder’ to the Nigeria Navy, which she said would soon arrive in the country. 

She commended the US for the support it had given to the Nigerian military in the area of peace operations under the United Nations and others. 

She also thanked the US for its support to the nation’s military in the fight against terrorism. 

Obada said that Nigeria was aware of the efforts of the US in the sustained fight against terrorism at the global level and was ready to give the necessary cooperation to it. 

She said that it was logical for the US and Nigeria to work together in the offensive against terrorism as both countries needed peace in their respective societies. 

She said, “I want to thank you most sincerely for the cooperation that you have given to the Nigeria military over the years and most especially in the area of peace-keeping operations to the UN and other area. 

“We appreciate also your cooperation for the security of the Gulf of Guinea and also the area of counter-terrorism to bring this to the lowest level and totally eradicate it in the African sub-region and not only Nigeria. 

“We can appreciate all the help you can give us and then of course training requirements, whatever you can do to train our people in counter-terrorism, intelligence analysis. 

“Nigeria is very grateful to your country for the past role and we are hopeful for a greater cooperation in the future being more or less the policeman of the world. 

“Nigeria appreciates this for the role you have been playing not only in the African sub-region but in the whole world and we look forward to greater cooperation. 

“We are hoping in the area of counter-terrorism. We will be able to work to bring this to zero level so that we can have peace. The most important thing we are looking for is peace; we want peace in our country Nigeria and they want peace in their country in America and we need to work together to ensure that this happens.
Source: Punch, 17th August 2011.

 

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Boko Haram In Many Of Us

ONE thing that really gets to people about the Boko Haram sect is the violence associated with its clamour for change, the way it understands change. Were it just a sect that defended its religious fervour peacefully, the opposition to its existence would have been mollified.

It is the streak of violence that has drawn parallels with the militant groups in the Niger Delta and the requests that similar measures be applied to stem the killings that have become a feature of North Eastern Nigeria in the past two years. The increased violence before the elections was wrongly judged as part of the political calculations. The violence has been sustained and daily acquires a different dimension.

Suggestions about how to contain Boko Haram’s violence have remained contentious.

However, a non governmental organisation, NGO, the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria, FEHN, thinks that the key to managing violence is education.

FEHN which played a major role in the training of more than 26,000 ex-militants in Obubra, Cross River State believes the programme in addition, has returned stability to the Niger Delta where oil and gas productions have resumed without the tensions usually associated with them when the militants held sway. Yet there is danger in handling these matters in isolation and that is why the introduction of non-violence training in schools is important.

“The government should introduce non-violence training in the schools to fight incidents of violence in the country. The violent culture in Nigeria is growing and it is very scary. Non-violence training should be inculcated in the curriculum of our schools. It can be a compulsory course for everybody passing through our schools,” it said

The challenge for the government is to simply be proactive. We cannot wait until violence breaks out before thinking of ways of handling it. We do not know what part of the country would be next. While it is at it, government also needs to deal with the social issues that fuel violence – poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment.

Another disturbing issue is illegal arms. From the experience of working with the former militants in Niger Delta, it was established that huge amounts of illegal arms are available to groups opposing government.

If access to illegal arms is not minimised, violence would continue. Boko Haram attacks indicate sophistication, maybe not in the types of arms availability to the group, but in the ability to improvise. Either way, it is dangerous.

The advantage that non-violence education has is that a change of the individual’s mind could mean that he would not use arms even if freely offered to him. Today’s growing army of dispirited youth would engage in violence unless governments address their plight through education and provision of resources to keep them human.
Source: Vanguard, 16th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram ‘ll destroy Jonathan if... –Akinola
From Moshood Adebayo, Abeokuta

Former Primate of the Anglican Church Nigeria, Jasper Peter Akinola yesterday warned that the Boko Haram may destroy the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan if concrete step was not taken to stem the violence which the Islamist group masterminds.

The cleric lamented that the Federal Government was handling the issue with kid gloves, just as he stated that the single term tenure as being proposed by the federal executive should not be a priority.
Akinola, who spoke in Abeokuta insisted that what matters most was the re-orientation of the minds of Nigerian politicians.

“It is unfortunate that the government is not strong enough to deal with these evil people and if you fail to deal with evil, evil will overwhelm you.” Akinola expressed fears that if President Goodluck Jonathan failed to deal with the situation, “this same evil will destroy his government.”
He described the investigative panel set up by the government to handle the Boko Haram issue as useless and exercise in futility and queried what they were to investigate.

Akinola, who alleged that some “godfathers” were behind the Boko Haram sect also urged the government to fish them out for the appropriate sanction.
According to him, granting the Boko Haram members amnesty was not only hypocritical but also unrealistic.
“It is unfortunate that those promoting it (amnesty) have failed to realize that this “sect has taken Nigerians hostage and all that we can do is to pamper them.”

He called on Nigerians not to see the activities of the Boko Haram sect in isolation, insisting that their aim is to “Islamise” Nigeria. “They (Boko Haram) believe our financial, education and political system is wrong so they should be “islamised.”
On the single term issue, he said: “If the motive behind the single term tenure is to give every section in Nigeria the chance to rule, then Nigeria is not going anywhere. What we should look for is the best candidate, it doesn’t matter whether he comes from Zamfara or Ogbomoso.”

“The problem of this country is not our constitution but the operators so it doesn’t matter whether it is single term, two terms, three terms or five terms. It is the minds of the politicians that needs to be converted”.
The Primate who also commented on the zoning system described it as a myopic idea which might have worked in the “18 century”, added: “Good governance is all that Nigerians want so we must concern ourselves with who is disciplined, honest, diligent and intelligent to move Nigeria forward, no matter where the person comes from”.
He charged church leaders to be courageous to speak against evils in the society instead of fraternizing with politicians who have questionable character.

“My advice to them is to choose to be on the side of God. If they do so, they will not be on the pay roll of the governments and they will not take handouts from the government.
Akinola warned that if the government did not take immediate steps to address the worsening living standard of the people, the end result might not be pleasant, “Because the revolution that we don’t want might happen”.
Source: The Guardian, 16th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram: Suicide Bomber Shot in Maiduguri

Written by Yahaya Ibrahim, Maiduguri

Suicide bomber shot in Maiduguri (Daily Trust)

The spirited attempt by a young man suspected to be a member of the Boko Haram sect to blow up the Borno State Police Command headquarters in Maiduguri was thwarted yesterday when police guards managed to shoot the man before he could explode the bomb-laden vehicle Daily Trust gathered that the suspected suicide bomber, estimated to be in his mid-twenties, crashed his ash-coloured Honda Accord car into the gates of the police command headquarters at 12.15pm. In the process, he knocked down several policemen at the gate. But armed police guards recovered quickly and opened fire. The driver was hit; he lost control of his vehicle and crashed it into a tree right in front of the command’s main building. 

At the time of the attack, some 1500 young men who have applied for enlistment as police cadet inspectors were undergoing a screening exercise at the police training school adjacent to the police command headquarters.

Borno State police commissioner Simeon Midenda, who briefed newsmen, said a suspected bomber forced himself into the command headquarters at 12.30pm with a Honda accord saloon car, knocking down policemen at the gate before heading towards the main building of the command.

He said when his men opened fire, the suspected suicide bomber slumped on the steering wheel inside the car. CP Midenda said when his men approached the vehicle, they found that it was loaded with gas cylinders connected together by wires.

He also said, “The Police Bomb Disposal squad was promptly drafted in. The squad successfully defused the Improvised Explosive Device.” He said they had early last week received a threat message from a faceless group that promised to disrupt the cadet officers’ screening exercise which commenced yesterday. He also said the threat led to the beefing up of security around all police formations in the state.

CP Midenda recalled that when he resumed as police commissioner in the state some weeks ago, he called on the people to pray for peace in the state, saying it was the people’s prayer that prevented the disaster. He urged all groups in the state to shun violence and address their grievances through peaceful means saying, “The police is not at war with anybody or group but if you take the fight to us as we have witnessed today, we shall address it appropriately.”

At the scene of the incident our reporter saw the ash-coloured car with registration number AP 851 ABJ, together with the lifeless body of the suspected bomber. Also at the scene were six 13 kg cylinders, one air-conditioner gas cylinder, two 25 litre jerry cans of fuel, one 5-litre tin can of ABRO can and one orange-coloured barrel of acid.

Yesterday’s episode in Maiduguri would have been the second suicide bombing of a police command in the country, following the bombing in June of Force Headquarters in Abuja by a suspected suicide bomber. Seven people died in that attack, according to official figures. The Boko Haram sect later claimed responsibility for the attack.
Source: Daily Trust, 16
th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram’s plan has failed, says minister

By Gbenga Omokhunu

The Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, has said the plan of the Boko Haram sect was to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Goodluck Jonathan. 

Boko Haram Bomb under rail track

He noted that some people have been making efforts to undermine the victory of Dr Jonathan in the April presidential election.

The minister said such plans have failed.

Moro spoke in Abuja when he received members of the David Mark Senatorial Campaign Organisation in his office.

He said internal security machinery had been placed on alert to contain the situation.

The minister emphasised that the era of “government-can-do-it-alone”on the issue of security was over, urging Nigerians to believe in making the system work.

He said: “As you are aware, I have been placed in the Ministry of Interior at this time that Nigeria faces a lot of security challenges. There is no doubt that the activities of sects, the activities of religious bigots, activities of unwanted elements have translated in recent time to activities that seek to make Nigeria ungovernable.

“Yet, as you are aware, all hands are on deck and all internal security machinery has been placed on red alert to contain the situation. I am happy to inform you that despite the challenges that are ahead, Nigerian security agencies are on top of the situation.

“Efforts have been made to ensure that the victory at the polls of President Jonathan is not undermined by people who are not satisfied with the results and the victory. Today, Nigeria is at the threshold of transforming from a country of unbelievers to a country of people who believe that things will work in the system.

“Mr President expects some level of passion for the reformation of this country and, today, all activities of government are geared towards ensuring the total transformation of this country. Nigerians can start believing now that the system can work again. I want to assure you that with the passion, commitment and determination of the Federal Government that in the next couple of years Nigeria will be gradually limping into the realisation of our Vision 20:2020. 

“I want to invite all of you to share the challenges of nation-building, to share in the challenge of ensuring security in this country. As you are all aware, security is a shared responsibility.
Source: Business Day, 15th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram: FG deports 3,185 foreigners

BY Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief & VICTORIA OJEME
ABUJA — In the wake of concerns over collaboration between the Boko Haram sect and foreign Islamic insurgents, the Federal Government has deported 3,185 foreigners.

Public Relations Officer of Nigerian Immigration Service, Mr Joachim Olumba, who disclosed this to Vanguard, weekend, said the foreign nationals were deported after rigorous and enhanced screening at the nation’s legal entry points, noting that the deportees included those whose presence in Nigeria was found to be inimical to national security.

He said 31 Somalis and 382 Sudanese had been screened and had been established to be legal residents in Nigeria and legally engaged in the country as well.

Meanwhile, the eight ex-militants who were ordered repatriated from Sri Lanka by the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chief Executive of the Amnesty Pogramme, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, for indiscipline would be handed over to the State Security Service when they returned home this week.

The Amnesty Office said in a statement by the Head of Media and Communications, Mr. Henry Ugbolue, that Kuku had to take a firm action against indiscipline among the ex-militants to ensure objectives of the amnesty programmes were achieved.

The ex-militants were expelled from a vocational training centre in Sri Lanka for offences ranging from fighting to wilful destruction of training equipment.

The statement read in part:

“The six trainees were expelled from a vocational training centre in Sri Lanka for offences ranging from fighting to wilful destruction of training equipment.

“The Six trainees who travelled out to Topher Zhang Maritime Vocational Centre Sri Lanka just a month ago to commence vocational training in either undersea welding or boat building are due back in the country this week and shall be immediately handed over to the Department of State Services (SSS) for proper profiling and possible prosecution.

“Further, Hon. Kuku has instructed the Accounts Department of the Amnesty Office to stop forthwith the remittances of monthly stipends to the accounts of the affected trainees. The Federal Government will no longer condone serial cases of indiscipline among Amnesty Programme’s trainees posted to vocational or skills acquisition centres both within the country and abroad. Indeed Hon. Kuku says the Amnesty Office is considering outright expulsion of unruly trainees from the Programme”.

The list of the indicted trainees were: Chinese Igoli, Weri Kingdom, Ekankumor Ogosi, Prince Jonathan Omie, Brinimugha Orunisiede, Elvis Oto, Agbabo Suama, Sinclear Thursday.
Source: Vanguard, 15th August 2011.

 

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Boko Haram: Morning yet on the road to Sudan

The sudden emergence of the Muslim militant sect with its earliest base in Borno State within the past two years had gradually assumed the ferocious dimensions of an Aqaeda group whose pattern of killings and bombings is beginning to be a thorn in the flesh of security agencies in Nigeria.

It started as an innocent revolt against Western education and all it represents, the seeming secularity of its democratic forms of government based on the rule of law and democratic best practices modelled after Western countries, including the US and Britain. Boko Haram appears to be hinged on the hard core Sharia inspired laws and allied Koranic injunctions.

It has patently called a Jihad to forcibly enthrone Sharia laws in at least 12 states of Northern Nigeria, and currently it seems to have some presence in Borno,Bauchi,Adamawa,Katsina, Yobe and Zamfara states where it is sporadically painting cities and country sides red with the innocent blood of Nigerians- irrespective of religious persuasions- Christians and Muslims alike.

Their activities came to an agonising bold relief when one of its adherent boldly breached security of the Inspector General of Police convoy and succeeded in detonating a bomb at the visitors car park of the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, Abuja. The explosion claimed the lives of more than eight persons lost their lives, while over 70 cars were burnt to ashes. In fact, it literally shook the seven-storey force headquarters building down to its foundation. The IG, Afiz Ringim, we were told, who was the target narrowly escaped being burnt to ashes.

The IGP, we later heard, had boasted in a fit of anger to impress or please his employer, Mr. President, to smoke out the Boko Haram sect within weeks. But ironically, he escaped with the skin of his teeth from being smoked and bombed out of existence in a Boko Haram, Alqaeda- style bombings. This serious security breach within the precints of the Three ArmsZone in Abuja, where the legislative buildings, the nation’s seat of power, Aso Rock Villa and the Supreme Court building are huddled together prompted a presidential visit to the scene of destruction where President Goodluck Jonathan told the IGP: “You are not alone in this Boko Haram bombing, I too I’m a target. Don’t lose hope but rise up to the occasion, get cracking”.

To the casual observer, Mr. President’s seeming cavalier attitude to the horrific incident smacked of what many critics may ascribe to his typical lackluster response to an internal security issue that touched on the nerve-centre of the nation.

Many observers, and even newspaper columnists, believe Mr. President should show greater teeth and perhaps bite deeper than what comes across as a President who does not know how to use power. Many think that unlike his military predecessors in office, the Obasanjos, Babangidas and the late maximum ruler in Gen. Sani Abacha, he has so far failed toapply the dynamics of power.

We may recall OBJ’s exploits in Zaki Biam, Odi and Abacha’s handling of the Ogoni saga which led to the death of the poet, playwright and environmentalist Kenule Saro Wiwa, through the hangman’s rope. This came on the heels of the Ogoni-Nine and Ogoni-13 tragedies in Rivers State.

These were dark chapters in the nation’s history under jackboots of military dictatorships.

It has been a baptism of fire for Jonathan, a new breed President whose mantra of rule of law does not necessarily permit arbitrary deployment of troops on an all out war against the citizens he has sworn on oath to protect and whovoted for him as a national consensus presidential candidate.

He would not dare. Not because he lacks the courage so to do. We must also remember that as a product of the militancy revolt from the Niger Delta, brewed and bred in the brackish waters of the oil polluted terrains, he would not resort to the popular AK 47 rifles rampant in the mangrove swamps and made popular by hairy- chested Egbesu freedom fighters. When the push comes to a shove, Mr. President would not be found wanting, and would definitely hold his grounds against any charging Boko Haram sect members.

Nigerians should not mistake his ready made toothpaste smile for weakness; because beneath those easy-going handshakes and gentle mien and civilized good breeding and education, lies the tough and granite heart of a lion in sheep’s clothing.

Ordinarily, one would have recommended the Barak Obama’s seemingly bestial side when he literally took out Osama Bin Laden, the former king of Alqaeda, in his one million dollar rented hideout inside Abbotabad in Pakistan with the special squad of US Navy Seals and silenced him for ever after throwing his carcass into the Arabian seas.

Boko Haram is, to most Nigerians, a bunch of rag-tag unintelligent freaks and miscreants, who are carried away by the avoidable aftermath of the last presidential elections which led to the unleashing of violence by a similar band of street urchins who killed and maimed many innocent people in some cities in the Northern parts of Nigeria. They left in their wake burnt houses, cars and charred bodies of victims.

Poverty and unemployment of youths had been blamed for the virus of ‘Boko Haramic’ tendencies in the North, where the hydra-headed dragon, is rearing its ugly head.

Many Nigerians believe and perhaps, rightly so , that if the menacing spread of Boko Haram virus is not checked early in the day as their preachings of hatred and anti- Christian messages, might culminate in a religious war between Christianity and ‘Muslimity’.
Mr  Willy Bozimo, a veteran journalist, wrote from Asaba.
Source: Vanguard, 15
th August 2011.

 

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How to contain the Boko Haram menace, by Navy Capt Ogbonna
Navy Captain Jerry Ogbonna (retd.)was the Senatorial candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) for Abia-South during the l

Capt Ogbonna

ast general elections . In this interview with Daily Sun in Abuja, he questioned the methods so far adopted by the government in warding off the Boko Haram crisis. 

He also argued that Government of National Unity (GNU) an idea President Goodluck Jonathan tinkered with, is a distraction to the sustenance of strong democratic culture in the country. Walter Ukaegbu brings the excerpts.

The Boko Haram saga
As far as I am concerned, the Boko Haram issue is a mere  storm in a tea cup because people believe that this Boko Haram issue is going to cause the disintegration of Nigeria. If you look back, you will remember the Maitasine issue. That too was a sect we also had in this country, and General Buhari and Babangida were able to peep into that and that was the end of that issue.
 

So, I think Boko Haram, is a fall- out of the agitation of those Northern states that advocated for Sharia. We thought that the Boko Haram people, because they say they don’t want western education, were really illiterates but we can see that they are not illiterates. It is an ideological war that they are fighting and l think it will come to an end as soon as the security services are able to apply themselves to it and from our own knowledge, they are applying themselves to it. 

Creating traffic jam and stopping people from moving and going about their duties is not a way to fight terrorism. I think terrorism is better fought by state security services being empowered to do their job. Following the bombing in the United States, which has been going on since the 9/11 attacks, the terrorists have been making efforts but they have always been caught by the security services.
 
lt is not work for the army, neither is it the work of the navy nor the airforce because they are not equipped to fight such wars.

I think it’s a war for the SSS (State Security Service). The SSS would do better fighting this war and be able to get those boys who are involved. In fact, this war should be fought without the citizens knowing about it, especially in a democracy like ours. This war should be fought without any reference to the innocent civilians, who are going about doing their duties. But now that the army has made itself known, how do you think they will capture these boys by being on the streets in the traffic, preventing people from coming to work. 

That doesn’t solve the war. There have been so many attempts, right after the bombings in U.S. Nobody gets to know about them because the people are always arrested promptly by the security services. Now, l think that it is time for the National Security Adviser (NSA) to go back to the drawing board and find solution to this.

Measures used during the Maitasine menace
Of course, if you also remember the Maitasine issue, the way the government took care of that was never noticed by me you and. Despite the fact it was a military regime, nobody really knew how they were taken care of. The military intelligence people were the ones that suppressed the Maitasine uprising instead of using the ordinary soldier on the street. They never used anybody. You never really knew that the war was going on. In fact, government was able to bring down Maitasine, using purely intelligence, and that’s how they got them. I saw them, they all had marks on their body. 

l am sure, if you  remember, none of us was disturbed on the streets or in traffic because they were looking for Maitasine. With proper intelligence they will combat it. So, making the fight now visible as the army is doing, is not the solution to it. I think that if the army intelligence work with the SSS, airforce and navy intelligence, they will have the capacity, to solve this problem, rather than making it so visible and disturbing people on the streets. The army has no reason to stop people on the streets because they are fighting Boko Haram. No. That is not a solution to it. That is my own opinion and I think it will be the view of other people, who understand what I am saying.

Sharia system in at least 12 states in the North
Some states in the North had decided to go for Sharia which was unconstitutional. They started implementing Sharia in their various states and the consequence of implementing Sharia is for purity.If you actually implement Sharia properly it is for purity but you should not steal peoples’ money under Sharia regime. If you want Sharia, then you have to apply Sharia properly. let us bring it down and do the Sharia properly. 

You can not be doing Sharia and at the same time you are stealing money. You are not educating the people, you are not providing any thing for your people.  So these boys are asking for purity. If you want to apply Sharia, apply it properly since you asked for it. Boko Haram is a fallout or the   fulfilment of a  prophecy. Sharia is an Ideological issue within the community; who is afraid of Sharia? Sharia is also made in such a way that if you are a Christian and you live in a Sharia state, you are free to go through the normal legal system and the Sharia system and still live your life.
 

But what we are saying is,  this is the problem, we are not saying that Boko Haram is right in what they are doing. Nobody has the right to take the lives of other people because of their ideology. It is left for the people, it is left for the various states that have adopted the Sharia to practice it strictly. Look at children on the streets in the North, who have no future, the Almajiris, take care of them, don’t take their money. 

Do it based on how God said you should do it. They are not doing that. Some people take other people’s money, go to Dubai, Saudi Arabia, buy houses there, is it not their fellow men who made Saudi Arabia what it is? Is it not their fellow Muslims who have made Dubai what it is? So, why would they carry their money and go to Dubai to buy houses while their own place is in total depletion and poverty.

Other causes of Boko Haram
We are living in a society where justice should prevail, we are living in a society where things should be done properly and that is what democracy is all about.Whether democracy is practised within the Muslim system or within the Christian system, within the western education or not, there should be justice. We must make sure that people are not unduly oppressed by keeping them hungry. You oppress people by taking their money; so, that is what is happening here. 

Those boys, the Boko Haram people, are not illiterates. They have a lot of educated ones among them. They cannot get a job. Everything surrounding it is people’s personal aggrandisement. They take people’s money, belonging to the society, which they are supposed to use in addressing the poverty in the land, they take it to build houses in South Africa, in Dubai. So, this is the consequence of this act. There are so many other militia groups in the country that I know and am confident  that their actions cannot destroy this country, neither will it destroy the unity of this country. But the issue of justice, people must begin to look at how to address the issue of justice. You don’t elect people then after the election, you now back down and continue to what they were doing. 
 

This is happening in my village anyway. After this election, all the issues that they raised, has our Senator gone back to see what is happening in our Senatorial zone? It’s the same thing that is going to happen in the next four years. And that is the issue these young men are complaining of. There is  a growing generation of young Nigerians, who what to work for their country irrespective of religion, to move forward, to move ahead we are not applying that in solving the problem 

Jonathan and transformational agenda
My impression so far is that nothing has changed. Also, yes, we can all shout that the election was properly conducted. If the  elections were free and fair, we elected free and fair people, we cast our votes freely and fairly but the compilation was not free and fair. So, some people have been imposed on the system.  There is no way anybody can tell me that my state governor won the election. Ok, people use coercion, the military was even used to suppress our people, to bring them back into power, but there are no changes going on.  Nothing is happening.
 

Talking about the transformation for Jonathan, he said he can actually transform the nation, you must transform the minds of the people and that transformation of the mind must start from the point of policy making and implementation. How do you transform a society? How do you transform Nigeria. For example, the poverty alleviation programme linked to Keke NAPEP, it was like in NAPEP or is it Keke Nigeria as I viewed it 15 years ago, had manufactured its own equivalent version of that vehicle, But N4 billion of our money was taken to India to a manufacturing outfit in India, and that is where   we went and imported these things. 

I can show you  the photographs so you could publish. They are   here. They went to India to buy the same vehicle for poverty alleviation. Wouldn’t it have been better to use N4 billion or may be, get and build a  small factory that produces that prototype, by Nigerian engineers, prototype, which is tested and is functional. Why could they not use that machine manufactured locally. That is the issue somebody; wanted to make money. They would make their money by importing it from India. 
Source: Sun, 15th August 2011.

 

Judges scared to try Boko Haram suspects — Investigations
By Our Correspondents
Facts have emerged that the Federal Government’s apparent unwillingness to put Boko Haram suspects on trial is as a result of apprehension among judges, SUNDAY PUNCH has gathered.

Security sources disclosed to our correspondents that efforts made to arraign some of the arrested suspects had failed following the refusal of judges to preside over their trials.

The judges fear that they and their families may become targets of attacks by members of the sect if they appear before their courts.

Over 200 members of the sect have been arrested in different parts of the country for offences ranging from planting of explosives, jail breaks, attack against security agents to disturbance of public peace.

One of the highly placed sources said the judges initially claimed that the suspects could not be prosecuted because Nigeria had no terrorism laws.

He said, “When we arrested the first batch of Boko Haram members last year, the judges openly told us that they could not accept the cases because we didn’t have terrorism laws.”

The source further said that even after President Goodluck Jonathan signed the anti-terrorism bill into law, the judiciary was still reluctant to handle such cases.

He added, “We thought the anti-terrorism law would make a way for the prosecution of the Boko Haram suspects but the judges did not budge after the passage of the bill. It was then we realised that they are all afraid.”

On June 6, 2011, the president signed the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 which establishes measures for the prevention, prohibition and combating of acts of terrorism and the financing of terrorism.

The reluctance of the judiciary to accept Boko Haram cases after the signing of the Terrorism Bill into law has been deduced as one of the reasons the FG set up a committee to negotiate with the sect.

On July 29, the FG announced the establishment of a Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North-East of the country. One of the committee’s terms of reference is to “initiate negotiations” with the Boko Haram. 

Recently, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, complained that the FG was giving preferential treatment to members of the Boko Haram.

The militant group expressed dissatisfaction and said the government was ‘displaying double standards” because the Boko Haram members arrested in connection with the recent bombing of the police headquarters in Abuja were not prosecuted. 

The Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, Mr. Ayo Nath-Emmanuel, however said it was not true that judges were afraid of the Boko Haram sect.

The CR who spoke to our correspondent in a telephone interview on Friday said, “I don’t think it’s true. The security agents should be able to prove it. Let them provide the charge sheets of the cases they brought to court that we rejected.

“I am not aware of any criminal matter that was brought before the Federal High Court and was turned down. It is not true. I even know of two Boko Haram cases before the court. No judge has the right to reject cases because he is afraid.”

The Force Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Shola Amore, told SUNDAY PUNCH that he could not make any statement on the Boko Haram cases because the Deputy Inspector-General in charge of the cases was not available. 

Amore said, “The DIG is not around. When he comes back, I will be able to tell you the situation of the Boko Haram cases.”

Meanwhile, security agencies have placed no less than 10 fundamentalist sects under watch in an effort to curtail the rise of terrorism in the Northern part of the country.

The move is to prevent more fundamentalist groups from joining the violent campaign launched by the Boko Haram fundamentalist sect.

Security sources told our correspondent that the public declaration by another sect, Akhwat Akwop, to avenge the killings of Christians in the North and unleash attacks on selected targets in cities with majority Muslim population confirmed fears that the Boko Haram was just one of the many groups that threatened the stability of the nation.

Shortly after the Akhwat Akwop made this pronouncement, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, warned terrorists and radical sects to leave Nigeria as there would be no hiding place for them henceforth.

The CDS said, “Terrorism is alien to Nigeria and government forces are ready to give the terrorists a big blow.”

Amore told SUNDAY PUNCH that the police were being proactive about the situation. He said, “Don’t forget that we have our intelligence that gathers information about the sects to forestall future danger. Apart from forestalling, we also have enough men on ground that are ready to respond to distress calls when called upon in any part of the country.” 

Some of the sects under scrutiny include the Shitte Movement, the Taliban, Jalawa, Hijrah, Darul Salam, Karangiya, and Kalo Kato.

ZARIA: Shitte Movement 

Est. membership: 2.5m

Though originally formed to be non-violent, the group led by Sheikh Ibrahim Yakub El-Zakzaky later became renowned for its confrontation with military juntas in the country in reality with its abhorrence to military and dictatorial civilian governments. It has about 2.5m adherents scattered nationwide, with a strong presence in the northern parts. They are more prominent in Zaria (its headquarters), Kaduna, Bauchi, Kano and Borno axis. 

MAIDUGURI: Taliban

Est. membership: 200,000

This sect is believed to have either melted or transformed into what is now known as the Boko Haram. It’s members spread across some major northern states and recruits into this sect are mainly university undergraduates between the ages of 20 and 30. 

KANO: Jalawa

Est. membership: 50,000

This sect is said to be opposed to most of the concepts in the teachings of Islam. Formed as a non-violent group, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that as a result of the intense pressure and hatred towards them, the group later embraced violence as a defensive mechanism.

Their mode of operation, our correspondent gathered, was to push their women and children forward to carry out deadly attacks. 

YOBE: Hijrah

Est. membership: 100,000

This sect has its roots in Yobe State, but has spread as far as Maiduguri, Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states. It is a collection of Islamic fundamentalists whose main belief is that Armageddon (end time) is near. 

NIGER: Darul Salam

Est. membership: 3,000

This sect was based in Mokwa, Niger State before its members were sacked from their settlement sometime in late 2009. Though the group has not exhibited any trace of violence, the fact that they live in isolation has raised fears in the communities where they reside.

Akhwat Akwop

Est. membership: Unknown 

The group came into the consciousness of Nigerians a month ago after it threatened to avenge the death of Christians in the North who were at the receiving end of the Boko Haram. 

KANO: Karangiya

Est. membership: 2,000

The members of this sect are said to be followers of Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky. They are however a splinter group that do not practise Shiiteism, as done by El Zakzaky’s followers. The sect subscribes to Sunni doctrines. The originator of the splinter sect is the late Mallam Abubakar Technical. 

Kala Kato

Est. membership: Unknown 

This sect opposes the West and its culture. It also detests Islamic adherents who patronise products of the West. The spread of the group cuts across most parts of the North where they still exist till date and the faithful have continued to spread the ideals of their late founder and leader. 

Jamaatul Tajdildi Islam 

Est. membership: Unknown

This group was formerly known as Moslem Brothers. It was created far back in 1978 under the leadership of Sheikh Ibrahim Yakub El-Zakzaky.

It draws its membership from 18 northern states with the exception of Benue. The sect has no history of being antagonistic to anyone or religion.

Almajiri

Est. membership: 8m

With the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Northern Nigeria, especially since 1999, one group that has become a tool for perpetrating non-state terrorism and violence is the Almajiri (street urchins). Even though it cannot be described as a sect, security agents believe that the Almajiri systems possess a growing potential for terrorism.
Source: Punch, 14th August 2011.

 

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Dialogue with Boko Haram is an insult to the nation – Adeleye

Bishop Tunde Adeleye is the Bishop of Calabar, Anglican Communion. He has been a vocal voice on national issues, in this interview with Johnbosco Agbakwuru, he speaks on the recent proposal for introduction of Islamic banking, the menace of Boko Haram and other issues. Excerpt
The proposal for the introduction of Islamic banking or non interest banking has topped the front burner in the country, as a minister of God, what is your comment on this?

My comment is very simple. The present Governor or the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is somebody I admire a lot. I admire him for his intelligence and I think in my opinion he is a very intelligent man. For some of the things he is doing with banks of recent, I think he is a very considerate man too.

I think he is a well exposed man, that is my opinion and I also believe that he has some residual of banking knowledge which I believe can be beneficial to Nigerians. But the Islamic banking which he has just brought up is very offensive to Nigerians. It is an insult, it is basically an insult and I think it is also the consequence of the constipation arising from over feeding.

I don’t think he thought of it very well because in this country once something has a religious connotation no matter the content, it is against the constitution. I will give you an example, we have a school in Awka (Anambra State), a University, we applied to the Nigerian University Commission to call the school Saint Paul’s University and the Nigerian University Commission rejected our application because of the name saint.

They told us to go and change the name, remove saint, so today the University was approved as Paul’s University. So if they did that for us, why put Islamic banking whether it is non interest or free interest or the bank to go and collect money to do nothing.

As far as I am concern, it is insulting, it is offensive and inciting.

But if the Christians do not like the Islamic Bank, why not float their own non interest bank to help the masses?

For how long will that go, any time one religion does a thing, another religion will go and do a parallel thing is that how to run a country, for how long are we talking about? So if tomorrow they now set up Islamic tailoring international outfit, where you can sew your dresses free of charge or halfcost of how much it is sold in Ariaria market in Aba then Christian will go and set up Christian tailoring outfit a little less than that so is that how to run a country? That is creating a greater dichotomy and then to do that for the economy of the country, it is heating the nucleus power of the country, it is unfair.

The reason they are doing that is because Christians are quiet. Naturally, Christians do not quarrel, they do not fight, Christians don’t burn houses, Christians don’t run after anybody, Christians just watch and pray, that is why they do all these.

After the April general elections in the country, there is this insurgence of a religious sect known as Boko Haram which has been killing people and burning houses and property, now some people are calling on the Federal Government to dialogue with the sect, what is your comment on this.

To dialogue with Boko Haram is an insult. Does that mean that if I want government to talk to me , I should cause trouble, I can call it Adeleye mobilization power and then I will gather youths they just start causing trouble every where, then government will just call me for dialogue, it is another insult, so the dialogue is I have been thinking I do not know, may be I need somebody to educate me the dialogue is to achieve what, if somebody is waging a war with a country, is it one of the strategies of ceasing the war to dialogue with the people, I don’t know.

But the Federal Government dialogued with the Militants in the Niger Delta region

The people fighting there were reacting to what they saw as operation on them. They owned the land naturally but they cannot farm, they cannot drink the water, if you hit a stick on the ground three times fuel will come out, so the people said you have taken money from us and you have not given us anything back, they started rebelling so dialogue with them and to train their children which could not be done on the ground there, to my opinion it was a kind of appealing to them so that things can go on fine.

But this Boko Haram people, what did we take from them, did we carry their kolanut, what did you take from them, nothing. They are opposing western education; western education is not by force. If you don’t like western education, then don’t go to school, let those who want, go. So what are we dialoguing with them for, what did we take from them, what were they cheated for, that is where I have problem and I need somebody to educate me in case I am not well informed in this matter, what did we take from them and then the issue of the kidnappers in the South East if any body followed it very well, they dialogued with the people that were captured. Kidnapping is not a trade, it is not a profession, it is not a job, it is a criminal offence and bombing is a criminal offence.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s proposed one term six_year bill for political office holders, especially for the president and governors has continued to generate controversies. What would be your comment on this?

First, I will want to give a general reaction to it from there we can go to specifics. Nigeria is such a funny place that no matter what system you bring, once it lands on the soil of this country, it is going to get destroyed, and this is a very unfortunate situation with us. For example, the straight six_year term has its pros and cons, but those are not even my fears. My fear is that Nigerians, being Nigeria again, the pros will turn to cons and the cons will turn to cons.

However, the intention of President Jonathan, as he said, was to allow someone run for one term. If it is true that it is not going to include the President, then I will advocate that we should listen to him. We should examine what he is saying. We should try to listen to what he (President Jonathan) is saying as probably being a way out of the numerous national problems and political engineering in this country. People are very suspicious that he wants to include himself.

I have interacted with some members of the National Assembly and politicians, who are my friends, and they are very suspicious that President Jonathan if the National Assembly should accept and pass that proposal it will be backdated. So, nobody is actually considering the contents and advantages of having that bill, all the focus is that if this man wants to do it, we suspect that he wants to include himself_ that is where the problem is. But if you ask me, I will suggest that the nation should use this time to focus on national issues and problems and leave this tenure issue, for now. This is because there are more grievous problems on ground. As we speak, the organised Labour is not telling us that they have arrived. Labour is threatening, the governors are telling us that they cannot pay the N18, 000 per month; some have agreed to pay while others are still arguing.

The whole place is in shambles and then to add the issue of tenure readjustment at this time, in my opinion, it will confuse the political arena, which is already very well confused. We appreciate President Jonathan’s effort in trying to do the thing better, but this one may make it more complex. It can come later because it is an issue, but for now, let us clear the desk.
Source: Sun, 13th August 2011.

 

Boko Haram is a challenge for northern leaders – Seigha, President NDNF

BY DAPO AKINREFON

MR Manager Seigha is chairman of Niger Delta Nationalities Forum in Lagos State. In this interview with Vanguard he bares his mind on contemporary issues including the challenge from the Boko Haram sect and the proposal for a single term for the President and Governors. Excerpts:

THERE have been mixed reactions to the proposed six years single tenure for the President and governors. Most people are of the opinion that the president should focus on developmental projects instead of the proposal. What is your group’s position on the proposal?
Our group is aware that there are mixed reactions to it but we want Nigerians to know that it is the best proposal that has come from the presidency. Our group thinks the president has started very well.

The Niger Delta Nationalities in Lagos support it because previous elections have cost the nation huge sums of money and this has to be repeated every four years. Nigerians have lost trillions of naira as a result of conducting elections in the country.

We think what the president is trying to do, is to reduce the amount of money Nigerians will be losing every four years. The economy is the one at the receiving end. What the president has done is the best thing that can happen to Nigeria. We also believe that Nigerians who voted for him should stand by him and support him on this proposal.

We have always identified four groups of persons who are against this proposal. The first group comprises of those who lost out during previous elections and feel the proposal will not be good for them. The second group comprises those who feel that their contemporaries have spent two terms in office and thereby they will be shortchanged at the end of the day if the proposal scales through. The third are those who have not contested elections before, who have not borrowed to run for elections do not understand what the single term means. For them, they believe that the proposal should not be.

The fourth group ferociously against it comprises enemies of the president. These are people who never liked him while aspiring to become president. They are mobilizing their people to make sure that whatever comes from President Jonathan should not be accepted. We are urging Nigerians to come out and support this bill, they should appeal to their legislators to support this cause because it will be good for Nigeria at the long run.

Aside this proposal, what areas does your group think the president should focus on in the next four years?
For our group, the president comes from our geo-political zone and we are very worried that he is representing us. In the next four years, if the president fails to perform well, it will rub off on all of us and that is why we are agitated. What Nigerians want from the presidency is for him to tackle electricity. We think if he spends most of his time to fix the epileptic electricity, Nigerians will appreciate his administration.

Nigerians are not after who will occupy office for four or six years, they are looking for a president that will do their bidding and that is why we think fixing the electricity problem is one thing he can achieve.

We know that he has set the ministers to work; he has given them a standard and his only thinking is to provide good leadership. What we also want him to do is seek advice from foreign experts to tackle the electricity problem. If he does that, he would have done a great job.

What do you make of the president’s transformation agenda?
The president has garnered a lot of technocrats who have excelled in their chosen fields. However, there are three significant things we will want the president to focus on. We would want the federal government to withdraw itself from federal roads because every nook and cranny of this country belongs to everybody. If it were possible, the federal government should share all the federal roads in the country among all states of the federation.

Each state should tar the roads. Another significant thing we would want him to do is for him to make a mega city from each of the geo-political zones. That will be another landmark achievement for his administration.

Negative implication

The activities of the Boko Haram sect have raised issues of insecurity in the country. How can the federal government tackle this problem?

First of all, it is not our place to say Boko Haram should not be given amnesty, but giving amnesty to Boko Haram has its own negative implication. A negative implication in the sense that you are asking other self determination groups to demand for amnesty, that negative tendency should not be allowed.

Giving Boko Haram amnesty is not the best, but the generally known method of carrot and stick is adoptable.
Source: Vanguard, 12th August 2011.

 

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Boko Haram crisis requires holistic approach – Gambari

Abuja — Professor Ibrahim Gambari, UN Under Secretary-General, has advised the Federal Government to address the Boko Haram crisis with the same zeal deployed in its international peace-keeping operations.

Prof. Gambari said at a forum of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN,  in Abuja that the solution to the Boko Haram crisis required holistic approach and urged government to equally tackle the problem of unemployment.

The diplomat emphasised the need for government to address all sectarian crises in the country considering Nigeria’s status as an international peace-keeper.

“We are trying to bring peace to other parts of Africa but charity must begin at home. We must develop mechanism where we are able to address our own problems that are sometimes similar in nature to those of the problems outside that we try to address.”

Gambari stressed the need for Nigeria to urgently find a lasting solution to its internal security challenges considering its position as a candidate for a permanent seat of the UN Security Council.

He said:“It will be a hell of a shame that we are so good at helping others to find peace if we ourselves are not addressing issues at home that have the capacity of actually undermining our social cohesion, our unity particularly at a time when we are an aspirant for a permanent  member of the UN Security Council.”

Gambari expressed optimism, however, that Nigeria had the capacity to surmount the problems facing it based on its antecedent in dealing with similar volatile issues like the Niger Delta crisis and the Maitatsine crisis of 1980.

He called on government to get to the root cause of the Boko Haram problem and deplore the right mechanism to tackle it just like it did with the Niger Delta crisis and similar other crises of the past.

He stressed the need for government to urgently address the issue of unemployment, education, health and infrastructural development in the country.

He explained that investing in youth employment and infrastructural development would help the country to deal with its expanding population, which he noted might see Nigeria becoming the third most populous nation in the world by 2050.
Source: Vanguard, 7th August 2011.

 

Dousing the Boko Haram menace

President Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in as the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, this year. By now, one expects that he should have settled down to the serious business of governance. But, rather, the man is still grappling with only just one problem- the challenges of security. Especially that arising from the Boko Haram crisis.

Though the Boko Haram attacks had been on, even before the run-up to the last general elections, it intensified after, becoming more incessant and deadlier than ever. To many, this did not come as a surprise, only the magnitude. They interpret the new twist as the actualisation of the threat of some politicians who contested against Jonathan. They had threatened that they would make the country ungovernable should he stand for and win the election. One of them had specifically instructed his followers to lynch anybody who might stand in the way of his own success. The main grouse against the President was that he refused to respect the Peoples Democratic Party’s zoning arrangement. So, the perpetrators of the current insecurity in the land had long ago planned andarranged how to thoroughly harass President Jonathan and scare him off his pants, if he eventually mounted the saddle.

Though we have a myriad of other security challenges like armed robbery, mugging, cultism, kidnapping and political assassination, the Boko Haram wahala stands out because of the seeming facelessness of the perpetrators and the mystery surrounding their real agenda. “I doubt if we understand what Boko Haram is all about,” says the former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa.

The Chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, opined in the Guardian newspaper of Thursday, July 7, 2011 that Nigerians should first be convinced about the identity of those called Boko Haram. While many believe that it is a religious sect which frowns against Western educationsince Boko Haram translates to mean, “Western education is a sin”, Musa interjects that it is not. Rather, he asserts that: “It is a reaction to a negative state of the nation. We are not talking about Western Education. Western Education is just Education… and even Moslems recognise it”.

According to him, Moslems are not opposed to Western education or any form of education. “What they are opposed to is exploitative Western civilization and culture,” he added. Whatever Boko Haram may be, one fact sticks out: There are basically two distinct groups involved: Those who naively hold the belief that they are engaged in a jihad (holy war) and those exploiting the ignorance of the supposed jihadists. The latter is highly suspected to be largely made up of self-centred politicians who lost out in the last general elections. To resolve the Boko Haram brouhaha, many concerned citizens have volunteered divergent opinions.

Some are urging the Federal Government to adopt the amnesty option by inviting those who feel aggrieved to the roundtable, with the ultimate aim of pacifying such individuals. But others disagree and asked the government to pick up the stick and whip sense into the heads of the perpetrators instead. In a burst of anger, the former Director General of the Centre for Democratic Studies, Professor Omo Omoruyi had said: “Let there be a referendum and give them their own country”. But Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State prefers “a careful diagnosis” and warns about the “consequences of wrong conclusions”(Tell magazine, July 2011).

Many are of the opinion that the issue of Boko Haram could be tackled if government shows willingness and honesty. But this depends on varieties of steps: The Federal Government must first establish contact with the Boko Haram people in order to open up dialogue with them, especially the innocent ones being used by the mischievous politicians. There is need to locate their actual grievances in order to know what the group actually want. And as Governor Fashola advises: “If it is something that can be accommodated, then there is no reason for violence”. This is to win back their confidence and reintegrate them into the mainstream of the society. They should be made to realise that they will be better off on the side of the government than aligning themselves with disgruntled politicians who are only out to use them. As the cliché goes: “To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war”, any day. Meanwhile, individuals who are hiding under Boko Haram to foment trouble should be fished out and ruthlessly dealt with.

There is so much suffering in the land, the unemployment situation is alarming. Government should, therefore, make efforts to create jobs for the many unemployed youths roaming all about. If the quality of life amongst the masses is improved, it will be difficult for anybody to set them against the government.

Skill acquisition and training centres should be established for the youths in order to take them away from the streets, thereby making them useful to themselves and the society. More schools should also be built in order to reduce the level of illiteracy and ignorance. Borno and Bauchi states are hotbeds of Boko Haram largely because many of the youths are not in school. Hence, they are easily available for recruitment by evil politicians. For instance, the Nigeria’s Education Data Survey (2006-2010) conducted by the Federal Ministry of Education in conjunction with the National Population Commission revealed that states in the North West and the North East geo-political zones have the lowest literacy rate in Nigeria. The report stated that non-attendance is highest among states in these two zones-”72 percent of children between 6-16 years never attended schools in Borno State!” Also, Yobe State has 58 percent and Bauchi State 58 percent illiteracy.

According to the recommendation of the World Education Forum held in Dakar in 2000: “We must expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children … ensuring access to complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality”.

Mr godwin igharo is a staff of the Federal Ministry of Information and Communications.
Source: Vanguard, 7th August 2011.

 

Why we can’t negotiate with Boko Haram, by govt

FROM SAXONE AKAINE (KADUNA), EZEOCHA NZEH AND ABOSEDE MUSARI (ABUJA)

Northern CAN opposes talks with sect

EVEN as it set up a panel on security challenges in the North-East zone, the Federal Government yesterday restated its resolve not to engage members of the Boko Haram sect in any form of dialogue.

The Islamic sect has claimed responsibility for the series of violence and bombings in some northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

At the inauguration of the eight-man presidential committee on security challenges in the North-East zone, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, said the government could not negotiate with the sect because “it is a faceless organisation.”

Anyim told the panel members that their duty excludes negotiating with the group because “you don’t talk with whom you don’t know.”

But officials of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 northern states and the FCT, apparently relying on earlier reports, have faulted the alleged decision of President Goodluck Jonathan to raise a team comprising of Arewa leaders to dialogue with the Boko Haram.

The region’s CAN alleged that the same Arewa leaders that Jonathan had deployed for truce talks with the armed group were behind its activities.

The Secretary-General of northern CAN, Saidu Dogo, said in Kaduna yesterday, that the government committed a fundamental error by asking members of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Borno Elders Forum to engage the militant Islamic sect in dialogue on behalf of other Nigerians, saying that “it is an exercise in futility… because prominent northern leaders are behind the security challenges the nation now faces.”

Anyim, at the event, said the setting up of the committee was consequent upon the President’s meeting with Borno elders, who appealed to the government to adjust in the handling of security situation in the state.

He explained the meeting was called to interact with the elders and leadership of the ACF, where it was also agreed to create a forum that would give the elders and the general public a role in finding a lasting solution to the security situation in Borno and some parts of the North.

The SGF said: “The purpose of the committee is not to negotiate with the Boko Haram sect. This is because we cannot negotiate with whom we do not know. This is not a negotiating thing; the committee is only to among other terms of reference review all the issues of security challenges in the zone and proffer solutions or recommendations, which will bring a speedy resolution of the crisis.

“Negotiation may be after the report of the committee, if it is recommended that government should try to negotiate with the sect, then it may be considered.”

He also charged the panel, which has two weeks to submit its report to liaise with the National Security Adviser (NSA) to ensure that security agents discharge their assignments with optimal professionalism, as well as consult with other stakeholders regularly to ascertain the true state of affairs.

In his speech, the committee’s chairman, Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari, pledged that the members would work towards the realisation of the government’s aims and urged the sect to embrace the gesture. He stressed that the committee would work to guarantee all rights and privileges of the sect’s leaders and members if they come out to talk with the committee members.

He, however, asked for more time for the panel to submit its report, noting that the Ramadan period might pose a threat to its efforts of reaching out to all the stakeholders to the crisis.

Other members of the committee are Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, Senator Bala Mohammed (FCT Minister), Emeka Wogu (Labour Minister), Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed (Defence Minister), Col. Musa Shehu (rtd), Mr. Joe Kyari Gadzama and Abdullahi Shehu of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who will serve as the secretary.

In his criticism of the move, Dogo said: “Let me tell you, nobody will say they are Boko Haram and negotiate with the panel. So, it is an exercise in futility. It is a matter of fact. When America took on Afghanistan; initially they harboured fundamentalists who were bombing and killing people. The Americans never sat with anybody to negotiate with. They went there with the might of the army, subdued the Talibans and put a more trusted leader, and that is why Kazir is there in Afghanistan today. They put in place a strong security system in that country to neutralise the activities of terrorists.

“Those people had to leave Afghanistan and the Americans started training the natives to take over their own security and it is working. The Americans will never see any Al-Qaeda and suggest that let them sit with him in a dialogue. They pursued all the leaders and made sure they were eliminated. And ever since they took the war to dislodge this people, never again has Americans been attacked.”

Dogo argued that the strategy is that government doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, adding that since the Boko Haram has listed its demands, which are impossible to meet, especially adopting Shari’a in the whole Nigeria, “why then do you start something that will end in futility. It is not going to work because they have their beliefs. That as long as the Nigerian nation exists, Sharia must be practised and imbibed by everybody, which can never happen.”

Dogo asked:  “What is the government going to negotiate with the sect? Would the government ask them to forget their Islamic belief?  To me, I feel that this is an exercise in futility. The government should not have constituted the committee. First, they have the federal might, if they mean business, in less than one month, Al-Qaeda or Boko Haram can be uprooted from this country.”

The CAN scribe said the sect’s issue is different from that of the repentant Niger Delta militants, who were fighting “to control the resources in their land, the government can negotiate with such people.”

Dogo alleged that some well-placed persons in the North adopted Boko Haram to cause mayhem. He asked: “Where will these people (Boko Haram) get resources to buy explosives and chemicals and put them together to make bombs and start attacking innocent Nigerians? If the security apparatus we have in this country meant business they can fish out those responsible and stop their activities.”

He said CAN had earlier complained of the training of terrorist groups in Jigawa State sometime ago, “when some leaders of the terrorists had the audacity to be called ‘Commander from Niger,’ ‘Commander from Chad,’ ‘Commander from Cameroun’ and so on. We reported the issue to the authorities but they did not listen to us.

“In Zaria, there was a training camp and we complained about it. The Commissioner of Police then sent a signal to the Inspector-General of Police then to investigate what we said. There was nothing done on the issue. The immediate past Director-General of the State Security Services (SSS) confirmed what we were saying. You see, they know where the problems are but the authorities just look the other way.”

Dogo said most of the people causing problems in the North are not even Nigerians. “They are Chadians, Nigeriens, Mauritanians, Camerounians, among others who were brought here to terrorise our people.

“It is our leaders in the North that employed them and encouraged the crisis. Go to any local council in the North, including Kaduna North and Kaduna South, somebody who came from Niger Republic would be given indigeneship and certificates while somebody from the southern part of Kaduna or other parts of Nigeria who is not Hausa/Fulani will be denied, even if such a person is born in the North.”

Meanwhile, CAN Secretary in Jama’a Local Council of Kaduna State, Rev. Joe Yari, has faulted the comments of the state Police Commissioner, Ballah Nassarawa that the people of Southern Kaduna were not attacked by the armed Fulanis who invaded their villages.

Yari at a press conference in Kaduna yesterday said: “To make the matter more suspicious and unjust, it has come to our notice that the 15 people arrested have been released. The police boss in the state was being economical with the truth, and this is a bad omen for peace and stability in Kaduna State.”

The civil society in Nigeria has however urged the government to establish clear rules of engagement for the Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed in Maiduguri as a way of curbing the alleged extra-judicial killings, rape, destruction of property and intimidation of the civil populace.

While it admitted that the activities of Boko Haram had assumed economic, political, social and cultural dimensions, it insisted that the allegations against JTF should be investigated.

These were the suggestions from a round-table organised by The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) in Abuja. The recommendations were contained in a statement made available to The Guardian yesterday.
Source: The Guardian, 3rd August 2011.

 

Don’t negotiate with Boko Haram, FG warns committee

ISAAC AREGBESOLA, ABUJA

Anyim Pius Anyim, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) yesterday cautioned the newly inaugurated committee on how to find lasting solution to the Boko Haram crisis, not to engage in negotiation with the sect for now, because the committee was a fact finding team and not a negotiation team.

Anyim, who maintained that government could not negotiate with faceless people, said the assignment of the committee did not include negotiation but was limited to reviewing all the issues of security challenges in the zone and proffering solutions which would bring a speedy resolution to the crisis.

Anyim stressed that: “Negotiation does not come in at this stage, the purpose of your assignment at this time, does not include negotiation; negotiation does not come in because you don’t know the people you are going to negotiate with. But this is not saying that after your report, whatever you recommend to us, we will not implement.

So, I want to clarify that the purpose of this committee, as I said earlier, is to create a forum whereby everybody who has suggestion or opinion will be able to give it to the committee. The committee is to sensitise and advise us. I emphasise that the committee is a fact finding team and forms a forum to proffer solution to the crisis he stressed.

Anyim also said the duty of the committee was to serve as a liaison between the federal and state governments, where necessary, liase with the National Security Adviser, to ensure that the security services discharge their respective assignments with optimal professionalism, as well as to consult with stakeholders from time to time, for suggestions and to ascertain the true state of affairs and to consider any other initiative that will serve to engender enduring peace and security in the area.

Usman Gaji Galtimari, Chairman of the Committee, had in his remark, called on the leadership of the Boko Haram sect to embrace dialogue and that if they did so, all their rights and privileges would be granted.

There will be no harassment or molestation in any form. They are free to come out and speak to us and we, by the grace of the Almighty Allah, we shall come to a happy conclusion, Galtimari said.

He added: I would like to plead and call on the sect to embrace this dialogue process. I assure them that all their genuine grievances will be addressed by the committee and appropriate recommendations made. I want them to accept this peace process which would not only translate into peaceful co-existence of all  of us, but to enable them to freely come out and settle down to practise their religion and carry out other activities, like any other Nigerian.

The committee members include Bala Mohammed, FCT Minister, Bello Mohammed Minister of Defence, Musa Shehu, a retired colonel, Emeka Wogu, Labour Minister,  Joe Kyari Gadzama, Ali Ndume, and Abdulahi Shehu who is the secretary of the committee.
Source: Business Day, 2nd August 2011.

 

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Boko Haram is aimed at destabilizing Jonathan’s presidency – Mudiaga-Odje

DR Akpor Mudiaga-Odje is a human rights activist,   constitutional lawyer and facilitator of the Niger Delta Democratic Union, NDDU, a group formed on October 1 2001. In this interview, he spoke on Boko Haram attack, proposed introduction of Islamic banking, President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and other issues of national interest. Excerpts:

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Immediately after the general elections, the Boko Haram sect has been unleashing terror on Nigerians particularly  Christians in the North. As a Nigerian, what is your reaction to these series of attacks?

Naturally nobody will be happy about the attacks going on in the country especially the ones from the Boko Haram sect. I believe that violence has never and will never lead to peace, rather the innocents are the victims of violence. We believe that government should try to arrest the situation, stand up to the fight, know what it is fighting and get its acts together. The security agents and every other person including each member of the community should be a stakeholder in this matter.

In fact, we had a conference, a well organized conference of the SSPN. In that lecture, former Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro delivered a lecture on security and it was made clear to us that in this country we do not have any trained personnel to fight terrorists. So we believe that they should be trained and retrained because it is a very big cankerworm.

What is your reaction to the approach of the Federal Government to the series of attacks in the North especially in Borno State?

The damage has been done. The next day it happens again they say they are on top of the situation. I think they have to be proactive now, by taking preemptive strides, computing data of people, premises. There has to be co-ordination among the security agencies. It is purely a security matter nothing more; so government should take it very seriously.

Don’t you see these attacks as  attempts by some cabal in this country to frustrate the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan?

Indeed, you cannot take that away. These things apparently started the moment results were announced especially through the BBC Hausa Service. That is why the president has to try his best to contain these because it is something that is on the ground to deflect him and we pray he will not be deflected.

Some Nigerians are calling for the extension of the amnesty programme to the Boko Haram sect; as a Niger Deltan what do you think of it?

I don’t know what their cause is. I believe the agitation of the people of the Niger Delta is a genuine agitation; for management and benefit from their God given resources. One is a just cause; I don’t know what the other is.

The people of the Niger Delta for over 50 years have given this nation its wealth, its development yet they still live in squalor, endemic poverty and in a state of arrested development. So the  agitations of the freedom fighters of the Niger Delta that culminated in the amnesty programme was genuine, legal, constitutional and internationally accepted because the United Nations said the right of the people to have permanent sovereignty over their natural resources is guaranteed. So our agitation is indeed just, but I don’t know about the other.

How do view allegations that the proposed  introduction of Islamic banking would turn the country into an Islamic nation?

The position of the CAN and PFN are not thoroughly and dispassionately looked into. They have genuine grievances and the points they have raised cannot be brushed aside by Mr. President. If the constitution has provided under section 10 that Nigeria shall not promote a state religion, then every other thing directly or indirectly or by implication contravenes it.

The issue is not whether they are operating in America, UK or in China, the issue is that, we should look at the constitution of those places where it is alleged to have been practiced or being practiced and juxtapose it with that of our peculiar circumstances. I believe it is that mutual suspicion  that made the constitution to say every man to your own tent, serve your God your own way, the state will not promote any form of religion. You could see that these things have religious undertones and it is not good for Nigeria. If something will cause discord, in the sake of national interest, we should leave it; that is what I feel. Whether it is done everywhere is not the issue and even the timing appears to be wrong.

So what do you think is the solution to the insecurity caused by the Boko Haram attacks?

Apparently, we have to talk to their scholars, talk to respected Moslem leaders, dialogue with them and I believe that will be the first point not necessarily going to attack them as well. They are killing innocent people. People are vulnerable, that is the point. People are just being killed for what they know nothing about, so government should, first of all, open up a channel of dialogue and negotiations with them; that is what I believe.

On the 30th you will be launching a book, ‘Niger Delta, Electoral Reform and Leadership’. What is this book all about and how is it  going to affect the electoral process of this country?

The book is actually in commemoration of several of my presentation, public lectures that I have discussed and in those lectures I accentuated the need for the people to benefit from their resources and it cuts across electoral reform, Niger Delta and the leadership question. We are looking at perspective of electoral reforms.  What are the ways and needs , how do we reform the electoral process to ensure transparency?

The 2011 elections, we cannot say they are 100 per cent perfect but indeed they were very commendable departure from the existing order. To that light, Prof. Attahiru Jega has proved that he is a hero of our time. He has given us a glimmer of hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  So what we ask Jonathan is to try to change Nigeria so that our children can live in peace.

You are at the forefront of the agitation for the development of the Niger Delta region. Do you see the problem of the region being addressed by President Jonathan?

I believe now that he has a full term of four years, having freed us from the emasculation of acting and pretending presidency syndrome to a full president, now by the grace of God, elected president. I believe it is time for him to look into the laws that regulate and touch on oil and Niger Delta. One thing I must tell Nigerians and my brothers in the Niger Delta is that the challenges and problems of Niger Delta are constitutional rather than political because of the laws of our land like the Land Use Act, the Petroleum Act, section 44 (3) of our Constitution, interpretation Act.

Section 18 of that Act has defined land as excluding mineral, so land is just the surface, you don’t own any mineral below. So if you have a South-South president, he cannot help you except he repeals those laws. The law of our land has restrained our agitations and made our challenges more difficult.

So I will ask Mr. President to please repeal and when necessary, pressurize for the respect and amendment of these laws, so that we can have enough time to manage our resources. Take note of the revenue allocation formula, since 1999 till date. What they are using is Act 106 which was a Military decree by Babangida but started by Obasanjo as an Act.

On a general note, how will you assess the administration of President  Jonathan?
It is too short to assess him. We had the danger of trying to disentangle ourselves from the protracted if not fabricated circumstances by which he came into office. We had problems trying to stabilize him. We even said let him act like an actor like a movie star, they refused so it was a long battle.
Source: Vanguard, 29th July 2011.

 

Boko Haram means terror

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THERE is no let-off to the mindless and  incessant attacks on innocent citizens by Boko Haram, a faceless group of blood-thirsty sadists marauding as new day Jihadists.

Distressing images of gory deaths, lost limbs, arms and eyes as well as wanton destruction of properties mostly churches in the North-Eastern part of the country, notably in Maiduguri, the Bornu State capital, is what Nigerians are being forced to endure. The sect has made incursions into Bauchi, Kaduna and Niger states. They are getting more daring by the day.

Last month’s attack on Force Headquarters, Abuja underline their potency and leaves no one in doubt that they are able to strike at any target in the country and it appears our security forces are hamstrung to deal with their menace.

Unsubstantiated claims that members of this notorious sect are enlisted among our security operatives, if true, must instil fear and sheer terror in us all. No one knows where or when the next bomb will go off. Effectively, Nigerians are being held hostage in their own country by their own people although foreign involvement in this terror campaign against Nigerians cannot be ruled out.

In the run-up to the last elections, large caches of arms capable of mass destruction believed to have been imported from Iran were seized at the ports. Did our security forces bother to establish if that was part of an orchestrated plan to what is presently being played out? Were those behind it identified and brought to book? This is Nigeria’s own war on terror.

Terrorism breeds fear, mass terror and insecurity which compel their targets to capitulate and succumb to unreasonable demands. Nigerians are watching with bated breath to see if the Federal Government will cower to terror or take a stand against an unholy blackmail.

Bombs and guns not bows and arrows, are the key weapons being used by Boko Haram to wage its war of terror on Nigerians. Bomb as a terror weapon entered the lexicon of Nigerians when it was first used, peace time, to brutally terminate the life of a defenceless Nigerian patriot and frontline journalist, Dele Giwa on October 19, 1986 during the regime of maverick military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida.

Dele Giwa’s gruesome murder via a parcel bomb was the defining moment that heralded the use of bomb as a terror weapon rather than the struggles of NADECO against the despotic regime of maximum ruler, Sani Abacha or the Niger Delta restiveness as erroneously posited by the impeached former governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa. He had claimed bombing started with NADECO and MEND.

In the confessions made by the Boko Haram bandits arrested with their leader Mohammed Yusuf in 2009, most of them cannot read or write, they cannot even read the Holy Quran which they purportedly want our secular country to adopt!

It is obvious these bands of itinerant dregs have some collaborators with bomb-making skills who are able topackage bombs, possibly as sponsors who understand terrorism as a modern political tactic. It is inconceivable that illiterates could gather bomb-making materials, assemble them as bombs and use it to maximum effect. Using them as couriers who deliver these deadly weapons, all their sponsors would have had to do is to indoctrinate the mumus, what a fool believes, he sees. Karl Marx once said that “religion is the opium of the people”.

The economic reality on ground is, to say the least, harsh. There is massive unemployment and poverty literally walks on four legs. Power remains an intractable problem, there is infrastructural decay and the cost of living is simply prohibitive.

Those in employment earn pittance compared to the ruling elites. While the NLC is struggling to secure N18,000 as the minimum wage for Nigerian workers, our lawmakers are pushing for the maximum increase in their salaries and allowances which already put salaries of lawmakers in the developed world in the shade! A fairer and more equitable distribution of our country’s wealth among our people is one sure way to prune the staggering gap between the elites and the common man. It is a panacea for peace, development and harmony.

But, it is dishonest to adduce these as the reasons for the nefarious activities of Boko Haram bandits as advanced by their apologists. Based on empirical study or cognisance fact, Boko Haram’s terror bears no semblance, direct or implied to either the Tunisian Intifada or the Egyptian Intifada. Both were intensive campaign of civil disobedience for meaningful change.

They were mainly non-violent, the violence recorded were by the security forces against demonstrators from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds. Consequently, the geriatric regimes of Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak were toppled by people’s collective action.

Whereas Boko Haram’s stated goal is to impose Sharia on everybody, Muslims, Christians, indigenous African faith believers and atheists in Nigeria, from the semi-arid Bornu to Lagos and from the Sokoto Caliphate to Eket! Boko Haram literally means “Western education is sin”. Their ridiculous slogans are “Education is prohibited”, “Western education is banned”.

Judging by their atrocities, Boko Haram means terror. Its members and sponsors are a mob of scoundrels. Eye-witness accounts claimed to have spotted some of them wearing jeans and T-shirts while bringing terror to bear on innocent people!

They are oblivious that these clothing are indices of Western pop-culture. Some of their field officers were also seen wearing jackets from kitchen-boys suits, the type that doesn’t fit anybody. As an avowed group that is against Western culture, one would have expected them to wear kaftans! It was also beyond them that guns and bombs were inventions from the Western world.

Mr. AKIN OJO,  a  journalist, wrote from London.
Source: Vanguard, 29th July 2011.

 

Boko Haram means terror (2)

BY AKIN OJO

WHAT has Western education got to do with killing policemen on the beat or bombing churches and pepper soup joints? They are not true Muslims.

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Hiding behind the facade of religion to perpetrate dastard acts of killing and maiming innocent people is not Islamic. The Holy Quran abhors such atrocities. According to Surat Al Maidah 5, Ayat 32, to kill a man unjustly is like killing humanity while to save a soul is like saving humanity. Christians, Mulims, followers of other faiths and atheists number among the victims of Boko Haram’s atrocities. Their terrorist acts run counter to their Muslim faith. Boko Haram’s terror is not Halal but Haram, hence its followers cannot be holy warriors. Islam is a religion of peace.

One cannot help the feeling that there is an underlying political agenda to their terror campaign. It would appear these violent terror campaigns by a loony sect which operates on a lunatic fringe are part of  an orchestrated attempt to destabilise the present government as promised by some desperate Northern politicians.

Typical of most terror groups, Boko Haram thrives on threats and assault on the public psyche (terror) so as to inspire dread and to paralyse the will to resist their objectives. Recently, a leader of the Boko Haram sect, Abu Zaidi accused Governor Isa Yuguda (Bauchi State) and two former governors, Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe State) and Ali Modu Sherriff (Borno State) of being unfair to the sect.

He demanded an unreserved apology from all three. They were also accused of colluding with the Federal Government in the plan to eliminate them. Hence, Zaidi issued a “fatwa” on them until they come out publicly and apologise to the terror group. Additionally, the three politicians must distance themselves from “this illegal democracy and give unalloyed support towards entrenching Sharia system”.
The threat against the three notable politicians from the North-East on its own is criminal. If a serving governor is not safe and subject to the fear of an outlawed group, who else is safe? Also implicit in these threats is treason against the Federal Republic of Nigeria government. The three spineless politicians have duly complied post-haste as if to confirm that the fear of Boko Haram is the beginning of all wisdom!

Governor Yuguda should have distanced himself from this “illegal democracy” by abdicating his position as Governor to demonstrate full compliance with the terrorists’ order. Perhaps, the next thing Boko Haram should ask for is an apology from President Jonathan for putting the JTF on the streets of Maiduguri and its environs with specific demand that he surrender our sovereignty to these monsters of terror. Thereinafter, they can rename Nigeria as the Islamic Republic of Yusuffiyya! Cowardice is not a mark of leadership.

What manner of leaders do we have in Nigeria? While police men are being killed and members of the public are being slaughtered almost on a daily basis by a group whose savagery is a blot on all true Muslims and civilised people, politicians from Borno State are rooting for a negotiated settlement rather than a decisive military option that will permanently deter the terrorists and their sponsors.

While hundreds have been killed, many more are on a life-sentence living with disabilities these myopic and selfish politicians are pressing for the withdrawal of JTF, a stabilising force and are demanding for Amnesty to the terrorists as a reward for their cruelty! Quite unreal, the time to take a decisive stand against terror is now. Each time we succumb to terrorists threat terrorism wins and each time terrorism wins it will make additional demand on us. The government must be alive to its responsibilities. Dr. Jonathan’s response will to a large extent define his presidency.

The President must assuage the fears of every decent Nigerian who view Boko Haram’s atrocities with sheer terror. An indolent leadership who in the face of rebellion grovels to terror is a feckless leadership.

Experiences of the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Afghanistan should serve us in good stead.
Much as it is true that security is our collective responsibilities, it is imperative that the security services step up intelligence gathering through surveillance. Members of the public for their part must be willing to assist the police with useful information to aid their efforts to curb this menace. Those culpable, regardless of how highly or lowly placed, must be made to account for their misdeeds.

There must be no sacred cows and there should be no resort to extra-judicial killings either in the form of pre-emptive strikes or in response to terror attacks. Summary execution of arrested sect members is just as barbaric as the despicable acts of terror being prosecuted by the terrorists. Religion is no alibi for terrorism and politics is no excuse for murder.
Mr. Ojo, a  journalist, wrote from London.
Source: Vanguard, 1st August 2011.

 

 

The Lexicon of Boko Haram

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SIMPLY put, a lexicon, among other meanings, connotes all the words and phrases used in a particular language or subject; all the words and phrases used and known by a particular person or group of people.

With the effect of time and circumstances however, lexicons evolve, as well as wither, in any given society. Some impact positively, leading to positive change while others inspire fear, apathy or outright repulsion as can be seen or deduced from events and experiences in other climes.

Nigeria, overtime, has had a fair share of these apprehension raisers or mood swingers and incidentally has displayed an uncanny ability to adapt to or cope with them. Today we are confronted with the unenviable scenario of Boko Haram, whatever it really means. For the typical Nigerian today, whether those described as naïve, the sensitive or the hypersensitive, Boko Haram, as a lexicon means trouble!

It means bombing and it means “pull the system down’’. Otherwise what justification would there be for what they are doing now? The truth, so to speak, is that Nigeria is a country so well loved by God, and richly endowed with overflowing human and material resources, enough to meet all our development needs.

Throwing bombs into market places where everybody, irrespective of social or religious persuasion would need to go and transact for a living, and spraying bullets in both relaxation spots and places of worship only means that the perpetrators neither want people to relax  in the physical nor obtain benefaction from God. What an irony. Equally, being overtly anti-government, hostile to peace and public order, and blasting bank volts give the actors the colours of brigands and marauders.

Some people have said Boko Haram may represent a cause, and may perhaps be a revolt arising from social deprivation, and illiteracy. If that were an argument it would de begging the question or amount to a fallacy. A socially and economically deprived person would not have the type of funds needed to purchase and import arms. Likewise an illiterate person would not have the savvy to do the sort of high intelligence activities that the Boko Haram people are doing.

The real Boko Haram people are not the downtrodden mob that we see carrying the swords and daggers, and who are being manipulated. Those ones are in need of empathy, education and empowerment. Ordinarily they would not want to do what they have been led into doing if they had an option. They would rather want better education, better welfare, a secure and guaranteed future, and an unimpeded enjoyment of the full benefits of being proud Nigerians. The real felons are the faceless people who are taking advantage of the poor and hungry.

No doubt there have been challenges of development all over the country which predate our independence and still exist to the present time. It is incontrovertible also that previous leaderships did not address Nigeria’s corporate development problems squarely, and did not justify the funds appropriated for developmental programmes, leading to the coinage of lexicons like MASOP, Egbesu Boys, Niger Delta Militants, MASSOB, OPC, etc, whatever they stood for.

The profligacy of yesteryears, the poor governance index at all levels, the high incidence of personal and group indiscipline aggregated to predispose our society to the prevalent present day dangers staring us in the face.

Indeed, until recently that President Goodluck Jonathan is insisting on paradigm shift and transformational governance, Nigeria’s political evolution had not produced personae that are the actual choices of the people. The judicial reversals of declarations of some previously declared winners in elections give credence to the dire need to reform Nigeria’s electoral perspectives.

It is to President Jonathan’s credit that he maintained his pre-election pledge to give Nigeria a credible electoral process and he did.

Prof. Attahiru Jega and his team will evidently go down into history as persons who did a damn good job, thus setting the tone and ambience for improvements in future elections in Nigeria. The innovations they put in place and the calibre of persons with names and pedigree to protect, brought in to perform a number of functions during the elections, was one of Jega’s masterstrokes.

Of special note has been the President’s own lexicon in responding to the menace of Boko Haram. Before the elections it was: “I have no enemies to fight”. Today he has not shifted from his humane and conciliatory nature. His security agencies have talked tough and do have the capacity to move from snarling to biting. But as a father to the nation, the President has rather encouraged dialogue and logical reasoning to prevail. He has spoken peace all through and has urged all Nigerians to pull together in the interest of the nation.

What remains now is for Boko Haram to seize opportunity of the conciliatory posture of the Federal Government and change its lexicon which does no one any good. It should give up on the pursuit of revenge as some people have imputed.

The members should see the brighter side of life and if need be, organize themselves into a coherent and legal entity to press their cause. Who knows whether its energy could translate into a propulsion for accelerated national development. Who knows if the fear of the types of Boko Haram could lead us into a new consciousness that will make us better people and a greater nation? In that way, Nigerians and even the international community will stand behind them. But now that the language is still crude, outrightly sanguinary and targeted at every body, the pertinent answer to the Boko Haram question is an emphatic NO.

CHARLES CHIKEZIE works with the Federal Ministry of Information & Communications.
Source: Vanguard, 29th July 2011.

 

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What is Boko Haram Fighting For?

Eddy John
analysis

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THE response of the Borno leadership under Sheihk Muhammad Al-Kanemi to the attack on Borno and allegations of un-Islamic practices at the beginning of the 19th century was clear, simple and straightforward. In his efforts to ensure peace, he carried on series of theological, legal and political debates through letters with Sheihk Usman Dan Fodio and later with his son, Muhammad Bello. Their message was clear:

"We are Muslims and do not harm innocent souls, much less fellow Muslims. Any interpretation or understanding of Islam, which justifies killing of innocent people is condemnable and should be rebuked totally."

Perhaps, the present generation Borno leadership did not give a serious consideration, when in 2002, Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf gathered a handful of like-minded fanatics in Maiduguri and brain-washed them into believing that a replica of a volatile Far East state could be made out of Nigeria. No one gave a serious thought, when in 2004, Yusuf moved his newly-birthed outfit to Kanamma, Yobe State, where he set up a base and called it Afghanistan, from where he began to actualise the group agenda, unleashing ferocious attacks on nearby police posts, killing police officers and innocent citizens alike.

Today, the menace of Jama'atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda'wati wal jihad, also known as Boko Haram, that seeks the imposition of Sharia law in the northern states of Nigeria, is on the verge of plunging the entire nation into anarchy through series of indiscriminate bombings. Consequently, Borno State, an acclaimed "Home of Peace", has suddenly degenerated to signify violence, with evoking fears to outsiders, forcing mass exodus and evacuations of non-indigenes from the volatile state.

What exactly Boko Haram is fighting for and whose interest they are representing are yet to be clearly defined. Etymologically, the term Boko Haram comes from the Hausa word boko, meaning "animist" western or otherwise non-Islamic education, and the Arabic word haram, figuratively meaning "sin", literally "forbid- den". Figuratively, therefore, Boko Haram is translated as "Western education is sin."

Ideologically, Boko Haram opposes not only western education, but western culture and modern science as well. For instance, in a 2009 interview, granted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the leader of the sect, Yusuf, stated that the belief that the world is sphere is contrary to Islam and should be rejected, along with Darwinism and the theory that rain comes from water evaporation by the sun.

From the above, it could be established that the current state of insecurity and deplorable state of affairs are not unconnected with the attempt to impose the opinion of a small group on a larger society, a situation which clearly abridge the freedom to hold and express one's opinion that is fundamental and inalienable in any given society. Whereas, the virtues of tolerance, being a brother's keeper, good neighbourliness, social justice, accountability and honest leadership still remain the hallmark and enduring legacies of Islam, one could not but agree with the generality of peace-loving Muslims, who have widely condemned the position of Boko Haram as un-Islam.

Going down the memory lane, Borno State, as a society, has had her fair share on instability and even wars in her chequered history; the sacking of Birnin Ngazargamu by the jihadists in 1808, Rabih's invasion and occupation in 1893, and the Maitasine riots in the 1980s. In all these crises, destructive and vicious as they were, the wars did not degenerate into killing of innocent souls, targeting of public recreational centres, places of worship and killing of unarmed civilians, as the Boko Haram sect is perpetuating it today. Presently, the cumulative effects of Boko Haram are telling heavily on the image of Nigeria as a country and her sovereignty is seriously under threat.

However, President Goodluck Jonathan should be commended for the Joint Task Force (JTF) put in place to monitor the security situation in Borno State. The President should ignore those agitating for its withdrawal without a tangible and sustainable alternative to fill the security vacuum.

Meanwhile, government should not reject the offer made by French Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Jean-Michel Dumond, to cooperate with Nigeria to fight this scourge. Also, the accusation of ex-Borno State governor, Modu Sheriff, by the chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum, Gen. Jerry Useni, as being the godfather of Boko Haram, should not be taken lightly.

Above all, government should constitute a fact-finding commission, involving major stakeholders, to sit down and listen to those who are directly or remotely connected to Boko Haram so that the spate of violence can stop.

 

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