In its latest offensive against Boko Haram, the federal government has decided to officially declare the Islamic sect a "terrorist organisation", a designation it has shied away from labelling the group since it started its attacks in the country four years ago.
The decision by the federal government coincided with the $7 million bounty offered by the United States Government for the capture of the leader of the sect, Abubakar Shekau, and the declaration by the Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, that the time for amnesty for members of Boko Haram was not ripe.
THISDAY learnt exclusively last night that the federal government was preparing to issue a Proscription Order declaring the group a “terrorist organisation”, a designation the Nigerian government had lobbied the US government not to use when it froze the US-based assets belonging to Shekau and three other members of the sect a year ago.
Disclosing this, an official in the Ministry of Defence in Abuja said the Proscription Order would be made by the federal government before the week runs out and was intended to show its commitment to defeat Boko Haram and make Nigeria a secure country for its people.
He welcomed the bounty placed by the US on Shekau and other terrorists in West Africa, saying they constitute a clear and present danger to the future of several countries in the sub-region.
Also, in what may be regarded as a departure from the position of several leaders of northern extraction, Aliyu said that the time for amnesty for members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram was not ripe, adding that the nation was in a defining period where investigations should not be limited to the sect alone, but also to its sponsors.
Making this known yesterday in Minna, the Niger State capital, when the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North paid him a courtesy call, Aliyu said: “We must go deeper than simple cosmetic changes in our society. I want you to bring out the sponsors, because they don't mean well for this country.”
Aliyu added that the issues were beyond taking arms, noting that those who had not taken arms but instigated people to do so are more dangerous than those who had taken arms.
In a veiled reference to the crisis in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of which he is a member, the governor drew a parallel between the lack of internal democracy in political parties and insecurity in the country, stating that there would be no peace in the country if internal democracy is not entrenched in political parties.
According to Aliyu, a nation where people are always threatened would not bear fruits of peace, observing that Nigerians expect a difference from what had obtained in the military era.
“We keep making excuses for our military background but what attempt are we making to see that we institute and entrench democracy in our country because the political parties have no internal democracy apart from threats and what have you.
“Apart from threats, you don't hear people negotiating and I thought politics was all about negotiation. But these days, people don't want to negotiate.
“Those who think of only threat as a democratic principle should have a rethink because we need to negotiate,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the chairman of the committee and Minister of Special Duties, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, said the committee was on a nationwide tour to interact with stakeholders that would enable it proffer solutions to the insurgency.
He debunked claims that the imposition of emergency rule on three North-eastern states may stall the activities of his committee, maintaining that the declaration had been of tremendous assistance as it had encouraged people to come out and give information to the security forces.
“Before the state of emergency, people from the affected states were not confident to come out with information but today we receive more information from the states.
“I can assure Nigerians that the emergency rule cannot and is not going to affect the committee's assignment,” Turaki said.