The White Paper on the report of the Presidential Committee on the Security Challenges in the North-east has rejected the recommendation that the federal government should pay compensation to victims of Boko Haram attacks.
It said rather than paying compensation to orphans and widows of terror victims, as recommended by the committee, government would only assist them. But it was silent on the form of assistance government would render to them.
It however recommended the regulation of preaching by Islamic clerics as one of the ways to curb the Boko Haram insurgency.
In addition, the White Paper, in its roadmap for peace, called on the government to address the porosity of the Nigerian borders, which it noted encourages the smuggling of arms, ammunition and explosive materials used in making Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
The eight-member White Paper Drafting Committee, chaired by Comrade A. Moru, which submitted its report in May 2012, was constituted by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, to study and analyse the report of the presidential committee headed by Ambassador Usman Galtimari, which submitted its final report in September 2011.
It was charged with the responsibility of producing a roadmap for peace that is pragmatic, implementable and would offer an enduring solution to the insecurity in the North-east.
The eight-member Galtimari committee, which was inaugurated by Anyim in August 2011, was set up to study the security challenges in the North-east and suggest steps the government should take to address the situation with a view to restoring permanent peace in the terror-stricken area.
The government accepted most of the recommendations of the Galtimari committee and rejected only a few, including one in which it recommended that compensation should be paid to victims of Boko Haram attacks.
However, nearly a year after the White Paper on the report was submitted to government, some crucial aspects of the report that would help in achieving peace in the north are yet to be implemented, prompting an ultimatum by Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), to the federal government to implement them or face a lawsuit.
Falana, against the backdrop of the resurgence in terrorist attacks, especially in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Kano States that have left scores dead in the last three weeks, said in a statement last week that if the federal government failed to commence the implementation of the White Paper by April 15, he would not hesitate to go to court to compel it to do so.
While some chapters of the White Paper reviewed the report of the Galtimari committee and stated government’s reactions to its recommendations, another section of the document, in line with its terms of reference, detailed the roadmap to peace in the north ravaged by terrorism.
The Galtimari committee, in its report, traced the onset of terrorism to the extra-judicial killing of Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, in 2009, which resulted in the group resorting to bombing groups and individuals as well as the killing of security agents.
It traced the rise of Boko Haram to the establishment of private militias by politicians in the run up to the 2003 general election, noting that members of the well-armed groups that were used as political thugs were abandoned to their fate after the poll, forcing some to gravitate towards religious extremism and crime.
It noted that Boko Haram derived its doctrine from the teachings of a London-based Islamic scholar, Sheik Faisal, reputed for condemning Western education.
It projected that unless urgent steps were taken, Boko Haram would become more ferocious in the future, as it would use any lull in the anti-terror war to re-strategize, acquire weapons that are more dangerous and get both financial and logistic support from Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) to give a new fillip to its terror campaign.
The Galtimari committee report discovered that Boko Haram members were trained in the Sahara desert and the leadership had established arm transportation routes to bring in weapons from Chad and Cameroun to contiguous states in the north such as Borno.
In reviewing the report of the Galtimari committee, the White Paper, a copy of which THISDAY obtained, accepted the recommendation that the federal government should enter into dialogue with moderate members of Boko Haram “in order to win the war and achieve peace.”
It therefore approved the recommendation seeking the “urgent need to constructively engage and (hold) dialogue with the leadership of the sect as an essential strategy in bringing them on board”.
The committee however cautioned that government should negotiate from a position of strength by allowing the security agencies subdue the Islamic militants, adding that “dialogue with the sect should be contingent upon their renunciation of violence and surrender of arms”.
The government accepted the recommendation and urged those who have access to the Boko Haram leaders to broker talks between the two parties.
The White Paper called for improvement in the performance of security operatives, through the provision of incentives such as insurance cover, extra allowances, while the entitlements of those killed in the line of duty should be promptly paid in order to cushion the effects of their death on their bereaved families.
Following the observation by the Galtimari committee that the Almajiri system of Islamic education provided a fertile ground for the insurgents to recruit new members, the White Paper called on the federal government to develop an integrated education curriculum for all children, irrespective of their religion and to regulate the Islamic system of education to prevent abuse.
On the recommendation that government should tighten border controls to curtail the insurgents’ access to weapons, the government, while accepting the recommendation, added that it had already taken steps towards that direction.
The government endorsed a recommendation on the need for tight immigration control to prevent illegal aliens that are suspected of working for Boko Haram from entering the country and directed the Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, to sustain action on the profiling of foreigners and repatriation of illegal ones and those involved in crime.
But it rejected the advice that 61 Boko Haram members in detention, who had been speculated to have been killed, should be transferred to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, amidst publicity blitz, to douse tension over their condition.
Reacting to the Galtimari committee’s recommendation seeking the setting up of a Judiciary Commission of Enquiry to probe allegations of atrocities against members of the Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed in Borno State, the government said it noted it, in addition to the steps being taken by the Defence Headquarters to investigate the allegations against military personnel engaged in the anti-terror war.
The government approved the recommendation to create job opportunities to tackle youth unemployment, which encourages youths to embrace the Boko Haram ideology that Western education is sinful, and helps the sect in recruiting members.
The government also accepted the report that detained insurgents should be rehabilitated before they are sent back to the society; engage in multilateral discussions with governments of neighbouring countries to assist in checking arms and illegal influx into Nigeria; and improve the synergy between security agencies to effectively combat terrorist activities.
On the need to foster cooperation between the states and the federal government, aimed at tackling security challenges in states, the government accepted the recommendation to create an informal security forum whereby President Goodluck Jonathan and governors, especially those of the affected states, would meet periodically to review the security situations in their states and fashion out ways to tackle them.
The government also approved the recommendation that some northern governors promoting religious discrimination through the denial of Certificates of Occupancy to churches in their states and banning the teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge in public schools should desist from doing so.