President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, expressed the determination of his government to put an end to the excesses of the Boko Haram sect.
President Jonathan who expressed this resolve while inaugurating the Presidential Committee on engagement with members of the Boko Haram Sect charged the committee members to come up with solutions that will restore peace in the troubled Northern part of the country.
Inaugurating the committee as well as the committee on the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday, President Jonathan prayed Allah to grant members of the committees the wisdom to do their job.
He said: “Nigerians are expecting this committee to perform magic and we pray that Allah should give you the wisdom to do so, because without peace we can’t develop no matter how committed we are”.
He charged members of the committee to establish a link with members of the Boko Haram sect and develop a framework through which disarmament will take place.
Jonathan tasks committee on peace options
The president further enjoined the committee to work out a sustainable option that will lead to the granting of amnesty to members of the sect and develop a comprehensive victim support programme, “because a number of people are victims of the excesses of the Boko Haram. And as we try to address the issue of the Boko Haram, we must also comprehensively address the issues directly affecting the people. The committee must also come up with suggestions on how to address the underlying causes of the crisis, to ensure that as a nation we don’t face similar threats in the future,” the president said.
He continued: “The Federal Government is ready to work with you and any other organization to make sure that these excesses of Boko Haram are brought to an end so that as a nation it is issues of development not issues of conflicts, issues of peace not issues of disaster that will engage us.
President Jonathan, last week, announced the setting up of a committee to ‘constructively engage key members of the Boko Haram sect’ with a view to defining a “comprehensive and workable framework for resolving the crisis of insecurity in the Northern part of the country”.
The setting up of the committee ostensibly followed the recommendation of the National Security Council which met in Abuja to deliberate on the workability of granting amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect.
Members of the committee headed by Minister of Special Duties, Mallam Kabiru Taminu Turaki include Sheik Ahmed Lemu, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Col. Musa Shehu, (rtd.), Sheik Abubakar Tureta, Senator Sodangi Abubakar, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Hon. Mohammed Bello Matawalle, Amb. Zakari Ibrahim, Hajiya Naja’atu Mohammed, Malam Adamu S. Ladan, Dr. Joseph Golwa, AVM A. I. Sheh, Mr. R. I. Nkemdirim, DIG P. I. Leha, and Prof. Nur Alkali.
Others are Malam Salihu Abubakar, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Lugga, Barrister Ibrahim Tahir, Brig-Gen. Ibrahim Sabo, Amb. Baba Ahmed Jidda, Group Capt. Bilal Bulama, Rtd, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi and Representative of SGF as Secretary. Two members earlier nominated, Mallam Shehu Sani and Alhaji Datti Ahmed rejected their membership of the committee, saying they were not consulted by the Presidency before announcing their names.
FG probing Baga Massacre — Jonathan
Speaking on the recent clash between members of the Joint Task Force and Boko Haram sect that led to the death of civilians in Baga, Borno State, President Jonathan said the incidence is being investigated and government will take steps to ensure that if errors were made, such people are cautioned and are treated in line with our own laws and regulations.
He enjoined members of the security services to ensure that in carrying out their duties, care should be taken to ensure that innocent parties do not suffer unjustly.
Speaking on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, President Jonathan said the effect of small arms and light weapons “is worse than the effect of nuclear weapons, because most African states are so unstable because of the free flow of small arms and light weapons and we plead that the industrialized nations who manufacture small arms and light weapons and push them into Africa are not doing good to the world.
“The effect is as bad as the production and distribution of drugs because what the thrills of small arms and light weapons is creating I believe is even more devastating than that of drugs. Without the free flow of small arms and light weapons even the war against drug trafficking would have been easier in the states,” he said.
He charged members of the committee on proliferation of small arms and light weapons to “establish links and cooperation with similar institutions and agencies that help build capacity, enhance information sharing and develop multi-level international support relationship as well as strengthen regional cooperation”.
He further charged them to focus on putting forward policy suggestions even as it reviews existing ones and recommend implementation strategies to combat ilicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons as well as measures to enhance border security, propose legislations and regulatory framework to strengthen control of proliferation of small arms and light weapons in line with international standards.
The president noted that while his government will continue to do its best to guarantee the security of lives and properties in the country, it behoves on Nigerians to compliment the efforts of government by providing information that would be useful in combating crimes.
Committee prepared to work — Turaki
In his response, the Chairman, Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North and Minister of Special Duties, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, said “members of this committee are prepared to bring everything that we have, our diverse experiences, our education, professionalism, tactics, skills and above all our integrity to bear in the work of this committee.
“We are not under any illusion that this will be an easy task, but we are resolute, we feel challenged by this enormous responsibility that has been given to us. I want to assure you and indeed all Nigerians that in doing and carrying out this assignment, we are not going to bring any presumptions, conclusions or assumptions, we are coming with open mind. I therefore want to appeal to all Nigerians to assist us with useful information to enable us carry out our assignment.
“Let me thank you and assure you that at the end of the day, we hope to come up with suggestions, recommendations that will assist you and the Federal Government to tackle the challenges in the Northern part of this country. The confidence you have reposed in us individually and collectively by the special grace of God will not be derailed,” he said.
Why I declined Boko Haram peace committee – Shehu Sani
Meanwhile Civil rights activist Comrade Shehu Sani has opened up on why he rejected President Goodluck Jonathan’s offer to serve in the presidential committee to engage the Boko Haram insurgent group, saying the government was not serious in its efforts.
He has nevertheless offered his Facebook page as a platform for those who want to engage on behalf of the government, saying that the insurgents would contact them as he observed that the insurgents are following him on Facebook and Twitter.
Sani who made name for his pioneering efforts in engaging the group and leading former President Olusegun Obasanjo to a family of the group’s slain leader, Mohammed Yusuf had last week rejected his nomination to serve on the presidential committee conceived by the president.
In two postings on his Facebook page yesterday, Sani said:
“When I took the personal risk and facilitated a dialogue with the insurgents, to end the violence in my country, the government threw away all my proposals because they ‘want to crush them by force’ and because they can’t talk to terrorists’ and that ‘I’m seeking self glory’.
“Now the government wants to talk to terrorists and I said I am not interested, Mr Okupe and his friends call me unpatriotic.”
In another posting where he said trouble shooters could use his facebook page to make contacts with Boko Haram, Sani said:
“My position remains unchanged. I don’t have time to waste with an un-serious government. But any of my friends who thinks otherwise and wants to offer himself to mediate between Boko Haram and the government can simply do so by posting on my wall his correct GSM number and home address.
The Boko Haram or the government will get in touch with him or her as surely the two sides are following me on Facebook and twitter.”
Besides Sani, another mediator Dr. Datti Ahmed, who was nominated to the committee also declined membership of the committee which was inaugurated by the president yesterday.
Meanwhile, Vanguard learnt from some members of the Boko Haram committee that some of them did not want to serve in the committee for fear of being attacked by the sect members.
Besides, Vanguard was reliably informed that the members felt slighted that the President did not consult them to seek their consent before announcing their names as members of the controversial committee.