BOKO HARAM: ANPP SUES FOR DIALOGUE, SPEAKER SAYS NO
The way out of the Boko Haram crisis is dialogue, says Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, National Chairman of the All Nigerian Peoples' Party (ANPP), even as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) alleges discrimination when Borno State government compensated victims of the sect's attacks.
But, Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly, Mr. Razaq Atunwa, differed from the position of the ANPP chairman as he cautioned the Federal Government not to dialogue with the Islamic fundamentalists, saying Boko Haram is nothing but a terrorist group.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had, last week, asked the Federal Government to parley with Boko Haram, which had made Borno and some states in the North ungovernable. The sect has practically turned Borno into its operational headquarters since the crisis started.
In a statement issued in Abuja, Onu warned President Goodluck Jonathan not to politicize the issue of the Islamic fundamentalists if the state of insecurity is to be addressed with result.
He also tasked the security agencies to do more on intelligence gathering in dealing with the sect.
The ANPP boss said that the first step towards the resolution of the problem is for government to dialogue with the group so as to know what was amiss.
Not until this was done, the ANPP boss argued, government might not get to the root of the crisis.
On the state of insecurity and the Boko Haram challenge, Onu lamented that it was saddening and sickening that hardly would a day pass that an incident, either by bomb or physical attack would not be recorded in any part of the country, especially in Abuja, Bauchi, Kaduna, Suleja or Maiduguri.
Lamenting that nobody was sure of his or her security again, the ANPP chairman said that many of his party stalwarts had been cut down in bomb blasts.
Said he; 'Several other innocent citizens, including women and children have been killed in cold blood. Nobody is spared as virtually, all Nigerians now live in fear of insecurity. Recent reports indicate that in Maiduguri, many residents are leaving the town fearing the situation may worsen. Our great party has been adversely affected as many of our members in Borno State have been killed.'
He stated, therefore, that ANPP, which is committed to the principles of peace and consensus building, was of the view that 'the Boko Haram crisis cannot be solved through law enforcement alone. We need to do more'.
'It is our view that lasting solution to the problem lies in intelligence gathering, seeking community support and the pursuit of dialogue with all concerned. We need to find out what their grievances really are; why they have resorted to the approach they use and the underlying motives and reasons behind their actions.
'This we believe, if carried out methodically and with sincerity of purpose, will arm the Federal Government with the appropriate strategy with which to find a permanent solution to the problem. As a political party we do not support violence. We respect the sanctity of human life. We seize this opportunity to restate our commitment to these ideals which we hold dear', Onu added.
He expressed ANPP's solidarity with the Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who is from the fold of the party, and threw his weight behind certain actions taken by the governor to solve the problem. 'Our great party is solidly behind him. We urge him to continue to work for peace and total reconciliation, for after rainfall what would definitely follow is sunshine', he declared.
He emphasized that nothing should be done to 'politicize this great tragedy that has afflicted our nation', pointing out that 'the security of life and property should remain the most basic responsibility of any good government.
'We have lost so many innocent lives. The unfortunate bleeding of human blood should stop. Nigerians deserve a secure environment to live and work in for the good and greatness of both our people and the nation.
'Finally, we are confident that Nigeria shall overcome. It is our prayer that before long these challenges we face will be overcome. We call on all Nigerians to rededicate themselves to the attributes of love of neighbour and love of country as well as the conviction that Nigeria shall remain strong and united. It is a duty. It is a responsibility. I am confident that with faith in God, and confidence in ourselves, we shall climb the mountain top', the statement added.
But addressing a press conference in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, yesterday, Atunwa said that it would be counter-productive for the Federal Government to engage the group in a dialogue, saying that doing that would send wrong signals to the rest of the world.
The Speaker condemned the spate of violence the sect had unleashed on the nation and innocent citizens, urging the government to deal with the members and their sponsors.
He said; 'My advice to the Federal Government is that the matter of Boko Haram is a security issue and should be taken with utmost seriousness, with a firm grip and strong hand so that there cannot be any suggestion that we will do or negotiate with terrorists, because these people are no more than terrorists.
'One does not even know what their cause is. They just believed in absolute wanton violence and it should be condemned in its entirety'.
Similarly, the traditional ruler of Amaezea autonomous community in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State has also condemned the Boko Haram activities, urging the government to uproot the Islamic fundamentalists.
Addressing newsmen in Port Harcourt, Eze Okafor stated that the incessant attacks by Boko Haram on law-abiding Nigerians were uncivilized and a threat to peace and unity of nation.
The monarch said the bomb attacks and killings were senseless as they had no cogent reasons for their actions, except a dangerous signal depicting that some Nigerians were no longer safe to live and do business in some parts of the country.
He contended that the activities of Boko Haram were also targeted at making the country ungovernable, and advised perpetrators of these acts to ceasefire in the interest of peace, unity and national cohesion.
The Amaezea monarch supported Ohaneze and other well-meaning Nigerians calling for the declaration of state of emergency in Borno State, as a deliberate effort to end the menacing disposition of Boko Haram.
Meanwhile, warning Boko Haram members yesterday, Niger Delta Indigenous Movement for Radical Change has vowed to return fire for fire.
The group also urged President Goodluck Jonathan to order a raid of the palace of a prominent emir in the north believed to be sponsoring the sect.
In a statement released in Warri, the group condemned the worsening security situation in the country, saying it was a calculated attempt to discredit the administration of President Jonathan.
'But let it be known to members of the Boko Haram and their sponsors that we will resist any attempt to destabilize the current administration of President Jonathan who is a worthy son of the Niger Delta and we will shed our last blood to defend his administration,' the group said.
The statement, signed by its President, Nelly Emma, Secretary, John Sailor and Public Relations Officer, Mukoro Stanley, accused a prominent emir of sponsoring members of the Boko Haram in order to create crisis in the country, saying that any plot against President Jonathan by the North would be resisted.
'For a very long time, we have watched with total dismay the activities of Boko Haram sect in some parts of the country and we hereby warn that enough is enough; Boko Haram must give peace a chance and stop disturbing one of our own, President Jonathan, as we are not going to take it easy with anybody or group of persons who try to make the country ungovernable for the President.
While rejecting the call for the withdrawal of soldiers from Borno State, the group stated that it was 'one request President Jonathan must turn down because the call is self-serving, some prominent leaders in the North including an emir are backing the sect to cause havoc in the country'.
Nevertheless, the Borno State government made real its promise yesterday as it compensated Boko Haram victims with vehicles, money and promised to rebuild their houses even as CAN described the compensation as selective.
Speaking at a ceremony organized at the Government House, Maiduguri, yesterday, Governor Kashim Shettima said the 12 car gifts and money were presented to victims who lost their cars and other valuables during the Kalari bomb blast and reported reprisal attack by the soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force (JTF).
The governor gave N1.6 million to two widows whose husbands were allegedly killed by soldiers following the bomb attack on three soldiers at Kalari area, London Chiki in the metropolis. He said no amount of money could bring back the souls of the deceased, adding that government was only showing deep concern and love for its good people. 'None can compensate for a lost soul,' he maintained.
The governor stated that the gesture was meant to show sincere concern of his administration over the unfortunate incident and assist in ameliorating the hardship being experienced as a result of the ban on all motorcycles. 'It is pertinent to note that human lives are irreplaceable. What we are doing is a symbolic show of concern to the victims who are suffering as a result of the unfortunate incident', the governor said.
He assured that government would soon embark on the rebuilding of the houses that were burnt during the incident even as he pointed out that government has taken greater steps towards ensuring security of lives and properties of the people.
He stated that government would address some challenges created by the worsening insecurity in the states, especially the hardship associated with the ban on commercial motorcyclists.
Gov. Shettima disclosed a committee that would distribute tricycles on N200,000 loan with daily payment of N500.00.
But the CAN chairman in the state, Rev Yuguda Ndurvwa said the compensations of 11 vehicles, cash donation and promise to rebuild destroyed houses were only done for the 33 Muslim victims, arguing that some Christians who were affected were not considered. He pointed out that the Christian community in the state was unhappy with the government gesture as 'such action bares semblance of selective compensation.'
Rev Yuguda wondered why some bereaved pastors and Christian families did not receive either the sympathy of the government or its compensation as it was done for their Muslim residents. He stressed that many Christians have been killed in the two-year sectarian crisis that had claimed more than 2, 000 lives and property worth millions of naira.
'I just heard about it and I must confess that we, the Christians, are not happy with the government's step. In fact, it is sad that the governor could segregate or exclude Christians killed and injured during many of the Boko Haram attacks. Or does it mean our people that were killed, bombed and those houses and churches destroyed are not part of the state?' he queried.