North's elders disapproves of emergency rule, say Jonathan unfair to our people

By The Rainbow

Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on Thursday disapproved of the state of emergency declared in three northern states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa.

The ACF described the action as unfair and an indirect declaration of war on the North.

NEF's spokesman, Prof Ango Abdullahi, said the group was displeased by President Goodluck Jonathan's sudden change of tactic on how to resolve the crisis in the North.

'It is very sad for us to see that the President has easily changed direction from dialogue and reconciliation to war in his bid to end the cycle of violence in the North,' Abdullahi said

In a communiqué at the end of its National Executive Council meeting presided over by its chairman, Aliko Mohammed, ACF said the government should not consider the deployment of more troops on the troubled spots as alternative to dialogue.

The communiqué, signed by the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Fati Ibrahim said ACF would monitor the military campaign in the affected states.

The communiqué reads: 'The National Executive Council of the Arewa Consultative Forum met today, the 15th of May, 2013 at its national headquarters on Sokoto Road, Kaduna. The meeting which was presided over by Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, the Chairman, was attended by large delegations from all the states of the North. After reviewing and discussing recent developments in the country, the meeting resolved to issue the following communiqué.

'The ACF takes notice of the proclamation of the state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states by the Federal Government on the grounds that attacks and killings by insurgents and other terrorist groups require more massive military response.

'The meeting was concerned that the President appears to invest more faith in a military solution even where evidence from our experiences so far bears no such optimism. It is the hope of the ACF, therefore, that the Federal Government does not consider the increased military deployments as a superior option or alternative to the slower and more tedious path of dialogue, negotiation and conciliation.

'Given the dismal history of peace-making campaigns by the military all over the world, dispatching battalion after battalion to the field in the hope of combating insurgents or terrorists, sounds naïve.

'In particular, the ACF calls on the military to avoid the temptation of deploying heavy handed tactics or adopting measures that will cause increased civilian casualties and bloodshed under the cover of emergency rule. They are well advised to involve the local populace in their operational plans in order to minimise collateral civilian suffering.

'Even so, under the circumstances, ACF will raise a team that will observe and monitor the prosecution of the military campaign under the new state of emergency. The team will collect information and evidence from the field and determine if at all times, the military campaign is conforming with the published terms of engagement and other human rights conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory.'