FG explains statement on release of Boko Haram suspects

By The Rainbow

The Federal Government said on Tuesday that women and children who have been in detention on suspicion of involvement and or connection with insurgency in some parts of the country would be released in the first phase of a presidential directive to the Nigerian military.

This will be followed by other phased releases where cases will be treated on their individual merits by the defence authorities and security agencies, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Public affairs, Doyin Okupe, said in a statement on Wednesday.

According to Okupe in a statement obtained by THE RAINBOW, the clarification  has become necessary, in view of misrepresentations in some sections of the media.

Okukpe said  the presidential directive was sequel to  the interim report by the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peace in Northern Nigeria which recommended the measure as part of government's multi-faceted strategy for solving the security challenges posed by the activities of the sect.

'This directive by Mr President further proves that the federal government has not foreclosed dialogue as a viable option in its bid to put an end to insurgency and terrorist activities in the northern part of the country,' Okupe stated.

It is expected that the phased release of detainees will encourage those who wish to embrace the peace option to come out and take advantage of the dialogue and peace option provided by the committee put in place by government, the presidential aide said.

Meanwhile, the United States government has blamed the continuous terrorist killings, bombings and religious violence in Nigeria on the inability of the Federal Government to bring the situation under a total control.

Secretary of state John Kerry who made this known while presenting a report recently in Washington, DC, accused the federal government of not acting swiftly or effectively to quell communal violence or to investigate and prosecute those responsible for such violence and for abusing religious freedom.

The reports says: 'Federal, state, and local authorities did not effectively address underlying political, economic, ethnic, and religious grievances leading to violence. An atmosphere of impunity existed, as authorities rarely investigated, prosecuted, and punished those responsible for violent attacks and sometimes responded to violence with heavy-handed tactics

'In Nigeria, Boko Haram extremists violently murdered hundreds of Christians and Muslims during the year. The group often targeted political and ethnic rivals, religious leaders, businesses, homes, police stations, military installations, churches, mosques, and rural villages, using assault rifles, bombs, suicide car bombings, and suicide vests. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for many of the 15 church attacks that killed more than 150 people, including scores of Christians, during worship services.

'Some Muslim and Christian religious leaders alleged that Boko Haram sought to incite hostilities between Muslims and Christians and to spark reprisals in the Northern and Middle Belt states, where local laws, discriminatory employment practices, and fierce competition for land exacerbated communal tensions.'

The report further states that the United States works through multilateral as well as bilateral channels to promote increased respect for religious freedom, and also funds NGO programmes designed to achieve this goal.