Boko Haram: Borno NASS Caucus Question Military Deployment

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ABUJA, July 15, (THEWILL) - The Borno State caucus of the National Assembly today questioned the propriety of the military deployment in the state to curb the rampaging radical Islamic fundamentalists, Boko Haram.

The caucus members declared that the use of brute force cannot curb the Boko Haram menace.

Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the caucus, their spokesman, Senator Maina Maaji Lawan (ANPP, Borno North) declared that the only solution to the problem is ‘unconditional amnesty for and dialogue with the group’ that has thrown the state capital and some parts of the country into panic in the last couple of months.

Lawan who was with two other senators and three members of the House of Representatives from the state, said the federal government needs to rethink its strategy for bringing an end to the Boko Haram menace the same way it resolved the militancy saga in the Niger Delta, which he said was not by military operation but by dialogue and the amnesty programme.

With Lawan at the press briefing were Senators Ali Ndume (PDP, Borno South) and Ahmed Zanna (ANPP, Borno Central) as well as House of Representatives members Amina Khadi (Jere), Mukhtar Aliyu (Biu) and Kyari Gujubawu (Maiduguri).

Lawan said, “If the US with all its technology and superior arms power was forced to engage in dialogue with the Talibans, we could see that brute force cannot be a solution to this situation.”

While urging President Goodluck Jonathan to order the immediate withdrawal of the military from Maiduguri and its environs, Lawan, who is the immediate past Senate Minority Leader, said the federal government should “honestly, purposely and sincerely engage in dialogue with the Boko Haram people.”

He lamented that since the beginning of the military operations in Maiduguri, “innocent citizens who know nothing about the Boko Haram are the ultimate victims of the military crackdown”, saying, “Borno is in a state of complete siege.”

He described as unfortunate a situation whereby institutions of state whose operatives are being sustained by the taxes of the people would now turn around to start killing the same people who they are established to protect.

Wondering why the JTF should go about “indiscriminately shooting innocent youths under the guise of looking for Boko Haram”, Lawan recalled that a similar situation occurred in Odi and some other Bayelsa communities where houses were ransacked, innocent people killed and whole villages devastated in the guise of looking for militants”.

The third term senator said members of the Borno Caucus in the National Assembly had been circumspect in commenting publicly on the situation in their state because of their sustained belief that the situation could be peacefully brought under control.

He said they could however no longer continue to keep quiet as “the situation is deteriorating by the day causing untold hardship on innocent citizens.”

The Borno National Assembly Caucus however disclosed that it would conduct an on the spot assessment to ascertain the extent of damage to lives and property as a result of the Boko Haram crisis.

While commiserating with the victims and families of those it described as “innocent citizens that lost lives and properties in the unfortunate incident”, the lawmakers urged all relevant government agencies especially the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to provide relief materials to the affected victims.