PANEL RECOMMENDS AMNESTY FOR BOKO HARAM
The Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North-east zone, yesterday submitted its final report with a recommendation that the Federal Government grant amnesty to members willing to surrender. The committee was set up following the bomb attacks by the Islamic sect in parts of the country and with specific targets of government establishment.
The panel headed by Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari, while submitting the report at the State House yesterday to Vice President Namadi Sambo who received it on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan, urged that 'the Federal Government should fundamentally, consider the option of dialogue and negotiation which should be contingent upon the renunciation of all forms of violence and surrender of arms to be followed by rehabilitation.'
The committee also told Sambo, that the Jaamatus Ahlus Sunnah Lid Daawatis Wal Jihad, aka Boko Haram, has nominated the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa'ad Abubakar III or his representative, the Emir of Bauchi and Sheik Abubakar Gero Argungu, as its representative in any Federal Government team that will negotiate with its members.
To this end, the panel, which had earlier submitted its preliminary report to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Pius Anyim Pius, said 'therefore Government may consider constituting another committee with wider powers and with increased membership to handle the assignment within a reasonable time frame but not weeks as was given to this committee.'
The committee, which said it had interacted with various stakeholders including the State Governors of Bornu, Bauchi, Kano, Niger and Sokoto and the Sultan of Sokoto among other traditional rulers, also urged, 'the Federal Government to diversify and strengthen its means of creating avenues for international intelligence sharing and inter-agency cooperation through diplomatic channels/pacts.'
It added that, 'the Federal Government should create an informal forum at the highest level, where Mr. President will discuss national security issues with governors and other major stakeholders from time to time. Again, there is an urgent need for arranging an informal forum where Mr. President will grant audience to each state governor on one-to-one basis where issues on security, could be addressed.'
'It further recommended that 'the Federal Government and Borno State Government should ensure that human and organisational victims most especially, churches and mosques including schools, which were destroyed during religious crises in the past and even in the recent past, should be compensated monetarily and by way of resuscitating and reconstructing their properties. Survivors of the deceased victims should be compensated appropriately.'
The panel listed the remote and immediate causes of the present security challenges in the country, to include among others: 'high level of poverty and illiteracy existing in the North-east; massive unemployment of youths, both skilled and unskilled; and existence of private militias that were established, funded and used by politicians and individuals and then dumped after having been trained to handle arms.'
Other causes, according to the panel, are 'presence of large number of almajiris who together with those mentioned above could easily be used as canon-fodders to ignite and sustain crisis and ' influx of illegal aliens resulting from porous and unmanned borders coupled with provocative and inciting preaching by some religious clerics.'
Also listed to be the immediate causes of the ongoing terrorist attacks are 'the extra-judicial killing of the sect leader, Mohammed Yusuf and some members of the sect by security agents', and 'weak governance and failure to deliver services in the wake of huge resources accruing to state and local governments.'
The panel further stressed that on the part of the security forces there are palpable operational lapses, service rivalry, under funding, under-equipment and lack of collaboration; while governments have failed to deliver justice and bring immediate relief to victims of the crises.
Also cited as a major discovery by the panel is the 'general failure of effective and coordinated intelligence gathering and its deployment to forestall events with undesirable consequences,' stressing that, 'in this direction, there is no high level security network/forum (outside the statutory national security institutions) that will enable an informal meeting between Mr. President and the governors as well as other top level security stakeholders.'
It further noted that crises became more frequent due to 'the lack of an institutional structure/arrangment to primarily cater for inter-religious affairs to promote harmonious co-existence confounded the problems.'
'The committee was inundated with series of complaints that the increasing level of insecurity in the country was amongst other reasons due to the failure of governments to implement reports of various committees that were constituted and had submitted useful recommendations in the past.'
Receiving the report from the committee members, Vice President Sambo who was joined by the National Security Adviser, General Andrew Azazi, the Secretary to Government of Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, promised to implement the recommendations as contained in the report; even as he thanked the members of panel for a job well done.
The committee was inaugurated by the SGF in August with a two-week life span but after expiration of the duration, it turned-in its first report, and requested for more time to do a thorough job, which government graciously granted.