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FG gives Boko Haram amnesty committee 90 days to work…blames manufacturers of small arms and light weapons for instability in Africa

By The Citizen


The Federal Government has given Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, chaired by the Minister of Special Duties, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, 90 days to carry out it’s assignment, while the Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons, chaired by Amb. Emmanuel Imohe, is a standing committee that can be dissolve at any time the government feels it’s assignment is done.

Meanwhile, FG has assured Nigerians, the United Nations and the international community that the culprists involved in the clash between the North East Joint Border Security Task Force (JB-STF) and Boko Haram insurgents, that left close to 200 dead would be brought to book at the end of investigations that has been ordered.

President Goodluck Jonathan said this Wednesday at the inauguration of both committees at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Also the President tactically took a swipe at both Dr. Datti Ahmed and Comrade Shehu Sanni who had rejected membership of the Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, by commending those who accepted to work for the country despite not being consulted before hand, adding that it showed their commitment and preparedness to serve the nation and play their part in stabilizing the nation.

The President while noting that Nigerians were expecting the committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, to perform magic, he prayed God  to grant them wisdom to do so, saying “because without peace we can’t develop no matter how committed we are.  Without peace we cannot progress as a nation”. He added that the establishment of the committee was to re-affirmed the readiness and commitment of his administration to bring the spate of violence and insecurity that has been witnessed in many decades in the country to an end.

Speaking on the reason the Small Arms and Light Weapons Committee was set up, President Jonathan said it was in keeping with the promise in made at the United Nations, African Union and other platforms to check the influx of small arm a and light weapons, saying that it’s effect was as devastating as drug trafficking.

He accused the manufacturers of small arms and light weapons of being responsible for the current instability in the African continent, adding that “they are not doing good to the world. The effect is as bad as the production and distribution of drugs because what the thrills of small arms and light weapons is creating I believe is even more devastating than that of drugs. Without the free flow of small arms and light weapons even the war against drug trafficking would have been easier in the states. So we use this opportunity to urge the United Nations again to come up with comprehensive approach to the control of the small arms and light weapons”.

President Jonathan emphasized that the committee was not a task force set out to enforce rules and regulations but to provide Government with the necessary advice to mitigate the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. He added that there are departments that are responsible for enforcing rules and regulations, and they can only succeed if  supported by the proper advise and international linkages.

“I sincerely appreciate those of you who have accepted to serve. In some cases, when you call people to serve, they are so committed whether you consult them or not, they are prepared to serve. In some cases, people raise issues but most of you were not even consulted but of course most of you are aware of the challenges we have as a nation. When your names were mentioned, you agreed to play your part to stabilize our country and bring peace and development to the country. On behalf of the government thank all of you for accepting to serve.

“These two committees are quite related, the committee on small arms and light weapons, and of course the committee that has to do with security challenges we have in the north. The bulk of the threat comes from the free use of arms and light weapons. As a nation, we have passed through thick and thin, we have passed through difficult periods in our history but we all agree that the situation Nigeria is facing today is quite different from other challenging periods we have passed through and really need dedicated and committed minds to resolve it.

“In keeping with my pledge that Nigeria will work with the United Nations and other countries to stem the worrisome proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their use in creating insecurity challenges and instability in Nigeria and other developing nations, I am today inaugurating the committee on small arms and light weapons.

“The inauguration of this committee could not have come at a better time even as we redouble our efforts in our match to peace and progress. The committee on small arms and light weapons is being constituted to ensure that various security challenges relating to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons especially smuggling through our borders is quickly addressed within the framework of cooperation with our neighbours and other countries in ECOWAS and the Sahara region.

“Continental cross border proliferation of arms is not only a threat to our nation’s peace and stability, it has also fueled conflicts in different parts of Africa. The small arms and light weapons committee should establish links and cooperation with similar institutions and agencies that help build capacity, enhance information sharing and develop multi-level international support relationship as well as strengthen regional cooperation. The committee should also focus on putting forward policy suggestions even as it reviews existing ones and recommends implementation strategies to combat ilicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons as well as measures to enhance border security. Proposed legislations and regulatory framework to stregthen control of prolifireation of small arms and light weapons in line with international standards.

“Let me emphasize that the committee is not a task force set out to enforce rules and regulations but to provide Government with the necessary advice to mitigate the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. We say so because there are departments that are responsible for this. For these departments of government to succeed they must be supported by the proper advise and international linkages.

“The establishment of this committee re-affirms the readiness and commitment of this administration to bring the spate of violence and insecurity that we have witnessed in many decades to an end.

“Let me also use this opportunity to re-echo what I have been saying, all over the world, at the UN, at the AU and other platforms that the effect of small arms and light weapons is worse than the effect of nuclear weapons, because most African states are so unstable because of the free flow of small arms and light weapons and we plead that this countries in industrialized nations who manufacture small arms and light weapons and push them into Africa are not doing good to the world. The effect is as bad as the production and distribution of drugs because what the thrills of small arms and light weapons is creating I believe is even more devastating than that of drugs. Without the free flow of small arms and light weapons even the war against drug trafficking would have been easier in the states. So we use this opportunity to urge the United Nations again to come up with comprehensive approach to the control of the small arms and light weapons”.

President Jonathan furthwr said “the second committee that am also innuagurating has to do with the dialogue and peaceful resolution of security challenges in the North. All Nigerians are expecting this committee to perform magic and we pray that Allah should give you the wisdom to do so, because without peace we can’t develop no matter how committed we are.  Without peace we cannot progress as a nation.

“So this second committee is charged with first to establish a link and open up dialogue with the members of the Boko Haram. They will also develop the framework through which disarmament will take place.   Third they are to work out a sustainable option that will lead to the granting of amnesty.

“They also have to develop a comprehensive victim support programme, because a number of people are victims of the excesses of the Boko Haram. And as we try to address the issue of the Boko Haram we must also comprehensively address the issues directly affecting the people.

“They must also come up with suggestions on how to address the underlying causes of the crisis, to ensure that as a nation we don’t face similar threats in the future. In as much as we appreciate that in any human situation there must be disputes, there must be disagreement, there must be conflicts but if we know about this and we have a good approached early enough, I believe that it will not degenerate to what we have today.

“But let me use this opportunity to also charge the security agencies that while doing your work you must be mindful of the citizens of this country. In attempting to bring peace to any part of the country, you should do so in a manner that will not bring destruction to the third party.

“The issues in some parts of Borno state that is in the media today is being investigated, I will tell Nigerians and indeed members of the international community that government will take steps to make sure that if errors are made that such people are cautioned and are treated in line with our own laws and regulations”.

The President assured that his government will continue to work towards the security of the country. “We will continue to do our best, we will continue to do things that will bring development to the nation, but we cannot succeed without the support of all our citizens.

“We therefore crave your indulgence to be patriotic to this country. All Nigerians we should show our patriotism to the nation and support the government, support these two committees to succeed . That is the only way we can, because they will have to work with the information that will be freely given by Nigerians.

“To members of the committee let me thank you again for accepting.

“In composing the small arms and light weapon committee, we looked at your previous engagements and we believe that we have set up a committee made up of the best people that we have, yes there are other good Nigerians that you can also bring in to work with you if you choose to do so. But from your antecedents we know that its a team that we believe that will be in a position to advise government on how we will manage the issues bothering on small arms and light weapons.

“And also the bigger committee that will help us manage the security challenges we have in the North. In composing the committee also we looked at your antecedents, your commitment especially to serve this country, your dedication to duties and especially your patriotic zeal. We believe that you will be in position to bring peace to this country.

“The Federal Government is ready to work with you and any other organization to make sure that these excesses of Boko Haram is brought to an end so that as a nation it is issues of development not issues of conflicts, issues of peace not issues of disaster”, he said.

In his response, the Chairman, Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, Minister of Special Duties, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, said President Jonathan has by inaugurating the committee demonstrated his genuine desire to end the security challenges in the country.

He said, “Let me Sir on behalf of my committee thank you most profoundly for giving us yet another opportunity to serve our father land. Your choice and careful selection of distinguished and accomplished Nigerians into this Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, is yet another testimony of your genuine desire to bring to end all the security challenges not only in the northern part of this country but Nigeria as a whole.

“The inauguration of our committee this morning has provided a veritable platform for genuine and sincere resolution of the crisis situation in the north.

“I assure you Sir that members of this committee are prepared to bring everything that we have, our diverse experiences, our education, professionalism, tactics, skills and above all our integrity to bear in the work of this committee.

“We are not under any illusion Sir, that this will be an easy task, but we are resolute, we feel challenge by this enormous responsibility that has been given to us.  I want to assure you Sir and indeed all Nigerians that in doing and carrying out this assignment, we are not going to bring any presumptions, conclusions or assumptions, we are coming with open mind. I therefore want to appeal to all Nigerians to assist us with useful information to enable us carry out our assignment.

“And let me say Sir, we will try the best we can to carry out the assignment within the terms of reference that has been given to us. And we appeal to Nigerians to show a lot of understanding, to show a lot of  patience even as the situation is seemingly intractable, and we also appeal for prayers from all Nigerians so that we will succeed in carrying out this gigantic assignment.

“Let me thank you and assure you that at the end of the day, we hope to come up with suggestions, recommendations that will assist you and the federal government to tackle the situation challenges in the northern part of this country.

“I assure you that the confidence you have reposed in us and indeed Nigerians, in us individually and collectively by the special grace of God will not be derailed”, he said.

Also speaking, the Chairman of the Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons is Amb. Emmanuel Imohe, appreciated the President for his firm and unwavering commitment to addressing the challenges to peace and security in the country.

“I wish to also thank Mr. President especially looking at the selection that has been made, I join the previous speaking in commending the choices that have been made and I assure you Sir that you have within the committee on Small arms and Light Weapons, the best you could possibly get. I want to assure that these minds that you have assembled for this very important assignment are equal to the task and will be able to do the job.

“I want to thank you for the thoughtful and timely decision to appoint this committee, I see it as part of the ongoing efforts of your administration to consolidate on peace and security in Nigeria.

“As you were speaking your excellency, members of the committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons have taken notes and we acknowledge the opening remarks that your have made and the insightful comments on the subject matter and we will e guided by what you have said in the work of our committee.

“I like to assure you Mr. President that the committee shares your concern about the devastating impact of small arms and light weapons to internal peace and security in Nigeria as well as many other countries within our region.

“I want to say that there indeed a connection in easy access to weapons and the problems of insecurity in the countries of Africa. And the reality today is that the ready deployment of these weapons is threatening none state actors and also reinforcing criminal networks. As a result, small arms and light weapons now constitute perhaps the biggest threat to peace and security and by extension to development in so many countries in our subregion.

“It is axiomatic to say that development can take place in an environment that is characterised by lack of security. Easy access to small arms and light weapons create insecurity which in turn impede growth and development in several countries within our neigbourhood.

“It follows therefore that if we seek to tackle the problem of insecurity, we must first seek to deal with the issue of easy access to small arms and light weapons.

“I wish to emphasis that the committee shares the President’s vision regarding the emplacements of internal peace and security that will allow the transformation agenda of this administration to flourish.

“I wish to assure Mr. President that the committee will work in accordance with his mandate tirelessly and round the clock. We will be considering a wide range of policy solutions to address the challenges posed by small arms and light weapons.

“The fight against small arms and light weapons is indeed a global concern, the committee will act within coherent, legal and policy guidelines including the ECOWAS convention on small arms and light weapons, the AU Bamako declaration as well as the UN programme for action on small arms and light weapons.

“Finally on behalf of the committee on small arms and light weapons, thank you for this reposal of confidence and assure you that we are all delighted in the opportunity to serve. We are not unmindful of the enormous expectations of Nigerians in this regard and assure you Sir that the committee will neither fail you nor fail the nation in the discharge of this onerous obligation”.