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Boko Haram: Beyond The Clamour For Amnesty

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The recent claim by the Northern Elders’ Forum that the Federal Government (FG) under President Goodluck Jonathan has been insincere and unwilling to end the unabating wanton killings and destructions by the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram, in the northern part of the country, should elicit national discourse, particularly at this period when Nigeria is on the mission of redefining her nationhood in a people-oriented Constitution.

According to the spokesman of the forum, Dr. Paul Unongo, the northern leaders based their conviction on President Jonathan’s last month’s media denial of dialoguing with the radical Islamic sect, and the offer of cash reward made by the President for information that could lead to the capture of 20 leaders of the group. Unongo argued that it should be the responsibility of the Federal Government to kick-start negociation with the sect in the interest of Nigerians.

To buttress the Forum’s position, Unongo recalled that when the Federal Government could not handle the violent activities of the Niger Delta militants, it negotiated with them.

“The militants were rehabilitated and compensated with huge sums of money; some of them were given big contracts. If it was possible for the militants in the Niger Delta, which is Jonathan’s part of the country, why would it not be possible for Boko Haram in the North”, the Northern leaders querried.

Giving credence to Unongo’s outburst, the secretary of the Borno State Elder’s Forum, Dr. Bulam Gubio described President Jonathan’s decision on terrorism in the North as mere excuses and a demonstration of poor commitment to resolving the crisis. A group of concerned professionals, politicians, academicians and businessmen, who spoke through Dr. Junaid Mohammed also said it would amount to double standard if Jonathan’s administration shies away from negotiating with Boko Haram, the way the late President Umaru Yar’dua did with Niger Delta militants.

As far as the worries of the Northern leaders on the need for urgent return of peace to the region are cogent, the flagrant expression of those worries has thrown up more issues than proffer solution to the nation’s quest at achieving a country that promotes peace, security, freedom, liberty and equal opportunities in their true meaning for all Nigerians in place of ethnic or sectional inclination.

This is because no matter the motive behind the expression of such position with far reaching implications, the analogy advanced by the Northern leaders is faulty in all its ramifications: The fact remains that the motive behind the violent activities and approach adopted by Boko Haram sect cannot be compared with that of the Niger Delta militants.

For, whilst the Niger Delta Militants took up arms owing to years of massive pauperisation and destruction of their livelihood, destruction of their eco-system and “infrastructure” arising from years of oil exploration and exploitation from their region without any attendant development of the region, Boko Haram is a group of Islamic terrorists who believe that western or non-islamic education is a sin and therefore decided to take up arms to destroy anything that is not islamic or sharia-based. They also seek to forcefully impose sharia in all the states in the northern part of Nigeria.

From the above, one can safely say that the Niger Delta militants were justified and were fighting for a good cause and in the course of their agitation, when successive governments at the centre refused to listen to them, they targeted oil installations; the same installations from which billions of dollars had accrued to the FG, which used the funds to develop mostly other parts of the country, while the producing communities were left undeveloped.

This led to a sharp drop in volume of BPD Nigeria was able to pump and by implication lowered revenue for the FG. This was the reason the Niger Delta militants were engaged at the round table and offered amnesty.

The truth should be thus told that Boko Haram, which figuratively means “Western or non-Islamic education is a sin” is a controversial Nigerian militant Islamist group that seeks the imposition of sharia law in the northern states of Nigeria nay the whole country.

The term “Boko Haram” comes from the Hausa word “Boko” meaning “Animist, western or otherwise non-Islamic education” and the Arabic word,” Haram” figuratively mean “sin” literally, “forbidden”.

The group was founded in 2002 in Maiduguri by Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf. In 2004 it moved to Kanamma, Yobe State, where it set up a base called “Afghanistan”, used to attack nearby police outposts, killing police officers.

Yusuf was hostile to democracy and the secular education system, vowing that “this war that is yet to start would continue for long” if the political and educational system was not changed.

It become known internationally following sectarian violence in Nigeria in 2009. Boko Haram opposes not only Western education, but Western culture and modern science as well. In a 2009 BBC interview, Yusuf stated that the belief that the world is a sphere is contrary to Islam and should be rejected, along with Darwinism and the theory that rain comes from water evaporated by the sun.

In Bauchi, the group was reported as refusing to mix with local people. The group includes members who come from neighbouring Chad and speak only in Arabic. In July 2009 the Nigerian Police started investigating the group, following reports that the group was arming itself.

Several leaders were consequently arrested in Bauchi, sparking deadly clashes with Nigerian security forces, which led to the deaths of an estimated 700 people.

In Yobe State, fighters of the group reportedly “used fuel-laden motorcycles” and “bows with poison arrows” to attack a police station. On 30th of July, 2009, allegations were made that Yusuf was killed by Nigerian security forces after being taken into custody. Reports also have it that, since 2009, Boko Haram may have killed over 3000 people, mostly Christians, in the North.

In January 2010, the group struck in Borno State killing four people in Dala Alemderi ward in Maiduguri metropolis. On September 7, 2010, Boko Haram freed over 700 inmates from a prison in Bauchi State. In December 2010, Boko Haram were blamed for a market bombing, following which 92 of its members were arrested by police.

On Tuesday February 8, 2011, Boko Haram gave conditions for peace. The radicals demanded that the Borno State Governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, should step down from office with immediate effect and also allow members to reclaim their mosque in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. On 9th May, 2011, Boko Haram rejected an offer for amnesty made by the governor-elect of Borno state, Kashim Shettima.

From the foregoing, it is only apparent that any form of comparison between Boko Haram and Niger Delta militants should start and end with the term “militants” which is used to describe the two, for they are both vigorously active, combative and aggressive in support of their stated “causes”.

If the Northern elders  I hinge their argument on this, then the question is, in what form should such amnesty be?

Would it also include sending them abroad (Europe) to acquire some specialised education (against the group’s ideology, since they do not want to have anything to do with western education)?

If not that, then should they be sent to an Islamic nation to obtain only Islamic education? What good would that do Nigeria? Would it not even expose them to more modern forms of terrorism and globall terrorism cells?

Or should Boko Haram be awarded big contracts to help them enhance the capacity of their weaponry? These are some of the salient questions the Northern elders should provide answers to, before the commencement of such negotiation.

Also, a criminal group can only be granted amnesty when its members reject their ways and abandon their bad behaviours. Boko Haram does not fall in that category. Boko Haram is a religiously fanatic movement which trusts in JIHAD as the only veritable weapon of advancing its gospel.

It is practically impossible for them to accept amnesty. In fact, that will annoy “The most merciful, Allah”, whom they are working for. Boko Haram has been granted amnesty. But they have rejected it.

So long as Northern leaders, some of them accused of compromising their religious beliefs, keep trying to explain Boko Haram’s behaviour in the name of some political grievances rather than purely religious, they will continue to gain undeserved attention. If the likes of Unongo and Gubio do not rise to the occasion and reject Boko Haram, it will simply remain a recipe for catastrophy.

Aware of the objective and true meaning of Boko Haram, what Nigerians expect from the Northern Elders Forum at this critical point of our national history, is suggest ways on how the Federal Government can liaise with international intelligence outfits to have a wider network to be able to expose those behind the saddistic Boko Haram terrorists.

Such alliance will also check the influx of Somali and Sudanese-trained al-qaeda insurgents from coming into Nigeria to carry out bomb blasts and other attacks.

At this period of the nation’s life, all that is needed is a creed that promotes easy administration, management and responsiveness in the communities; a mechanism for socio-economic transformation of the people through peaceful co-existence; a creed that gives community members a voice to take ownership of things that happen around them and not views that clearly aim at promoting discord amongst the various ethnic or tribal groups.

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Rivers Crisis: PDP Chairman Hails Jonathan’s Call For Truce

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The Lagos State chapter Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Philip Aivoji, has described former President Goodluck Jonathan’s call to end the political crisis in Rivers as commendable.
Mr Aivoji commended Jonathan  in an interview with The Tide‘s source on Monday in Lagos.
Recall that Jonathan had on Monday implored Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers  and his predecessor, (the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT) Chief Nyesom Wike, to sheathe their swords in order to douse the political temperature in the state.
The former president, who spoke at the inauguration of the N222.1 billion Trans-Kalabari Road construction, emphasised the necessity for Fubara and Wike to collaborate to promote the  progress and prosperity of Rivers State.
He noted that the political tension in the state was excessive and worrisome, and would not contribute to  development.
Jonathan said that destabilising Rivers State would adversely impact the Niger Delta region and could also trigger crises across the country.
Reacting to Jonathan’s admonition, Mr Aivoji described the former President as a man full of experience in mediation and conflict resolution, even at the international level.
“Jonathan is a leader in the party and a leader from South South; there is nothing wrong stepping in to broker peace. It is a good one,” the PDP boss said.
He, however, said that the former President should go further to speak the truth to the warring parties and point out  to each of them where they had erred.
“This is the way to settle issues. If we want to resolve it, we must tell the truth to them.
“The ex-President is an elder, he is an experienced person, who has been meditating in international affairs. Let us see how it goes,” he added.
According to him, the former President, being experienced mediator, must dig deep and probe the cause of the crisis.
“He (Jonathan) has seen it all. Peace of graveyard will not help the matter, they should resolve issues.
“We hope that the nitty-gritty will be looked into and the constitution of the party will be followed if they are true members of the party,” Aivoji said.

 

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Group Carpets Amaewhule Over Political Crisis In Rivers 

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A group, Coalition of Rivers State Leaders of Thought (CORSLOT) has blamed the former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Martins Amaewhule, for the escalation of the political crisis in the State.
The coalition, which stated this at a media briefing in Port Harcourt, said Rivers State would not have been in its current political situation had Rt Hon Amaewhule played the sacred role providence bestowed on him.
The text for the briefing which was read by the Convener, High Chief Sunnie Chukumele, and co-signed by Prof (Mrs) Reginah Azunwena, Odinaka Osundu, George Ijoma and Elder Anuage Menegbo, also commended Governor Siminalayi Fubara for his peaceful disposition despite the crisis, adding that this disposition has marked the governor as a man of peace.
“Pitiably under him, the world saw a legislative arm of government that was vehemently out to frustrate the executive arm with all sorts of negative actions against the governor and the government of Rivers State.
“Had Martins Amaewhule seen the state as sacred, he would have mediated in whatever were the issues between our former governor, His Excellency, Chief (Barrister) Nyesom Wike. Amaewhule failed woefully to play a stabilizing role which his exalted office gave him ample role to play”, they said.
The Coalition also called on former Governor Nyesom Wike to have a rethink on the political crisis in the state as he has a cardinal role to play in the resolution of the impasse.
“CORSLOT wishes to advise trouble entrepreneurs and eye service politicians of Rivers State origin to take note that power belongs to God Almighty and the people.
“Rivers people are taking note of these political actors.
“Rivers State is owned by Rivers people and not  self seeking politicians”, they said.
“We begin by appreciating the governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalaye Fubara, for working assiduously for peace by embracing and working with the Presidential Peace Accord of 2023 and to state that it is in recognition of this that the governor has won awards and honours within the state and Nigeria”
The Coalition also thanked the Governor for attending to the needs and welfare of citizens of the state, particularly the welfare of civil servants and the planned employment into the Civil Service.
“CORSLOT further recognizes the governor’s attention on infrastructural development in the state with his continuation of projects he inherited from previous administrations and indeed his bold initiatives of new ones.
These come with spiraling advantages”, they added.
They also urged the governor to take immediate steps to fill his cabinet with men and women who have the capacity to add value to the State.

By: John Bibor

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Council Boss Hails Fubara Over Successful Project Commissioning

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Following the successful commissioning of the  Andoni Section of the Ogoni-Andoni- Opobo Unity Road by Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, the Chairman of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, Hon. Enyiada Cookey-Gam has commended the number one citizen of the state for his multiple  infrastructural development projects that have direct bearings on the lives and well -being of Rivers people, especially in NgoTown, headquarters of Andoni Local Government Area and its adjoining environs.
The Chairman maintained that the road, as commissioned, will provide connectivity between coastal communities, cities, and hinterlands, facilitating the movement of people, goods and services, which enhances trade, commerce and tourism, and also contributes to local economic development and the local government area’s internally generated revenue (IGR).
On the event, Hon. CookeyGam lauded the efforts of the initiator of the project, 24 years ago, Dr.Peter Odili, former governor of Rivers State, for his determination and love for the people that found expression in the initiation of the Unity Road project which has been able to connect the catchment local government areas of Khana, Andoni and Opobo/ Nkoro, including the neighbouring states.
He described both Dr. Odili and Governor Fubara as beacons of infrastructural development.
The Chairman of Council also urged Andoni people to guard against vandalization and theft of the facilities that have been put in place for their betterment.
He further admonished the people of Andoni in particular, and Rivers people in general, to support the good work the Governor has come to do despite distraction from some politicians in the state who do not mean well for the people.

By: Bethel Toby

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