By HENRY UMORU
ABUJA—NORTHERN leaders and elders, yesterday, called on President Goodluck Jonathan to resume talks with the Boko Haram sect and prosecute the issue to a logical conclusion if their activities must be brought to a halt.
The elders, however, expressed great concern on the deteriorating security situation in the country and the Northern region in particular, even as they noted that the spate of violence being witnessed has several facets and dimensions which have links and were interwoven with ethnicity, religion, politics, crime and economy.
Rising from a meeting in Abuja, at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, the northern elders comprising elder statesmen, former ministers, former university administrators, ex-ambassadors, business men also reiterated their stand for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference for a united Nigeria, just as they insisted that the North would ensure that the unity will be based on equity, respect, justice and fair play, in its relation with other parts of the country.
Reading a statement at the end of the meeting, Second Republic Power and Steel Minister, Paul Unongo, the elders, who expressed concern and worry over the activities of members of the Boko Haram sect, however stressed that with the emerging scenario and circumstantial evidence, there may be more than just the original Boko Haram operating on governance at present.
According to them, they premised their suspicion on the sophistication in the make of the bombs in their operation that have gone beyond local competence and raw materials available to the local Boko Haram insurgents, adding, ‘’the sophistication in the professional way targets are chosen suggest a deliberate attempt to broaden the insurgence effects which a view to creating widespread disaffection within and outside Nigeria.
‘’Mr. President himself suggested in a declaration that Boko Haram elements have infiltrated his government, including the security agencies of the nation. Our country and people deserve to know who these infiltrators are and the appropriate actions taken.
‘’On the efforts to bring the Boko Haram saga to an end the elders support the talks which started between the sect and government a few weeks ago, and urge strongly a resumption of the talks and their prosecution to a successful conclusion.
‘’The Northern elders noted that Boko Haram insurgency which started as a minor skirmish in Maiduguru has today escalated into a major civil disturbance posing a high threat not only to peace in the affected areas but to the corporate existence of Nigeria if not properly and expeditiously resolved.
‘’The escalation of Boko Haram crisis has unfortunately provided a convenient cover for all manner of criminal elements to perpetrate other forms of atrocities in society such as armed robbery, kidnapping, assassinations etc.”