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Grant amnesty to Boko Haram, Northern elders tell Buhari

By Soni Daniel and Joseph Erunke
SOME prominent northerners including the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Mohammed Uwais and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe and former Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Gambari have asked the President -elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, rtd, declare amnesty for Boko Haram

 Justice Mohammed Uwais
Justice Mohammed Uwais

insurgents when he takes over power on May 29.

However, Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, dismissed the call saying it would amount to rewarding criminals instead of punishing them for crimes against humanity.

They also asked Buhari to give priority attention to the special economic programmes for the North East geopolitical zone which had been ravaged by the Boko Haram terrorists, just as they warned against the scrapping of the on-going amnesty programme for ex-militants in the Niger Delta region.

These were contained in a communiqué issued after a two-day conference with the theme: “Security and Governance Challenges in Africa’s largest Democracy,” by the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, SCDDD, as part of its “Nigeria Beyond 12015 Project,” in Abuja yesterday.

Those communiqué was signed by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, founder of Savannah Centre, Major General Ishola Williams, Executive Secretary, Pan-African Strategic and Peace Research Group, PAN-AFSTRAG, Justice Mohammed Uwais (chairman of the occasion) and Ambassador Abdullahi Omaki, executive director of the Savannah Centre.

They also called on the Federal Government ‘’to expedite action on the compensation of victims of Boko Haram terrorism and insurgency through the established and funded Victims’ Support Fund,’’ and for urgent priority attention to the special economic programme for the North East by the incoming administration, just as they condemned ‘’the carnage, devastations and displacements, which the Boko Haram group inflicted upon many innocent Nigerians in the north east region.’’

Furthermore, the communiqué called ‘’for the establishment of a special economic programme for the affected states of the North-East, focusing on rehabilitation, resettlement and reconstruction,’’ as well as on the need for ‘’the governors of the North-East States and indeed of the entire North, on the necessity for a blueprint that addresses the issues of vocational and skills-acquisition education for the youths.’’

Among those who participated in the conference were the National Security Adviser, NSA, Col Sambo Dasuki, rtd, (represented by Ambassador C.L. Olaseinde); the Secretary, Borno State Elders’ Forum, BSEF, Dr Bulama Gubio (who represented Governor Kashim Shettima); Dr. Zakariya Ousmane Ramadene of N’djamena, Chad. Prof. Abubakar Momoh, DG, Electoral Institute, INEC, Abuja and Professor Habu Galadima, director research, NIPSS, Jos, Plateau State.

The communiqué read in part, ‘’After thought-provoking, incisive and lively discussions, the Conference resolved follows:

Kingibe
Kingibe

SECURITY

Recognizes the need for security shift from military-centred to military-civilian centred. Mindful of the military’s cherished role as security provider, calls on all security organs to play their pivotal role in protecting citizens’ life and property as well as protecting them from fear and physical harm;

‘’Affirms the primacy of developing integrated comprehensive national security policies addressing the major military and human security concerns;

‘’Observes the need to redress the current communication deficit by improving on information sharing by the defence and security establishments on a need-to-know basis with stakeholders and the citizenry;

‘’Notes with dissatisfaction, the proliferation of institutions of state with overlapping functions and calls for urgent need for this to be addressed with a view to stream-lining their functions, and also cutting the cost of governance as well as reducing unnecessary bureaucratic misunderstandings;

Acknowledges the efforts of the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, in pioneering, initiating and developing policy and operational framework documents to enhance effective and efficient security and defence service delivery; encourage the ONSA to properly enlist and engage other relevant agencies and stakeholders in implementing these laudable initiatives and wide-ranging responsibilities encapsulated in these documents;

‘’Emphasizes the efficacy of adopting, nurturing, developing, consolidating and strengthening bilateral and multilateral relations with Nigeria’s neighbours by evolving strategic and tactical, military, socio-economic and political cooperation with Nigeria’s neighbours, particularly Niger, Cameron and Chad, Benin Republic as well as Mali and Burkina Faso in combating the Boko Haram terrorists;

‘’Recommends that Nigeria must seek to enhance her security through a combination of strategies. First, is through careful and full implementation of the various provisions in the recently released National Security Strategy Document. Second, through a revitalized Bilateral arrangement with her immediate neighbours, namely Cameroun, Chad, Benin Republic, Niger as well as Mali and Burkina Faso. Third, through Multilateral arrangement by way of an expanded Multinational Joint Security Task Force (MJSTF) under the auspices of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), taking into account the strategic location of Benin Republic to Nigeria’s security interest;

‘’Acknowledges the high vulnerability of the Lake Chad region, which is currently compounded by the Boko Haram insurgency and urges member-states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission,as a matter of priority to ensure the operational effectiveness of the Multinational Joint Security Task Force. Pursuant to this, member-states are further urged to quickly conclude the ongoing negotiations on the legal status and operational modalities of the Task Force, to enable it quickly take control of the security situation in the sub-region.

POLITICAL

‘’Notes the successful and peaceful conduct of the 2015 elections, and calls for the urgent need for party building and the institutionalization of management mechanisms;

Recommends that political party organization and management in Nigeria should be based on the rules, guidelines and constitution of the party. In this regard, parties and members should always allow internal party democracy to prevail;

‘’Reiterates the supremacy of party constitution paramount so long as it is not in conflict with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act as amended;

Ibrahim Gambari
Ibrahim Gambari

‘’Urges the Political Parties to move away from the current syndrome of political elitism to building the real political class whose focus is anchored on sustainable development of party politics; devoid of the current political nomadism whose sole purpose for power acquisition is to satisfy the parochial interest of its political class (not of the people). In order to attain this, it is important that parties are built on interests, issues and ideology;

‘’Recommends that inter-party cooperation and understanding should be strengthened; calls on the Nigerian political parties must return to the original concept of party-building and democratic values, guided by a disciplined political class in order to stem the spate of defections that have characterized the Nigerian political system;

MEDIA AND CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION

‘’Urges the media to strictly adhere to professional ethics, standards of journalism, and any violation should attract severe sanctions

Calls on the Media and Civil Society Organizations to be agents in the promotion of national interest, religious tolerance, peaceful co-existence, national integration and cohesion;

ECONOMY

‘’Stresses the necessity for full implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act to check corruption as well as strengthen the relevant state Institutions, such as the EFCC and ICPC;

Notes that while due process as a procurement policy is important and necessary, it must be conducted in transparent manner;

Observes with disappointment that the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission, RMFAC. has abdicated its responsibility of mobilizing revenue and instead concentrating mainly on allocation;

‘’Calls on the Nigerian-State to expedite action on the compensation of victims of Boko Haram terrorism and insurgency through the established and funded Victims’ Support Fund;

Condemns the carnage, devastations and displacements, which the Boko Haram group inflicted upon many innocent Nigerians in the Northeast region;

Calls for the establishment of a special economic programme for the affected States of the North-East, focusing on rehabilitation, resettlement and reconstruction;

‘’Underscores the necessity for the incoming Government to reduce the size of governance by collapsing appropriate MDA’s and other institutions of Government; Notes the success story of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (for Niger Delta ex-militants) which terminates in 2015 and called for targeted review of the scheme to forestall the relapse of the region into its turbulent past. ‘’It further calls for a similarly arrangements to address the peculiar issues arising from the insurgency in the Nort-East, while noting the singularity of purpose for the General T.Y Danjuma Victims Support Funds;

COMMENDATION

The Conference commends the Savannah Centre for organizing this Conference on “Security and Governance: Challenges in Africa’s Largest Democracy” at this critical moment in Nigeria’s security development and sub-regional security challenges.’’

Don’t grant amnesty to Boko Haram-Junaid Mohammed

But in a swift reaction, Second Republic lawmaker, Dr Junaid Mohammed dismissed the call for the extension of amnesty to Boko Haram terrorists as inimical to the country.

Dr Junaid Mohammed
Dr Junaid Mohammed

Mohammed said: “I don’t support any call for amnesty for the Boko Haram members because we don’t know who they are and what they are fighting for. As at today, we don’t who they are. Some of them were sponsored by the government while others were sponsored by Niger Delta militants to destabilise the north.

“There must therefore be a strong reason for any right-thinking Nigerian to call for amnesty for terrorists in Nigeria. Even the one granted to Niger Delta militants is a scam because it is a reward to those who committed heinous crimes against the rest of the country instead of punishing them adequately.

“As far as I am concerned Gambari does not know much about the Niger Delta than myself and I see his call for the continuous running of amnesty as a serious disappointment and something done in bad taste.’’


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