BY DANIEL IDONOR and NDAHI MARAMA
MAIDUGURI – Confusion has crept into the camp of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram which has unleashed a reign of terror in the northern part of the country for several months as the sect has split into two factions. One faction, the Yusufiyya Islamic Movement, YIM, has vowed to expose the other faceless group, which it described as evil group.
The Yusufiyya group is made up of followers of slain leader of the Islamic sect, Mallam Mohammed Yusuf.
This development came as President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, held talks with elders from Borno State, over growing insecurity in the state, which is believed to be the abode of the sect.
The Yusufiyya Islamic Movement, in a two-page statement contained in leaflets yesterday, condemned the attacks and bombing of residences and places of worship by the other sect that claimed to be fighting a Jihad in the North. The leaflets were distributed on Tuesday to the various wards, Post Office Area and media houses in Maiduguri, Borno state capital.
The leaflets read in part: “The Yusufiyya Movement has come to mean different things to different people in the last few months. This confusion and misinterpretation have made it necessary for us to come out publicly with the clear truth regarding our concept, struggle, aim and ultimate objective, as our declaration would guide in distinguishing the Yusufiyya movement from the various labels ascribed to us, as the Boko Haram.
This is necessary in the light of genuine concern by individuals and groups to the mass suffering of innocent citizens caught in the cross fire between our members and the Nigerian troops. This concern has again brought to the fore, the daunting issue of reconciliation, through dialogue, with the Nigerian authorities and individual leaders involved in the naked abuse of our birthright to the peaceful propagation and practice of our religion as we understand it.”
The sect argued that it was in the process of exercising their right to propagate their religion as they understood it, that their leader, Mohammed Yusuf was killed as well as the destruction and confiscation of their landed and moveable property in Maiduguri. Following their leader’s murder, the members therefore “resolved to wage a struggle between justice and injustice, between truth and falsehood, right against wrong, in which the sect was sure of victory.”
The statement, however, noted that the public must know that the Yusufiyya Islamic sect is far from the image of the heartless terrorists, arsonists or sadistic robbers painted by other people with a distinct agenda, saying “it is therefore unbecoming to attribute attacks on the civilian population or places of worship to our group, the Yusufiyya Islamic Movement”.
Referring to the factions in the Boko Haram sect, the statement further explained that; “ours is a clear fight for the blood of our founder, Mohammed Yusuf and other leaders who were slain in cold blood by former governor of Borno State (names withheld), the former Borno state commissioner of police and the late President”, adding that the former president “has since been seized by Allah in an answer to the sect’s prayer for support against his aggression”.
“We therefore distance our group from all the bombings targeted at civilians and other establishments and equally condemn them and pray that Allah expose those who perpetrated them and attributed them to us.”
Exonerating the Yusufiyya sect from other factions of Boko Haram sect, the statement declared: “We are concerned that some people with evil motives have infiltrated our genuine struggle with a false holy war that is outright un-Islamic. We call on this evil group to desist, failing which we shall have no option than to expose and hunt them.
“Finally, we have resolved to temporarily halt our fight against the assassination of our leaders in compliance with the prohibition of fighting in the holy month of Ramadan.”
JTF in Borno to restore order
The Joint Security Task Force (JTF) spokesman, Lt.Col. Hassan Mohammed confirmed the statement and distribution of the leaflets on Boko Haram factions and temporary ceasefire in Borno State.
He said: “The JTF is on top of the insecurity situations in Borno State. The factions being created in the Boko Haram sect and the temporary ceasefire from the Yusuffiyya Islamic sect could bring peace and the restoration of law and order by nipping all acts of terrorism by the other factions of Boko Haram sect.”
Speaking on the alleged excesses of soldiers in fighting terrorism and other acts of violence, Mohammed said: “We are here in Borno to restore law and order and not to intimidate or harass any residents of the affected wards in Maiduguri metropolis.”
He said, “the truth of the matter, is that terrorism is the enemy of the entire world, including the killings and bombings of Maiduguri residents and their places of worship”. He added that if the people could not live in peace without the protection of their lives and property, soldiers would not have place or relevance in any democratically elected country, like Nigeria.
Nigerian soldiers, according to him, are learned and civilized professionals that are here in Borno State to protect people’s lives and property.
Military to remain in Borno— FG
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, met behind closed doors with a forum of elders from Borno State; North East Elders and Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, over the growing concern of insecurity in the North, following activities of the radical Islamic sect, Boko Haram. It was resolved that the military will remain in Borno State until enduring peace is restored.
Those who attended the peace talks included Vice President Namadi Sambo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke; Chief of Defence Staff, National Security Adviser, Gen. Andrew Azaazi; ACF Board Chairman, Gen Jerry Useni; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed and the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe.
The meeting which began at about 2:00 pm, held at “House 7” of the Presidential Villa, perhaps to avoid the media that usually swarm on those suspected to have met with the President over sensitive issues.
The elders who arrived Abuja on Tuesday were said to have been accommodated at the Sheraton Hotel, before they were conveyed in a 30-seater Toyota coaster bus to the venue of the meeting.
Information Minister, Mr Labaran Maku who briefed reporters after the meeting, said, all the parties agreed that the army should remain in the state till further notice.
Broad based consultations
“There were broad-based consultations on the outcry for the withdrawal of military. But in the light of this discussion, the meeting generally agreed that it is premature to withdraw the military. What was needed was that if there are cases of individual misbehaviour by members of the Joint Task Force, the authorities will look into those cases”, he said.
He added that “right now we know that one or two soldiers who were found to have done things in excess are being questioned by the relevant authorities. What is important is that the army are playing a great role and with the situation we are in now, if you withdraw the army, we don’t know what will happen.”
According to him, “what is most important is to manage the military until such a time that it is clear that some of the potent threat are lowered”.
He said: “The President this afternoon held a broad-based consultation with leaders from Borno State, the North East and Arewa Consultative Forum on the security situation in Borno State and other parts of the north.”
“This meeting was broadly attended by political leaders. The meeting explored different options, consulted widely on what we can do together to bring about peace and security in Borno State and other affected areas. The meeting was very fruitful and indeed, this is the beginning of further dialogue to find solution to this problem.