July 16, 2011

Senators, Reps back amnesty for Boko Haram

MEMBERS of the Na tional Assembly from Borno state yesterday asked President Goodluck Jonathan to grant the alleged terrorist group Boko Haram an unconditional amnesty to quell the menace of the sect in the state.

The unrest in the state also led to the rescue of over 50 students of Cross River origin who were stranded in the University of Maiduguri by Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba.

The legislators under the Borno State Caucus of the National Assembly, led by Senator Maina Maji Lawan also asked President Jonathan to withdraw the Joint Military Task Force, JTF from Maiduguri, the state capital and negotiate with the sect.

Senator Maji Lawan accompanied by Senators Mohammed Ndume, Ahmed Zana, and House of Representatives members Amuna Khadi, Muktar Aliyu and Kyari Gugbawu told journalists in Abuja that the presence of JTF has escalated violence in Maduguri.

The Caucus observed that the use of force by the JTF will not bring an end to the crisis, while lamenting that the JTF has sacked Maiduguri through senseless killings of innocent Nigerians and burning of houses and cars.

He said, “We the National Assembly members from Borno State, having met and reviewed the security situation vis-à-vis the increased deployment of troops and other security agencies, observe that the situation is deteriorating by the day causing untold hardship on the innocent citizens.

“The caucus is further worried by the mass exodus of people with its attendant and concomitant effect of rendering people refugees. We are also worried by the closure of academic institutions, banks and other business as well as relevant agencies.

“The caucus resolves as follows; urged the President and Commander-in-Chief to order for the withdrawal of the military from Maiduguri and its environs. The Federal Government should engage the Yusufiya group in dialogue in order to find a lasting solution to the crisis.”

On amnesty being the best option to tackle Boko Haram, he said, “Giving the situation and the intense pressure that our people are going through we have been compelled to make our position public and demand that the Nigeria state act in the best interest of innocent people and that institution of state should first and foremost protect the lives and property of innocent individuals and citizens.

“In a situation whereby pay organs of authority are the source of the greatest agony of the people, we have no choice but to come and make this statement on behalf of the good people that elected us.

“After painfully looking at the situation and our immediate history in this part of the country and other areas,  in the Niger Delta region a similar situation has arisen where Joint Task Forces under all source of vices were sent they ransacked Odi, they ransacked homes and villages in the name of searching for militants, but what did it comes out with, it only succeeded in aggravating the situation as it is now aggravating the situation, because the victims are now becoming victims of state hands down instead of victims of the suppose militants or terrorist group.

“And ultimately what happened in Niger Delta, it is not the brute force that brought out the solution, it is the unconditional amnesty granted by government where accordingly calling for similar approach.

“Dialogue should commence with unconditional amnesty so that when people are coming to the table they are not coming with swords and guns pointing in their necks and heads. We believe that engaging the Yusufia elements in an honest dialogue will yield a better result and will give us a more positive outcome, will bring us peace and stability to Maiduguri and subsequently to northern Nigeria and Nigeria.”