BY Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—An event or ganised in honour of the retiring Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, in Abuja, Tuesday, took a different dimension, after a member of the Board of Trustees, BoT, of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and publisher of Champions Newspaper Ltd, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, urged the Federal Government to hold northern leaders responsible for the increasing spate of violence by the Boko Haram Islamist sect.
Iwuanyanwu, who presided over the presentation of a book entitled Tit-Bits of Advocacy, dedicated to Justice Musdapher by the Imo Law Publishers, in his speech, said: “Boko Haram problem cannot be solved by killing or shooting people. It can only be solved by the leaders in the areas where they operate.
“The massive killings must stop. Nigerians must feel free to travel to various parts of the country without fear. Nigerians must worship their God according to their faith without fear of being killed or bombed in their places of worship.”
He warned that if the violent trend was not promptly curtailed, reprisal attacks from other ethnic or religious groups would occasion chaos and may threaten the continued existence of the country which he described as “the pride of the black race.”
He said: “MASSOB has a lot of capacity for destruction, but we, the leaders intervened and called them to order. We have been able to explain to them that their aspirations can be met without violence, bloodshed, massacre or bombing of any Nigerian citizen.
“It is on record that there has been no violence in any of the states neither at the national level because the leadership in the South-East has been able to keep them under control. Boko Haram problem cannot be solved by killing or shooting people. The leaders must call them to order. The problem of Boko Haram cannot be solved by Federal Government alone.
“It can only be solved by the leaders from the areas where they reside. The leaders must emphasise to them the benefit we gain by living together as brothers and sisters. I do not agree with some people who justify killing innocent people because people are unemployed or poor. All over the world, including the rich advanced countries, there are poor people, there are unemployed people.
“I sincerely appeal to Boko Haram for a ceasefire, while allowing the leaders and elders from the various states and zones where they operate to have dialogue with them. I also appeal to the Federal Government, as a reciprocal gesture, to stop the use of the military in handling this matter because of the great risk of killing innocent citizens in the process.”
We’re ready for dialogue, Borno cries out
Meanwhile, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, who was represented at the event by his deputy, Alhaji Zanna Mustapha, spurned the argument around, alleging that some Christians are equally members of the Boko Haram sect.
Though he decried the growing level of insecurity in Borno State owing to the terrorist activities of the sect, he maintained that it was wrong for some persons to portray the sect as killing only Christians, saying, “we should be careful about whatever we say about this sect. They have killed over 101of our Muslim brothers and equally destroyed several mosques.
“We have seen a situation where a person answering to the name John was caught as a result of his involvement with the Boko Haram. So it is not an issue of religion. Where is the man that was recently caught with explosives at the Radio House? Where is he today and who knows his name?
“We have been in dilemma for the past 380 days since we assumed office in Borno State due to the activities of Boko Haram, which has spread to states like Yobe, Kaduna, Kano, Bauchi among other northern states. Please and please, for those who know them and those who can get in touch with them, let them come forward.
“The people of my state are ready for dialogue. However, it should be seen in the light of what was happening in the Niger Delta during the days of late President Umaru Yar’Adua. I call on the Federal Government to support the various state governments towards finding a lasting solution to the problem.”
Meanwhile, the CJN, who sat quietly through the debate, expressed his gratitude to the publishers of the book, saying though “books of this nature that examine the life and legacy of a person are typically written posthumously. But Allah has given me the opportunity to witness it in my lifetime.
“At this point, I crave your indulgence to digress a little and use this opportunity to offer a few words of advice to members of the legal profession. Despite societal pressures and distractions, we must remain steadfast and focused in the discharge of our duties. Judges must remain incorruptible and lawyers must continue to pursue the course of truth as we are all ministers in the temple of justice.
“We are the trustees of the law and the hope of the common man rests upon us. We should not by our shortcomings or self-interest, shatter this hope. We must reignite passion for our profession and rededicate ourselves to the protection of the constitution and our democracy.”