June 26, 2012

TERRORIST ATTACKS: Foreign diplomats cry out for protection

TERRORIST  ATTACKS: Foreign diplomats cry out for protection

From left: Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba; Senate President, David Mark and President Goodluck Jonathan during the opening of Senate 2012 retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, yesterday. Photo: State House.

By Henry Umoru & Favour Nnabugwu
BUJA — Following increasing wave of terrorism in the country, foreign diplomats, yesterday, cried out to the Federal Government for protection.

The diplomats took their case to the government on a day Senate President, David Mark warned the Boko Haram sect that there is a limit to which the country can tolerate their bomb attacks which have claimed several lives.

From left: Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba; Senate President, David Mark and President Goodluck Jonathan during the opening of Senate 2012 retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, yesterday. Photo: State House.

The Senate President therefore challenged northern leaders to own up if the problem of Boko Haram is beyond them, saying the sect’s terrorist activities will break up Nigeria if they fail to stop them.

The foreign embassies in Abuja, worried by the security challenges in the country, yesterday, took their worries to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Administration for proper assurance on the security of their offices in the territory.

High Commissioners of Trinidad & Tobago, Rwanda and Mali who visited the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed in his office sought improved security around the diplomatic community in Abuja and appealed to the minister to ensure  improved protection of lives and property of diplomats in Abuja. The three diplomats are High Commissioner of Trinidad & Tobago to Nigeria, Ambassador Nyahuma Obika; Rwanda High Commissioner, Joseph Habineza and Malian Ambassador, Mahanane Amadou Maiga.

Though, the ambassadors promised to strengthen trade ties between their various countries and Nigeria, they, however, called for enhanced security of the diplomatic community.

The FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed assured the ambassadors of the safety of the members of the diplomatic community saying their safety is of utmost importance to the government and that security agents are on top of the security challenge in Nigeria.

According to him, “we will do all it takes to protect lives and property of all residents of the Federal Capital Territory, including members of the diplomatic community”.

There’s limit to patience, Mark tells Boko Haram

Meanwhile, Senate President David Mark warned yesterday that members of the Boko Haram sect who engage in massive bombings thereby killing innocent persons must know that there is limit to patience, just as he urged northern leaders to own up if the problem is beyond them.

Speaking yesterday in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital at the Senate Retreat, Mark also said that if these bombings by the sect do not stop soon, there was the fear of  religious war which would break up the country. He, however, called for political solution to the insurgency, noting that military solution has failed, but that, “there’s limit to patience and, people have to be told that.”

The retreat with the theme: “The National Assembly and National Security: Securing the Future for Development, is being attended by all the senators.

Meanwhile, except for the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who gave his goodwill message, Chairmen of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; Congress for Progress Change, CPC; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP; Labour Party and All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA shunned the Retreat even though they were on the programme to give their goodwill messages.

Preachers to be licensed

The Senate President who expressed worries over the killings and destruction of property by the insurgents, said that issuance of licences to preachers will be considered as that will help guide what the preachers tell their listeners, adding that a situation where a preacher would tell his listeners that when you engage in an act, you will have access to over seventy virgins in heaven must be checked.

Senator Mark however rejected the excuses of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy being cited as reasons for the current spate of violence by members of the Boko Haram sect, insisting that it was all about religious fundamentalism, adding that there was the urgent need to investigate the source of funding and training of the group.

Mark admonished Christians to leave vengeance to God by not seeking reprisals even when churches were attacked, arguing that reprisals by Christians would mean victory for the deadly sect as that was their target.

North has suffered under development

He regretted that the northern part of the country had suffered enough underdevelopment and that terrorist acts of Boko Haram was tantamount to double tragedy for the region, just as he called on northern state governors, leaders and elders to think properly on how to stop the violence before the activities of the sect bring the north to its knees.

According to him, “the problem we have in this country today as far as security is concerned is Boko Haram. Whatever name you want to give to it is just getting round the issue. People have given reasons for the action of the Boko Haram sect, they say it is poverty, to me if every poor man decides to become a suicide bomber, Nigeria will cease to exist. Secondly, people are saying it is lack of education, I agree that could be an issue, but we cannot overcome that overnight.

“To me if everybody in this country who is not educated decides to become a suicide bomber, who is going to remain in this country; I don’t think that there is any country of the world where everybody is gainfully employed.

“I read in the papers the other day about the Islamic position on the issue of suicide bombing; it is the same as the Christian stand that if you commit this crime, you are going straight to hell. So who are these preachers who are telling them that a suicide bomber will go to heaven and have seventy-seven virgins, something is definitely fundamentally wrong there.”

Mark noted that there can be dialogue with members of the Boko Haram sect if only they come out or their leaders could identify themselves with the government to dialogue with, adding that the government cannot dialogue with leaders it does not know, even as he said that northern leaders should come and say the problem has overwhelmed them.

In his goodwill message, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who urged all Nigerians, regardless of their faith, to rise against lawlessness of whatever type, especially terrorism, stressed that the indivisibility of the country should not be compromised.

Also in his remarks, Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal stressed the need for synergy by the National Assembly with other agencies of government in addressing the security challenges in the country, adding that Nigeria as a country is bigger than any individual or group.

Jonathan seeks Senate, Reps’ support on law against terrorism

Meantime, President Goodluck Jonathan has said that as part of moves to address the security challenges in the country, the federal government will continue to reposition the security agencies for effective and efficient service delivery.

Speaking yesterday in Uyo, at the Senate Retreat, President Jonathan warned that as a country, we must not play politics with the present terrorist acts of members of the Boko Haram sect.

President Jonathan who strongly condemned their activities, however, promised that the government will not relent in taking very serious and decisive actions to put an end to these wanton killings and bombings by the  Boko Haram sect.

The President who called for the support and endorsement of the National Assembly on the need to promulgate laws that will give the government the teeth to deal with the situation, however said that Nigerians should not pretend to be ignorant of the root cause of the current spate of violence in the country, which he attributed to what he called “politics of bitterness”.

According to President Jonathan, “it is unfortunate that politics has become a major source of insecurity as evidenced in the do-or-die politics of some practitioners. Bitter and inflammatory statements, emanating from some politicians have, at different times in the history of this country, consumed thousands of innocent lives and the foundations of our nation. We must return to politics as espoused by the late Ibrahim Waziri: “politics without bitterness”.

‘’Terrorism, which has become a global phenomenon, is now unfortunately a direct experience in this country. A faceless group of enemies of our democracy and prosperity of our nation has continued to carry out terrorist attacks on innocent people in our nation.

‘’This development is one that particularly concerns me as the president, and is one I will continue to decisively deal with. It is one on which I seek the support and cooperation of the Senate and the House of Representatives. We must work together under a new social and political contract, to safeguard our nation”.

According to the president, whether the root causes of the Boko Haram malaise lie in weak moral foundation, poverty, dirty politics, poor governance, unemployment, religious intolerance and fanaticism as being generally suggested by the public, the solution must be “stronger union, employment generation and wealth creation for all; equity and justice; transparency and accountability; and above all the fear of God.”

According to him, the binding ligament of the strength of the nation was its unity in diversity, just as he regretted that those who were out to weaken the nation had driven a knife into the bowel of that unity. “We refuse to be weakened. Let us unite to defeat the forces of darkness. Let us unite to prosper”, he said

Speaking further on the need for all the arms of government to act as a common bond in the defence of the internal and external integrity of the country regardless of the doctrine of Separation of Powers, the president said, “I am committed to mobilizing all citizens to achieve our national security objectives. Although our system of government rests on separation of powers amongst the three arms of government, this principle does not call for working in silos; it calls for synergy and commonality of purpose.”