BY BEN AGANDE
ABUJA—The Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, Thursday, met with members of the Boko Haram sect, including the alleged mastermind of the Christmas day bombing in Madalla, Niger State, Kabiru Sokoto.
The meeting took place at the Kuje Minimum Security Prison, Abuja where many members of the sect are being held.
Chairman of the committee and Minister for Special Duties, Mr Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, who led the 25 members of the committee to the meeting at Kuje, a satellite town in Abuja, told newsmen that the meeting was a confidence building measure between the committee and members of the sect.
The meeting which was held in camera had been preceded by the committee’s meeting with different security agencies, including the Department of State Security, Nigeria Police Force, as well as the office of the National Security Adviser.
In an interview with newsmen, the committee chairman said members of the committee had useful discussion with the detained members of the Boko Haram sect, promising that it will carry out its duties with all honesty and diligence.
The committee chairman said: “We have had cause in the past to speak to members of Jamatul Alhus Sunnah and in doing so, we told them that members of this committee are people of proven integrity, accomplished Nigerians that have been carefully selected by Mr. President to come and do this national assignment.
“We have had very useful discussions with some inmates that are being held here on the allegations of being either members of Jamatul Alhus Sunnah on accounts of terrorism or acts related to it. We want to assure Nigerians that this committee is poised to carry out this assignment with all sense of responsibility, honesty and with diligence”.
He emphasized that the committee’s brief was not to secure or grant amnesty to members of the sect but to encourage dialogue and attain cease fire and peace in the country.
“We do not have any grudges against anybody. We do not harbour any ill feeling or prejudices against anybody. We have pledged that in carrying out this assignment, we will do it with the fear of God, high sense of patriotism and nationalism. We shall be guided by sense of decency and the feeling of trying to ensure that at the end of the day there is peace in Nigeria.
“We are still looking for ways of having dialogue; constructive, honest and frank dialogue with major stakeholders across board. And so we will continue to solicit the support and cooperation of not only the people that are considered to be directly or indirectly involved in these issues but other Nigerians”.
He appealed to members of the press that in carrying out their reports on the activities of the committee, it should be done with all sense of patriotism. This committee will urge you to avoid reporting issues in a very inflammatory manner.
He said: “We seek your support and if for whatever reason any information comes your way or stumble on news item that has the potential of raising a lot of provocation, please if you need to refer to us please don’t hesitate. We will clear any doubt, ambiguities as much as we can”.
“I call upon you to assist the committee in dousing pressure, and create a fertile and conducive environment for parties that are involved in this impasse to have more confidence in each other so that by the time we begin to sit and have dialogue with them, all prejudices would have been removed from their minds”, he said.
Many of the alleged members of the sect that met with the Amnesty committee were young men between the ages of 20 and 30, and they appear to have been using the opportunity of their incarceration to get some form of education as they were seen with notebooks, textbooks and pens.