*’Sudanese lessons for Nigeria on terror’
Sudan Ambassador, Dr. Tagelsir Mahgoub Ali, speaks on the lessons for Nigeria from his country’s insurgency
By Victoria Ojeme
I will like to know the role of Sudan in the arrest of the Nyanya bomb blast suspect?
Sudan learnt from Nigeria that one of the people involved in the explosions was in Sudan. So the security personnel in Sudan started the search for the suspect and arrested him. Arrangements are on, through the Interpol, to hand the suspect over to Nigeria.
What are the steps Sudan is taking to make sure insurgents in Nigeria don’t flee to Sudan?
In the embassy, whoever comes for visa, we do necessary checks through our security department to make sure they don’t have connection with terrorist organisations. In Sudan, the African Islamic University is an international institution with students from all over the world studying there; we never had such incidence before where a student was involved in terror.
The suspect apparently sneaked into the country because we checked and found that he didn’t go through this embassy. We learnt that he has a British passport and he might have used the passport to sneak into Sudan.
Our security people were very alert when they got the informationfrom Nigeria; they immediately took action and I think that is very important to show Nigeria that we will not allow such “person to walk free in Sudan.
What is Sudan doing to ensure such thing doesn’t happen again?
We check visa application forms here. If applicants claim to be going to Sudan for studies, we make sure they get admission from the university first and while they are there the university checks to make sure they don’t get involved in terror activities.
How is Sudan collaborating on terror intelligence with Nigeria?
Well, this is between the intelligence organisations of both countries, they have been talking to each other. I am sure they are planning to meet to see ways they can put an end to terror.
Let me take you back to Sudan. South Sudan gained independence two years ago. There was a report where Sudan president said South Sudan might come back to join Sudan. How true is that statement?
Despite the fact that South Sudan was granted self determination, we still feel that there are some common things we share. There are many Sudanese people in the South and there are so many people from the South in Sudan.
Therefore, the President said we look forward to these people coming back for reunion and the reunion can take different shapes; it could be one government, it could be a confederal setting whereby there are two states under one architecture;
we think that is quite possible and we look forward to the southerners sorting out their problems because the stability of the South means the stability of Sudan and of course these problems can easily affect the countries around them; that is why we appeal to the people to intervene in the situation in the South so that people can come back to their senses and start rebuilding their country.
We hope this recent arrangement made by the Panel of Eminent Persons in Addis-Ababa to patch the relationships between Sudan and the government of South Sudan, in which they identified areas whereby some sort of strategic relationship can take place because we have got about 10 border states, can play a role in stabilizing the North and South and creating economic and social relationships, etc; it is very difficult to break those ties.
If you go to the Southern Sudan channel, you will find them speaking Arabic. That shows the depth of the relationship between the North and South and that’s why we feel that there may come a time when these people will want to re establish the relationship between Sudan and the government of South Sudan with a new sort of step up that can really help the two countries work together.
Do you see the South Sudanese President handling the crises in a better way?
What we are saying is that everybody is looking for a way where things could be handled well to stop all the conflicts going on in the South. Nigeria sent a delegation there, Sudan itself was there with the President trying to find a way to bring the people to some sort of reconciliation so that the South can think more in terms of development rather than raging conflicts.
Do you see the independence of South Sudan as coming too early?
That is their choice, you can’t decide whether it is early or not but we were against their choice at the beginning; we felt that unity was the key. It came out in the agreement between the North and the South; the option for unity, making unity attractive so that people can live together and stay in one country but that was a choice through referendum. But we said there may be so many problems if they went that way, but then that is their choice.
Let me bring you back to Nigeria. What will you tell the Federal Government on its handling of the Boko Haram insurgency?
We have gone through this in Sudan. For instance, we have had so many insurgencies; some are still going on. We did our best until we finally brought people to the negotiating table. That is what is solving the problem of South Sudan and the problem of Darfur. Negotiations are taking place in Addis Ababa; we are trying to resort to direct negotiations so that we can resolve outstanding problems.
Violence brings more violence because the more you become violence, the more you record violence. We hope that Nigeria will soon get over its insurgency because it is Nigerian citizens, those girls who have been abducted, people who died due to explosions that are paying the price.
How can people get to the root causes of the problem because sometimes if you judge from the symptoms, you will not solve the problem? You will need to go to the depth of the problem, what are the causes?
We have learnt that jumping to conclusions will not solve the problem, and don’t jump to alternatives and contingent actions. Look at preventive measures and the real causes and not the symptoms because, if you solve the problem in the wrong way, you will definitely encourage it to go on.