- Category: Society
- Published on Monday, 18 July 2011 11:24
- Written by Admin
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The Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, on Sunday subtly acknowledged that there could be some truth in the allegations of human rights abuse leveled against some of the soldiers deployed to quell the violence unleashed by the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, in the state.
The British Broadcasting Corporation quoted Shettima as saying, in an interview, that the government would soon introduce measures to deal with the problem.
“The most important thing is for us to put in place mechanisms for ensuring that the excesses of the JTF, who are operating under a very tense environment, are curtailed,” the governor told the BBC.
He, however, reiterated that the JTF should not be withdrawn from the state until an alternative security arrangement had been put in place to stop further bombings and killings.
“We are going to provide hotlines and oblige the JTF with a code of conduct - rules of engagement - so that they do not break the rights of the people. But it’s quite easy to agitate, to call for the removal of the JTF, but what is Plan B?” he said.
In a state broadcast on Saturday, Shettima, who said Borno State and the entire North East region of Nigeria was one of the poorest areas of the world, blamed the economic condition of the area for the rise of the insurgency.
Shettima’s predecessor, Alli Modu Sherrif, last week had met with President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja and denied having links with the sect.
Prior to the meeting, the Chairman of the Northern region’s foremost socio-political body, the Arewa Consultative Forum, Gen. Jerry Useni (retd.) had accused Sheriff of being the godfather of Boko Haram.
Meanwhile, as more states in the federation continued to evacuate their citizens from Borno State, the French government has offered to assist Nigeria in dealing with terrorism.
The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Jean-Michel Dumond, gave the offer in an address marking the French National Day, on July 14.
Dumond said, “France condemns with utmost energy all acts of terrorism. We are ready to cooperate with Nigeria in order to fight this scourge.
“But it is clear that this fight must be conducted in a way which respects human rights and protects, as much as possible, the life of the civilian population who are the first victims of all these violence.”
Many states, including Kaduna, Edo, Ondo, Ogun and Lagos have evacuated their citizens, especially students, from Borno in the wake of the rising insurgency which had also led to the indefinite closure of the University of Maiduguri.
However, a former Judge of the World Court, The Hague, Prince Bola Ajibola, has called on the Federal Government to constitute a fact-finding commission to unravel the remote and immediate causes of the violence of the religious fundamentalist sect.
Ajibola, a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, who spoke with one of our correspondents on the telephone on Saturday, believed that the current spate of violence would not cease if the Federal Government continued its attempt to use force to crush the militant group.
The ex-AGF, who was the chairman of the commission of enquiry into the Jos crisis in 2010, noted that the motive behind the violence of the group must be established before any progress could be made in curtailing its activities.
He said, “It will not produce any positive result for the Federal Government to use force to stop another level of violence; it may not necessarily work. These people (Boko Haram) may have some things to tell the public or the government; we may not have to assume that we know their grouse. Everything we have heard is in the realm of conjecture. We may have to listen to their complaints to know how such complaints could be addressed.
“So, it is my belief that the government should constitute a fact-finding commission, involving major stakeholders, including the military, police, traditional rulers, religious leaders and others to sit down and listen to those who are directly or remotely connected to Boko Haram so that this spate of violence can stop.”
Boko Haram, meaning “Western education is sin,” was founded in 2002 in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. Its oft-stated aim is the establishment of Shariah law and Islamic government in Nigeria. The group gained notoriety in 2004 when its members set up a base named “Afghanistan,” in Kanamma, Yobe State.
In July 2009, the police started investigating the group, consequent upon which a number of its leaders were arrested in Bauchi and killed in controversial circumstances. The killings sparked off deadly clashes with the security forces, especially the police.
On June 16, a lone bomber believed to be a member of the group, attacked the Louis Edet House headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force, killing one policeman and the bomber. About 70 vehicles were destroyed in the incident. An estimated 800 people have so far been killed in Boko Haram attacks in the northern part of the country. (Punch)