The Presidency seems rattled by former Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s stance on the Boko Haram sect.
Gen. Buhari, who has rejected the sect’s nomination to moderate its proposed talks with the Federal Government, says he does not know any member of the group, which has killed many innocent Nigerians, including women and children.
Besides, in Gen. Buhari’s view, the Federal Government has lost control of the security situation.
But, to the Presidency, Gen. Buhari’s views are not right.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, presidential aide Dr. Doyin Okupe maintained that it would be out of place for Gen. Buhari to accuse the Federal Government of being behind Boko Haram when he, according to him, had once advocated violence.
He referred to Gen. Buhari’s claim that Boko Haram is a creation of the government as “ridiculous”.
Gen. Buhari, rejecting Boko Haram’s mediator role, said: “I don’t know of any religion that will go and kill people, burn schools.”
But Okupe recalled that “during campaign for the election, Gen. Buhari himself campaigned for violence…..so it is too late in the day to try to back track.”
“Those who sow the wind and the nation is reaping the whirlwind should not try and begin to look good.”
Also yesterday, a senator gave an insight into why the Boko Haram sect took to violence.
According to him, the activities of the police “pushed the Boko Haram people to the wall”.
Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe East) is a former governor Yobe State, which – along with Borno – is the epicenter of Boko Haram activities.
He is also one of those nominated by the sect’s leadership to moderate its proposed talks with the Federal Government.
Senator Ibrahim spoke on the floor of the Senate yesterday while contributing to the motion entitled “Recent banditry attack on Kabaru village in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State.”
The motion, sponsored by Senator Marafa Kabiru Garba (Zamfara Central) chronicles attacks in various parts of Zamfara.
Ibrahim said he initially wanted to oppose the motion because its content is a daily occurrence in the Northeast.
He described what is happening in the country as “really very sad.”
The senator said contrary to the claim by Chief of Army Staff Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, Boko Haram is not the number one killer organisation in the country.
Security agencies, he insisted, “are the number one killers in term of number.”
Ibrahim said: “I am surprised that the other day the Chief of Army Staff said Boko Haram killed 3,000 people. The security agencies have killed a lot more than 3,000 people.
“When this thing started, on the first day that this crisis erupted in Maiduguri , over 5,000 people were killed.
“Boko Haram is just like any other religious sect; it has existed for ages. It is not a new phenomenon altogether, but it is the activities of security agencies, particularly the police, that pushed the Boko Haram people to the wall by killing their leaders, killing thousands of other innocent people.
“That is what forced them to come out against the Nigerian State.
“It is the attitude of the security agencies, the way they operate, that really makes it worse not any better.
“Of course, naturally, common criminals will take advantage of the situation to extort money from people and then the armed robbers are the second killers, and this is happening in Zamfara.
“I fully support this motion because it is relevant to what is happening in other parts of the North, not just Zamfara State and I think the National Security Adviser, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff and other leaders should really take a close look and probably investigate the activities of security agencies.
“They are killing people; many people, day in, day out.
“If one army officer is killed in an area, they will come and cordon off the whole place and kill people they can get hold of and then burn all property in that area.
“What has property got to do with people killing security agents on the road?
“If a security agent was killed on patrol, they will come and burn the whole area.”
Senator Ibrahim explained that common criminals have cashed in on the situation by intimidating people and extorting money from them.
“If you refuse to give them money, they will come and kill you in your house. People are now being forced to partially fund Boko Haram as a result of threats,” he said.
Marafa, in his lead debate, said he was alarmed by the attack on Kabaru village on October 29.
He noted that the attack was carried out by about 60 armed men, who killed 18 villagers, including the village head, Alhaji Maiyara.
The lawmaker said that he was aware that an earlier attack of Guru and Tungar Baure communities in August 2011 resulted in the death of many villagers.
He recalled that a similar attack on Lingyado, Guru and Sammaje villages in September led to the mass killing of over 25 villagers as well as the reported house-to-house raid in June of Dangulbi district by armed bandits, who killed 27 people.
He noted that the spate of attacks, besides resulting in loss of lives, had disrupted economic activities and livelihood of the communities in the surrounding villages and districts.
Senator Sahabi Ya’u (Zamfara North) noted that what is happening in Zamfara State can only be described as “barbaric, inhuman and unfortunate.”
Of more concern to him is the discovery that bandits are getting arms from police officers.
He said: “The other day, an armed robber that was caught confirmed that a serving police officer supplied them with arms and ammunition.
“To confirm what the armed robber said, a call was made through him (the armed robber) to the said police officer to get some arms to the armed robber.
“To the surprise of those who were there, within minutes, the police officer brought arms to the robber.”
Ya’u said that the same thing was happening in Jos, Plateau State where, according to him, police officers are arming armed bandits.
He said: “Even in Jos, some caught armed bandits said that it was serving police officers that supply both Christians and Muslims with arms.”
To Senator Ayogu Eze (Enugu North), what is happening in Zamfara State is as a result of “system failure”.
Eze said that it is unfortunate that the system that cannot dictate when robbery is being planned and hatched.
He said: “We should go beyond bringing motions and get the security agencies to be up and doing.
“The National Security Adviser should be up and doing because for a 60-man bandit to operate successfully in broad-day light is a failure of intelligence and failure of the security.
“Today, it is Zamfara State , tomorrow it could be another state.”
Senate President David Mark said the revelations by the lawmakers are serious allegations that should not be left unattended.
Mark said the Committee on Police Affairs, Intelligence and National Security, Defence and the Army should investigate the allegations.
He said: “These are weighty allegations and I, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs should meet with the IGP to investigate the allegations and find out if they is true, that (serving policemen are supplying arms to bandits.)
“It is after it is confirmed that we will get to know what to do. But it is a weighty allegation indeed that should be looked into. I don’t think any Senator can just get up and say what is not backed up with facts. I am sure he (Ya’u) has his facts. We should, therefore, find out the truth about it.”
On the allegation that soldiers are killing innocent people, Mark said: “It is not for me to defend or speak for the Armed Forces, but the Armed Forces find themselves in a very difficult situation when they have to do internal operations or street-to-street fight.
“What I would suggest is that in areas where we have these types of problem, people must give as much information as possible and as quickly as possible because once you kill a member of the Armed Forces, the natural reaction is for them to do what perhaps is happening now.
“It is very difficult for a Commanding Officer to see two or three of his people killed and then he begins to search around looking for the fellow who committed the atrocity.
“It is explainable.
“For the police, I think as much information as you can give to them but there are serious allegations that have been raised here and I hope that the Committee on Police Affairs and Intelligence and National Security, Defence and the Army that will take up some of these.
“But I know that Senators have complained to me about the action of members of the security agents and I want either the Chief of Defence Staff or the Chief of Army Staff to listen to their own side of the story too.
“The fact of the matter is that it is neither here nor there. When there is insecurity so many things can go wrong and that is why we must make every effort to bring the situation to normalcy.”
The Senate also resolved to call on the Federal Ministry of Works to, in view of the growing danger, prioritise the construction of F128 and F129,ie, Anke-Dangulbi-Birnin Gwari and Dayi-Tsafe-Dangulbi federal roads as a means of opening up the area and linking it with neighbouring communities.
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