Borno elders blast Jonathan, insist he should treat Boko Haram insurgents like Niger Delta militants

President Goodluck Jonathan

Some notable personalities from Borno State, the hotbed of the intractable violence perpetrated by the extreme Boko Haram sect, have faulted the argument by President Goodluck Jonathan that the government could not offer amnesty to the sect members unless they come out in the open to express their grievances.

Mr Jonathan had while speaking on Thursday at a town hall meeting in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, the second most deadly den of the Boko Haram extremists, said his administration would not grant amnesty to a faceless group that has refused to communicate with government.

The President made the comment in reaction to the call by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad, asking the government to grant unconditional pardon to Boko Haram extremists who agree to lay down arms and embrace peace.

But speaking at a town hall meeting  in Maiduguri as Mr. Jonathan concluded his working visit to Borno State, Borno elders faulted the president’s argument, describing it as inappropriate.

A former Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Prof Nura Alkali, who was among the few elders nominated to speak at the meeting, said Boko Haram members deserved the kind of treatment given to Niger Delta militants at the height of the insurgency in the oil-rich region.

Mr. Alkali was the highest ranking elder  selected to represent the official position of the Borno people at the town hall meeting with the President.

He urged the federal government to pardon the sect members the way Niger Delta militants “were heavily compensated, rehabilitated, and given all kinds of job to do”.

Mr. Alkali said, “There is nationwide call for amnesty or better still, pardon to be granted to the militants in such a way the militants in the Niger Delta were granted.

“If I may recall Mr. President, your call for the militants to come into the open as a condition for amnesty to be offered to them is inappropriate as the situation of this sectarian conflict is different from what obtains in the Niger Delta where as you stated, the militants actually came out to be received.

“In the Niger Delta, the situation was different because many of them were already operating openly and well known to the security forces and the government.

“The nature of the two conflicts are different. Here you are dealing with people who believe they are fighting on the basis of some ideology, not necessarily religious or political but fundamentally social and the desire to bring about certain changes in the ways of life of the society.

“Even then, if one may recollect, in the case of Niger Delta, late President Umaru Musa Yaradua granted them pardon before they talked about ceasefire. They were heavily compensated, rehabilitated, and given all kinds of job to do.

“Some of the responsibilities given to them are such as policing the oil bunkering and piracy going on in our high seas—as a situation of getting the thief to catch a thief.”

A city of orphans

Mr. Alkali said Mr. Jonathan needed to act fast because the killing going on in the state in the guise of war against terror was unprecedented, with Maiduguri  now a town filled with orphans.

He said, “Everyone did his or her best to absorb the shock, bear the pains, and tolerate excessive cross-fire that went on. There is hardly anyone in this meeting who has not lost a close relation, family member or very close friend.

“This town is full of orphans, fathers and mothers without their children, lost men and women, some in detention, some in hiding and some incapacitated—a tale of horror, grief and agony.

“In this crossfire more innocent people have died. The nature of the operation is frightening. When the militants kill one soldier, a whole ward or street is put on fire and dead bodies often litter the street.

“We lack information or statistics of innocent peoples who have died or kept in detention and how many of the militants were actually, killed, arrested and detained. Markets are closed, shops destroyed, road blocks in all major and minor roads.

“Mr. President Sir, we urge you to personally investigate this situation of horror and terror because the extent of damage done is enormous. H.E., the Governor of Borno State Alh. Kashim Shettima continues to appeal for calm and tolerance because as he says “hard times never last forever”.

“Borno had seen many conflicts in the last one thousand years, both natural and man-made, but we have always come out of these much stronger, confident and resilient.”

“We shall come out of this one too and bounce back to peace, harmony and stability again. The time to do this is now, that the combatants have announced a ceasefire publicly and called for a dialogue.

“Mr. President even if it is one person who came forward to call for peace, he should be received with open arms and reintegrated into the wider society.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. There is no doubt that there is a general suspicion and fear and almost certainly these fears are genuine—particularly in a situation where even people who go to claim dead bodies are considered suspects and detained without any hope for trial.”

Responding, Mr. Jonathan accused politicians of playing to the gallery, saying he would not tolerate the killing of security operatives by Boko Haram insurgents.

He said, “I cannot preside over this country as a president and security officers are killed. These people leave their families; they stay on the road and the bush so that we will sleep and I will not want to hear that one of them is killed.

 “In terms of the security situation, I will sincerely plead with the people of Borno State that this is not the time to play to the gallery, whether you are a politician or you are not.

“The state chairman of the PDP spoke, a member of the House of Representatives spoke, the professor who is a former VC of University of Maiduguri also spoke.

“The way they spoke, I am not comfortable, I must be very frank. Their conclusion was that there are too many bunkers in Borno State. Why did the bunkers come? Who wants to send bunkers to Borno?

“If the circumstances that brought the soldiers are no longer there, that day, they will all leave.”


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  • Only if the faces of the financiers plus the faces of the real “Boko Haram” are known with their cravenness in this God blessed country NIGERIA-that’s the President of Nigeria stand. I don’t see any fussing that require negativity by the Borno elders…

  • obinna

    i am with jonathan on this one. the boko haram are human, they hav brothers, they hav mother, they hav relatives, they tak bomb as food, tak it to the market, school, church, and now complain when the military fight back .theyare stupid. even them the elders should wait, America is building a base for drums in naija with Nigerian support, soon there will be bodiesin their street, even boko haram will shed tears like they hav cause our courntry. jonathan brave u are in this one.

  • mal

    Why is he saying the are faceless was he lying when he said the in his cabinet?

  • ibrahim abubakar

    Well they have now told Big bross the bitter truth,not intimidated by the battalions of soldiers and 3,000 policemen. what he now does with it is perfectly his own Business.But Nigerians are watching.

    • tualey

      Ibrahim, i tot u said u were against the Boko Haram insurgency. Or are u not the same Ibrahim Abubakar that lives in Malali area of Kaduna North? dont be surprised and dont worry, u are safe. but now i know which side u belong!

  • concernednigerian

    ‘He urged the federal government to pardon the sect members the way Niger Delta militants “were heavily compensated, rehabilitated, and given all kinds of job to do”.’ “There is nationwide call for amnesty or better still, pardon to be granted to the militants in such a way the militants in the Niger Delta were granted.”

    That is the problem. The Northern jihadists see themselves at a decided disadvantage simply because Niger Delta militants were granted amnesty hence they are blinded to the fact that the Niger Delta militancy cannot be compared to the Boko Haram menace. The far-North feel Nigeria belongs to them hence what was given to others should be doubled for them otherwise have Boko Haram told them they want to embrace peace? What is Boko Haram fighting for? If they the so called elders are unable to tame Boko Haram, what gave them the impression that amnesty from a govertnment headed by an infidel would perform the magic.

    Finally, northerners from the far-North like to listen to themselves otherwise who told them that there is ‘nation wide call for amnesty’ for Boko Haram. Indeed apart from the far-North, all other Nigerians including Northerners are opposed to amnesty for Boko Haram. I must confess there seemed to be a lot of sympathy for Boko Haram from these Northern elders. Do they know something about Boko Haram that the rest of Nigerians do not?

  • olamojuba

    Imagine this idiot northners relating killing of christians in the north as a means of showing their greviances to show that they are economical set back or pursuing a developmental goal. Do you think you guys are killing goats. Were niger delta millitants killing innocents citizens or where they vandalising properties alone and not life?

  • rop

    The question is, what are they fighting and bombing for? what is the clear purpose of their actions? can someone please amswer me? these needs to be defined before we can talk of amnesty, is their fighting for the cause of their people and the nation as in the case of most uprising are? let someone define it please? As far as the rest of Nigeria is concerned, the reason they are fighting is not defined and unreasonable so can ethnic bigots please shot up ?

  • Lanre

    President Jonathan, now you are talking like the Commander-in-Chief.I have never supported you. Did not vote for you. But you brought tears to my eyes as I write this. I am proud of you and wish I could give you a hug. People have died and they are dying and some people want amnesty. For what? Like I advised elsewhere, you should have added this to your statement to Nur Alkali and his fellow cohorts:
    “Those who kill innocent people for no reason will be sought after,
    wherever they live, pursued into the sahel and Sahara Deserts and exterminated.”
    There must be no negotiations with terrorists. You will regret such an action,
    Mr. Jonathan.

  • Ndidi

    MEND are not like Boko Haram. MEND were victims, their lands were being destroyed by oil drilling and their people dying and sick. They protested about this injustice then in frustration, took up arms. Boko are very different. Boko want the entire world to believe in their religion. Why? Did they create us, that they should dictate such a thing? What if all Jews began to kill Moslems and bomb Mosques unless everyone converted to Judaism? It’s this type of talk from Northern leaders that makes Nigerians want the country to split, then Northerners can keep their Boko and their religion. Northern leaders should instead be urging Boko to cease their fire and use texts from their Koran to support that.

  • shamsu

    Are those terrorist in his cabinet also faceless?

  • igbiki

    But for their unbridled violence, boko haram is of no economic significance to Nigeria whatsoever. Their activities will not remove or add to the wretchedness of the north.

    First, they don’t own any oil wells, groundnut pyramids, cocoa fields, palm oil plantations etc or are there any oil wells, groundnut pyramids, cocoa fields, palm oil plantations etc located in their communities neither could they disrupt activities in any oil well, groundnut pyramid, cocoa field, palm oil plantation etc.

    Their bombing activities is restricted just in the north, although they target always almost non indigenes. If non indigenes should move out of the north, their claim to political prominence would become a mirage.

    Should they move their activities outside the north, which is an imposibility, they would become the biggest losers ultimately.

    The born to rule morons should not over reach their hands and no when to call it a day.