President Jonathan said the government will only find a way to assist the thousands of victims of the crisis.
The Nigerian government will not pay compensation to victims of Boko Haram attacks, President Goodluck Jonathan said Tuesday, ending speculation about a critical aspect of the government’s response to a crisis that has killed thousands and injured several more.
The president however said the government would “find ways to assist” those who have been affected one way or the other by the violence that began in 2009.
Mr. Jonathan spoke Tuesday as the committee he named to dialogue with members of the deadly sect, submitted its report.
The Kabiru Turaki-led Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, Tuesday, recommended the setting up of a Victims Support Fund for victims of insurgency to be administered by a new agency established specifically to assist the victims.
It also recommended the setting up of an advisory committee on continuous dialogue that will have powers to advise the president on all matters related to resolution of crises.
The committee was set up by the president in April 2013, with a three-month mandate to come up with resolutions and recommendations; and had in August gotten an extension of two months.
While submitting its report to the president, the committee admitted its failure to reach out to the leadership of Boko Haram despite its efforts.
“Some of our difficulties in having a productive dialogue include the refusal of their leaders to submit to dialogue. However many of the key members of the insurgents both in detention and at large have positively responded to contacts and have accepted the dialogue option as capable of full resolution of the conflict,” said Mr Turaki, the chairperson of the committee.
The committee said that in the course of it work it discovered that the absence of effective conflict early warning response mechanism, and impunity in crimes and other acts of violence due to absence of deterrent measures taken to punish perpetrators, are the reasons why the country faces a high rate of violence and wanton killings.
It added that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country exacerbates conflicts and circle of violence in the country.
In his response, the president said he agreed with the recommendation of a permanent advisory committee but said there will be no compensation for victims of the crisis.
“You have made recommendations, one of them you have suggested the setting up of an advisory committee on continuous dialogue. This I also believe in. We always say that even in war situations, finally, people must discuss at the conference table to make sure that people live in peace,” he said.
“Force alone, no matter how, cannot bring peace. People must be willingly ready to leave in peace.
“We agree with you that even though this committee is today winding down its activities, we need to set up a follow up committee that will concentrate on dialogue so that some of these issues you raised, that committee will be able to anchor them properly working with other departments of government.
“We also noted the suggestion about the victims’ support because that is one of the terms of reference; how will government help to see that we can assist. Government is not going to compensate. It is not an issue of compensation but how do we assist people who have suffered to get back to business one or the other”.
The president said the government will look into the recommendations and will ensure the right decisions are taken.
“Incidentally, we have security council meeting because this committee was an offshoot of the security council and we will review some aspects of this report and probably set up a team to look at it and work out a planned programme in terms of implementation of the recommendations,” he said.
The president further assured Nigerians that this challenging period for the country will pass.
“This is a country that never knew terror. Some countries have been passing through terror for years even before the Boko Haram came on board. But within the short period Boko Haram is operating, globally, it is being classified as one of the most deadly terror groups.
“It is quite unfortunate that the country will get to this level but with your report and the commitment of the security and intelligent services, we believe that we will bring this situation under a reasonable control,” he said.
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