The leaders of northerners living in the South-West on Thursday said they arrested over 1000 members of the Boko Haram in parts of the region.
The Sarkin Hausawa of Lagos, Sani Kabir, who disclosed this on Friday during a courtesy call on the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Kabiru Turaki, said those arrested were either fleeing from the Civilian JTF/military onslaught on the insurgents in the North East or had come to South-West to further their insurgency.
He said the Council had taken it up itself to ensure that Boko Haram did not take root in the region because according to him, such a development would complicate the security challenges facing Nigeria.
“So far in the South-west, we have peace and this is achieved through the collaboration of Arewa people and Arewa chiefs,” Mr. Kabir said.
“If you can confirm with the security agencies, we have arrested more than 1000 Boko Haram members throughout the south-west states.
Any suspicious movement, we promptly report to the security agents because we believe that the problem is actually the Nigerian problem but if there is any breakdown of law and order in the south-west, we are the prime targets irrespective of whether you are a member of Boko Haram or not.”
He said all the Arewa Sarkis (kings) in the region were doing everything to ensure there was no breakdown or law and order in the communities.
On how the Boko Haram members were arrested, Mr. Kabir said, “We inform our leaders that when new people crime into their midst, and they observe their behaviour. Some of the leaders in the south-west are northerners, some of them are from Borno state, they can know. There were even instances where JTF came from Borno state to identify some of them.”
He said those identified as Boko Haram members were immediately handed over to security agencies.
Mr. Kabir said northerners in the South-West would back President Goodluck Jonathan during the 2011 presidential election.
He said, “I will like to start by going back to 2011 electioneering campaign. There was a team that was led by the President and the vice president and they met with the Council members and we pledged to give our assistance and support during the election period and beyond. Since that time, there has been no communication between us and the president or the Federal Government.
“We now see that we are marching towards election; so the Arewa chiefs in the south west decided that there is the need for us to get in touch with the President so that we can actually interact with him and then see where we can assist and know who can be our contact man since we are not regular politicians who can come out in the open. As the leaders of our people, we want to know how we can assist him before the election campaign starts.”
Responding, Mr. Turaki, who received the group on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan, thanked the Arewa leaders for their efforts to ensure that insurgency did not extend to the south west.
“I want to thank you for the enormous support you have given to this government and for the enormous support you have given to Mr. President as a person right from the time of the 2011 electioneering campaigns to date.
“Yet there have been calls by a lot of Nigerians from virtually all sectors, from eminent Nigerians, non governmental organizations (NGOs), asking Mr. President to declare interest to contest 2015 general elections. Mr. President is a person who consults, not only on state matters but on matters that affect him as a person.”
The minister said in spite of the rapidity, frequency, and enormity of these calls, Mr. Jonathan had consistently said that he was not going to be rushed into taking any decision without consulting a broad spectrum of Nigerians, feeling their pulse, and their opinion before making up his mind.
He said having laid a solid foundation for Nigeria, it was only fair that the tree the president was now planting “is allowed to be well watered, to be well-nurtured, for it to grow into a very strong tree that will be able to, at the end of the day, serve the interest of every Nigerian.”
He also stated, “It is also important that as Mr. President makes up his mind, that there should be open channels of communication so that there can be free flow of information between concerned community leaders like yourselves on one hand and the government and Mr. President on the other. I will take this message to Mr. President and I am sure that Mr. President will direct who will serve as that appropriate link between him and you.”
On security, Mr. Turaki thanked the Arewa Council of Chiefs in the south-west for working with security agencies to ensure that the security challenges in the north-east were not extended to the south-west.