By Ahamefula Ogbu and Michael Olugbode
President Goodluck Jonathan has assured the international community that the menace of Boko Haram will soon be a thing of the past as security measures initiated by his administration are steadily cleaning up the entire country of all forms of terrorism.
But the group, on the same day, issued fresh assassination threat against the president, Senate President David Mark, former Borno State Governor Ali Modu Sherrif, and former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana. It also confirmed links with Al-Qaeda, describing them as “brothers” who offer them support in their bid to Islamise Nigeria.
But senior security officials were sceptical about the latest threats Thursday, telling THISDAY that some politicians “were at work” again. A security official said “it is wrong and unpatriotic” for the media to grant access to Boko Haram, allowing them to spread terror messages without questioning the rationale behind their action.
Jonathan, who spoke while declaring open the Biennial Honorary International Investors Council meeting in Paris, France, said Nigerian security agencies had made tremendous gains which had led to several arrests and prosecution of the perpetrators of the violence.
While wooing the investors to Nigeria and avail themselves of the myriad of investment opportunities, he told them that the country was well on top of the situation in a manner that would make the menace history in no distant time.
“Very shortly, the tide of Boko Haram will be stemmed,” he asserted, adding that he had looked beyond providing security to lives and properties in the country to working towards ensuring food security and growing the national economy into one of the biggest in the world.
“I am happy to inform you that despite the general shrinking of the global economy by two per cent in year 2010 and a not too favourable outlook for 2012, Nigeria remains a growing economy, achieving an average growth rate of about 6 per cent in the last three years. Indeed, the economy recorded an average GDP growth rate of 7.85 per cent in 2010 and 7.72 per cent in the second quarter of 2011 respectively.
“To further demonstrate our resolve to transform the economy, the newly created Ministry of Trade and Investment is an attempt to demonstrate the Federal Government’s commitment and recognition of the strategic importance of private capital in economic development,” he told the gathering.
Meanwhile, 48 hours after a former spokesman of Boko Haram, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga, was arraigned at a Wuse Magistrate Court by the State Security Service (SSS) for felony and breach of trust, the sect Thursday in Maiduguri, Borno State, threatened to assassinate Jonathan and Sheriff.
Also on the hit list are Mark, Gana, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Borno State Chairman, Baba Basharu, who has spoken out against the group in an interview published in Daily Trust on Wednesday. The group also denounced any links with Senator Muhammed Ali Ndume currently facing trial over an alleged association with the group.
It further threatened to immediately begin the bombing of party secretariats and eliminating party chieftains to show to all that it remained a religious association and does not have links with any political party. Speaking on telephone with journalists in Maiduguri, a self-proclaimed spokesman of the sect, Abu Qaqa, warned those who rented their property to political parties to immediately send them packing as the group was ready to start the bombing of all party secretariats at all levels.
Qaqa dismissed as baseless the insinuation that they were being sponsored by politicians, insisting that in order to show to everyone that such association does not exist, they had marked out party secretariats and top political office holders for attack.
Qaqa also disclaimed Konduga as a member. He claimed the sect had no business with him (Konduga), warned the media against tilting their reports and advised them to do their jobs within the confines of their ethics, as they are mere messengers conveying vital information to the public.
The sect spokesman said long before now, they were aware that Konduga (aka Usman Al-Zawahiri), who was arrested and charged to court along with Ndume was working for the SSS and as such what was happening is only a gimmick and intended to deceive the world but the group has no pact with politicians.
He alleged that Basharu had been going round feeding the people with lies on how the movement came to be. He said everybody knows what they stand for and no politician or political party is associated with them in any way; therefore, for lying about them, he (Basharu) has been marked for death.
On alleged links with Al-Qaeda, Qaqa said: “Wherever Muslim groups are who have the same ideology and are working for the cause of Allah, they are with them and whoever feels that they have links with Al-Qaeda based on their ideology in promoting Islam and fighting to free their people from western claws, is right.”
He, however, stressed that any group that does not have their own kind of ideology is not part of them and they are not with such group and that is why they are insisting that they have no links with any political party “be it ANPP, PDP, ACN, CPC or whatever name it may called itself”.
He noted that it is on record that during the crises in 2009, government under the ANPP in Borno State led the military to destroy their place of worship, arrested their members and killed some of them.
“If we have links with them, they would not have wronged us but because we have different ideologies and because we are a religious group doing the will of Allah, there is a big difference with them,” he explained.
Meanwhile, supporters of Ndume Thursday thronged the NUJ Press Centre Maiduguri, to protest the arrest and detention of their mentor by the SSS over “criminal accusation and political blasphemy”, which they said was masterminded by a cartel.
Leading the group to the press conference, Mr. Ibrahim Usman Makeri expressed disgust over the news that Ndume had links with the Boko Haram based on allegations made by Konduga.
Makeri said: “Those allegations were unsubstantiated, untrue and contain classical set up and contradictions. He was unfairly subjected to trial by the media.”
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