By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North

 

 


ABUJA — Second Republic politician, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, yesterday spat fire on the decision by President Goodluck Jonathan to defer the declaration of his interest in the 2015 Presidency till 2014, arguing that it would be too cumbersome to salvage the nation from the crisis the belated action could trigger.Speaking in an exclusive interview with Vanguard, the former lawmaker said Jonathan was courting avoidable trouble by pretending to be making up his mind on the next election, when in fact he had made up his mind to run in 2015.

Members of the Red Chamber and President Jonathan

According to the medical doctor-turned political activist, Jonathan should first subject his Presidential ambition to a judicial interpretation by the Supreme Court to stave off looming constitutional crisis that his action would generate in the country.

The Kano politician noted that given the furore already generated by the circumstance of his emergence as the President of Nigeria, Jonathan must clear the air early enough on his 2015 ambition so that those who have legal issues could challenge him appropriately and get redress.

Legal issues

Mohammed said: “He (Jonathan) will be doing Nigerians a big disservice if he waits till 2014 to declare his interest in the 2015 Presidency because there are Nigerians who have real legal issues to take up with him on the matter and he should do it in good time to prevent a constitutional crisis and violence.

“If Mr. President is a true Nigerian leader he should decide now so that those who have issues with him will go to court to challenge him and get redress.

“The issue is not about him but 160 million Nigerians whose fate is tied to the Presidency of Nigeria. Jonathan has no right to dilly dally with the destiny of Nigerians.

Jonathan not qualified to contest

But Mohammed made it clear that Jonathan was not qualified to contest in 2015, having taken the oath of office twice as Nigeria’s President first in 2009 following the untimely death of Yar’Adua and later in 2011, thereby hitting the limit provided by Nigerian law.

According to him, allowing Jonathan to run in 2015 would have made him to serve 10 years instead of the maximum two terms of four years each stipulated by law, thereby making a mockery of the Nigerian Constitution.

He said: “The fact that he wants to run after declaring that he would spend only a term in office also places a moral burden on him and he should think about it if he is a gentleman with conscience. Common sense indicates that Jonathan has no right to contest in 2015.

“Most importantly, Jonathan should be told that the Constitution does not allow any Nigerian leader to take the oath of office twice. He has already exhausted the limit of his two terms.”

FG in talks with  Boko Haram

Mohammed also punctured the claim by Jonathan that his government was not negotiating with the Boko Haram sect, insisting that the Federal Government was not telling the nation the whole truth about the matter.

The politician insisted that the Presidency recently dispatched a minister from one of the Niger Delta states to Mali to meet with that country’s top security official and some militant leaders sympathetic to the Boko Haram sect with a view to facilitating dialogue between the sect and the Federal Government.

He said: “This government has been having underground talks with Boko Haram and if the President says he is not negotiating with the sect, he is lying.

“What the government is trying to do with the Boko Haram matter shows the highest display of hypocrisy and dishonesty.

“The Federal Government cannot continue to justify its claim of not wanting to dialogue with Boko Haram after it negotiated with the Niger Delta militants and offered mouth-watering jobs and contracts to the mostly Ijaw boys only to turn round and denounce negotiations with another militant group.

“Is it because the Boko Haram sect leaders are not of Ijaw extraction where Mr. President comes from?”

 

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

 


The Southern Mandate, a coalition of socio-political groups in the South-west, South-south and South-east geopolitical zones of the country, has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to ignore the hardline posture canvassed by former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in tackling the Boko Haram insurgency.

It also berated Obasanjo over his  comments describing Jonathan as a weak leader incapable of taking decisive action to quell the Boko Haram insurgency.

Obasanjo had at the 40th anniversary of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor as preacher at the Word of Life Bible Church in Warri, Delta State, blamed  Jonathan for allowing the Islamic sect to grow into an uncontrollable monster by his failure to act on a report submitted to the government.

But reacting to development, the Southern Mandate asked  Jonathan not to resort to crude and brutal force as suggested by Obasanjo in his handling of the Boko Haram menace, but to explore a humane and civilised approach to avoid unnecessary loss of innocent lives.
In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja and signed by five coordinators of the coalition, Messrs Tito Zuokumor, Victor Akpe, Obi Okoroma, Fadairo Bamidele, and Dr. Odafe Wilson Omene, the group expressed dismay that rather than bury his head in shame and seek forgiveness, the former president took pride in the Odi massacre.

Part of the statement read:
“It is pertinent to recall the circumstances that led to the Odi massacre. Some hooligans had constituted a menace in the town and responsible members of the community went to report to the police. It was when the police came to arrest them that they were attacked and killed. Unfortunately, it was those that were law-abiding and went to report the criminal activities of these boys to the police that Obasanjo sent soldiers to kill. They killed old women, children, the mentally challenged and even domestic animals. Is that what Obasanjo want Jonathan to do in Borno and Yobe States where Bako Haram is on rampage?

“How in this civilised age would Obasanjo advise President Jonathan to wipe out some towns in the North because of the activities of a few criminals masquerading as Boko Haram? We urge President not to take his advice seriously. It is not always every advice of an elder statesman that should be taken seriously.”

Southern Mandate said that government must wear a human face and must be decisive in enhancing citizens welfare, the protection of lives and property, and maintenance of human dignity.

It stated that Jonathan was considered weak on account of the Boko Haram insurgency because he had not ordered the killing of innocent people and total destruction of a town in the North.

It said: “He is weak perhaps, because no journalist is being haunted or killed for performing his or her professional duties. Maybe he is weak because politicians are not in exile as it used to be in the past; he is also seen as weak because he believed in free and fair elections without the usual presidential interference. He is considered to be disobedient to the National Assembly because of his commitment to the protection of the interest of the citizenry and his refusal to succumb to waste of public funds. But the president’s humane disposition and strict adherence to the dictates of the rule of law and preservation of national unity should not be misconstrued as inability to tackle the prevailing security challenges facing the nation.

“It is only an African leader like Obasanjo that will see himself as a hero. In an attempt to fish out nine criminals, he took an action that led to the death of thousands of innocent souls and wanton destruction of an entire community including schools, churches and government offices. Different militant camps across the Niger Delta sprang up shortly after the Odi invasion. His place in history is that of a villain and nothing more.”

 

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Michael Olugbode in  Maiduguri

 


Reuters tuesday  withdrew a story it published on Sunday, where it reported about a video showing Nigerian troops shooting unarmed captives in Maiduguri, Borno State.

Lt. Col. Sagir Musa

The news agency said it was withdrawing the story because of questions raised about its date and location.
Reuters withdrawal followed a swift response yesterday by the Joint Task Force (JTF), which denied the authenticity of the video, recalling that it had on several occasions debunked similar accusations in the past and made it clear that there was no established case of extra-judicial killings, arrest or detention by the JTF in Maiduguri.

The agency had alleged that it was in possession of a video showing troops shooting unarmed members of the sect.
However, JTF had insisted that the film, which Reuters claimed as evidence was stage managed.

The task force added that the allegation was another classic propaganda of the fundamentalists.
A statement by its spokesman, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, had warned the media against being drawn into a propaganda war but instead make objectivity their watchword.

Musa said there were severally cases of daylight killings of Nigerians and foreigners alike on the streets of Maiduguri and elsewhere by the terrorist group, which should have been criticised by both the Nigerian and international media but treated lightly.
He said it was surprising that a film masterfully recorded by the Boko Haram sect to paint the efforts of the task force in bad light was given wide reportage.

“We are professionally guided by a mandate and rules of engagement in the conduct of our operations. In our code of conduct and standing instructions, no JTF personnel is allowed to carry video or still camera and cell phones while on operations,” Musa claimed.
“It is therefore curious to note that the purported film referred to, circulated and reported by Reuter’s news agency and lifted by some national newspapers is allegedly filmed by a JTF soldier on operation.

“The task force is worried that the same picture is again being used by Reuters News Agency that reported the picture was captured two weeks ago. Additionally, the bodies deposited in the pictures cannot be substantiated to be Boko Haram or those of innocent civilians,” Musa claimed.

Musa in the statement said:  “The attention of the JTF Operation Restore Order has been drawn to some publications in some national dailies particularly in the Punch newspaper of Monday, November 12, 2012 Captioned “Soldier Filmed Colleagues Killing Captives in Maiduguri” and wishes to state that the JTF has severally debunked similar accusations in the past and has made it absolutely clear that there is no established case of extra-judicial killings, arrest or detention by the JTF in Maiduguri.

He further said: “This film is stage managed and the allegation is baseless, terrorist-oriented, spurious and bunkum. I watched the film released, printed and scrutinised the three pictures used as the basis for the allegations and discovered that picture one was used as the cover page of the Amnesty International report that was released on November 8, 2012.

“Picture two had earlier been used to maliciously tarnish the image of a task force which operated in the middle belt sometimes in 2009. It is curious to notice that the same picture is still been used in November 2012 against the JTF. It is worthy of note that the reporter alleged that a JTF soldier recorded the event and gave them the film.

“This is found to be completely false as the person who did the so called recording cannot be a soldier as purported as a civilian with a camera can be obviously seen in the background of the picture. This picture has no bearing with the JTF operations and supposed secrecy or else, why should a civilian be in the background taken pictures and yet Reuters claimed the film and pictures were secretly released by a soldier,” Musa added.

He said: “As a professional and disciplined organization, we are mindful of the public concerns about our operations and will certainly investigate allegations and where necessary make our findings public. The Task Force wishes to once again remind the public including the media that it does not condone or encourage indiscipline and anyone found culpable will always be appropriately sanctioned.”

 

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Michael Olugbode


 

Former military administrator of Borno State, Col. Abdul-Mumuni Aminu (rtd.), has praised the effort of the state governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, in addressing the menace of the Boko Haram sect in the state.

The commendation also came on a day Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State announced the re-imposition of a 12-hour curfew on Damaturu, the state capital and three other towns due to renewed attacks from members of the Boko Haram sect.

Alhaji Kashim Shettima

However, Aminu, who spoke during a condolence visit on the people over the murder of Major General Muhammadu Shuwa (rtd.), said Shettima had handled the problem with great commitment and maturity.

He said: “I have been following the trend of events in Borno State even though I have not been here. I have always been interested in what happens here as a former administrator and I will say that first, the crisis is unfortunate but from my analysis, Governor Kashim Shettima has been very wise to identify unemployment as top priority with special attention to agriculture. He was smart because I think he was the first to publicly establish this important link and he has been very consistent and this is important.”

Meanwhile, the imposition of the curfew followed an emergency security council meeting, which Gaidam had with the military Joint Task Force (JTF) and the Police at the Government House, Damaturu.

The three other towns are Buni/Yadi, Geidam and Gashua, which had suffered series of attacks in the past one week.

THISDAY checks revealed the curfew was re-imposed, following the recent incessant attacks and killings that claimed 13 lives and property put at several millions of Naira by gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect in Fika, Buni/Yadi and Gashua towns.

The curfew, according to a statement, by the Special Adviser on Press Affairs and Information to the governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Bego, takes effect between 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily.

The curfew, which was declared on November 11, 2012, according to him, would be in effect until the security situation improves in the state.

Gaidam, in a statement said: “The imposition of the curfew was reached at the security meeting with the military Joint Task Force (JTF) and the Police here at the Government House, because people’s life and property must be protected from the Boko Haram insurgency. This administration is also fully committed to overcoming the security challenges, as government continue to support JTF and other security agencies.

“We urged the people to continue cooperating with the security task force and police by providing useful information on the modus operandi and hideouts of criminals that kill innocent citizens without any course.”
The statement also stated that the 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. curfew in Potiskum, still remain along with Damaturu, the state capital and three other towns of Buni/Yadi, Geidam and Gashua

 

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By Henry Umoru

 

 

ABUJA—THE Borno State Government has pointed accusing fingers at the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as being behind the problem of Boko Haram in the state, alleging that all those killed so far were members and chieftains of All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.

The state government said ANPP officials were killed in the guise of Boko Haram attacks, just as it expressed dismay that President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark, ministers and other top government officials had never visited the state since the activities of Boko Haram started because Borno State was controlled by an opposition party.

Meanwhile, the PDP national leadership has called on opposition political parties to come out and tell Nigerians if they were causing violence in the country because they want  the party (PDP) out of power.

Reacting to the accusations by the Borno State Government, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, warned the opposition against playing politics with lives.He said: “PDP has always refrained from playing politics with issues concerning loss of lives. We believe that every Nigerian irrespective of political affiliation, religion, ethnicity has right to life.

“We want the opposition to publicly tell us if they want us to quit on account of violence in the North. They should be bold enough to tell us and the world whether they are causing violence because they want PDP out of power,” he added.

Speaking with journalists in Abuja, weekend, Borno State Commissioner for Information, Home Affairs, and Culture, Inuwa Bwala, expressed fears over the proposed dialogue between Federal Government and Boko Haram, arguing that it was difficult to tell if the demand for dialogue was actually from Boko Haram or from other people who want to use the Islamic sect as an alibi.

It will be recalled that since the activities of the sect started, many have been killed, property worth billions of Naira destroyed.

Bwala, who noted that some people have been sponsoring assassinations and wreaking havoc in the state using Boko Haram as cover up, said, “greater number of some of these things is political and that is why greater number of people killed are from ANPP, including Thursday’s killing of somebody, who converted from PDP to ANPP. General Mamma Shuwa is a member ANPP, I can continue to give names. All of them are from the ANPP. All these people being killed are from the ANPP, there is no single PDP member that has been killed till date.

“Even if it were a coincidence, we strongly believe that this thing has serious political undertones. Politicians find in Boko Haram perfect alibi to commit all sorts of crimes. Armed robbers find Boko Haram a perfect alibi to loot and attack banks. Businessmen, who have disagreement with their business partners find Boko Haram a perfect alibi to unleash terror on their business partners. To the effect that you cannot clearly define in this configuration, which one is a Boko Haram and which one is not.

“Having known ab-initio that the hostility against Borno State Government and against ANPP in Borno was to either undermine us or even dislodge us, we are not surprised that very often, some people go to the press to cause mischief. We want to call on such people to stop playing politics with this serious issue that we found ourselves in Borno State and come on board and give us solid solution on how we can resolve these things. Our doors are open.

“Even this demand for ceasefire, as much as we are very enthusiastic towards it, as much as it sounds very good, we still have our suspicions because he who comes to equity, must do so with clean hands. You have stated your terms, allowed the Federal Government or whoever it is to produce who they feel will adequately represent them, because the mention of names as possible negotiators will have far reaching implications and because of fear of such implications, that is why some of them are opting out.

“I agree that those who have been named so far as possible negotiators are very credible Nigerians, but then, one cannot tell that this demand is actually from Boko Haram or from some other people who want to use Boko Haram as an alibi, because Boko Haram has a modus operadi, one of which in the background of any of their conferences, you see a display of Arabic inscriptions, which is what they believe in. And part of their principal demand, which had been for the implementation of Sharia in some states, even across the federation is missing in the last conference for ceasefire. Boko Haram openly addressed in Hausa, but both the last two addresses were in English. Sometimes when we begin to read in between lines, you find it very difficult to understand which one is really coming from the real Boko Haram or whether it is from other sources, so doubt has already been cast on that one.

“As a government, we believe in dialogue, whoever comes to us for dialogue, so be it, even if it is coming from those who are not actually Boko Haram, of course we will embrace it because we don’t want our people to be killed any further.”

On refusal of Jonathan, Sambo, Mark and others to visit Borno State, Bwala said: “I want to be fair to the President, Vice President, Senate President, the Speaker and all other Federal Government officials for failing to come to Borno State. I will never justify their actions because Borno is part and parcel of Nigeria. Incidents of less intensity had happened in other places and they were there and had assisted them. Because the problem persists in Borno State, that does not distort the fact that we are part and parcel of Nigeria; we are entitled to privileges to every Nigerian no matter the situation.

“If as a child they think it’s our own behaviour that is causing this problem, you do not throw away the baby with the bath water. Mr. President would have shown concern even for political reasons to visit us and so our impression is that we are being given this treatment because we are in an opposition political party, otherwise we expect the President or at least the Vice President to have gone there and shown sympathy with the plight of our people.

“For even the Senate President and the Speaker, all Northerners, as I speak to you except for different missions, we have not received a Federal Government official from level of a minister to assess the situation and advise the government on what needs to be done in the Borno situation and so, we feel sad that our President has not visited us, but we are hoping that someday, he will find reason to come over.

Some of ANPP chieftains that have been killed include Awana Ngala, Chairman ANPP and cousin to Ali Sheriff; Alhaji Modu Gubio, ANPP gubernatorial candidate also a cousin to Ali Sheriff; Alhaji Goni Sheriff, younger brother to Sen. Ali Sheriff; Alhaji Lawan Yarayi, former Chairman Kukawa Local Government Area; Alhaji Lawan Kabu, former Chairman Damboa Local Government Area and Alhaji Kadiri Kaza, former Chairman Mongumo Local Government Area.

Others include Alhaji B.K also former Chairman Monguno council; Hajiya Bayayi, female Councilor Maiduguri Metropolitan; Audu Ali (Datti) Councilor Mai Sandari Maiduguri Metropolitan; Alhaji Mustapha Fulawa, a close friend of Sheriff; Alhaji Bukar Goni Kolo, a close friend of Sheriff; Engr. Isa Ngaram, General Manager Borno Housing Corporation; Mrs Zannah Gana, Commissioner for Justice; Gen. Mamman Shuwa, ANPP Board of Trustees, and party elder.

 

 

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By Muhammad Bello

 


The federal government has widen its network against the fight against the menace of terrorism and terrorism elements by harnessing the expertise of the country’s defence advisers and attaches.

Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada

Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada stated this at the opening of the 2012 annual conference of defence advisers and attaches which opened Monday within the premises of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Abuja.

According to her, all security agencies must work collectively to check the increasing threats that the Boko Haram sect poses to the peace and unity of the country, stressing that “the current situation demands that all hands must be on deck to jointly put a stop to the increased activities of miscreants bent on destabilizing the country.”

More to follow…

 

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by Ihuoma Chiedozie, Abuja

 


The State Security Service on Wednesday told an Abuja Federal High Court that Senator Aliyu Ndume asked a self-confessed spokesman of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, Ali Kodunga (a.ka Al-Zawahiri), to call and threaten the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice,Mohammed  Adoke (SAN).

Senator Aliyu Ndume | credits:

Konduga has since been convicted on two counts of criminal breach of public trust and intimidation through anonymous communication. He is currently serving a three-year prison term.

The SSS said it made the discovery when Ndume’s mobile telephone  call logs were analysed during investigations. The Senator  is facing terrorism charges brought against him by the Federal Government.

On June 14, 2012, a Federal High Court in Abuja presided by Justice Gabriel Kolawole,  ruled that Ndume must face trial on four counts of terrorism .

The court also dismissed a motion filed by his counsel, Chief Rickey Tarfa (SAN), seeking the dissolution of the charges against him. Ndume is accused of having links with  Boko Haram and also being involved in its activities.

When the trial resumed on Wednesday, a chief investigative officer in the SSS, Mr. James Inneh, told the court that Ndume gave Adoke’s phone number to Konduga.

According to Inneh, the alleged threat by Konduga  was to force the AGF to influence the outcome of the election tribunal sitting in Borno State in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Inneh said , “Konduga, in his confessional statement told the SSS that Ndume gave him the phone number of the AGF to threaten him (AGF) that they would make Borno State ungovernable if he did not ensure that the Borno State Election Petition Tribunal gave judgment in favour of the PDP.”

The agent admitted that Ndume gave some materials he obtained from Boko Haram to Vice-President Namadi Sambo and the Director-General of the SSS, while he served as a member of the Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North-East.

Inneh said, “We investigated his claim by using our tradecraft. We did not have any audience with the VP but we investigated. His (Ndume) phones were sent to experts for analysis and after the phones were analysed, we did not tell him about our findings.

“He was not there when the analyses were  carried out. Some of the materials we took from his house were laptops, GSM phones, an international passport and other things.”

Inneh said he could not recall if Ndume had written a letter to the Inspector-General of Police to ask for protection.

Justice Kolawole, however,  adjourned the trial to November 1- 5 and December 11, 2012.

Ndume had asked the court to acquit him of the charges, arguing that the proof of evidence filed by the prosecution did not link him with the sect.

Ndume said his alleged relationship with Konduga, which formed the basis of the charges against him, came as a result of his membership of the presidential committee set up to address the security challenges in the North-East.

Ndume told the court that before his appointment as a member of the committee, he had no contact with Konduga or any other member of the sect.

However, in a counter-affidavit, the prosecution counsel, Mrs. Olufumilayo Fatunde, had asked the court to hold that Ndume’s trial must proceed summarily in line with Section 33(2) of the Federal High Court Act.

Ruling on the matter, the court maintained that, after studying the charges brought against the Senator, it found that he had a case to answer.

Kolawole said, “There is a link between the accused person and the offences listed in counts one to four.

“The mere presence of a probable defense to a criminal charge is not enough to quash the charge. The fact that an accused person denied the charges is not enough to quash the charges. There is a link between the accused person and some members of the Boko Haram.”

 

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