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Nigeria’s State Security Service [SSS] raided the office of the Nigerian Television Authority [NTA] on Tuesday and carted away the recorded video tape which had names of negotiators the radical Islamic Sect, Boko Haram nominated to represent it at the planned dialogue with the Federal Government, local news agency Thisday reported.
The raid happened just before the federal government said on Wednesday that it remains open to dialogue as a way of stopping the Boko Haram menace, adding that the series of bomb attacks by thye sect has dealt a deadly blow to Nigeria’s northern region.
NTA on Tuesday aired a recorded message from the sect to the Federal government, announcing the names of the sect’s nominees for the dialogue.
It is believed that part of the SSS’s grouse with the NTA was that the television station failed to get the necessary clearance from the relevant authorities before it aired the tape. The SSS is also said to be trying to verify the authenticity of the tape.
An anonymous security source told THISDAY in Abuja on Wednesday that “the matter is being investigated, but we have halted it.”
Explaining what he meant by “halted”, he said: “There was no clearance and the names have not been accepted by all the leadership of the group.”
He added: “From all indications, the names emerged from a faction of the group and we need to ensure that government talks with the real group.”
President Goodluck Jonathan had challenged the sect to make itselves available and state its demands to open the way for dialogue.
After days of silence, Boko Haram or a faction of the sect responded on Tuesday by naming Sheik Abubakar Gero, Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno, Alhaji Junadu Idris, Aisha Al Wakil, and former governor of Yobe State, Senator Bukar Ibrahim to hold negotiations with the Federal Government on its behalf.
The sect’s team was made public the same day multiple bomb blasts rocked the Kaduna metropolis. The explosions occurred at the 1 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army (Dalet Barracks), 500 metres away from the Nigeria Air Force Base located along Mando Road, and the flyover at Kawo in Kaduna, all within the same vicinity.
According to security sources, the sect sent a recorded video tape to the NTA through a top government official but the broadcast was quickly halted by security operatives.
In the recorded message, the sect stated: “We hereby confirm and accept the reported initiative of the president for dialogue as a welcome development.”
Continuing, the speaker, who was swathed in a black mask, added: “The group trusts the named leaders. The decision taken by these people can actually change the whole situation.”
But even as the SSS carries out investigations into the recorded message aired on NTA, the arrested spokesman of Boko Haram, Abu Qaqa, has continued to spill the beans on the activities of the group in the interrogation room.
One of such revelations revolves around the public perception that Boko Haram suicide bombers volunteer to die, which he stated was untrue and that rather they are given insurmountable conditions that make suicide the better option.
“No suicide bomber of the group volunteers to kill himself. They are usually handpicked. Once you are handpicked, it is death either way. If you refuse, you would be killed on the orders of the leadership, so a lot prefer the suicide bomb option far away from their wives and children.
“At a point, some of us thought suicide bombing was cowardly but confronting the leadership with such a position would have come with a price which is death,” he was said to have informed his interrogators.
According to Qaqa, a security source revealed, what was bad about those handpicked for the suicide mission was that all of them were non-Kanuris.
“They were always Chadians, Nigeriens, Camerounians, Hausas-Fulanis, and others. No Kanuris were ever selected. That was why some of us had a divided opinion on it,” Qaqa is quoted to have said.
The Federal Government, however, stated Wednesday that while it is considering dialogue as an approach to solving the Boko Haram menace, it is also building capacity of the security agencies to deal with the situation.
It also called on all well-meaning people and institutions in the North to make efforts to solve the problem which is destroying the economy of that region.
The attacks, the government continued, had virtually brought the economy of the region to its knees, even as there had been purported nominees selected by the group as its representatives for negotiations which the government said it was looking into with a view to verifying its authenticity.
Briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting yesterday, Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, said the Federal Government was committed to building capacity of the security agencies.
Maku said the measure had started yielding good results, as the agencies had begun to show capabilities of being able to contend with security challenges in the country.
According to him, “A lot of arrests have been made so far. The Federal Government is investing resources in intelligence and we are beginning to see results on a consistent basis.
“More security personnel are also being deployed in trouble spots. It is known to government that our children and citizens are involved in these terror attacks, and it has offered an opportunity for them to come forward and state their grievances.”
He, however, insisted that whatever might be the reasons by the group to detonate bombs, it is counter-productive as the economy of the North, which he said lags behind other parts of the country was now being further pulled down by the attacks.
Asked to comment on the group’s threat to hit Sokoto next after successfully attacking Kano and Kaduna States, he responded that it is not in the interest of the region.
He said it is not in the interest and development of the region and it is therefore destroying the growth of the region which is slower than others.
He insisted that the North, more than any other part of the country, needed stability so that the needed infrastructure could be put in place for them to catch up, but regretted that the attacks were instead retarding the attempts to make the region catch up in terms of development.
“Terrorism in places like Kano is destroying the North as it hits at the heart of the development of the region. The attack on Kano was so significant because Kano has always been the commercial centre of western Sudan for the past 500 years, even before the evolution of Nigeria.
“Kano has been the seat of the economy of the North and the economy of Niger Republic and it is the economy of Chad, it is the economy of Northern Cameroon. So when you destabilise peace in Kano, you threaten the economic and social wellbeing of all Northerners.
“This is what we want all those involved in this violence to understand and all stakeholders in the North and Nigeria to understand that if any part of this country is in need of peace today it is the Northern Nigeria.
“From all the statistics, we are still far behind in terms of infrastructure, in the literacy rate and in industrialisation, so we need peace and this peace will only be made possible when all stakeholders are involved and I have seen a gradual process.
“You saw last week that the vice-president had a meeting with all Northern governors and they agreed on certain things. We also saw the conference of the Arewa Consultative Forum with all traditional rulers and they also agreed on certain things.
“What we expect to evolve in the months ahead is for those decisions to be concretised in terms of structures of surveillance of community cooperation and integration in the search of peace in the North.
“If you go and attack Sokoto for example, Sokoto is the spiritual headquarters of all Muslims in the country. The Sultan of Sokoto is officially recognised as the leader of Muslims in Nigeria. He is the prime leader and authority of Islam, so if for example you threaten to attack Sokoto what is the benefit?
“That is why we continue to say that there are very few religious undertones in these attacks, because if Sokoto is virtually an Islamic centre and the headquarters of the Caliphate, if they go and attack Sokoto, in what way does that help Islam, or progress and development of the region if that is what they are fighting for?” Maku queried.
Other issues he said were discussed during their meeting included the recommendation of Course 32 participants, 2011 of the Nigerian Policy of Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, Plateau State; on reduction of cost of governance; youth unemployment; proactive approaches to resolving ethno-religious crises; and strengthening the institutional framework on security.
He said President Goodluck Jonathan took the recommendations seriously and is working out on how to ensure the creation of employment across the states and all local government areas of the country as it would go a long way in ensuring peace through engaging youths in productive ventures, adding that results would begin to manifest within the next three weeks.
Also, he said that during the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) biennial conference in France last November, Nigeria was elected into the 58-member executive board for four years, while the Category 2 International Institute on Biotechnology was located in Nigeria at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Maku stated that another Category 2 Regional Centre for International River Basin Management still under UNESCO was also based at the National Water Resources Centre in Kaduna, while the UNESCO Multi-sectoral Office in Abuja was elected into the International Bureau of Education that specialises in education content, methods and structures.
- Bombs rock Kaduna (vanguardngr.com)