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Your attitude fuelling B’Haram insurgency, insecurity, Afenifere, SERAP, Ohaneze, IYC tell Buhari

…Terrorists’ group uses religion as cover – Rev. Thompson

The leader of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba socio- political group, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Executive Director of the Socio- Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, the National Publicity Secretary of pan-Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, the spokesperson of Ijaw Youth Council, Ebilade Ekerefe, and the National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Mr. Ken Robinson, have come hard on President Muhammadu Buhari over his statement during the week that Boko Haram insurgent group has neither religious nor ethnic agenda. They described the president’s comment and attitude as fuelling insurgency and insecurity in the country.

This was even as Rev Ladi Thompson, a strategist thinker and security consultant, noted that the president has got it wrong as Boko Haram is using religion as cover for unleashing its agenda on the country. Adebanjo, Mumuni, Ogbonnia, Ekerefe, Robinson and Thompson, who spoke in separate interviews with Saturday Telegraph, charged President Muhammadu Buhari to intensify the fight against the Boko Haram sect. According to Ayo Adebanjo, the fact that Boko Haram is not a religious or ethnic group should not be the reason the president cannot attack or deal with them. “Whether they are ethnic/ religious group or not, the president should protect our lives and properties.

“Whenever anybody or group disturbs our lives and properties, the president should be tough with them. “We gave Buhari the names of the people that were responsible for Boko Haram, but he did not act. “Who is President Buhari fooling by making such a statement? Does the fact that they are not a religious or ethnic group stop him from acting? Are they the people he supposed to protect? “We are not saying they are a religious group, I am saying that he knows about them. We have given him the names of those who are responsible for the group, but he did not react,” he said.

The elder statesman recalled that General (rtd) Lawunmi, a security officer, gave the president the names of those responsible for Boko Haram, but that he did not react. He also stated that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, once said that he had about 200 names of those responsible for the activities of Boko Haram, but that Buhari did not react.

He said: “I am talking about the fact that they gave to us, they said they have some names, have they arrested them or prosecuted them? “After the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, said that the security operatives know where these people are, have they done anything about it? He said that the incident should have been prevented, did the president react?” Mumuni, who agreed with Buhari that the Boko Haram sect is not a religious or ethnic organisation, said that the group should still be tackled by the federal government as the Nigerian laws are against indiscriminate kidnapping and killings.

He stressed that Boko Haram members kidnap Christians, Muslims, Hausas, Ibos and Yorubas, wondering which ethnic group or religious group they belong to. The activist then berated the federal government, which he said has not mustered enough courage to deal with those who violate the laws of the country.

He stated that there are laws against kidnapping and murder, and laws that deal with all manners of atrocities being committed by Boko Haram members, saying that they should be made to face the full wrath of law. In his contribution, Thompson said that though it is true that the insurgency group has no religious or ethnic agenda, it is using religion as a cover to unleash its agenda on Nigeria. According to him, this is a sad development, a situation, which he said should have long been put under control, but for the lack of understanding of the nature of the war by the government and security agencies. ‘‘Yes, it was never a religious war, but the group uses religious cover to pursue its agenda and has used the gap between reality and perception against us.

‘‘In this particular case, we are dealing with a hydra- headed, shape shifting and merciless enemy that uses religion as a cover to expand its supremacist agenda,” he said. He also blamed the federal government for not heeding the warning signals offered it earlier by well – meaning Nigerians. ‘Has it been that Nigeria took our counsel to officially recognise the war form and follow up with a programme to blow its religious cover, then these statements would have been accepted with ease. ‘‘Unfortunately, we have allowed the opportunistic hydra headed attitude to exploit our religious tensions for too long,” he said.

Thompson also blamed the federal government for militarising the war against insurgency, saying that: ‘‘experts all over the world know that this type of war does not have a “solely military” solution, yet Nigeria, for some reasons, has militarised the war. At best the contribution of the armed forces by generous estimates cannot supply more than 38% of the solution. ‘‘The peculiarities of the Nigerian federation have made us a cheap prey to this opportunistic war form because our national psyche was militarised after independence. “This war form is highly intelligent and can never be subdued until a more synergistic response is mounted with vigour,” he said.

Speaking in a chat with Saturday Telegraph in Enugu, Ogbonnia, said that the activities of Boko Haram, herders militia and bandits have both religious and ethnic connotation. He said, “The first thing to note is that Boko Haram is a terrorist organization and the ‘Haram’ there is about western education being a sin. So in the first place it’s an ultra-religious group, extremist religious group. “Secondly, on the burning of churches, there is no Christian that will wake up to begin to burn a church or mosque, so it’s clear that its religion. So it’s either the president is quoted out of contest or they are not coming out with the truth; they are economical with the truth.

Ekerefe said in his comments that “Buhari cannot exonerate or absolve his religion from the activities of Boko Haram members. These are just religious fanatics and those who are perpetrating this evil are Moslems, so he cannot exonerate religion entirely from the whole thing. “That is not to say that there are no good Moslems, but these are Moslems with extreme groups and they have said that part of the reason they are fighting is because they don’t want western education so he can’t say that there is no ideological background in this their fight,” he said.

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