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26-member C’ttee Set up to Engage Boko Haram


The federal government Wednesday took another step towards the amnesty programme for members of Boko Haram with the constitution of two major committees that have been mandated to engage the sect, rein in on small arms and light weapons proliferation in the country, and come out with a template to end insecurity in parts of the north.

The action might have started yielding dividends as the Shura Council of the Islamic sect, which is estimated to have caused the deaths of some 4,000 people since 2009 when it stated its insurgency, is said to be reviewing its rejection of the amnesty proposal.

Sources close to the sect said that the council plans to meet on Saturday to consider the federal government’s gesture.

This is coming as governors of states that are home to the sect have been urged to “do the right thing expected of them” by disarming its members to pave the way for the successful implementation of the planned amnesty programme.

The first committee, named ‘Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North’ and made up of 26 members, is headed by the Minister of Special Duties, Kabiru Turaki, while a representative of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has been designated its secretary.

The body is saddled with the responsibility of seeking ways to end the Boko Haram insurgency.

The second, tagged:  “Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons” was charged with the responsibility of stemming the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and their use in creating insecurity and instability in Nigeria and other developing nations.

Both committees were set up barely 24 hours after the National Security Council (NSC) met with President Goodluck Jonathan to consider the report of the technical committee that the federal government set up to review fresh modalities for addressing security challenges in the north.

The formation of the committees was the outcome of various meetings and consultations the presidency had had in the last couple of weeks with a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the country, the latest of which is the parley he held on Monday and Tuesday with the Northern Traditional Rulers Council (NTRC) and the service chiefs respectively.

Members of the Turaki committee are Sheik Ahmed Lemu, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Col. Musa Shehu, (rtd) and Sheik Abubakar Tureta.                             

Others, according to a statement by   the Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, are Dr. Datti Ahmed, Senator Sodangi Abubakar, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Hon. Mohammed Bello Matawalle and former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim.

Also on the committee are Comrade Shehu Sani, Hajiya Naja’atu Mohammed, Malam Adamu S. Ladan, Dr. Joseph Golwa, Air Vice-Marshal A. I. Shehu (rtd.), Mr. R. I. Nkemdirim, Deputy Inspector-General of Police P. I. Leha (rtd.), Prof. Nur Alkali, Malam Salihu Abubakar and Alhaji Abubakar Sani Lugga.

Other members are Mr. Ibrahim Tahir, Brig-Gen Ibrahim Sabo (rtd), Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda, Group Capt. Bilal Bulama (rtd.), and Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi.

However, Comrade Sani, a human rights activist, Wednesday turned down his appointment to the committee.

In a post on his Facebook page, Sani said he was not consulted before the appointment, adding that he would not serve on the committee.

“My friends called me this afternoon to inform me that they saw my name on the list of the committee on amnesty,” Sani said. “This is to thank our president for giving me such an honour and consideration. However, I humbly and respectably wish to decline to serve as member.

“My advice remains: Reach out to the persons I mentioned their names in my interviews in the dailies to discreetly consult with the group to get their input on the idea. Thanks,” he wrote on his post.

The terms of reference of the committee, according to Abati, include developing a framework for the granting of amnesty; setting up of a framework through which disarmament could take place within a 60-day timeframe; the development of a comprehensive victims’ support programme; and the development of mechanisms to address the underlying causes of insurgencies that would help to prevent future occurrences.

The presidential spokesman further added that the president approved the constitution of a federal government 17-member committee on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons as a fulfilment of his pledge that Nigeria will work with the United Nations and other countries in combating the use of small arms to create insecurity and instability.

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