By Emmanuel Onwubiko
The Oath of office of President is enshrined in the seventh schedule of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (of 1999 as amended). This Oath of office is solemn and inviolable and ought to guide the holder of the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the most important commandment of political leadership.
On 29th May 2011 when the current President took this oath of office, he solemnly pledged to Nigerians to strive to preserve the fundamental objectives and Directive principles of state policy contained in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 1 (1) of the Constitution provides clearly that this Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
More than a year after he took his Oath of office to assume the high responsibility, the current presidency has all but failed woefully to fulfill the constitutional provisions that importantly obliges him to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians. Section 14(2) (b) provides specifically that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. But since assuming office, President Jonathan has presided over an administration that is largely seen as weak, clueless and ineffective in the area of ensuring security of lives and property of the citizenry.
Non-state actors who are well armed have waged terror-related violence in most parts of the North and have almost made governance in the North- Eastern states of Yobe and Borno virtually impossible. The activities of armed Islamic insurgency known as Boko Haram has almost led to the collapse of the economy of the North-East. In all of these murderous attacks, the Federal government and specifically, President Jonathan is yet to show effective leadership in ensuring that those responsible for these dastardly attacks on state institutions, churches and even innocent civilians including government officials are brought to Justice.
The best description for the inability of the Presidency to contain these mass killings is to say that the Federal government is in a state of “organized confusion” over the unprecedented rise in terrorism. In Borno state, the immediate past Governor Senator Ali Modu Sherriff was credited with adopting some measures which were meant to address the threats posed locally then by the members of the banned Islamic sect headed by their leader Sheik Mohammed Yusuf who was later killed through extra-legal means while in detention.
The immediate past governor was also said to have set up high powered investigative panel to uncover the remote and immediate causes of the sectarian violence which has now become full blown terrorism that is threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria. Ironically, this same man [Ali Modu Sherrif] is being accused by some politicians of sponsorship of a group he had worked so hard as governor to dismantle.
Worst still the Federal government is busy chasing shadows rather than get serious with the work of resolving the unprecedented terrorism that has consumed thousands of lives. From our extensive findings, it is logical to arrive at the conclusion that rather than being a sponsor, the immediate past Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sherrif is a victim of the ongoing sectarian and terror-related violence and in no way can be logically or rationally linked with it even remotely with the sponsorship of the ongoing violence in parts of North- East because we know too well that no sane political leader can unleash terrorism on his political terrain whereby his political party members control the political hierarchy.
No sane man can sponsor violence against his own interest. We hereby call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to declare members of the All Nigerian Peoples Party [ANPP] in the North-Eastern States of Yobe and Borno as ‘endangered species’ who ought to be accorded special protection under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria There are incontrovertible facts to show that as the then Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sherrif set up different high powered investigative panels on the Boko Haram insurgency. These courageous efforts of the immediate past administration in Borno State clearly exonerates the immediate past governor as remotely connected to the sponsorship of the violent insurgency in Borno State.
The then governor Ali Modu Sherrif on August 17th 2009 inaugurated the Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari-led administrative committee of inquiry into the Boko Haram insurgency to among other salient terms of reference; determine the immediate and remote causes of the disturbance; determine and identify persons or groups responsible for the violence; determine the number of lives lost in the course of the disturbance; determine the extent and cost of property destroyed in the violence and to determine if there is the need for Government to assist persons, groups or bodies affected by the disturbance.
Specifically, the 14 man panel included such prominent Nigerians as Alhaji Abdulahi Shettima, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police; Brigadier-General I.H. Ndaliman, the Brigade Commander, 21st Armoured Brigade, the Nigerian Air force Commander- Group Captain I. Maida; the State Police Commissioner, Director of State Security Service in Borno State, the State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps; representative of the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service and the Borno State Permanent Secretary and the Solicitor General Mr. Yakubu Bukar.
This high caliber panel of investigators clearly are not the type of persons that could be influenced to reach a predetermined conclusions given the fact that they were impartial representatives of several Federal Government agencies and the Nigerian Armed Forces. This probe panel clearly did not identify the then Governor as the sponsor of the Boko Haram. In the same August precisely on 5th of August 2009, a committee was constituted by the then National Security Adviser to probe the Boko Haram insurgency on the directive of the then President. The Presidential panel was headed by the then Chief of Defence Staff- Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike. Other members include Major-General B.M. Monguno, Deputy Inspector General of Police I.O. Ajao; Ambassador Haruna Wando; Brigadier General M. Bala Ali.
The committee was set up sequel to the directive of the then President to investigate the sectarian crises in some States in the Northern part of the country. The crisis as was compiled by the investigative panel was masterminded by the Boko Haram sect which resulted in the loss of lives of the members of the sect; other innocent Nigerians and some security personnel. The leaders of the Sect Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf was also killed in manners suspected to be extra-judicial. The circumstances surrounding his death, however. generated a lot of controversy as well as criticism of government largely from the members of the public.
The Presidential Investigative panel was constituted to probe the allegations of high handedness of security operatives which occasioned avoidable death of innocent members of the public and the extra-judicial killing of the sectarian leader by the Police. The then President gave the panel the terms of reference to among other thematic areas of focus to examine the incident in all ramifications before, during and after the crisis and examine the role of individuals and groups in causing the crisis and/or preventing it from being expeditiously resolved.
Again, the immediate past governor of Borno State was completely handed a clean bill of health. Rather than blame the immediate past governor of Borno State for being the sponsor of the Boko Haram sect, this high powered Presidential panel whose membership were drawn from the highest security quarters in Nigeria including the highest ranking Air Force Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, clearly stated that members of Boko Haram have…”Always been lawless and contemptuous of the state authorities”.
The Presidential panel exonerated the immediate past governor of Borno State in the well considered findings that was submitted to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. On page 23 of the report, the Presidential probe panel discovered thus; “The activities of the sect have attracted the attention of the governor of Borno state since he assumed office in 2003. When security report revealed the threat posed by the sect, there was evidence to show that he took steps to check the excesses of the group. The committee noted that at the initial stage of the group’s activities, the governor [Ali Modu Sherriff] convened a meeting of religious leaders and the security agencies to discuss the issue.
Similarly, the Borno State Security Council met on several occasions to address the simmering threats of the sect and measures were taken by the Borno State government to contain the sect. These included banning the sect from preaching in the state as well as the arrest and eventual deportation to Niger Republic of one of the sect leaders- Abubakar Kilikam. Besides, the Presidential probe panel also found out that the then Borno State Government indeed committed several hundreds of millions of public fund to fund activities of the security forces from the Nigerian Armed Forces to bring about peace in Borno State. Onwubiko write via [email protected]