NORTHERN elders has warned the Federal Government against the use of excessive force by the military on communities perceived to be Boko Haram enclaves, against the backdrop of the proposed amnesty programme for members of the sect, that is expected to end the current insurgency in the region.
Besides, the elders have called on the Leader of the Northern Civil Society Coalition, Mallam Shehu Sani and President of the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria (SCSN), Dr. Datti Ahmed to immediately rescind their rejection notice as members of the Amnesty Committee set up by President GoodLuck Jonathan and join the group in finding a lasting solution to the insurgency in the north.
After emergency meetings attended by members of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) that was presided by its Chairman, Alhaji Aliko Mohammed and the Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, retired General Jeremiah Useni, the elders condemned the recent attack by armed soldiers under the Joint Task Force (JTF) on Baga village, Borno State.
They also frowned at Sani and Ahmed’s rejection of their appointments into the Amnesty Committee by President Jonathan, saying all hands must be on deck to resolve the problems of insecurity in the north.
A statement issued after the two meetings of the elders held in Kaduna and signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the Forum, Mr. Anthony Sani, said, “the Forum noted with shock the reports of violence between the JTF and the sect which destroyed many lives and properties in Baga village in Borno State”.
Sani pointed out that the Arewa elders were shocked that “apart from such monumental losses, the violence has come at a time when the talks of amnesty leading to constructive dialogue is expected to inform cessation of hostilities and take advantage of the efforts being made to bring an end to the untold hardship brought about by destruction of lives and properties”.
He noted that the Federal Government should immediately investigate the killings in Baga village with a view to punishing those responsible for the unfortunate incident.
“And given different accounts of the same circumstance of such violent destruction, ACF endorsed thorough investigations by the authority of what happened with a view to unveiling the facts needed for retribution to offenders
as deterrent against future occurrence,” he stated.
Sani further explained that “the meetings also considered the circumstances of withdrawals from the Amnesty Committee by some members”, saying that it was “resolved that even though consultations ought to precede announcements of names of members in view of the dire nature of the assignment, that should not make some members reject their membership of the Amnesty Committee”.
“The Forum, therefore, called on such members to reconsider their decisions in the overriding interest of the north, the nation and for humanity. This is because no sacrifice is too much to bring about peace across the nation. It is no time for blame game but for consciously directed collective efforts needed to make insecurity history in Nigeria,” he noted.