By Chuks Okocha, Aisha Wakaso and John Shiklam
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Monday urged members of Boko Haram to seize the opportunity offered for dialogue with the Federal Government in the interest of unity, stability and economic development of the country.
Similarly, the Arewa Consul-tative Forum (ACF) also appealed to members of the Boko Haram sect to stop the killing of innocent people in the country.
And following the recent spate of killings in the state, by unknown gunmen operating on motorcycles, the Niger State Government has banned indefinitely the use of both private and commercial motorcycles, popularly called ‘Okada’ from operating at nights in Minna, the state capital and its environ.
Atiku, who was reacting to the spate of violence which took place over the weekend, including the bombing of a church in Jos, Plateau State, said it was high time the group stepped out in person to articulate its grievances and thereby opening a window for dialogue.
Speaking through a statement issued by his Media Office in Abuja, Atiku reiterated his earlier position that there could be no justification for the killings of Nigerians under any guise.
“If Boko Haram and its leadership have something to say; if they have any grouse against the Nigerian state, the proper thing for them is to come out in flesh and state it, so that a process of dialogue that will eventually lead to the resolution of the crisis and the siege on Nigerians can commence in earnest,” Atiku said.
On its part, the ACF through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Anthony Sani, said: “ACF frowns on the spate of bomb explosions by Boko Haram that are directed at innocent Nigerians, including worshippers, as symbolised by the recent attacks in a Mosque and Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN). The forum is also sad over any reprisal attack, especially on innocent people who have nothing to do with the perceived grievances by the contending parties.
“And given the sacred inviolability of individuals as espoused by tenets of all religions, ACF condemns all forms of violence and killing of innocent people under any guise,” the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted Sani.
On the ban of Motorcycles Niger State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Abdulhameed Umar, who spoke in Minna, said the motorcycles operating in Minna and its environ were only allowed to operate between 7a.m. to 7p.m. every day until further notice.
The ban, he said, was as a result of the recent killing of five policemen by unknown gunmen last week, operating on motorcycle suspected to be Boko Haram at various points in Suleja and Minna.
The commissioner said the affected towns are Minna, Bosso the headquarters of Bosso local government area, a distance of 15 kilometres from the capital and Chanchaga municipal, stressing that the need to regulate the activities of commercial motorcycles became necessary because of the security situation in the state.
He added that plans were on the way to completely phase out commercial motorcycles in the state and replace them with tricycles which would be sold to them at subsidised and affordable price. He added: “Only riders in Minna will benefit from the pilot scheme before extending it to other parts of the state.”
However, two people were reportedly killed, while several others were injured during a night raid in some communities in Kaura Local Government area of Kaduna State by armed bandits.
Chairperson of Kaura Local Government Area, Mrs Florence Aya, said the incident occurred around 11p.m. on Sunday.
“Some people with guns came to Kukum Gida village near the palace of the chief of Kagoro and opened fire on some unsuspecting residents. They killed two youths there and fled.
“Then almost around the same time, another attack was carried out at a village on the way to Gidan Waya. One woman was severely injured. Her condition is very critical,” she narrated, adding that the incident spark up protest among hundreds of angry youths in the area who accusedsoldiers deployed to ensure security in the area for not doing their job.
“I have a believe that there may be a conspiracy against both this government and Federal Government. I am saying this base on the daily report of people being killed in organised attacks,” she added.
Reacting also, the state governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, condemned the attacks in the state, saying it was against his administration’s efforts at ensuring peace and stability in the state.
The governor in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Reuben Buhari, said: “It is in pursuance of peace in our state that made the Kaduna State Government to set up the Peace and Reconciliation Committee that is now opening up channels for direct and candid communication, targeted at reconciling all and finding lasting solutions in resolving whatever elements of grievances that may exists in our society.
“His Excellency is of the view that this committee is a window of opportunity, that all should utilise, towards consolidating the return to full peace instead of resorting to killings of innocent citizens of the state” the statement said.
“Government wishes to assure all law-abiding citizens of Kaduna State that security agencies are doing all within their powers to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of such crimes.
“We urged all to be security conscious and avoid taking the law into your hands but remain calm and shun acts capable of retarding development in Kaduna State,” he said.