Boko Haram bomb attack scene
Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Barely 48 hours after the North-east leaders appealed to Boko Haram to end its bloodbath in the North and embrace dialogue, their con- temporaries from Borno State under the aegis of the Borno Elders Forum (BEF) yesterday asked that further hostilities between the military and the sect be ceased in the interest of peace and unity of the nation.
The call followed what the elders described as the wanton destruction of lives and property which had impacted negatively on the nation.
Fielding questions from journalists shortly after Alhaji Bulama Mali Gubio, had read an statement on his behalf as leader of the group, elder statesman and former Minister of Petroleum, Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno, said it was imperative that the leadership of the country and Boko Haram embraced dialogue in resolving the ongoing crisis.
Noting that the nation was brooding and finding it dif- ficult to breathe, the elders: “Appealed to both members of
the Jamatul Ahlis Sunnah lid Daawa wal jihad (Boko Haram) to consider the hardship people are going through as a result of the ongoing insurgency and lay down their arms for peace to come back to Maiduguri and its environs.”
According to the forum, “God has ordained us to stay together and those trying to divide the country are doing so to achieve their selfish interest. We should be more patriotic and work together towards achieving peace, government also should do justice to the people.”
While lamenting that the hostilities between the military and Boko Haram had turned Borno State into a battle field, the Borno elders remarked that: “Our people can no longer engage any meaningful activity to sustain their lives. Nowadays the people cannot perform the five obligatory prayers in congregation in mosque near their houses or perform the Friday prayers in several mosques in the town. We are no longer practicing our religion as desired.
“Our markets and other places of business are no more. Many people can no longer
access schools for their children. Many of our Islamiyya schools have collapsed. All the things we held dear to our culture, tradition and pride are gone. Even going through the current farming season has become increasingly difficult. People can no longer move from one point to another without being subjected to harrowing experiences.”
They lamented that: “Thou- sands of lives were lost and thousands others were either maimed or traumatised. The recent great upheaval that followed burning, looting and destruction of several houses and shops by the soldiers resulted in forced or voluntary social dislocation for fear of insecurity by several thousands of people in some wards of the state capital.
“The people totally became desolate as refuges in their own town. In a nutshell our entire life fabric is at its lowest ebb.
Our once proud people are now disillusioned. Our people are desirous of the end to all these problems. Our people need to go back to their normal life and be able to live in a decent society, devoid of all hurdles on their paths.”
They further appealed to the sect members to lay down their arms, embrace peaceful approach to achieving their goals and equally called on the government of Nigeria to cease fire and remove all blockages in and around the city in order to pave way for genuine dialogue.
“We are equally appealing to the Government to release all detainees found innocent amongst the many of the sect presently in detention. A process of dialogue and reconciliation should imme- diately be embarked upon. Government should go extra mile to be magnanimous in embracing dialogue and acting positively to put all concerns of the people to rest.
“The members of the Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnah Lid Da’waati Wal Jihad are our grandchildren, sons and brothers. We are aware of your grievances. We are however appealing to you to ponder on the recent happenings and how our people are subjected to those harrowing experiences.... We wish to appeal to you to consider the plight of your people and consider bringing the situation under control.”
We appeal to you to lay down your arms, come back home, re-integrate yourselves and help salvage our destroyed society and economy.