Former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, has thrown his weight behind those canvassing that the federal government enters into negotiation with terrorists as alternative to physical confrontation.
Ribadu also said he was not against rehabilitation of repentant insurgents, saying such action by government can go a long way in addressing the decade-long attacks that have seen many lives lost and many people injured with property worth several millions of naira destroyed.
Speaking to journalists, weekend in Abuja, on the sideline of Adamawa Community Association election, where former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Mr. Bawuro Yahaya, emerged president among other executive members of the association, said his home state, Adamawa had gone through worst times in the hands of the terrorists.
Ribadu said if America which had battled Taliban in Afghanistan for over two decades could decide to call the terrorists for a roundtable discussion, there was nothing that the government should not do in order to stamp out the terrorists’ activities in the country.
He also called on citizens to be patient with the government in its efforts to wipe out terrorism in the country, noting that the war against the terrorists was not a conventional one, hence the delay in ending it.
The retired intelligence officer of the Nigeria Police also backed the decision of the government to retain the service chiefs even in the face of rising calls for their sack, saying government was at a vantage position to know the consequence of relieving the security chiefs of their positions.
“Fighting terrorism is not something that you would expect an instant victory, it is a process. If you are lucky it comes and goes instantly, else it takes long time. And in this case, it has dragged on but ultimately, they will be defeated because they are evil and there is no room for evil to have a permanent victory over good, it is a matter of time. What I will urge people is to continue to pray and have faith,” he said.
Backing his position that negotiation was a viable option in dealing with situation, he said: “I have worked in areas with worst conflict than this one.” ” I worked in Afghanistan, this type of problem has been ongoing for two to three decades, they are still on with it. If you don’t know, today, America is signing peace agreement with Taliban. The insurgency there started in the early 90s and up till now, they are still on with it. Look at what is going on in Pakistan, look at what is going on in Somalia and many places that happen to be victims of this type of thing,” he stressed.
Ribadu also said rehabilitating insurgents was not a bad decision by government.
Hear him: “What matters is for us to continue to support our government. Whatever they are doing, I believe it is in the best interest of our country, the best interest of Nigerians and safety of our country.”
He condemned those opposing government for taking this gesture: “You are not the one who is there, those people who are doing this job are in the best position to judge what is best for us. I think it is wrong for one to just get up and just judge. “You are not seeing with all the facts, you don’t know what is going on and then suddenly, you get up and you condemn what you have no understanding of what has happened.
He said he was not happy that some people not happy with the government were taking advantage of the situation criticize where unnecessary, tasking citizens to be wary of such people and their antics.
“We need to continue to tell them that whatever it is, we are together, we are one with our Armed Forces, we are one with our security forces, we are one with our political leaders and we are not going to allow them to divide us.
He said government had done so well in the handling of the war against the terrorists, recalling that before the present federal administration, one quarter of his state, Adamawa, was under the control of the insurgents.
“It is unfortunate that we happened to be at the centre and the epicenter of the whole crisis. This tragedy called Boko Haram is a global phenomenon. If your community happens to be at the centre, it’s a terrible experience and Adamawa happens to be at the centre of it.
“We have gone through hell, we have witnessed worst times and periods worse than what it is today.
“At a point in time, maybe a quarter of Adamawa was in control of Boko Haram insurgents and they have done a lot of terrible things to us. But we thank God that we were able to confront them and chase them out of Adamawa.
“For about four years now, there is no part of Adamawa that they are occupying. It’s just that the typical way terrorists operate is that they take you by surprise when you least expect something, you will just see them and we have continued to suffer because of that.”
According to him, Boko Haram was out with a mission to cause ethnic and religious groups, tasking people not to fall prey to their antics.
“We should never allow bad people to divide us. Their intention is to cause problem among us, they want to continue to cause division within our own people, within our own different religions and within our own ethnic groups. We should say no with one voice, all of us that know their intension should not allow them succeed and it is a matter of time, we will definitely defeat them,” he said.
Reacting to the government’s decision to retain the service chiefs even in the face of worsening security situation in the country, Ribadu said: “We should think about our democracy, that we have elected our own leaders and they are entitled to manage our affairs within the period that they are elected.”
He continued: “They are free to work with those they want to work with, those who they have faith, believe and confidence in, that is what democracy is all about. It is that you have elected a leader and you have given him the mandate to manage it for us.”
Let’s pray for our leaders, they are entitled to work with those who they are comfortable with. We shouldn’t judge instantly, some of these challenges won’t take time. Terrorism is not something that you will instantly wish away or wipe out.
“So I’m appealing to Nigerians for their understanding and also their support and cooperation to work with our leaders.
“The bad people are happy that we are condemning our leaders, we shouldn’t allow them that, we shouldn’t allow them to win, they want to create division between the people who are in charge and those who they are leading, it would not help us.”
Earlier, newly elected president of Adamawa Community Association, Bawuro Yahaya, while thanking members for finding him worthy to pilot the affairs of the organisation, pledged that his administration would turn around the face of the organisation for the betterment of not only members but the stage and its people in general.
He sought cooperation of all Adamawa State indigenes to achieve the set objectives, tasking them to close ranks with a view to repositioning the state for the good of all. All executive members of the organisation were elected on consensus basis without opponents.