THE Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday deliberated on the White Paper on the presidential committee on security challenges in the North East as a result of the Boko Haram and other sectarian crisis, with the government accepting most recommendations of the panel.
On June 29, 2011, the Federal Government set up the presidential committee on security challenges in the North-East. The committee was inaugurated on July 2, 2011 and had as its chairman Ambassador Othman Gamji Galtimari. Other members of the committee are Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, Mr. Joe Kyari Gadzama (SAN), Col. Musa Shehu (rtd), Minister of FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed, Minister of Defence, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu, while Mr. Abdullahi Shehu of the Office of the SGF served as the Secretary.
But Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, along with the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Abba Moro, refused to give details of the final recommendations of the White Paper at a briefing announcing the outcome of the Council meeting.
Moro, who chaired the Presidential Committee on the White Paper said: “Government accepted most of the recommendations of the committee that are intended essentially to bring about peace and address some of the issues raised by the members of the (Boko Haram) sect that have been perpetrating violence in parts of Nigeria.”
Maku said that the final White Paper report would be released only after formal deliberations and work on the document by the Federal Ministry of Justice.
According to Maku: “Today, the report was extensively discussed in council particularly the white paper which spells out government’s views on the recommendation that was made by the white paper committee. Mr. President attaches strong importance to the need for peace not only in the North East but indeed in other parts of the federation. And that was why today we took such a long time to discuss this report. Suffice it to say at this point that government has discussed all the recommendations of the Galtamari report and we have come up with government’s positions on those recommendations on the white paper.
“The report is extensive. It covers the remote causes of the crisis in the North East and other parts of the North. It also covers various levels of responsibilities from community to local government to state and to Federal Government in tackling the menace of violence and terror in the North East and other parts of the federation. The report also covers the responsibilities and operations of security agencies as well as the political aspects of the report, which we believe must be addressed paripasu with the security measures that the Federal Government has taken to bring this crisis under control and eventually bring it to an end. We’ve discussed. We have taken decisions on them but we cannot go into details because it is a white paper.
“And so, the decision of the Federal Executive Council will have to go to the Ministry of Justice where the final paper will be gazetted and issued centrally. And when the gazetted white paper comes out we will be able to unveil the details to members of the public. But suffice it to say at this stage that government is doing everything that is necessary to ensure that we defeat this violence, that we bring about peace and security not only in the northern states but in the entire federation.”
Moro added that “as a white paper on government position on some of the issues raised, this paper will be passed appropriately to the Ministry of Justice that will gazette it and make it public in the near future. In the immediacy, I think it is only proper to let you know that government accepted most of the recommendations of the committee that are intended essentially to bring about peace and address some of the issues raised by the members of the sect that have been perpetrating violence in parts of Nigeria. Government in consideration of the white paper also realises that some of the issues raised cuts across Nigeria and so the measures that will be applied in these areas of the North East zone will certainly also apply to other parts of the country.
“For instance, on the issue of indigeneship and settlership, the recommendation of the committee was to the effect that governments should emulate the situation in Sokoto State where there is no discrimination in terms of education and employment. And so these are issues that affect the lives of Nigerians; issues and recommendation of creation of employment opportunities were raised and government has accepted to encourage state governments and local governments to collaborate with the Federal Government on that across the country. So by and by, it is our hope that by the time these issues are documented and presented and addressed, the very basic issues that created agitation in Nigeria will be resolved. Then, we would have peace and then economic and political development can take place.”
Presenting the final report to Vice President Namadi Sambo in September last year, Ambassador Galtimari said his panel noticed that “there were palpable operational lapses, service rivalry, underfunding, under-equipment and lack of collaboration on the part of security agencies.”
He explained that government also failed to deliver justice and bring immediate relief to the victims of the crisis, adding that the committee discovered during its investigation that there was general failure of effective and coordinated intelligence gathering and its deployment to forestall events with undesirable consequences.
“In this direction, there is no high level security network/forum (outside the statutory national security institutions) that will enable an informal meeting between Mr. President and the governors as well as other top level security stakeholders,” Galtimari said.
“The lack of an institutional structure/arrangement to primarily cater for interreligious affairs to promote harmonious co-existence confounded the problems. Most importantly, the committee was inundated with series of complaints that the increasing level of insecurity in the country was amongst other reasons due to the failure of governments to implement reports of various committees that were constituted and had submitted useful recommendations in the past.”
The panel chairman listed the causes of the security challenges as follows:
• High level of poverty and illiteracy existing in the North-East zone;
• Massive unemployment of youths, both skilled and unskilled;
• Existence of private militias that were set up, funded and used by politicians and individuals and then dumped after having been trained to handle arms;
• Presence of large number of almajiris who together with those mentioned above could easily be used as canon-fodders to ignite and sustain crisis;
• Influx of illegal aliens resulting from porous and unmanned borders coupled with provocative and inciting preaching by some religious leaders;
• Extra-judicial killing of the sect leader Mohammed Yusuf and some members of the sect by security agents; and
• Weak governance and failure to deliver services in the wake of huge resources accruing to state and local governments.
The panel therefore recommended to the Federal Government as follows:
• The Federal Government should fundamentally, consider the option of dialogue and negotiation which should be contingent upon the renunciation of all forms of violence and surrender of arms to be followed by a rehabilitation programme on the side of government;
• The Federal Government should create an informal forum at the highest level, where Mr. President will discuss national security issues with governors and other stakeholders from time to time. Again, there is an urgent need for arranging an informal forum where Mr. President will grant audience to each state governor on one-to-one basis where issues on security, could be addressed;
• The Federal Government should diversify and strengthen its means of creating avenues for international intelligence sharing and inter-agency cooperation through diplomatic channels/pacts;
• The Federal Government and Borno State government should ensure that human and organisation victims most especially, churches and mosques including schools, which were destroyed during the religious crisis in the past and even in the recent past, should be compensated monetarily and by way of resuscitating and reconstructing their properties. Survivors of the deceased victims should be compensated appropriately; and
• The Federal Government is urged to consider widely, the scope of the present assignment to cover all security challenges facing the nation. This view is well informed by comments, suggestions and counsel made by many concerned individuals to the committee in the course of interactions with stakeholders including the executive governors of Borno, Bauchi, Kano, Niger and Sokoto.
The committee’s original term of reference was to:
• Initiate negotiations with the militant Islamic group Boko Haram.
• Look into the security challenges in the North-East Zone and proffer solutions/recommendations, which could bring speedy resolution to the crisis;
• Serve as liaison between the Federal Government (state government where necessary) and Boko Haram and to initiate negotiations with the sect.
• Liaise with the National Security Adviser (NSA) to ensure that security services discharge their respective assignments with optimal professionalism;
• Consult with stakeholders from time to time for suggestions and to ascertain the true state of affairs; and
• Consider any other initiative that will serve to engender enduring peace and security in the area.