President of the Senate, David Mark on Monday sounded a strong warning to Northern Leaders to check the rising violent activities of the deadly fundamentalists group Boko Haram, saying its activities could lead to the nation’s disintegration.
Mark, who made the remark at the Senate Retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, also declared that the northern leaders’ code of silence on the issue in the face of the Boko Haram’s continuous violence shows that the leaders are as guilty as the perpetrators of the mayhem.
“If the elders in the North cannot speak out and stop this menace let them tell us. Let them come out and say so boldly, because the belief out there is that some elders know about these people and decide to keep quite. If care is not taking, the way things are going, if the Boko Haram menace is not halted, it can lead to break up of Nigeria. Because there is an extent to which the people can take it,” Mark stated.
Mark, who also debunked often-touted insinuations that poverty is the root cause of the crisis said, “It is all about religious fundamentalism and ideology.
“Poverty is not the cause, otherwise if every poor person decides to carry arms then Nigeria will seize to exist. So if people talk about poverty and hunger as the cause of the Boko Haram menace I say no.”
The Senate President further added that bombing of churches almost every Sunday and killing of innocent Christian worshippers has stretched the patience of the people to the limit; such that the leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to persuade their followers not to seek retaliation. “There is limit to human endurance,” he chipped.
Nonetheless, Mark cautioned Christians on the danger of retaliation saying, that doing so means that they (Boko Haram) have succeeded in achieving their target. “Leave vengeance to God”, he appealed.
“I think it is time we educate the suicide bombers in the North that it is a wrong belief that killing innocent people would automatically take you to heaven where they would inherit 17 virgins. Of course it would be an uphill task for one person to handle 17 virgins,” he contended.
He said religious leaders and preachers should desist from indoctrinating their adherents into suicide bombings, adding that government should think seriously on issuing licenses to preachers as a way of checkmating the evil ones among them.
Mark also called on government to seek international collaboration with its neighbours as well as Western countries on ways to tackle and uproot the Boko Haram sect.
While declaring open the retreat the 2011 Senate Retreat taking place at the Ibom Meridien and Golf Resort, the Senate President attributed the emergence and upsurge of terrorist activities in the country to some “disgruntled and over-ambitious politicians.”
Also addressing senators at the retreat tagged “The National Assembly and National Security: Securing the Future for Development”, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan noted with sadness that unguarded remarks and statements by ‘do-or-die’ politicians had led to destruction of several lives and properties in the northern parts of the country.
President Jonathan warned such politicians to stop promoting ethnic and religious politics adding that national security should not be sacrificed on the altar of partisan politics.
He called for joint collaboration between the executive, legislature and judiciary arms of government on the need to review and strengthen existing laws on terrorism to reduce the activities of the Sect.
Meanwhile, host governor, Godswill Akpabio while welcoming the participants described the retreat, as a divinely arranged coming at a time Nigeria is experiencing security challenges.
Akpabio said that a strong union between the executive, legislature and Judiciary was capable of solving the Boko Haram problem.
According to the Governor, “the bombs and the killings would not deter the government of President Goodluck Jonathan from delivering on its mandate of transforming the country.”