The Presidency, yesterday, denied claims by Northern Elders Forum (NEF) that President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration of emergency rule in three troubled states of the region was a declaration of war saying the President holds the northern elders and leaders in high esteem.
The Presidency also said that despite the state of emergency, the amnesty committee will still go ahead with its mandate as there was nothing to stop it.
The spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abduallhai had said, Thursday, that the imposition of state of emergency had made nonsense of the proposed amnesty and therefore called for its disbandment so as not to waste public funds.
He said: “We hereby call on the President to immediately disband the so-called Boko Haram amnesty committee, as there is no need to continue to waste public funds on a matter, whose purpose has been deliberately truncated by the very person who initiated it.”
But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, while reacting to the northern elders claims, said that the declaration of state of emergency was not a declaration of war on the north, rather, he said, it was for the overall interest of the north and the nation in general.
According to Okupe, “The President has not declared any war on the north by the declaration of the state of emergency in the affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. The President holds the north as an integral part of nation and holds it very dearly.
“The principle of President Jonathan’s administration is that any problem in any part of country concerns and affects the entire nation. This has been the guiding principle as it affects the Boko Haram insurgency and, for the avoidance of doubt, the declaration of the state of emergency in the affected states is, on the long run, in the overall interest of the affected states and the nation as a whole.”
He further explained that “where it becomes impossible to guarantee lives and property of the citizenry, compounded by the inescapable action or acts of rebellion, leading to the hoisting of another flag other than the Nigeria’s anywhere on the Nigerian soil is a direct challenge to the sovereignty of the nation. When all these are viewed in the perspective, the action of the President as endorsed by majority of Nigerians is an inevitable one.”
Accordingly, Okupe, said, “The declaration of state of emergency is meant to halt the mindless killings, bombing and the pervasive insecurity prevalent in those areas. Therefore, this should not be seen as a declaration of war against the north, rather, one will like to seize this opportunity to ask for the cooperation of northern leaders and elders and in fact all Nigerians to cooperate with the President and the federal government in its determined efforts to end this menace once and for all.
“However, it should be noted that the President holds the opinions and sentiments of the northern elders in a very high esteem, which explains why their views and opinions have always been accommodated by this administration.”
On the amnesty talks, the President’s aide said that the amnesty committee stands and was doing a great work, saying, “The committee is doing a great job and briefs the President on what it is doing. The committee is working assiduously to ensure that peace is restored in the country through dialogue and other terms of reference.”