One of the early independent facilitators of peace talks with Boko Haram sect, Comrade Shehu Sani, yesterday warned the Federal Government against the use of military might to rescue the over 100 female students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, being held by the sect.
Sani said the use of force might produce a tragic outcome.
He instead suggested the empowerment of a panel to open communication channel with members of the sect for the sole purpose of freeing the girls unharmed.
Sani, who is the President of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, also suggested that the panel should comprise the President of the Sharia Council of Nigeria, Dr Datti Ahmed, selected insurgents currently in detention and a few journalists from Maiduguri whom he said would command the insurgents’ attention.
The panel, according to the rights activist, should be mandated to open a channel of communication with the insurgents and “secure the release of our children held hostage”.
Time has come for government, he argued, to source for the right people to open discussion with Boko Haram.
Sani, who was nominated as member of the now disbanded Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North by President Goodluck Jonathan, but turned down the nomination, lamented that his advises as well as those from concerned Nigerians on how to find lasting solutions to the insurgency problem, were ignored
He said: “Some of us have made independent efforts and made countless pieces of advises towards ending the insurgency and restoring peace to our country which was ignored.
“Some credible peace makers I know of were frustrated, blackmailed and threatened to the point of giving up. The insurgency in Nigeria is sustained by merchants of war who profit from heavy security budgets and merchants of peace who profits from costly, false and misleading dialogue funded by the government”.
Sani specifically warned against the use of force to free the school girls because it could turn tragic, adding that there is nowhere in the world where force has been successfully applied to free hostages.
He also confirmed fears in security circles that the sect was already using the girls as human-shield to prevent counter-attacks by troops.
He added: “The Chibok girls and other children in the custody of the insurgents can be freed, should be freed and will be free. The use of force or the threat of the use of force to free them can only lead to a tragic outcome by putting the lives of the innocent children in greater danger.
“The use of force or threats of the use of force is not meant to free the children of Chibok but to save the face of our security forces, the government and the nation. The children of Chibok are clearly hostages and any attempt to free them must be through channel that will not put their lives in further jeopardy.
“Anywhere in the world where children are used as human shield by gun men, use of force has always proven to be fatal. We must not bow or surrender to terrorism but we have a moral duty to free those children we failed to protect earlier and deliver them safe and alive to their parents. Every new day the children spent in captivity, we as citizens of this generation share the collective guilt for our inaction.
“The anger and pains in the minds of those girls now in the grip of the insurgents is not just against a government with a constitutional duty to protect them but also against the nation with a moral responsibility to free them”.
The Kaduna-based Sani, who is eyeing the Kaduna Central Senatorial District seat in 2015 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, laid the blame for the insurgents’ renewed activities on the country’s leadership, who he accused of failing to react proactively.
He said: “The abduction of the over 200 girls from Chibok by the insurgents is not the first time girls or children were abducted by the insurgents. As a nation we simply hesitated to take preventive action when it happened earlier in other schools until Chibok happened on a larger scale.
“We have failed as a nation to protect ourselves, end the insurgency and now we have failed our children. Each day spent by the Chibok girls and other children held in the custody of the insurgents, our heart bleeds and our spirit is chained down. Our future generation has become innocent victims of the ineptitude, docility and infamy of the present generation”.
He said the nation has failed to protect its young ones and “now we are denying them the opportunity to live a free life. If the nation had taken serious lessons from earlier brigandage by the insurgents, we could not have been talking of the use of force to free our children. For over three years, the insurgents have been burning schools, killing teachers and abducting children, why did our outrage wait for Chibok?”